Whether you are just starting your fitness journey, or are an ultra-endurance athlete, there are some definite advantages to including a stationary bicycle in your regium. Most people are quite well aware of the cardiovascular advantages to cycling, but using a bike actually uses a lot more muscles that you may first imagine and can be an excellent form of strength training.
Are Indoor Bikes Better Than Outdoor?
This is one of the big questions that get asked when people are looking at introducing themselves to the world of cycling, and ultimately the answer is always going to be “it depends”. Generally, you will find that an indoor bike will cost you more than one you can take on the road, at least at the entry level price point, but there are definite advantages and disadvantages to both systems and your preference will come down to what you needs and motivations are.
When you start looking at your options, check out different reviews and read the information from places like this website to work out what will be best for you. With outdoor cycling you have the option of joining a group, getting fresh air, of seeing more of your city, and having a distance goal that could end at a café.
However, with indoor options, you need less motivation, you can be in your PJs and just hop on and go, the weather makes no difference to your desire to get moving, and you never have to worry about being the last in the group or having people waiting for you.
Of course, you can always get both, and get the advantages.
What To Look For As A Beginner?
Your first thing to check will depend on your weight. Many machines do have a weight restriction, with cheap models cutting out at around 175lb (80kg), while midrange machines might go to 330lb (150kg). For pregnant women, remember you may not be your normal weight and although the bike was perfect for you a few months ago, it might be in your best interests to stick with swimming for a bit.
One of the reasons to read reviews if you can’t physically test the bike yourself is to find out how easy it is to get on and off of it. This is particularly important if you are unsteady on your feet or have any form of mobility issues. You do find bikes that have a bar to climb over, have pedals that seem to high or seats that are in the wrong place.
Many stationary cycles are relatively adjustable, allowing you to move your seat up and down as well as closer or further away from your handlebars, many will also have adjustable handlebars which makes for a much more pleasurable exercise experience. However, this is not an option for all machines, so check. If you are a perfectly average size you shouldn’t strike any difficulties, but if you are particularly tall or particularly short you may find that some are better suited for you, and others should be totally avoided.
Electronic Or Manual?
This is partially a personal preference thing, and partially a location thing. If you want the freedom to put your new piece of exercise equipment anywhere you want without needing to run an extension cord from one end of the house to the other, you will likely prefer a manual bike. However, if you want something that will offer preprogrammed options that see you racing up hills then electronic is the way to go. Most have an electronic display that will keep track of how far you have gone and how long it is taken you, and many will also give an estimated calories burned or other similar information.
With a manual option you are normally going to be able to easily adjust the resistance level simply by turning a knob, usually found just under the handlebars. With an electronic option you will find that you either have to preset a program or if you are going freestyle will have a button that can increase or decrease your resistance level on the fly.
Although there is the idea that biking inside will save you from roadside pollution, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal in it (see here), but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a really good indoor experience anyway. One of the great ideas for fitness is to use an app or a YouTube video that can help keep you motivated and moving. There are a range of different online spin classes or biking aps that can help you enjoy your ride, but you need to make sure that you are either near a TV, or that your bike has a place to hold your tablet. Most modern ones do, but not all, and not all will hold them securely.
Another really nice to have option is a water bottle holder. Ok, if you are only planning on hoping on for a quick 10 minute spin on your way to the shower then it may not be such a concern, but if you are going to go for a 30 minute spin ‘class’ or a 55minute ride through some lovely forest track, then you will need to sip on your water as you go. Ideally, you don’t want your water bottle holder to be in close proximity to your tablet holder, water and tablets do not mix well.
What you do not want is to have a food stuck in a bike pedal or to slip off, and still have the bike keep going. Electronic bikes should all have an emergency stop button or a magnetic key that means if you slip off the machine will immediately stop.
While checking out the reviews, have a quick scan through to see how many people have grazed their ankles, poorly made cycles seem to have pedals that are just that fraction to close to the bike.
You also want to have pedals that are going to allow you to keep a good grip, particularly if you are planning on doing spin style runs where you stand up and pedal. This doesn’t just mean having a strap to slip your foot into, but also having decent pedals with actual grip.