Spin Bike vs Upright Bike - What's the Difference?

A question we are often asked, here at the Home Biker website, is what is the difference between what is known as a "spin bike" and a normal exercise bike. We thought that it was about time we answered that particular question. They are both classed as indoor bikes and that means you can either use them at the gym, or in the comfort of your own home.

They are fixed and stationary, so by pedalling ​you get a great workout, but you do of course not travel anywhere. These bikes have been designed to help strengthen leg muscles mainly, but also to help you have a great cardio-vascular workout. In other words they help improve breathing, strength, endurance and build up a sweat, which can really help a lot with weight loss.

There are a few different types of indoor exercise bikes. Those who have injuries, or joint problems will usually opt for a recumbent exercise bike. Aside from those, the main bikes that people will buy these days, are either an indoor or upright exercise bike, or the spin bike.

These are the two that we will be looking at in this article, and we will compare the advantages and disadvantages of both.​

As you can see from the images above, they are both a form of indoor bike. The key difference is that the "spin type bike" looks and feels a lot more like a normal, on the road cycle.

There is much debate as to which is the best for you. Below we have explained the benefits of both. That way you can decide which is the better suited for your own individual needs. The reality is that you can you can do the same cycling exercises on either one.

Benefits of a Spin Bike

pedal pro spin bike

The spin bike became hugely popular as it was introduced into many gyms across the UK, and people started to attend "Spin Classes," in their thousands. The first one of these was released in the 1980's.

The normal upright bike has been around for a great deal longer. It was initially designed for people who knew that cycling was good for them, but wanted to do that in the privacy of their own home.

Advantages of a Spin Bike

  • There is a fixed wheel and this does help with the pedalling technique
  • Generally speaking they are better made and assembled
  • Usually there are a wider range of adjustments, for elements such as the seat height, and the handlebar height
  • Is typically easier to configure to your own body type and shape
  • Simpler to use and easier and faster to change the resistance levels
  • You can stand up on this one if you really want to go at it
  • Great for high intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • You will be in the same posture as if you were riding a normal bicycle
  • They have a fixed gear, so when you stop pushing the pedals, they keep turning and allow you to keep the legs working when slowing down

Benefits of an Upright Bike

JTX Cyclo-5 Upright Exercise Bike User

As I have already mentioned, these have been around for a great deal longer than the spin bike. They have also gone through quite a remarkable technological change. Back in the day they were expensive, and to be honest, not that well made. Many of those simply turned into coat hangers.

These days they come in some great styles, are a lot more affordable and offer whole ranges of programs, designed to hep keep you fit and healthy.​

Advantages of an Upright Exercise Bike

  • Are usually cheaper and a lot more compact
  • Most of them can be folded away when not in use
  • Wide range of cycling and fitness programs
  • They get the name upright as the handlebars are higher, and that makes you sit more upright with a much straighter back - also more comfortable
  • Usually have a large console with lots of useful information about speed, time, calories burned etc
  • Can do a whole range of workouts, right up to and including harder workouts
  • Tend to have more gadgets such as water bottles, MP3 players, speakers etc

Spin vs Upright - Which is Best for You?

Like always the final decision will always rest with you. You will be the end user and you do have to find one that exactly suits your needs. If you are recovering from an injury, or suffering from back or serious joint problems, then neither of these are suitable. You should go for a recumbent style exercise bike.

If however you are used to spin bikes at classes, or are someone who wants a real life cycling type experience, then we would strongly suggest the spin bike. If however you still want a good workout, but want that to be more comfortable, then the upright style of exercise bike will be your best choice.​

The upright style of exercise bike also give you a lot more feedback on your performance. They are also usually a great deal easier to fold up and store away.​

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