Have you ever wondered whether riding an ebike burns a significant amount of calories? Anyone who has tackled tough commutes on an electric bike knows that it is a real workout. But you might think that because of the electric assist, you won’t be burning too many calories. Well, here is the good news! This post shows the surprising number of calories you can burn on an electric bike.
How I Got Fit on an Ebike
For three years I used an ebike to do a 36-mile round trip commute to work every day. My route included huge hills and traversed three cities. During that period of time, I got fitter than I have ever been before or since in my adult life. I even lost some weight. This electric bike worked on the Pedelec system – that is, they don’t work unless you do too!
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How Pedelec Ebikes Work
As you start pedaling, a Pedelec ebike starts assisting you. If you stop pedaling, it stops assisting you. This is the way to go if you want to get fit and burn calories. Some ebikes have only this option; some have this option plus the option to use a throttle and not pedal; and some have only a throttle option. Obviously, you will get little to no exercise with the third option.
On those ebike rides, my body was telling me that it was major exercise. However, that was just my subjective opinion. More important than that – I now have proof that you can get significant exercise on an ebike, and also burn plenty of calories.
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I got this evidence from a friend, Ron Wensel, who is an 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. He can still do group bike rides and even go on long-distance cycling 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.
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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. Which is exactly what happened to me when I rode an ebike to work for three years.
People with Ebikes Ride More
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.
More Evidence about the Health Benefits of Ebikes
Of course, this is not the only evidence about the health benefits of electric bikes. A 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.”
There is plenty more evidence that electric bikes are a great way for all kinds of people to get the exercise we need to keep us healthy – see my post on the 5 most important health benefits of ebikes.
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Bottom Line on How Many Calories Can You Burn Riding an Ebike
You will almost certainly cycle more with an electric bike. Once you have an ebike, rides that might seem impossible on a regular bike become doable and fun! You will be burning up almost as many calories as on a regular bike, but cycling further and more often. So, you will improve your health and burn up many calories riding an ebike.
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!
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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
— Melissa & 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.
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