Are eBikes a Good Way to Exercise?

Filed under Exercise and Fitness
me and my eBike

eBikes are becoming hugely popular but does riding them allow you to get needed exercise?

An electric motor is doing some of the work for you – so is riding them any benefit to your overall good health?

As a fan of biking (both mountain biking and biking around town), I personally resisted the trend because I liked the workout I received from my traditional bike whenever I’d bike around town.

However, after trying out an eBike a couple of times last Summer, I began to think differently. In fact, so differently that I recently purchased a KBO eBike and I’m so glad I did.

Here’s how eBikes actually do provide exercise…

Last Summer when I was deciding whether or not I’d bike somewhere instead of driving, here’s everything I’d consider.

  1. How far away is the destination and how long would it take me to get there.
  2. How many uphills are between my house and the destination.
  3. How sweaty would I get before I’d arrive and would that be uncomfortable while at the destination.
  4. How hot is it outside and do I really want to expend a lot of energy in the heat.
  5. Wardrobe, do I really want to spend the whole time in athletic clothes?

With factoring all of those things into the equation, most of the time I still opted to drive to most places in my mountain town. So, when I did bike, I would burn a fair amount of calories, the frequency of my biking was limited.

Now that I have an eBike, none of the above considerations are limiting factors since I can easily bike up hills, bike to destinations on the opposite side of town, not get sweaty, get there quickly, and even wear normal clothes.

So while the intensity of the exercise may be less, the frequency of the exercise will increase exponentially. This is true with most eBike owners.

Here’s a study to prove it…

Research published in the Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives journal looked at eBike use in Europe because they not only embrace biking more so than the USA but also were early adopters of eBikes.

The study looked at the transportation habits of 10,000 people and concluded that eBike riders spend more time on their bikes than traditional commuter cyclists do. They attribute this to using them more often and going greater distances than traditional cyclists.

eBikes remove many of the barriers of traditional cycling for transportation…

The goal of an eBike is to remove the factors that keep people from relying on their car to get around town. Many people use their cars for trips of 5-10 miles or less which an eBike can easily do in about the same time (at 20-25 mph speed limits), but in a more environmentally friendly way, all the while getting people to move more.

My KBO eBike has a range of about 55+ miles on a single charge and can go 20-25 mph. There is now nowhere in my town that I can’t go, especially since my city has invested in nice bike lanes and trails throughout the city with plans to expand this even more.

riding my eBike around town

Think of eCycling Differently

I came to the conclusion that there are basically two types of biking.

  1. Biking for fitness: This is when the sole purpose of your ride is to get exercise. In this case you’d use a traditional road bike or mountain bike and would be part of your cardiovascular fitness routine.
  2. Biking for transportation: This is when the main purpose of the ride is to get from point A to point B. This could be for work, light shopping, or for social functions.

eBiking would fall under number two. It’s primary function is for transportation, that’s both enjoyable and way better for the environment. But, because you still have to peddle to some degree, you are getting more movement into your daily routine, which always helps.

I’m not saying that you can’t ride an eBike purely for enjoyment and I spent an afternoon, doing just that the weekend I got my KBO, but it’s not intended to be an “exercise bike”.

Instead, eBikes are intended to get you on a bike more and in a car less. 

In the USA less than 1/2 of one percent of workers commute to work using a bike and this number has been declining.

EBikes can reverse the trend because most people report “time” and “sweat” being two of the three most popular barriers. eBikes solve those problems, but safety is still a concern because of the lack of safe biking infrastructure in many cities. Luckily, many cities are working to make biking safer.

How many calories does eBiking burn?

This is a good question and is dependent on a number of factors such as what level of peddle assist are you allowing (Most ebikes have a 1-5 assist level) and what gear you are in.

Another research study published in the Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine tested the calorie burn of eBike riders and concluded that they do provide moderate exercise if you are still doing some of the work.

The researchers concluded that eBiking burns about 30% less than traditional cycling per hour for a casual “commute” type of ride.  (This would be different when looking at more fitness oriented rides with hill climbs, etc.)

So according to my stats and using my exercise calculator here, I would burn about 500 calories for an hour of moderate biking (12-14 mph). On an eBike, I’d burn about 350 calories/hour which is 30% fewer than traditional cycling.

My personal experience so far owning an eBike…

So far I’m really happy with my KBO Breeze eBike. The components are high quality and I can tell that this bike will last a long time in its construction and its battery, with over 900 charge cycles.

Last night some friends invited me to meet them at a local food truck lot on the other side of town for some food and to enjoy the warm Spring evening.

In the past I would have hopped in the car due to the distance and time involved. However, last night I was eager to jump on my Breeze and bike there instead.

I pedaled the whole time with assist and when I got there my t-shirt was dry! (Around 80° F outside) It was such a great feeling to arrive somewhere after biking and not be drenched in sweat.

Plus, I got there quickly averaging between 15-20 mph with the pedal assist.

I’m looking forward to a fun summer of biking pretty much everywhere.

kbo breeze

If you’ve been thinking about getting an eBike or haven’t considered it before reading this article, I recommend the KBO brand as a great, affordable option that has all the quality and features that the more expensive brands offer.

I like my Breeze so much that I decided to become a brand ambassador. The company gives me a small referral bonus and gives you $55 dollars off any bike using this link or any link in this article. 

Ted Kallmyer is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, author, and macros coach. He has helped hundreds of clients reach their body transformation goals.
Updated May 8, 2022