Based on Perceived Exertion or Heart Rate
Caloric burn rates can be roughly estimated from intensity.
Assuming you weigh 154 pounds (70 kg), are a moderately-fit recreational rider, and are riding a road bicycle on level ground, you burn the following:
- 290 calories per hour riding easy, 10 mph at 60 percent of max heart rate
- 580 calories per hour riding moderately, 18 mph at 75 percent of max heart rate
- 875 calories per hour riding hard, 23 mph at 90 percent of max heart rate
For fitter riders, at a given speed, the burn rate will be similar but the percentage of maximum heart rate will be lower. Heavier riders use more energy per mile than lighter riders do. Although some heart rate monitors estimate calories burned, they provide less accurate estimates than those based on power, discussed below.
Based on Distance
Calories burned can also be very roughly estimated based on distance. For a 154-pound (70 kg) rider, for moderate riding:
- 25 calories for every mile you ride, and 25 calories for every 100 feet you climb.
- Double this estimate for every mile you ride single-track mountain biking.
- The burn rate is lower per mile at slower speeds and higher per mile at faster speeds.
- Drafting reduces burn rate. An upright bicycle position increases burn rate.
- Heavier riders burn more than lighter riders do.
Based on Power
It is as easy as taking the kilojoules reading from your power-measuring device and calling them kilocalories (Calories). Although the exact relationship between kilojoules and kilocalories is not one to one, it is close.