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February 02, 2023 9 min read

Riding motorcycles is an awesome way to get around, but who would have thought it actually works your muscles? Riding is not only exhilarating and good for your mental health, but depending on a few factors it can actually burn between 100-300 calories per hour!

But before you go ahead and cancel your gym membership, you should know that the number of calories burned on a ride can depend on a number of factors. The type of bike you ride and how often you ride it will greatly affect your calorie burn rate, along with your riding style.

Keep reading and we'll discuss exactly how you can burn calories on the road, and the factors that make all the difference.

YES, MOTORCYCLE RIDING BURNS CALORIES

rider in woods

Yes, every time you jump on the bike you will burn some calories. Motorcycle riding is an active process, unlike driving a car, that often requires the use of your whole body. You're maintaining the bike's balance using your arms, legs, hips, and back muscles.

You can expect to burn between 100-300 calories per hour when you ride. The reason this estimate varies so much is that different riding conditions can have a big effect on how many calories you burn.

Off-road and motocross riding burn more calories because of the aggressive riding positions needed to maintain balance and control. Likewise, heavy bikes require more effort on the rider's part to control.

The weight of heavy gear like full leather and armour will also keep you burning fat, so make sure to properly suit up the next time you ride. Check out our guide to motorcycle armour and guide to leather jackets if you need some guidance.

RIDING A MOTORCYCLE COUNTS AS EXERCISE

Yes, you read that right. Motorcycle riding counts as a form of exercise. It requires physical activity like controlling the motorcycle, maintaining balance, and using your core and upper body to manoeuvre the bike. That's why you might feel tired after a long day of riding.

However, it's not as intense as other forms of exercise such as running or weightlifting, and it won't provide the same level of cardiovascular and muscular workout. So while riding does burn calories, don't rush off to cancel your gym membership just yet.

DO I HAVE TO BE FIT TO RIDE A MOTORCYCLE?

You don't have to be physically fit to ride a motorcycle. If you did, a lot of motorcycle clubs would have to find themselves a different hobby! But in saying that, being fit certainly helps on the bike.

Riding is a physical process. You're not just sitting back like you would when driving a car. A motorcycle rider is an active part of the driving process, constantly shifting their weight and holding the bike's balance with their muscles.

So while you don't have to be a fitness guru to ride a bike, motorcycle riders with a good fitness level will have an easier time controlling the bike, and won't feel as physically drained after a hard day of riding.

MOTORCYCLE RIDING TO BUILD MUSCLE

Motorcycle riding will definitely build some muscles, but not in obvious ways like working a body part in the gym. Riding is more of a total body workout, but it does work some particular muscles like the core, wrists, and arms.

MUSCLE GROUPS

The most obvious muscle worked on the bike is your core. Even the most basic riding requires some core strength. You're working your abs every time you take a corner or just move the bike around.

Simple riding also works yourback and neck muscles. When riding at high speeds, just looking around takes energy and strength with the extra weight of your helmet and the constant wind resistance that's produced.

Your knees and thighsalso get a decent workout. You constantly use your leg muscles, whether it's pushing the motorcycle where you want to go or standing up to go over a bump. Over time you might notice that your leg muscles begin to strengthen.

GRIP STRENGTH

Have you ever seen those hand gripper devices that people use to improve their grip strength? Well, that's basically what you do on the bike. Braking, using the throttle and clutch, and even steering all improve grip strength over time.

COORDINATION

While it won't be immediately obvious, bike riding can improve your muscle coordination over time. Controlling a motorcycle is complicated and involves a lot of moving parts working simultaneously, and it strengthens that brain-body connection.

Riding requires every limb to perform a specific function in a highly coordinated way, so you might notice that you're becoming more in tune with your muscles over time. So if you find yourself in a situation that requires some coordination, it might surprise you just how connected you've become with your body.

ENDURANCE

As we've mentioned, riding is a physically demanding process that uses up your entire body. The minor but constant strain on your muscle groups will build some long-term endurance and stamina.

You might find yourself feeling less tired after a hard day's ride, or that you've got more pep in your step while doing physical labour off the bike. So riding can be a great benefit even when you're not riding?

BURNING CALORIES ON DIFFERENT MOTORCYCLE RIDING STYLES

burnout in sand

The level of strength needed and calories burned will also depend on what you're riding, and the style of riding that you're doing. Driving a small scooter, for example, requires a lot less energy than a sports bike or a large cruiser.

Here are some of the main styles of biking, and how many calories you can expect to burn with each of them. While it's not possible to give an exact estimate because of things like an individual rider's weight, this should give you a good idea.

MOTORCYCLE RACING

Motorcycle racing is the most physically intense riding style. Contrary to popular belief, bike, and car racers are actually incredibly fit people. They need to be, because of the physical toll of racing at high speeds.

Sports riding involves constant acceleration and deceleration while keeping the bike controlled at very fast speeds. Racers will often do this for at least 30 minutes at a time with no break, which is great for building endurance.

Riding a sports motorcycle burns calories more than any other riding style. It also requires a lot of mental energy because of the incredible amount of focus needed. So you're dealing with a lot of stimuli at very high speeds, all while trying not to crash! It works both your body and your mind.

OFF-ROAD-RACING

Off-road racing is an entirely different beast. The physical demands can be huge depending on where you're riding, possibly even more so than conventional racing.

Motocross racing requires constant jumping and dealing with unpredictable terrain. You need to constantly be on your toes and the potential for injury is quite high. It's probably the most physically taxing style of riding.

It takes a ton of energy to keep the bike controlled over bumpy terrain, let alone trying to compete at the same time! Motocross riding is one of the biggest calorie burners when it comes to riding, but it's certainly not for the faint of heart.

RIDING STYLE

The biggest factor in calorie burning is often the way that you ride. While the choice of bike will play a role, exactly how you ride it and your personal habits will determine the level of calorie burning.

For example, if you own a sports bike and tear through the streets then you'll probably burn a high number of calories. Likewise, if you own a duel sport bike or dirt bike and you're constantly taking on back roads and gravel tracks, expect to feel some burn.

Riding in the city will often be less physically taxing, but if you constantly ride in heavy traffic this can still require some adaptability and quick responses to the unexpected.

LOW-CALORIE RIDING STYLES

If your riding style is more about cruising or a simple commute to work, then don't expect to see a huge amount of calories lost. Easy riding won't burn anywhere near the same calories as sports riding. The same goes if you ride a large cruiser on highways or easy country roads.

Think about it like this; someone who goes for a casual stroll won't get the same level of exercise as someone who does some hard running. So you can apply the same common-sense principle to riding. The harder you go, the more you'll burn.

With that being said, don't change the way you ridejust to burn more fat. Biking is all about having fun and being an individual. So don't compromise what you're all about. Ride your own ride.

SO, CAN I RIDE A MOTORCYCLE TO REPLACE EXERCISE?

three riders

We've established that riding burns calories, but can you ride a motorcycle to replace exercise? To put it simply, riding is not an effective replacement for exercise. While biking is great for your mental health and works plenty of muscle groups, it doesn't provide the same benefits as proper cardio and strength training.

Riding works your core, legs, and upper body, but it's not a comprehensive full-body workout and misses some key muscles. It also doesn't make up for the same level of cardio training that running, swimming, or cycling provides.

So while biking can greatly improve your mood and does benefit your muscles and endurance, think twice about skipping your next workout and going for a ride instead. As we've established, keeping fit can make riding a motorcycle a whole lot easier and will keep you feeling good in the long run.

FINAL THOUGHTS

So yes, riding a motorcycle does indeed burn calories. It works your core, arms and leg muscles all while improving your endurance. How many calories you actually burn riding a bike depends on a number of factors, but expect to burn between 100-300 calories per hour riding.

FAQs

motorcycle and plane

How Can You Burn More Calories While Riding A Motorcycle?

If you want to burn more calories while riding a motorcycle, here are a few ways to boost the burn on your next ride:

  • Increase the intensity: Intense riding that involves accelerating and decelerating rapidly, or riding on hilly terrain, will require more physical effort and provides a higher calorie burn.
  • Ride off-road: Off-road riding is more physically demanding than on-road riding as it requires more effort to navigate through rough terrain.
  • Take frequent breaks: Taking breaks to stretch and move around can help increase your heart rate and boost your calorie burn.
  • Incorporate physical activity: Adding a hike to your next riding trip is a great way to incorporate some exercise and break up the day.
  • Wear protective gear: Wearing protective gear, like a heavy motorcycle suit and armour, can add resistance to your ride and increase the effort required, leading to a higher calorie burn. Check out our¬†beginner's guide to motorcycle gear for some tips on gearing up.
  • Ride for longer periods: The longer you ride, the more calories you'll burn. Aim for longer rides to increase your calorie burn.

Can You Get Buff From Riding A Bike?

You burn calories every time you step on the motorcycle, but the bigger question is can you actually get buff from riding a bike?

This is a tough one to answer because it depends so much on different factors. How long are your rides? What type of bike do you have? Are you going to pedal to the medal or just cruise?

Your diet matters as well, because you'll never see any muscle growth without eating enough protein. They say you can't run away from a bad diet, and you certainly can't ride away from one either.

While strenuous riding will help you lose weight and build muscle to a certain extent, it should not be considered a substitute for proper exercise. You'll never be able to hit all of the crucial muscle groups and get enough cardiovascular activity while sitting on a bike.

Is Riding A Motorcycle Good For Your Mental Health?

It's been pretty well proven that riding a motorcycle is good for your mental health. Do you ever notice how relaxed and stress-free you feel while riding? That's because motorcycling provides a sense of freedom and independence that you just won't find anywhere else.

Riding a bike is a great way to take a load off and forget your worries on stressful days. There's nothing like being able to take off at a moment's notice and hit the open road for as long as you feel like it.

Motorcycling can also be quite a social hobby. The biking community is very welcoming and there's a whole world of clubs and events to take part in. While riders tend to be mavericks and individuals, it's still nice to find your people sometimes.

Is Riding A Motorcycle Bad For Your Back?

While riding burns calories, is riding a motorcycle bad for your back? This is a common question, but also one that's quite difficult to answer.

Some people find that riding actually relievestheir back pain, while others say that it makes their back feel worse. It really just comes down to the individual. If you have a history of back problems, it's probably worth consulting a doctor before stepping on a bike.

In general, riding is not considered bad for your back. In saying that, doing anything with an improper technique can lead to problems, and riding is no exception. There's also the question of what you're riding with. Race bikes tend to be worse for your posture because you need to hunch over, while standard bikes are more forgiving on the spine.

For more info on riding a bike correctly, make sure to check out our guide to motorcycle riding positions.