Research Shows that Ebike Riders are Not ‘Cheating’

A research paper published by members of Brigham Young University in the USA has concluded that eMTB riders are working their bodies almost as hard as those on regular bikes.

In the study, 33 regular MTB riders aged 18 to 65 formed the pool, with each participant tracked via Strava over a 10 kilometre loop of hilly terrain including 200 metres of elevation gain.

The like-for-like challenge had riders complete a loop on both a pedal-powered machine and an electric mountain bike.

While some results – such as an average 12-minute faster completion of the route on the ebike – were unsurprising, others make interesting reading to further dispel the notion that riders are ‘cheating’.

Aboard the electric bikes average heart rates were just ten beats per minute (bpm) below those using entirely their own steam, who registered an average of 155 bpm. At 145 bpm, the electric bike users are falling well within the range of ‘vigorous intensity’ of workout, something that the researchers say makes the two readings negligible in beneficiary difference.

What’s perhaps more significant is that, when asked, users of the electric bike generally had a perception that they had not exerted quite as heavily as they had. Users with assistance generally cruised at 6 kilometres per hour faster too, lending weight to the often reported extra distance covered when taking out an electric bicycle.

Having tried one, the authors of the study also gauged the user’s acceptance of an electric bike pre and post ride. It was discovered that 61% became more accepting of eMTBs after having experienced riding with the assistance technology of an eMTB.

  • This study echoes previous researchers’ findings:
  • A 10,000 strong study of Europeans found that in usage terms, pedal assisted riders reported significantly longer trip distances.
  • Colorado researchers found notable improvements in cardiovascular health of participants using electric bikes.
  • A Norwegian study discovered that electric bike users experience physical exertion over 95% of their typical journey and that e-Bike riders used 51% of lung capacity compared to pedal cyclists’ 58%.

This article was first published in Cycle Industry News.

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