Studio bikes buying guide
The idea of pedalling away in front of your own TV has certainly crossed the minds of so many of us. Looking to pick the best indoor cycle bike for your home gym but don’t know where to start? This guide will certainly help you make more informed decision and pick the best bike depending on your requirements.
What is a studio bike?
Thanks to cyclist and entrepreneur Johnny Goldberg, known as Johnny G, who introduced the world to the indoor cycling program back in mid-1980s, we can now enjoy the beauty of an intense and sweaty cardio experience.
A studio bike closely mimics real road cycling which allows the user to lean forward to a crouching position. Indoor cycling workouts also allows you to stand up as you train which maximizes the intensity of your workouts.
Studio bike breakdown
Are studio bikes a good workout?
If you’re serious about losing weight and getting fit, then a studio bike is a way to go. Indoor cycling bikes are well suited for highly effective HIIT workouts and is one of the most effective ways to burn calories and lose weight. Compared to other types of cardio equipment, indoor cycling bikes put minimal stress on your joints, hence you can still expect to burn anywhere between 400 – 600 calories if you push yourself in just a 40-minute class.
Studio bike vs upright bike and recumbent bike
We hear this question a lot: “what’s the difference between a studio bike and a standard indoor bike?”.
Upright bikes and recumbent bikes are well padded and are much more comfortable compared to studio bikes. The upright bike has a larger padded seat, and the handlebars are higher for an upright position when exercising. The recumbent bikes have back support and is a perfect option for people with back problems.
Indoor group cycles generally are not designed for comfort as you’ll maintain a biker’s posture throughout the cycling session but is a powerful calorie burner.
Commercial studio bike vs home use exercise bike
Commercial studio bikes are built from heavy duty materials that features durability and a longer lifespan. From adjustable seats and handlebars to digital displays and heavier flywheel mechanisms, commercial studio bikes have a lot to offer. Commercial indoor cycling bikes are built with exceptional stability, adjustment options as well as a very good resistance system. Overall, the price reflects the quality and value for your purchase.
With much lower flywheel and machine weight, home use indoor cycling bikes aren’t as stable and robust compared to commercial, gym grade exercise bikes. Stationary indoor cycles are less comfortable and comes with a shorter lifespan.
Which brings up the next question.
What is the price for an indoor cycling bike?
Indoor cycling does require financial investments and depending on your budget, indoor cycling bikes can range from £200 for a low-end home use indoor cycle to £3000 for a top-of-the-line commercial indoor exercise bike.
Ultimately, the price you pay for an indoor bike will affect the comfort and the quality of your workout.
What indoor cycling bikes are used in gyms?
You’ll find commercial grade cycling bikes in most gyms and training centres as they’re extremely durable and will withstand a heavy usage.
Top cycling bike features:
The quack factor is the horizontal distance between the inside points of the crank arms on your bike. The most popular indoor cycling bikes will have a Q factor of between 155mm for the road bikes and 175mm for mountain bikes. Q factor might affect your comfort and riding efficiency if you’re considering riding competitively.
Generally speaking, the lower the Q factor the closer the exercise bike will feel to a real road bike and allows the rider to apply more force to the pedals.
A flywheel is the heart of the group cycle bike. It’s the big mechanical disc sitting at the front or back of the bike and is connected to the pedals via belt drive or a chain drive. As you pedal the flywheel rotates through and creates resistance for you to work against.
The flywheel weight can range from approximately 14kg to 20kg. Generally speaking, the heavier cycle bikes flywheels replicate the smooth ride and mimic the feel of riding outside.
Indoor cycle bikes can either have magnetic resistance or friction resistance. The best cycle bikes are considered the ones with magnetic resistance. Compared to friction resistance, the bikes with magnetic resistance are quieter and require less maintenance.
Drive Train Mechanism
There are 2 types of drive used in studio bike to connect the pedals to the flywheel: belt drive or a chain drive.
A chain drive replicates a real road bike with chain links and has more noise than a belt drive as you hear the sound of the chain moving around the crank and flywheel.
A belt drive is a hard rubber band that produces less noise and is a perfect option if you don’t want to disturb the other members of your household.
The majority of commercial cycling bikes have dual sided SPD pedals which means on one side you have the normal platform design and toe cage fitting on the other to avoid the risk of slipping.
Not all cycle bikes come with consoles. The top end cycle bikes will come with a console displaying the key performance data, including speed, distance, time, calories, heart rate and much more. In many cases they will also have buttons on the display to choose a workout program.
Adjustable Seat Positioning
Saddle hight adjustments is the key to the rider’s comfort throughout the class.
If the saddle is too high the rider can lose a significant amount of leverage and if it’s too low the rider can experience knee pain.
Higher end cycle bikes will provide multiple seat adjustment options including saddle hight as well as fore/aft (forward or backward) movements.
Adjustable Handlebar Position
As with the correct saddle positioning, its important to make sure that the handlebar is set up correctly for a comfortable and injury free ride.
The handlebar height is set after the saddle height and commercial cycle bikes provide smooth and easy fore/aft adjustments. In other words, things to consider in regards to handlebars is whether the bike has fixed heights or provides free movement. Horizontal and vertical movements are important for taller riders and for riders with a lower body profile.
Water bottle holder
Many of the top model commercial cycle bikes have a double water bottle holder which is perfect for both water bottles as well as a perfect holder for your towels.
Transportation wheels are attached to the base of the bikes to allow easy and simple transportation in your home or commercial gyms. This feature is essential as the frame and flywheel pieces are heavy weighing approximately 50-55kg.
There are three main positions that most instructors will rotate through such as hand position, seated position and standing position.
Each of these positions will allow the rider to cycle through different positions to work different muscle groups.
Studio bikes are designed to withstand a heavy weight up to 150kg.
Best cycle bikes to use with Zwift and Peloton
Zwift brings cycling together and is one of the most popular indoor training apps amongst riders. No surprise here as being able to ride on your very own cycle bike from the comfort of your home along with thousands of other riders all over the world is incredibly exciting.
Compared to Zwift, Peloton app offers much more than just virtual cycling classes. Peloton digital platform offers a wide variety of workouts including HIIT, yoga, running and much more.
How to set up studio bike
Trust us, it can feel like torture if you don’t adjust your studio bike prior to your class. Adjusting your bike correctly will make a huge difference in the way you perform as well as how you feel. Comfort is really important because, if you haven’t fitted your bike properly, you’ll fatigue more quickly and put your joints and muscles under the stress.
Here’s a few tips and suggestions for adjusting your bike:
- Stand next to your bike and adjust the bike seat so the top is aligned with your hip bone
- Hop on the bike and checkout how much your knees bend on the pedal. The recommended bend in your knee should be between 5 and 35 degrees.
- Make sure your knees are aligned properly over your feet
- Adjust your handlebars so that you have a slight bend in your elbows when your hands are on the front of the handlebars.
Best indoor cycling bikes on a market
The flywheel weight and resistance levels are the most important factors to consider when looking for an indoor cycle bike.
Investing a little more money up front into a commercial bike will give you a solid and powerful bike that will stand the test of time and will enhance your workouts.