Ebikes as Exercise Bikes

Exercise bikes on average cost more than bicycles. Cheap ones will run a few hundred, while many cost $1400 to $3000, and on up to over $9000 (Fitnex R50 Recumbent Exercise Bike shown above).

Why would someone pay so much to pedal something that goes absolutely nowhere? Why not just ride a bicycle and go somewhere, maybe experience the real world?

Well, it turns out that it does make some sort of sense to ride in the privacy of your own home or in the local gym. Some people are just too afraid of the real world to risk exposing themselves to it unless embraced by the comforting steel of an SUV. For these folks no arguments for getting out on a real bicycle will be convincing as their choice has more to do with fear than reason.

Compelling arguments in favor of exercise bikes do exist:

1) They are used indoors, out of the baking sun, freezing cold, rain, snow, and wind.
2) There is no risk of being accidentally run over by timid SUV owners.
3) The ride ends when the pedaling stops; no need to keep pedaling until some destination is arrived at.
4) Total control of the simulated terrain or slope; no need to keep pedaling up hill just to get to the top.
5) Ride the exact same course over and over to assess progress in one's exercise program.
6) Exercise computers provide valuable feedback.

The down side is that you go nowhere and experience nothing (although your muscles may get a workout). While it is possible to pedal and watch TV, it's hard to say whether that's a plus or a minus. While riding in "bad" weather may not be for everyone, there is something to be said for exposing oneself (apart from walking to your car) to a non-climate controlled environment now and then—the Sun, the sky, birds singing, that sort of thing.

As for risk avoidance, most people understand that when taken too far, it is life, the universe, and whatnot that is avoided. Also there is the fact that speed kills (or rather sudden stops from high speeds), and that there is far more risk involved going 65 mph in an SUV or on a motorcycle than 15 mph on a bicycle. Per hour of use, bicycles are less hazardous than riding in a car (or riding a horse for that matter). If you want to be safe, never go anywhere, but if you do go somewhere, riding a bicycle is a reasonably sane choice (while driving to the local gym to ride an exercise bike may not be).

Bicycles, however, have a down side too. Sometimes exposure to the elements can be too much of a good thing. Also if you get tired you still have to keep pedaling until you get somewhere. You have no control of the wind or terrain; you may be forced to over exert yourself to get over a hill or just to get home when you'd really rather not. Forced exercise is no fun.

The best exercise is any that a person actually does. Most exercise bikes end up as house ornaments just as most bicycles end up as garage ornaments. Perhaps there is just a little too much downside to both exercise bikes and bicycles. Actually the main advantages of the exercise bike is that it avoids the disadvantages of bicycles. If bicycles did not involve forced pedaling and overexertion while still serving as practical transportation, then there would be little reason to prefer an exercise bike.

Ebikes allow exertion while eliminating harmful and unpleasant overexertion through use of an electric assist motor. They are like exercise bikes that take you places to do things, and are way more fun to spend time on. If you're out and about, seeing things, zipping around having fun, then you'll hardly realize that you're getting exercise at the same time. Because an ebike is more likely to be used, actual exercise is also more likely. An ebike is less likely than either an exercise bike or bicycle to collect dust. While most ebikes don't provide weather protection, fairings could well be added as the motor would compensate for the added weight.

You could easily spend more for an exercise bike than on an ebike, but why? For what a good exercise bike would cost, a rather nice ebike can be had. As the ebike market grows, perhaps fully equipped ebikes with partial fairings and bike computer/heart rate monitor/motor power meters will be available. Wouldn't you rather "ride to live" than exercise to, well, exercise?

The bottom line is, which would you rather spend time pedaling:


Related articles:

The Case for Power-Assisted HPVs

The eTrek: A practical eHPV

Ebikes as Exercise Bikes

Power vs Slope


Related links:

Ebike Touring Association



Then you must be interested in ebike design. Join the Practical eBike Builders Association and post a message.