E-mountain bike riders are working just as hard as standard mountain bike riders, says a study from BYU, busting open one of the most prevalent myths about ebikes.
If you’re still hanging on to the misguided belief that riding an ebike is “cheating” then keep reading — these findings just might change your mind for good.
Researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU) set out to explore the potential exercise response for eMTB riders, so they sent experienced mountain bike riders out on e-mountain bikes and conventional mountain bikes to compare the two.
The subjects were experienced mountain bike riders between the ages of 18 to 65 who had the capacity to participate in moderate-to-vigorous riding for 12-miles or longer.
The participants were fitted with a heart rate monitor and assigned to ride a six-mile loop over rolling terrain, including 700 feet of elevation gain — with one particularly demanding stretch that featured a five percent grade over a mile-long climb — on either an e-mountain bike or a conventional mountain bike.
Then, participants rode the loop a second time on whichever bike they did not ride the first time. In the end, all participants rode the 6-mile loop twice: once on a conventional bike and once on an electric bike.
The results of the study were clear: eMTB riders got just as much vigorous-intensity exercise as conventional mountain bike riders.
Riding both the conventional mountain bike and the eMTB placed participants’ in the upper half of the vigorous-intensity zone: 70-85% maximum heart rate (MHR). Mean heart-rate data indicated the eMTB study loop resulted in an approximate 10 bpm (beat per minute) difference when compared with the conventional mountain bike, however, all participants reached at least moderate levels of intensity and most reached vigorous levels while riding the eMTB.
Researchers noted that the eMTB Riders completed the course an average of 12 min and 40 seconds faster when riding the eMTB as opposed to the conventional mountain bike. The average speed of travel on the eMTB was 4.1 mph (6.6 km/h) faster than on the conventional mountain bike.
Interestingly, eMTB riders may have been working just as hard on their e-mountain bikes as the conventional mountain bikes, but it didn’t feel that way.
Study participants did not perceive riding an eMTB to be a workout or taxing on their cardiovascular system. Most riders reached vigorous levels of intensity while riding the eMTB, however, participants perceived exertion while riding the eMTB was low.
The results suggest e-bikes may be a way to get more people on bikes who are otherwise less inclined to engage in exercise because riding one offers excellent exercise while not feeling like as much work in the process.
“Many of us have these perceived barriers about exercise, that it is hard and painful and all we can remember are bad memories from our 8th-grade gym class,” said Cougar Hall, lead author of the study. “This study could be a critical catalyst for populations who struggle to exercise. The participants got cardiovascular results, but didn’t really feel like they were working out.”
The mountain biking community has seen some resistance when it comes to adopting e-bikes. Concerns have ranged from increased trail damage to decreased trail access to e-MTB not representing the true sport of mountain biking. However, after riding an e-MTB, many riders are changing their perceptions of electric bikes. The majority of study participants were more accepting of e-bikes after riding one, and agreed that e-MTBs allowed them greater and deeper access to backcountry dirt trails.
If you want to learn more about e-mountain bikes, visit Roseville Cyclery’s showroom in Downtown Roseville, or shop our selection of ebikes online.