July 01, 2020

Safe use of e-bikes can enable a healthier lifestyle

You can use bicycling as a way to get a joint-friendly workout, socialize with a group of cyclists and breathe in some fresh air. Bicycling can also be an alternative to driving.

Electric bikes (e-bikes) offer another way to cycle. E-bikes have battery-powered motors that allow you to go 20 miles an hour or more. For some e-bikes — called pedelecs or pedal-assist e-bikes — you must pedal to use the motor, while others require only the use of a throttle. If you use an e-bike, Mayo Clinic experts recommend pedal-assist varieties, because these require you to pedal to keep the bike moving.

E-bikes do some of the work for you, which means you may feel more comfortable going greater distances or up more-challenging hills than you would otherwise — possibly letting you keep up with a group or partner who is faster. One research review found riding a pedal-assist e-bike to be generally less intense than traditional cycling, but also found e-biking may help those who are inactive boost their cardiovascular health.

However, it's important to abide by general bike safety recommendations. Wear a snug-fitting helmet, use reflective gear and front and rear lights to increase visibility, avoid heavy traffic and ride with traffic. Because e-bikes can be heavier and operated at a faster speed than traditional bikes, remember to start slowly to get the feel of it.