Types Of Exercise Bikes: Every Type Explained

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You don’t always have time to go out on your bike, and wintery weather is a great demotivator for heading outside for a ride. But, you can still keep up your exercise routine with an exercise bike.

There are different types of exercise bikes suitable for both home use and in the gym. They are great tools for improving your cardiovascular system and lower body without having to brave the outside world.

The different types of exercise bikes have unique characteristics that benefit you in different ways. So with this in mind, we will go through the types of exercise bikes you can buy and explain their pros and cons.

In this article, we will:

  • Look at upright exercise bikes in detail
  • Check out recumbent exercise bikes
  • Discuss spin bikes
  • Highlight Air bikes
  • Compare the three types of exercise bikes

Are you ready to mix up your exercise routine indoors?

Types Of Exercise Bikes Every Type Explained

The 4 Main Types of Exercise Bikes Available

The main types of exercise bikes you will see on the market are upright, recumbent, and spin bikes. Each type has its own distinctive design and offers varying levels of resistance and durability.

However, the one characteristic they all share is that they provide low-impact workouts indoors, allowing you to meet your fitness goals.

1. Upright Exercise Bikes

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Most gyms have upright exercise bikes in them, and they are the most popular types of exercise bikes for home use too. These exercise bikes put you in an upright riding position and allow you to ride either sitting on the saddle or standing on the pedals.

Upright exercise bikes allow you to ride in a similar way to an outdoor road bike. The pedals are located in line with the saddle while requiring you to lead forwards to put your hands on the handlebars.

You will notice that the saddle is relatively narrow. This is so you can pedal without a wide saddle restricting your movement. However, the saddles on upright exercise bikes don’t provide any back support, just like a regular bike.

The upright riding position engages most of your body’s other muscle groups. Therefore, you don’t just exercise your legs on an upright exercise bike. For example, your core comes into play, especially when riding while standing.

If you are thinking about buying one of these types of stationary bikes for home, you should look at the different options available. For example, you can buy foldable ones to make storage more straightforward, while others have moving handlebars so you can exercise your upper body too.

You should also check out the bike’s electronics and features. Most exercise bikes have electronic displays for monitoring your speed, distance, and other vital metrics.

2. Recumbent Exercise Bikes

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Recumbent exercise bikes are becoming more popular as they become more available and affordable. But these types of exercise bikes provide a distinct benefit from the riding position and seat design.

You ride a recumbent exercise bike in a reclined position while sitting in a wide seat with back support. The reclined position brings you closer to the ground, so getting on and off it is much easier than an upright exercise bike.

The advantage of riding in the reclined position is that you have less strain on your joints, as the pedals are out in front of you. If you have an issue with your joints or require back support, you may benefit from a recumbent bike over a regular exercise bike.

These types of stationary bikes often have large TV screens built-in. The screens provide entertainment while displaying your metrics. This technology keeps you focussed on your goal while making indoor exercise more enjoyable.

Even though you sit on a recumbent exercise bike in a relaxed position, you can still get a good lower body and cardio workout.

3. Spin Bikes

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If burning calories is your top priority through intense workouts, you should consider a spin bike. These excellent indoor bikes have become popular thanks to spin classes.

You can go to a gym to join a spin class or do them online if you have your own spin bike. Spin classes are high-energy sessions set to upbeat music, with an instructor giving you directions and motivation throughout.

There are many different types of spin bikes to suit your budget. They range from basic ones all the way up to luxury items with live streaming capabilities and additional functions.

Spin bikes work differently from the other types of exercise bikes, as they have a flywheel directly connected to the pedals. This means that you need to use your legs to spin the flywheel and slow it down.

You add resistance to the flywheel with a mechanical knob. Your instructor will tell you what level to turn it to during the session.

Your riding position on a spin bike is similar to a road bike, but the handlebars and seat are adjustable to ensure you are as comfortable as possible. But the riding position allows you to ride while sitting on the saddle or standing on the pedals.

The pedals will either have cage straps or will be clipless, so you can clip in for optimum efficiency and long sessions. Thanks to the flywheel, your pedaling motion is incredibly smooth, which means you can put all your effort into your pedaling.

4. Air Bike

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Air bikes provide a different type of cycling workout. These types of exercise bikes look similar to upright bikes, but they have a fan situated near the pedals.

The fan provides the resistance, so the harder you pedal, the more resistance you experience. The fan also blows cold air on you to keep you cool, making up for the lack of wind you get when riding a regular bike outside.

Air bikes are great for HIIT workouts due to the added fan resistance and can be a great way to diversify your cardio workouts.

Which Type Of Exercise Bike Is Best For You?

The best way to find out which of these exercise bikes is best for you is to make a direct comparison. Each of them has its own design and range of functions and features.

Which one you choose will depend on your fitness goals, health, and mobility. You may be tempted to just buy a standard upright exercise bike or want to blast calories with a spin bike. But, they are not suited to every person, even though they are ideal for a cardio workout.

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Recumbent exercise bikes are regarded by many as the most comfortable. This is due to their wide seats with back support. The design places the least amount of stress on the rider’s joints, creating a safer workout.

The downside of using a recumbent bike is that it isolates your lower body without engaging much of your core. In addition to this, recumbent exercise bikes are pretty bulky, so finding somewhere to put yours may be challenging.

Upright exercise bikes are more versatile than recumbent bikes when it comes to your workouts. This is because you can stand on the pedals, which engages your core muscles and quads while creating a more intense workout.

However, an upright exercise bike may not be the best choice for you if you have bad joints. The pedals are located directly under your body, which adds stress to your knees and hips (but not as much as running).

Some people find that the narrow seats on upright exercise bikes become uncomfortable during long sessions.

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Spin bikes provide smooth but intense workouts and are super easy to use in terms of changing resistance. Although there are many different designs available now. For example, some have built-in screens for on-demand workouts, while others are more simple.

If you have mobility issues or problems with your back or joints, you should avoid riding a spin bike. However, if you want to fire up your muscles and burn calories, you will struggle to find a better piece of exercise equipment.

It is essential to set up your spin bike properly before a session. If you don’t, you can burn out quickly or become injured. The correct setup will ensure that you can maintain proper cycling form throughout your workout.

An air bike is a good choice if you want a full-body workout or a quick HIIT workout that spikes your heart rate. You can work up a sweat and burn fat efficiently in a 10 to 20-minute air bike session.

Now You Know All About The Different Types Of Exercise Bikes

Any one of these types of exercise bikes can complete your home gym. Cycling indoors means you can save time and stay “bike fit” in any weather. You can also do it at any time of day, so you can have a quick spin before work or at night, so you don’t have to head out into the dark.

You can build muscle and burn fat from the “comfort” of your own home at any intensity level you want. 

If you want more information on cycling fitness, check out the links below:

FTP Test: What Is Functional Threshold Power

Cycling Interval Training Workouts: Boost Your Speed And Power

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One of BikeTips' regular writers, Tom is a mountain biking expert living in the French Alps. When he isn't writing, he can be found charging downhill on two wheels or a snowboard! Tom's other passion is fitness, which goes a long way to help him make the most of the Alpine lifestyle.

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