The German Naturalistic Cycling Study - Comparing cycling speed of riders of different e-bikes and conventional bicycles.

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleContributedpeer-review


  • K. Schleinitz - , Chemnitz University of Technology (Author)
  • T. Petzoldt - , Chemnitz University of Technology (Author)
  • L. Franke-Bartholdt - , Chemnitz University of Technology (Author)
  • J.F. Krems - , Chemnitz University of Technology (Author)
  • T. Gehlert - , German Insurance Association e.V. (Author)


In recent years, the number of electric bicycles on European, American and especially Chinese roads has increased substantially. Today, 11% of all bicycles sold in Germany are e-bikes. Given their potential to reach higher maximum speeds, concerns have been raised about a possible increase in crash risk associated with e-bike use. However, as of now, it is unclear if and how often the potentially higher speed is actually reached in everyday cycling. As part of the German Naturalistic Cycling Study we measured and compared the speed of three bicycle types (conventional bicycles, pedelecs (pedalling supported up to 25 km/h), S-pedelecs (pedalling supported up to 45 km/h)) under naturalistic conditions. Ninety participants, divided in three age groups, took part in our study. Participants used their own bikes or e-bikes. The bicycles were equipped with a data acquisition system, which included sensors to record speed and distance, as well as two cameras. Data was collected over a period of four weeks for each participant. Nearly 17,000 km of cycling were recorded in total. The statistical analysis revealed significant differences in mean speed between all three bicycle types. Pedelec riders were, on average, 2 km/h faster than cyclists. S-pedelec speed was even 9 km/h higher. A similar pattern was also found when analysing free flow conditions and uphill or downhill cycling separately. The highest speed was measured on carriageways and bicycle infrastructure, regardless of bicycle type. Participants aged over 65 years rode significantly slower than younger participants. Data on acceleration from standstill largely confirm the differences between bicycle types and age groups. The results show that electric bicycles indeed reach higher speeds than conventional bicycles regularly. Although it is unclear if this also leads to an increase in crash risk, it can be assumed that the consequences of a crash might be, on average, more severe.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-297
Number of pages8
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


Title3rd International Cycling Safety Conference
Abbreviated titleICSC 2014
Conference number3
Duration18 - 19 November 2014
LocationChalmers University

External IDs

Scopus 84939863578
ORCID /0000-0003-3162-9656/work/142246908



  • e-bikes, Geschwindigkeit, Infrastruktur, Naturalistic Cycling Study