Can You Exercise With an Electric Bike

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Outside belongs to everyone, and when it comes to exploring it, an ebike is the most accessible option. In fact, accessibility is built right into Rad Power Bikes’ mission statement!

Can You Exercise With an Electric Bike? | Test Ride Tuesday

Throughout the month of March, we’re highlighting the ways in which nature and ebikes go hand-in-hand — from the health benefits of using your ebike for exercise to the products that can keep you on the road longer. It’s also Women’s History Month, and we’re showcasing the women riders who are using our ebikes to get outside like never before.

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Have you ever wondered what kind of a workout you’re getting when you take your electric bike out for a spin?

You’re not the only one — it’s a question we get regularly. And while we’ve previously written blog posts that debunk the idea that ebikes are cheating and highlight the health benefits they’ve brought to our riders’ lives, we wanted to dive a little bit deeper.

So for this edition of Test Ride Tuesday, we ran an experiment.

Now, bear in mind, we’re not even close to being doctors. We used run-of-the-mill activity trackers, rode at different speeds and cadences and on different terrain surfaces depending on our comfort levels on a bike. We were on different Rad bikes, and we were wildly different shapes and sizes of humans. Needless to say, this was not a controlled experiment, and your results will most definitely vary from ours.

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We took five riders and sent them on a 5-mile loop around our Seattle headquarters, one that included a mix of flats and hills. We assigned each of them a different level of pedal assist, which determines how much power the motor supplies. The higher the level of PAS, the more power that comes through when pedaling (think of level 1 as a cup of tea to get your morning started and level 5 as a third pot of coffee that helps you hit a midnight deadline.)

Tracking the number of calories burned by each rider, we provided them with heart rate monitors. Here are the findings:

Pedal Assist Level

Results from a 5 mile, mixed-terrain loop over ~ 30-40 minutes. 

To our surprise, we found that a lower level of pedal assist did not guarantee a higher number of calories burned. To help us interpret these results, we consulted with Randy, a knowledgeable customer experience representative and certified personal trainer at Rad Power Bikes. Randy explained, “Several factors contribute to the calories burned, including body size, body mass index, and cardiovascular health. If you have a higher BMI and are new to fitness, you will burn more calories while riding.”

However, Randy emphasized that an electric bike can still provide a great workout. The energy exerted by each rider is what matters most, regardless of the level of pedal assist used.

This energy expenditure is measured by something called the Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET). MET is used by scientists to gauge the intensity of various activities. For instance, walking around the office has an MET value of approximately 3.5, while riding a regular bicycle for leisure has an MET value of 6.

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When riding an electric bike, the MET value can be controlled by pedaling harder. According to a study, the average MET value for riding an ebike at a comfortable pace is 5.2, slightly higher than that of a stationary cycle.

“Despite the assistance, you are still getting a workout, and the best thing about electric bikes is that they are enjoyable,” explained Randy. “If you find a fun and healthy activity, you’re more likely to stick with it, which is beneficial for your long-term fitness goals.”

If you’re interested in owning an electric bike, we have the perfect model for you, whether you want to stay active or accomplish your daily tasks. Visit our ebike picker to find the right ride for you. Please note that this is not a controlled science experiment and does not make any health or medical claims. Ride within the limits of your own ability and that of your bike.