The e-bike is being used more and more in everyday life as well as in leisure time - for some it serves as an environmentally friendly variant for commuting in the city, for others as a supportive device for tours in nature. It offers many people new opportunities for mobility, but also poses new challenges. The motor solves the problem of fitness, but not that of riding skill. At the same time, the e-bike (actually, the correct term is pedelec) is a much heavier piece of equipment and therefore has to be handled differently than a "normal" bicycle or mountain bike. And indeed, a significant number of e-bike riders have accidents every day, many of them get seriously hurt.
A logical consequence of the constantly growing number of e-bikes, says the appeasing side. The other, critical side sees the causes in the fact that very often inexperienced people rush inexpertly with this means of transport not only into road traffic, but also on forest roads and mountain trails, without ever having dealt with their own driving skills. Lack of knowledge about this vehicle and lack of practice affects the safety and health of users and their surroundings.
Closing this safety gap is the goal of Markus Mitterdorfer, Managing Director of E-Bike Federation GmbH, based in Sillian/East Tyrol. With his company, he sees himself as a global pioneer in the e-bike sector. One of the main areas of expertise is education & training about the latest technology, trends and tips in e-biking and the design of innovative projects for riding safety and training.
In search of a standard process system in the area of riding safety and riding skills for the use of electric bikes, Mitterdorfer initiated the "E-Bike Licence" project for the technical development of digitized bike course elements to provide a basis for assessing individual riding skills. Depending on the element, a variety of skills that are also required for e-biking in alpine terrain are tested. For each skill (e.g. inclination, driving line, speed) a precise analysis and evaluation is carried out afterwards. This allows the participating e-bikers to gain detailed insights into their abilities and if they're safe on the road or need more training.
Jointly with the Entrepreneurial School®, Department of Mechatronics / Research Focus Electronics, the technical development of a driving safety module system was approached. This involves digitally recording and evaluating data via integrated sensors in the course test elements, both on the e-bike and on the rider, and using video analysis tools. In order for the software to know what criteria to use to evaluate, preceding action by humans is necessary. First, various test elements record the ideal line ridden by an e-bike professional. Then, the routes of all subsequent test participants are compared to this line. The measured deviations from this ideal line allow meaningful conclusions on the riding ability.
The ultimate purpose is to enable e-bikers to train and optimize relevant processes and situations on the e-bike as realistically as possible. In doing so, they can pass the driving safety test called "E-Bike Licence", which is considered to be the qualification for safe e-biking.
Now that the initial developments have been successfully completed, Mitterdorfer is looking forward to the follow-up project for refinement, which will be continued at MCI's Health Tech research center with its expertise in sports technology.
Data collection by means of test riders on a parcours element at MCI © MCI
E-bikes beside a river © Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash