There’s something about bicycling that simply cannot be beat. With just a single piece of equipment, you can build your endurance and strength while also engaging in high intensity and weight loss exercise routines. But for some would-be users, traditional cycling can be challenging due to environmental restrictions that prevent them from storing a bike or cycling safely on urban roadways.
For these would-be bikers (and many others), spin bikes (also known as stationary bikes and exercise bikes) provide an opportunity to engage with the multi-functional cycling motion without needing to leave the comfort of your home gym. Many modern spin bikes are also equipped with computerized trackers to make it easy to measure your individual routines against your overarching fitness goals.
That being said, there are several different types of spin bikes that you should learn to differentiate between before investing in any particular model. Along the same lines, you should take some time and learn about the key features that place a particular spin bike model in the upper echelon. With all of this information in mind, you’ll be ready to ride over to Sparks Fitness Equipment and pick out a spin bike model that fits your needs and your budget.
Types of Spin Bikes
Generally speaking, spin bikes are categorized into types based upon two core criteria: resistance type and belt type. These two components make a major difference in a spin bike’s overall performance and handling, so it is important to pick out a model that aligns well with your fitness goals.
Also, these two core components have a significant impact on how your spin bike’s flywheel operates. Stationary bikes recreate the feeling of cycling using a flywheel, making it important to carefully tailor each component that interacts with it to meet your needs.
Just like when you add more weights onto a lifting bar, the primary method of challenging your body to work harder while you use your spin cycle is to increase the degree of resistance asserted upon the bike’s flywheel. There are two primary spin bike resistance types, each of which come with their own benefits and drawbacks when implemented for personal exercise.
First, friction resistance spin bikes are categorized based upon their use of direct contact between the flywheel and physical braking system to create operational tension. This direct contact creates a more immediate challenge for the user that closely imitates the feeling of cycling uphill. Some models, such as the Bodycraft SPX, are built with bicycle-style pedals to fully recreate outdoor biking.
Magnetic resistance spin bikes, on the other hand, are structurally unique due to their use of a magnetic flywheel and braking system that creates tension with the need for physical contact and friction. As a result, popular models like the Life Fitness IC6 typically require less long-term maintenance and operate with little to no additional noise. In addition, other magnetic resistance spin bikes such as the Keiser M3i streamline their overall form factor to create a compact piece of workout equipment.
In addition to resistance type, most modern spin bikes are also categorized based upon the type of belt they use to drive the central flywheel. Between chain driven and belt driven models, each type has the ability to provide a certain type of riding experience based upon the user’s larger fitness goals
Chain driven spin bikes make use of a traditional bike chain in order to translate the user’s pedaling motion into momentum across the flywheel. As a result, chain driven spin bikes are the absolute best when it comes to replicating the feeling and sound of outdoor cycling. While they do require more maintenance and routine lubrication, this is a worthwhile tradeoff for those looking to train for cycling competitions or time trials.
Meanwhile, the majority of modern spin bikes are belt driven. This means that their core flywheel is put into motion by a specialized belt system that functions similar to those found in car engines. This type of belt – like the one found on the Schwinn A/C Performance plus Carbon Blue - is generally more efficient for high intensity and continuous use due to its resilience and ability to function without heating up. Those looking for a low maintenance spin cycling experience will certainly favor belt driven models, in turn.
Key Features to Look for When Purchasing a Spin Bike
Because the flywheel plays such a major role in your spin bike’s operation, it is essential that you pick out a model with a flywheel weight that matches your present and future cycling capabilities. Most spin cycles come with a “heavy” flywheel pre-installed, meaning that it weighs in at over 30 lbs. On magnetic resistance models, the flywheel weight can directly affect how much force you, the rider, needs to exert on the pedals to overcome the bike’s magnetic tension.
Some models may also come standard with a so-called “lightweight” wheel that minimize the direct volume of resistance that the user needs to overcome while pedaling. This can be important on friction resistance models because the flywheel’s weight can directly impact how able the user is to continuously initiate high intensity repetitions.
Dimensions and Portability
One of the most noteworthy advantages of a spin bike is its size and ability to provide you with a reliable form of exercise without the need to store a bulky bicycle in your living space. Many high-end models today have streamlined their overall form factor to make it easy to store that particular spin bike in a closet or corner.
If you anticipate the need to move your spin bike about regularly, consider choosing a model with a modest unit weight and built-in wheels.
Many spin cycles have entered the 21st century by adding in a variety of computerized components that simplify and diversify the user’s ability to participate in an enjoyable exercising experience. As a base, these computerized systems often include a digital screen that tracks distance, speed, heart rate, calories burned, and other key metrics.
However, some innovate models also include Bluetooth and ANT/+ compatibility. Depending on the model’s brand, this degree of compatibility enables users to workout alongside others online. This can also enable users to attend spin bike workout classes remotely from the comfort of their home.