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Do You Get Good Exercise on an eMTB?

Let's answer this once and for all: is riding an electric mountain bike cheating? Do you get a good workout? How does it compare to an acoustic bike? For us, riding an eMTB has always been more about the FUN, but the question got us thinking.  How much of a workout is riding an eMTB actually? We’ve taken out an acoustic mountain bike and an electric mountain bike and compared data from the same ride to find out. Don't miss this video. You might be surprised at the results!

We hear it all the time (just go to our Social Media comments!).  “Riding an eMTB is cheating."  Well, these comments usually come from people who have never even tried an electric bike!  Let's face it, they don't know what they are missing or what they are talking about. 


Getting a workout on an electric mountain bike has always been a bit beside the point for us as our focus is on having fun and seeing more of the great outdoors. That said, it's still an interesting question, so we decided to come up with a data-driven approach to compare the workout on an eMTB with an acoustic mountain bike.

  • To put this theory to the test, we went out to beautiful Stough Canyon with an acoustic bike, the Cube Stereo SL 150, and an eMTB, a Mondraker Crafty R. 
  • Scott rode each bike for just under an hour and we tracked stats like average heart rate, calories burned, and distance. 
  • And, of course, how much fun he had. Most people don’t mountain bike mainly for exercise, how much fun you're having is important too. 

The biggest difference between the two bikes was how far I was able to ride. While I could only get in one lap plus a little climbing on the acoustic bike, I got three full laps in on the eMTB.  Remember, it's about having fun!  Check out the stats below, but if you have time, the video above brings it to life much better.

  • Obviously, we all probably could have guessed that I was going to be able to get more mileage, do more climbing, and do more downhill reps on the electric mountain bike.
  • I honestly can't believe how close my average heart rate and calories burned were between the acoustic mountain bike and the electric mountain bike. 
  • I think a lot of the reason that these numbers were so close, specifically the calories burned, is because it still is an hour of exercise. While the intensity on the eMTB is a little bit lower, it is still a very high challenging cardiovascular workout. 
 The Cube Acoustic Bike Crafty R eMTB
Total Distance 4.09 miles7.61 miles
Climbing Distance1437 feet2241 feet
Calories Burned555528 
Average Heart Rate164 beats per minute157 beats per minute

So what are you supposed to make of all this? If you are looking for a high heart rate anaerobic sort of workout, then an acoustic bike is definitely going to be the better option. 

  • Even though my average heart rates on both the eMTB and acoustic mountain bike were about the same, my max heart rate was 196, and, if you're familiar with heart rate zones, I was mostly in zone 5 or the highest zone. 
  • Now, this is great for working on sprinting, short spurts of energy, but it's not really sustainable for a full day out.
  • On the eMTB, I was still was definitely working, I was breathing hard. You know my heart rate was still up in a nice aerobic to slightly higher than aerobic range, but I wasn't like completely exhausted by the time I got to the top, so I could enjoy the ride

I've always said you get a good workout on electric mountain bikes, but I've never measured it. After looking at those numbers it's pretty clear that you do get a good workout on an electric mountain bike with the added benefit of much more fun and seeing way more of the trails.  What are you waiting for? 

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