Electric Bikes

No, Electric Bikes Are NOT “Lazy” (5 Stats That Prove It)

Older man on an e-bike

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There’s a popular myth that e-bikes are lazy.

Despite all their proven benefits, electric bikes are often victims of slander. One of the first things many people think or say when they see an e-bike is that the rider is somehow cheating, taking the easy way out by avoiding exercise.

We debunk the myth that e-bikes are inherently lazy, looking at five points showing that e-bikes might actually make us more active, healthier citizens.

What’s The Story?

It’s hard to say where the idea comes from. There have been some consistent attacks from the press on electric bikes. Sometimes, they’re dangerous; other times, they’re irresponsible, but almost always, they’re lazy.

The irony is that these comments often come from people who predominantly use a car or public transport to get around when they have the option to cycle.

These drivers are the very people who would benefit most from an e-bike, and not just because they’re healthier. They’re also cheaper, easier to navigate the city, and far cleaner than cars.

Unfortunately, there’s also been snobbery from some cyclists. One Reddit user even had the cheek to refer to them as essentially ‘two-wheeled mobility scooters for those with balance.’ 

Some cyclists also seem to be under the impression that unless you’re blue in the face and sweating through your spandex, you’re not getting a proper ride in, which is nonsensical. In fact, for most people, e-bikes are enabling when it comes to getting more exercise.

Without further ado, let’s look at some of the evidence.

Woman riding e-bike in woods

1. E-Bike Users Cycle More

Contrary to popular opinion, e-bike riders use their bikes more than regular cyclists.

According to a report in the Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives Journal, e-bikers take longer trips than cyclists. This might not be the most groundbreaking revelation, as e-bikes offer electrical assistance, but it is interesting that e-bike riders cycle for longer than regular cyclists even when they’re using a regular bike

This suggests that using an e-bike makes us more accustomed to cycling generally, helping us to cycle longer. If anything, that makes someone a more rounded, active cyclist, not a lazy one.

woman riding e-bike in the city

2. Physical Activity Gains Are Similar To Regular Cycling

Another myth, largely promoted by cyclists, is that because cycling a non-electric bike is more strenuous, it brings greater physical benefits.

There is some truth to this. For an equivalent distance, a cyclist using a non-electric bike will clearly exert more energy. 

But this doesn’t consider that someone on an e-bike will, on average, cycle a greater distance, essentially compensating for any loss in physical exertion, as shown by one study.

In other words, a cyclist who switches to an e-bike is likely to cover a greater distance, more or less evening out the loss in physical activity. In one study cited by Capri Bikes, this increased distance could be up to 10 km.

If adding a battery and motor to a bike makes us exercise roughly the same amount while covering a greater distance, how could that possibly be considered lazy? After all, most of the time, it’s pedal assistance. It only does some of the work for you.

mature man with e-bike

3. E-Bikers Exercise More Than Drivers

While we’ve been looking at e-bikes versus regular bikes, they’re both forms of active transport.

The greatest benefit comes to those who change from a car to an e-bike. 

The American Heart Association recommends the equivalent of 500 METs per week. METs, or metabolic equivalents, are essentially a scale for how hard your body is working. 

The study by the TRIP Journal showed that drivers who substitute all their car trips with e-bike ones gain 550 MET min/week, with the figure even greater for those who swap from public transport.

Put differently, if you take your car trips by e-bike instead, on average, it provides more than the recommended minimum physical activity per week. 

It’s also worth noting, as the Guardian points out, that e-bikers are likelier than cyclists to ride rather than drive when they’re tired, ultimately because the perceived potential for exhaustion is less. 

That’s to say that we don’t think of them as exercise like regular bikes, even though studies show that they provide the same benefits! What’s not to like about that?

mature woman with e-bike

4. They Can Provide Mobility For The Disabled

As the WHO reports, 1 in 6 of us will experience some kind of disability in our lifetimes, but e-bikes could be a part of the solution when it comes to maintaining an active lifestyle even with limitations.

Far from being lazy, e-bikes can make cycling more accessible for individuals with disabilities in several different ways. 

Their electric assistance reduces the physical effort required for pedaling, making it easier for individuals with mobility challenges to ride.

They also extend the user’s range, making them a potential alternative to a car for those who don’t have the stamina to ride a traditional bike for long periods. 

Lastly, they make it easier to tackle more difficult conditions, such as steep inclines or strong headwinds, which may be more challenging for disabled people. This makes cycling more viable as a transport option, even in adverse environments. Put like this, we can see that e-bikes are enabling physical activity, not discouraging it!

man with e-bike on the beach

5. E-Bikes Make Us Cycle Later Into Life

E-bikes enable individuals to maintain an active lifestyle well into their later years. The study Effects of E-Biking on Older Adults demonstrates that e-bikes provide older generations with the opportunity to exercise, even as they age. This allows them to enjoy cycling for more years and may extend their lifespan.

Moreover, e-bikes offer low-impact exercise, particularly beneficial for individuals with age-related conditions such as arthritis. Additionally, the benefits of cycling, such as improved mental well-being and social interaction, further contribute to older adults’ overall health and happiness. 

By providing a means for enjoyable and accessible exercise, e-bikes play a crucial role in promoting healthy aging and reducing feelings of isolation. In this regard, they’re the opposite of lazy!

The Verdict

We need to reframe how we talk about e-bikes. 

Whilst it’s shown that they share the benefits of regular bikes, that isn’t what they’re trying to replace. Instead, we should be comparing them to cars.

As an alternative form of transport, they’re considerably cleaner, cheaper, more sustainable, and healthier than their four-wheeled foes, so why do we continue to refer to them as lazy?

Considering the potential they have to transform our society, it’s a shame that some people continue to label them like this. It’s not often that driving is described as lazy, even if half of the journeys done by car are 5km or less, a distance easily covered by an e-bike.

Just because e-bikes are easier to use than regular bikes does not make them lazy. At the end of the day, they’re an active form of transport. They provide countless benefits, from our physical and mental health to protecting our environment, so what good does it do to perpetuate this myth? 

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