In the last Census, the number of people who cycle to work was over 760,000, an increase of +17% on the previous decade. This rises to 2 million people, who say they cycle every day or nearly every day, according to the British Social Attitudes survey in 2014.

Since then, British Cyclists have had tremendous success on the track, on the road, at the Olympics and pretty much everywhere we go. This has had an enormous effect on cyclists throughout the UK and whether you cycle to work or cycle for other reasons, you’re one of millions of cyclists who enjoy this two-wheel activity.

Garfield in DenialCycling is considered to be one of the most effective types of exercise to lose weight and burn calories, and I have previously documented my own weight loss through cycling.

I’ve always considered that I burn around 600-700 calories per hour when cycling at 14-16mph but is that accurate?

The above Calorie Calculator was initially developed to calculate the number of calories burnt for those cycling to work but it’s just as effective for all cycling trips, just add half your mileage to the ‘distance to work’ section (it calculates the round trip to work) and it’ll show you the amount of calories used.

How to Calculate Calories Burnt Cycling

The number of calories burned when cycling depends on several factors; gender, age, weight, height, muscle mass, metabolic rate, activity.

The amount of calories burnt by Men is generally higher Women because they tend to have more muscle tissue (more muscle tissue results in more calories burnt). Younger Men & Women burn more calories during exercise as we tend to have more muscle tissue when we’re younger than when we’re older.

Weight is also a key factor in burning calories as it takes a heavier person more effort than a lighter person, so a 175lb man will burn more calories than a 155lb man doing the same activity.

Typical average calories burnt during cycling are often quoted as follows but these are simply for all averages and don’t take all factors into consideration. To get a more accurate calorie number, use the above Calorie Calculator.

Calories Burnt Cycling
130lb (9st)155lb (11st)185lb (13st)205lb (15st)
12-14 mph475575650750
14-16 mph600700825950
16-20 mph7008509751125
20+ mph950112513001500

Calorie Calculator Calculations

The Calorie Calculator uses activity based caloric expenditure calculations to calculate the number of calories burnt during cycling during a set time period:

  • Calories Burnt per day = (BMR / 24) x MET x (T)

BMR = Basal Metabolic Rate
MET = Metabolic Equivalent
T = Total Journey Time

Whilst some calorie calculators ask users to input the amount of time spent cycling, this calculator uses distance and then uses this data to calculate the time.

The BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculation is based on gender, weight, height and age. The calculator uses the Harris-Benedict equation, shown as follows:

  • BMR (Men) = 66 + (13.7 x weight) + (5 x height) – (6.8 x age)
  • BMR (Women) = 655 + (9.6 x weight) + (1.8 x height) – (4.7 x age)

The MET (Metabolic Equivalent) is a fixed value based on metabolic equivalent data for a particular physical activity, known as “The Compendium of Physical Activities Tracking Guide” by B. E. Ainsworth. This shows cycling to be ‘cycling for leisure, pleasure or to work’ at less than 10 mph.

The 10 mph speed is very much dependent on the individual and their ability to travel at that speed (traffic, other road users, traffic lights, fitness etc). Some cyclists will cycle faster than this but for most commuters, it is considered that a MET value of 4.0 or traveling at an average speed of 10 mph, is the best option to use in this calculation.

However, as Bikes.org.uk readers are not average commuters, or anything for that matter, we’re using a MET value of 5.5, which is the equivalent of ‘cycling at 100 watts’. To put this in context, sexual activity has a value of 5.8, who knew!

The Total Journey Time is calculated using the standard method, multiplied by 2 to calculate the round trip.

  • Total Journey Time = (Distance / Average Speed) x 2