Electrically assisted cycling for individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a pilot randomized controlled trial

Jessica E Bourne, Sam Leary, Angie Page, Aidan Searle, Clare England, Dylan Thompson, Robert C Andrews, Charlie Foster, Ashley R Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


BACKGROUND: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and its associated complications puts considerable strain on healthcare systems. With the global incidence of T2DM increasing, effective disease management is essential. Physical activity (PA) is a key component of T2DM management; however, rates of PA engagement are low in this population. Developing effective and sustainable interventions that encourage PA is a high priority. Electrically assisted bicycles are becoming increasingly popular and may increase PA in healthy adults. This study aimed to provide evidence of the feasibility of conducting a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of an e-cycling intervention to increase PA and improve health in individuals with T2DM.

METHODS: A parallel-group two-arm randomized, waitlist-controlled pilot study was conducted. Individuals were randomized to either an e-bike intervention or standard care. The intervention incorporated two one-to-one e-bike skills training and behavioural counselling sessions delivered by a community-based cycling charity, followed by a 12-week e-bike loan with two further sessions with the instructors. Feasibility was assessed via measures related to recruitment, retention and intervention implementation. Post-intervention interviews with instructors and participants explored the acceptability of the study procedures and intervention. Clinical, physiological and behavioural outcomes were collected at baseline and post-intervention to evaluate the intervention's potential.

RESULTS: Forty participants (Mage = 57) were randomized, of which 34 were recruited from primary care practices. Thirty-five participants were retained in the trial. The intervention was conducted with high fidelity (> 80% content delivered). E-bike training provided participants with the skills, knowledge and confidence needed to e-bike independently. Instructors reported being more confident delivering the skills training than behavioural counselling, despite acknowledging its importance. The study procedures were found to be acceptable to participants. Between-group differences in change during the intervention were indicative of the interventions potential for improving glucose control, health-related quality of life and cardiorespiratory fitness. Increases in overall device measured moderate-to-vigorous PA behaviour following the intervention were found, and there was evidence that this population self-selected to e-cycle at a moderate intensity.

CONCLUSIONS: The study's recruitment, retention, acceptability and potential efficacy support the development of a definitive trial subject to identified refinements.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN, ISRCTN67421464 . Registered 17/12/2018.

Original languageEnglish
Article number60
Number of pages19
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Bristol. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Availability of data and materials
Data are available upon reasonable request to the corresponding author


  • E-cycling
  • Electrically assisted cycling
  • Physical activity
  • Pilot randomized controlled trial
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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