Energy expenditure during bicycling

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1990 Feb;68(2):748-53. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1990.68.2.748.


This study was designed to measure the O2 uptake (VO2) of cyclists while they rode outdoors at speeds from 32 to 40 km/h. Regression analyses of data from 92 trials using the same wheels, tires, and tire pressure with the cyclists riding in their preferred gear and in an aerodynamic position indicated the best equation (r = 0.84) to estimate VO2 in liters per minute VO2 = -4.50 + 0.17 rider speed + 0.052 wind speed + 0.022 rider weight where rider and wind speed are expressed in kilometers per hour and rider weight in kilograms. Following another rider closely, i.e., drafting, at 32 km/h reduced VO2 by 18 +/- 11%; the benefit of drafting a single rider at 37 and 40 km/h was greater (27 +/- 8%) than that at 32 km/h. Drafting one, two, or four riders in a line at 40 km/h resulted in the same reduction in VO2 (27 +/- 7%). Riding at 40 km/h at the back of a group of eight riders reduced VO2 by significantly more (39 +/- 6%) than drafting one, two, or four riders in a line; drafting a vehicle at 40 km/h resulted in the greatest decrease in VO2 (62 +/- 6%). VO2 was also 7 +/- 4% lower when the cyclists were riding an aerodynamic bicycle. An aerodynamic set of wheels with a reduced number of spokes and one set of disk wheels were the only wheels to reduce VO2 significantly while the cyclists were riding a conventional racing bicycle at 40 km/h.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*