The flywheel is the weighted front-wheel of an indoor cycling bike. Flywheels typically weigh between 30 to 45 pounds. “The main advantage of a stationary bike with a heavy flywheel of 40 lbs. or higher is the combination of momentum and resistance you can generate during your workout. It allows for a more realistic feeling of traveling uphill.” (Livestrong). A higher flywheel weight brings other important points to consider: likely a higher price tag and the overall bike will be heavier, making it more challenging to move if you don’t have a dedicated space for the bike.
Chain vs. Belt Drive
The “drive” (whether it be chain or belt) transfers your pedal rotations to the flywheel. Chain drives are found on outdoor bikes and emulate the sensation of riding outside, providing an “old school” experience on an indoor bike. That said, while many biking veterans opt for a chain drive, it is more likely to wear down and break over time and requires more routine maintenance. (Gymsource)
On the flip side, the belt drive is a newer technology that is more durable and efficient. These will give you a smooth-as-butter riding experience that is also quieter than the chain drive, which is helpful to prevent disturbing others nearby.
Magnet vs. Friction Resistance
There are two types of resistance systems for indoor cycling bikes: friction and magnetic. Friction resistance is when pads (usually wool or leather) press against the flywheel to add intensity, requiring you to produce more force on the pedals to turn the flywheel. Friction resistance is common in more budget-friendly bikes and requires replacement once the pads wear out.
Magnetic resistance is a newer technology that leverages magnets to increase and decrease the resistance on the bike without rubbing against the flywheel (the magnets move closer to the flywheel and create a stronger opposing force, requiring more power from the rider to keep turning the flywheel). This type of resistance will provide a more consistent experience and is less maintenance compared to friction resistance, but magnetic resistance tends to come with a higher price point.
Bike Setup Adjustment Options
In order to achieve the most powerful ride, you want to make sure you have a proper bike setup. To customize that setup, the more adjustments you can make to the bike, the better. The ideal adjustments would include moving the handlebars and saddle forward and back as well as up and down. Not all bikes have this level of adjustments, but the most critical are moving the saddle up and down as well as the handlebars up and down. For more details on setting up your bike (once purchased), refer to our guide here.
There are a variety of pedal options including permanent cages (for riding with regular sneakers), removable cages, SPD pedals, and Look Delta pedals. Most come with a cage built in that you secure your feet in, but pedals can be swapped out to fit your preference.
Riding with the cycling cages make it easy to hop on and off the bike while SPD or Look Delta pedals paired with cycling shoes can make a major difference in your ability to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your pedal stroke. Clipping into SPD or Look Delta pedals allows riders to transfer all of their energy into each pedal stroke, which optimally engages the major leg muscles (i.e. hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, etc.).
Do you have cycling shoes already? If so, it is important to make note of what pedals come standard on the bike model that you are looking at. Don’t have cycling shoes but interested in buying some? Check out our beginners guide to cycling shoes here. Pedals are usually easily swapped out on most bikes if you need to change them for compatibility.
Do you want to track your metrics (data associated with your workout performance)? If so, some bikes come with a console and others offer it as an add on. Consoles can show you the basics like calories burned, distance, workout time, as well as more details including power (wattage) and cadence [the speed or revolutions-per-minute (RPM) your legs are moving at at any given time in the workout].
Prices of indoor cycling bikes can vary greatly. Bikes can be purchased online from around $299 to upwards of $2,500. While price can certainly be an indicator of quality, you have to think of what budget you are working with and which of the above features are most important to you.
Bike Recommendation & Special Offer
If you are looking for a good budget-friendly bike, we have a special offer through Ativafit for our community.
The Ativafit Spin Bike ($349.99) features a quiet belt transmission and flywheel, so you have ultimate control over the resistance and intensity of your ride. In addition, it has the following features:
– 35 lbs heavy-duty flywheel and durable build gives you gym-quality spin class experience right at home
– Quiet, smooth belt transmission design so you don’t have to worry about waking others during your daily ride
– Felt wool friction resistance
– Adjustable handlebars and seat to match your height and positioning so you get the most out of your ride every time.
– LCD monitor included for you to track your calories, mileage, and workout time to keep an accurate record of your performance and push your boundaries.
Special Offer: We have a special offer of $60 off the Ativafit Spin Bike for our CardioCast members, including free shipping. Use the code AtivaSpin at checkout on Ativafit’s website to redeem this limited offer.
If you have any questions about purchasing a bike for your home gym or about this special offer, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.