While the current E-bike boom is in no doubt, leading bike components manufacturer Shimano has now released a report outlining the reasons why so many people have turned to this relatively new activity.
From a top-level competitive sport – the first UCI E-Mountain Bike World Championships were held in 2019 in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada – to a popular leisure activity and efficient means of transport, E-biking is increasingly finding its niche in modern society.
In April this year, Shimano, a long-standing partner of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), questioned more than 13,000 people from 11 countries across Europe, grouping the results in a State of the Nation report.
Of those surveyed, nearly a quarter said they already owned an E-bike or were likely to buy or use one more this year than last year. One of their main motivations was to be able to ride further and up steeper climbs, with almost one in three (32%) citing these as reasons for taking to an E-bike. While 31% of E-bike owners or potential users said they would mainly use the bike for leisure or family activities, more than a quarter (28%) would use if for commuting purposes. Meanwhile 16% see the E-Bike as a way to practice sport and work on their fitness, with 37% of Europeans in the 55+ age group thinking the E-bike can improve their physical health.
To the contrary, the study revealed that 19% of those who are neutral or not likely to use an E-bike are put off because they don’t think their fitness will benefit, with one in five 18-24-year-olds viewing E-biking as “cheating”.
However orthopedic consultant surgeon, Professor Chris Oliver, also known as the ‘cycling surgeon’ says research has shown that exercise on an E-bike is comparable to that on a traditional bike. The Edinburgh (Great Britain)-based professor adds: “E-bike cycling reduces the risk factors for a number of diseases including cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, some cancers and type II diabetes.”
He also welcomed the findings that 22% would use an E-bike for their mental health, adding that E-bike activities could lead to reduced risk of dementia, improved sleep quality and a greater sense of well-being.
The Shimano study reveals that concerns for the environment are another motivation for taking to the E-bike, particularly among those in the younger age group: 18% of adults are like to start using an E-bike to reduce the environmental impact of their travel, with this percentage rising to 26% in the 18-24 age group.
The main barrier to E-bike use is expense, according to the report, which concludes: “If cost is the main barrier to getting people riding bikes, it opens up the discussion of hire schemes, subsidies and different purchase methods for consumers…”
European Cyclists’ Federation Co-CEO Jill Warren welcomed the State of the Nation report, which highlights the physical, environmental and economic benefits the E-bike has had on the continent. She said the advantages have been further underlined this year: “The benefits of E-bikes have become even more apparent in the coronavirus recovery phase where they are considered as a way to maintain social distancing and avoid overcrowding on public transport, and for their role in a green recovery.”
Meanwhile Chris Bruntlett, co-founder of the creative agency Modacity and co-author of the book Building the Cycling City: the Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality said: “… a pedal assisted boost can be nothing short of transformational, addressing many of the physical and psychological barriers to its (cycling’s) mass uptake.”
The online survey questioned 13,412 adults from the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, France, Sweden, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Norway Spain and Poland.