MTB Performance: Intrinsic Motivation and Technology–What’s the Tie?

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Words by Amanda Wilks

Your MTB performance depends on two factors. One very large factor is your intrinsic motivation. Why are you in this game? What drives you? Is it a habit? An addiction? Are you doing it because it’s the thing you dream at night, you wake up for, and you want to do for the rest of your life? If that’s so, then technology is what will fuel your ambition and aspiration. Technology is the second most important performance factor. Carbon, computers, dropper seatposts, you name it, they’ll invent it.

What’s the perfect tie for your best MTB performance?

Just How Passionate About MTB Are You?

For competitive and recreational MTB riders alike, maintaining interest, focus, and drive is a crucial part of remaining dedicated to the sport. Athletes of all types are motivated either intrinsically or extrinsically.

Intrinsic motivation involves excelling in an activity for internal reasons. An intrinsically-motivated MTB rider is someone who will participate in the sport because they absolutely cannot live without it, and not necessarily because of outside factors like recognition or financial gain. 

Given that intrinsic motivation comes from within, it may seem odd that technology can influence motivation. However, different technological innovations make each MTB ride more rewarding, which keeps feeding the riders interest in the sport. Multiple studies have linked intrinsic motivation to positive performance outcomes, and this holds true across a variety of disciplines. While being intrinsically motivated will fuel your success and drive, technology can bolster your existing drive.

Because the right mountain bike technology makes MTB riders love what they do even more, choosing the right tools is a field trip. Plus, if you are competitive, the tools below will help improve your speed and your skills

A lighter carbon (bike) frame, for example, makes hill climbing less arduous, which in turn, conserves valuable energy. The right tires improve handling and traction, making it easier to ride in even the most challenging terrain. Hi-tech computers with multiple features and functions allow for tracking of multiple performance markers, which aids in goal setting and allows riders to precisely monitor progress. While the thrill of any new gear is likely to push you to ride more in the short term, the performance benefits will keep you wanting to ride long after the initial excitement has worn off. 

Fuel For Your Performance

Now that we’ve examined how technology fuels ambitions and drive, we’ll look at some specific innovations and examine how they push MTB riders of all levels to stay focused on their goals while improving performance. 

Dropper Seatposts

The Global Mountain Bike Network’s Neil Donoghue has named dropper seatposts as one of the best MTB technological innovations. Dropper posts can be adjusted one-the-fly using a remote, handlebar-mounted lever. While these seatposts are somewhat expensive (and heavy), they allow you to make instant adjustments to better suit the terrain you’re riding. And when you have such a unique piece of technology mounted on your bike, riding becomes even more exciting. 

Hi-Tech Bike Computers

For those looking to improve their own performance, bike computers, as mentioned above, offer a way to do so. These devices are generally very small and add little to no weight to your bike, but they quantify important performance parameters such as heart rate and power output. That data makes it easier for MTB enthusiasts to remain focused and push them to challenge themselves. While there’s some value in keeping track of your perceived exertion and other more subjective factors, having a bike computer helps you to clearly see progress and set definite goals. Nishan Udam of Icebike notes that the odometer feature is especially useful for those who want to push themselves, since it helps you exactly track your mileage.

Electronic Shifting Technology

Most mountain bikes currently rely on mechanical shifting, which involves pressing a lever (or occasionally, using a grip shifter) to change gears. Electronic shifting systems like the Shimano Di2 (short for Digital Integrated Intelligence) allow you to simply use an electronic switch to move between gears. This switch can control both shifters at once, and it also can be preprogrammed. This uniquely customizable technology lets you program shifts in a way that won’t interrupt momentum. And with shifting simplified to a single switch, you’ll be able to better focus on your performance.

Suspension Gauges

Having a bike that is tuned for optimal performance is a major motivating factor, since a bike that is fine-tuned for you and your riding style makes each ride enjoyable and memorable. The ShockWiz, which is a lightweight suspension-tuning system, attaches to your bike and provides feedback on how effectively your suspension is working. It also offers recommendations for precision tuning to improve your ride. 

Conclusion

In short, even though intrinsic cycling motivation comes from within, you can improve your ambition and drive–as well as your performance–by selecting the right technologies for your needs. Maybe you want a hydraulic dropper seatpost so you can lower your saddle while riding, or maybe you just need the hard data that only a cycling computer can provide. Regardless of which technologies you choose, you’ll be sure to have an improved ride. And when each training ride is optimized, mountain biking will remain a major focus of your life for years to come.


Amanda Wilks is a professional writer, mountain bikes reviewerand passionate MTB rider who never misses a new trail and goes as far and wide–including mountain biking at night–to level her energy and keep fit. Visit Amanda’s Twitter for more of her writings.

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