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eBikes Can Make You Fit or Fat

Getting Fit

If you are new to the sport and your goal is to improve fitness, get a mountain bike. If your goal is to have big fun without too much work, getting an eBike can ease you into the sport while keeping you motivated. If you believe it takes an eBike to keep you inspired to exercise, perhaps this overview will assist you in selecting the proper bike.

An automobile, depending on its usage, can be purchased with 100 hp, on up to 500 hp and above. eBikes are the same, and are designated as Low, Mid and Full Power bikes. Low Power bikes weigh about the same, (and ride the same) as a regular mountain bike. As you move into higher power options, the bigger motors and batteries can add 30 pounds of weight, often requiring a change in riding technique.

Bike power ratings are expressed as Torque (NM-Neuton Meters), Output Power (PW-Peak Watts) and Battery capacity (WH-Watt Hours). This table shows the typical specifics for each category:

eBike categories:

eBike Category


Output Power

Battery Capacity

Weight Range

Low Power

(30-50 NM)​

(200-300 PW)

(300-400 WH)

(30-40 lbs)

Mid Power

(50-70 NM)

(300-450 PW)

(400-600 WH)

(40-50 lbs)

Full Power

(70-99 NM)

(400-600 PW)

(600-900 WH)

(50-60 lbs)

For a comparison test of the capabilities from each category, a pro-racer set three test eBikes on Turbo mode. To be consistent, Power Meter Pedals were used to measure and adjust the testers sustained pedaling input to 200 watts across each test. The test route was a one mile gravel road with 550’ elevation gain. Below is the time and average speed for the three test bikes. As a reference, the test rider rode his 23 lb Santa Cruz Blur XC up the course in 16:43 minutes for an average of 3.5 mph.

eBike Category


Torque (NM)

Output (PW)

Time (min/sec)

Speed (mph)

Low Power

Specialized Levi SL





Mid Power

Orbea Rise





Full Power

Canyon Spectral





Not surprisingly, the bigger motor was faster. The question becomes, do you need that in Florida? Do you need a 570 hp Dodge Hellcat for a grocery store run?

For Florida, a Low Power bike should be sufficient. Traveling to N Carolina for some big downhill adventure, shoot for a Mid Power. Heading out west for 20 mile epics with several thousand feet in elevation gain, go for the Full Power machine. On the other hand, if going as fast as possible, even in Florida, is your desire, then go big. Nothing wins a race like monster horse power.

Can an eBike make you Fat?

Long time mountainbike athletes who switch to eBikes have a high likelihood of becoming less fit because the motor is carrying the load. If gaining weight is not one of your goals, some experts have this to say:

1. Keep your mountain bike and ride it 60-70% of the time.

2. If you only have an eBike, start each ride with the motor off for 20 minutes.

3. Use Turbo Mode infrequently.

4. Lower your calorie intake.

5. Set goals and put in full effort rides.

Four years ago, the only eBikes were of the Full Power variety. Within the past two years the trend is toward lighter, Low or Mid Power eBikes because they ride more like a mountain bike. Test ride before you buy. It’s good to have choices.

~Wes Eubank, Founding Member of Swamp Mountain Bike Club, Inc.

1 Comment

Wow, can’t remember the last time I heard someone say,” I ride a MTB to exercise and lose weight”.

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