Indoor Cycle Buying - What to look for in an Indoor CycleAnother really great example of a top quality indoor cycle is the Sprint GB Mag. This is one of our best selling indoor cycles and it consistently gets 5 star customer reviews. If you take a look at the specification and features of this indoor bike you'll quickly get a really good idea of what makes a great indoor cycle. Click here to find out more.
At the bottom of the page we answer some frequently asked questions, but for now let's get started with looking at the features of indoor cycles.
Let's start by explaining the terminology
If you're confused by what the different features of the cycles mean then you're not alone - our guide below explains the terms that you might find:
This is the wheel at the front of the bike that moves when you pedal and there are a number of factors to consider. The first is the size of the flywheel which is measure in kg. The higher the weight of the flywheel, the smoother the action will feel. Good quality domestic indoor cycles start at a flywheel weigth of about 18kg, with commercial bikes having a weight of 20kg or over. The other main thing to look out for with the flywheel is the quality of the bearing that allows the flywheel to spin. Bearing failure in lower quality indoor cycles is quite common, resulting in a lot of noise when the wheel spins. The other sign when bearings wear badly is excessive vibration when pedalling. The only real way of telling whether the bearings are up to the job is by buying a known brand, like the ones found on our website, because you'll know that the quality will have been proven on many thousands of bikes across the world.
There are two types of resistance and braking mechanisms on indoor cycles - Magnetic Brakes and Friction Brakes.
A bike that uses friction resistance uses a friction pad that comes into contact with the flywheel. The harder the pad presses against the flywheel, the harder it is to pedal.
The resistance level is controlled by a lever or knob on the frame of the bike that you can move when cycling - so if you feel like simulating a hill climb part way through your exercise programme you move the level or turn the knob (depending on the model) to move the friction pad closer to the flywheel which increases the resistance. Now you feel like you're cycling uphill! The reverse is true - reduce the resistance by moving the friction pad away from the flywheel and it's much easier to pedal.
Friction pads wear over time and will need to be replaced. However, friction resistance bikes are generally less expensive than their equivalent magnetic counterparts.
As the name suggests, a magnetic cycle uses magnets to control the level of resistance when pedalling. Quite simply, the closer the magnet to the flywheel the more difficult it is to pedal. When the magnet is at it's closest position to the flywheel it's almost impossible to pedal at all!!
The resistance level is controlled by a lever or knob on the frame of the bike that you can move when cycling - so if you feel like simulating a hill climb part way through your exercise programme you move the level or turn the knob (depending on the model) to move the magnet which increases the resistance. Now you feel like you're cycling uphill! The reverse is true - reduce the resistance by moving the magnet away from the flywheel and it's much easier to pedal.
The main advantage of the magnetic resistance bikes is that there are no friction pads to wear out and therefore maintenance is reduced.
The flywheel needs to be connected to the crank and pedals - this is done by a belt or a chain. With entry level and mid range indoor cycles, it's best to go for belt driven and this is for three main reasons: they can be adjusted easily when necessary; they are quieter than chain driven bikes; and there's no maintenance required. At the higher end then more often than not it's the chain drive that are more popular. This is because chain bikes feel more like an outdoor cycle to ride because of the dynamics of the crank and the positioning of the pedals. Essentially, unless it's a premium brand then avoid chain drive bikes - you'll have fewer problems and a quieter ride.
Chain driven bikes work on exactly the same principal as a road bike - the chain connects the drive wheel/flywheel to the crank. You have to keep the chain lubricated which is about the only routine maintenance required. It's better to avoid cheap chain driven bikes because the quality is often poor. However, the top end chain driven bikes can give a more authentic feel and are popular with outdoor cyclists who want to train indoors.
You'll see specifications on our site that talk about micro-adjustment when referring to seats and handlebars. Essentially, there are two types of adjustment - micro-adjustment and peg-adjustment. Most of the indoor cycles on our website have micro-adjustment which means that you can position the handlebars and seat in exactly the position that you need, both horizontally and vertically. This is done by loosening the appropriate tightening knob and sliding the handlebars or seat to the position that you require and then re-tightening the knob to hold everything in place. Peg-adjustment work on the principle of locking the seat or handlebar into position by placing a peg into one of the adjustment holes which are equally spaced. If these peg holes are 5cm apart then you can only ever adjust to one of those positions. Considering that there are 4 adjustments to be made (seat and handlebar both vertically and horizontally), the peg adjustment system can often lead to an uncomfortable riding position. Our advice is to always go for a bike that has micro-adjustment.
OK, so we know what pedals are! But did you know that there are 2 different types of pedals? The options that you have are 'Basket' pedals and 'Basket Pedals with Cycling Shoe Clips'. Basket pedals can be used with any type of training shoes. Your feet fit into the 'baskets' on the pedals and the baskets can be tightened to stop your feet from slipping of the pedal when cycling. Pedals that have Cycling Shoe Clips can be used with specialist cycling shoes, available from all good cycling stores. The cycling shoe clips into the pedal to stop your feet from slipping when you're cycling. This type of pedal is generally safer to use than basket only pedals because the risk of your feet slipping from the pedal is greatly reduced.
Frequently Asked Questions
We hope that the text above has answered some of the questions that you have. If you're still confused then maybe some of the answers to the following frequently asked questions will help:
Can I use a commercial fitness bike at home?
Yes. You'll pay a bit more, but you'll be getting a tough bike that's been designed to withstand some serious work. You'll get a stronger frame that's been treated for anti-corrosion; hefty bearings on both the flywheel and the crank and a higher weight flywheel that will give a really smooth ride.
What's the difference between an exercise bike and a spinning bike?
An exercise bike will generally have a number of programs to choose from, will free-wheel when you're not pedalling and will have a nice comfy seat. Indoor cycles are more like their outdoor equivalent but with a fixed wheel arrangement. We're called indoor-cycles.co.uk so we're a bit biased (!!), but we reckon that if you really want to get fit and stay fit then indoor cycling is the way to go.
What's the difference between an indoor cycle, a fitness bike and a spinning bike?
Nothing really. These are all terms used to describe the same type of bike - the style that you see on this website.
What's the minimum/maximum height of the person who will use the bike?
It varies from bike to bike. However, as a rule of thumb we use 5ft2in to 6ft6in although some bikes take riders from 4ft11in to 6ft8in. It's best to check with us if you're not sure.