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Riding An Electric Bike: It’s Not Cheating. Here’s Proof.

“Riding an Electric Bike is NOT Cheating. Here’s the Data to Prove It.”

Thanks to some recent research, we now have proof about the benefits of riding electric bikes. Research that supports our experience, and the intuitive sense that led us to create Seattle Electric Bike–a dealership focusing exclusively on the highest quality electric bikes available.  

Riding an electric bike gives you at least the same great workout as riding a regular bike. The two articles below recently appeared on the web. Finally, an answer to those that thought riding an electric bike was cheating! It’s not cheating, it’s just smart.


Here’s the first article, by Paul Willerton, posted on Electric Bike Report:

As the warm glow of the Texas morning sun rises over the State Capital building in Austin, a cyclist suddenly flashes by. Flash is the right term. For someone seemingly commuting to work by bike, this one was really moving.

The rider, Adam Alter, is just finishing his 19 mile daily commute from his home in Round Rock to BSX Insight, a company making and using specialized human performance monitoring equipment in Austin. Alter makes his living helping bike riders monitor and understand how their bodies and muscles, more precisely, are performing.

On this day, Alter blazed into town aboard his Focus Aventura Impulse Speed. He was collecting data about the commute, using both a traditional pedal commuter bike and the Focus eBike. His goal was to overlay the data sets and draw a conclusive comparison between these different bikes.

Note that his heart rate and average watts (from his pedal power) is consistent across all of the bikes, yet with the eBikes he is traveling faster and cuts his commute time down.

Most of the eBike miles have been from riding the Focus Aventura, but recently Adam began commuting on a Stromer ST2. The Cervelo and Specialized bikes are conventional, non-electric bikes.

Interestingly, before digging into the performance figures, Alter wanted to share some financial figures. “I live by a toll road, and my vehicle is a Yukon XL, because of the kids”, Alter says.  “It takes 3-4gal of gas to do 40 miles in Austin traffic.”

He adds,  “To park in my building is $24/day, exact same cost as paying the meter. So, it’s about $40 a day to drive to work and back.” Whenever possible, Alter prefers to ride.  “It’s so awesome to get out and pedal a bike, rather than pedaling the gas and brake pedals of a car in traffic.”

Of course time, as always, is critical.  “I’m very busy at work, and try to get as much time with the family as I can. With the eBike, I found I can still get great exercise, but actually move efficiently in 30mph zones while carrying all my commute and work gear.”

Alter doesn’t just ride to save money. He applies himself when he rides and wants to benefit from the exercise. He could tell he was exerting himself on the eBike, but wanted to know more specifically what his body was doing.

That’s when he began recording his output. “I took a sample of 2,000 miles over 11 weeks, where I was riding my Sirrus commuter as well as my Focus eBike commuter. I used the same power meter pedals, same heart rate monitor, used the same commute route.”

Then, a discovery. “I basically had the same intensity regardless of the bike I was on, as reflected in my heart rate average and max nearly matching perfectly.” Simply put, he could ride the eBike as hard as he wished.

“My average power input was actually higher on the eBike because it cut my commute time down so much I wasn’t destroying my body with over training.” Alter felt the shorter commute times on the eBike resulted in higher output, more intense workouts.

“Moving to the eBike added almost 7 mph to my ride. My body worked the exact same but for a shorter duration.” The gains showed up in other places, as well. “The five day commute felt more sustainable and freed up more time with family. Still, the 10.5 hrs of intensity each week is plenty to keep me in really solid fitness shape.”

Alter learned that his daily 40 mile commute adds up to 10.5 hrs a week on an eBike compared to 7.45 hrs a week by car.  “Investing three hours of additional commute time gives me 10.5 hrs of working out a week.” He adds, “Plus fun and money savings, when you compare the cost of parking, gas, and toll road.”

Alter pauses, not bothering to factor in wear and tear, depreciation, and auto maintenance costs, then adds “Another great thing about the ebike is, if I have a tough day, I can just cruise home on max assist, dropping my own power and still easily do 18mph+ and not take much longer.”

Experienced riders know it’s easily possible to ride as hard as they want on an eBike. Equally as hard as they can on any other form of bicycle.

Still, eBike riders are sometimes cited as “cheating” by the traditional pedal crowd. Perhaps insight such as what was put forward here by Adam Alter will help break down those misconceptions and lack of understanding.

As he says, “On my eBike I can always do intervals, sustained efforts, and hammer until I’m ready to pass out, as if I’m on my regular road bike!”

Thanks to Paul Willerton for this report!

Original Link:

This next article by Bill Moore adds even more proof to the pudding, posted on Quikbyke:

“Same Great Workout, Just Faster and More Fun”

Way more fun–SEB

Riding an electric bicycle is like cheating. You can’t possibly get the same level of exercise as you would on a regular, manually-pedaled bicycle. It just makes sense intuitively, but new research just now being published by the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Exercise Physiology Department torpedoes that notion once and for all.

Some three years ago, I approached two of the professors at the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) about conducting the first American study – at least to my knowledge – of the physiological effects of riding an electric-assist bicycle compared to a standard bicycle.

Intuitively, you would expect that there would be less physical fitness benefit to riding a bicycle that is partially propelled by an electric motor than riding one without a motor, in other words a standard manual bicycle. In that assumption, you would be wrong.

That’s the preliminary findings of a study just now wrapping up as part of Taylor La Salle’s master’s thesis for the Exercise Physiology program at UNO. Fifteen student volunteers, (8 males, 7 females), two Currie Technology iZip Path electric bicycles, and many kilometers later, we now have confirmation of what other studies in Australia and Europe earlier demonstrated: you do get exercise riding an eBike.

How much? A lot more than Taylor La Salle or his professors, Drs. Berg and Slivak imagined.

While he is still wrapping up his research and preparing to defend his thesis in a month or so, La Salle participated in a University poster session today at the campus library, along with dozens of other graduate and undergraduate students on a myriad of different topics. The title of his poster is “Physiological demands riding an electric assist bicycle.” Since I was responsible for arranging Currie to donate the two eBikes, I was keenly interested to see what his research uncovered.

Standing next to his poster, one of the bikes parked in front of him, La Salle explained to me the protocols for his tests. The first one was the decision to use the same bike for both the electric and non-electric segments of the course. The test rides were conducted outside using a route of city streets that wound east of the campus, one portion of which included a long, uphill climb from Happy Hollow Blvd up Harney Street to around 52nd St.. The distance the volunteers rode – twice – is 3.5 km in length. The average time to complete each ride, one using pedal assist, the second without assist, but on the same bicycle, took about 12-minutes.

The bike was instrumented with a Garmin GPS that also collected heart rate. Both pedals are fitted with strain gauges to measure torque and cadence. Each rider wore a device to capture heart rate and a mask to record oxygen intake.

La Salle explained that he chose the 3.5 km course in part because the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends brief, 15-minute, daily workouts to stay fit : the more the better. La Salle reckoned that someone commuting to work riding 3.5 km or thereabout every day would get two workouts, one in the morning, one returning home in the evening.

After collecting, tabulating and analyzing the data, La Salle reached three key conclusions:

(1) The actual amount of energy expended by the riders was nearly identical for both modes: electric-assist and manual.

(2) The biggest difference was in the time it took to complete the circuit; on average riding the eBike took around 1 minute less than in the non-electric mode.

(3) Significantly, all the riders rated their perceived exertion (RPE) using the ACSM’s scale as being easier using electric mode made. If riding the bike in manual mode was rated 15, riding it in pedal-assist mode was a 10. That’s a huge difference in rider perception between the two modes.

So, in effect, as a group, they completed the course sooner, felt better at the end, and yet burned virtually the same amount of energy.

That no one expected.

La Salle recognizes that having the volunteers riding the same admittedly heavy bicycle (the test bikes both weigh over 50 lbs.) for both runs, rather than allowing them to use a lighter road bike, might have some affect the results of the study. It was a decision he feels makes sense, especially since most bikeshare bicycles, for example, are comparably heavy. There is a B-cycle bikeshare dock on campus not that far from the Library.

La Salle plans to include one more female volunteer to make it 8 men and 8 women in the study. He will finish his thesis and then look for the right journal in which to publish his findings. After that, he is looking for a place to make use of his knowledge.

I wish to personally thank, Taylor, Drs. Berg and Slivka, the University, and Larry Pizzi at Currie Technologies for helping make this study happen. It took time to get here, but the outcome has been well worth waiting for.


Thanks to Bill Moore for this article!

Original Link:

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