Environmental Impacts from Mtn Bicycles, Electric Mtn Bicycles, & Motorcycles

Soil Displacement and Erosion on Bike-Optimized Trails in a Western Oregon Forest

The emergence of electric bicycles, commonly known as e-bikes, is a rapidly growing component of the bicycle market in the US. As a transportation option, they represent an opportunity to reduce vehicle use and emissions, as well as the physical barriers to cycling. For use on trails, they present similar opportunities to reduce barriers to cycling but, as a new use, present new challenges for trail management.

by International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA)


A Comparison of Environmental Impacts from Mountain Bicycles Class 1 Electric Mountain Bicycles and Motorcycles


In the fall of 2015, under contract with the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA), with counsel from a field of recreation management experts, and through a review of existing studies of erosional impacts from trail users, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) conducted a scientifically controlled field study designed to measure relative levels of soil displacement and erosion resulting from traditional mountain bicycles, electric mountain bicycles (eMTBs), and traditional off-road motorcycles (i.e. dirt bikes). The observations were compiled in controlled environmental conditions, with each type of bike making multiple passes on separated sections of the same trail within a single test site.

Published January 01, 2016

About the Author


The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit educational association whose mission is to create, enhance and preserve great mountain biking experiences.

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