Veteran racer and multiple Dakar winner credits MTB training on an e-bike for honing his skills in preparation for a record number of Dakar Rally finishes.
For Stéphane Peterhansel, age is just a number. At 58, the grandmaster of desert rallying has just finished his 35th Dakar Rally, taking a stage win along the way to add to his record-breaking tally of overall and stage victories. And the secret to his success? Training on an e-bike with his co-driver Edouard Boulanger.
“I really enjoy downhill riding – said Peterhansel in a video interview – but if you want to go down, you first have to go up, and to go uphill fast you need a lot of energy. This is the reason why I started using an e-bike, you can double the number of times you go downhill.” Peterhansel has obviously seen the benefits of riding one of the best electric mountain bikes, namely more miles and wider smiles, but also of using his Thok TK01 R and Gram RC as a training tool to sharpen his skills outside of the limited testing time he gets in his Audi RS Q E-Tron E2.
You can double the number of times you go downhill
“You also have to think about the fact that we do not have the car we use in races at our disposal. You can only train during the tests, meaning twice or three times a year. Consequently each race driver practices other sports, I like cycling”, said Peterhansel about the need for creative ways to stay at the top of his game, in a sport that’s impossible to practice on a regular basis.
It’s an excellent exercise to train your eyesight, which is the key element to go fast in a car
“I train a lot on my bike”, he goes on to say. “It’s an excellent exercise to train your eyesight, which is the key element to go fast in a car in races like the Dakar. When you ride downhill you find stones, jumps, unexpected things… training your eyes and responsiveness is paramount.” So, while most of his peers are getting their kicks on the golf course, Peterhansel is sending it on his local trails on an e-bike with a number plate that reads ‘Mr Dakar’. Which is only fitting for a man who has won the Dakar six times on a motorbike and eight times in a car.
Of his Thok TK01 and latest Gram RC e-bikes, Peterhansel is glowing: “The TK01 is the best compromise for my needs: it is very balanced, I feel safe when riding downhill. There is not a big difference between the TK01 and a typical downhill bike. I then tried the Gram and it surprised me above all when riding uphill, because of how fixed to the ground it is: you can ride without unwanted wheelies”.
Geek out on Stéphane Peterhansel’s e-bike settings
Peterhansel runs his Fox 38 Factory fork at 75psi. Compression settings are: LSC – 9 clicks from fully closed, HSC – 5 clicks from fully closed. Rebound is: LSR – 5 clicks from fully closed, HSR – 8 clicks from fully closed.
He runs the Fox Float X2 shock at 195psi. Compression settings are: LSC – 7 clicks from fully closed, HSC – 4 clicks from fully closed. Rebound is: LSR – 8 clicks from fully closed
Tyre pressure: front 1.2 bar / rear 1.5 bar. He uses tubeless tyres and mounts a Vittoria Air-Liner at the rear.