How Many Calories Do You Burn Mountain Biking?

Mountain biking is a great way to keep your weight in check and your body in prime condition. It not only keeps you in the peak of health but also allows you to socialize with other people. 

As you form meaningful relationships with other riders, you also stave off feelings of loneliness. Socializing has been known to help sharpen memory and cognitive skills too. 

But, most importantly, walking, biking, and just breathing in the fresh air in nature will rejuvenate you and give you a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.  


Understanding calories

Before considering how to burn calories while mountain biking, letʼs first learn a bit more about calories.

A calorie is a measure of energy that a body either deploys or stores to operate smoothly. In essence, you burn off calories just by the energy needed for living. 

Whether you’re walking, working, playing, sleeping, or breathing, youʼre burning off calories. However, understand this—the more strenuous the activity, the more calories you burn off.

Calories can be consumed through almost every type of food and beverage. 

If you burn off the same amount of calories that you eat, you’ll weigh the same. If you burn off more than you eat, you’ll lose weight. 

Eat more than you can burn off and you will start gaining more weight. To lose a pound of excess weight, youʼd need to burn off at least 3,500 calories.

How Many Calories Does Mountain Biking Burn?

Now that weʼve learned about calories and established the effectiveness of mountain biking, letʼs get to why youʼre here. Youʼre here to learn about how many calories you can burn while mountain biking. 

Truth be told, I canʼt give you an exact answer as there are many variables involved in figuring out the exact number of calories burned during mountain biking. For instance, youʼd need to factor in your weight, the speed youʼre biking at, the terrain, the intensity of your workout, and the bike youʼre using.

How many calories does mountain biking burn?

The consensus is that you burn, on average, around 13 calories per minute during moderate-intensity riding. So, by this estimation, the average person burns around 780 calories per hour. 

Of course, we must always give ourselves some leeway during estimations.

It’d be safe to assume that you can burn anywhere between 400 to 1000 calories, per hour, during moderate-intensity riding.

Various Factors Affecting the Rate That Mountain Biking Burns Calories

Are you burning as many calories as you can?

As I mentioned earlier, there are several variables that come into play when determining the rate at which you’re burning calories when biking. Letʼs go through some of the factors to determine the exact calories burned off during mountain biking.

Body weight of the rider

The thing is, not everyone burns calories equally. Larger people require more energy to move their bodies and, as such, burn more calories than smaller people when performing physical activities. 

This applies even if larger people are exercising at the same intensity as smaller people and going the same distance, within the same period of time. 

In essence, the more one weighs, the more calories he/she is able to burn. 

Here’s an impromptu fact for you – men, on average, can burn more calories than women because they have more muscle tissue. 

Bike size (wheels)

Reliable reports have shown that riders who bike on 26-inch wheels tend to burn more calories than those who bike on 29-inch wheels. 

Compared to the 26-inch wheels, 29-inch wheels have lower rolling resistance and higher rotating mass; plus, they can hold their momentum much better over treacherous, rocky terrain, which makes them more efficient. 

In a nutshell, thereʼs less energy expended (fewer calories burned) when you ride on a 29-inch heavier bike.

Go for mountain bikes with 26-inch wheels if you want to burn calories faster. 


The terrain you ride on is another factor that determines the total calories you burn off during mountain biking. After all, biking on a sandy or grassy trail or gravel surfaces differs vastly from biking on smooth surfaces.  

Surfaces such as sand, gravel, and grass decrease the rolling resistance and require more cornering adjustments. This means that youʼd need to expend more energy to move from point A to point B and you would use the most calories. 

Out of the lot, a sandy trail is the toughest to ride (exercise) on. And, as such, biking on this type of trail will take more effort, which means it’s great for weight loss because you will burn more calories.


Of course, it also matters what speed you are biking at when determining the total calories burned. If you intend to burn over 1,000 calories in an hour, youʼd need to bike as hard and fast as you can. 

Slow biking with moderate effort will mean that you will expend half the number of calories (500 calories) in an hour.

So, ride faster than the average man or average woman if you want to burn a lot of calories and have less fat on your body, but be careful not to go overboard. It is always wise to start slow and then increase gradually. 

Why Should You Go Mountain Biking?

If you arenʼt completely sold on the idea of mountain biking yet, you should consider the various health benefits that can be derived from mountain biking.

If you think that mountain bike riding is an activity that only helps you burn off extra calories, youʼve been misled.

In addition to exercising different large muscle groups of your upper body and lower body (leg muscle tissue, arms), mountain biking also helps you exercise your heart. And, with a strong and healthy heart (one devoid of heart disease), your blood circulation will be good too.

Cycling is also excellent for your lungs. You see, even professionals pant furiously and find themselves out of breath when cycling in the mountains. 

Frequently working out your lungs like that will increase their capacity to hold air. And, with more air in the lungs, youʼll never run out of breath again.  

Mountain biking also gives you an excuse to get out of your home and expand your comfort  zone beyond the walls of your apartment. 

Enjoy the sunlight, experience the wind in your face, and breathe in the fresh air on your mountain biking trails and see how the exercise and experience considerably increases your happy hormones.

It is simple really—you need to spend more time outdoors to avoid things like depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). 


It’s safe to say that itʼd be near impossible to answer exactly how many calories cycling can burn. 

We’ve determined that to come close to finding out the exact number of calories you can burn mountain biking on cross-country trails, youʼd need to factor in the amount you weigh, the speed youʼre biking at, the type of terrain you’re on, the intensity of your workout, and the bike youʼre using. 

Plus, youʼd also need to know how many calories your lungs and heart burn during tough workout sessions.

On average, around 13 calories are burned off every minute during moderate-intensity mountain bike riding. So, in an hour, youʼd burn around 780 calories.

And, since we are giving ourselves some leeway, it would be safe to assume that you can burn anywhere between 400 to 1000 calories, per hour, during moderate-intensity exercise. 

Is mountain biking good as a calorie burning activity for losing weight? You can bet your bottom dollar it is! 

Activities such as cross-country skiing and vigorous hiking burn similar calories compared to mountain biking and walking burns less; running burns more calories than mountain biking. Nevertheless, there’s something special about riding your bike on a mountain, regardless of how many calories you use.