There's nothing like an upsell when you've already spent a small fortune on an indoor bike. Cycling shoes, changeable pedals, an app subscription? One of the worst-kept secrets in marketing is that the more money a customer spends on the equipment, the more likely they'll buy the add-ones, too. One of the most common exercise bike accessories sold during the checkout process is the exercise bike mat, but do you need a mat under an exercise bike?
Do I Need an Exercise Bike Mat for My Stationary Bike?
People use exercise mats under gym equipment for several good reasons. Firstly, they help protect the flooring in your home from being marked or damaged. Indoor cycling bikes can be heavy and can leave scratches when pulled or inched along the flooring. They can also leave depressions on the carpet. The pressure of the bike's weight bearing down onto a soft surface causes these indentations, but it may depend on how thick the carpet is.
This doesn't only happen with exercise equipment. Tables, chairs or sofas do the same if they've stood on a carpet for an extended period. The indentations aren't always permanent. Some people use a hairdryer to lift the marks out, but it's not only the weight that can cause problems. Wearing cycling cleats and then walking across certain types of flooring can also cause damage. An exercise bike mat creates an 'island' within your living area that contains your workout space, and if you live in a rented house or apartment, protecting the floor from damage is vital so that you get your deposit back and don't earn the ire of your landlord.
Another reason for the mat might surprise you, but it's something discussed regularly on places like Reddit. You might experience sweat damage by putting an exercise bike on a carpet or flooring without anything underneath it. You'd be surprised at just how much some people sweat when they're working out, especially if they're using an app subscription with live and on-demand cycling classes. Some of the top indoor cycling bikes are sold on their online classes as much as on the equipment itself. Some users report that sweat pools under the bike and onto the floor during a challenging session. Speaking from experience, indoor cycling classes are brutal if you're going full-on. It's one of the benefits of having a stationary bike in the home and regularly cycling indoors.
Of course, not everyone sweats the same, but it's worth pointing out that the fitter you get, the more you sweat. Protecting your flooring is essential if you're a heavy sweater because the carpet will soak the sweat up, leading to discolouration and probably an unpleasant smell. Whether you own your own home or not, that's not something anyone wants to have to live with. You can buy interlocking square mats similar to some types of gym flooring. However, users have criticised these, saying that the sweat still gets through the gaps where the mats join together.
Mats are helpful for stability, too, especially if you're putting an exercise bike on the carpet. You don't want the bike wobble or shake when you start cycling. You also don't want your bike to slip or travel across the floor because It's supposed to be stationary. Any movement isn't only bad for your flooring, but it'll also make it harder for you to concentrate and maintain form. Suppose you're using an electricity-generating indoor bike. In that case, you may be too distracted to fill up your Ohm battery during the time you allocated to exercise.
Of course, movement isn't always because there's no mat underneath. We found several Reddit posts where people asked about their Peloton bike rocking on the carpet. The advice was to check the bike's stabilising feet as some riders don't set them up correctly. Revisiting the set-up instruction manual may be helpful here as well as ensuring any nuts and bolts are sufficiently tight
Mats also help reduce noise, which can be vital if you live in an upstairs apartment or exercise in a home gym close to other occupants. Indoor cycling bikes can be loud, and the bike's vibrations can go into the floor. You don't want neighbours complaining about the noise. If you're using a road bike and a turbo trainer indoors, it's also worth looking into an indoor bike trainer mat. This will help protect the flooring from anything coming off the outdoor bike that could damage or stain the floor.
What Kind of Mat to Put Under an Exercise Bike?
Rolling Stone Magazine suggests that a 'durable, high-density PVC rubber [mat] is enough to absorb shock and vibration and support the weight of the equipment." It then goes on to say that a "thinner mat is also easier to store and manoeuvre".
Rubber mats are popular for carpets. Foam mats may be too thick to give a stable base and may be better for concrete or harder floors. As the Shape website points out, mats made specifically for indoor cycling bikes tend to be waterproof and are made from 'harder, higher-density foam', making them more suitable for more extensive or heavier equipment. Using something like a yoga mat may not be enough to stabilise the bike. If you're shopping for the best mat to use under an exercise bike, then it's worth searching specifically for bike mats rather than generalised fitness mats. There's a wide selection available on Amazon, for example.
Reddit offers one solution. Several people suggested cutting a piece of plywood large enough to contain the bike's footprint (and then a little extra) and adding a mat to that. Creating a stable platform helps reduce the noise and vibrations, the likelihood of damage to the floor and should help stabilise the bike. This may not be a quick fix, though. Some have suggested that it takes time for the carpet to settle underneath. In some cases, this could be around six weeks but this may depend on how plush your carpet is.
Do You Need a Mat Under an Exercise Bike?
Some people get on perfectly well without using an exercise bike mat. It will depend on your personal preference, how you've set the bike up, and whereabouts in the house you're exercising. It may also depend on whether you're responsible for the flooring or not. It's certainly worth considering, whether that's during the checkout for your bike or after installation.
Whilst add-on accessories can push up the purchase price of your new bike; it's also convenient to use the mat made by the manufacturer. You know it's been sized to fit the bike's footprint and that it should match the bike's aesthetic. Given that our indoor bikes may be inside living rooms, bedrooms, or communal spaces, that may be an essential consideration for you.
But off-brand mats aren't expensive. Amazon and other retailers sell highly reviewed products that may represent a better investment. If you're stuck, you could try a generic fitness or yoga mat, but ideally, you'll use a bike mat designed for indoor bikes.
Mats help protect flooring from cycling cleats, sweat damage and scrapes and scratches. They also help reduce the vibration and noise that passes between the bike and the floor – making you far more popular with your neighbours! They can also reduce the bike's movement as you ride as on some surfaces you may find that you travel – and let's face it, you'd be riding outdoors if you wanted that.