Over the past few decades, indoor cycling has grown in popularity. Most gyms now feature exercise bikes, recumbent bikes and offer spin classes. All these bikes provide a low-impact workout that strengthens your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calf muscles. Each bike offers unique benefits, so select the bike that will best help you reach your fitness goals.
There are two common types of exercise bike found at most gyms, rehabilitation centers and hotels: upright stationary bikes and recumbent bikes. The recumbent bike is unique because it features a bucket seat so that your body weight is supported evenly across your lower back and glute muscles. Both bikes allow you to individually adjusted the resistance, so you can create a workout designed around your fitness goals and abilities. Many recumbent and stationary bikes do not feature a wheel that you actually spin.
Spin Bike Basics
A spin bike is different from an exercise bike because it features a front flywheel. This steel wheel typically weighs between 38 and 44 pounds, and is pulled by a chain when you pedal. As you tighten the resistance on the bike, the pedals mimic the feeling of climbing a hill. Most spin bikes allow you to adjust your seat height, the position of the saddle and the alignment of the handlebars. Having your seat and handlebars properly fitted is essential for a safe ride, so if you are unsure of the fit, ask a certified instructor for assistance.
Spin Bike Pedals
Unlike an exercise bike, one side of the spin bike’s pedal usually features a cleat where you can connect a specially designed shoe to the bike. Different spin bikes use different cleats systems, so check your bike for specific components. To use these pedals, you need bike shoes, which feature a stiff sole that allows you to pedal more efficiently and protects your feet from fatigue by providing them with extra support.
Spin bikes are usually used in connection with spin classes, in which numerous spin bikes are lined up in a room facing an instructor. Most classes follow a simple structure with an instructor leading the group through a series of climbs and sprints that mimic an outdoor workout. These classes often feature upbeat music.
Spin Bike Safety
The weighted flywheel on a spin bike poses an additional risk compared to a basic exercise bike. On a spin bike, you cannot suddenly stop pedaling because the weight of the wheel continues moving the pedals. The bike usually features a separate red button that allows you to stop the wheel from moving in an emergency. On these bikes, never pedal faster than 120 revolutions per minute because you can come out of your pedals, which can cause a knee injury.
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.