Life on bikes

Motorcycling burns between 170 and 600 calories per hour

Not only do you burn calories riding a motorcycle, but each ride can also give the majority of your muscles a workout. Proof, if any more were needed, that you are much better off going for a ride than wasting an hour down the gym.

If you have ever spent all day on the bike you’ll have noticed you are way more tired than when you set off, yet supposedly you have spent the entire time just sitting on your backside. The reason for this is that, simply by riding a motorbike, you’ll have been burning off calories at a fairly decent rate.

At rest, doing nothing more taxing than pointing the remote at the TV, the body wades through 68 calories an hour. Switch to an hour on a motorcycle and an 11st (70kg) rider will get through at least 170 calories in the same time.

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How does this happen?

Even on the daily commute, you are using many more muscle groups than you might think. As you maintain the bike’s balance you’ll be using not just your arms but also, sometimes without even thinking about it, your legs, hips and lower back muscles, and your whole upper body as you counterbalance the bike’s weight.


Your head, the heaviest part of the body on an average sized person, will also be moving around a lot as you constantly observe the road and look out for hazards. This all takes energy and even fairly minimal movements, such as operating brake and clutch levers, all add up.

In more arduous situations like on a track or engaging in off-road pursuits, you will be using the lower half of your body constantly as you use your legs to transfer the bias of the bike into and out of corners or lifting your body weight to counteract changes in terrain height. In these cases, a motorcyclist can be using around 400 calories per hour on track, explaining why, even after a just a standard 15-20 minute track day session, many riders come into the pits feeling like they’ve run a mini-marathon. An aggressive off-road ride or motocross race could be consuming as many as 600 calories per hour, based on the calorie calculations of similarly strenuous activities, like vigorous swimming or an intense gym session, that also use the majority of the body’s muscles.

burn calories riding a motorcycle
Getting on the dirt can seriously burn up the calories

But you don’t need to be going to extremes at Silverstone or on a motocross track to burn energy. Just counteracting the wind buffeting in the fast lane of a motorway can give your upper body a fairly decent workout. Think about how your shoulders can often ache after riding at speed for any length of time.


Another factor is weight. Heavy bikes and heavy gear such as full leathers with armour need more effort. Likewise, the heavy clutch lever offers more resistance than a lighter action and therefore uses more calories. Certainly more than using the remote to change channels vegging in front of the TV.

Contrary to what many people believe, the heightened concentration levels a biker needs don’t require that much energy. Although your brain consumes between 10-20% of the calories your body uses at rest, the act of being more alert – actually using your brain more than the average car driver – doesn’t take that much more effort. While the brain does consume more calories while concentrating, the increase is minimal.

Every motorcyclist knows a ride will make them feel great. Now we know that going for a blat could be as beneficial as spending an hour down the gym. And way more fun too.


Calorie calculation:
Calories used by the brain:
Calories used by off-road motorcycling pursuits:


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