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Calories Burned Mountain Biking (with Numbers)

If you are an outdoorsy person and need a great way to lose some extra pounds you must be searching for the most outdoor sport that will make you achieve the maximum results in less amount of time. This is where the number of calories burned per unit of time becomes very important.

Mountain biking is a sport with high energy demand, on average a mountain biker will burn from 600 to 900 calories in 60 minutes of riding and 65 to 100 calories per mile depending on the rider’s bodyweight. To burn the value of a pound in calories a mountain biker needs 4 to 5 hours.

The main purpose of this article is to give you all the information you need about the amount of energy you spend mountain biking. We will compare mountain biking with the most popular outdoor sports and we will examine which of them is the most efficient when it comes to losing weight.

At the end of this article you will be able to determine how efficient are your mountain biking rides for losing weight, so keep reading!

How Many Calories Do You Burn Mountain Biking?

To fully analyze the calories burned on a mountain biking ride we must take into consideration the intensity of that ride and the body weight of the rider.

Bike ride in the forest

The bigger the weight of the rider is the more calories he will need to perform any normal day-to-day tasks and this also translates to the number the calories burned riding his mountain bike.

  Mountain biking in general Mountain biking uphill Mountain biking competitive
Bodyweight 30min [kcal] 60min [kcal] 30min [kcal] 60min [kcal] 30min [kcal] 60min [kcal]
70kg / 154.3lb 312 624 514 1029 588 1176
75kg / 165.3lb 334 669 551 1102 630 1260
80kg / 176.3lb 357 714 588 1176 672 1344
85kg / 187.3lb 379 758 624 1249 714 1428
90kg / 198.4lb 401 803 661 1323 756 1512
95kg / 209.4lb 424 848 698 1396 798 1596
100kg / 220.4lb 446 892 735 1470 840 1680

The values above were calculated with the formula:

Calories burned per minute = (MET x BWx 3.5) ÷ 200

Where:

  • BW = body weight in Kg
  • MET = metabolic equivalent of task (if you what to know more about MET click here)

The MET value for mountain biking is 8.5, for uphill mountain biking is 14 and for competitive mountain biking is 16, we used these MET values to calculate all values from the table above.

Keep in mind that there is no exact way to calculate the number of calories burned on a ride because everybody is different and there are big differences in the metabolic rate from individual to individual. For this reason, the data from smartwatches and fitness bands are way off, but if you what to have a close enough idea of how many calories you burn in a ride you can use the table above.

Cycling in the morning

As resulted in the table above, mountain biking is a great way to lose weight and get in shape due to the great levels of energy needed to ride your mountain bike on rough terrain. If you are an outdoorsy person and need a great way to lose some extra pounds then mountain biking is for you.

Be aware that mountain biking is not a cheap sport and requires you to open your wallet to start. If you what to know what is a good starting budget for mountain biking, read the following article: Is mountain biking expensive?

A pound of fat has around 3500 calories, so if you are a 200-pound man and what to lose a pound you will need to mountain bike around 4 hours and 22 minutes, but be aware that no amount of exercise will compensate a poor diet.

BodyweightThe time needed to burn a pound of fat
(mountain biking)
70kg / 154.3lb5 hours and 36 minutes
75kg / 165.3lb5 hours and 14 minutes
80kg / 176.3lb4 hours and 54 minutes
85kg / 187.3lb4 hours and 37 minutes
90kg / 198.4lb4 hours and 21 minutes
95kg / 209.4lb4 hours and 7 minutes
100kg / 220.4lb3 hours and 55 minutes
mtbfunplanet.com

The best and way to lose weight is to aim to lose 1 pound per week, this is a healthy way and will not have a long-term negative effect on your body. Now that you know how many hours it takes per week to lose one pound the only thing you need to do is get your mountain bike and start riding!

How Many Calories Do You Burn Mountain Biking Per Mile?

Mountain biking is a great way to get in shape and burn some extra calories, an average mountain biker can burn between 65 and 90 calories in one mile, and in the competitive scene a mountain biker burns from 115 to 170 calories per mile.

Mountain biking in generalMountain biking uphillMountain biking competitive
Bodyweightone mile [kcal]one mile [kcal]one mile [kcal]
70kg / 154.3lb69.3128.5117.6
75kg / 165.3lb74.3137.75126.0
80kg / 176.3lb79.3147134.4
85kg / 187.3lb84.2156.12142.8
90kg / 198.4lb89.2165.37151.2
95kg / 209.4lb94.2174.5159.6
100kg / 220.4lb99.1183.75168.0
mtbfunplanet.com

The average speed of a competitive mountain biker is 10 miles per hour on off-road terrain and 8 miles per hour on uphill. The number of calories burned per mile can be increased by incorporating more uphill portions on rides and by increasing the intensity of the ride, increasing the pedal cadency, or using a higher speed (on the cassette) as you normally would.

Which Burns More Calories Mountain Biking or Road Biking?

Mountain biking is more energy costly than road biking due to the knobbier tires of mountain bikes (greater surface of contact with the road) and the hardness of terrain on which they are ridden. A mountain biker will burn 60 to 100 more calories than a road biker on a 60 min ride.

Mountain biking in generalRoad biking in generalMountain biking competitiveRoad biking competitive
Bodyweight60min [kcal]60min [kcal]60min [kcal]60min [kcal]
70kg / 154.3lb6245511176882
80kg / 176.3lb71463013441008
90kg / 198.4lb80370815121134
100kg / 220.4lb89278716801260
mtbfunplanet.com

Road bikes are designed to offer the best power to speed ratio, the may focus of road biking is maintaining the highest speed possible for the longest period of time. For this reason, they are designed with tin tires and are equipped with the lightest components possible.

Mountain bikes are designed to conquer even the toughest of terrains, for this reason, they are equipped with the most durable components and knobby tires. The weight difference between a mountain bike and a road bike is significant. For all of these reasons, it is more energy costly to ride a mountain bike than a road bike.

Road bikers oftentimes ride longer rides than mountain bikers due to their bike’s lightweight and pedaling efficiency. Mountain biking is better for weight loss because it is less time costly than road biking, a mountain biker will burn up to 100 more calories per hour spend riding.

If you what to ride a mountain bike on the road maybe you will like to read this article: Ride a mountain bike on the road all you need to know.

Calories Burned Mountain Biking Vs. Other Outdoor Sports

Mountain biking is one of the most effective outdoor sport for losing weight due to the high number of calories burned per hour. On average by running one can burn from 650 to 1000 calories per hour, running being the only outdoor sport that is more effective at weight loss than mountain biking.

RunningSurfingFishingHikingSwimmingSkiingMountain bikingRunning
Bodyweight60min [kcal]60min [kcal]60min [kcal]60min [kcal]60min [kcal]60min [kcal]60min [kcal]
70kg / 154.3lb220257389441514624661
80kg / 176.3lb252294445504588714756
90kg / 198.4lb283330500567661803850
100kg / 220.4lb315367556630735892945
mtbfunplanet.com

As we can see from the table above mountain biking is one of the more effective ways to lose weight and have fun, if you enjoy nature this will be a blessing for you. I can’t find a better way to spend my time, when I have the time I take my MTB and on the woods, I go. Mountain biking helped me to lose some weight and improved my overall mental and physical health.

If you are interested in the benefits of mountain biking, read this article: Benefits of mountain biking.

When it comes to outdoor activities everybody is familiar with swimming and with its reputation for burning a lot of calories but we can see that mountain biking is more efficient regards to weight loss.

As we can see the most efficient way to lose some extra pounds is running. The big advantage of running over mountain biking is that it’s almost free, you only need running shoes, and you are good to go. But wait the battle is not over, the biggest advantage of mountain biking over running is the lack of stress on your joints.

If you what a more in-depth approach on the comparison of running and mountain biking regarding the calories burned, read this article: What burns more calories running-or mountain biking?

The biggest problem with running is that is very stressful on your joints and if you are not running correctly (don’t put weight on your hills) your spinal core. If you have a decent mountain bike none of the problems occur and if you pace yourself you almost eliminate the possibility of falling. If you are wondering how dangerous is mountain biking, then this article is for you: How dangerous is mountain biking?

7 Ways to Burn More Calories Mountain Biking

Now that we have determined that mountain biking is one of the most effective ways to burn calories and have a lot of fun at the same time, you are probably wondering if the are ways to make this even more effective. The good news is that there are several ways to improve the number of calories burned while mountain biking, now let’s explore them:

  • Increase the intensity: this will make your heart beat faster and burn more calories, the best way to do this is to increase the cadence of pedaling for a period of time (30 sec, 1 min, 5 min, you decide) and the decrease it the same amount of time, do this at least 10 times on your ride (20 is preferable) and you transform your ride into a HIT (high interval training) training
  • Incorporate more uphill in your rides: mountain biking have a metabolic equivalent of the task of 8.5 but uphill it is 14, a big difference
  • Increase your body weight: you can do this by caring a bottle of water in a backpack, now you are sure that you can stay hydrated and are burning more calories, I tend to go a daily ride to spring and get a 2.5-liter bottle of freshwater, be careful to not get over 110 kg/ 242.5 lb (your body weight + extra weight) it can damage your bike
  • Pedal in a harder gear: this will increase the intensity of your ride, but don’t overdo this on climbs because you can damage your bike’s cassette
  • Don’t take breaks from pedaling: do not stop pedaling, maintain a steady cadence, and pedal even on the downhill, the reason why running is more efficient is that you can not take breaks
  • Go for longer rides: as your fitness levels rise increase the length of your rides to compensate for the fact that your body has adapted to the effort
  • Commute to work on your MTB: this will increase the time of your trained and will add a few calories to your burned counter. ( We have a great article on commuting to work on a mountain bike, check it out!)

Now that you have all the information you need about the number of calories burned by mountain biking and you know how to make your rides more intense and increase your MET (metabolic equivalent of task) there is only one thing you need to do: RIDE YOUR MOUNTAIN BIKE!

I started mountain biking many years ago to improve my overall health state. After my first ride, I fell in love with the sport. Now I spend dozens of hours a week researching and training to compete in local XC and Enduro events.