What are the benefits of an Electric Bike?

by Jacob Fox December 05, 2016

If you are thinking about purchasing a bike but are worried about your fitness level or sweating before arriving to work. An electric bike is one of the best introductions back into fitness and the world of cycling. You might think, how can an electric bike be healthy? Well, it is quite simple really. Any amount of activity is better than none. Riding a bike whether it be a mechanical bicycle or an electric bike will be healthier then sitting in your car/tram/train. Not to mention the added benefit of removing a car from the road if your regular commute is a car.

Electric bikes are great for people who are on the less fit side of life and are looking for a change but are probably thinking that commuting on a regular bicycle five days a week will be too much. Maybe you have a bum knee and need a bit more assistance to get around, or maybe you just need to get to work without large pools of sweat from that steeper hill earlier in the ride. These are situations where electric bikes shine.

There are two names for an electric bike:

  • E-Bike
    • This kind of electric bike does not require the motor to be activated purely by pedalling. Usually, will have the option for pedalling or using a throttle to activate the motor.
    • Commonly not street legal.
  • Pedelec
    • This kind of electric bike uses either rotation or torque based sensing of the user’s movement of the pedal/cranks to activate the power of the motor, aiding the user.
    • Most of the time these kinds of electric bicycles are classed as street legal depending on the power rating of the motor.

There are many other names out there describing types of electric bikes though these two names are what I consider to be common.

Regardless of what kind of electric bike you have if you are utilising the pedal assistance functionality, then it is likely going to have a health benefit for you, depending on how to you choose to ride it. Most electric bikes come with multiple pedal assistance levels allowing you to tailor the ride to your fitness level or to the terrain that you are riding on. Feeling like more exercise; just dial the pedal assistance down to lower level. This will mean that you need to put in more effort to get to the speeds that you want to be travelling at. Approaching that hill that gets you super sweaty? Dial the assistance up to a higher level. Most street legal electric bikes will not get you up a steep hill by themselves though they will decrease the amount of effort required to conquer it significantly.

There have been a few studies over the years investigating the health benefits of electric bikes. In the European Journal of Applied Physiology, a study was undertaken where a group of individual’s regular commute was swapped with that of a pedelec. They found at the end of the study the participants had several improvements to their health. You can find more on this study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27299435

Often there is a negative stigma around the use of an electric bike. We get called cheaters or something similar. Yes, we are completing less physical exercise than other riders out there, but in the end, it is still better than driving a car. Especially with global issues like climate change and global warming are becoming a major concern. As always if you have any thoughts on this subject, please let us know.

Jacob Fox
Jacob Fox