Spinning Bike Vs Exercise Bike: A Comparison Guide, Plus Advice on Which Model Is Best

Do you have trouble trying to choose between a spinning bike vs exercise bike every time you go to the gym? Which one is best?

While a spin bike is best for those who want to lose weight fast and build muscle, the exercise bike offers a more leisurely workout. 

In this article, Ii’ll educate you on which bike is best for most types of situations. By the end of this article, you will know what bike will suit your needs best.

Key Takeaways

  • Spin bikes are more expensive, durable, challenging and versatile than exercise bikes. They have a heavy flywheel that allows riders to stand and lean forward while cycling.
  • Exercise bikes are more affordable, comfortable, and easier to use than spin bikes. They have a lighter flywheel that stops when the rider stops pedaling.
  • Spin bikes are better for those who want intensive workouts, full-body muscle engagement, higher calorie burn and faster weight loss.
  • Exercise bikes are better for those who want leisurely workouts, lower body muscle engagement, lower injury risk and general fitness.

Spinning Bikes Explained

A spin bike is a specific type of upright exercise bike. These models have features that are similar to road bikes, like the seat, handlebars and heavier flywheel. Because of these features, spin bikes feel similar to riding a road bike. Furthermore, due to the heavy flywheel, riders have to exert more force with every pedal stroke.

Most spin bikes tend to utilize magnetic resistance, or friction resistance. Friction resistance uses rubber or felt pads to resist motion by pressing on the bike’s flywheel. The magnetic resistance system has specific resistance levels that are similar to upright exercise bikes.

Pros and Cons of Spinning Bikes

Spin bikes are great for intense workouts and for improving your cardiovascular fitness level. To help you decide if this bike is the best choice, take a look at a few pros and cons. 

  • Feels similar to riding a road bike
  • Offers a more intense and effective workout 
  • Has a wider range of resistance levels 
  • Works best for HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts
  • Does not offer workout statistics 
  • Riding position can be uncomfortable

Bottom line: Ultimately, the spin bike is best for those who want intensive workouts. If you have your own way of tracking workout statistics, like a Fitbit or apple watch, then the spin bike will be a good choice.

Exercise Bikes Explained

Exercise bikes, also called stationary bikes, are another type of upright bike that offers many of the same functions a spin bike does. However, there are a few key differences between the two. While you can cycle on both, exercise bikes offer a lower-intensity and more comfortable workout. 

The main difference between exercise bikes and other models is that these machines typically come with a screen console. The console offers many great features, including pre-programmed workouts, virtual cycling paths and exercise statistics. 

When it comes to resistance levels, you’ll typically be able to change this on the bike console or with external buttons. 

Pros and Cons of Exercise Bikes

Many people love stationary bikes as they have enough features to act as their own personal trainer (but in bike form). Let’s take a look at a few pros and cons to see if this bike is a good option for you to train indoors with. 

  • Easy to use
  • Usually comes with a touch-screen console
  • Has pre-programmed workouts 
  • Generates workout statistics
  • Has a lower range of resistance levels
  • You are limited to sitting on this machine

Bottom line: Normal upright exercise bikes are best for those who want moderate workout sessions and don’t need the added intensity of a spin bike. These machines are good for riders who want to hop on and have everything they need for a good workout.

A Comparison of Spin Bikes and Exercise Bikes

Now that you know what spin and exercise bikes are, and their respective positives and negatives, it’s time to look at some key differences between them. This section will compare these models in various areas, such as price, ease of use, comfort, and more. 

By the end of this section, you will have a better idea of what indoor bike is best for you. Let’s get into it. 


Feel free to skip this section if you plan to use these bikes at your local gym, and don’t intend on purchasing one. However, it could be good to know how the prices differ, and worth noting that many people buy indoor stationary bikes because they prefer a home gym.

When it comes to price, spin bikes are typically more expensive than standard stationary exercise bikes. Even though they tend to have fewer gadgets than exercise bikes, the quality is what dictates the price. Spin bikes are usually much more durable, made of higher-quality material and require less maintenance. 

When it comes to an exercise bike, what lacks in durability is made up for by added features. You can arguably get more bang for your buck as most stationary bikes will come with a touch screen and basic workout data and have plenty of ways to personalize your experience. 

You can easily find exercise bikes under $500, but most will range from $250 to $2500. The average price of a spin bike will be $500 to $2500. 

Ease of Use

Ultimately, both machines are easy to use. All you have to do is hop on and start riding. However, unlike exercise bikes, the heavy flywheel of spin bikes will cause the pedals to keep moving even if you stop pedaling. 

If there’s enough force, the pedals will continue to spin. To stop on a spin bike, you will usually need to decelerate slowly instead of coming to an abrupt stop. When it comes to most stationary bikes, the pedals remain stationary, making them a bit easier to use. 

Furthermore, your typical exercise bike is much lighter than other models. Depending on the model, you can easily move this around the room or even fold it to store it.

Finally, when it comes to changing resistance levels, you’ll find it’s much easier to do so on stationary bikes. That’s because, as I mentioned above, you simply have to tap the screen to change the levels. (However, some stationary bike models will come with a knob.)

Spin bikes typically have a knob that you will need to adjust manually. This knob will either be near the handlebars or lower on the frame, sometimes making it difficult to adjust resistance levels mid-workout.  

Due to these factors, the exercise bike may be easier to use. 


Typically, stationary bikes will have comfier seats and will feel more like a traditional bike. 

Exercise bikes also come with a wider selection of seat choices, much like you would find with a regular bike, compared to spin bikes. Some models will have a backrest, while others won’t. Furthermore, the seats on stationary bikes are typically wider and come in various shapes and sizes. Ultimately, you can pick the bike seat that is most comfortable for you.

Spin bikes, on the other hand, tend to have one type of seat, which is more narrow and hard. Spin bike seats tend to resemble seats on road racing bikes. 

When considering comfort, it is also important to consider the riding position. Your position on the upright exercise bike will be, like the name says, upright. The ideal body position on a spin bike may feel uncomfortable to those not used to race cycling, since it requires leaning forward to achieve an optimal grip on the handlebars. 

Since the goal of most spin classes is intensive workouts, efficiency trumps comfort. With that in mind, the exercise bike is the winner in this category. 

clunking noise when pedaling exercise bike featured

Type of Primary Workout

When it comes to the spin bike vs exercise bike, knowing the type of workout these indoor bikes are meant for will help you decide which one to use, depending on your fitness goals.

Most people use stationary bikes for basic cardio and leisurely, moderate workouts that help to gain muscle and lose weight. On the other hand, spin bikes offer a difficult, full-body workout. Many riders prefer this machine for HIIT workouts and intense training sessions.

Variability of Workout

Most exercise bikes are limited when it comes to the variability of your workout. You can exercise in only one sitting position on a stationary bike. On the other hand, there are two ways you can exercise while spinning, including sitting and standing. 

Spin bikes allow you to stand while cycling, giving you a more intense and versatile workout. You can also sit and lean forward, which is the basic position. 

If you’ve ever gone to a spin class, you have probably seen all the different types of moves you can do while standing and cycling. If one thing is for sure, it’s that you will never get bored while spinning. 

If you want to have some fun when working out and change it up every now and then, spin bikes are your best bet. 

Difficulty of Workout 

Even though both models will help improve your cardiovascular fitness, you will ultimately burn calories at a much higher rate while spinning. 

First of all, most spin bike workouts incorporate HIIT exercises since they are regarded as highly efficient workouts. This type of training is one of the best spinning bike exercises, as it offers a killer workout.

Furthermore, many spinning workouts incorporate hill climbs, requiring the rider to stand up and really work their muscles. This full-body technique requires a lot of effort.

On the other hand, most exercise bikes are best for moderate, more leisurely workouts. While you can crank up the resistance level to increase the challenge, most upright bikes don’t give as much of a challenge and have fewer levels to choose from. 

When it comes to the standard upright bike vs spin bike, you will quickly discover that spin bikes offer a much more difficult workout. 

Muscles Worked

While both of these indoor cycling machines will work different muscles, the spin bike ultimately works more muscles. Since you can stand while working out on spin bikes, you can target some upper body muscles like your arms, shoulders, core and back.

Both the spin bike and upright bike will engage lower body muscles, including your hamstrings, quads, glutes and calves. When it comes to the stationary bike vs spin bike for muscles worked, the spin bike wins as it engages more muscle groups.

Injury Risk

As with any other physical activity, something important to consider is injury risk. If you’ve watched any spin classes, you probably have noticed that the rider is out of the saddle half the time. While this provides a more intense workout and increases the number of calories burned, it also boosts safety hazards. 

Ultimately, the exercise bike has the least injury risk, as you stay seated the entire time. 

Comparison Chart

Exercise BikeSpin Bike
Price$250 to $2500$500 to $2500
Ease of UseEasy to stop pedalingEasy to change resistance levels Pedals will keep moving if you stop pedalingYou have to manually change resistance with a knob
ComfortSofter and wider seatsFeels like a regular bikeUpright sitting positionHard and narrow seatsUncomfortable riding position
Primary UseGeneral cardiovascular fitnessIntense full-body workouts
Variability of WorkoutOne sitting positionCan ride either sitting down or standing up
Difficulty of WorkoutLow to medium difficultyHigh difficulty 
Muscles WorkedLower body (quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves) Full body (quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, arms, shoulders, core and back)
Injury RiskLow injury riskMedium to high injury risk

Spinning Bike Vs Exercise Bike: Which Is Best for Those With Limited Mobility?

When it comes to the exercise vs spin bike, the exercise bike is the best choice for those with limited mobility. 

The stationary bike typically has larger, more comfortable seats than those you find on spin bikes. Furthermore, exercise bikes are typically easier to operate, with more precise control. Riders can easily change resistance levels on the digital screen, or buttons near the console, instead of manually turning a knob. 

When it comes to the stationary bike vs spin bike, there are also more options to choose from. For instance, you can buy a machine with a low seat that will be easier on your joints and make it easy to get on and off. (If you are interested in a bike like this, check out recumbent bikes.) 

Another perk of using the stationary bike is that the pedals will stop moving as soon as you do. Unlike spin bikes, riders won’t have to worry about slowly decreasing speed when stopping. 

Is a Spinning Bike or an Exercise Bike Better for Losing Weight?

Many riders use spin and stationary bikes for the purpose of weight loss. But which one is better? 

While an upright bike is great for general fitness, you will typically burn more calories on a spin bike. Since spin bikes have a heavier flywheel, you need to put more effort into every rotation and engage your muscles more; this leads to more calories burnt.

Furthermore, spin bikes are great for HIIT workouts. Studies show that HIIT workouts help you burn up to 30% more calories compared to other cardio workouts like running or cycling. By cycling uphill and taking advantage of HIIT exercises, you can make your weight loss efforts worth it and hit your goals a lot faster with an indoor spin bike vs an upright bike.

To increase weight loss motivation, try some spinning group fitness classes! You can also take advantage of some video workouts like this one:

Which Machine Is Best for Those Who Want to Build Muscle?

Both machines are great for building lower body muscles. However, spin bike classes offer highly efficient workouts that will target both your upper and lower body. For those who want to increase muscle strength and get a full-body workout, the spin bike will be your best choice. 

To fast-track muscle growth on a spin bike, use higher resistance levels. This will help you build muscle faster and target areas like your quads, hamstrings, calves, back, core and glutes. 

If you want to boost the muscles in your arms, try getting out of the saddle. By standing on your spin bike, you automatically engage your upper body muscles. Your core will engage to stay balanced while your shoulders and arms will activate as you grip the handlebars. 

With all this being said, something to remember is that indoor cycling can only build so much muscle. While it may help you become more toned, you won’t be able to build as much muscle as you would with weight training. 

Final Thoughts on Spin Bikes Vs Exercise Bikes

While exercise bikes and spin bikes are certainly similar, they’re by no means the same, and likely won’t give you the same results. Spin bikes tent to be more focussed toward high intensity workouts, so use a spin bike if:

  • You want a more intense workout 
  • You want variability in your workouts
  • You want to focus on losing weight
  • You want to build more muscle

On the flip side, exercise bikes (in their varying configurations) are generally more suited to less intense workouts. Therefore, you should use an exercise bike if:

  • You want a less intense, moderate workout
  • You want a machine that is easy to use and comfortable
  • You want to track your workout statistics 

We hope you enjoyed this article! Make sure to leave a comment about what indoor cycling bike you prefer. 

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