Stationary bicycles are the third most popular type of home gym equipment sold today (the two most popular are, of course, the treadmill and the elliptical trainer). People are drawn to stationary bicycles for a variety of reasons to include the fact that you’re getting a pretty good workout while you’re sitting down!
Some people like to read while their doing their cardiovascular training and a stationary bicycle lends itself nicely to this. Bicycles are also a great way to tone your legs, burn fat and improve your cardiovascular conditioning all without any impact on your joints. There are four main categories of stationary bicycles; upright, recumbent, spin bicycles and dual action air bicycles. Below is a quick summary of what makes each unique.
Types of Exercise Bicycles
An upright bike is what comes to mind when most people think of a stationary bike. It looks similar to a regular road bike, but it has a console built into the handlebar area. This bike option provides a seat that does not have a back on it. The pedals on an upright bike are located below the user and slightly in front. The hip angle on the upright bike is about 45 degrees.
The biggest benefit of this type of stationary bike is that is forces the user to engage their core muscles while pedaling. The biggest drawback of the upright bike is that the seats tend to be extremely uncomfortable.
These bikes are the most comfortable out of all of the bike options available today. They usually have a comfortable seat that has a back on it, which allows the user to lean back slightly while pedaling. The actual pedals on the recumbent bikes are located in front of the user and slightly lower than the user. The user’s hip angle on the recumbent bike is about 90 degrees.
While the attraction of this type of bike is the comfort it provides, make sure you “try it on” before you buy one since some of the consoles sit too low for taller users causing them to hit their knees while pedaling.
Spin bikes are the closest thing you can get to a regular road bike. They are similar to upright bikes in design, but they are usually a higher quality and have lower consoles. Spin bikes don’t usually have the standard consoles that are found on upright and recumbent bikes. Their basic design is geared towards serious users who aren’t interested in bells and whistles, but are looking for a serious workout from their stationary bike.
Dual Action Air Bikes
These bikes have an upright design with the added benefit of movable handlebars similar to those found on many elliptical trainers. These are the least common type of stationary bike and offer the fewest options. They are called air bikes because the front “wheel” is actually a fan that cools you as you pedal. This type of bike is fine for a casual user, but it’s not recommended for anyone looking for an advanced workout.
With all of the types of stationary bikes available, there are a variety of standard features that should be looked at prior to purchasing any type of stationary bike. Unlike treadmills and elliptical trainers, the price of a stationary bike doesn’t necessarily indicate its quality and you can get a quality machine for less than $1,000. Some of the things you should look at when researching stationary bikes include; resistance, adjustability, console features, weight limits and warranty.