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Exercise With an Electric Bike? Rad Power Bikes Test Ride Tuesday

556 days ago

3 minutes

The Scenic Route by Justin Duckham, RPB – Ever wondered what kind of a workout users getting when they take their electric bike out for a spin? LEVA-EU member Rad Power Bikes (RPB) get’s this question regularly. In their previously written blog posts, they debunk the idea that riding an e-bike is cheating and highlight the health benefits they’ve brought to their e-bike riders.  So for this edition of Test Ride Tuesday on 23 March 2021, they ran an experiment because they we wanted to dive a little bit deeper.

Needless to say, this experiment is far from any ‘’official’’ study and the results will most definitely vary to other tests. For this experiment, they have used run-of-the-mill activity trackers, rode at different speeds and cadences and on different terrain surfaces depending on our comfort levels on a e-bike. All riders were on different Rad bikes and the riders were of wildly different shapes and sizes.

RPB took five riders and sent them on a 5-mile loop around our their Seattle headquarters, one that included a mix of flats and hills. They assigned each of riders a different level of pedal assist (PAS), which determines how much power the motor supplies. The higher the level of PAS, the more power that comes through when pedalling.

To track how many calories each rider burned, they have been equipped with heart rate monitors. Here’s what the results looked like:

Results from a 5 mile, mixed-terrain loop over ~ 30-40 minutes. 

 Pedal Assist Level Rider Height and WeightCalories Burnt
Level 16’3″, 250 Lbs325
Level 25’3″, 94 Lbs121
Level 36’4″, 205 Lbs183
Level 45’1″, 108 Lbs98
Level 55’9″, 185 Lbs179

In here, there was a little surprise. It is naturally expected that a lower level of pedal assist would automatically equal more calories burned. Interpreting these results, RPB turned to Rad Power Bikes Customer Experience whiz Randy, who’s also a certified personal trainer. “A lot of this comes down to body size, body mass index, and an individual’s cardiovascular health. If you have a greater BMI and are new to getting in shape, you’re going to burn more calories when you ride.”

Regardless, Randy noted, an e-bike can help you work out. ‘’The results come down to the amount of energy exerted by each rider – no matter what the level of pedal assist is that they’re using.’’ This is determined by intensity, which can be actually measured via something called the Metabolic Equivalent of Task, or MET for short. In a nutshell, this determines the amount of energy a person expends relative to their overall size.

Scientists use METs to measure all sorts of tasks. When walking around the office, for example, that has an MET value of about 3.5. When riders use  a traditional bicycle, that has an MET value of 6. When riders pedal hard on an electric bike, they can control its MET value. One study said riding an e-bike at a comfortable speed has an average MET value of 5.2 – a little higher than riding a stationary cycle. 

Source: The Scenic Route.

Daan van Dieren

Daan is a policy officer for LEVA-EU

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