Will an e-bike keep me fit?

We wanted to find out if electric bikes really are effective exercise tools, and if e biking really does make your heart race, so we got in contact with cardiac physiologist Chris, and did a little experiment. Using a professional heart rate monitor from his hospital, Chris rode our demo bike through 14 miles of Cannok Chase trails, and then put his own conventional bike through the same test, to see how they compared.

Here’s what he thought…

I'm a cardiac physiologist and very keen mountain biker. I've never been interested in ebikes but following a forum discussion I decided to see what all the hype was about. I was sceptical about claims made by Alex about eBikes and fitness. Alex assured me that riding eBikes kept him as fit as a regular bike. Defining "fitness" is difficult because it is multifactorial. For the purpose of this review I'm talking about cardiac fitness. I decided to perform a simple experiment and record my cardiac activity while riding an eBike then again with my own bike over the same trial. I predicted that my maximal and average heart rate would be significantly lower on the eBike compared to my conventional bike. The results surprised me! There was no statistically significant difference in my heart rate between the two bikes. In fact my average and maximal heart rate was slightly higher on the eBike! I'm not going to discuss the physiology behind this but the eBike worked my body in a different format. My arms and core body muscles were working harder on the eBike due to the frequency and velocity of the constantly changing trail. An eBike will assist you but it doesn't mean you have to limit what you put in. I still rode hard on the climbs, just completed them quicker. Ok maybe my legs weren't burning as much when on a conventional bike. Anyway that's enough about the fitness. I really enjoyed the eBike experience, a lot more than I expected. I don't enjoy the pain of long steep climbs, that's why I mostly ride downhill uplifts. The eBike lets you climb like a mountain goat and blaze the trails. The bike felt no different on the downhills, it jumped and dropped very predictably with its great weight distribution. The main benefit is the speed you carry through flat and uphill technical sections. It makes a whole trail feel like one long downhill. Every mountain biker needs to experience this!"