Rowing Machines vs Air Bikes : Which one is better!

The main difference between rowing machines and air bikes is that rowing machines give you a lower-impact workout while air bike is built for a high-intensity workout.

Air resistance exercise bikes and rowing machines are both effective fitness equipment that can help you with a full-body workout.

This is the reason they are so popular among many consumers. However, choosing one of the two is not that easy, especially if you are not sure of what you need exactly.

In this comprehensive article, we will tell you about three common mistakes that people make when deciding between an assault bike and a rower. Before we jump into finding out how you can avoid the three mistakes, let’s take a look at the rowing machine vs air bike comparison table.

Rowing machine vs air bike: What are the differences and similarities
Rowing Machine
Air Bike
Less noise: A rowing machine makes less noise than an air bike
Less impact: Rowing machines have less impact on the body than air bikes
Targets more muscles: A Rowing machine uses 86% of muscles while an air bike uses 80% of muscles
More comfortable to use: A Rowing machine is more comfortable than an air bike
Less saddle sore: A Rowing machine exercise has less saddle sore
Which one is foldable: A Rowing machine can be folded while air bikes are not foldable
More online virtual classes: There are more rowing workouts online than air bike workout
Best for cardio and endurance: Rowing exercise is better for cardio and endurance workouts than air bikes
Best for adding muscle: Rowing exercise is good for resistance workouts and that helps increase muscles
One size fits all design: A rowing machine can fit everyone but air bikes have a minimum and maximum user height limit
Verity of material and resistance: Rowing machines have more variety of resistance (air, magnetic, and water) and structure material (wood or metal) to choose from. Air bikes have only one resistance (air) and one material (metal) to choose from.
Better for cross-training: An air bike is better for cross-training than a rowing machine
Quick weight loss training: On average, an air bike can burn up to 1000 calories per hour while a rowing machine burns up to 700 calories per hour.
Better arm workout: An air bike uses more arm muscles than a rowing machine
Takes less floor space: An air bike takes less floor space than a rowing machine
Best for back and knee pain: Air bikes and rowing machines are not ideal or recommended for those with back or knee pain.
Lower-impact alternative: Elliptical machines and recumbent exercise bikes are good alternatives with less impact on the knees and back.
Elliptical machines and recumbent exercise bikes
Elliptical machines and recumbent exercise bikes

Rowers Vs Air Bikes: The Similarities

air bike and rowing machine similarities

The first similarity that an assault bike shares with a rower is the ability to provide low-impact training programs under challenging circumstances. This simply means that an individual can get more toned and slimmer, without having to run or jump on a treadmill.

In addition to this quality, both of them assist you in exercising your entire body – starting from your neck and shoulders right till your toes.

Remember, you can always ride your air exercise bike using just your upper body or legs, but at your own risk. It’s not at all a comfortable motion for your body to experience.

Both rowers and air bikes are massive and heavy pieces of machines. Therefore, both of them take up quite a bit of space in your home. As for the price, a standard air bike like Assault or Schwinn Airdyne AD7 and a standard air rower like Concept2 D cost around the same.

  • Pro Tip: There are some rowers available in the market which can be folded into two pieces but there are no such things as foldable air bikes in the market to date!
  • Pro Tip: Air rowing machines as well as air resistance stationary bikes can be pretty loud and annoying for some people. If you hate excessive noise, you may want to ignore the air bikes and air rowers but instead, consider a magnetic rowing machine!

Rowers Vs Air Bikes: The Differences

differences between air resistance exercise bikes vs rowing machines

Having discussed the similarities shared between the two, let us discuss the differences that exist between rowers and air-resistance exercise bikes.

Difference of Purpose: HIIT Vs Training

One of the basic mistakes that you can make as a consumer is not knowing the purpose of your purchase. Let us analyze each of equipment.

An assault bike comes equipped with a massive fan, right at the front which gets activated through pedaling. The harder one paddles, the more air resistance they create.

As a result, when you slow down on your assault bike, the speed of the fan diminishes along with it. On the contrary, a rower provides you with a recovery period when you are gradually gliding back to your starting posture. This means

  • A rower is not just easier to use but also, keeps you motivated for longer periods of time
  • A rower is your best option when you are looking for long and steady workout sessions overbuilding resistance

With that said, if you want High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts, then go for an assault bike.

Different Results: Weight Loss Vs Muscle Building

This is the second mistake that most people make which is not thinking about the long term. Here’s how you can go about it. As we have discussed before, rowers are for resistance training programs, and therefore, they will help in building more muscle mass. On the other hand, air resistance bikes will help you in burning the fat deposits of your body faster.

Since the fans of stationary air bikes are manually activated, they will never stop increasing in speed as long as you push yourself harder and harder. However, it’s important to remember that muscle mass increases only through slow and steady workout programs. Now, let us come to the weight loss requirement.

We know that both rowers and air bikes aid in full-body workout According to the studies conducted by Healthline, a rower is capable of burning around 300 calories per 30 minutes. And according to most studies, air fitness bikes can help you burn around 300 – 500 calories at the same time. In fact, there are some who can burn approximately 80 calories at a minute, peddling on an assault bike!

In a nutshell, if you are looking for quick weight loss, you should settle for air stationary bikes. However, consider this: If you push yourself really hard and actually burn 80 calories per minute on your assault bike, after three months you won’t be able to shed the same amount of weight. This is because your body will get accustomed to this effort and accordingly slow down the rate of your metabolism. As a result, you will reach a weight loss plateau pretty soon!

But with rowers, you can increase your muscle mass which actually increases your metabolism rate. So, even when you are resting, you will be able to burn the fat deposits of your body.

  • For short-term quick weight loss, purchase an assault bike
  • For long-term muscle mass increase and steady workout sessions, purchase a rower

Preexisting Health Conditions: Shoulder Pain Vs Back Pain

If you have a medical condition, you need to make your decision wisely. For example, if you have any health conditions like a heart problem, lung problem, arthritis, or even chronic pain, always consult your doctor, physician, or therapist before making any investment.

Having said that, air resistance exercise bikes are good for chronic back pain as they provide more stability! You can still use a rower, only with your Physiotherapist’s permission and if you have a good amount of experience.

Similarly, a rower is better compared to an assault bike when it comes to rotator cuff pain. This is because on a rower you only pull and not push. But on an assault bike, your shoulders stay in a much lower position, which you need to use quite a lot for pushing.

  • Pro Tip: If you suffer from hip joint pain, neither of these fitness machines is for you. Instead, go for a recumbent exercise bike for that issue.
  • Pro Tip: If you don’t like seated exercise machines and still looking for something with minimum impact but a full body workout, go for an elliptical machine.


Both exercise bikes and rowers help you increase your conditioning and endurance through challenging workout sessions. They will help you lose weight, tone your muscles, and will improve your heart health.

As mentioned above, assault bikes are better for quick weight loss and HIIT. You can gain some flexibility and keep your muscles active by simply peddling on them casually. But if you need long-term resistance training for toned muscles, then a rower would be the one for you.


Hi there, I'm Sayed Hamed Hosseiny, the founder and one of the authors at (YEB). I am a former indoor cycling instructor and personal trainer with nearly 20 years of experience. With a passion for indoor cycling, I have spent years designing cycling parts, repairing, and importing exercise bikes. All the articles, tips, guides, reviews, and comparisons on (YEB) reflect my personal opinion and expertise in the field. I'm excited to share my knowledge with fellow exercise bike enthusiasts and help people find reliable indoor cycling information and the best exercise bike for their needs. If you have any questions or suggestion, you can contact me at

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