An indoor exercise bike, or stationary bike as they are sometimes know, is a piece of cardio equipment that are designed to replicate the basic movement of a bike cycling outdoors.
Although the basics are the same, with a saddle, pedals, handlebars and some form of resistance, there are many ways these things can differ between exercise bikes.
Types of exercise bike
One of the main differences between exercise bikes is how the resistance is applied to the pedals when cycling. Similar to rowing machines, the forms of resistance range from fans to magnets.
The display unit is another area that differs greatly between exercise bikes, with one of the most interesting recent designs being the Trixter X-Dream. Where most exercise bikes may offer a LCD display that shows all the basic information such as heart rate, speed and distance, the Trixter X-Dream has been designed to be more like a video game.
There is a screen that is seperate to the bike, and the buttons on the display unit allow you to move through the different menus and setup an avatar bike rider for cycling through the simulated environment. There are many more benefits of this type of exercise bike and you can read our full description of the Trixter X-Dream here.
While the more basic designs simply have a set of handles that extends up in line with the display unit, the more high end exercise bikes have handlebars that are the same shape and position as on a normal road bike. Not just having the same handlebar shape but also being able to switch through gears and apply brakes to make the indoor cycling experience more natural and interesting.
Recumbent exercise bikes
As well as the standard types of exercise bike where you are seated in a similar position to a normal outdoor road bike, you can also buy recumbent exercise bikes.
These are exercise bikes where you are sitting much lower to the floor and can take more movement out of the knees with a much more horizontal plane of cycling motion.
Uses of exercise bikes
Exercise bikes are excellent either as a main cardio workout or for recovering from a knee or leg injury when undergoing physical therapy as they are a low-impact exercise, not putting as much pressure on the knee joint as other machines such as the treadmill.
Exercise bikes are mainly used for weight loss, although whether they are used for fat loss or general cardio workouts is determined by the heart range you stay within when using them.
Benefits of using indoor exercise bikes
There are many benefits to using a stationary bike, not just compared to outside road and hill cycling but also when compared with other fitness equipment.
With new advances being made all the time, technology is starting to play a larger role in fitness product design as well. Compared to road cycling, with a stationary bike you are in complete control of the resistance and monitoring your heart rate range at all times.
The difficulty can easily be increased and decreased and there are no unforeseen dangers such as cars or motorcyclists that you can get when cycling on roads.
Whether you are completely fit and healthy or if you have a knee injury and are recovering, looking for a piece of exercise equipment that isn’t tough on the joints then a stationary bike is the right choice for you.
There are also usually much simpler displays than those seen on treadmills which makes it much quicker to get used to all the different settings and means you can use them to benefit your training quicker.
With many stationary bikes being fitted with wheels, they are also perhaps the lightest and easiest to move piece of fitness equipment if you like to store it out of the way when not in use.
Because the exercise is performed indoors this also takes out any poor weather aspect that may otherwise put you off from cycling, and even makes it possible to watch television or listen to music to increase the amount of time you are comfortable cycling for.
What to consider when buying an indoor exercise bike for use at home
If you are looking for a new piece of cardio equipment for home use that doesn’t take up too much space, and you don’t want to worry about folding it up and storage after use, then the exercise bike is an excellent choice.
Taking up far less room than a treadmill or rowing machine and often being much quieter and lighter to move.
The available levels of resistance must be high enough to keep your heart rate in your target range. It is also useful to find a model that has buttons on the display for quickly adjusting the resistance so that you can perform high intensity interval training, which is one of the most effective uses for a stationary exercise bike.
The cost is another important factor to consider when looking to buy a new stationary exercise bike. With bikes ranging from a couple of hundred pounds / dollars, up to many thousands of pounds / dollars, it’s important to understand why there is this variation and exactly what features you are looking for.
If you know what resistance level, weight limit, size and how smooth the cycling motion is then these are a good place to start when making comparisons.
Exercise Bikes are perhaps the most well known piece of cardio equipment for improving your cardiovascular health and performing fat loss exercise. There are three main types of exercise bike, the normal stationary exercise bike, spinning bikes and the recumbent exercise bike where you are positioned closer to the ground in a more horizontal position.
All three types offer an effective form of low impact exercise and are compact enough to be used either in home or commercial gyms. With so much variation in the types, features and price of exercise bikes it can be difficult to know which type is right for you. In the exercise bike product articles we compare a range of the best exercise bikes and find out what makes them so different.