Not sure which bike to choose but want to get on one? An exercise bike, also known as an upright or stationary bike, and a spin bike are two different types of bikes that you might have already seen at your gym. Even though both serve the same basic purpose, they vary in terms of features, design, and fitness goals they can help you achieve.

Cycling is one of the best workouts to incorporate into your daily routine because it helps with basic cardio, weight loss, and muscular toning. So, if you have decided to give it a try, here are some of the things that you need to know when choosing the right bike for you.

What is a Spin Bike?

A spin bike, like the popular Peloton, also known as an indoor cycle has an exposed flywheel which is frequently much heavier than the flywheel on a stationary bike. It has no consoles and the majority of indoor cycles use magnetic or friction resistance.

They include a dial or knob to adjust the friction resistance, which relies on felt or rubber pads resting on the flywheel to prevent it from moving when you pedal. Similar to stationary bikes, magnetic resistance provides distinct levels of resistance.

What is a Stationary Bike?

On the other hand, a stationary bike is a traditional upright exercise bike that you’ve probably seen at a gym. It has a console and frequently already has programs loaded. By choosing a different level, you may change the resistance, and you can also change the intensity of the workout by pedaling more quickly or slowly.

Additionally, a stationary cycle with a reclined seat is available as a recumbent bike. Direct contact resistance was typically utilised on this kind of bike.

What are the differences between these bikes?

Both types of exercise bikes provide the same benefits for your body but they also have their pros and cons. Here are some of them:

Spin bikes

Pros

  • Simulates outdoor push bike riding 
  • Versatile ride
  • No limits on intensity 
  • Allows further progression from beginner to athlete levels 

Cons

  • Greater stress on your lower back
  • Can be hard for beginners; no built-in programs 
  • Technological advancements maybe limited
  • Some can be noisy while in use

Stationary bike

Pros

  • Provides low-intensity workout 
  • Customisable workout 
  • Good workout for core and lower body 
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Limited resistance 
  • Seated option only and not for uphill bike climbing
  • May not be suitable for athletes or people with high fitness levels 
  • Feels less realistic than spin bikes

To further dive into their differences, here are some things that you may need to know:

Nature of workout

A spin cycle is your best option if you want to get a full-body exercise that requires a lot of energy, the same as the kind of cycling you would do at a spin studio. Due to the simplicity of resistance adjustment and the ability to stand up as you work harder, spin bikes are ideal for intense exercises.

As you stand and pedal on a spin bike, you will target your calves while also working out your shoulders, arms, back, and core. Spin bikes help people lose weight and build strength.

Meanwhile, stationary bikes are a great choice for a more leisurely workout because they increase cardiovascular fitness, develop muscle, and also aid in weight loss. The upright bike is frequently chosen by cyclists who enjoy cycling at their own pace and engaging in moderately intense workouts.

Since riders are sitting, stationary bikes have a low risk of harm, making them a good choice for people who are injured or have other exercise restrictions.

Ease of Use

Another consideration to check is the ease of use. Both of the bikes are generally easy to use. All you need to do is hop on it and ride them.

If you have ridden any regular bike when you were a kid or an adult, then you will have no trouble using these bikes. Although the upright bike may feel a little different than a regular cycle, the difference is not significant enough to prevent you from finishing your workout.

Due to their flywheel, spin bikes also tend to be a little bigger and heavier. They’re a little more difficult to move around the room, which does make them better for their intended use but makes them a little heavier. The stationary bikes, on the other hand, are typically a little bit lighter, smaller, more compact, and sometimes even foldable.

And because the spin bikes are designed for quicker, shorter workouts, the chairs are a little harsher, which can be a bit uncomfortable. However, the seats on stationary bikes are typically more comfortable and are made for longer workouts.

Muscles worked

The quads, hamstrings, and calves are the main muscle groups targeted by both types of exercise bikes, with the glutes receiving less attention. Spin bikes help to some extent with back, core, and shoulder strength. A spin bike becomes a total-body exercise when you stand on it. Given that your torso is supported by the seat, recumbent bikes provide the least core stimulation.

Up until you get up on the spinning bike, the muscles used on both bikes will be pretty comparable. You will train your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves if you are just pedaling normally. To some extent, your core will also be used to keep you balanced.

However, when you stand, you will be working your shoulders, arms, back, and core much more intensely while also putting additional strain on those lower body muscles, particularly the calves.

This is a really important benefit to keep in mind since as you start standing, it becomes an intense full-body workout.

Calories Burned

Another aspect to think about in the spin bike vs. stationary bike comparison will be the number of calories burned. Generally speaking, you’ll tend to burn more calories on a spin bike because you’ll incorporate more muscles into the exercise (if you stand up), and because it takes more energy to keep that flywheel going.

You will expend more energy finishing each rep on the spin bike because the flywheels are heavier than on a standard bike.

However, the number of calories burned while sitting won’t differ significantly, so if you never intend to stand, you should just choose the bike that feels the most comfortable to you.

Technology

When it comes to technology, spin bikes have LCD designs that are comparatively easy to operate, have few program possibilities, and have manual resistance. Riders can view basic training information on the spin bike LCD, such as speed, distance, time, and calories.

The detailed information that you would find on an exercise bike, such as program charts and body fat calculators, is not available on a spin bike.

More technical features are available on stationary bikes so you can track and tailor your activity. The display panel will track data including your heart rate, distance, calories, and time similar to a spin bike.

Advanced stationary bikes are great for riders looking for customisable workouts. They come with programs offering a range of different workouts including HIIT training and uphill training. These bikes are excellent for beginners, although they can be more expensive.

Resistance

Although you must use more effort to move the spin bike’s heavier flywheel once it is going, inertia causes the flywheel to continue spinning even when you stop pedaling. Additionally, spin bikes have variable resistance controls, making them ideal for interval exercises where your resistance and pace are continuously changing.

A spin bike’s resistance control is either mechanical, which utilizes contact pads that move closer to provide higher resistance, or magnetic, which uses magnets to modify the resistance.

A lighter flywheel on exercise bikes provides cyclists with constant resistance. Exercise bikes don’t often have any forward motion, so when you stop pedaling, the flywheel of the bike will quickly come to a halt. The majority of exercise bikes have preset resistance levels and pre-set programs that let you change the resistance.

Which is better for you?

You really can’t go wrong with either option when it comes to the workout itself. If you’re willing to put in the effort, both stationary bikes and spin bikes can deliver excellent aerobic exercise. The decision is yours if losing weight and/or enhancing cardiovascular health are your main objectives.

However, a spin bike is probably the best option if you’re more interested in enhancing your balance and posture while riding, increasing your cycling endurance, and honing your technique and pedal stroke.

Conclusion

It can be difficult to choose between a stationary bike and a spin bike, but if you think about how you’ll use it and try a few different machines, you should be able to decide which one you feel most comfortable with.

In the end, both a stationary bike and a spin bike will give you a wonderful workout and help you increase your level of fitness. The greatest option for you ultimately relies on the results you want from your workout.

A stationary bike can give all of that and more if you’re searching for a simple way to get in a cardio workout and burn some calories and you have the space to dedicate to a reasonably substantial piece of exercise equipment.

On the other hand, if you are a cyclist who wants to move your training indoors when the weather turns bad or you have a restricted amount of room, a spin bike is a greater option. Spin cycles provide a means to get the best of both worlds if you’re unsure of what you want.

Related Questions

1. How many calories do you burn on a stationary bike?

It will all depend on the body weight and the intensity of exercise you perform on your stationary bike. One can anticipate burning calories between 250 and 450 calories on average per workout session.

2. Can you do a spin class on a stationary bike?

For spinning, recumbent exercise bikes are an absolute no-no. Unfortunately, the seat’s design would prevent you from performing several spin class moves, such as lifting your bottom out of the seat. An upright bike may be slightly appropriate but not that perfect.

Emma Pyke
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