Cycling is one of the best cardio exercises you can include in your routine. Whether you just want to try something new, or you want to give your joints a break without having to take a day off from working out; the answer could be indoor cycling.
But what do you need to get started (aside from a good pair of trainers)? Well, you also need to figure out the best exercise bike depending on your needs, fitness goals and training preferences.
When shopping for an indoor bike online, you may come across two types: spin bikes and stationary bikes. So which one is for you?
Spin Bikes vs. Stationary Bikes
|Factor||Spin Bikes||Stationary Bikes|
|Cycling Position||Leaning forward, similar to outdoor bikes||Upright, with an emphasis on comfort|
|Primary Use||Intensive cycling||Leisurely cardio workout|
|Intensity||Moderate to high||Low to moderate|
|Calorie Burn||High||Moderate to high|
|Muscles Worked||Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, back, biceps, triceps, core||Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves|
|Progression Model||Increase speed, resistance
Optional: Stand on machine when pedalling
|Increase speed or resistance|
|Built-In Workout Programs||No||Yes|
|Resistance||Magnetic or friction-based||Electronically controlled|
|Average Cost||500 - 3000 AUD||500 - 3000 AUD|
Spin bikes vs. stationary bikes: What’s the difference?
The biggest difference between a stationary bike and a spin bike is in how the flywheel mechanism operates. The flywheel is typically heavier on a spin bike, which means the rider must work harder to get the bike moving. This helps in achieving a more intense burn.
Spin bikes are designed to imitate the posture and position of a racing road bike than a simple commuter bike. It also offers a wider range of adjustment in its seat height and handlebar inclination compared to traditional stationary bikes.
Due to spin bikes’ additional features, they’re usually more expensive than stationary bikes. But with price comes quality. These are more durable and require less maintenance. Stationary bikes, on the other hand, are cheaper and often come with fancy attachments depending on the model. These are perfect for those who just want a casual exercise routine while tracking their progress.
Put another way, stationary bikes are built to make your workout routine more enjoyable, while spin bikes aim to push you harder.
Primary Use: Spin Bikes
If you’re looking to do a full-body workout, spin bikes should be your choice. This type of exercise bike is perfect for an intensive workout as you can easily adjust your speed and resistance or stand as you push harder. It targets your quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, back, biceps, triceps and even your core for a complete full-body workout. Spin bikes are typically used by those who actually participate in cycling as a sport, as it offers a more realistic biking experience.
Primary Use: Stationary Bikes
Now, if you’re just looking for a more relaxed approach, you can opt for stationary bikes. Although it mainly targets the legs, stationary bikes are commonly used to improve cardiovascular fitness and build muscle. They can assist in weight loss as well. You have the choice to adjust the resistance and speed depending on your fitness and comfort level. Stationary bikes are a good choice for people recovering from injury or with exercise restrictions.
The muscles worked on both bikes are very similar, until you stand up on a spin bike. Cycling on an upright or stationary bike targets your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Your core will be targeted to some capacity as well.
But if you want a more intense, full-body workout, standing on a spin bike will do the trick. It will now put more weight on your lower body muscles while also working the shoulders, arms, back and core to a much larger degree.
The number of calories you burn highly depends on your weight, the intensity and duration of your workout, and a bit less on the type of exercise bike you’re using. But generally speaking, since spin bikes require more energy to get the bike moving, you’ll most likely burn more calories on a spin bike workout than a similar workout on a stationary bike. A single one-hour class can help you burn around 400 to 750 calories.
The cost varies depending on the quality, type of resistance, technology and any other additional embellishments that may be included on the equipment. Stationary bikes range from 250 to 1500 AUD. Spin bikes, on the other hand, are usually more expensive as they tend to have additional adjustability features compared to stationary bikes. They often cost around 500 to 1500 AUD; but may also cost up to 3000 AUD or more in some places.
Resistance: Spin Bikes
The heavier flywheel on spin bikes requires you to exert more energy to keep the bike moving. Spin bikes have high to unlimited resistance with no limits on intensity. Friction resistance spin bikes, specifically, have the highest maximal ceiling of resistance and also have an infinite number of levels because the adjustability is continuous. Spin bikes with magnetic resistance, on the other hand, are more precise. They run smoother and quieter, but the levels are limited.
Resistance: Stationary Bikes
Stationary bikes are very similar to friction resistance spin bikes. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to micro-adjust the resistance, as there are numbered levels you’re locked into choosing.
Many spin bikes don't come with a console while stationary bikes have an embedded console that can track metrics like workout time, level, calories burned, distance, heart rate etc. However, if you’re looking for spin bikes that come with consoles, there are brands (such as Powertrain) that carry them. Keep in mind that spin bikes often don’t have preset workout programs.
What should I get?
Now that we know the differences between the two, the next thing for you to consider is the goal you’re trying to achieve.
If you’re looking to really boost your fitness and get a more intensive workout with loads of room for further progression, a spin bike is the best choice for you.
But if you just want to have beginner-friendly equipment that is easier to use and will give you a great start on your fitness journey while saving you some money, a stationary bike will make for a great addition to your home gym.
Investing in an exercise bike is a great way to improve and maintain your overall fitness. But before doing so, there are a lot of things that you need to consider — such as your needs and budget — when choosing the perfect exercise bike for you. So once you’re ready to own one, or even while you’re still unsure about what to get, Powertrain’s customer service team is available 7 days a week to help you find the best fitness equipment for you and your needs.
Our high-quality exercise bikes are constructed from heavy-duty materials, ensuring a smooth and safe ride at all times. Browse our amazing line of exercise bikes today and contact us for any enquiries.
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