Sales of electric bicycles have increased significantly in recent times. In 2020, 4.6 million e-bikes were sold in the EU and UK, an increase of 52% year-on-year. In the UK, nearly one in three adult bikes sold are now electric.
As a specific category of an electric bike, electric mountain bikes can increase the accessibility of the outdoors for cyclists who would otherwise be socially or physically excluded. They can also help to equalize the cycling skills of different riders.
But they are also the subject of much controversy, as e-bikes allow cyclists to go much further and faster in the countryside. This has led to an intense debate among cyclists, riders and walkers about what constitutes acceptable levels of speed, noise and erosion of this new technology.
Indeed, on social networking sites and various internet forums, there is also a widespread perception that e-mountain bike riders are selfish, lazy and anti-social. These cyclists are also accused of being too dependent on the motor and moving at speeds dangerous for other users of the countryside, which would damage the cycle lanes and the environment at large.
Environmental implications of electric bikes
Introducing a motor and battery to a mountain bike could allow many more riders to access the great outdoors. But the heavier components, wider tires, and increased torque are causing many riders to worry about the potential impact on the environment.
Our research shows that traditional mountain biking involves a complex relationship between riders, bikes, and the terrain. Through careful experimentation and progression, riders learn to be mindful of the limits and capabilities of their body and their bike. And in doing so, they gain a deep appreciation of both the feel of the trail and the topography of the landscape.
This has been shown to influence their encounters with other user groups, as mountain bikers make concessions to walkers and riders based on a mutual understanding of the terrain. Riders often give way to walkers traveling uphill and may choose to wait before crossing horses on rugged trails to avoid dislodging objects that could strike or frighten the animal.
The fear with e-bikes is that adding a motor makes users complacent about the demands of the terrain and the needs of others – with cyclists prioritizing the ascent as quickly as possible or going too. far than they can on a single battery.
But while many of these fears and complaints may be valid, most are based on anecdotal evidence rather than actual research. So, as part of our latest project, which has yet to be published, we spoke with 30 e-bike riders in England to learn more about why people choose e-bikes and how they use them. Actually. What our results indicate so far is that e-ATV users are often more responsible than perceptions suggest.
The advantages of electric bikes
Participants we have spoken to so far have told us that they are constantly asking other cyclists (non-e-bikes) how tired they are or how difficult the terrain is to navigate, to get around. adapt to the rhythm and energy levels of the group.
When cycling with non-bikes, participants also told us that they position themselves in the back to avoid ‘rubbing other people’s noses in it’, while some said they swap bikes. with others when they were too tired to continue. .
E-bikes also seem to have a broader social role when it comes to crime, poor health and social exclusion. One participant – a former soldier with a disability – said his e-bike was the springboard for a new social enterprise that tackles youth delinquency through cycling. We also heard from several older participants who said that buying an electric bike has significantly improved their physical and mental well-being.
Risks and Benefits of Electric Bikes
On the flip side, we have also had reports of horsemen breaking into groups of marchers. And one of our attendees, who works in the bicycle industry, was aware of two instances where e-MTB cyclists went too far into the wilderness, ran out of battery, and had to call the air ambulance. .
This concern is further illustrated by certain relations between bikers and the battery and the on-board computer. While our research is still ongoing, many participants described how the Bluetooth link between their bikes and GPS tracking applications such as Strava enabled them to more effectively “compete” with their friends.
These are isolated incidents, but they reinforce existing studies that illustrate how tracking devices can be combined with other forms of technology in sport and physical activity to enable immoral, disrespectful and irresponsible forms of behavior. Using Strava to encourage fast, competitive driving has also been linked to increased trail damage and surface erosion.
To quote famous mountain biking commentator Rob Warner, “Electric mountain bikes are the most important thing that has happened to mountain biking since mountain biking.” They allow people to overcome a series of social and physical barriers and engage in more outdoor exercise.
But questions remain as to whether the risk to the environment outweighs the potential gains to culture, health and society. More research is needed to ensure future conversations are informed by evidence rather than anecdotes.
This article was originally published on The conversation through Jim cherrington To Sheffield Hallam University. Read it original article here.