Staying in shape throughout the whole year is the goal of many sports enthusiasts. Having proper training equipment is undoubtedly the way to go. While there are countless home workout machines available these days, exercise bikes might be the best option because of their low noise level. However, the extensive offer on the market often confuses even the advanced cyclers, let alone beginners. Therefore, before deciding which stationary bike is right for you, it is crucial to get as much information as possible.
First, let´s start with the workout effects and what muscles are used when exercising. Now, both spin bikes and recumbent exercise bikes focus mainly on the legs.
Nonetheless, spin bikes offer more variety for those on a more advanced level. For example, when using the spin bike, you can stand up while cycling, which allows you to have a more dynamic cycling session. While you are in an upright position, your whole body is working, including your abdomen, arms and shoulders. Moreover, standing up on a spin bike increases the heart rate, which improves your cardiovascular health.
On the other hand, recumbent bikes do not have such flexibility, and you can spend only a limited number of calories due to your fixed body posture. So, recumbent exercise bikes target fewer muscles compared to spin bikes.
Calories per hour
This brings us to the calories burned per hour while cycling. Of course, your weight and cycling speed will determine how many calories you burn during your session.
For a general overview, if you spin at a steady pace, a 155-pound (70.3 kg) person can burn anywhere between 400 and 600 calories per hour, depending on your cycling pace. However, spin bikes have a heavier flywheel that creates resistance. Therefore, to keep the cycle at a constant speed, you need to use more strength, which helps you burn more calories than on a recumbent bike. What is more, when you stand up on a spin bike, you activate your whole body, increasing your calorie consumption significantly. This way, spin bikes help you tone your entire body, while recumbent bikes activate and shape only legs.
A home exercise bike should inevitably be as silent as possible since you don´t want to disturb the rest of your family or roommates while you exercise. If no one is bothered by your cycling sessions, you will surely be more motivated to train more often.
Considering that the spin bike has a heavier flywheel, it may create more noise than a recumbent bike. It will especially be louder if you place it on a parquet, hardwood or tiled floor because of the vibrations that can be felt even on the lower floor of the building. Nevertheless, a spin bike with magnetic resistance usually has a noise reduction system that produces almost no noise at all. The only disadvantage is that a magnetic spin bike will cost you more.
Recumbent bikes are generally very silent since your whole weight is concentrated on your seat, which creates less vibration while pedaling. Some recumbent bikes also come with magnetic resistance, making them even more silent.
All in all, both spin bikes and recumbent exercise bikes with a magnetic system won´t create a lot of noise. Still, a spin bike without a magnetic system will be louder than a recumbent bike without magnetic resistance.
Space and storage
Depending on the available space you have, it is essential to think about the size of the bike. If you have a limited area you can use for your indoor bike, you might want to reconsider buying a recumbent bike since it is pretty cumbersome. In this case, spin bikes will definitely be a better option.
Recumbent bikes have another shortcoming, and that is storage. Generally speaking, stationary recumbent bikes don´t have the option to be folded and they are pretty long. Spin bikes are not foldable either, however, they are shorter in length which takes less space, and easier to move. Of course, if you have enough space to leave the bike in the room, this is not an essential factor for you. However, for those who have a small room and need to store it after using it, this can be a deal-breaker.
As far as the technology and training programs are concerned, recumbent bikes win the battle. Almost every recumbent bike comes with an installed console offering Bluetooth, speakers, and various programs to follow. You can set a preferred training plan without thinking about the overall result since the values shown on the screen give you detailed progress of your training. Certainly, having a specific training plan at your fingertips while exercising pushes you to meet and even exceed your limits.
On the contrary, spin bikes often don´t have this addition, which means you are entirely dependant on self-discipline and internal motivation or maybe tiny non-backlit monitors without indoor cycling programs or connectivity. This can greatly affect your fitness journey if you lack willpower and persistence.
An indoor bike is an investment that should last for many years after your purchase. For this reason, to keep your bike up and running for as long as possible, regular upkeep is necessary no matter which type of exercise bike you have.
Some experts recommend that you maintain your indoor bike on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Surely, if you don´t use your bike every day, you don´t have to strictly hold on to this advice.
Both spin bikes and recumbent bikes require that you clean the handlebars, frame, flywheel, and mechanical parts. Also, make sure that the moving components and bearings have enough oil to move effortlessly. For sure, an exercise bike with magnetic resistance will need much less maintenance since it´s more durable.
Conclusively, spin bikes and recumbent bikes need equal upkeep to continue working at high efficiency.
Being able to move your indoor bike from one room to another without much struggle is essential. Fortunately, most of the spin bikes and recumbent bikes come with transportation wheels that make transport effortless.
Since recumbent bikes have a heavy-duty frame that enables absolute security and comfort, they are much heavier than spin bikes. Regardless of the transport wheels, this makes them somewhat harder to move around the house than the spin bikes.
That said, spin bikes are much more convenient when moving from one place to another.
Comfort and Impact
One of the most significant differences between spin bikes and recumbent exercise bikes is the comfort and the amount of impact they bring on the rider’s joint and muscles.
The least impact and the most comfortable type of exercise bikes, recumbent bikes are made for those going through rehabilitation and recovering from injuries since your body is in a reclined position that relieves the pressure from your joints. Moreover, the seat is much larger and covered with a thick padded cushion that provides comfortable seating and body posture. Thus, recumbent bikes are suitable for overweight people wanting to lose some weight or senior cyclists that seek more comfort while exercising.
On the flip side, spin bikes imitate outdoor bikes. Therefore, they have a tiny seat surface without much padding. Nevertheless, advanced cyclists often choose the spin bikes despite the seat since comfort is not the most critical factor. Instead, their priority is a cycling session, even on a rainy, stormy day, because they want to have a similar feeling like they are cycling outside.
To sum up, spin bikes and recumbent bikes both have advantages and disadvantages depending on the needs and fitness goals of the user.
A more advanced and vigorous cyclist will probably choose the spin bike because it improves their stamina and activates their whole body. On the contrary, a beginner that prefers lighter exercise while comfortably seated will choose a recumbent exercise bike. Further, the ones wanting to continue their training even while they are injured or going through rehabilitation will also want to get a recumbent bike since they protect their joints and don´t put any unnecessary pressure on the body.
With that said, there is no one-sided verdict that puts one bike in front of the other. Instead, we should look at each factor separately that is important to every person individually.
Spin bike defeats recumbent exercise bike regarding the maximum calories burned and the muscle activation. Also, it is much more convenient when transporting the bike around the house or storing it to a specific place.
On the other hand, although bulky and massive, recumbent bikes offer more comfort and stability while exercising. Another significant benefit of the recumbent exercise bike is that they are generally more silent. Even more so, if they have a magnetic system, they will produce little to no noise at all.
When it comes to consoles and technology, recumbent bikes win since they almost always come with an attached screen for metrics. This way, you can set your preferred training program and accurately measure your progress.
Lastly, maintaining indoor stationary bikes is a must. Therefore, both spin bikes and recumbent exercise bikes require your attention and regular upkeep, just like every other mechanical equipment. In case you decide to go with a spin bike instead of a recumbent bike, you can read my article on how to maintain your spin bike.
Our final conclusion would be divided between the two. Any piece of equipment can help you if it suits your needs. Hence, the most important thing is to know what your body needs and what goals you want to achieve while exercising.