Physiological and performance characteristics of road, mountain bike and BMX cyclists


  • Andrew Roman Novak University of Newcastle
  • Benjamin J Dascombe Applied Sports Science and Exercise Testing Laboratory, School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Faculty of Science and Information Technology, University of Newcastle, Ourimbah, Australia Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia


Cycling, Power Profile, Mountain Bike, BMX


The purpose of this research was to quantify several physiological and power output characteristics of high-performance road, cross-country mountain bike (XCMB), downhill mountain bike (DHMB) and bicycle motocross (BMX) cyclists. Twenty-four high-performance cyclists (27 ± 7 yr; 182 ± 6 cm; 79.3 ± 9.7 kg; ∑7SF 69 ± 27 mm; 61.4 ± 9.9 mL·kg-1·min-1) completed both an incremental ramp test and a power profile assessment (PPA) across two separate testing sessions. The PPA consisted of maximal efforts lasting 5 s, 15 s, 30 s, 60 s, 240 s, and 600 s. The ramp test provided measures of VO2MAX, maximal aerobic power (MAP) and individual VO2-power regression equations, whilst the PPA determined metabolic costs, anaerobic capacity and power output across each effort. The data demonstrated that road and XCMB cyclists possessed significantly (p<0.05) higher VO2MAX (65.3-69.6 vs. 52.4-55.3 and anaerobic capacities (1.7-1.8 vs. 0.9-1.3 L) than the DHMB and BMX cyclists. Further, the same cohorts produced significantly (p ≤ 0.05) greater MAP (5.8-6.3 vs 4.4-4.7, as well as relative mean power output across efforts lasting ≥15 s. The BMX and DHMB cyclists demonstrated greater peak power outputs (~200 W) across the shorter efforts of the power profile. The data demonstrate that the road and XCMB cyclists possessed higher aerobic physiological capacities and power outputs than the DHMB and BMX cyclists. The latter disciplines possessed greater explosive power outputs. Together, these findings reflect the specificity of selected traits that are possessed within each cycling discipline.


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Author Biography

Andrew Roman Novak, University of Newcastle

PhD Candidate - Exercise and Sport Science



How to Cite

Novak, A. R., & Dascombe, B. J. (2014). Physiological and performance characteristics of road, mountain bike and BMX cyclists. Journal of Science and Cycling, 3(3), 9-16. Retrieved from



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