The electrically assisted bicycle: an alternative way to promote physical activity

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 Nov;91(11):931-40. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e318269d9bb.


Objective: The aim of this study was to analyze the physiologic demand of pedaling on an electrically assisted bicycle to test its potential as an alternative method to perform exercise.

Design: Twenty participants (ten trained vs. ten untrained in endurance) novice in the electrically assisted bicycle performed the same cycling protocol composed of nine 5-min submaximal cycling periods without electrical support (NO), with a light support (S1), or with a high support (S4). The cycling conditions were tested at two different imposed speeds (16 and 21 km·hr(-1)) and one freely chosen speed (mean [SD], 18.1 [0.7] km·h(-1)).

Results: Mean power output, intensity, and energy expenditure were significantly lowered by the use of an electrical support, in similar proportions between the groups. For all subjects, the intensity of the electrically assisted bicycle in all measured conditions (S1 or S4) was sufficiently high to achieve the standards for moderate-intensity health-enhancing physical activity for adults (>3 metabolic equivalents). However, a vigorous intensity (>6 metabolic equivalents) was reached with the NO and S1 supports in the untrained group whatever the cycling speed and only at 21 km·hr(-1) with the light support (S1) in the endurance-trained group.

Conclusions: By reducing the perceived sensation of effort while maintaining a sufficiently high energy expenditure, the electrically assisted bicycle has a great potential to promote physical activity in industrialized societies.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Equipment Design
  • Exercise*
  • Health Promotion* / methods
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Respiration