By Jeff Hahn
Shopping for an exercise bike can be a very confusing experience. In this post, we will talk about finding the right bike to meet your needs.
There are three main types of bikes available on the market right now: Upright, Recumbent, and Spinner.
An upright bike is a typical exercise bike that you would see in a club. It has a comfortable cushy seat and the pedals are down below the seat. You sit in an upright position and pedal just like you would on a regular road bike. Most upright bikes use a magnetic resistance system and offer a multitude of programming options.
A recumbent bike is one that has a seat back. Your feet pedal out in front of you and usually the pedals are slightly closer to the ground than the seat bottom (technically a semi-recumbent). There are a few full recumbent models now available (feet and seat at the same height) and also hybrid recumbent models (where the pedals are at a 45⁰ angle from the seat). Most recumbent bikes use a magnetic resistance system and offer a multitude of programming options.
A spin bike is one that is positioned like an upright, but offers a wide range of adjustability for the seat and handlebars to fit like your road bike. They also typically are a direct drive system which means there is no free-wheel. They have a very heavy flywheel which creates a lot of momentum and gives that “on the road” feel that cyclists love. Most spin bikes use a friction resistance system, but some now are coming with a magnetic option.
There are also several “hybrid” options now that combine several of the styles. The LeMond G-Force UT offers the adjust-ability of a spinner with the programming and magnetic resistance of an upright. There are others that are coming up with devices like Octane Fitness and their xR-6 seated ellipticals. With so many options, it may seem difficult to decide which is best for you.
Deciding which type of bike is the best for you really comes down to just a few key factors:
1. Are you recovering from an injury?
People with knee injuries are often recommended by their doctor or physical therapist to rehab on an exercise bike. While many people think a recumbent is the most comfortable, for rehab an upright is best. The body position when you are on an upright bike requires slightly less knee bend than the recumbent counterparts and that can be the difference between you being able to pedal all the way around or feeling too much pain to make a full pedal revolution.
2. How much space do you have available?
Most Upright and Spin bikes take up about 2 feet wide by 3-4 feet long. Recumbent bikes are a bit larger at 2 feet wide by 4-5 feet long. While this is not usually a deal breaker, if you are putting it in your bedroom or TV room, it may come into play.
3. What is your intended use for the bike?
If you are looking to just get a good workout in while watching TV, either the recumbent or upright will work great. With built in programs and options like heart rate training, it is easy to start pedaling, get into your show, and let the bike do all the thinking. If you are someone who is looking to train hard and likes high intensity riding, you are a spin bike rider. Spin bikes offer a much greater top resistance and also have stronger frames designed to allow the user to stand up and push it to the limit. Most spinners don’t have programs or electronics, so you have to be the type of person who will crank up the resistance by hand and make yourself work!
4. What are the sizes of the users in the home?
This is important to make sure that the bike will fit everyone that wants to use it. Most bikes offer some adjustability, but the adjustments are typically easier to use and offer a better range as they go up in price. If you are an average sized user or don’t really need to adjust your bike much, you may be able to get away spending a little less than a family of users that have drastic height differences.
5. What is your preference for how you would like to sit for 20-40 minutes of exercise?
Yes, if none of the other factors apply, it really does come down to which is the most comfortable for you and what you like to use. Some people don’t like the feel of a spin bike seat; others can’t stand a seat back. One of the best things to do is come into a store like ours that offers all of the different styles and put them through the paces. That is the only way to know for sure what is most comfortable to you!
Well, there you go! Now you are ready to go out and find the best bike for YOU! Come down to the store and hop on a few of the best bikes available. Your body will tell you which one is best!