It’s just like riding a bike...
So the saying goes.
It’s one reason why stationary bikes are a gym staple: most of us already have experience of riding one. And they’re beginner-friendly and far less intimidating than treadmills, ellipticals and fixed-weight machines.
But what are the benefits of a stationary bike?
What is a stationary bike?
Stationary bikes are static.
You ride them indoors and they’re fixed in one spot. They don’t move no matter how hard you pedal. Upright bikes are the most common and well-known but you can also buy recumbent bikes where the rider is in a low to the ground seated position; spin bikes which resemble the road bike; as well as smart-tech and clean-energy generating bikes.
You can also turn a road bike into a static bike by attaching a turbo-trainer to the rear wheel.
Despite the different types of exercise bike, the advantages and disadvantages are very similar.
And whilst smart-tech bikes retain many of the external features of an exercise bike, they also have integrated technology that makes use of WIFI and Bluetooth to communicate with other devices and connect with external communities via apps and streaming platforms.
But whatever your fitness level, budget and experience of indoor cycling, there’s a bike for you.
Benefits of a stationary bike
Stationary bikes are instantly recognisable next to their outdoor counterparts: the wheel, the saddle, the handlebars, and pedals. There’s little on the frame to scare off beginners. You can even strip the bells and whistles from a smart-bike and still have a basic set-up that any one of us could jump on and use.
If you’re new to exercise, or if you’re nervous about starting in the gym, the stationary bike is a perfect first stop until you gain the fitness or confidence to explore other options. Although, it’s not to say that exercise bikes are only for beginners as they’re also a great option for road bikers and professional cyclists.
Static bikes are low impact but high intensity. They’re a highly effective way of increasing cardiovascular fitness, improving stamina and developing endurance without putting a huge strain on the body. This is one of the advantages a static bike has over a treadmill. Both are great cardio options but running has a bigger impact on the body, especially on the joints. Stationary bikes give everyone a fair shot at improving their fitness.
Exercise bikes have a smaller footprint than treadmills and fixed-weight machines. Buying one for the home means it takes up less space. Gyms can fit more on the main floor.
Indoor cycling is a great way to manage weight. According to Harvard University, the average person burns between 210 and 260 calories in 30 minutes on a bike. Whilst this is fewer calories burned than the average on a treadmill, most people can cycle longer than they’re able to run for: a 45-minute or 60-minute class or session can match the calorie burn. For a higher intensity ride, try a spin class or use a spinning bike.
The health benefits of regularly using a stationary bike include improved cardiovascular health. The heart is a muscle and the fitter you become, the fitter it becomes, too. Studies have shown that taking up cycling – indoor or outdoor – can reverse heart damage in middle-aged adults. It’s a great exercise for weight-management, too, and for reducing diabetes.
Cycling strengthens leg muscles and helps increase mobility. It’s good for anyone recovering from injury or for anyone with decreased mobility.
Lower body strength is so important for agility and balance as well as for overall endurance. Stationary bikes offer intense lower body workouts that help build strength. Cycling can complement core strength exercises.
Indoor bikes are safer for beginners and those living in urban areas with poor cycling routes and road traffic. They're also a good way for outdoor cyclists to train during the winter months when poor light and bad weather makes cycling unappealing or unsafe.
Buying a home bike can be the first step on a fitness journey for anyone self-conscious or anxious about exercising in a public setting.
You can generate your own clean energy with the RE:GEN. The power you drive into the pedals to turn the flywheel is converted into useable electric that’s then stored into a clip-on battery. Charge it up with your workout and then power your devices from it.
Stationary bikes at home can be a great way to encourage the entire family to exercise. You can set them up in front of a television or add a screen holder to stream entertainment from a tablet or personal device.
Indoor bikes are a great way to supplement gym membership with an at-home exercise practice. Convenient and easy to use, they fit right into a busy lifestyle or when you have young children or commitments that make exercising at anti-social times necessary.
Nervous about COVID-19? Bikes at home allow you to exercise safely within your household. Gyms can easily separate bikes to allow for social distancing both during the pandemic and beyond.
Cycling indoors doesn’t have to be a lonely experience anymore (unless you want it to be). Smart-tech bikes allow riders to connect with others either through live classes led by instructors or via pre-recorded workouts and games. If you’re using a turbo-trainer for your outdoor bike or you’re riding the RE:GEN, you can use Zwift to ride and compete against other users in online environments.
Stationary bikes come with a lot of benefits; it’s why they remain an enduring feature in gyms and as part of at-home fitness routines. There are disadvantages, however. It’s worth knowing some of the shortcomings before you commit to buying one or to joining a gym.
Disadvantages of static bikes
Stationary bikes can be uncomfortable to sit on. Spin bikes can be especially tough on the behind when you first start riding. Make sure your seat is positioned correctly and that you’re cycling with the right posture. You can buy accessories to make the saddle more comfortable, but it’s also worth thinking about what you’re wearing when you exercise as some clothing will exacerbate feelings of discomfort.
Good posture on a spin bike is important. If you’re new to the style of cycling, you may experience lower back pain initially as the handlebars are set forward in a similar style to road bikes.
Cycling indoors can be difficult to maintain because it can become dull. Without the scenery changes of outdoors or the pumping soundsystem of the gym, riding at home can be an isolating and uninspiring experience. Bikes have come a long way in recent years. You can ride against others or ride with strangers through virtual environments. You can even challenge people to go head-to-head in battle mode if you have the RE:GEN.
Cycling does a great job of working the cardiovascular system and the lower body but you’ll need to integrate upper body exercises and strength training into your routine.
You’ll get a great lower body workout on a bike but you’ll need to integrate strength training for the upper body into your workout routine.
Sitting down for extended periods can lead to reduced flexibility in the hips. This is more pronounced if you spend much of your day seated. To ensure that you’re giving your hips the ability to strength and flex, introduce yoga, walking or running stretches into your practice.
What’s the best stationary bike to buy?
No one bike’s best for everyone.
There’s a broad range of makes and models that will mean different things to different users. Budget, lifestyle, experience and fitness goals will all play a role in the buying decision and fortunately, the market reflects this.
For example, professional road cyclists are suited more to the Watt Bike than to a Peloton. People looking to get paid in Sweatcoin for their workout are more likely to choose the RE:GEN.
On a super tight budget? Then a basic functional bike is the best place to start.
What to Look for in an Exercise Bike
Think about the style of bike that you want: upright, recumbent or spin bike. Most people opt for upright but if you’re looking for intensity in your at-home practice, then spinning or indoor cycling bikes will make the biggest impact. They’re also the better bikes to choose if you’re looking to connect to a community: live-stream classes, competitive leader boards or third-party apps. Recumbent bikes offer a lower-intensity workout and are most suited for people with mobility issues.
If you are looking to connect with others, you might want a bike that includes a screen but that’s not always necessary. Several indoor bikes now include a screen holder so you can stream classes and content from your device whilst cycling.
Think about your fitness goals and find a bike capable of supporting them. Does the display give you the data points you need to track? And how accurate is its reporting? Work out the information you need to know. Add any bike able to meet these criteria to your shortlist.
Technology can make exercise more effective. The AI powering the RE:GEN acts like a personal trainer by adapting workouts so that the user can make the most of the time they have available and still hit their fitness targets. This can make at-home exercise as effective as going to the gym and being coached. The Watt bike offers competitive cyclists a huge range of data to improve performance and precision which will be invaluable to the professional cyclist but overwhelming and unnecessary to the average user. Smart-technology can be a powerful ally in fitness but for some people, it adds unnecessary expense.
Resistance is an important function on static bikes. On an outdoor bike, it’s the terrain, landscape and weather that help influence a workout’s difficultly, but indoors you’ll need to rely on resistance. Depending on which bike you’re looking to buy, this will either be changed manually by turning a knob on the bike’s frame or digitally via an app. Digital resistance is easier to operate when you’re exercising and more intuitive to your fitness levels.
The flywheel is the weighted plate that revolves as you pedal. Lighter flywheels will make the bike cheaper, but a heavier one (13kg+) gives a smoother and more realistic ride.
Make sure the bike is easy to adjust: the seat and handlebars should be in the correct position to ensure you have good form but also that you're not risking injury. We’re ordering more and more online now so that means you might not get to try one before you buy. Make sure there’s enough adjustment potential for your height and weight.
If you’re heavy, always check the maximum weight allowance .
Do you want toe clips or peddle straps to keep your feet fixed when riding?
Some bikes can be heavy and cumbersome to move around. If you live in a block of flats or apartments, ensure that you’ll be able to carry it inside. Equally, be careful about ordering folding exercise bikes or cheaply manufactured ones. Whilst some people won’t have the budget to spend big, you should think of your bike as an investment in your health and where possible, it may be worth spending more.
Check what warranty there is on the bike before buying. A reputable one should offer a reasonable aftercare package in the event of something going wrong.
Stationary bikes have numerous benefits, so it’s no wonder that they’ve been a gym staple for decades. The barrier to entry is low: they’re beginner-friendly, suitable for those living with mobility issues or reoccurring injuries, and they’re great for cardio health. And exciting things are happening in the stationary bike space. You can now get paid in digital currency for the workouts you do and generate clean power to use in your home and on-the-go.
Introducing the RE:GEN...