Spinning Bikes vs Upright Exercise Bikes: Which One is For You

The main difference between the upright exercise bikes and spinning bike is that the upright bikes are more comfortable and easier to use. Spin bikes on the other hand, burn more calories and they are great for intense workouts. Normally upright exercise bikes are recommend for those who seek relaxed and lower-impact workouts.

Generally speaking, exercise bikes are one of the most used fitness equipment today. Given their excellent workout quality, it is no surprise that exercise bikes are well-favored by fitness enthusiasts far and wide. There are different types of exercise bikes including spin bikes, upright bikes, and recumbent bikes. And because of their versatility, it is sometimes challenging to choose the best bike for your workout needs. We’d be comparing two of these kinds of bikes, the spin and upright bikes, so you can make an informed decision.

Upright Bike vs Spin BikeUpright BikesSpin Bikes
ComfortMore comfortable ✅Less comfortable ❌
DifficultyEasier to use ✅More difficult to use ❌
PriceLess expensive ✅More expensive ❌
Age and Ability LimitationNo ✅Yes ❌
Weight and TransportLight ✅Often heavier ❌
CaloriesBurns less calories ❌Burns more calories ✅
BorningYes ❌No ✅
Intense CardioNo ❌Yes ✅
Improves Road CyclingNo ❌Yes ✅
Online Cycling ClassesNo ❌Yes ✅

Spin Bikes

Best budget spin bikes review and comparison

Spin bikes made a grand entrance in the ’90s and they’ve witnessed meteoric popularity and growth ever since. Their physical build and internal components mimic those of a road bike. Like road bikes, they have handlebars and a saddle and are ridden in sitting and standing positions. They are powered by resistance from a flywheel, generating non-stop momentum based on user effort. Spin bikes are a work of art, costing more than the average exercise bike. They are so well-engineered with exceptional workout qualities and potential. They target various muscles in the body and help strengthen the heart among other functions.

Spin Bike Benefits

1. Great for Weight Loss and Maintenance

Spin bikes are adept at burning massive calories and toning the muscles. They target several muscles from the core, stomach, and legs including the glutes, hamstrings, calves, shins, abdominals, and quadriceps. They also activate the arm and shoulder muscles to an extent. These muscles are especially activated when riding in a standing position. You can also use arm weights and other upper body exercises to engage the upper body muscles.

2. Gentle on the Joints

Spin bikes are specially designed with the lowest impact. It is safe to say that the manufacturers had your delicate and injury-prone joints in mind when constructing spin bikes, thus they generate little to zero impact. This makes them a better alternative to treadmills. So if you have sensitive or injured joints, you will find the spin bike accommodating of your limitations. And their low-impact construction does not in any way impede their efficiency or functionality.

3. Perfect for Rehabilitation Training

Given their low-impact orientation, spin bikes are perfect for rehabilitation and recovery training. The fact that you can burn a considerable amount of calories with the least impact on your joints is a blessing. So if you have an injury that makes exercising a chore, you can give spin bikes a try. They are especially fit for those with knee and joint-related issues. However, recumbent bikes guarantee a much safer option in this regard.

4. Provides High-intensity Workouts

Thanks to their innovative flywheel construction, a spin bike generates powerful resistance for intense workouts. They provide a resistance that is nearly as powerful as the resistance generated by road bikes. A spin bike’s flywheel is attached to its pedals, so the pedals move in tandem with the wheels. As such, you’d have to dispense substantial effort to control the pedals. On this note, the spin bike provides a more intense workout than other exercise bikes.

5. Incorporates Standing Positions

While not all bikes are designed to accommodate standing positions, the spin bike does so effortlessly. And considering that cycling while standing activates more muscles and intense workouts, this is a prime benefit. When you stand on the bike’s pedals, you invariably power through higher resistance than when you cycle in a sitting position. You can also combine sitting and standing positions to target specific muscle groups.

Spin Bike Disadvantages

1. Takes up Considerable Floor Space

Unlike some other exercise machines that are equipped with folding capacities, such as rowing machines, spin bikes lack this practical feature. As a result, they tend to take up more floor space than necessary. Although some models are furnished with porting wheels that aid transportation, they are typically large-sized and space-consuming. What this means is that you have to have sufficient floor and workout space to house the large and heavy exercise equipment.

2. Triggers Back Pain

Though spin bikes make fantastic workouts, they can be detrimental to your back. If you don’t use the exercise bike properly, you may ride in a hunched position which causes debilitating back pain. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to properly cycle on a spin bike or maintain the right body posture, leading to back pain and muscle strain. Plus, its heavy flywheel can be pretty hard on the knees and ankles.

3. May Neglect the Upper Body

Spinning may work your lower body to the fullest, but may completely ignore your upper body if you don’t adopt the best balance. However, you can make up for this defect by incorporating training weights or combining spin workouts with strength training exercises. Otherwise, your upper body will suffer considerable losses.

4. Tends to be Overzealous

While spin bikes are great at inducing continuous workouts, it is both an advantage and disadvantage. The fitness machine barely allows intermittent breaks, causing you to work out beyond your exertion limit. Technically, you can’t catch a break in between exercises and would cycle for long sessions. You may also get carried away by the non-stop momentum, not realizing the burden you are placing on your body.

Upright Bikes

best upright exercise bikes in the US

An upright exercise bike is just as popular as a spin bike. They’ve occupied most homes and gyms for ages, partly because of their ease of use. An upright bike is specially constructed to allow users to sit upright on a bike and not hunched over (as is characteristic of road bikes). As such they offer incredible comfort for the spine by eliminating strain and pressure. To accentuate its comfort, the handlebars are located higher up the bike. So you can easily grab them without bending over.

The pedals are driven by your legs and stop moving as soon as you remove your legs. The upright exercise bike like the spin bike is great for cardio and calorie-burn workouts. On the downside, it isn’t great at replicating realistic races because of its peculiar cycling position. Upright bikes are often used at home because most brands integrate folding rails, which serves to save space.

Upright Bike Benefits

1. Beginner-friendly

Upright bikes are naturally intuitive, so it is super easy to use. Even individuals that have zero experience with an exercise bike can effortlessly navigate the bike. You only need to hop on the bike and start pedaling. Its easy-to-use orientation makes it one of the few beginner-friendly exercise machines out there.

2. Conserves Space

Most upright bikes can be easily folded up to conserve storage space. In addition, they are significantly light-weight. Because of these attributes, they make the perfect exercise machines for home use. They are an ideal choice for individuals who have limited space in their homes. You only need to find a suitable workout space for the machine and you are good to go. Plus, the non-folding models are also lightweight and are typically portable.

3. Builds the Core and Back

Because of their upright orientation, these types of exercise bikes naturally develop the spine and activate the various muscles in the back. Thus, you can develop a good and healthy position while strengthening your muscles. This in turn leads to considerable calorie burn.

4. Relatively Affordable

Upright bikes are reputed for their relative affordability. Though some models cost a pretty penny, they are easily the cheapest exercise bikes available. So if you are in the market for a budget-friendly exercise bike, then consider an upright bike. Plus, their affordability does not negate their functionality.

5. Loaded with Pre-programmed Workouts

The vast majority of upright bikes are equipped with a console and a ton of programmed workouts. The console monitors time, distance, calorie consumption among other performance statistics. The consoles on upright bikes are usually more informative than those on spin bikes. Some models also offer pre-programmed workouts which further boosts workout quality.

3. More Comfortable

Upright bikes are the second most comfortable exercise bikes after recumbent exercise bikes out there. They typically come with easier to pedals drive system and wider and more comfortable seats that offer more support than spin bike seats. These combined factors give rise to a pleasant cycling experience.

Upright Bike Disadvantages

1. Not Suitable for Intense Workouts

Unlike spin bikes, upright bikes aren’t so great for intense workouts. This is because they are lightweight and not as sturdy as spin bikes and recumbent bikes. Its mechanism of operation causes it to be unstable as well. Despite its tall build, it tends to sway from side to side when heavy force is applied to the machine. You also cannot stand and pedal like you would on a spin bike. That said, an upright bike may not be the best bike for elite cyclists.

2. May Trigger Back and Neck Pain

People with lower back issues may find an upright bike extremely uncomfortable. And even if you don’t have a lower back challenge, sitting upright for extended periods can weigh a heavy burden on your back, neck, and forearm. So it is best to sample the bike before buying, to ensure it is well-suited to your body.

4. Tends to be Boring

Most upright bike users complain about the monotony and boredom associated with their workouts. Workouts on an upright bike mostly allow you to adjust resistance only, while a spin bike allows you to do various activities like climbs, jumps, sprints, and lots more.

Final Verdict

Having compared the exercise bikes’ respective benefits and drawbacks, both upright and spin bikes meet different exercise needs and goals. Though they bear a couple of similarities, their overall design and functionality vary. Ultimately, your choice of bike boils down to your personal needs and goals. For instance, if you are looking to challenge yourself but with minimal impact on your joints, then a spin bike is the best for you. And if you are looking for an affordable bike suited to a beginner, then an upright bike is worth your consideration!


Hi there, I'm Sayed Hamed Hosseiny, the founder and one of the authors at yourexercisebike.com (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 YourExerciseBike.com (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 sayed@yourexercisebike.com.

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