Motorbikes and fitness trackers

Hi all,

I've recently started commuting on a motorbike. I wear a fitbit (charge 2) and I've noticed it's started telling me I've burnt significantly more calories in a day. This appear to be because my heart rate spikes massively when I'm riding, making my fitbit think I'm doing exercise.

Now I know you do burn more calories riding a bike over, say, driving a car, and I don't have a screen, so I am bearing the full brunt of the wind, however I don't want to eat back all my exercise calories if they're unjust (especially seeing as I'm trying to lose right now). Prior to getting my bike I've found that my fitbit has been pretty spot on with my calories expenditure (using CICO and weightloss trends data) and I'm starting to build up some data now, but it'll be weeks before I'm really able to get a proper picture of what's going on, and even then I do some exercise without my tracker so there is always some level of systematic error in my data.

Does anyone have any experience with motorbikes and fitness trackers, and if/what adjustment is needed.

Replies

  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,811 Member
    You clearly don't want to be using heartrate for calorie estimates while riding so is there a mode you can select to switch it off? Or just slip it in a pocket for the duration?

    I had a gym assessment after a motorbike commute and my HR was elevated by 25% purely from the stress of being on high alert riding across London - clearly not a true reflection of what is a very modest additional calorie burn from "normal" road riding.
  • Katmary71
    Katmary71 Posts: 6,366 Member
    I just got my Fitbit and sit on a rocking loveseat, I was racking up some serious calories rocking! There's a driving mode you're supposed to be able to select. Also, if your watch is on your dominant arm you're more likely to get calories from not walking. That actually helped a lot with rocking calories.
  • IpakDaley
    IpakDaley Posts: 46 Member
    My Fitbit Charge 3 gives false steps riding mine, which shows increased calories burned. I simply create a non-exercise activity like driving that covers the time I was riding. I also log the calories burned as 1 (you have to put something). This takes the false steps away.
  • Fflpnari
    Fflpnari Posts: 975 Member
    maybe just take it off when you ride.
  • PAV8888
    PAV8888 Posts: 13,168 Member
    I would use Fitbit to create an activity for the time you were riding.

    Depending of course on the amount of time that you ride, I would disagree totally with assigning one calorie to the activity.

    Motorcycle riding is considered an approximately 3.5 MET activity, fairly similar to moderate walking on level ground. This means that probably you would be burning anywhere from 2 and 1/2 to 4 and 1/2 * BMR calories depending on the vigour of your ride and amount of user input!

    You can find out your 1 minute BMR calories by googling MFP BMR or using the Mifflin formula.

    This should enable you to correct Fitbit's detection with something meaningful.

    Alternate strategies involve suppressing heart rate or pocketing the watch or just accepting the error and correcting your goals instead of the "exercise", once you figure out how big of an impact this error may have.
  • IpakDaley
    IpakDaley Posts: 46 Member
    As mentioned above, riding is a physical activity, and you do burn calories. I personally like to leave more calories on the table at the end of the day. I've put it in my pocket. I've put it in my lunch box in my top case. It still recorded false steps... I hope you figure something out that works for you.
  • Deviette
    Deviette Posts: 979 Member
    Thank for all the replies.

    I have tried taking it off, but honestly it still records activity (I'm slightly scarred by the 1000+ calories it gave me for the ride down to Cornwall as a pillion one time when my fitbit was in my bag)

    I hadn't thought about creating a new activity. That might be a decent method of fixing it. My general riding time isn't a huge amount (20-30 mins per day) so giving it a low calorie count would work well for me better than trying to "fix" it to a more sensible amount.

    Again thanks all :smiley:
  • PAV8888
    PAV8888 Posts: 13,168 Member
    If you rode for several hours with the device in your bag, do remember that your activity number included your base calories for being alive during that time. Detecting a couple of hundred steps is no big deal if your calories per minute for the activity are reasonable.

    Looking at my own numbers, with a BMR of 1500, thus Cal per minute doing nothing of 1.04, I would just accept any activity that involved riding a motor bike and fell in the 2.6 to 4.69 Cal a minute range.

    If I were logging without other info I would consider it, in my case, as an activity burning about 3.65 Cal a minute.

    You can easily calculate you MFP BMR, https://www.myfitnesspal.com/tools/bmr-calculator , divide by 1440 to get per minute, and multiply by 2.5, 3.5, and 4.5 to get the above ranges
  • heybales
    heybales Posts: 18,842 Member
    edited February 2020
    Deviette wrote: »
    Thank for all the replies.

    I have tried taking it off, but honestly it still records activity (I'm slightly scarred by the 1000+ calories it gave me for the ride down to Cornwall as a pillion one time when my fitbit was in my bag)

    I hadn't thought about creating a new activity. That might be a decent method of fixing it. My general riding time isn't a huge amount (20-30 mins per day) so giving it a low calorie count would work well for me better than trying to "fix" it to a more sensible amount.

    Again thanks all :smiley:

    I'm betting it's not switching to workout mode and using HR.

    It's seeing impacts, or steps, calculating a distance, and therefore calorie burn.
    Many driving in certain vehicles or roads have this issue.

    There is another simple side app that allows starting an activity for driving that when finished will override the Fitbit stats for calorie burn, maybe even steps, and correct the mess.

    But it would be interesting to create an Activity Record yourself - just have to notice start and end time.
    And see what sort of stats were seen for steps and distance and calories. And the HR graph to see if that even went up much.

    Then you can start creating Workout Records to overwrite what Fitbit came up with.

    True you don't want BMR level burn really since awake and driving, but if it's a long ride and worth correcting, PAV8888's method for slightly above BMR would be better.
  • IpakDaley
    IpakDaley Posts: 46 Member
    If I remember correctly, a 6 hr MC trip gave me 18,000 steps. I didn't know how to correct them then. To work and back is only a few hundred, so that's fairly insignificant in the scope of things.
    I'm usually in a weekly or weekend step competition, so I correct mine. I want to win or place high but I want it fair. I'd also like it more accurate in case I decide to eat some (maybe half) of those calories back. It works great so far.
  • HoneyBadger302
    HoneyBadger302 Posts: 1,967 Member
    You will burn a few more calories on a bike rather than sitting in a car, but honestly, it's insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I would discount those extra calories, especially if you know what you "normally" burn in a day pre-bike.

    That said, for me, things like a race weekend, I can burn a rather significant number of calories, but that is not in the same realm as going for a ride on the street or a commute. A long day in the twisties may earn you a nice bump for the day (you can probably safely enjoy that lunch at a burger joint) but beyond that, not enough to be a significant difference.