Riding performance on a conventional bicycle and a pedelec in low speed exercises

Objective and subjective evaluation of middle-aged and older persons

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This study investigated cycling performance of middle-aged (30–45 years old; n = 30) versus older (65+ years; n = 31) participants during low-speed tasks for which stabilization skills are known to be important. Additionally, participants’ self-ratings of their cycling skills and performance were assessed. Participants rode once on a conventional bicycle and once on a pedelec, in counterbalanced order. Three standardized tasks were performed: (1) low-speed cycling, (2) acceleration from a standstill, and (3) shoulder check. During Tasks 1 and 3, the mean absolute steering angle (a measure of the cyclist's steering activity) and the mean absolute roll rate (a measure of the amount of angular movement of the frame) were significantly greater for older participants than for middle-aged participants. These large lateral motions among older cyclists may indicate a difficulty to control the inherently unstable system. Comparing the conventional bicycle and the pedelec, participants reached a 16 km/h threshold speed in Task 2 sooner on the pedelec, an effect that was most pronounced among the older participants. Correlations between skills assessed with the Cycling Skill Inventory and actual measures of cycling performance were mostly not statistically significant. This indicates that self-reported motor-tactical and safety skills are not strongly predictive of measures of actual cycling performance. Our findings add to the existing knowledge on self-assessment of cycling skills, and suggest that age-related changes in psychomotor and sensory functions pose hazards for cycling safety.