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Electric-Powered Fitness: Can eBiking Get You in Shape?

cruising on an electric bike

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Electric bikes, also called e-bikes or ebikes, are becoming more and more popular. Ebikes give you some extra power while you pedal. This can make riding easier and help you ride faster and farther. But can you still get a good workout and improve your fitness if you ride an ebike instead of a regular bike? Let’s take a look.

What are ebikes?

Ebikes are bikes that have a small motor and battery. The motor gives you extra push when you pedal. Some ebikes have a throttle you use instead of pedaling. The battery powers the motor. You charge the battery by plugging it into an outlet.

There are different classes of ebikes. Some give you more of a power boost than others when you pedal. Class 1 ebikes help you ride faster, with the motor stopping when you reach 20 mph. Class 2 ebikes can power the bike faster without pedaling. Class 3 ebikes give extra help up to 28 mph. The motor stops after that.

How are ebikes different from regular bikes?

On a regular bike, you power the bike yourself by pedaling. Your legs have to do all the work to move you forward. The bike just rolls along.

Ebikes give you some extra help with that pedaling. So you don’t have to work quite as hard, especially going uphill or into a headwind. The motor boosts your pedaling.

You still have to pedal on most ebikes. But you won’t get as tired because you’re getting help from the motor. The motor does some of the work for you.

This can help you ride farther and longer than on a regular bike. It can also help you keep up with faster friends. But your legs are still getting exercise as you pedal.

electric bike in the country

Can you get a workout on an ebike?

Yes, you can definitely get exercise and improve your fitness riding an ebike. Here’s how:

Pedaling any bike, including an ebike, works your leg muscles. Your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves all get strengthened when you pedal. Your heart rate goes up, giving your cardiovascular system a workout.

How much of a workout you get depends on how much effort you put in. With the motor assist, you can take it easy and let the bike do more work. Or you can push yourself and pedal hard, getting your heart pumping.

The motor just removes some of the difficulty, it doesn’t eliminate the exercise. You’re still using energy and getting your muscles working as you pedal.

You can make your ebike workout as easy or hard as you want. Pedal lightly and cruise along, or really crank up the effort. Shift to a higher gear for more resistance. Stand up and pedal out of the saddle. Ride longer or do multiple rides. Take on hills and challenging terrain. There are lots of ways to challenge yourself.

What kind of fitness gains can you expect?

It depends on how much effort you put in, but riding an ebike regularly can lead to:

  • Increased cardiovascular fitness. Riding several times a week will strengthen your heart and lungs. You’ll be able to ride harder and faster.
  • Stronger leg muscles. Pedaling works all the major leg muscles. They’ll get toned and more defined.
  • Improved endurance. Longer rides will boost your stamina. You’ll ride farther before getting tired.
  • Potential weight loss. Riding burns calories, especially if you push yourself. This can help you lose weight.
  • Better health. Like any cardio exercise, riding an ebike will help lower your blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve cholesterol levels.

Keep in mind results happen gradually over time, not instantly. But stick with it and you’ll see real fitness improvements.

What are the benefits of ebikes for exercise?

Ebikes can actually help some people get more exercise because:

  • They take away some difficulty and fatigue, allowing you to ride longer. A regular bike may be too hard to go far.
  • They allow you to keep up with faster riding buddies. You might get dropped on a regular bike.
  • They make challenging terrain like hills more manageable. You can take on tougher rides.
  • They allow rides even when you’re tired or sore from other exercise. The assist helps you push through.
  • They provide confidence for beginners or those getting back into riding after a break.

For these reasons, some riders end up biking more miles and more often on an ebike. The battery assist helps them ride hard when they want to and take it easier when needed.

electric bike urban

What are the downsides of ebikes for fitness?

There are a couple potential drawbacks to consider if you want to use an ebike primarily for exercise:

  • The motor does some of the work for you. So you may not improve your fitness as much as on a regular bike over the same distance. But this depends on how much effort you put in.
  • It can be tempting to rely on the motor too much. Really try to pedal hard and work up a sweat to get the most exercise benefit.
  • The added weight of the battery and motor can make an ebike harder to pedal unassisted. This could limit your workout options.

But overall, these downsides just come down to how you choose to ride the ebike. With good effort, you can get an excellent workout.

Tips for getting fit on an ebike

Here are some tips to follow to get the most fitness benefit from your electric mountain bike:

  • Crank up the effort. Push yourself to pedal hard, don’t just rely on the motor. Shift to a tough gear and stand up to power up hills.
  • Try intervals. Alternate periods of hard pedaling with easier recovery. This gives you a great workout.
  • Turn down the power. On lower assist settings, you have to put in more effort to go fast.
  • Pedal unassisted. Turn off the motor totally for part of your ride for an extra challenge.
  • Ride longer. Take advantage of the battery boost to go farther and ride for a couple hours or more.
  • Ride challenging terrain. Take on tough climbs, rough trails, and other intense riding thanks to the assist.
  • Ride often. Aim for 3-5 rides per week for the biggest benefits. Consistency is key.
  • electric bike on campus

Should you buy an ebike or regular bike for fitness?

For getting in shape, both ebikes and regular bikes work great. It mostly comes down to your goals and needs:

  • A regular bike will generally give you a tougher workout over the same distance. You power the entire ride yourself.
  • An ebike allows you to ride farther and tackle tougher terrain thanks to the assist. This can lead to bigger fitness gains.
  • An ebike can help beginners, older riders, and those coming back from injury ease into riding with less difficulty.
  • An ebike can allow you to keep up with and ride with faster friends.
  • An ebike may let you ride and exercise on days you are tired or sore from other activities.

Think about the type of riding and fitness goals you want. If you just want a workout, a regular bike forces you to put in more effort. If you want to ride epic distances or trails, an ebike can help you achieve that.


Riding an e-bike can definitely help you get physically fit if you use it right. The key is putting in effort and not just relying on the motor. Push yourself, ride frequently, and take advantage of the assistance to go farther and tackle more challenging riding. An ebike can be a great tool to boost your fitness alongside a regular bike. With an active riding schedule and hard work when pedaling, you’ll see real improvements in endurance, strength and overall health.

About the Author

Tony K

Senior Technical Writer,

Tony K is a technical editor at He has a focus on downhill bike riding but still loves xc bikes too.

With more than ten years of mountain biking experience and more than 5 years testing mountain bikes, Tony has ridden and tested hundreds of different bikes and products, everything from XC to enduro bikes. Tony regularly competes in mountain bike races while seeing how long those compontents can hold up which gives me a lot of insight.

When he isn't shredding down a mountain or camping out, he is writing reviews for Mountain Bike Experience.

Rides: Surly Lowside, Canyon Exceed