The questions often put by people looking to buy an exercise bike are; “what are the different types of bikes used for?” and “what are the benefits of each?”
There is such a wide range of makes and models of indoor fitness bikes available for you to search from. With almost 50 different brands on the market, narrowing down your choice to just one exercise bike can be a daunting task. Selecting one from the different types of bikes, can often be influenced by your own personal taste, the level of fitness you want, and any physical issues you may currently have.
To make it easier, start by deciding what type of bike you want to get. The 3 main categories of exercise bikes you have a choice of are; the Spin Bike vs Recumbent Bike vs Upright Stationary Bike. We have provided a brief overview of these 3 types of exercise bikes below.
This type of exercise bike has no gears and uses a heavily weighted flywheel directly linked to the pedals. A popular type often seen in a well equipped training gym. Once you start pedaling, the flywheel inertia makes it easier to keep the momentum going. You can then vary the amount of effort required to maintain a fixed speed by adjusting the resistance settings . Just like on a racing road bike, with the small seats and leaning forward posture, some people may find their back can quickly get tired when spending a long time on it at first. Great for those wanting to burn through calories and get a good cardiovascular workout while riding!
Here is an example of some spin bike workout exercises you can try yourself:
A bigger piece of equipment where the rider is slightly reclined and appears to be siting in the frame of the bike, on a chair. You have a lower center of gravity and tend to pedal with your legs straight out in front of you, almost parallel to the ground.
Some people may find it limiting to get an effective all lower body workout, but really good for those with lower back issues who still want to exercise. Grip handles are often found at the side of the seat. This means those with upper back and shoulder issues will not have to bend forward to reach handlebars. A more supportive type designed to have less impact on your body while exercising your muscles.
Upright Stationary Bike:
Looking more like your regular outdoor bike, you sit upright or lean forward to hold the handles and access the resistance controls etc. If you have experience cycling on a normal bicycle then you will be comfortable with this type of exercise bike. Once you set the appropriate resistance program, you can then ride in the upright position. You will find a variety of available settings found in display panels across the range of bikes.
An alternative, if you already have a standard road bike and feel like something more similar, is to use an indoor cycle trainer. This will effectively turn your road bike into an upright stationary bike. The range of adjustment for the resistance settings on the indoor trainers is usually very limited though.
Another variety of exerciser in this category are the folding bikes. Small and easily moved around they can be great space savers. You can also get light weight ones that fit under a desk. These you can take almost anywhere.
Resistance settings and the types of control panels can vary a lot between the different brands and models. Built-in heart rate monitors are almost a standard accessory today on exercise bikes. They are often built into the handles so the readout is continually displaying your heart rate. This is important so you can avoid over or under exertion. Choosing a particular model without extra features you will not need or use, helps keeps the price down.
Noise can also be an important factor when making your selection, especially when you will be using the bike in your home. Those with fan blades that use wind resistance tend to generate the most noise. Friction bands around the main wheel would be the next in terms of noise generation. The magnetic resistance type will be the quietest of all.
In terms of price, the Recumbent bike is the more expensive and the largest in physical size. Next would be the spin bike followed by the upright stationary bike. The cheapest option would be the indoor cycle trainer for which you would need to already own a bicycle.
For stability, the recumbent would be the most stable unit and then the spin bike, closely followed by the upright bike.
Spare Parts – make sure you can easily buy spares. Even top of the line models have parts that are subject to wear. Make sure there is a decent warranty period included on every unit you are considering.
If you can – Try Before You Buy! There are a number of fitness equipment companies that hire out exercise machines and bikes, usually on a monthly basis. This could be a low-cost way to better help you decide on the best exercise bike for your overall needs. It can also avoid buying the wrong bike at too high a price!