Outdoor Cycling Vs. Indoor Cycling – By Semi-Professional Road Cyclist and Spin Instructor

We have come a long way, and cycling will probably never be the same again, in my opinion. Though as a semi-professional cyclist who is also a spin instructor, I am often asked what’s better cycling indoors or outdoors?

Cycling has changed in recent years and very much so for the better. We have seen things that, ten years ago, we never would have expected. Peloton hit our homes a few years ago and changed cycling forever. Gym memberships were stopping, and people now started to work out from home. It became a vast community that still continually grows. As a spinning instructor myself, I even saw some of my regulars change to working out at home because of this.

That’s not all though, I will never forget the day the first professional Zwift race happened, and it changed everyone’s thoughts on how they should be riding. You people were getting professional cycling contracts, and they weren’t even leaving their house. Professional cyclists are now not all made on the road, which is exciting for cycling enthusiasts worldwide.


Let’s Take a Look at Cycling Indoors Pros and Cons

Pros

1. Safety

The Roads are getting much busier and the more people that occupy the world, the more cars we see on the roads, the longer it will take to get to our destinations and more accidents we will see. As cyclists on the streets, we are not as well protected, and this will always be something that I feel will challenge us in the future. Also, when it comes to riding outside, it does take a certain level of bike handling to make sure that you are riding safely and handling the bike correctly to stay upright. Indoors these are not issues, no checking over your shoulders, no overshooting a corner. It does let you just switch your brain off and spin away.

2. Time Efficient

Cycling indoors is much more time-efficient when it comes to getting ready. Get dressed and literally turn the TV on, jump on the bike, and you’re off. When it comes to riding outside, it’s an entirely different story. Get up, check the weather, pick the suitable kit, prep the bike, do your safety checks, grab food and water, plan a rough route, and off you go. After you’re done, you need to clean your bike and then lock it all away. If you are looking for a quick workout, indoors is a much simpler way to go.

3. Weather

Training indoors is a much better idea in bad weather, and it’s nice to be away from the elements and to be able to focus on your training, not staying warm. You also have more control over your surrounding when cycling indoor compared to cycling outdoor.

4. Structured Training

Most indoor bikes and turbo trainers setup provides you with a lot of data. Power, Cadence, Calories, and Heart rate are much easier to focus on when you’re not looking at the roads. This, although it might not seem like much in an interval session, it makes a huge difference to be able to focus on exactly when to be on the power and when not to be. Also, when it comes to warm-ups and cool-downs, it’s much easier to be efficient.

5. Less maintenance

When it comes to repairs and maintenance, spin bikes require a lot less than bikes used on the roads. Even when it comes to turbo trainers, a lot less wear will go on the bike than it would be if it was out on the street.

6. Constant Pedalling

I have always found riding indoor bikes much harder as the work is constant, unlike out on the roads where you have the option to freewheel down a hill you don’t indoors, you’re having to constantly work to keep the bike going. For me, I always found I got a lot more calories out of my workout than I would do outside. Make sure to follow these indoor cycling tips to enjoy more your indoor exercise.

Cons

1. Price

A decent magnetic resistance indoor bike can cost a lot of money. The NordicTrack S22i isn’t cheap, but it does offer a lot of value for money. Even when it comes to turbo trainers, your bike on a high-end trainer will be up to $2000. Plus, indoor riding often involves online live class subscription with comes with hefty price tag.

2. Noise

Although spinning bikes and turbo trainers are much better than they used to be, they are naturally very noisy and can vibrate a room. Although you might not mind your neighbor, you might not feel the same.


Let’s Take a Look at Cycling Outdoors

Pros

1. Adventure

The sense of adventure of going outdoors is fantastic, and nothing else compares. The wind in your hair, the ever-changing seasons it’s entirely unlike anything else. Every ride will be different, and that’s something that will keep you going back out all the time.

2. Social

Joining a cycling club was a big thing for me. I got to meet loads of people in my local community, and I became social. I tried loads of different styles of cycling and had so much fun. Although the indoor has an element of community, it’s not like being outside with people and being part of a group.

3. Price

Cycling outdoor is much cheaper as you can just buy a basic bike, and you’re ready to go. I found although bikes can cost a lot, there are deals to be found everywhere and to get out on the road. It can be done for less than $200. You can spend a lot more to improve the experience but to get started costs very little.

4. Enjoyment

I find cycling outdoor much more fun. There is much more to see and many more people to meet. I also find that time passes much quicker, and it’s easier not to be focused on the workout time or the calories burnt.

Cons

1. Bad Weather

Outdoors are a lot harder to avoid the bad weather, which makes cycling outdoors much harder because it can’t be done every day.

2. Time

Preparation for workouts and getting the bike ready takes much longer than if you were riding indoors.


The Final Note

I tend to do short workouts on my turbo trainer at home and more extended activities on my bike when I have more time. I feel I get excellent structured training from the indoor workouts as I can make them more intense and add lots of structure, such as doing intervals. Outdoor activities I quite like to be my longer workouts. I can go on an adventure, they are not as intense as the indoor workouts, and they are much more social as it lighter base miles for me. Personally, as a lover of both indoor and outdoor cycling, I believe that whatever people do will improve your health and has a considerable amount of other benefits, so indoor or outdoor, whatever it may be, it’s worth doing.

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