Pedal-Assist Mountain Bikes: A Pilot Study Comparison of the Exercise Response, Perceptions, and Beliefs of Experienced Mountain Bikers

A JMIR Formative Research Study

This study aimed to compare conventional mountain bike and eMTB use. This was done by investigating 2 questions: (1) What proportion of exercise response is retained for an experienced mountain biker while using an eMTB when compared with a conventional mountain bike? and (2) What are the perceptions and beliefs of experienced mountain bikers toward eMTBs both before and after riding an eMTB?

Mountain biking is an aerobic physical activity that has experienced rapid growth. The emergence of the electric pedal-assist mountain bike (eMTB), while not without its critics, presents the potential for an even larger segment of the population to enjoy the health benefits of mountain biking. Although the research focused on the use of e-bikes generally is growing, there is limited research specifically targeting eMTB use. Research is needed exploring the potential exercise response of riding an eMTB, together with the beliefs and perceptions of mountain bikers who have and have not experienced eMTB riding.

A convergent mixed methods data collection approach was used in the study. Participants completed both a pre- and postride questionnaire, and data regarding heart rate were collected. Heart rates from each ride were compared against each other.

The average heart rate during eMTB use was 94% (31/33) of the average heart rate during conventional mountain bike use. Therefore, eMTB use in this study achieved a majority of the exercise response and exceeded established biometric thresholds for cardiovascular fitness. Paired test statistics were calculated to compare beliefs of conventional mountain bikes and eMTBs and to compare mean heart rate and speed between conventional mountain bike and eMTB use on the study loop. Participants overwhelmingly perceived the potential impact of eMTB use to be positive on both pre- and post-eMTB ride questionnaires.

Conclusions: Despite the measured benefit, participants’ perceived exertion while riding the eMTB was low.

Attached document published March 2019


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