Air Bike vs. Spin Bike – What is Best for Your Home Workout?

air bike vs. spin bike

Bikes are a great option if you’re looking to add a cardio-based machine to your home gym. They jack up your heart rate to burn calories and improve your cardiovascular health.

But, if you’ve ever searched for stationary bikes, you’ll know there is a wide variety to choose from.

In this article, we’ll be comparing air bikes and spin bikes. 

Spin Bikes

Air Bike vs. Spin Bike - What is Best for Your Home Workout? 1

Spin bikes are synonyms with Spin-based exercise classes.

You know, the one’s where an instructor is shouting positive affirmations at you while you melt into a puddle of sweat?

The Spin bike itself is an upgraded version of the traditional stationary bike. Unlike traditional stationary bikes, the Spin bike has a heavier flywheel. It is directly connected to the pedals with a chain.

The flywheel mechanism can be adjusted to variable resistances that replicate outdoor road bikes. 

Key Features of Spin Bikes

  • Weighted Flywheel
  • Magnetic or Friction Resistance
  • Resistance Adjusted By Crank or Knob 
  • Various Hand Positions 
  • Targets the Lower Body 

Training Benefits of Spin Bikes

The Spin bike is a versatile piece of cardio equipment. You’ll be able to perform sprints, intervals, and continuous rides to reach all your fitness goals.

It will help improve your cardiovascular fitness as well as strengthen the muscles in your legs and core. It’s also a great training tool for athletes looking to improve their outdoor cycling.

The Spin bike replicates a traditional road bike, therefore mimics the resistance felt on the road. 

Pros & Cons of Spin Bikes

Pros

  • Quiet 
  • Suitable for HIIT and endurance training
  • Compatible with virtual classes 

Cons

  • Can be expensive 
  • Lower body-specific
  • Difficult to properly set-up

Who Are Spin Bikes Best Suited For?

Spin bikes are ideal for those who want to focus on weight loss or improve their outdoor road cycling performance.

They do an excellent job at mimicking the movement of a real road bike so you can improve your fitness and cycling performance. 


Air Bikes

air bike

Air bikes have been popularised by functional fitness and cross-training gyms.

If you haven’t seen one before, they might look a bit odd compared to a traditional bike. The air bike contains a large fan that is powered by pedals and long push/pull handles.

Since the handles contribute to the movement, the air bike is a great way to get your arms involved too. The resistance created depends on the amount of power you generate.

Put simply, the harder you work, the greater the resistance. If you are looking to buy an air bike, check out our list of the Best Air Bikes for your Home Gym.

Key Features of Air Bikes

  • Large Air Wheel
  • Resistance Determined by Power Output 
  • Large Padded Seat 
  • Push/Pull Handles
  • Targets the Full Body

Training Benefits of Air Bikes

Air bikes provide a full-body workout. Everything from your heart to your lungs and arms to your legs will be worked on the air bike. Air bikes are primarily used for shorter work periods with regular rest.

This includes sprints, HIIT, and interval training. Air bikes are also commonly used as part of a workout. For example, bike 10 calories, then perform 10 burpees for 10 rounds. 

Pros & Cons of Air Bikes

Pros

  • Full-body specific 
  • Push and pull handles 
  • Suitable for HIIT and endurance training

Cons

  • Loud
  • Can be expensive 
  • Chunky 

Who Are Air Bikes Best Suited For?

Air bikes are perfect for people who want a full-body workout or want to focus on interval training. They’re also perfect for people who want to incorporate cardio into workout sessions.

However, they’re not suited to people who live in a noise-conscious environment as they can be pretty loud. 

Learn more about air bikes in our Best Air Bikes Buying Guide.


Air Bike Vs. Spin Bike: Key Differences

Now we’ve discussed what an air bike and Spin bike are, let’s look at their main differences. Be sure to take these differences into account before deciding which one is best for you. 

Wheel

Spin bike wheel
Spin Bike Wheel
Air Bike vs. Spin Bike - What is Best for Your Home Workout? 2
Air Bike Wheel

The first difference you’ll notice between an air bike and a Spin bike is the wheel. The air bike contains a large fan blade contained in a wireframe. The Spin bike contains a heavy wheel attached to a rotating shaft known as a flywheel. 

Handles 

The second most significant difference between an air bike and a Spin bike is the handles. The air bike has two long handles that help rotate the fan wheel.

They work using a pushing and pulling motion. On the other hand, the Spin bike handles don’t contribute to the power needed to rotate the flywheel.

However, there are multiple variations on the Spin bike for hand placement. A range of options is great for comfort and different cycling positions. 

Seat

The seat on a Spin bike is designed to replicate a traditional road bike. Therefore, the seat is narrow so your legs can reach full extension. Narrow seats can also help prevent chafing, especially during long rides.

Air bikes have a wider, softer seat. They’re much more comfortable when performing intervals. 

Frame 

The air bike is designed for the rider to be in an upright position. The seat is also lower, so you can put more weight through the handles.

In contrast, the Spin bike allows the rider to be in a bent position over the handlebars. The seat is higher, so you can put your legs in the prime position for cycling. 

Pedals 

The pedal itself is very similar between the air bike and Spin bike. The difference is the foot attachment. Most Spin bikes have a strap or are compatible with cycling shoes that lock-in.

Having your foot attached to the pedal can provide more comfort and help generate more force. However, having your foot locked in during sprints and intervals isn’t ideal. Since the air bike is often used for intervals, most don’t have straps. 

Resistance

Air bikes use air to generate resistance. The air displacement creates drag against the fans. Therefore, the faster you pedal, the more air that is displaced. This leads to more resistance being created.

Theoretically, the amount of resistance is infinite, but it’s hard to control. Spin bikes typically use friction or magnetic resistance, or a combination of both. Resistance on spin bikes is created by inertia.

Adjusting a crank or knob brings the pads or magnets closer to the flywheel to generate more resistance. 

Noise

If you live in an apartment or flat, noise level might be your biggest consideration. Air bikes are loud. Since the fan displaces air, using the air bike creates a loud wind sound.

Spin bikes, on the other hand, are much quieter. On magnetic Spin bikes, the magnets never actually touch the flywheel, so they’re noise-free. Friction Spin bikes can make a slight whistling sound that isn’t a major drawback. 

Movement 

Air Bike vs. Spin Bike - What is Best for Your Home Workout? 3
Air Bike Seating Position

If we eliminate the bikes and just picture the movement, there are some major anatomical differences. Air bikes put your body in an upright position and involve your arms.

In contrast, spin bikes mimic a road bike racing position where your torso is leaning over the handlebars. This lean moves your center of gravity so you can generate more force through your legs. 

Virtual Classes 

One highly attractive feature of the Spin bike is they’re compatible with a range of virtual classes. Some many apps and programs guide you through a workout session.

Having someone guide, you is highly motivating and great for adding structure to your training. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

air bike workout

Are Spin Bikes or Air Bikes better for HIIT workouts?

Both the Spin bike and air bike are great bits of kit for HIIT training. They both allow you to jack up your heart rate to the desired intensity for HIIT training.

The air bike provides a full-body HIIT workout while allowing you to jump on and off the bike easily. On the other hand, Spin bikes allow you to integrate HIIT training into your cycles easily.

If I had to choose one over the other, I would pick air bikes as they give you a full-body workout. 

Are Spin Bikes or Air Bikes better for Weight Loss?

Similar to the previous question, both the Spin bike and air bike are useful for weight loss. They increase your energy expenditure which can lead to weight loss. Keep in mind that increased energy output over a longer period will result in greater energy expenditure.

For example, 1 hour of moderate-intensity exercise will typically burn more calories than 10 minutes of HIIT. Therefore, if you’re looking to spend longer periods on your bike, a Spin bike is more appropriate.

Compared to your arms, your legs are more resistant to fatigue. Therefore, you can spend more time on a Spin bike than an air bike. 


Key Takeaways

Air bikes are perfect for people who want a full-body workout or want to focus on interval training. They’re also perfect for people who want to incorporate cardio into workout sessions. They’re not suited to people who live in a noise-conscious environment as they can be pretty loud. 

Whereas, spin bikes are ideal for those who want to focus on weight loss or improve their outdoor road cycling performance. They do an excellent job at mimicking the movement of a real road bike so you can improve your fitness and cycling performance. 

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