Is Using An E-Bike Cheating?
A common complaint about e-bikes is that the motor does all the work and your body does not go through enough strain for it still to be counted as exercise.
This likely stems from the popular misconception that e-bikes are the same as scooters and mopeds, i.e. they have a throttle which allows the user to not have to pedal at all.
While this is the case for e-bikes in some countries, like China and the US, the only electric models allowed under British law are pedelecs. Short for pedal electric cycle, on these bikes the motor only boosts the power created by pedalling, rather than being offering on-demand output.
Nevertheless, the stigma that using an e-bike is somehow cheating remains. But is there any truth to this?
Does using an e-bike count as exercise?
The addition of a motor instantly makes those suspicious of e-bikes think that any calories burned are minimal, but this is false.
When riding an e-bike, the sensation of cycling is made easier when the motor is active, but the user must still exert energy in rotating the pedals.
Moreover, studies have shown that the difference between the amount of exertion of those using conventional bikes and e-bikes is less than ten percent. And because you can lower the e2-pod’s power levels whenever you like, you can make the journey however physically strenuous you want.
Indeed, the real benefit of using an e-bike for exercise comes from the psychological aspect. Because e-bike journeys feel less of a strain, studies have shown that electric bikes are more likely to be taken out than their conventional counterparts.
Whether it be hilly routes, going at it day in and day out, or feeling not fit enough, the e-bike has a profound effect on your motivation to cycle, and can be the cornerstone of a more sustainable exercise routine.
Are e-bikes faster?
This is debatable. Some critics argue that the motor means that e-bikes are naturally faster, which is a problem in their mind as being another unfair advantage. But this is not quite the case.
Under UK law, e-bikes can only reach a top speed of 15.5 mph before the motor must cut out. Conventional cyclists also regularly achieve speeds like this, with some often going over 20 mph. More importantly, work needs to be put in by the user for the e-bike to achieve this speed, just like a conventional bike.
That said, acceleration is markedly better on an e-bike, especially if the e2-pod's launch control feature is activated. This gives the user a boost at traffic stops to get ahead of other vehicles and is unique to the e2-pod amongst available conversion kits. But the feature only lasts 3 seconds and is designed more for safety rather than speed.
Cheating at what?
Yes, e-bikes offer an acceleration advantage, but is this cheating? There is only a speed advantage if the user is putting in enough work to benefit from it, and it cuts out anyway once 15.5 mph is reached. Perhaps more importantly, using an e-bike over a conventional bike is a minimal reduction in calorie expenditure.
Nevertheless, those who believe e-bikes are cheating are probably committed to this impression, but does getting to work or going to the shops without breaking a sweat really count as cheating? Or is it just a way of making your life easier.