Cycling is a very popular workout, especially among cardio lovers. It not only enhances cardiovascular health but also helps burn calories faster. It also helps strengthen muscles, reduce the risk of several ailments, and improves blood circulation. However, it is not always possible to go out and cycle on the road. There may be many reasons for it.
What is important is people prefer to sweat it out in privacy on an exercise bike for the best results. But which equipment to choose? Most gyms have different types of exercise bikes, usually the latest model of an airdyne bike or a high-end spin bike. But how to decide which suits you the best? Should you work tirelessly on an air bike, or is it a spin bike that meets your needs? Let’s understand!
Air Bike vs. Spin Bike: Key Differences
Before you buy yourself a bike for exercise, you must understand what you need. Air bikes and spin bikes are quite different from each other and have different benefits for the users. Here’s a quick rundown of the main differences:
Good for HIIT
Suitable for low intensity training
Targets several muscle groups simultaneously
Works on leg muscles
Moderate impact on joints
Low impact on joints
Suitable for fast weight loss
Ideal for elderly and people with chronic health conditions
It is very basic and requires no electrical power.
Comes with a console and electric power is essential
Comes with a huge wheel
Includes a small front wheel or flywheel
Allows the user to sit upright while cycling
Necessitates a forward lean while working out
Resistance is created from pedaling and movement of the handlebars
Resistance is generated due to friction or magnetic force or both
What is an air bike?
An air bike is a type of exercise bike that comes attached with a big fan at the front. That’s why these bikes are also known as fan bikes. These bikes also have handlebars and pedals attached for exercise. As the user pedals and moves the handlebars, the fan rotates to create air resistance. This air resistance, then, makes it difficult to rotate the pedals, thus allowing one to work against increasingly more resistance. This makes air bikes great for cardio exercises.
What makes an air bike like Airdyne stand out is that it works both the upper and the lower body at the same time. As you work out on a fan bike, all muscles of your legs, arms, and abdomen are worked out. This combined workout also makes the heart and lungs work faster, thus improving heart health. These bikes are also a great exercise option for people with a knee injury or those that want to avoid straining these knees.
Pros & Cons
Offers full body workout. Equally focuses on your legs and arms.
The solid build of these bikes make them heavy. They are also quite big.
Solid built. Lasts long.
High-quality air bikes like an airdyne bike are usually costly.
Can support relatively heavyweights. Good for heavy people up to 350 pounds.
These bikes are not foldable and take up space.
Excellent alternative to ground running.
Doesn’t create too much impact on the joints.
Burns calories quickly. A 15-minute workout session per day is usually enough.
Easy to use.
Requires no power outlet.
Is it worth buying a fan bike?
A fan bike is definitely worth the money if you are keen on HIIT training and losing fat fast. The simultaneous workout of different muscle groups on an Airdyne bike effectively burns more calories within a short span. It is perfect for cardio training at home with minimum fitness equipment and can be worked on at any time of the day.
What is a spin bike?
A spin bike is a popular type of stationary exercise bike. They include a flywheel mechanism that replicates the experience of cycling on various types of terrains. They come with narrow seats quite similar to a regular bike. A user can opt to workout sitting on or standing off it according to their preference. This allows better training of the legs than is possible with an air bike or recumbent bike. In fact, indoor cycling is a preferred option for many who want to work out in the privacy of their home gym.
Pros & Cons
Helps to perform HIIT and low intensity training
High quality spin bikes come with a steep price tag.
Spinning motion helps burn stored body fat along with calories.
Requires power supply and a WiFi connection to run.
Spinning helps increase heart rate fast with less impact.
Assembly and setup aren’t very easy. All parts must be set up with precision to avoid injury.
Use of virtual classes and screens can create a better workout experience.
Comparatively lighter than air bikes.
Is it worth buying a spin bike?
If you love the way bikes work your legs, then you are definitely going to like a spin bike. A spin bike or stationary bike will give you the same results as that of a regular bike and strengthen your core and lower limbs. You can also try out various low-intensity and HIIT sessions at an eased pace for effective training without any injury or impact.
Air Bike vs. Spin Bike: Head-to-Head Comparison
Air Bike: The first difference that one notices in an air bike is the large wheel. This wheel is quite similar to a fan and has blades that displace air as you pedal. This creates infinite resistance in a fan bike.
Spin Bike: The front wheel on a spin bike is much smaller and is called a flywheel. The front wheel is weighted (15-20 Kg) to provide resistance while cycling. Heavier weights offer smoother and greater resistance.
Air Bike: Resistance on an air bike comes only from the air. As the pedals and handlebars rotate the wheels, air resistance is produced. This happens due to the fan blades present on the wheel pointing towards the same direction. The blades create drag or resistance that increases with the rotation of the wheel. So, the more you rotate the wheel, the stronger will be the drag or resistance that you feel.
Spin Bike: On a spin bike, however, there is no air resistance. Anyone using a spin bike will experience resistance created due to friction or magnetic force, or both. If you are using a magnet-based indoor cycle, the magnets try to stop the action of the flywheel, thus, creating a resistance. Similarly, in a friction-based spin bike, the felt pads will create friction against the wheel, thus producing resistance. Models that come with both create higher resistance while working out.
Air Bike: Another major difference is the handlebars on an air bike. In a fan bike, the handles are in a position to fully engage the arms and shoulders of the user. As a person moves the handlebars and pedals the wheels, he/she undergoes cardio training involving upper and lower limbs as well as the core.
Spin Bike: The handlebars in a spin bike serve a totally different purpose. They do not work out the arms and shoulders. You have to use it to support your body as you stand up and lean forward while exercising on a spin bike. You can choose from the different handle positions available to suit your needs.
Air Bike: Air bikes like Airdyne are quite low-key as they produce little or negligible sound while working out. As you rotate the wheels, the blades cut through the surrounding air. This can create a small howling sound but nothing that can disturb anyone. This makes air bikes a good choice for your home.
Spin Bike: Spin bikes, too, aren’t too noisy, especially if you use a magnet-based model. Magnets create resistance because of the force of attraction with the flywheel. Thus, these models are noise-free. However, in the case of an indoor cycle with felt pads, friction is created between the pads and the flywheel. This produces a sound akin to a whistle. However, the noise isn’t very loud and it won’t be a problem in the gym.
Air Bike: There is a major difference in the cycling motion of an air bike from that of a spin bike. A fan bike is so designed that the handlebars are situated higher than the seat. This ensures that the user sits upright while exercising and engages the legs, arms, and abs in the constant pulling and pushing motion. Users do not have to lean forward to cycle.
Spin Bike: Working out on an indoor bike creates a forward racing stance. As you have to lean forward to use a spin bike, a forward motion is created. This takes the pressure off the legs and allows you to work your legs better. As the body leans forward, the center of gravity moves to a position in front of your legs. This ensures injury-free workout sessions.
Air Bike: An air bike like an assault bike has a sturdy frame with the seat positioned lower to the handlebars. That’s why you will be seated in a very upright position while exercising. A quality air bike can easily support heavyweights as well as the strong pull and push motions created during cycling.
Spin Bike: Good quality spin bikes have a hard frame as well. That said, the frame of an indoor cycle is quite like a road bike where the handles and saddle are aligned to keep the butt and back straight.
Air Bike: Pedals on an air bike are usually very basic and bare, while some have straps attached. However, pedals without straps are preferred because HIIT involves quick mounting and alighting, and straps can become an obstacle.
Spin Bike: Spin bikes, on the other hand, comes with different types of pedals. You can choose between platform/flat pedals, toe cage/toe clip pedals, clipless pedals, and hybrid pedals. Each of these pedal types has its benefits, hybrid pedals being the best combination for users.
Air Bike: As the user, i.e., you have to sit on the seat while cycling, air bikes have broad seats. This is for comfortable sitting while performing HIIT exercises.
Spin Bike: Unlike an air bike, seats on an indoor bike are much narrow. This is in line with a racing bike or a regular bike and helps in working the glutes and hamstring better.
Air Bike: Air bikes are a costly affair. Though cheap models are available, they aren’t usually worth it. This is because they have comparatively smaller front wheels. This means the resistance created is very less. For the best results, you have to pay upwards of $500. For example, the Xebex Airmill Air bike is a steal at around $550. Popular models like the Assault Bike and Rogue Echo Bike will cost you around $700, while top-class models like Airdyne Pro will set you back by $1000.
Spin Bike: With more features and a console system, an indoor bike usually costs a lot more than air bikes. You can start at a thousand dollars with choices like the Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX3 or Sole SB900 Bike. For a better price, you could get yourself an MYX Fitness bike, NordicTrack S22i, etc.
What muscles does an air bike work?
As already mentioned, an air bike provides an all-around workout for the upper and lower body as well as the core. The pedaling motion, together with the handlebars’ movement, targets the leg muscles, calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, abs, back muscles, shoulder and arm muscles, and the cardiac muscles. This makes air bikes hugely popular among cardio enthusiasts.
What muscles does a stationary bike work?
Although a stationary bike doesn’t target as many muscle groups as an air bike does, it is quite useful for training your legs. A workout session on a spin bike stimulates the quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings of your legs, along with muscles of the back, core, and butt.
Which Bike Is Better For Low-Intensity Training?
If you are someone who wants to exercise but avoid impact, low-intensity training can be for you. An easy way to keep up with your low-intensity training regimen is to cycle on a stationary bike for 30 minutes at a stretch. Keep the resistance low if you do not want to stress your joints too much. These exercises are ideal for people with injury or chronic pain, health conditions like obesity and diabetes, and for the elderly. Seasoned athletes may also benefit from low-intensity training on a spin bike.
Which Bike Is Better For High-Intensity Training (HIIT)?
Air bikes are best for High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. You can do high-intensity, short sprints of quick indoor cycling followed by short recovery periods. A 30-second high-intensity cycling effort followed by 60-second slow cycling can be the perfect HIIT. A 20-minute session including 14 repetitions of the above can work wonders for calorie burning and fat loss. It can also boost muscle growth, endurance, and metabolism.
Which is better air bike or spin bike? The Verdict
There is no one answer to this question. Spin bikes and air bikes have their own set of upsides and downsides, and the best choice will depend on several factors. If you are looking to work out various muscle groups within your body simultaneously, then an air bike will be the best fit. That said, stationary bikes are good for quality lower body workouts.
If you want to lose weight fast and improve your cardiovascular health, then high-intensity interval training on an air bike is a perfect choice. It can also help people with health issues like high BP, high blood sugar, poor insulin sensitivity, etc. However, HIIT isn’t for everyone. If you have health conditions that make HIIT difficult or impossible, a spin bike will be the best for you.
Moreover, a choice has to be made based on the amount of sound that seems bearable to you. If you are sound-sensitive or want to work out quietly without disturbing your family, an assault bike wouldn’t be a good choice. A magnet-based spin bike would be the best, and you must avoid a friction-based spin bike at all costs in such a scenario. If you are looking for a technologically advanced bike, air bikes aren’t for you. Choose a top model spin bike or something like a Peloton. In short,
- Choose an air bike for HIIT training, fast weight loss, basic features, and a full-body workout.
- Choose a spin bike for advanced features and low impact training.
If you are tired of expensive gym subscriptions or find no time to attend one, buying an exercise bike would be the best choice. They may seem like a hefty investment but used regularly, they can yield results you haven’t ever dreamt of. They not only save you money but allow you to work out in privacy and according to your schedule. You can create your training program with an expert’s assistance or follow the indoor cycling class guides that come with these bikes. What is important is that choose the best bike according to your needs and abilities!