The Three Different Types Of Indoor Bikes

As winter advances, the savvy athlete has started coming up with a gameplan for their winter fitness. Many will be going with a gym membership, however, for the exceptionally time-crunched it makes sense to invest in a few pieces of home equipment.

the treadmill and the elliptical are two top contenders for home cardio, and we’ll talk about them in other posts.

However, for today I want to dive into a conversation about stationary bikes.

There are many options. Here’s what you need to know

Types of Bikes

Stationary Bike

This one is the most common. It typically offers “quiet” magnetic resistance with multiple levels. It also has a small, battery-driven, LCD screen.

Nicer ones have support for chest strap heart rate monitors.

The problem with these bikes is that the cheaper ones tend to be wobbly and can overheat. It is worth spending a little more money on a more extensive bike, especially if you plan on putting in longer workouts.

These bikes are excellent for any household and are ideal for steady state workouts while you watch the TV.

Spin Bike

This is a class of bike that looks a lot like typical race bikes. They have a large, weighted flywheel in either the front or the bike and use either magnetic or mechanical resistance.

These bikes are ideal for the hardcore athlete as they offer a road-equivalent workout. You can stand and pedal and sit and pedal and lean forward and pedal which lets you hit all of the same muscle groups you could hit when riding a real bike.

There are countless workout videos for sale for these machines, in case you want some added motivation.

Many of these do not come with screens, and the workout is measured based on perceived exertion and time.

This one is an excellent choice for the runner who wants a serious, yet the low-impact option as well as for the athlete who does a lot of biking in the “real world.”

The best spin bike is expensive, but there are many low-cost options available that can support riders of 250+ pounds or more. Dave has some good reviews on the current options.

Recumbent bike

It is very similar to the first option that I mentioned above, but the primary consideration is that this bike design puts your feet out in front of you.

The recumbent is designed for the senior athlete and those who appreciate a bike that is easier to get on and off of.

Due to their design, they do take up more space, but they also tend to be more stable.

These hit an entirely different set of muscles, so even if you are well-adapted to the stationary bike, you will appreciate the new challenge offered by this machine.

Top Considerations

Durability

Most of us make our first equipment purchase as an impulse buy. We’re browsing Wal-mart and go “damn, I didn’t know they sold workout equipment for under $100!”

Next thing you know, we are at home with this little box with like 2,000 screws, trying to get it put together.

We ride it once but it feels smaller than we expected and it seems weird to be perched on this little machine. Weirded out, we put it in the corner of the bedroom.

Ok, that’s how I handled mine.

When you spend more on a bike, you can get one with a larger base, and that offers more stability for those hardcore workouts.

But, then, you also need more space for it.

If you just want something that you can get on for 20 minutes, three times a week than these cheapo Walmart bikes will work just well.

Serious athletes need to spend serious coin… or get a gym membership.

Warranty Support

Especially in this age of online sales, there are a lot of importers peddling their cheap wares online without offering proper support.

At best, you end up with long hold times on the phone. At worst, you get email support that never responds or responds by shipping you a new box of parts some six weeks after you emailed them.

Be sure to read the reviews of other users online and try to find a brand that is responsive to their customers. Maybe even try calling their warranty phone number to see how long their support line wait is.

Ideally, if you can afford to buy from a local shop which also offers repair, you will be in the best situation as they can fix the problems as they arise and labor warranty might even be covered. It’s worth asking.

Keep in mind that warranties don’t transfer in the sale of the second-hand bike.s

There are countless options online and in local stores. It turns out that it doesn’t matter which one you buy. It matters that you use it.

And, you can always sell this one on Craiglist and upgrade next year. .

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Cycleops Phantom 1 Stationary Bike

Inside the cycling circles, Cycleops is one of the most well-known brand names.

They have a hard-earned reputation for creating some of the most reliable equipment in the industry and stand behind their creations with a robust warranty.

Most of their products have been cycling-specific. So they would offer a line of bike trainers that you could connect your bicycle to for an indoor workout. They are also one of the last companies to still create bike rollers for those athletes that want a realistic training experience indoors.

Recently, they have been crossing over into the more mainstream fitness offerings with their line of indoor stationary bikes.

The flywheel itself is 48 pounds which substitute well for recreating real world rolling resistance. It allows you to coast, and turn up the resistance for standing climbs. You can also sprint from a stop, for those leg burning speed drills.

These machines are only offered in high-end models. You could put any of their machines inside a gym, and they would have the durability to hold up to the daily grind of sweaty gym attendees.

Which means they’ll hold up quite well to your daily workout grind.

The Phantom series has a rear-mounted flywheel. This offers a more realistic ride than front-mounted flywheels and also moves all of those critical moving parts out of your “sweat zone.”

The idea with this design is that these bikes will last longer.

The one downside with this model, compared to the other Phantom models, is that it lacks all of your workout tracking abilities. Even with the Phantom 3, you can have their Patented PowerTap wattage measurement system that hones in your workout (especially when combined with a heart rate monitor.)

However, if you do go with the optional upgrade kit, it will give you the Joule 2.0 computer and a heart rate strap for displaying your heart rate, speed, and cadence — critical measurements for tracking your workout at home, in my opinion.

The Joule 2.0 gives you a large screen display with two large buttons, making it easy to navigate even during the sweatiest part of your workout.

The joystick also lets you select the screen setting you need. It takes a little finagling to work with, but becomes intuitive on the 3rd or 4th ride.

It is a low power device and gives you about 60 hours of run time.

Many folks will want to upgrade to one of the models with more features. The ANT+ can also allow integration with many other Bluetooth devices that to create cross-platform integration with devices like Garmin and Suunto.

Many devices are of such poor quality that they shake and are unpleasant to use as part of a daily workout. You find yourself limiting your workouts simply because of the machine creaks and shimmies.

With the Phantom 1, you get a model that is designed for the intermediate to an advanced athlete in mind. Even if you prefer running or are a swimmer, this is a cardio option that can transform your winter from dreariness to beauty.

Initial reports are very positive on this machine with it being favored by road-dedicated athletes who want an off-season bike. We are also starting to see a few gyms pick them up, however at this price point; most gyms go for a front-mounted flywheel to save money.

They had some earlier models like the 100 and the 400 pros. This one is designed to address some of the earlier complaints in a similar rear-mounted flywheel package.

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YBL Nordictrack GX 2.5 Sport Exercise Review

The Nordic track might be one of the most popular brands in all of the fitness industry. Gyms and households around the globe fight over their products.

One of the things that sets these guys apart is their innovative creation of new products. While everyone else is fighting over stairclimbers and treadmills, these guys will combine them both into one machine and add skating bars to it for good measure.

There no “inside the box” when it comes to Nordic Track; just new ways to challenge your body.

If you aren’t getting enough of a workout on your current machine, then you need to check out these other options.

Most of the market is fighting over how to make the best indoor cycling bike and arguing over whether it is best to have the flywheel in the front or the back.

NordicTrack isn’t worried about all of that. They have built a stationary bicycle and mounted a computer on it. You have unlimited adjustability so you can get the ideal fit. Beyond that, don’t expect any bells and whistles.

And they provide it all for a very affordable price.

The computer measures speed, distance, time and how many calories were burned.

I like these models because they are good for both long-distance workouts, as well as for shorter, more intense workouts.

Their model versions have a lot of overlap, so you might not be purchasing this exact model, but pretty much any model you go with will be excellent. I have yet to meet a Nordic Track product that I don’t find to be valuable.

These cycles can help you burn up to 600 calories (some people would advertise as much as 900!) per hour. So for the serious fitness aficionado or dedicated weight loss effort, this is a solid bike to add to your home gym.

The next level is their Grand tour series. They manage to create a workout bike for much less than the competition. It has an adjustable tablet holder and all of the electronic workout tracking that you would expect from a top of the line machine.

Expect to spend a lot more money on the Grand Tour version.

An unexpected feature of this bike is the wide range of resistance adjustment. You can set this up for super-easy spinning, or crank it down so tight that it is almost impossible to pedal when standing up.

Whether you want to work on your long distance endurance, build a faster sprint, or increase your power on the climbs, this bicycle has everything that you need.

The most important thing is picking a bike that will hold up to your workout. You need to be motivated to ride the bike, and if yours is constantly breaking down, it can hamper your desire to ride consistently.

Many of us are tight on space when it comes to storing our workout equipment. This one has wheels on the front so you can easily move it from room to room. The flywheel is 45 pounds, but, because of the small wheels under it, you only need to lift about 20 pounds to move the entire bike.

A five-year warranty backs everything. The 90-day parts warranty is a little lightweight, in my opinion, but it is a better brand than most, so the chance that you will need repairs is probably less than the competition.

You are limited to 205 pounds maximum user weight on this one, so if you weigh more than that, you might want to upgrade to a stronger bike for safety reasons (although, I , personally might risk it).

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Restoring A Vintage Schwinn Airdyne Exercise Bike

Every one of us had a Grandma with an old exercise bike sitting in the corner of her sewing room. If your Grandma was like my grandma, you never were allowed on it, but you’d still try to mess with it when she wasn’t looking.

Now, as the years catch up with you, you are wondering where you can find a cheap, well-built exercise bike and you start checking craigslist. Sure enough, there is one of those tanks available for $40. It’s as strong and sturdy as the day Grandma had it (turned out they liked to buy exercise equipment that they never use — just like us!)

We also see a resurgence of popularity for these machines among the Crossfit community. Unlike your standard spin bike, these also offer an upper body workout through the handles.

The neat thing about these machines is that they are chain driven and made from mostly metal parts. You can often find replacement parts online, so even if something happens to wear out, you can replace it. However, the all-metal construction makes them durable against decades of abuse.

These are going to be noisy machines. Not that you care, you are here to do battle with the flesh and its desire for donuts. But the wind resistance from the blade means that you won’t be able to hear your thoughts. So you might have to take up a meditative practice as well.

These older machines were built under the Schwinn name before they went bankrupt and sold their brand to the lowest bidder (who then, resold it, I believe). Schwinn stuff tended to weigh more since they were going for durability and longevity at a low price. The good news is, it’ll hold its own in a tornado and if you put one on each corner, it could probably secure a single-wide mobile home.

If you get one, the first thing you want to do is take it apart and check the chain. It could probably use a good degreasing and a light regreasing with some lightweight sewing machine type oil.

The cables that control the tension often get cracked and corroded and can be replaced for about $2 a foot if you measure how much you need and stop by your local bike shop. Pay attention tot he “knob” shape on the end of the cable as that matters when replacing it.

The downside is that it may be impossible to replace the speedometer system. So, if that goes, you probably will just want to strip it off. That doesn’t change the workout quality of the bike — you can always wear a stopwatch — but it does interfere with your ability to track workout distance.

While these older Airdynes look much like the newer ones, I believe that you are purchasing a better quality bike than you can get today (unless you spend close to $1,000).

So next time you are at a garage sale, don’t turn up your nose at the vintage gold color. Dust that suckers off and drags it to your home gym!

The key thing is to not over lube the chain. Use some WD-40 or brake cleaner and a toothbrush to get all of the old grease off, and then use a wax-based lube to relube it (after thoroughly drying off the old cleaning solution.

 

 

 

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Schwinn Airdyne AD3 Review – Should You Get The AD4 Instead?

What I hate about this bike is that when you search for the Schwinn Airdyne AD3, the results that come up are a list of part supplies and youtube videos on how to repair one.

That’s concerning since the Google algorithm is focused on providing customers with the best possible results for their answers.

I’m not finding any AD3’s for sale, either. It is apparently very similar to the AD4 (still available to purchase) since they both use the same owner’s manual.

If I were guessing, I’d say that the AD4 was a slightly better model and the AD3 was just provided so they could sell something at a lower price point through select box stores.

The biggest observable difference between the AD3 and the AD4 was that the AD3 had an analog display console while the AD4 used a digital one.

That is pretty common in this industry. A company like Sears will have a big brand cut a few corners and give them something they can sell that is just a little lower quality, but that looks like — and on paper it has — all of the same features.

This fitness bike does not look to be as well constructed as many of the hardcore CrossFit machines that are currently popular. So if you are a buff dude, go easy on this guy, ok? The linkages look thinner, and it appears that the arms might not hold up as well.

However, it is likely going to weigh less and, and for the stay at home mom or nerd, this could provide a decent device for a daily, low-level workout.

Really, I like the digital display, but if you run across an AD3 and can get it for a good deal, I can’t think of a reason to not do that. The only downside is that if the analog speedometer breaks, it might be harder to repair, where with the digital system it should pretty much keep working so long as you feed it new batteries regularly.

Keep in mind that even though the Schwinn name has been around for decades, they are an entirely new company today than they used to be. So I wouldn’t over pay for one of these. But you might be able to find one used and that would likely be well worth it.

If you are serious about your sport, I would upgrade to the Schwinn AD6

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Losing Weight With A Stationary Bike

I am a big fan of using a stationary bike for weight loss. It has very little impact on the joints and can be done by people in almost any physical shape.

Plus, it is a workout that is done in a seated position, so for those of us who do desk work and have tight, short muscles, this workout allows our body to burn categories in the position that is most beneficial for our current state.

(In case you were unaware, the body tends to shorten muscles when you sit for too long. This can cause all sorts of injuries if you start a too aggressive exercise routine.)

On this video, there is a pretty inspiring weight loss story about the weight loss that a girl experienced through 8 weeks of cycling around Thailand. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlewUldqiAY

She started off by cycling about 220k per week and then scaled it up from there, cycling over 380 km on some weeks.

The body transformation is nothing short of amazing.

It might be harder to replicate the same workout on an indoor bicycle since you won’t have the motivation of riding around to new locations.

To give you some idea, you would likely need to ride for 3 hours per day to achieve her dramatic weight loss.

Keep in mind that in Thailand, fast food is hard to find. You eat much more rice and fruit and fresh vegetables. Undoubtedly these dietary changes are essential if you want rapid weight loss.

Of course, you don’t need expensive equipment to start your weight loss journey. You can grab something from a garage sale or a used fitness equipment place.

Also, keep in mind that regular fitness is just one part of the equation.

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Schwinn AD6 Review: Will It Work For CrossFitters?

With the advent of Crossfit, there is increased interest in these wind-powered workout bikes.

Crossfit is one of the most hardcore workouts systems that rely on using a huge volume of high-intensity reps to transform the body and increase endurance.

This means your workout equipment needs to be more robust than normal to withstand the intensity.

There is a new need for highly-durable cardio options at a budget price. And a fun subculture of bloggers who test this equipment to the limit.

The Schwinn Ad6 is one of those that consistently gets good reviews in these test. Sure, it may not be the favorite option, but, for the money, it has garnered quite a following.

The Ad6 is just what you are looking for when it comes to burning calories. The air resistance provides a more difficult workout than most other stationary bikes. The fact that it uses air instead of a magnet also means that you have fewer parts that you can break and the bike will withstand longer workout sessions without overheating.

The Air resistance is also a more natural resistance level where it increases the faster you go. This means that you aren’t at risk of overstressing your joints with a needless tough resistance level like you can end up doing on other units.

Comfort is important on these machines, especially since so many of us are hoping to use it to lose weight. This tool has a large padded seat and allows for an upright posture so even those who suffer from back pain can use it.

You also have the advantage of being able to watch TV or use the optional reading rack upgrade that can hold your book or Ipad while you workout.

The critical thing about this bike is that it is both an upper body and a lower body workout. This means that you are burning more calories and getting a complete endurance training, more so than if you were just riding a regular stationary bicycle.

The LCD screen is a major selling feature for many people. It displays your RPMs, Wattage, and Speed, so you can be motivated to keep your effort high.

The AD6 also integrates with Polar compatible chest straps which gives you a hands-free readout of your effort. Heart rate monitoring is one of the oldest and most effective ways to keep track of your effort, and this machine takes your workout to the next level by making it easy to read, even during the most intense effort.

The downside with the AD6 is that it does not have the robust build quality of some of the stronger machines. This is not a gym-quality machine, and if you are an intermediate level athlete or better, you will likely notice this drawback.

Customers have complained about issues with the quality of the assembly where parts were broken or misaligned, and the consumer had to disassemble the parts and rebuild the bike. In some cases, they had to submit a warranty request.

The upside is that you do get a 15-year warranty on the frame and three years on the parts which are better than many companies which only offer one year on the parts.

Now, even though you are getting new parts under warranty, the labor is extra, and, as you can see, for many folks, it can be hard getting the correct parts, especially if there are more internal repairs that need to be repaired.

As you can see from this video, some of these parts are very hard to remove. And sometimes you have several moments of going back and forth in trying to get the correct parts, and sometimes the repair parts cause more problems than what you had before you start.

(also note the lost arm. Bearings failing at this point is one of my most significant concerns with this bicycle as it would create an annoying “clunk.”)

The advanced athlete will likely find the Ad6 to be lacking in performance. But for the beginner and intermediate athlete, they are a good choice for most households.

To demonstrate what I mean, here is a youtube of a skinny Crossfitter (don’t punch me!) going all out on the AD6 for 5 minutes. It holds up pretty well, but you still see a tiny bit of flex in the base of the handlebars, and even with the handlebars fully raised, he has to lean forward to get a good grip on them, which is not ideal from an ergonomic standpoint.

So it could work as a daily machine for the crossfitter to use at home, but probably wouldn’t be ideal for a gym or a household of crossfitters.

Finding a reliable stationary bike for cross training is challenging when you are on a budget. Schwinn does a good job delivering a lot of value for the budget-conscious household, but those households who are serious about getting in shape need to seriously consider if they should increase their budget.

 

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