Electric bike riders are just as active as conventional bicycle riders and are likely to enjoy similar health benefits, according to the results of a three-year European study released in June 2019. This large electric bike survey monitored the physical activity of nearly 10,000 adults in seven major European cities. In the end, the data showed “that physical activity from travel-related activities is similar for e-bikers and cyclists, as measured by MET-minutes per week...Moreover, overall physical activity among both groups was also comparable. These findings counter the often-raised concern that e-biking may result in a substantial reduction of physical activity for traveling due to the electric assist of e-bikes, which reduces the required physical effort.”

Electric Bike Riders Travel Further, Faster

This begs the question if this study shows that electric bike riders are as active as those who ride conventional bicycles, and if electric bikes require less effort to ride, how is it that e-bike riders get as much activity? The answer is simply that the electric bike riders in the survey often traveled further, faster for longer periods of time. The electric bike riders also rode both e-bikes and conventional bicycles. Specifically, the data showed that a typical electric bike rider used their e-bike about 14.5 days each month. These same electric bike riders also rode a conventional bicycle about eight (7.9) days each month on average. So that perhaps 22 or 23 days a month, e-bike owners rode some form of bicycle. In contrast, the cyclists who only rode a conventional bicycle pedaled about 14 days in an average month.
Rider Group Days Riding an Electric Bike Each Month Days Riding a Conventional Bike Each Month Total Days of Riding Activity Each Month
Electric Bike Group 14.5 7.9 22.4
Conventional Only Group 0 14 14
There may be a few factors contributing to these findings. It may be the case that the ease of riding an electric bike encouraged some participants to travel more often to work, to school, or to the store. It could also be that riding an electric bike his fun, so folks wanted to do it more, and, thus, spent more time riding recreationally or as a travel alternative. “As this study shows,” the researchers wrote, “average trip distance of e-bike and bicycle trips among e-bikers is significantly higher than bicycle trips among cyclists. Equally, e-bikers' daily travel distance by e-bike was also significantly longer than daily cycling distance in cyclists.” The electric bike group generally rode further each time they took an e-bike or bicycle trip. A typical electric bike rider traveled 9.4 kilometers (5.8 miles) when riding an electric bike and about 8.4 kilometers (5.2 miles) when those same e-bike riders chose to use a conventional bike, according to the study. By comparison, folks who only rode a conventional bicycle averaged just 4.8 kilometers (2.9 miles) trip.
Travel behaviour indicators by bicycle user type average trip distance.
Rider Group Average Distance for Each Electric Bike Trip Average Distance for Each Conventional Bicycle Trip
Electric Bike Group 9.4 km / 5.8 miles 8.4 km / 5.2 miles
Conventional Only Group 0 km / 0 miles 4.8 km / 2.9 miles
The amount of time devoted to riding was also greater for electric bike group. On a typical day, a person from the electric bike group would spend about 23.4 minutes riding an e-bike and just short of ten minutes (9.9) riding a conventional bicycle. The cycling group, which again was made up of folks who only rode a standard bicycle, rode for about 21.6 minutes per day on average.
Travel behaviour indicators by bicycle user type Daily average travel duration in minutes.
Rider Group Average Daily Electric Bike Riding Duration Average Daily Conventional Bike Riding Duration Total Average Daily Riding Duration
Electric Bike Group 23.4 minutes 9.9 minutes 33.3 minutes
Conventional Only Group 0 minutes 21.6 minutes 21.6 minutes
In effect, it would appear that electric bikes encourage more riding and activity. So while the specific action of riding an electric bike may be relatively easier than riding a conventional bicycle. The added power and fun actually make you want to ride more. “Introducing an electric bike into your regular travel transforms your daily commutes into an opportunity for some light physical activity and a chance to catch some fresh air,” wrote EVELO founders Boris and Yevgeniy Mordkovich in The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide. “Electric bikes are particularly well suited for daily commuting since the motor assistance helps eliminate challenges such as steep hills and headwinds, and creates a smoother, less demanding cycling experience. By using an electric bike, commuters no longer have to worry about arriving at their destination feeling tired, sweaty, or worn out—the bike’s motor takes care of the overly strenuous portions of the ride while still allowing you to mix some physical exercise into your daily routine.”

Minimal Physical Activity Cuts Risk of Premature Death in Half

Physical activity is important for men and women at any age, but it becomes vital for adults older than 40. In fact, for many adults, physical activity can significantly extend your life. In a separate study, “researchers at the University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine, looked at previous data on 14,599 men and women between the ages of 40 and 79. They assessed their physical activity levels at the beginning of the study, then three more times over the next seven years. They then compared this data to the mortality rates of the participants over the next 12 years,” wrote Diana Bruk in an article for BestLife magazine. “The results showed that meeting the minimum recommended exercise guidelines—at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week—was associated with a 46 percent decreased risk of premature death. And for those who had never exercised in the past, meeting these guidelines gradually over a period of five years was associated with a 29 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death, an 11 percent lower risk of cancer-related death, and a 24 percent lower risk of mortality overall.” Taken together, the data from these two, recent studies imply that for many adults riding an electric bike might improve both the length and quality of one’s life.
On a TDA Global Cycling tour, you are likely to pedal 60 miles a day, sleep under an open sky, and connect with your primal nature. You will also experience the adventure of a lifetime as you ride from Cairo to Cape Town or from Athens to Amsterdam. Learn how Henry Gold founded TDA Global Cycling when he was 50 as you listen to the podcast or follow along with the transcript below.

The Tour of Africa

Armando: One of the great things about cycling, whether you're riding a conventional bicycle or a modern electric bike, is that it can be an adventure. You feel the wind in your face and the sun on your skin. My name is Armando Roggio and in this episode of The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO, we're going to be speaking with Henry Gold who has a unique adventure company for cyclists who want a real challenge. Mr. Gold, will you get us started by telling us a little bit about your company? Henry: Certainly. So, I run this company called TDA Global Cycling. TDA stands for our first project Tour d'Afrique which is still the flagship of our company. The company was created in 2002 and we not only do projects around the world, but we are also very different than essentially any other cycling touring company. That's because we focus on very challenging long tours that cross continents, for example, Tour d'Afrique, essentially runs from Cairo to Cape Town and there was nothing like it at that point, not in cycling and not in motorcycling or anything else. Since then we have expanded on such iconic trips as the Silk Route from Beijing to Istanbul. We have a trip from top to bottom of North America, from Tuktoyaktuk to Panama City. We have difficult American epic which begins in Cartagena in Colombia and goes all the way to Ushuaia, Argentina. So those are our specialty trips, and we also have shorter trips and of course, people can also join us for sections but that's how we are different than anybody out there. We are pioneers there. There are some of the smaller companies who are doing long trips, but still nothing to the scope of what we do. As far as how it came about, well it came about mainly because I was working in Africa running developmental projects in Africa for years, and I would see Africans carrying everything on their back, and I sort of felt that there good idea to introduce a basic bicycle with a cheaper price for the bicycles that were available at that time from India or China. So I got interested in seeing whether a factory could be set up in Kenya and compete with the market, and I started investigating. One of the ideas that came about once it looked like it actually could happen with everyone and we could market for this product, and -- at the start, we were limited to a third of the resources, financial resources for the marketing -- so one day this idea that if we ever get going what we will do is run a bicycle race across Africa from Cairo to Cape Town, which would use those bicycles we were going to manufacture. And I thought that would be so crazy that we would get a lot of free publicity. And that's how the idea actually started. The factory never happened because as we all know in business, a lot of things have to come together, I had a business partner who got cold feet. And it was with a lot of other things that I put aside. But in 2002, I met someone who was very interested in not reviving the idea but doing a Cairo to Cape Town bicycle expedition race. And that's how it came about.

A Decade Passed Before the Business Became a Reality

Armando: So how much time was there between when you conceived of the Tour of Africa sort of as a marketing campaign, and when you actually did the tour? Henry: About 10, 11 years from the original concept that crossed my mind and the actual time that we decided to do it. I had a very varied background, so I was doing other things and it just kind of happened in 2002. I had a project that fell apart because of two eleven, sorry 9/11. And all of a sudden I said, "Okay what's next?" And this was one idea, and I sort of said, "I'm 50 if I'm going to do anything this crazy, it's time to do it now." Henry Gold on his bike in Afirca Armando: So you were 50 when you started Tour d'Afrique? Henry: Exactly. I keep saying it was my birthday, I'm not sure it was my birthday anymore. But it was around 50 for sure. It was around the time of my birthday that reassessing what's next, what am I going to do now. And I called up this fellow who showed an interest previously in this and I said, "Listen, it's now or never. If I'm going to do it it's now." And I think he asked for 24 hours to think it through and then joined forces. He actually dropped out of the project after a year and a half or two. The partnership wasn't working too well. But he was very helpful in the startup because, you know, a startup takes a lot of energy, you need a lot of help.

The First Trip

Armando: Tell me about that first trip. For example, how did you find clients for it? Henry: Well what happened was very simple actually. I have a friend, a journalist, who over the years we actually collaborated on some projects. But I called him up once I decided to do it, just sort of for a cup of coffee and I said, "Michael, how am I going to market this? What am I going to do? How are we going to do this" And he said, "Ah, Henry it is a wonderful story. I'm going to do a piece on you once you're ready to roll." And I sort of thought he was humoring me and I kept saying, "Oh Michael, give me some hints on how to market this." And he kept saying, "Don't worry once you're ready, call me." So he did, so I did once the website was ready to go live and we were ready to roll. And I called him up and fortunately for me, he worked for the Global and Mail, the New York Times of Canada I call it. And he called me up, sorry, I called him up and we sat down and he brought a photographer, and they did a big piece. It was kind of because it was so daring in a way. And the Globe ran the piece and within 24 hours we had emails from as far away as Tokyo and Australia. And the word just spread out because it was so daring, I suppose. And I think most people who had never been to Africa, and in fact that the response of the media were such skepticism and cynicism. People responded in emails and even letters to editors that I'm obviously a charlatan and I don't know what I'm doing and I obviously haven't spent a day in Africa because why if you spend a day in Africa you would it's impossible. There was an email that said I'm trying to abscond with money once I collect money from everybody. So there was a lot of skepticism, cynicism, and just people who obviously make negative comments. But as I said, that created enough activity or give us credibility for such a big paper to carry it that I did some radio shows. And literally, people started really saying at the levels the Internet allows. People from around the world I guess took an act, in this case, it was a positive connection. And we also then, my partner was born in Holland so we went to Holland and again it would be nice to get some publicity there and some publicity in England. And totally identity but there was enough people, 31 people registered for the whole tour and paid for the whole tour and that's all we needed essentially. We had a critical mass and that's how we started. Armando: So for the first tour, 31 folks from around the world sign up. How long of a journey was it? Henry: So the tour was exactly 120 days. It was set up in such a way that we would be cycling roughly about five days or so and then we would have a rest day. So 100 days of cycling and 20 days of rest days, and so in total 120 days. And I suppose we were averaging, I don't know, 60 to 60 miles a day or so. Across 10 countries from top to bottom. And the logistics were extremely challenging again, you know the naysayers, it's not like they did not have a good case to base it on, this was not doable. They had a very good case and, however, what they didn't realize I suppose, I did have a lot of experience in Africa. And you could say good credentials that governments had trusted me and the reason I was doing it, I wanted to help and they were interested and hoped that this would be a success. And which meant that they didn't put fear as obstacles and in some cases it was helpful. So we managed to get permits for stuff that until then nobody and even to this day some of the permits that we get. For example, in Egypt you let them go in a convoy through a large part of Egypt I think you still do. Whereas we are allowed to cycle literally at our own pace, not as a group, but each cyclist goes at their own pace. A similar situation was in northern Kenya, in those days where the only way you could go to in a convoy. Once again we got permits and we were not harassed and we were doing our own thing. Ethiopia we had some issues as well, and by the way, these issues persist from year to year different parts of the country. But different parts of some countries there were some sporadic problems and they deal with them. So there's a lot of reason why people would have been skeptical but as I said. And I spent years and years running different projects in many of these countries. So there was no question of my credibility as far as am I doing something that would harm the country et cetera, because as an aid worker, I brought millions of dollars to some of these countries, so they realized I'm not doing this for my own, to enrich myself and run away.

An Adventure Gene

Armando: So your clients, the guests who come and tour Africa or South America or the Silk Route, these must be folks who enjoy an adventure. And they need to be folks who can take four months off to join you. So I guess, tell me about your typical clients. Henry: Not sure there's such a thing as a typical client. But having different tours around the world there are also different age brackets, which attract, for example in Europe we get much older clients. And many of them are semi-retired or retired. But on the Africa trip, we get a very good cross section from 18 year-olds to literally 70, 73 years old. People even older have done the trip. Well, the number one people who have the time, of course, are semi-retired or retired people. And some of these people are simply in good enough shape that they decide to do it and they find out that they can do it and they get stronger in some ways as the tour progresses. We also have some very young people now. We have people who did the gap year and came and done this. Where obviously they're helped financially by their parents, or someone else, grandparents in some cases. We get people who take a break from their career because they, IT professionals often work very hard and then they take a break because they're burned out. They also know they're going to get a job easily. We get partners in law firms or engineering firms or any others who again have able to talk their partner, or whoever they deal with to take time off. Sometimes we get people who have some trauma in their life and they decided it's time to whatever change their lifestyle, so they take time off. We also have people who only can do a few weeks and they come as well. For example, often emergency doctors are able to take six weeks together, and they come for six weeks one year and another six weeks the next year and so on. So there are all kinds of people who are able to do this and what's remarkable to me is especially sometimes the more successful people, business people who have been successful 45, 50 and they come back over and over again. We have had participants who have been on 10, 11, 12 of our tours. Which is to me remarkable that people able to take from six weeks to 5 and a half months and do these things. Sometimes there are couples. It's sort of a lifestyle for them. Again, people in their 60s. It's wonderful to see active people. As far as the type of people that come, it's not simply flightless per se, there's an adventure gene of some kind. They need to or they hear of something like this and they decide to do it. And as I said they're not necessarily cyclists. For example, on this trip right now across Africa, we have three people over 70. They're all former runners, long-distance runners, and one of them had the U.S. record for over 40 and for one mile for many years. But at some point it breaks the body or they don't want to switch to something else, they decide to do it. And literally, as I said, three over 70 long-distance runners and they're having an amazing time and doing it. It's not as though they're challenged, but these people like a challenge. It makes them feel alive. It makes them feel this is the way they want to spend their time. And it's one of a kind, you know, in many cases, it changes their lives. One of a kind of adventure that changes their lives completely. And as I said it's a wonderful way of staying in shape and being interested in what's going on. You have to be on all the time, you're stimulated with what's going on and you have to be careful. So if you want to look for a moment and enjoy it and take a break from American politics, there's nothing better than doing this. And everything changes on these trips, it's just an amazing experience. Armando: I love that you said you thought these folks had an adventure gene. I think that is so well-put. Henry: Yeah I think over the years I have time, I cycle on the trips and I go and you spend a lot of time by yourself cycling and long distances, and I always try to figure out different things that around this puzzle, why people do certain things, what kind of people come in and so on. I have a theory that I often have brought up, what happens on these trips is that as much as possible in the modern life. We touch in our genes or in our DNA what we were designed to be, which is the hunter-gatherers. For hundreds of thousands of years we are hunter-gatherers and that's what we react to and the hunter-gatherers spend a lot of time being very physical and of course you have to be very careful, stimulated, and danger was always around the corner. At the same time, life was kind of simple because you had a community and there was a communal sense and protection. Well, this is what happens on these long bicycle trips, you have to be very on every minute because there's potential when you're in an area you've never been before. You never know whether it's a crazy driver or an animal or a bad road or something that you need to deal with. Of course, there's some potential mechanical problems. You have certain things you have to be always focused on and you have to eat properly and you have to stay clean enough and all of these things. And I think what happened is at the same time as you do these things, you are stronger, you're producing endorphins. No matter how much you struggle, there's a sense of well-being. So my thesis is that we kind of approximate something of your designs and we feel good about it even though we don't quite understand why I mean why should I be feeling good being tired every day. And sleeping on the ground at times or whatever it is, in the open. Of course, the fresh air's always stimulating. All of this combined, I can't tell you, you should speak with all the people who've been on these trips, it's just years later. Last week in Toronto, seven riders that came on this first time, on the 2003 trip, got together and had a few beers. I missed it because I had to go somewhere else, but every day I get emails from their exchanging, how wonderful it was to see each other. So here we are 17 years later and there are such strong links and these links exist on every trip on every tour people get together around the world. So it's a community that developed and often it's hard for the people to understand because only if you experience something, it's very difficult to explain what it is because on the outside it just sounds unreal.

The Tours are Still an Adventure

Armando: Have the tours changed over the last 17 years? Have they evolved? Or is it still about that same fundamental experience? Henry: Fundamentally, it's the same. There are some changes, perhaps some. I describe the adventure gene. There are now people who are coming who would never have come on the first, second, or third trips because either they didn't have the confidence or they're relatives wouldn't let them go. But now when you start doing it over and over and they see that nobody's being chased by Bushmen or anybody else, people are now coming. And that sort of also brings a different type of people's sometimes expectations because people have already been doing it for years, why haven't you solved these problems or why haven't you done this or that. So there are certain differences in some people coming in and their expectation, what they think. You could call them softer clients if you want, but their experience is I think essentially it's the same. It's an expedition and expeditions are a healthy thing.

Aid Work

Armando: So I want to go back a little in time. You mentioned that you had a lot of experience in Africa before you started the tours. So I wonder, will you tell us a little about the aid work that you did, and how you got introduced to Africa? Henry: Well I set up an organization, I was approached by a young doctor literally just out of school who wanted to help refugees in Africa. And after several meetings I decided to do that because I was an engineer, I guess I just had kind of a practical sense of how to get things done and he did not. And we started an NGO, nongovernmental organization, and the first project was a medical project in Sudan, very similar to what Doctors Without Borders do, at that time Doctors Without Borders existed but in France only, I believe, and they were a fairly small organization. And we went and worked in Sudan, and then when I came back, I served six months and I wasn't planning to continue this. But then the Ethiopian famine broke out, and there was a lot of public outcry about it, and I was literally on the border of Sudan and Ethiopia, and I had experience how to deal with refugees. So I kind of really, I decided okay, well let's set up another project in Ethiopia, and it just snowballed. The project initially were emergencies. But my approach, as compared to Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), my approach, being an engineer, I very quickly realized that emergency as in emergency hospital, emergency's important but really it's the rehabilitation process that's more difficult challenge and issue, and if you're going to get people to help you again and livable communities. So I started focusing on what some people call integrated development, which is you go into the community which is in crisis whether due to civil war or famine or whatever disaster, et cetera, and then during the emergency you're really already planning for the rehabilitation and start focusing on variety of activities, whether it's creating good sanitation or opening vegetable gardens or reforesting the unproductive areas, economic development, getting animals to the farmers back, all kinds of activities, building roads to the communities and farms. Very simple, very basic, no heavy machinery whatsoever. But that was our specialty of an integrated approach to the problems, and we take off. The government asked us to go into more difficult areas, more remote areas, which kind of fit my personality. I like the challenges. And then we went and started expanding first in Ethiopia, then some other countries in Africa. It just went from there, building and sanitation, wells, digging wells. So I'm just trying to create like you could call it public health, in a way because being healthy and having nutrition and having clean water and having proper sanitation and so on. So that's what they were doing and they got credited and that we were getting funding from a variety of sources. But my job essentially started becoming after year 6, 7, 8, 9 years of raising money because the need was endless, and I had a weakness in personality and I have committed myself that we could do something. It's just a vicious circle trying to raise more money. So I did that for 9 years and I was kind of burning out. But in the meantime, as I said, we established projects in places like Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Malawi, and Mozambique, Angola. So these are places that, some of these anyway, that we eventually cycled through. In fact 2003, we were cycling. We stayed in two or three of these base camps that we sent up when I was the executive director. And the NGO still exists. It's still doing some of the same work, some of its different work. It's smaller than when I left it. But it was a great pleasure actually to come to do this years later and see what we did and the differences that we made. And even having a place where we could actually stay and not to worry, the enclosure and the toilets and water and so that's what happened.

Electric Bikes

Armando: So Mr. Gold, the listeners of this podcast are electric bike enthusiasts. So I have to ask. What are your thoughts about electric bikes, and have you ever thought of using them on your tours? Henry: Well funny you mention this because I have actually tested a bike on a trip almost three years ago, well a year and a half ago anyway, from Shanghai to Hanoi, which will be called Bamboo Route, which goes from Shanghai to Singapore. It's a three-month long trip. And I decided to test the e-bike because I managed to get an e-bike donated for testing from a manufacturer in China. So I tested it from Shanghai to Hanoi, and I even wrote a blog about it called "It's Not a Horse, It's Not a Donkey, Then It Must Be a Mule." And I describe my particular experience on it, an e-bike. And the idea of testing it was to see what would be the challenges to incorporate it into our tours or create e-bike tours only. So I have first-hand knowledge of how difficult it would be to create if you're going to use those e-bikes for long trips such as ours. And the main challenge at the moment is just getting those e-bikes on planes, especially since we don't a circle on our trips. So it's very difficult if you're going to start in China and finish in Singapore, how you deal with getting e-bikes especially from one place to another, it's costly. But it creates another strong challenge, especially with the heavier e-bikes. So in simple terms, I think in the future e-bikes will be happening on these tours. We're getting more and more people asking about them. At the moment we'll stick with challenges for us to be able to yes you can come and do e-bikes. But I think in the future e-bikes, whether they're going to be simply e-bike tours or they're going to be combining an e-bike and a regular bike. And of course the reason I was for saying is that we all know we have a partner who sometimes is not as committed or has physical challenges or whatever it is, but they may still want to be out there. I also have clients who are now who have done the Tour d'Afrique at the age of 65 or 70 and they may be 75, they still want to come on some of these trips, but they feel like they don't have the physical stamina, so people who have injuries. So I think e-bike is definitely a product that's going to enter and be used more often and I think touring is one of the options. I'll tell you one little story because it's connected to what I was telling you before. I'm an electrical engineer by training, and when I was doing that investigation for setting up the factory in Kenya for the bikes in 1990. I believe it was 1991 to the bike show in Taipei. As I was walking around, I came to the demonstration area and somebody put a so-called e-bike with just a car battery on the back of the bicycle and he said, "Test it, go take it for a ride right inside the hall." You know they have that little testing area. So I got on that and I did the little circle of 150 yards or whatever it is, and I came back and I said to myself, "I've seen the future." I was convinced at that particular moment, I was convinced that e-bikes are something that's going to happen in the future. I actually am surprised how long it took. But I think e-bikes make a hell of a difference. There's going to be more people. The most difficult thing I think, unfortunately, for e-bikes is for the cities to create infrastructures so that people can feel safe. But I'm a fan. I don't use it, but I'm a fan of the e-bike, that's what I'm trying to say. Armando: I understand. So I've very much enjoyed learning about your company. Thank you very much for joining me for this podcast. Henry: Okay, thank you. Armando: I really enjoyed talking with Henry Gold and learning about his company, TDA Global Cycling, and I hope you really enjoyed this episode of The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO. If you did, will you share it? Will you let friends and family members who might be interested in electric bikes know about this podcast? I would really appreciate it. Thanks, take care.
Between 70-and-90 percent of electric bike owners and shoppers in the United States are 45-years-old or older. These mature, mostly recreational riders are helping to encourage bicycling, fitness, and growth in the popularity of electric bikes. There are, of course, many factors contributing to the interest in and excitement for e-bikes in the United States. For example, some would say bicycling is in vogue. Americans concerned about the environment, health, or just saving money are turning to bicycles, including e-bikes, for transportation and recreation. One can see this trend played out in the form of new bike lanes, trails, and similar infrastructure. Electric bikes are also becoming the mainstay of popular bike-sharing services popping up in cities and towns across American. These services -- like Uber’s Jump or Lime’s pedal assist bikes -- allow “for longer rides, users who may have disabilities or other physical limitations preventing extended cycling, and a car-free way to navigate hilly and steep terrain,” wrote Patrick Sisson in a 2018 Curbed article. Finally, there are the Baby Boomer and Generation X cohorts. In 2019, there are approximately 73 million Baby Boomers and around 66 million Gen Xers in the United States. Taken together these Americans represent as much as 40 percent of the nation’s total population. These mature adults may already have an affinity for bicycles. Many of them grew up riding to school or cruising their hometown’s streets and lanes. Collectively, they may also have the time, financial wherewithal, and interest for recreational bicycling.

A Majority of Electric Bike Enthusiasts are Older than 45

A 2019 survey of more than 1,000 electric bike owners and consumers interested in purchasing an e-bike showed that 90.61 percent of respondents were 45-years-old or older. Baby Boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964, make up the largest cohort of electric bike owners or interested consumers. These adults, who are between 55 and 73 years old in 2019, represented 79.43 percent of those surveyed. Generation X describes adults born between 1965 and 1980. These Americans, who are between 39 and 54 years old in 2019, made up approximately 15.44 percent of the survey’s respondents.
A 2019 EVELO survey shows the majority of electric bike owners and interested shoppers are 45 years old or older.
  The survey’s findings regarding the age of a typical electric bike owner or interested shopper are consistent with the results of earlier research. As an example, a 2017 survey from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), estimated that 67.2 percent of electric bike owners were age 45 or older. The difference between the two surveys is noteworthy, but consistent enough to show a trend. The NITC data puts about 70 percent of e-bike owners older than 45, while the more recent EVELO survey places that figure at 90 percent. The NITC survey included respondents who follow industry organizations on social media, and, as such may include a greater percentage of industry insiders who could be somewhat younger than electric bike consumers more generally. The EVELO survey focused on consumers more specifically. But both surveys indicate Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are behind the majority of the consumer demand for electric bikes.

Hill Flatteners

The affinity for electric bikes among mature American adults makes a lot of sense. The pedal assist and throttle systems on these bikes give riders the confidence to ride more often, to ride relatively long distances, and to ride in groups with friends or family members. Electric bikes are “hill flatteners” that enable riders to pedal up even steep slopes that would have otherwise required them to dismount and push a conventional bicycle. “With an electric bike...elderly or inexperienced cyclists can confidently head out on rides knowing that if the terrain becomes too difficult, or if they start feeling tired or worn out, they can rely on the motor to help them get back home. Similarly, an electric bike can be helpful to a person trying to get back into shape, allowing them to gradually transition from lighter, primarily motor-assisted workouts to more intensive workouts that rely less and less on motor-generated power,” wrote Boris and Yevgeniy Mordkovich in “The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.” The electric bike riding experience the Mordkovichs describe is consistent with the reasons respondents to the EVELO survey cited for purchasing or wanting to purchase an electric bike.
Fitness and recreational activities are important to electric bike owners and interested consumers.
Given the opportunity to select multiple reasons for riding or wanting to ride an electric bike, some 78.89 percent of respondents to the EVELO survey said “for recreation” and 76.79 percent of those surveyed said to “stay active.” These responses may indicate that riders and consumers see electric bikes as a fun way to stay engaged with friends, families, and activities.
Cycling on an electric bike just a few times each week can improve an adult’s cardiorespiratory performance and general health in ways similar to riding a conventional bicycle or taking vigorous walks, according to several clinical studies. One of the most telling studies, released in the May 2018 edition of the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, compared the peak oxygen uptake (VO2 max) of 32, overweight adults before and after four weeks of bicycle commuting.

Swiss Study Shows Electic Bikes Improve VO2 Max

The study, “Effect of E-Bike Versus Bike Commuting on Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Overweight Adults,” took its participants from local government offices in and around Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft, Switzerland during the summer of 2016.
Riding a bicycle or an electric bike to work may improve your cardiovascular health. Photo by Blubel.
  For more than a decade, the Swiss government has been trying to encourage citizens to ride a conventional bicycle or electric bike to work rather than driving or taking public transportation. As part of this program, the nation holds a four-week “Bike to Work” promotion during the warm summer months. This promotion served as the intervention period for the Swiss study. Each of the subjects was relatively overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 35. (A BMI of 18.5 to 25 is considered normal, according to the American Heart Association.) Each participant was an adult aged 18-to-50, and each was willing to cycle to work at least three times each week during the intervention period. The subject’s commute had to be at least 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) each way. Other than cycling, the participants kept their normal eating habits and normal levels of physical activity. To determine how cycling impacted each of the subjects, the Swiss researches measured VO2 max before and after the four-week intervention. VO2 max measures the peak amount of oxygen a person can use during intense exercise. It is considered a good measurement of aerobic endurance and cardiovascular fitness. Thus, any improvement in VO2 max would indicate that bicycling imply heart and lung health.
The Swiss study showed that riding an electric bike to work (or just riding an electric bike in general) improves your ability to update oxygen.
  At the beginning of the study, all 32 participants had normal VO2 max scores and normal resting blood pressure levels. By the end of the intervention period, those participants riding electric bikes had improved their VO2 max by 3.6 mL/(kg·min) from a mean of 35.7 mL/(kg·min) before the trial to a mean of 39.3 mL/(kg·min) at the end of the four-week period. Conventional bike riders enjoyed a 2.2 mL/(kg·min) gain from a mean of 36.4 mL/(kg·min) at the beginning of the study to a mean of 38.6 mL/(kg·min) at the study’s conclusion. The study subjects also enjoyed improvements in resting heart rate and resting blood pressure after just four-weeks of cycling to work. Bottom line, electric bikes “may have the potential to improve cardiorespiratory fitness similar to conventional bicycles despite the available power assist, as they enable higher biking speeds and greater elevation gain,” wrote the Swiss study’s authors.

Electric Bikes Overcome the Barriers to Exercise

This Swiss study’s findings are generally consistent with other clinical research. An analysis of electric-bike-related clinical studies, “Health benefits of electrically-assisted cycling: a systematic review,” published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity in 2018 reported that eight of eleven studies examined showed improvements in oxygen uptake as a result of riding an electric bike. “Riding an e-bike led to a relative mean oxygen uptake of 14.7 to 29  ml/min/kg or 51 to 74 percent of maximum oxygen uptake,” the analysis said. What’s more, many adults may find it easier to start exercising with an electric bike than to get started walking, running, or riding a conventional bicycle. Electric bikes may help adults become and stay more active. “Electric bikes offer riders a high degree of control over the level of physical exertion required to ride, making them particularly helpful for anybody who would like to become more fit, but who may need to gradually and carefully ease into increased physical activity,” according to chapter three of “The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.” “Electric bikes, therefore, may provide an especially helpful way to exercise for those who fall into the following categories: recovering from an injury or illness, looking for a low-impact workout, elderly cyclists, people who are new to working out, returning to physical activity after a prolonged period of inactivity,” the guide concluded.
Riding an electric bike just a few times a week may improve brain function in adults 50-years-old and older, potentially reducing the risk of contracting Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and other age-associated neurodegenerative disorders, according to a new report from the U.K.-based cycleBOOM project. Doctors and scientists have long known that there is a connection between outdoor exercise and mental and emotional well being. For example, a German study released in 2007, “High impact running improves learning,” showed that exercising before studying could help a person learn vocabulary about 20 percent faster. The study also reported that “regular physical exercise improves cognitive functions and lowers the risk for age-related cognitive decline.” Released in February 2019, the cycleBOOM study, “The Effect of Cycling on Cognitive Function and Well-being in Older Adults,” shows that to be beneficial outdoor exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be strenuous. A 60-year-old doesn’t have to do high-impact running to improve her brain health. In fact, riding an electric bike for recreation or basic transportation will improve brain function. “It is really encouraging that this research suggests older adults’ cognitive function (particularly what we call executive function as well as processing speed) could be improved by cycling in the natural or urban environment, even when that was on an electrically assisted ebike,” said Dr. Louise-Ann Leyland, one of the study’s authors.

Oxford Study

Leyland and her colleagues monitored 100 adults aged 50 to 83 from Oxford in the United Kingdom. Each participant was given a battery of tests before and after an eight-week intervention period. During this intervention period roughly a third of the participants did not cycle, a third rode a conventional bicycle, and a third rode an ebike. The conventional and electric bike cyclists were asked to ride three times per week for about 30 minutes each time. Both groups of cyclists showed improvements in some of the executive function tests. Electric bike riders also showed improvement in mental well-being. The researchers believe that cycling, be it on a conventional bicycle or an electric bike, may increase blood flow in the brain encouraging cell regeneration. It is important to point out that the study did not necessarily show significant improvements in memory or some verbal skills. This may have been related to the relatively small number of participants (38 rode electric bikes) and the relatively short duration. “We found that some aspects of mental health and well-being increased in participants, who cycled on an ebike for an hour and a half a week for an eight-week period," Leyland said. "This suggests that there may be an impact of exercising in the environment on executive function and mental health. It would be great to see the effect of cycling, particularly ebike use, on cognition and well-being in a larger sample of participants over a longer period of time."

Electric Bikes Help Older Adults Get Exercise

“Electric bikes can be especially empowering for those who would like to exercise more, but who have a health condition that limits the amount of physical activity they can perform. By controlling the amount of assistance they receive from the motor, ebike riders can tailor the difficulty level of their rides to meet their unique health and fitness needs. This can be especially helpful to those with joint pain, exercise-induced asthma, heart or lung problems, or who are overweight,” wrote Boris and Yevgeniy Mordkovich in “The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.” For at least some older adults, an electric bike can be a gateway toward getting more exercise that could improve both mental and physical health. "We had thought that those who used traditional, pedal-only powered bikes would have the greatest brain and mental health boost, as they would be giving their cardiovascular systems the biggest workout," said Carien Van Reekum, a professor of psychology at the University of Reading, and another of the study’s authors. "Instead, people who used ebikes told us that they felt more confident in completing the requested activity of three 30-minute rides a week for eight weeks, compared to pedal bikers. The fact that the group was able to get outside on a bike, even without much physical exertion, is likely to make people feel mentally better," Van Reekum said.