The Three Types of Exercise Bikes: Which is Best?

If you’re in the market for an exercise bike, then you’ve likely noticed there are a few different types to choose from. While all the bikes can differ in terms of brand and model, there are three main types: upright, recumbent, and indoor cycling bike.

Three Main Types of Exercise Bikes

crossfit stationary bike

1 – Upright Bike

The upright is the most well-known type of exercise bike. It’s similar to a conventional  bicycle, where-in the pedals are beneath your body, the seat supports your weight, and the handlebars are situated in front.

The main difference between this type of exercise bike and the other two is that the resistance is provided through electromagnetic induction that slows down the flywheel.

While all types of exercise bikes provide cardiovascular exercise and a lower body workout, some upright bikes feature movable dual-action handles that offer an upper-body workout too.

The biggest downside of the upright is the awkward posture can lead to neck, wrist, and back issues. You also aren’t able to pedal standing up very easy.

2 – Spin or Indoor Cycling Bike

Indoor cycling bikes are similar to uprights, however there are some noteworthy differences. The most evident is the seated position and where the handlebars are located. The handlebars are pushed forward and the seat shifted backwards, meaning the rider is forced to lean forward.

Indoor cycling bikes are also referred to as “Spin bikes.” You might be familiar with spin classes where an instructors guides 10-20 riders through a class. Unlike the upright, riders can even opt to stand up while cycling. This leads to more muscles being engaged and more calories being burned. These classes are necessary because indoor cycling bikes don’t feature programmed workouts to follow.

The resistance can be adjusted with the turn of a knob. Spin bikes often feature direct-contact breaks and a weighted flywheel connected to the bike pedals.

cycling exercise bike

3 – Recumbent Bike

The recumbent bike is most notable for it’s recliner style design. The pedals are also positioned in front of the rider’s feet. These features encourage a low impact ride and offer the most support. The elderly and people with joint related issues stand to benefit the most from using a recumbent bike.

The main disadvantage of the recumbent bike is that it has a large footprint. They’re also heavy and hard to move. Due to the recline, padding cushion, and extra features like television, it begs the question of whether you’re working out. The recumbent bike engages the fewest muscles, but exercise is exercise. Some is better than none.

Final Thoughts

Picking an exercise is bike is a bit more involved than you might think. The “best” option is heavily dependent on your fitness priorities and individualized needs. If you’re older or suffer from arthritis, a recumbent bike can be a great low-impact option. If your goal is to get a more intense workout, then either the upright or spin bike is a better option.



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The Three Types of Exercise Bikes: Which is Best?