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Are e-bikes cheating?

Since Life Cycle started in 1999 we have been working tirelessly to help more people get cycling. At the heart of all our work is a commitment to teaching cycle skills and confidence in a supportive way - proving that almost anyone can get on a bike, if given the right support. More recently we have started to explore the potential power of using electric bikes (known as e-bikes) to engage even greater numbers of people in cycling.

Teaming up

We were delighted to be approached by the University of Bristol to team up on their ‘PEDAL’ project. The aim of their research - funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – was to explore the efficacy of e-bikes in helping people with type 2 diabetes.

18 people were selected to try an electric bike for several months. Life Cycle was on hand to provide the support they needed to get cycling, as most of the participants hadn’t cycled in years. We taught them how to use the electric bikes and gave them free cycle tuition so they felt confident enough to cycle everywhere they wanted to go.

The results were very promising!

A healthier outlook

The participants generally became fitter, and a number of people lost weight – in some cases several kilos. But the best result was that the participants were extremely positive about the experience of e-cycling and 14 chose to purchase their bikes at the end of the study. 

The University commissioned a video (created by Beeston Media) in which two participants tell us how the e-bikes changed their lives.

Our CEO, Poppy Brett said:

“Lots of people have the impression that using an e-bike is ‘cheating’.  What this study has shown is that e-bikes have as many health benefits as push bikes.  The advantage of an e-bike is that people can cycle further for longer, tackle hills that they might have avoided otherwise, and can get as much exercise as someone on a push bike.”

Ashley Cooper, Professor of Physical Activity and Public Health from the from the Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences at the University of Bristol, commented:

“This was a small study, but we are excited by the results and will be looking to do further research next year into the benefits of e-cycling for people affected by type-2 diabetes”.  

Anyone with the condition who is interested in taking part in a future trial should email: ebike-project@bristol.ac.uk.