Author: Veronika Mitterwallner, Manuel J. Steinbauer, Andreas Besold, Andreas Dreitz, Matthias Karl, Nadine Wachsmuth, Veronika Zügler, Volker Audorff
Publisher: Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
The number of people riding mountain bikes (MTBs) with electrical assistance (eMTB) is growing rapidly, creating a substantial switch from conventional mountain biking to electrically assisted mountain biking. Electrical support has the potential to alter riding behaviour on mountain bikes, associated with a change in destination choice and physiological demand. Hence, this study conducted test rides with 10 sport science students riding on conventional and electrically assisted mountain bikes with the purpose to examine how electrical assistance affects the spatio-temporal riding parameters mean speed, total distance, total climb and surface type. In addition, we recorded the physiological parameter heart rate and calculated the energy expenditure when riding conventional MTBs and eMTBs. We found higher speed associated with longer distance and elevated climb on eMTBs, combined with a higher percentage in the use of singletrails. At the same time, participants riding mountain bikes with electrical assistance showed lower heart rates and lower energy expenditure. Moreover, our results indicate that e-assisted participants are able to reach higher altitudes despite a lower endurance performance. Accordingly, the increasing use of eMTBs is leading to an augmentation of the movement capacity of people in natural mountain areas and thus, promoting physical activity and nature experiences on the one hand. However, a higher number of people in sensitive natural systems is also related to increasing risks for flora and fauna, particularly when riding gets “faster – higher – farther”. Informing people about the risks to increase awareness and promote appropriate behaviour in combination with the setting of a proper trail management, is of crucial importance to successfully merge recreation and nature protection in mountain systems.