If you’re thinking that gliding along on an electric bike is all relaxation and no work, think again. An electric bike is not an electric motorcycle or scooter! Fair warning: there’s still work involved. In fact, there might be more work involved than you think.
We want to bust the myth that electric bikes make you lazy or that people who use them don’t get the same quality of a workout as regular bicycle riders. This is one of those instances that the obvious answer is simply wrong – but not for the reasons that you might suspect!
Surprising Scientific Studies About E-Bike Users’ Fitness Levels
Did you know that people actually made scientific studies about the level of fitness that an ebike can provide compared to a regular bicycle? People that deal with e-bikes on a daily basis knew this for a long time. “With the addition of an electric motor, you can go on longer, more challenging rides.” say the guys at Really Good Bikes. But aside from professional opinion, there is a lot of science behind this claim.
There were actually quite a few studies done about this – perhaps because so many people wondered about it. It’s a question that pops into everyone’s head when they see a cyclist biking up a hill without breaking a sweat and realizing that this seemingly inhuman feat is being accomplished with a bit of help. Are they cheating? Or are they simply going further and accomplishing more? For someone who is used to “putting in the work” this might seem like a free ride.
But take a look at the study results!
Cougar Hall, the lead author of a study that aims to see how much impact e-biking has on people that need cardiovascular exercise but don’t have the stamina they need to keep going when biking for sport. Recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, it’s a small scale study that shows that with pedal assistance, people might not get their heart rate up as much as conventional riders, but they get it up to where it counts the most – and for longer, because they don’t feel the same type of strain. This makes it plausible that e-bikes can provide a lot more solid exercise than regular bicycles – and are a great way to ease in and continue a healthy lifestyle!
One of the most important takeaways here might be – when we exercise, or try to “force” ourselves into exercise, we might be doing it too hard.
E-Bikes on Difficult Trails
E-bikes also make it possible for people to accomplish the things they didn’t think were possible at their fitness level. And when you accomplish hard things you tend to get motivated to do more. It’s simply human psychology at work. Besides, when the pedal assist kicks in and makes it possible for you to tackle a steep incline or a mountainous trail, you want to see how far you can take it!
The Mountain Bike Clique
Let’s face it – mountain biking was at once a pariah. It’s a relatively new sport (compared to, let’s say – road biking) and they were attacked by hikers, nature conservationists and traditional bikers alike. Now, we have a new generation of mountain bikes on the scene, and the “old boys” of mountain biking aren’t too eager to let them have a seat at their lunch table.
In reality, e-bikes make mountain biking on harder trails more accessible to people who have had injuries, aren’t as physically fit or are only beginning. Or, the ones who enjoy biking on trains harder, faster and further. The important thing is getting out on the trail. Purism aside, these bikes don’t make noise, and you can’t go THAT much faster than you already are on a mountain trail that’s full of hairpin turns, can you?
This article from the San Jose Mercury News does a great job explaining the problems that some conventional mountain bikers have with the newcomers – and they’re scared that once remote trails are going to be taken over by people who can’t go the distance.
While e-biking gives you a boost, the fact is – unless you were going to be out on the hard trails anyway, or were very interested in doing so, you’re not just magically going to get transported there the second you get on an e-mountain bike. You still need to build up strength and stamina before you hit the difficult terrain.
So maybe you will be able to go further and do so faster than all of those complainers?
Go the distance
Because e-bikes can make your workout less strenuous, they will inevitably make your workout go on for longer. You’ll get tired less quickly and want to keep going – especially if it’s easier and the pedal assist feels like someone gave you super powers.
This is how first-time e-bike riders describe the experience – it’s like having a superhuman power. And having superhuman strength seems like a lot of fun. Remember- just because a workout doesn’t cause you to sweat a bucket doesn’t mean it’s not working.
One of the biggest factors here is the time frame – you can have a longer and steadier workout on an e-bike, even if you’re going through some tough terrain. Challenge yourself on the distance and you’ll have better results than you ever thought possible.
Don’t listen to purists – most cutting edge heroes don’t. E-bikes have been around for a long time, and if anyone asks you, the year of the first e-bike is actually 1897. They might give you a turbo boost but it doesn’t mean you’re not putting work into your exercise. You might be putting in more than the traditional bikers, and not even realizing it!