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The Efficiency of Cycling

It’s a known fact that cycling is the best alternative to powered transportation.

With the aid of a bicycle, a person reduces their energy consumption to one fifth of that used if they were walking. It also becomes the most efficient means of traveling in terms of energy consumed to move a given distance as a function of body weight.

There are a number of reasons for this. The bicycle has evolved so that it’s the optimum ergonomic design. It uses the quadricep muscles (the most powerful in the body) in the right motion (circular) at the right speed (60 to 90 revolutions per minute). This power is then transmitted efficiently to the rear wheel using bearings, a chain, cogs and air-filled tires.

With standing or walking, energy is consumed just to keep the body upright, but with cycling, energy is saved by sitting – this relieves the leg muscles of their supporting (and energy consuming) function. The only moving parts of the body are the legs – and the rest of the body is still. Even the acceleration and deceleration of the legs are achieved efficiently, since the strongest muscles are used almost exclusively and the rising leg is assisted by the downward push of the opposite leg, The back muscles are used to support the upper body with the arms also assisting.

Apart from wind resistance (which can be significant), the only other significant energy loss is due to the rolling resistance of the tires. But, even this can be minimized by using properly inflated, smooth tires and is independent of speed.

Since the bicycle has minimal demands on material and energy resources, contributes little to pollution, has a positive contribution to a healthier body, it should be rated right up there as one of the best inventions ever. Incorporating cycling into your daily life, such as commuting to work, significantly increases your energy level throughout the day. And just think of the time and money saved by not having to spend so much time on your cardio at the gym!

Now, with all of that said, see you out there cycling!

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