Types Of Exercise Bikes: which to choose (and which to AVOID)

Stationary bikes are trendy, but not all are created equal. Some are best for HIIT, some for steady-state cardio. Some indoor bikes are best for increasing your muscle mass, whereas others are best for improved flexibility.

So it all boils down to your needs.

We’re going to take you through all the exercise bikes types; we’ll discuss various resistances and which model is best for quick weight loss. In the end, we’ll help you choose the right indoor bike for your fitness goals.

Keep reading below!

Types Of Indoor Exercise Bikes

There are four different types of exercise bikes to consider:

Upright Bike: Best For Compact Homeswhat are upright bikes good for

Upright bikes look the most like typical outdoor bicycles. Apart from the natural feel, these indoor cycles exercise the same muscle groups: lower body and core.

Warning: Too intense workouts may leave you with an achy back and tailbone pain. Remember that upright bikes have height-adjustable seats, so set yours up comfortably to minimise bad-posture-related pain.

Upright bikes are also an excellent choice if you have little room in your home and want an indoor cycle that’s easy to move.

Recumbent Bikes: Best For Rehabilitation And Flexibilitywhat are recumbent exercise bikes good for

Recumbent bikes have a recline design that puts less pressure on your hips and knees. Thus, you can lean back comfortably while pedalling.

This position activates mainly your glutes and calves. Unlike other types of exercise bikes, recumbent ones don’t really exercise any other muscle groups.

That said, recumbent bikes are best for rehabilitation, building some strength, and improving range of motion.

Spin Bikes: Best For Muscle Toningwhat are spin bikes good for

Spin bikes look almost the same as upright bikes, but their handles are further in front. That means you’ll have to maintain a forward position when you’re pedalling.

Thus, you’ll engage your lower and upper back muscles more.

If you want even more muscle engagement, sit up on your spin bike. That will activate your leg muscles, but also your abs and arms as supporting muscle groups.

Bonus: Spin bikes don’t need electricity to work.

Air Bikes: Best For Total Body Aerobic Workoutswhat are fan bikes good for

Air bikes are also called fan bikes because they’re using a giant fan to create resistance. And you’ll also read about them as assault bikes.

These bikes use wind resistance which depends on your pedalling effort. So the faster you’re moving your legs, the more resistance you’ll create.

But air bikes have another unique selling point:

They allow you to move your arms when you’re pedalling. That means you’ll work out your biceps, triceps, chest, and lats comprehensively with an assault bike compared to other stationary bikes.

Exercise Bike Resistance Types

Apart from these four types of exercise bikes, you have different types of resistance too:

Flywheel: Best For Genuine Bike Feel

Flywheels are weighted metal disks positioned in front of stationary bikes. Sometimes they’re visible, whereas other times, they’re encased.

Flywheel resistance is best if you want to feel like you’re on a genuine outdoor bike. That way, this type of bike allows you to train efficiently for marathons or another outdoor cycling.

Pro tip: If you want to lose weight faster and gain more lean muscle, choose a high-resistance flywheel above 40 pounds. If you’re interested in aerobic training, choose a stationary bike with a lighter flywheel.

Direct Contact: Best For High Resistance

This type of resistance uses friction, which means you have to push harder to make your bike move faster. As a result, contact resistance bikes are best for efficient muscle building.

On the other hand, these types of bikes aren’t durable. The parts that withstand the most abuse and are most frequently in need of replacing are the flywheels, breaking pads and friction bands.

Besides, contact resistance bikes are 100% mechanical, so they’re pretty noisy. As a result, you may disturb your roommates, and you’ll have trouble doing other activities during your workout, like reading or bingeing Netflix.

Magnetic: Best For Smooth, Quiet, And Intense Workouts

Magnetic resistance was born from a need to improve the issues of contact resistance. As such, these bikes are more durable and silent but can also give you an intense workout.

Besides, it’s easy to select the right level of resistance according to your needs via some easy-to-reach knobs/ buttons. You’ll also increase the resistance when you’re pedalling faster.

On the downside, magnetic resistance bikes are more expensive than friction-resistance bikes.

Air: Best For Cardio

Like we said before, air bikes feature massive fans connected to the pedals. So when you pedal fast, that fan will rotate more quickly too and thus create more resistance.

Just like magnetic-resistance bikes, air bikes are quiet and smooth too. Besides, their rotating fans create a deliciously cool breeze that feels refreshing when you’re pushing hard on the bike.

However, air bikes are challenging to install, more expensive than other indoor cycles, and have a steep learning curve.

Best Type Of Exercise Bike For Weight Losswhich exercise bike is best for weight loss

The best type of exercise bike for weight loss is the one you’re going to use. For example, if you’re mobility-challenged and don’t have enough strength to climb on a spin bike, go with a recumbent bike. But obviously, recumbent bikes are the lowest calorie-burners on this list.

Upright bikes win third place with a practical 200-300 calories/ 30 minutes. So, if you want a reliable cardio bike for your compact living room, consider an upright bike.

Air bikes win second place. Although technically you can burn up to 80 calories/ minute on an air bike, few people will actually pedal that hard. However, assault bikes work out your entire body, which is why they help you burn more calories and, thus, lose more weight than upright bikes.

Spin bikes win first place because they can burn 300-400 calories/ 30 minutes and because they accelerate your metabolism.

Let’s focus on this part a bit.

Spin bikes offer the best workout diversity from the bunch, with lots of HIIT and strength training options. That means:

  • You can work out your entire body on a spin bike and even use hand weights to build lean muscles.Lean muscles increase your metabolic rate because they burn more calories faster when you’re at rest compared to fat. That means you’ll shed pounds even when you’re not physically using your spin bike.
  • You can try a slew of built-in exercise programs. Workout diversity is essential to keep your body and brain guessing, which helps you avoid weight loss plateaus.

Types Of Stationary Bikes – which one is best for you?

The best type of stationary bike is the one that meets your needs and fits preexisting health issues. Consider both the type of design and resistance before making your choice.

Recumbent bikes are best for low-impact workouts that improve your mobility and usually feature flywheel or magnetic resistances. However, both resistance types fit this fitness goal of improving mobility and range of motion.

Air bikes are best for intense total-body workouts to improve stamina. These use just fan-based resistances.

Spin bikes are best for accelerating your metabolism. A spinning session burns a lot of calories, helping you to build lean muscles too.

Upright bikes are best for steady-state cardio sessions that improve your cardiovascular capacity. Besides, upright bikes burn a decent amount of calories during each session.

Moral of this story: consider your fitness goals and your mobility requirements before making your choice. And remember that there’s no such thing as the perfect bike, just the right one for what you need today.


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