10 Features to Consider When Buying Spin Bike
When shopping for an exercise bike, there are some features you should look out for. If these features are up to par, your workout sessions will be effective, productive, and pleasurable. But if these features are lacking, you know the rest! Check out these 10 important features that are critical to cycling workouts.
1. Resistance Type and Settings
Spin bikes come with different resistance types and settings. So the resistance system on one model may differ from another. Generally, there are three primary types of resistance on a bike; contact or friction resistance, air resistance, and magnetic resistance. Contact resistance leverages leather or felt pads to deliver pressure to the flywheel. Air resistance uses fan blades, while magnetic resistance employs magnets.
Contact resistance tends to be noisy but produces powerful resistance. It also needs regular bike maintenance and is prone to wear and tear. Air resistance generates strong resistance that increases and decreases with user effort. It also produces some noise. Magnetic resistance, on the other hand, generates little to no noise. Plus, it is the smoothest of the trio and a popular choice among fitness enthusiasts.
Resistance type aside, exercise bikes also integrate different resistance levels that can be controlled manually or digitally. Low-budget exercise bikes tend to use friction resistance with few resistance levels. While mid-level to high-end models come with magnetic resistance and digitally-controlled resistance levels. So if you want a high-quality exercise bike with powerful resistance, you should consider mid-level to top-of-the-range models. However, a few low-budget exercise bikes may also integrate high-quality resistance and good driven system.
2. Flywheel Weight
The word out there is that exercise bikes with a bigger flywheel are way better than smaller ones. While heavier flywheels excel at replicating the feel of an outdoor bike, lighter flywheels are just as good. Professional athletes looking for a challenge may prefer an exercise bike with a heavy flywheel, but the average exerciser does not need the extra “adrenaline rush.”
Plus, workout intensity does not wholly depend on spin bike flywheel weight but applied resistance. You should also note that an exercise bike with a heavy flywheel comes at an extra cost because of the additional materials used in manufacturing the flywheel. Additionally, a heavier flywheel translates to a heavier weight, which means moving or transporting the bike will be burdensome.
The drawbacks aside, heavier flywheels provide more stability for the bike. This is especially true for users who work out at a fast pace and cadence. Whether heavy or light, the best flywheel is one that works in tandem with a quality resistance system to help exercisers improve their strength and endurance profile.
3. Seat and Handlebar Adjustability
A good-quality exercise bike comes with a comfortable seat and handlebar adjustability settings. The seat and handlebars should adjust vertically and/or horizontally for ergonomic reasons. If a bike lacks these settings, your posture and comfort will suffer, which will tell negatively on your performance outcome.
Because exercise bikes aren’t designed or constructed as one-size-fits-all equipment, the integrated adjustability settings help users find a position that best suits their frame. When a bike conforms to your body specifications, you won’t have knee, joint, and spine issues.
A well-adjusted handlebar also ensures that you maintain a body and workout-friendly grip. So when buying an exercise bike, you should opt for a model with seat and handlebar adjustability settings.
4. Multi-Grip Handlebars
Exercise bike handlebars feature different shapes and sizes. The handlebar design on one brand may not mirror that of another brand. Besides the shape and configuration of the handlebars, the hand positions associated with handlebars are different as well.
While this peculiar design might seem inconsequential, it is critical to performance efficacy. Your hand position may change depending on the workout you do. And as your position changes, so do your body.
The sudden changes may affect your body’s positioning, leading to pain and discomfort. Thus, it is best to purchase an exercise bike that offers multiple-grip positions to avoid pain, injury, and discomfort.
5. Workout Monitoring
The importance of an exercise bike with a workout function cannot be overemphasized! A workout monitor with performance tracking variables can enhance performance and help you reach your goals faster.
Fortunately, most exercise bikes come with a monitor that tracks performance statistics like time, distance, calorie consumption, cadence, and pulse. However, the monitors on high-end exercise bikes tend to be more advanced. They may offer other tracking functions like watts, gears, speed, pulse rate, intensity, and cadence.
Those on entry-level models, on the other hand, tend to be basic. By tracking your performance, you can determine your strengths and weaknesses and strive for improvement. Aside from Peloton, there are some great Peloton bike alternatives come with excellent monitors that will keep you going for hours on the bike.
6. Heart Rate Monitoring
Whether your primary goal is to improve cardiovascular health or not, it is wise to keep tabs on your heart rate when cycling. To strengthen your cardiovascular system, perform 30+ minutes of exercise based on 40 percent to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate.
To improve strength and endurance, maintain a heart rate between 70 percent and 85 percent while performing long rides. And if you’d like to increase your maximum power output, maintain a heart rate higher than 85 percent for short intervals.
However, you can’t figure out your heart rate zone without a heart rate monitor. Hence, you should consider exercise bikes with integrated pulse sensors that transmit heart rate readings to the bike’s monitor or connect with wireless chest straps so you can see your HR on the bike monitor.
7. Weight Capacity
The last thing you want is to purchase an exercise bike that is poorly suited to your frame and size! To avoid potential injury, accidents, and damage to the bike itself, you should steer clear of exercise bikes whose weight limit is lower than your weight.
Yes, virtually all exercise bikes come with weight specifications. So it is best to check this specification before ordering or buying an exercise bike. Don’t try to take chances or make assumptions; only choose a bike that meets your weight requirements.
8. Spin Bike Q-factor
The Q-factor of an exercise bike is the distance between the internal points of its crank arms. The wrong Q-factor measurement can limit your cycling efficiency. There are four main types of Q-factor measurement; 110mm-140mm ( Too narrow), 140mm-170mm (Narrow Q-factor), 170mm-210mm ( Wide ) and 210mm above ( Extremely Wide). However, a narrow Q-factor range is considered the best for leg positioning and power transmission.
But taller individuals or those with very wide hips may find a wide Q-factor more comfortable than any. In contrast, too narrow and extremely wide Q-factor measurements are entirely uncomfortable and may not be the best fit for anyone. While looking at this, also check to see the spin bike has dual sided pedals.
9. Bottle Holder
Workout hydration is important for optimum and refreshing performance. Thus, it is critical to have water, beverage, or any liquid of choice at hand when working out. With this in mind, more and more manufacturers are designing and producing exercise bikes with bottle holders.
A bottle holder is a small but mighty accessory that is not only convenient but beneficial to health. Without a holder, you may have to halt your bike mid-workout to get a drink when thirsty. Plus, you’d be more motivated to stay hydrated when your bottle is staring you in the face! Although it’s pretty common to find bottle holders on spin bikes, the trick is to find those that have built-in bottle holders on the handlebars because they are more convenient and easier to reach.
10. Device Holder
There’s nothing as convenient as having a place to keep your mobile device when exercising. You may need to use your device for entertainment or work correspondence, so it would be nice to have it with you while working out.
The good news is that most exercise bikes now come with device holders so you can keep your phones, tablets, and other devices handy. With a device holder, you can stream workout videos, music and catch up with your social media channels easily.