In October 2011, the Exercise and Physical Activity Resource Center (EPARC) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) completed a metabolic testing study to determine and compare the energy cost of riding an ElliptiGO elliptical bike with conventional cycling and running. The ElliptiGO elliptical bicycle was engineered to emulate the running motion as closely as possible and while any rider will tell you that it requires an effort level much closer to running than cycling, until now they didn’t know exactly how the ElliptiGO elliptical bike stacked up.
For the study, 6 male and female subjects between 30-41 years old completed multiple laps around the flat inner skirt of the San Diego Velodrome while wearing a heart monitor and a Cosmed k4b face mask with a portable metabolic unit. They rode a traditional bike, an ElliptiGO elliptical bike, and ran at intensities ranging from easy to very difficult to capture data across all three exercise modes.
The study found that riding an ElliptiGO elliptical bicycle required, on average, 33% more effort than cycling at that same speed. There are many factors that affect the energy expenditure of a given ElliptiGO rider or cyclist including rider size, weight, riding experience, and overall fitness. During flat riding conditions at speeds above 10 mph, as was investigated in this study, the most significant factor is a rider’s size and the corresponding frontal area that they have to push through the air like a sail. The upright riding position of the ElliptiGO elliptical bike has a much greater frontal area when compared to the more aerodynamic hunched over position of cycling thus resulting in a higher effort for the same speed.
It was also found that heart rate responses and perceived exertion levels were very similar between the ElliptiGO elliptical bike and running. It was determined that riding an ElliptiGO bike at 16 mph was equivalent to running at 7.5 mph (8 min/mile), and riding at 18.5 mph was equivalent to running at 8.6 mph (7 min/mile).
These numbers will enable cross-training athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike to incorporate the ElliptiGO bicycle into their training and workouts with more specificity.
To read the full study and see the test subjects’ results, click here to download the PDF.