E-Bike Fitness: How Many Calories Are Burned Riding An E-Bike?

Many of us ride bikes to get fit and lose weight. Cycling is an excellent low-impact activity with many health benefits, but when it comes to an electric bike vs a normal bike, do the benefits increase or decrease? 

In this article, we'll investigate electric bike exercise and how many calories are burned riding a bicycle.

How to calculate Calories Burned

Let's start with the basics by calculating how many calories are burned riding a bicycle. Accurately, working this out requires some equipment.

Using A Power Meter

The most accurate method of calculating how many calories are burned riding a bicycle is to fit your bike with a power meter, which measures how much power you put into the pedals. The device you connect it to, such as a bike computer or mobile phone app, should use the information from the power meter to calculate your calories burned bike riding.

If you're wondering how it does this, the calculation involves converting watts into joules and multiplying the figure by 3.6. This figure compensates for the difference between a cal and a joule.

Power (watts) x time (hours) x 3.6 = calories burned (kcal)

Using A Heart Rate Monitor

You can also work out calories burned by bike riding with a heart rate monitor. This device straps around your chest or can be built into a watch, and it tracks your heart rate while you ride. Using your age, gender, and weight, your heart rate monitor can give you a reasonably accurate picture of calories burned when biking.

We recommend using a chest-strap heart rate monitor as they are more accurate than wrist-mounted ones. The good thing about using a heart rate monitor is that you don't need to do any calculations, as fitness tracking apps like Strava or Training Peaks will do the hard work for you.

Generally, the calories burned stated by a heart rate monitor has an accuracy of over 20%. Therefore, if it says you burned 2,000 calories during a ride, you've probably burned somewhere between 1,600 and 2,400 calories.

Experience calorie-burning rides with the HappyRun Tank G50 electric bike

Experience calorie-burning rides with the HappyRun Tank G50 electric bike

Rough Calorie Burn Estimates

You may not have a heart rate monitor or power meter. Still, you can get a rough idea of how many calories burned in bicycle riding. It's important to understand that several factors affect calorie burn while exercising. The terrain you ride, your physiology and fitness, and what you perceive as easy or difficult will make a difference in how many calories you burn. Also, if you're riding an electric bike, you would need to consider which assistance level you use, but we will go into this later.

If you were to go on a leisurely ride on a traditional bike, such as a commute or a gentle pedal, most people should expect to burn around 300 calories in an hour. Riding with moderate effort, to a point where you build up a mild sweat, and working reasonably hard should burn roughly 600 calories per hour. But, if you pedaled flat out or were climbing a steep hill, your calorie burn figure can reach 1,000 per hour.

Electric Bike Vs Regular Bike

Some purists don't like the idea of riding an electric bike for fitness. They often regard riding an ebike as cheating, but they couldn't be more wrong. Of course, you can make your life easier by using higher assistance levels, but you can get a great workout and burn calories on an ebike.

To lose weight, you must consistently burn more calories than you consume. According to Canyon Bikes, you can burn between 100 and 600 calories per hour. But this depends on how much assistance you use and how intense you ride.

If you haven't got a heart rate monitor, you can still get a good idea of how intense your workout is. For example, suppose you don't feel like your muscles are working hard and your breathing isn't elevated. In that case, you're not burning many calories. On the other hand, if you're sweating, panting, and feeling strain in your leg muscles, you're burning lots of calories.

Ebike Excercise Tested By Science

Scientific studies have proven that someone riding an electric bike can work more than 90% of the level of someone on a regular bike. But the added advantage is that the electric bike rider has a lower perceived effort, making their ride more pleasant and encouraging them to ride further.

Researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah sent a group of experienced mountain bikers on a 10-kilometer bike ride. They first completed the course on regular mountain bikes before checking their heart rates. The mountain bikers then completed the route a second time but on electric mountain bikes. Their heart rates reached 94% of their average heart rate when riding their regular mountain bikes, and they still got into training zone four. This showed that the riders still worked hard, even with motor assistance.

The university researchers also found that ebike commuting is excellent for your health. Their studies showed that ebike commuters reach an average heart rate of 84% of someone on a traditional bike. Of course, this is lower, but it considerably contributes to a healthier and more active lifestyle.

Ebikes Are Motivational

Electric bikes are excellent for fitness motivation and maximizing calorie burn. If you have an ebike, you're more likely to go for a ride. For example, a 20-mile bike ride may not sound fun on a regular bike, causing you to put your feet up in front of the TV. However, knowing those 20 miles would be easier and more fun on an electric bike will motivate you to go for a pedal. The calories burned biking 20 miles may not be as much, but at least you went for a ride. In fact, studies say that electric bike riders spend 60% more time riding than those on regular bikes.

Tips for Maximizing Caloric Burn On An Ebike

So far, we've covered the basics of ebike exercise, but there are several ways you can use an electric bike to burn calories and improve fitness; here are some examples:

Use The Electric Bike's Assistance Levels

Switching between the assistance levels allows you to tailor your workout to suit your fitness goals. If you wanted an aerobic workout to improve your base fitness level, you could keep your effort low and the assistance level high to reach about 50 to 70% of your maximum heart rate. This kind of exercise gives you a good fitness level to build from.

You can also use the assistance levels to burn many calories by ensuring your heart rate is in zones 3 and 4. To do this, start riding with your ebike switched off until your heart rate reaches around 70%. Then, select "Eco" mode to drop your heart rate into the fat-burning zone. Keep doing this through all the assistance levels to stay in the fat-burning zone.

Ignite calorie-burning journeys with the Class 3 speed Tank G60 e-bike

Ignite calorie-burning journeys with the Class 3 speed Tank G60 e-bike

Go For Longer Rides

Riding longer distances is much more entertaining and less intimidating on an electric bike than on a regular one. Also, e-bike motor and battery technology is improving every year, allowing us to ride further than ever with assistance. The longer you ride, the more calories you burn and improve your health.

How far your electric bike will take you depends on a few things. Your weight, how hilly your route is, the weather, and your riding style all affect your e-bike range. However, depending on your ebike's battery and motor size, you could ride between 20 and 100 miles.

If you use your electric bike for commuting, you may want to take the long way home occasionally. This is a great way to unwind after a stressful day at work while squeezing in a little more ebike exercise.

Don't Go Too Hard Too Soon

Electric bikes make outdoor exercise more manageable, but if you're just starting your fitness journey, ease yourself into it. Start with shorter, low-intensity rides to understand your capabilities and how far your battery will take you.

Plan Some Good Routes

Novice ebike riders should start with less demanding routes. It's good to have a selection of routes to keep riding interesting and to slowly increase your distance. Even though you have an electric motor, steep and long climbs can be taxing, so try to avoid them in the early days if your fitness isn't up to scratch.

Set Yourself Challenges

You will soon notice an improvement in your fitness, and this is when you can start to set yourself challenges, no matter how small. For example, when you begin riding up steep hills, see how far you can climb using a lower assistance level to increase the intensity of your ride. Then try to ride further the next time you pedal up that hill. Also, if you're not in a hurry, choose a section of your route to switch off the assistance entirely to raise your heart rate.

Remember To Recover

You should always incorporate recovery into your training schedule, which consists of low-intensity workouts. Electric bikes are great for this, as you can use higher assistance levels for a more relaxed ride.

Final Thoughts On Ebike Exercise

Ride together, burn calories together

You may have been tempted to buy an electric bike for fitness but have been put off by negative comments. Hopefully, we have finally silenced the ebike exercise haters and cleared a few things up for you.

The bottom line is that riding any bike is fun, but riding an electric bike is addictive and great for burning calories.

Continue reading