A new study out of Brigham Young University has found that despite popular belief, electric bicycle riders get nearly as much exercise as pedal bike riders.
The study was conducted by the Department of Public Health at BYU.
It focused on comparing electric mountain bikes to standard mountain bikes to determine the difference in exercise between the two forms of bicycles.
To measure physical exertion, the study affixed heart rate monitors to riders while they traversed the same trail on both types of mountain bikes.
Questionnaires were also used before and after the rides to determine the subjects’ views towards electric bicycles and their perceptions of the difference between riding each type of bike. When researchers compared the riders’ perceptions of the amount of exercise they received to the actual data, things got interesting.
Ultimately, the study determined that electric mountain bike riders achieved heart rates that were 94% as high as pedal mountain bikers, on average. Thus, the study determined that the electric mountain bike riders received almost as much exercise as the non-electric mountain bike riders.
Interestingly though, the study’s questionnaires found that the riders perceived that the difference in exertion was actually much larger than in reality. Essentially, e-bike riders felt like they weren’t working nearly as hard as they were. That finding suggests that the e-bike might have been providing some sort of placebo effect or increased confidence that helped offset the physical exertion in the riders’ minds.
The study comes at a time when electric mountain bikes, and electric bikes in general, are becoming increasingly popular. The federal government just issued a ruling that opens all national parks to electric bikes, which could further boost the rapid adoption of electric bikes in the US.
I always knew that electric bicycles still provided a good workout (unless you’re going throttle-only, of course), but I never knew it was this close.
I enjoy riding the trails as much as the next guy and now I can enjoy it even more knowing how much of a workout I’m actually getting.
That being said, there are some caveats here before we apply this to e-bikes across the board. For example, mountain biking is one of the more strenuous forms of cycling and it would make sense that electric and pedal bikes would see the smallest gap in exercise here since both require fairly high levels of exertion. If the test were repeated in a city setting, my guess is that the gap would be a bit larger than 6%.
But hopefully, this will be enough to shut up some of the haters who still look down on e-bikes as if they are some sort of abomination.