We’ve all felt it, seen it, and heard about it. And likely done it too.
Whether it was during an epic game of Monopoly, someone scooting ahead on the shoulder in a traffic jam, or sneaking a slice of chocolate cake into your diet. Cheating!
When is something cheating, and when is it just doing something a different way? When it comes to e-bikes, a common complaint voiced among hardcore cyclists is that e-bikes are cheating. Accusations of e-bike riders being cheaters have been around since the invention of the e-bike 150 years ago.
So is riding an e-bike cheating? Who sets the rules…are there any rules at all?
Are E-bikes an Cheating or an Unfair Advantage?
Cheating only seems to come into play if you’re competing and found a way to gain an unfair advantage. Just as a lone e-bike rider in a field of conventional bike riders will gain the upper hand in winning the race. In this case, it wouldn’t just be perceived as cheating; it definitely would be.
Lance Armstrong doping his way to multiple Tour de France wins, yes, cheating. He was, in theory, gaining an unfair advantage in a competition. If the playing field is level, where everyone has the same equipment and same access during preparation, and a participant goes beyond that and uses something to leverage their position, that’s cheating.
What’s e-bike riding at its core? It’s about being outdoors, getting some exercise as you move from point A to point B, and of course, having fun. You have to look at the motivation. That’s where the traction for an accusation of cheating lives or dies.
Let’s look beyond opinion and see the differences when riding an e-bike vs. riding a conventional bike. Is there some cheating going on?
Conventional and e-bikes have many of the same health benefits:
- Overall improvement to cardiovascular health.
- Muscle strength gain, and flexibility.
- Low-impact, high-yield exercise.
- Increased joint mobility.
- It helps prevent, and in some cases, manage disease.
- Weight management. It helps lower levels of fat in the body, which is super healthy.
- Stress relief.
- It helps with improving balance and coordination.
- Building healthy, strong bones.
- Core strength building.
- Getting out in the fresh air and sunshine lifts your mood and vitamin D levels.
Common sense dictates that those who ride traditional bikes reap the benefits quicker since they have no motor assistance. So? Benefits are benefits no more how quickly they come. Studies show that any exercise provides tremendous health benefits.
According to the Mayo Clinic, just 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise strengthens your heart, reduces the risk of many diseases, improves lung capacity, and likely adds years to your life. A conventional bike rider will probably have to ride less minutes for the same health markers. If that appeals to you, minimize your pedal-assist till you reach 75 minutes of riding, and then it’s all gravy after that.
So…E-Bikes….Cheating or Not Cheating?
Not only is riding an e-bike not cheating, but e-bikes are a terrific choice for many people who could not otherwise ride a conventional bike. Some people have heart or lung conditions that prohibit them from intense cardiovascular exercise. E-bikes allow them to enjoy cycling with the peace of mind that they have motor assistance if needed.
Or maybe some just want an e-bike. They love the technology and freedom an e-bike gives. As long as nobody is competing in a conventional bike race with a motorized vehicle–we don’t see any cheating. We say: You do you.
The bottom line here isn’t about us vs. them when it comes to e-bike vs. bike. Recreationally we’re all out there for the same reason, to enjoy the day and the great outdoors. Ultimately the more, the merrier. More people on two or three wheels means fewer people on four fossil fuel-guzzling wheels. More cyclists are certainly a positive for the biking community–and the environment.
There are no authorities setting rules. Conventional bikes have their enthusiasts, and so do e-bikes. Both provide excellent health benefits, take cars off the road, and are fun for commuting or recreating.