Different types of stationary exercise bikes. Which one is right for you?

Stationary bikes are suitable for most fitness levels and are a source of significant low impact exercise. With winter and cold weather approaching, you may want to move your workouts indoors.

My sister has been cycling outdoors and does not want to lose the progress she has made. She wants a stationary bike but does not know where to start. Pelotons are very popular right now. She just bought a new road bike and did not want to spend around $2000 on a stationary bike. She also does not want something that will take up a lot of space. She just bought new cleats that are not compatible with the peloton and does not want to incur another expense.


I have researched these issues along with the different sitting positions and resistance types to help her. You can make an educated decision based on my research to decide what type of stationary bike to buy.


There are two types of sitting positions for stationary exercise bikes. There are the upright and recumbent stationary exercise bikes.

Upright Exercise Bikes: 


The upright exercise bike is similar to riding an outdoor bike. It also ensures you use the same muscles that you use during outdoor riding. It is a whole-body consistent workout. By keeping your body upright, your abdominal muscles contract. You are also engaging your biceps, triceps, and shoulders. They have a smaller size, so they take up less space in your home.




Recumbent Exercise Bikes: 


A recumbent bike is easier on the lower back because of the way you sit on the bike. It encourages better spinal posture due to the reclining position of your body. They are also gentle on your joints. You cannot stand on the pedals, but it has a larger, more comfortable seat. The recumbent bike does not mimic the position of riding a road bike.



What is a Flywheel?


A flywheel stores rotational energy. It is a heavyweight metal disk on the front of the exercise bike. It replaces the wheel on a road bike. In most stationary bikes, the flywheel has a protective covering. The flywheel connects to the pedals with a belt or chain. The flywheel stores the momentum generated by pedaling and releases it once you complete your workout. The flywheel is hefty, 40 -50 pounds. The first several rotations are extremely hard.


What is resistance?


Resistance is the level of pressure needed to push the pedals and turn the wheel. You will want to rotate the pedals 75 to 90 rotations per minute. Most stationary bikes will have track how fast you are pedaling. You will want to increase and decrease the resistance based on your comfort throughout your workout.


There are four different types of resistance.

Brake-based systems:

Most exercise bikes have a flywheel. The weight of the wheel limits you. The wheel needs to be heavy, and the bike construction needs to be larger. Stationary bike manufacturers developed Direct contact and magnetic braking systems to overcome the bulkiness. Resistance for the direct-contact and magnetic braking is created by applying the brake to the flywheel.



Direct contact resistance: Stationary bikes that use direct-contact breaking implement friction to provide resistance. The break is directly applied to the flywheel to reduce the speed supplied by peddling. Similar to gears on an outdoor bike, you can choose different resistance levels.


The friction comes from felt brake pads. You can also use friction bands on the edge of the flywheel instead of brake pads. Exercise bikes with direct-contact resistance experience a lot of abuse to the breaks and flywheel. Over time, whey will wear out and you will have to replace the brake pads and the flywheel. The breaking is mechanical, so the bike makes noise.



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