Biking Vs Running | Which Is Better?

Both running and biking are great for keeping you fit and getting you outside, but which is better? In this post we are going to look at the pros and cons of each sport, and which might be best for you.

So Biking vs Running, Which Is Harder?

If you are wanting to know which sport is the most physically demanding then running will probably take the win. However, the answer is not that simple because it depends on the amount of work you are putting in. If for example, you are talking about 5 miles of running or biking, then you would automatically say running would be much harder, although if you were to do a very slow jog for 5 miles vs a sprint for 5 miles on a bike, you would almost certainly be more tired from the spirit on the bike.

Biking Vs Running
Biking Vs Running

How Much Cycling Is Equal To Running?

The general rule is a 3 to 1 bike to run ratio. Meaning 3 miles of cycling is the same as 1 mile of running at a moderate effort.

(here is a study on the physiological differences between cycling and running)

Is Running Better Than Biking For Cardio?

Running normally burns more calories than cycling for the same effort, however, running has a higher impact on the body so many people might not be able to consistently run without getting sore muscles, in compassion cycling is relatively low impact so people might be able to ride more consistently which could be more beneficial over time.

What Are The Advantages To Running?

Here we all the reasons why running might be worth considering over cycling:

Relatively Cheap

The great thing about running is that it’s simple and inexpensive to get started, all you really need is a pair of running shoes, shorts, and a t-shirt. Once, you get more into running you can spend more on things like GPS watches, technical running clothes, and high-end shoes, but these things are not necessary to start.

Fast Way to Burn Calories

Compared to cycling running burns more calories for the same amount of input, likely because running uses more muscles. So running could be the one if you are looking for an effective way to burn calories.

Great Way to Socialize

Running is the perfect way to make friends or hang out with your friends. There are many running clubs and weekly meetups in most towns and cities.

Makes You Feel Great

When running your body releases endorphins which make you feel great! This is also known as ‘runners high’.

What Are The Disadvantages To Running?

Although running is great for many people, there are also some disadvantages to running which you might want to take into consideration:

High Impact

Over time running can take its toll on the body because it’s a quite high-impact sport, which is especially true when running on hard surfaces like the road. This can be reduced if you run on softer off-road surfaces like the beach or grass. Another way to help reduce the impact of running is to improve your technique, as many runners land on their heels known as heel striking which can cause many issues over time. Also, try to slowly progress your running, don’t do too much too soon.

What Are the Advantages to Biking?
What Are the Advantages to Biking?

What Are the Advantages to Biking?

Here are the advantages biking has over running:

Low Impact

Cycling has much less impact on the body, meaning you can cycle for longer and need a lower level of fitness to get started. This also means cycling could be a good choice for older people. Just remember that progression is the key.

Great for Travel, Commuting & Trips

One of the best things about cycling is it’s not just a way to get fit, it’s also perfect for going places. If you are conscientious about the environment then it’s a great idea to take your bike rather than the car if possible. Also, it’s a great way to go on trips and take in the stunning views of new places. Many cyclists like to take their tent and have the freedom to camp where they choose.


Many people just love the thrill of speed when cycling compared to running. Even the fastest runners cant maintain a speed even close to a cyclist. This hit of adrenalin is sure to make anyone feel alive!

Nice Toys

Running is very minimalistic which can be appealing to some, whereas the opposite is true to cycling. Many bike riders just love having a smart bike with shiny parts. Many cyclists just love the technology and the thrill of upgrading to new lightweight carbon or titanium components. Nothing quite beats a new shiny toy you can show off to your friends and beat them up the next climb.

Varied Disciplines

Riding bikes can be like a bug, and before you know it you will have a number of bikes for different disciplines. You may start with a road bike and decide you want a gravel bike, or you might have friends that ride mountain bikes. Once you start riding bikes you will be amazed by how many different types of riding can be done in your local area. Many people love to have the option of different types of riding which helps keep it interesting and fresh.

What Are the Disdvantages to Biking?

Here we look at the disadvantages of cycling compared to running:


The cost of starting cycling is much higher than running. If you were to buy a cheap second-hand/used bike the minimum would be around $150-$200 for a bike and helmet. However, the average price for a bike is around $400-800 for an entry-level bike. What Equipment Is Needed For Mountain Biking? (Checklist)

Cleaning & Maintenance

When owning a bike it’s important to take care of your bike, and there are things that will wear out and need replacing over time. Depending on how often you ride you will likely need to replace your chain, brake pads, tires, and gear cables once per year. For more information see: Average Cost of a Bike Tune-Up or Service (What’s Included?)

Who Is Running Best For?

Running is good for someone looking for an effective and cheap way to get into shape, or keep fit. You can run literally anywhere, and all you need is a cheap pair of running shoes. Bear in mind if you choose to start running you should start slow and slowly build up as running can be quite tough on the body if you are not used to sporting.

Who Is Cycling Best For?

Cycling is best for people looking for a low impact way of keeping fit, and may also want to combine it as a form of transport. Cycling can be simple and relatively cheap, or you can go down an exciting rabbit hole of different cycling disciplines, with different bikes/components, all with its own jargon. Either way, riding bikes can just be fun, or it can open up a whole new world.

Man, Bicycle, Travel, Cyclist, Exercise, Male, Boy
Who Is Cycling Best For?


Is Bike Riding Good for Cardio?

Yes, biking riding is one of the best types of cardiovascular exercise. In fact, biking is the 3rd best type of cardiovascular exercise possible.

Top 5 Sports For Cardio (based on average elite Vo2 Max)

Final Thoughts

There is no right or wrong answer. Some people love the simplicity of running, and the fact you can do it anywhere. Whereas others love the freedom a bike can provide. Also, why not have the best of both worlds and do both?

You may also like:

Peter Ballin

Pedro is the primary writer on the site. He’s raced downhill and enduro at a high level, spannered at mountain bike world cups, and also written a book called Mountain Bike Maintenance. He’s appeared in both print & online major media publications across the Uk, France, and Japan (and even appeared on French Television). He’s made his living from bikes in various forms, from mountain bike guiding in France and Spain, Trail building in New Zealand and Canada, and working as a bike mechanic in the French Alps for many years. Pedro loves a good adventure and is often settling random challenges like riding down Mount Fuji, swimming across Lake Geneva, and hitchhiking across America.