The rise of electric mountain biking

New research sheds light on this rapidly growing hobby

Electric bikes of all styles have seen huge growth in sales in recent years. One in every 20 bikes sold in the UK in 2020 was an electric bike and the e-bike market is now believed to account for 12% of the market (Mintel, 2021). 

Electric mountain bike (e-MTB) sales has been skyrocketing with some shops experiencing greater demand for e-MTBs than for mechanical mountain bikes.

A new report commissioned by British Cycling revealed interesting trends in the fast increasing hobby of off-road e-biking.

What is an electric mountain bike?

Electric mountain bikes are designed for off-road use and generally have chunkier frames, wider tyres and suspension in comparison to other e-bikes. 

With e-MTBs, riders can access the countryside around the UK, spend time in nature, and enjoy longer rides with easier hill climbing thanks to the pedal assist motor.

An extensive study, conducted by Edinburgh Napier University, surveyed both current e-MTB riders and the ‘e-MTB curious’ to understand their motivations and riding habits. The findings reveal some interesting trends in this expanding hobby.

e-MTBs allow more people to enjoy mountain biking

Electric mountain bikes support older people to keep riding and enable riders with disabilities to enjoy the benefits of this form of cycling. The survey found that e-MTBers were older than mechanical MTBers with the majority aged between 45 and 74. Similar to the UK population, 15% of riders had a long-term disability.

Majority of e-MTB riders favour social rides on easier terrains

Many mountain bike riders are not seeking an extreme experience and the majority ride on multi-use trails and paths, gravel access roads and forest trails. The most commonly preferred rides were social rides and easier terrain rides at trail centres. Women riders said riding with friends and family was their preferred type of ride.

Electric mountain biking can help boost physical and mental health

People who ride electric MTBs had 50% less health problems than the average UK population, showing an overlap between positive health outcomes and this activity. They also rode faster, further and more frequently throughout the year compared with other riders. e-MTB riders with disabilities rode the most consistently throughout the year.

Keeping in good mental health was given as a draw to e-mountain biking. Riders gave their main motivations as ‘play’ and the ‘promotion of or benefit to mental health’.

e-mountain biking will keep growing as people recognise its potential

Downhill and Enduro World Champion Mountain Bike Racer and Trek Ambassador, Tracy Moseley, said the study recognised the role of e-MTBs in enabling more people to have adventures on bikes and of connecting people of different abilities to ride together.

She said” “e-MTBs have enabled my dad to come out riding with me and he would never have gone out for a mountain bike ride before. And for me to ride with friends who don’t normally ride bikes: I ride my normal bike and they ride e-bikes so we can have adventures together.”

She said: “I think we’ll see more of this in the future as more people realise what e-bikes are capable of and what they can do.”

You can read the report in full on the British Cycling website.