Some people seem to think that riding an e-bike is much like surfing a couch – that riding an electric bike requires expending no energy and burning no calories. Anyone who has tackled tough commutes on an electric bike knows how wrong that is! This post shows the surprising number of calories you can burn on an electric bike.
I am exhausted after my 36 mile round trip commute, which includes huge hills and traverses three cities. I sincerely hope and believe that my regular electric bike rides will help me get healthier, and even lose some weight. After all, most electric bikes (including mine) work on the Pedelec system – that is, they don’t work unless you do too!
I bristle with fury when anyone compares my exhausting commute to sitting on a couch. My body tells me that it is major exercise. Now, I have the proof!
I have a friend, Ron Wensel, who is a brilliant engineer. Ron started designing Pedal Easy electric bikes after suffering four heart attacks. (You can read a review of his Pedal Easy bikes here.) Then he started asking the same question that has bothered many other people:
How many calories can you burn on an electric bike?
Ron used his engineering smarts to find out. He came up with proof that he could burn almost as many calories on an electric bike as on a regular bike.
Because of his heart constraints, Ron always uses a heart rate monitor while cycling (here is a post about how to get fit with a heart rate monitor). He can still do group bike rides and even go on long-distance biking vacations with his wife: he just wears his heart rate monitor, pedals the bike like a regular bike – and then uses the electric assistance whenever his heart rate is close to his “danger zone” of 140 beats per minute.
Heart Rate Monitor Records Prove that you Burn almost as Many Calories on an Electric Bike as on a Regular Bike
Being a scientist, Ron did some testing to see how many calories you can burn with an electric bike. He did the same ride two times, once with assistance and once without, and measured all the stats.
Ron’s heart rate monitor not only measured his heart rate – it also supplied some very interesting information about the calories he burned on the two bike rides. This graph shows both bike rides, with the number of calories burned on both rides.
Notice that when Ron used electric assistance, he burned up 444 calories. When he did the bike ride without electric assistance, he burned up 552 calories. So riding with electrical assistance resulted in burning only 20% less calories. Burning 440 calories in an hour is a big deal – done regularly, this kind of calorie burn could result in significant weight loss.
This shows very clearly that you can burn a lot of calories cycling on an electric bike. I am very happy about this, and plan to keep riding my electric bike as much as I can. Which reminds me – research shows clearly that people who buy electric bikes end up cycling many more miles than people who buy regular bikes! The effect is even stronger with women.
Of course, this is not the only evidence about the health benefits of electric bikes.
A new study done by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder has shown that cycling regularly on an electric bike provides people with an effective workout and improves cardiovascular health. The point of the research was to see whether pedelecs could help physically inactive people achieve the recommended daily exercise levels. Lead author and researcher James Peterman said:
“Commuting with a pedelec can help individuals incorporate physical activity into their day without requiring them to set aside time specifically for exercise.”
What is a Pedelec?
Pedelecs are bikes that require the cyclist to pedal in order to get the motor to kick in. There are some electric bikes that can be ridden with throttle only, so that the rider is not required to actually pedal. The Haibike (reviewed here) is an example of a Pedelec, while the Emotion City is an example of a bike that can be ridden in throttle only mode (and can also be used as a pedelec).
Bottom Line: You will cycle more with an electric bike – and the cycling will improve your health and burn up many calories.
So if you want to move from being a non-exerciser to an exerciser, and integrate exercise into your daily life – without the stress of being unable to make it up hills – a pedelec electric bike seems to be a great way to go!
In The Netherlands, one in five new bicycles sold is electric, with 80% of them bought by people over the age of 50. pic.twitter.com/W8axffWxZn
— Chris Bruntlett (@modacitylife) July 22, 2016
Thanks to Ron Wensel for the information in this post. Check out his electric bikes at Pedal Easy. You can also read more about the health benefits of electric bikes in his paper presented to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
Thinking of buying an Electric Bike? Check out my new 2017 edition of How to Buy the Best Electric Bike! Buy it here.
Read all about How to Buy the Best Electric Bike here.
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