On most e-bikes, this support is small, similar to riding with a calm tailwind, and stops once you reach a top speed of 20 mph or stop pedaling. The motor does not turn the pedals for you. (Some e-bikes that are classified as Type 2 models have a throttle and will pedal up to 20 mph for you. Type 3 e-bikes will get you up to a top speed of 28 Miles per hour. Many Locations do not allow Type 3 models on cycle paths. For more information on e-bike regulations, visit www.peopleforbikes.org/electric-bikes/policies-and-laws.)
Essentially, e-bikes are designed to be less strenuous to ride, which means commuters should get to their destinations faster and with less sweat. They can also give a psychological boost and help drivers feel empowered to tackle hills they might otherwise avoid. However, it is less clear whether they also train in e-riding.
For the new study, published in March in the Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, researchers at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio decided to encourage inexperienced cyclists to do the wrong-way commute. To this end, they recruited 30 local men and women aged 19 to 61 and invited them to the physiology lab to check their fitness as well as their current attitudes towards e-bikes and commuting.
They then fitted each volunteer with a standard racing bike and an e-bike and asked them to commute three miles on each bike at their preferred pace, a distance the scientists considered typical of American cycling. The cyclists cycled on a flat circuit, once on racing bikes and twice on an e-bike. One of these rides had the bike set for a low level of pedal assistance and the other increased the pomp until the motor delivered more than 200 watts of power to the pedals. Meanwhile, the commuters wore timers, heart rate monitors, and face masks to measure their oxygen consumption.
After that, the scientists found, to no surprise, that the motorized motorcycles were nimble. On e-bikes, the riders covered the three miles a few minutes faster on both assistance levels than on the standard bike – an average of around 11 or 12 minutes on an e-bike, compared to around 14 minutes on a normal bike. They also reported that riding the e-bike felt easier. Even so, their heart rate and breathing generally increased so much that these commuters could be classified as moderate exercise based on modern physiological benchmarks. The scientists decided that they should add to health and fitness over time.