Are e-Bikes a Good Form of Exercise? 

As one of the most popular outdoor trends, e-bikes seem to be everywhere these days. You can spot them cruising down neighborhood streets, zipping past other riders on a bike path, and even lining up with more frequency outside bike rental stores. Electric bikes have lots of fans who love the ease and speed they bring to cycling. But when it comes to working out, are e-bikes really a good form of exercise? The short answer is, it depends on the person riding and how the individual is using the bicycle. 

E-bikes look a lot like a regular bicycle. They have the same parts as a traditional two-wheeled bike, but also come equipped with a motor, battery and a control feature. They all work together to give the rider a motorized boost when they choose to use it. Some e-bikes can travel at a pretty fast clip when the motor is engaged. Some can go 20 mph or even 30 mph, depending on the model. In this way, e-bikes may seem more like a scooter, but they are still classified as a bicycle. 

Three modes. Most e-bikes have three different modes of operation. How and when these different modes are used is up to the rider. They include:  

  • Pedal only: This mode is just like it sounds. The motor is not engaged and the bike is propelled only by the person pedaling it, just like a regular bike.  
  • Pedal-assist: This form allows the rider to pedal regularly, but also get an assist from the e-bike’s electric motor. It makes pedaling much easier, and makes uphill stretches or riding against a headwind a snap to pedal through. Some e-bike models let the rider select how much help they get from the motor, giving them more control over how much of a workout they’re getting. 
  • Electric only: This is easy street. The rider stops pedaling and the motor does all the work, propelling the bike forward with the rider as a passenger.  

Is it really a workout? Some people wonder if riding an e-bike really qualifies as exercise. The answer depends on the rider. But unless you are using the electric-only mode at all times, you are still getting some exercise. Riders who use the pedal-assist to get a little help on tough hills are still getting a good workout during their regular pedaling. The average person will burn between 450 and 750 calories each hour they bike, depending on their height, weight and the speed at which they are pedaling.  

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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