A stationary exercise bike can be a useful machine to improve your health. But with so many different types and models, it might be hard to make a good choice.
In this article, I did my best to explain the different types of exercise bikes and give you an idea of who they’re best suited for. So, whether you’re looking for a heavy duty exercise bike or a lightweight model, this article will help you on your way on how to choose the best exercise bike for your needs! a
What are the different types of exercise bikes?
There are three main types of exercise bikes, the upright exercise bike, the recumbent exercise bike and the spinning bike. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll explain the differences between the three machines and give you a few alternatives.
Upright Exercise Bikes
Upright exercise bikes are the more standard type. They look a bit like a regular bike, especially the positioning of the seat and pedals. The feeling of exercising on an upright bike also feels a lot like riding a regular bike.
During the exercise, you’ll usually have to sit upright. Depending on the bike you can also lean a bit forward with your arms, which might give you a more comfortable workout, but you can't lean forward too much. A good posture is important to prevent backpain. That’s why I strongly recommend to read the owner’s manual for advice.
The resistance on an upright bike is usually created using magnets. The magnets on each side of the flywheel create the resistance. If you increase the resistance, the magnets move towards the flywheel. If you decrease the resistance, the magnets move away from the flywheel. That's how the resistance of these bikes work.
The resistance can be manual or digital/‘automatic’. If the bike has a manual resistance, you’ll have to increase or decrease the resistance using a tension knob. If the bike has digitally adjustable resistance, you’ll usually only have to push a button on the console to increase or decrease the level of resistance.
Because the feeling of exercising on an upright exercise bike is similar to riding a bike outdoors, it might be a good choice for those of you who enjoy bicycling outdoors.
Recumbent exercise bikes
A recumbent exercise bike is another type of exercise bike. On a recumbent bike, you’ll sit in a more laid-back reclined position. A good reason to choose a recumbent bike instead of another type of exercise bike is the design of the bike itself.
Your weight is distributed over a relatively large area with extra support for your back. This probably gives you a more comfortable workout experience compared to an upright bike. Because on an upright bike your body weight is distributed over a relatively small area, which means you’ll feel more pressure on your hands, feet and sitting bones.
So you might want to choose a recumbent exercise bike instead of an upright exercise bike for ergonomic reasons. In my opinion, this type of exercise bike is suited for seniors who are looking for a comfortable and low-impact workout machine.
If you’re wondering which recumbent bike you should choose then I recommend to take a look a look at the Schwinn 230 or the Schwinn 270. In my opinion, they are both a good choice. In the article, Schwinn 230 vs Schwinn 270 I give a clear overview of the pros and cons of the two machines.
Spinning bikes, or indoor cycling bikes as they are sometimes called, are especially suited for users who want to simulate the experience of cycling on an outdoor racing bike. It’s a good machine for a cyclist who wants to improve their outdoor performance. Of course, it can also be used by anyone who wants to improve their level of fitness.
The machine is especially helpful if the weather outside doesn’t allow outdoor cycling. For instance, in the winter or if it’s raining outside. This is obviously an advantage of all the indoor exercise bikes.
On a spinning bike, you can usually change the resistance by turning a resistance knob. This applies a break to the flywheel, which is what will simulate the resistance of riding outdoors.
Mini pedal exercise bikes are a completely different tool to improve your fitness level. Pedal exercisers are relatively small devices that allow you to burn a few extra calories while working at your desk or watching television.
They’re usually simple to use machines. You’ll have to sit down on a chair or couch, put your feet under the straps, after which you can start pedaling. It’s as simple as that.
Some models also allow using the machine as an arm exerciser. Instead of placing the machine on the ground you’ll have to put it on a desk. So these machines can also target your upper body.
Some people might argue that it doesn’t give you a challenging workout and they might be right. However, it’s always better than doing nothing at all! So a mini pedal exerciser might be a good choice for people who are looking for a ‘comfortable’ workout while doing other tasks.
A bike trainer is a useful tool that can transform your outdoor cycling bike into an indoor spinning bike. A bike trainer makes it possible to exercise on your cycling bike while it stays stationary.
In short, you’ll have to slide your wheel in between the openings of the bike trainer. Then you need to hook it in, after which you can tighten it up. Once your bike is in you can usually change the resistance on the bike trainer itself. When you’ve set the resistance, you’ll be ready to go.
This is only a short tutorial to give you an idea of how it works. I strongly recommend reading the manufacturer's advice. So you’ll know how to properly set up the bike trainer.
The more advanced bike trainers, which are sometimes called ‘smart turbo trainers’, usually also track your performance. They might measure things like; speed, heart rate, cadence and power output.
This is especially helpful for users who want to take their outdoor cycling performance to the next level.