E-biking “off-grid” in the SoCal desert


Local time
2:30 PM
Jul 25, 2020
Don’t see many ride reports in this forum, but since I’m trapped indoors waiting for the rain to end I thought I’d throw something together. This year Mrs levity and I gave each other Specialized Levos as Christmas presents - not exactly O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” stuff but no less an expression of love. ;) We’re both happy with our non-motorized Stumpjumpers, but we wanted to see if having extra watts available might extend some of our rides or make them easier and/or more enjoyable.

One question we had was how we would handle back-to-back multi-day rides when electrical hook-ups weren’t available. We initially planned to just use the 1900W Lithium batteries in our camper since these can be recharged by two 190W solar panels on the roof. When REI put the Goal Zero Yeti 1400W Power Station on sale we jumped on it to have additional storage capacity. We can use the Yeti to charge the bikes and then use the inverter in the van to recharge the Yeti. The Yeti packs enough juice to recharge three Levo batteries. (With a pure sine wave inverter it also powers our Nespresso coffee maker!)

Goal Zero Yeti 1400W Power Station.jpg
That looks like a fantastic area to ebike! Are those MTB trails or are motos also allowed?

You guys sure are geared up. Deluxe Sprinter camper, two Levos, and a 1400w Goal Zero.

I am a low-rent version of you - I have a tiny Jayco trailer, a single Haibike, and a Schumacher SBP1 power unit with a 700W sine wave inverter built in. Same concept as the Goal Zero, but lead acid battery, and it weighs 55 lb. I can get about 2 normal charges of my Haibike 500W battery with it. It is nice not to have to run the generator to charge the ebike battery. If you don't mind the weight and bulk, the SBP1 is only $300 on closeout at Lowes if you can find one, I think they are terminating them. Having some way to charge while camping is another consideration with an ebike. And don't forget that ebike battery charger!
I really like your yeti idea for recharging. I picked up a 1k watt generator off Amazon for $250 and it's like 20lbs. Super convenient. It can run for hours and uses very little gas. Want to start using that instead of the 4kw gen on my 5th wheel for recharging bikes.

Looks like you have the perfect setup to explore the wilderness. I can only get the wife to come camp with me if I tow the mini apartment along.
Great pictures and idea. Like you, I'm hibernating. Might head out that way with the better half and our e-bikes next weekend.
most of that area is open to OHV.

TO the OP, very nice ride report, looks like you had some great weather, the Desert is nice this time of year.
Thanks for the kind comments guys! :)
Thanks also to honkinunit and Phantastic79 for providing other good power solutions.

The Ocotillo Wells SVRA is nearby, but OHVs are not permitted in the State Park itself. In addition, vehicle travel in the Park is only allowed on established “roads” (also applies to bikes).

BTW, Borrego Springs got about an inch of rain yesterday, Jan. 9. We’re heading down tomorrow to take advantage of the “hero-dirt/sand” conditions - WooHoo!
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Mrs levity and I headed back to Anza Borrego Desert State Park Jan. 11-12 after the rains. The first day we rode thru Split Mtn and up Fish Creek to the Drop-Off and Sandstone Canyon. The next morning we rode up Grapevine Canyon and the Jasper Trail. Some pics:

Levo's posing in front of the anticline (more correctly a “drag fold”) in Spit Mtn

Specialized Levos posing in front of the anticline.jpg
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Hi Levity,

Curious if you have any GPS files for these routes, I have done a bunch in Fish Creek, but never any of the other areas. A buddy and I are looking to head out next week if the weather doesn't poop out on us.

Hey Matt,

I don’t have the gps files handy, but the routes are easy to follow since travel in the park is restricted to “roads”. Desert USA has a good map that shows them, and you can download it as a pdf and zoom in to see details.


Here are short descriptions of the routes described above:

Day 1 - Parked off S2 across from Canebrake, rode down Vallecito wash, up Arroyo Tapiado, over to Arroyo del Seco del Diablo, down to Vallecito, and back. A ride where we did it in the reverse direction on non-E bikes is described in the link below, but it was tough climbing through the sand at the top of Diablo so I recommend going up Tapiado and down Diablo.

Day 2 - Parked off Hwy 78 at the turnoff to The Slot (Buttes Pass Rd). Rode to The Slot trailhead, over to and down the dropoff to Borrego Mtn wash, back up into the Slot, down Borrego Mtn wash, up & down Rainbow wash, up and down Hills of the Moon, returning up Buttes Pass Rd and Hawk Cyn. A similar ride on our regular bikes is also described in the above link. The narrow part of The Slot is now closed to vehicles, so you’ll have to hike in if you want to see that section. Here’s a pic of a previous ride when you were allowed further in:

Levo ebike in The Slot.jpg

Day 3 - Parked at the Culp Valley turnoff on S22 (aka Montezuma Hwy). Rode up Culp Valley Rd and connected to the Jasper Trail. There are a couple of side routes to explore on the way to the top.

Jasper Trail from Grapevine Cyn - Parked at Tamarisk Grove campground on S3 near Yaqui Well and rode up Grapevine Cyn to the Jasper Trail. Jasper gets sandy and steep (10-20%), and the E-motor was great to have in the upper sections before the top.

I see that there’s a chance of rain this coming week. If that materializes it should make the sandy conditions a lot better.

Have fun exploring, and share your experiences!
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Excellent information Levity, Thank you very much. That map combined with your descriptions should do the trick.

The weather we've been looking at doesn't show any rain for Anza Borrego, but I can't see how it won't, with what we are gettting here.

Again thank you,