INTENSE Factory Racing (IFR) team manager Todd Schumlick is a legend in the world of extreme sport’s training – from motocross, to snow sports and of course mountain biking. Over the last 25 years Todd has worked with some of the biggest names in action sports, including mountain biking’s Stevie Smith, Richie Rude, Finn Iles, Casey Brown, Brook MacDonald (the list is almost endless), and as well as managing the IFR team he also has our own Aaron Gwin and Seth Sherlock ‘on the books’.
When it comes to training Todd believes in getting the basics right – strength, endurance, cardio work, stretching, nutrition and of course tackling the mental approach of competing at the highest level. But Todd is always open to new ways of doing things, and that is where our Tazer eBike comes in. Many pro riders are now regularly using eBikes as part of their training regimes, partly because they allow you to get more ‘bang for your buck’, but also to train slightly differently whilst still being on a bike. We grabbed a few words with Todd to get the low-down on the special custom painted Tazer and to see how he and Seth are using it.
So Todd, how did the idea of this special bike and project come about?
It actually came to mind once I started riding our team Tazer around Squamish (British Columbia). I realized how amazing eBikes are for getting in additional descending. Through my training business (PerformX), I thought the Tazer could be a good ’training tool’ for MTB athletes. You are climbing faster on an eBike, so the ratio of climbing and descending is closer to being the same. The climbing can also be more technical, which can add another element of physical effort and skill building.
Are you new to eBikes or have you been riding them for some time?
I did ride some eBikes a few years ago, but I put a lot more miles in on them in 2019 on our IFR Tazers. I did most of the riding in 2019 at various locations in Europe, which is typically ‘rawer’ riding then at home in Squamish. Then I rode the Tazer around Squamish this season, as we’ve had a lot more time around home this year.
What can you tell us about the special paint job on the bike?
I simply asked INTENSE if they were cool with me painting the bike with a bit more of a Squamish/Pacific North West look, and they were into it. My inspiration was simply ‘less is more’, just a bit of a ‘refresh’ with the colour and design. Mainly as I truly believe the Tazer might be the best eBike out there. I’ve been fortunate to ride a few brands, and this eBike is the best I’ve ridden. The geometry – slack, low, with a steep seat tube – proper sizing, and the 29/27.5 wheel combo is the best in the business in my opinion.
We’ve got to ask, which came first, the donut or the bike!?
The bike! It’s our friend’s cafe who makes the donuts, so he put together a themed donut after seeing the bike.
And tell us a bit about the graphics, that is definitely not a typical INTENSE logo. We hear that it was hand drawn?
As I mentioned, I figured it was time for a Squamish look, as well as refresher. My buddy basically hand drew the logo under my instructions. He must have drawn out more than a dozen variations. He’s stopped answering my calls since. Ha!
This all ties in with IFR team rider Seth Sherlock and the eBike specific training that you are trying out with him.
It’s all about increased descending volume with the eBike. You're not as susceptible to climbing/pedaling fatigue as you are with a non-electric bike. For Seth, I could control his effort of climbing (keeping it mainly aerobic, by power setting and effort), which allows us to add additional descending volume. We still use his Primer (non-electric) bike for training as well, but there’s a bit more focus on anaerobic pedaling/training. The Tazer is also a bit heavier (about +22lbs/10kg compared to a Primer), so it requires a bit more effort when descending. This is not only good for physical training, but technical training too.
We have seen that the whole IFR team use the Tazer for training and just general riding.
The entire team are using their Tazers for training, as well as general riding because they are so much fun! I would say eBikes are gaining popularity throughout the industry, especially once an athlete has had a chance to put in some miles. Put it this way, I can name 10+ World Cup downhill and Enduro World Series athletes who’ve started using/loving their eBikes for training, but I have not heard of a single athlete have a negative response (once they’ve tried). Not a one.
How do you view eBikes as a training tool but also as a legitimate mountain bike?
For me, I’m 52 years old, decently fit overall, ride 4 to 6 times per week, black/double black (BC) trail level, and I’m not only quicker on my Tazer (than any other trail bike I ride), but I’ve increased my fitness through additional volume. I can totally understand why people are waiting for lighter eBikes to come, as I was thinking the same thing prior to riding them. But over time, I have come to the conclusion that the weight is an advantage, as the bike is more stable and grip is high. I also think some might be ‘closet eBikers’, so they want a stealthier looking eBike, as not to look like a lazier eBike rider/kook (in their mind). At my age I could give a sh*t. I even wore socks and Birkenstock’s to market recently. I'm OK with being a kook.
There’s a bit of hate out there for eBikes amongst certain parts of the MTB community, what are your thoughts on this?
As far as haters: 1) It depends on how you were raised, either an optimist (glass half full), or pessimist (glass half empty), haters hate. I accept that, and I am OK with it. It balances our universe. And 2) It’s really hard to draw a line in the sand and say what’s right or wrong. I support the environmental movement, I’m nearly a full-time vegan, I donate, save/foster rescue dogs, smile to strangers, yaddy, yaddy, but I’m sure I look like a selfish goon to a Tibetan Monk. All I know is this, in my area, more people are getting into MTB riding, which means they are increasing their appreciation for nature and the outdoors. On so many levels, this is a positive in my mind. Unless your bike is your only mode of transportation, you wash your clothes by hand in a lake, and refuse to ride lift operated bike parks… your life is supported by power. I’m always working on my ignorance, but I refuse to be a hypocrite.
Do you have any other special projects like this in the pipeline?
I hope so! Time will tell.
And to finish we should ask you about the much-shortened race season. It’s been a very different and difficult year, how are you and the team preparing for the remaining World Cup and World Championship races?
That’s a loaded question! Meaning, a long answer! The short answer is that everyone is in their pre-season training as we target the World Championships in Leogang, Austria in October. Our riders are highly self-motivated. To know the exact details… you’ll need to pay the big bucks. Ha!