Are you planning to purchase an exercise bike but don’t have any idea what to look for? Knowing the differences between various exercise bike types available is very important when choosing the best bike you should go for. There are 3 major types of exercise bikes and below is a brief outline of some of the features you should know about each of them.

This article hopes to give you some form of understanding and comparison among these different types of exercise bikes.

Type Upright Bike Recumbent Bike Spin Bike
Calories Burned Moderate to High Moderate High
Risk of Injury Moderate Low Moderate
  • Glutes
  • Quads,
  • Erector Spinea
  • Forearms
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Core
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Calves
  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • Calves
  • Quads
  • Shoulders
  • Back
  • Hamstrings
  • Triceps
  • Biceps
  • Core
Ease of Use Moderate Good Good
  • Enhanced strength output
  • Improved cardiovascular endurance
  • Fat-burning benefits
  • Heightened speed and power
  • Enhanced strength output
  • Fat-burning benefits
  • Improved cardiovascular endurance
  • Increase the strength and function of your ligaments, muscles, and bones that surround the joints
  • Burns calories
  • Improves cardiovascular endurance

Now that you have an overall view of what each exercise bike can do for you, let’s talk about the pros and cons of each machine more thoroughly.

Upright Bikes

Upright bikes are designed like regular bikes. This means that you need to sit in an upright riding position and hold onto the handlebars as you work out. They are typically used for cardio workouts because of the gear ratios.

The gears or the rotating circular machine parts of a stationary bike are what make you pedal at a fast speed while keeping your RPMs low. Putting your upright bike in a high gear setting can help you build your leg muscles while keeping your pulsation low.

Upright bikes provide an excellent cardio workout while strengthening your glutes, quads, erector spinea, forearms, hamstrings, calves, core, shoulders, and triceps. An average person can burn about 260 calories for a moderate 30-minute ride.

This is a very good workout option for burning calories fast. Another good thing about these machines is that they are foldable and easy to store and most of them have touchscreens or even resistance bands for your upper body.

However, one of the drawbacks of using this type of bike is that the upright position can put pressure on your hands and wrist. This bike is also only good when cycling in a seated position because cycling while standing up can be very uncomfortable. Using this machine can also be very unpleasant especially if you work out for long periods.

Upright bikes do not have any kind of back support and do not have the most comfortable seats. They are also not suitable for people with mobility issues because the seat is often too high on the ground which won’t enable them to get on and off easily.

Examples Of Upright Bikes

Lifespan c51 – The LifeSpan C5i Stationary Upright Bike features 40 easy-to-navigate workout programs that can help you in achieving your health and fitness goals. This upright bike has the comfort of an oversize and padded seat which provides an impact-free workout.

NordicTrack Commercial VU19 Upright Bike – This model comes with 24 levels of resistance to match your fitness goal. It has a sturdy steel frame and a good flywheel. This is a good addition to your home gym and it retails in the $700 to $999 price range.

Recumbent Bikes

Recumbent bikes provide a comfortable riding position because the rider reclines against a backrest. These types of bikes are uniquely shaped which allows you to sit nearer to the ground so they are more comfortable to use than the regular exercise bikes.

They have larger seats and provide back support that enables you to sit back while working out. Recumbent bikes are good for strengthening your hamstrings, glutes, calves, and quads. Riding on a recumbent bike for 30 minutes can help you burn 210 calories which can contribute to your overall weight loss goals.

Recumbent bikes are a great choice for people who are recovering from an injury and are used by physical therapists as part of their recovery program for their patients.

They are also very popular amongst athletes because they can work out with recumbent bikes for longer periods with less fatigue. One study even recommends the use of recumbent bikes as an endurance conditioning exercise for older people with knee and hip pains.

On the other hand, one of the cons of a recumbent bike is that it may not fully engage the core muscles. This is because users carry less body weight while reclining or tilting back in recumbent bikes.

This position requires less core strength when pedalling compared to when you use upright bikes. Another drawback of recumbent bikes is that they are not foldable and may be difficult to store away. They are also more expensive compared to standard upright bikes.

Examples of Recumbent Bikes

ProForm Pro C10R- The ProForm C10R recumbent bike features riding comfortability without compromising on the intensity required for your workout goal. This comes with a 30-day Ifit membership to help you get properly trained with the types of exercise you needed. It has 25 resistance levels which make it easy for you to get your workout right.

LifeSpan R5i recumbent bike- This recumbent bike by Lifespan has an upright seat design that lifts armrests for ease and comfort. It also features a vented backrest which is very good to keep your back cooler. It is also a self-generating bike making it very convenient to move around without worrying about wires and power outlets.

Spin Bikes

Spin bikes are a type of stand-alone indoor stationary bike wherein the pedals are connected right to the weighted flywheels. They have a much weightier flywheel and the pedals are attached to the wheels which will keep moving for as much as the wheel keeps turning.

Working out with spin bikes is one of the best cardio exercises while working on your glutes, calves, quads, shoulders, back, hamstrings, triceps, biceps, and core. Spinning can burn calories faster than other types of bikes. A 45-minute session can burn up to 500 calories.

Spinning may seem to be a high-impact exercise but it is actually categorised as a low-impact workout. This is because you do not need to put too much pressure on your joints compared to other running exercises. This is a good machine to use even if you have a knee injury because you can still do spin class without making your condition worse.

One major disadvantage of using spin bikes is that they can cause backaches. During your spinning workout, your upper body tends to hunch back, particularly when you speed up the machine. This may cause strain and other lower back problems. If this happens, inform your instructor so that they can show you the correct posture to prevent future injuries.

Attending a spinning class can also prevent your progress because doing spinning for weeks can make your body get used to it. You should incorporate other workouts in order to develop other parts of your body as well.

Example of Spin Bike

Reebok – GSB One Series Indoor Bike- This model features an 18 kg flywheel which provides the rider with a smoother ride compared to other models. It has 32 levels of controlled resistance which gives you more challenge in your workout routine.


Deciding between these 3 types of bikes can be very daunting if you do not know the capabilities of each. Your choice will ultimately depend on how you plan to use it. Overall, all three bikes are great for strengthening your lower body, improving cardiovascular endurance, and good for weight loss. Check out our review of the best exercise bikes under $1000 to help narrow down your choices.

1. How much should I spend on an exercise bike?

The question of how much should you spend on an exercise bike depends on how much are you willing to spend on your bike and what you are going to obtain with that cost. The prices of exercise bikes range from 300 to 3,000 dollars. You do not need to spend on expensive bikes if your main goal is to just spin your legs and break a sweat. A basic stationary bike will do just fine. However, if you prefer a high-end brand that has a lot of added features that you think you need, then you might need a higher budget for it.

2. Do cheap exercise bikes work?

Cheap exercise bikes do not essentially mean they’re bad. They may lack some modern features but they definitely can work well, too. Low-priced bikes are your best bet if you have a limited budget. They can still help you build strength in your legs and lower body even if they are not expensive.

Emma Pyke
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