Ron Wensel is a heart attack survivor who still cycles – a lot! He joins his wife on group rides, and they even do extended cycling tours. Ron makes sure that he does not trigger another heart attack by using a combination of a heart rate monitor and an electric bike that he designed himself – the Pedal Easy electric bike.
I have had the privilege meeting Ron twice, and I have had a very enjoyable bike ride with him. Ron is one of the most impressive men I have ever met – quiet and soft-spoken, yet talented, fearless, and heroic. He is a talented mechanical engineer, and spent 35 years designing ultra-high reliability mechanical equipment for nuclear and aerospace. At one point he was the lead investigator following the Challenger Space Shuttle accident. Subsequently he was the lead designer of sealing for the Advanced Solid Rocket motors. Oh, and he commuted to work by bike!
When asked about how he invented relativity, Einstein said:
“I thought of that while riding my bicycle.”
Clearly, cycling brings oxygen to the brain, and I bet Ron did some great thinking as he commuted to work.
Unfortunately, Ron suffered four heart attacks a few years ago. He wanted to keep on cycling, but his doctor warned him that letting his heart rate go over 140 could trigger another heart attack – possibly a fatal one. That would keep most people on the couch, but not Ron! He decided that he would find a way to keep cycling without over-exerting himself. He applied his engineering skills to the problem – and created an ultra-light, power-assisted bicycle to enable him to keep cycling. These designs would eventually lead to the Pedal Easy electric bike – possibly the lightest electric bike on the market.
Ron still provides technical advice for Pedal Easy – and he still cycles! So far he has logged a lifetime mileage of 150,000 km. Total respect!
Light exercise can actually help the heart to recover, and that was Ron’s plan.
With these electric bikes and his heart rate monitor, Ron can still do group bike rides and even go on long-distance biking vacations with his wife: he just wears a heart rate monitor, pedals the bike like a regular bike – and then uses the throttle whenever his heart rate is close to his “danger zone” of 140 beats per minute.
Ron’s Pedal Easy Electric Bikes are very competitively-priced (around $1,500) – and Pedal Easy offers a whole range of lightweight, long-range electric bikes. The lightweight bikes are integrated with a small, high-efficiency battery and motor.
These very efficient Pedal Easy electric bikes don’t LOOK like electric bikes. As you can see, the small, light battery is cunningly concealed in a saddle bag. The motor in the rear hub is so small that most people would not notice it. In fact, when I tried the bike out, a cycling friend saw the bike and said, “Oh, not riding electric today?” I told him it WAS an electric bike, and he was amazed. And the bikes are nicely specced with mid-range Shimano components. The frames are built to be super strong but lightweight.
The total weight of Pedal Easy electric bikes, with battery and fenders, is as low as 28 pounds.
The electric assistance on these Pedal Easy bikes is controlled with a throttle. Because the bikes are so light, you can choose to use them as regular bikes (pedaling only) or on full throttle (no pedaling at all) – or somewhere in between.
Keeping your heart rate under control with a Pedal Easy electric bike
Ron took his Pedal Easy electric bike on two one-hour rides over moderately hilly terrain. On the first ride he used throttle assist for the tougher parts. This first graph produced by his heart rate monitor shows the one-hour ride WITH throttle assist. As you can see, Ron was able to keep his heart rate under 140 (the red zone starts at 140). You can also see that his heart rate is in the zone for cardiac exercise and cardiac benefits for most of the bike ride.
A few days later Ron did the same bike ride on the same Pedal Easy electric bike, but without throttle assist. As you can see, his heart rate went well above 140 – sometimes even as high as 170 beats per minute. Fortunately, he survived this test.
These graphs clearly show that using an electric bike enables cyclists to get cardio exercise, but without endangering themselves if they have health limitations.
Testing calories burned cycling on electric bikes
Ron’s heart rate monitor supplied some very interesting information about calories 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 the throttle assist to protect his heart, he burned up 444 calories during the one-hour bike ride. When he did the bike ride without throttle assist, he burned up 552 calories during the one-hour bike ride. This shows that using the electric bike 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.
Ron’s story is exciting for two reasons:
- It shows that heart disease patients can use electric bikes to keep on cycling, while still following their doctor’s orders about keeping their heart rate fairly low.
- It shows that many calories are burned cycling on an electric bike.
Thanks to Ron Wensel for the information in this post. Check out his electric bikes at Pedal Easy.
Note: I am currently test riding one of these bikes, trying it out on my daily bike commutes (and I am very happy to know that I am still burning about 1,000 calories per day on my bike commute). My first impression of the bike was “Awesome Commuter Bike!” – and here is my full review of the Pedal Easy electric bike.
Deciding which electric bike is the best electric bike for YOU is difficult. I have written a book about how to choose the best electric bike for you. The book includes reviews of many of the best electric bikes on the market today. Find out more about this book on Amazon.
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