Electric bicycles have been around for more than a decade, initially as practical urban transport and increasingly as the best choice for e-bike enthusiasts or recreational riders. But there has been criticism that using a bike with electric assistance is cheating compared to a traditional purely human powered bike.
It may surprise you to know that this criticism is not just aimed at fitness riders. Even urban riders can hear it. These strongest e-bike hates come from other cyclists.
Do e-bike really “cheat”?
If you use an e-bike in an organised non-motorised cycling competition, you are cheating. You should be competing on equal terms with your opponents. However, if you ride a conventional, purely human-powered bike and you get frustrated by being passed by someone on an e-bike, or if you see cargo e-bike riders making faces at you and passing you on cycle paths around town, you'll just have to accept that reality, but that's not to say that you're getting less exercise.
There are certainly those who would argue that e-bike riders are somehow cheating themselves and thus losing the physical benefits of cycling. But a growing body of research suggests that this argument is incorrect. But E-bikes can help many older people who are less physically able to do so to exercise. According to many studies, e-bike users can ride at moderate to vigorous intensities, and they will ride faster and go further.
No, the motor doesn't do all the work
Electric assistance relatively reduces the amount of human effort required to reach a given speed, but by how much? A small 2017 study in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity compared the intensity of exercise between e-bike commuters and conventional bike commuters and found that in terms of intensity, e-bike commuters were still engaging in moderate physical activity, similar to brisk walking.
A brisk walk may not be what you would call a hard workout. But consider that public health officials have identified lack of physical activity as one of the most important issues in public health. The basic government recommendation for physical activity for the public is at least 20 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, every day.
A 2018 study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine recruited 32 overweight, sedentary participants to compare the cardiorespiratory health benefits of commuting by e-bike versus commuting by conventional bicycle. At the end of the 4-week trial, in which subjects rode at least 3 days a week, researchers found that peak oxygen uptake actually increased more in the e-bike group compared to the conventional bike group and did not get less exercise than they would have from a conventional bike.
Why E-bikes Are Not Cheating?
1.E-bikes make riding easier
It's true that riding an e-bike is easier than riding a regular bike. It's more convenient and less labour intensive. This will make it more likely that people will be able to travel by e-bike. We should applaud anyone who gets around on an e-bike, it helps achieve what we want ---- more people cycling and less people using cars.
Some people simply don't find the idea of strenuous climbing appealing. They want the fun of cycling, not the endurance challenge.
The truth is that even fit, experienced cyclists can get the idea of reaching for their car keys when going on a long, hard journey that includes a lot of steep hills. So if an e-bike can help people climb hills or get some relief on long walks, that's a good thing.
They're also great for keeping cyclists active when they get injured, or helping people realise the dream of being able to continue cycling even as they keep getting older.
E-bikes are great for commuters as you can get there in time without breaking a sweat. You can cycle in your work clothes without having to worry about smelling like you've just done a load of tiring work.
2.E-bikes give people exercising
Some people think that cycling is all about exercise, which makes them think that e-bikes are cheating. An e-bike is actually more exercise than a traditional bike because it is heavier thanks to the motor and battery. With a small amount of pedal-assist, an e-bike is a lot of exercise, and with a high level of pedal-assist, an e-bike is a little bit of exercise. All exercise exists upon a spectrum, and it is all good for the human body.
Several studies have shown that e-bikes have huge health benefits because they make you more likely to cycle in the first place. A study by the University of Brighton offered e-bikes to commuters and found that more of them would now cycle to work.
But other studies have shown that e-bike riders work just as hard as regular cyclists - the motor just helps them go faster. A University of Nebraska study found that e-bike users expended the same amount of energy as traditional bike riders and simply completed the journey faster. Most importantly, they didn't feel like they were putting in as much effort as manual riders.
That's why e-bikes are great for exercise - you don't feel exhausted after riding one. The same finding was borne out by an American rider who alternated between an e-bike and a regular bike during his daily commute, while wearing a range of tracking devices. After weeks of testing, he found that his heart rate and energy expenditure were the same on both bikes, he just cut his commute by four hours a week on the e-bike. Essentially, his legs used the same amount of power and the motor helped him get home faster.
All of which suggests that you work just as hard as you do on an e-bike - you'll just go further or arrive faster. And you're more likely to take the bike out again the next day.
Plus, people who use e-bikes for commuting are sneaking in daily exercise, which is much better for you than sitting in a car.
Cheating at what, anyway?
The most important point: e-bikes don't cheat, because cycling isn't always a race. For most of us, it's a fun, brilliant way to get outdoors. When you cycle to work or to the shops, or ride in the park or go for a short ride, you're not in a race. You're just riding your bike, getting some fresh air and enjoying yourself.
E-bikes are great - they remove the everyday barriers that stop people cycling, such as feeling unwell, fear of steep climbs or feeling tired after a long day. It makes it easier for people to go on a journey with more ease and comfort.
Let's transform our bicycles into electric bikes together. ESOULBIKE can help us do it. It can be supplied with conversion kits for different models such as city bikes and mountain bikes. Whether you use it for exercise, short trips or easy over hills, the ESOULBIKE kit can help you.