Classic Bike or Electric Bike? Choose the Best Option for Exercise

Trying to decide between a classic bike and an electric bike for exercise? Each has its devoted fans.

Some say only a traditional bike gives a real workout, while others love the convenience of electric bikes for longer rides.

But which is healthier? You might think a traditional bike burns more calories because it requires more effort. 

However, a study published in the journal 'Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives,' highlighted by Slate, suggests it’s not that straightforward.

Both classic and electric bike users ride their bikes with the same frequency and for the same amount of time each day.

1. Same Frequency of Use:

Electric bike riders travel longer distances, averaging 9.4 kilometers per day compared to 4.8 kilometers for traditional bike riders.

2. More Distance with E-Bikes:

Surprisingly, the physical effort, measured in metabolic rates, is slightly higher for e-bike riders (coefficient of 4.463) compared to traditional cyclists (4.085).

3. Comparable Physical Effort:

Electric bikes make it easier to ride longer distances without feeling exhausted, helping riders achieve a higher level of physical activity. According to sports doctor Nicolas Barizien, this delay in fatigue means people do more exercise overall, moving from inactivity to active sports levels.

4. Higher Levels of Exercise:

Electric bike users are more likely to ride to work instead of driving, which is less common among traditional bike users.

5. Reduced Car Use:

Both types of bikes engage the same muscle groups and metabolic pathways, enhancing cardiorespiratory endurance.

6. Same Muscles and Metabolism:

Electric bikes can be a gateway to traditional cycling. Some people start with an e-bike, enjoy the activity, and later switch to a classic bike. Others stick with e-bikes but maintain an active lifestyle.

7. Transition to Traditional Biking:

E-bikes encourage physical activity for those who might find traditional biking challenging, such as the elderly, overweight individuals, or those with health limitations.

8. Accessibility for All:

Different studies offer mixed results. A 2020 German study found that while e-bikes require 30% less effort, they are used four times more often, suggesting a net benefit.

9. Varied Study Results:

Not all doctors agree on the benefits of e-bikes. Some, like sports doctor Jean-Christophe Miniot, believe e-bikes don’t push users out of their comfort zones enough to be considered real exercise. 

10. Debate Among Experts:

Even if an electric bike doesn’t surpass a classic bike in terms of physical effort, it does help more people stay active and fight sedentary lifestyles. 

Ultimately, the best bike is the one that keeps you moving and brings you joy. Whether you prefer the traditional challenge of a classic bike or the extended reach of an electric one, the key is to enjoy your ride.

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