Walk into most gyms and you’ll probably see rows of static bikes.  You might see advertisements for spin classes, too.

You might even mistake a spin bike for an exercise bike because a lot of people use the terms interchangeably but what is the difference?

And when it comes to spin bike Vs exercise bike is one better than the other?

What is a Spin Bike?

A spin bike is a fixed-gear stationary bike designed to replicate the road biking experience.

A spin bike uses a flywheel which is heavy and takes some effort to get moving.

The flywheel also provides a smoother ride and even if you stop peddling, your knees will continue to rotate and you’ll keep burning calories until it eventually slows down.  This is similar to what occurs in road bikes. Riders on spin bikes will also lean forward onto the handlebars to put extra power into the peddles as you may have seen competitive cyclists doing in races.

What is an exercise bike?

Spin bikes tend to resemble road bikes where riders lean forward.  Users of exercise bikes will sit up and often with their hands on the handlebars.  Without the flywheel of a spin bike, exercise bikes don’t take so much effort to start peddling nor do the pedals continue turning when the legs stop.

What are the advantages of a spin bike?

  • Despite its high intensity, spinning is pretty low-impact so it’s a good option for anyone recovering from an upper-body injury. The smooth ride thanks to the flywheel means it isn’t hard on the wheels, either.
  • Road cyclists can practice and train on spin bikes when the weather is bad or if they’re unable to get out onto their usual routes.
  • Spin classes can be very social and a great way to meet people or to push yourself to compete and keep up with the others in your class.
  • The reinforced pedals on a spin bike mean you can stand up and go for it.  This is great for the lower-body and adds an extra dimension to working out especially if you’re doing it at home.

What are the disadvantages of a spin bike?

  • Spin bikes are more expensive to buy for at-home practice.
  • The seats can be uncomfortable for beginners
  • Classes may be too intense for beginners
  • Spinning at home can be tough if you’re used to the energy of being in a class environment.
  • Hunching your back to replicate the road experience can lead to sore muscles and back pain especially when you’re first starting.
  • On a spin bike, you’re not going to get a good upper body workout in.

What are the advantages of an exercise bike?

  • Exercise bikes are available for all budgets and there’s a much wider range of bikes to choose from.
  • They can feel more beginner-friendly
  • You can buy collapsible bikes that can be folded down easily.  It makes them ideal for anyone with limited storage space.
  • You can sit up tall on an exercise bike as opposed to being hunched over on a spin bike. This makes it a more comfortable experience for beginners or anyone with back pain.
  • Most exercise bikes have some degree of metric tracking: distance, calorie burn, heart rate, for example.
  • Some exercise bikes also allow for upper body workouts which include moveable handlebars. 
  • You can also choose from an upright bike or a recumbent one.  Recumbent bikes mean you’re peddling from a reclined position and may be more comfortable for some people.

What are the disadvantages of an exercise bike?

  • Relatively poor recreation of outdoor cycling
  • It’s harder to get an intense workout on one
  • Some cheaper models may be bulky and take up excessive room in your house. 
  • Working out on an exercise bike can be quite dull and repetitive.  It lacks the speed and intensity of spinning
  • Very basic models may not be able to keep up as your fitness levels grow.

Spin Bike Vs Exercise Bike: Which is Best?

  • There are no one-size-fits-all answer as to whether a spin bike is better than an exercise bike or vice versa.  Both have advantages and disadvantages worth considering.  If you’re looking to replicate the road biking experience or if you want a high-intensity workout then we’d recommend a spin bike. 
  • If you’re in the gym and deciding between peddling away on an exercise bike or hitting the spin class – we’d say give the spin class a try.  It’s exhausting but a real rush and a great way to increase your fitness.
  • If you’re looking for a gentler way to exercise, or if you’re on a budget, then an exercise bike can be a great way to workout at home.