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Health as a side-effect - The pedelec as an everyday fitness aid

Technological progress has in industrialised societies led to a decline in exercise. The consequences are muscular degeneration and an increase in(...)

(...) ‘civilisation diseases’ such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. This goes alongside groundbreaking advances in medicine, but the best medicine is still prevention through exercise. But thankfully nobody can be compelled to exercise – or can they? Pedelecs offer a new, gentle way to keep healthy, one which is simple, fun, and which benefits the whole body.

Civilisation diseases result in considerable costs when it comes to public health. The challenge for prevention is to be effective before illnesses appear and lead on to numerous complications.

Forms of endurance exercise can have especially good and sustained effects. 30 to 45 minutes exercise three times a week shows fitness results which when complemented by exercises to strengthen the stomach, back and seat musculature represent the ideal programme for health protection. This means that a relatively modest outlay in time is sufficient to make life-changing improvements to your internal systems. Regularity is the key! Often, sadly, this is lacking.

Whether it is the inner slob, high barriers to entry such as poor fitness, the effort or a stressful life, there are plenty of excuses not to take exercise. For that reason preventative measures are needed which can be easily integrated with everyday life to guarantee high commitment levels. Further, they must make possible optimal control of the effort according to individual requirements. For this, pedelecs open up a whole new dimension.

Exercise easily every day
With the pedelec, there are neither barriers to entry nor any problem with accessibility, because (almost) everyone can cycle, so pedelecs are no problem.

Electric bikes have all of the advantages of a bike and also open up additional superior opportunities for the integration of regular exercise into everyday life, and for motivation to take (more) exercise. Be it the ride to work, for shopping or forleisure – journeys which appear to be too long or too difficult by bike are achievable by pedelec.

With the motor assist helping, hills which would otherwise be an obstacle can be surmounted. The motor supports your own drive power and creates an easier and thus more pleasant experience, from which returnees to cycling, older riders and the overweight will profit in particular.

People with differing performance capacities can also ride together. Instead of spinning away alone in a studio you can glide together through the countryside. The experiential value of completing a ride, the opportunities for pauses and relaxation, all lead to better training effects and qualify pedelecs as aids to health. Pedelecs make it easier and more stimulating to stay fit – or to get fit.

Individual exertion control
While the majority of other measures in cardiovascular and metabolic prevention can only be applied and controlled in very limited circumstances, pedelecs enable adjustment across the whole spectrum of exertion from very low to very high power levels. To provide adequate regulation of the loading and for safety in training, the motor can simply add on appropriate power.

Contributing to this is the fact that on a pedelec all of the significant measures of power or work, and of exertion such as heart rate, blood pressure, energy use etc. can all be measured directly on the bike and rider.

This good availability of measured values and the application of the motor permit precise control of exertion, as they might on an ‘unplugged’ stationary ergometer. The effects and the effectiveness can be preset before every ride, as if on a mobile ergometer.

Automatic adjustment to control exertion is to date still a futuristic concept, because it would require a motor controlled, for example, by heart rate. Signals from sensors on bike and rider would be processed together, and appropriate motor power directed to the drive system.

In comparison to a conventional bike, the mechanical performance of the rider can already be measured on a pedelec. This is important for objective evaluation, because the ride speed is just one element in ride performance or the energy use of the rider. Values for load and exertion could be used for purposeful control and regulation of loads.

Every rider could test their own fitness level for themselves, and adjust the load to dynamically reflect their personal requirements.

For those funding prevention and rehabilitation, pedelecs offer the opportunity to diagnose the regularity, effects and effectiveness of measures. This availability of data without further tests will lead to a new dimension in prevention and rehabilitation.

>> Diagram: Pedelec riders with and without motor assist

Advantages of pedelecs vs other exercise
➢  Accessibility
➢  No barriers to entry — instant mobility even for returnees to cycling, the old and the overweight
➢   Integration into everyday life — means to an end
➢  Increased riding range
➢  Simple pedalling exercise technique
➢  No high peak forces when setting off from a standstill or accelerating
➢  Superior individual control of exertion levels and so matching your physical system.
➢  Ride together despite different individual abilities
➢  Simple to document rides, and to do long term analysis
➢  Value of the outdoor experience
➢  Trend towards environmentally friendly transport

Copy: Harry F. Neumann, prepared within the EU GoPedelec! project: GoPedelec! Handbook (German version), Go Pedelec! Handbook in Czech, Dutch, English, Hungarian, and Italian

Translation: Peter Eland (

Online release: Angela Budde

26 November 2012



7 - 12 September 2021, IAA, Munich, Testtrack