comparison of Recumbent Bike and Spin Bike

Recumbent Bike Vs Spin Bike: Here’s What To Know

by

Billy Hughes
August 26, 2021
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When choosing the best stationary bike for home use, you’ll have to choose between various types.

A battle of the bikes that sometimes comes up is the recumbent bike vs spin bike debate.

Which stationary bike is better?

While you can’t say that one bike is better than the other, they do have important pros and cons you should know about so that you choose the best one for your fitness and comfort level.

Let’s see what these bikes have to offer and why they deserve a spot in your home gym. We’ll start by looking at what spin bikes and recumbent bikes are all about. 

What Is A Recumbent Bike? 

exercise on recumbent bike

A recumbent bike is basically a stationary bike that you use in a reclined position.

It’s a good choice for you if you want to get a cardiovascular and lower-body workout. Although it’s sometimes said that because recumbent bikes are comfortable they’re best for beginner cyclists, they’re actually valuable for more experienced cyclists too.

This is because you can adjust the bike’s pedal speed and resistance, and you can choose to cycle backwards to make your workout more intense.

Pros

  • One of the best things about recumbent bikes is that they have a larger seat and full back support. This isn’t just comfortable, but ideal for you if you’re recovering from an injury.
  • Since you recline when using a recumbent bike, your position relieves upper-body tension as well as prevents muscle fatigue. 
  • A recumbent bike works out various muscles and parts of the body. These include the quadriceps, calf muscles, hamstrings, glutes, and shins. It’s therefore focused on giving you a great lower-body workout.
  • This bike increases your flexibility. A study found that your flexibility and range of motion will be improved after using a recumbent bike because of how it boosts circulation and makes the tissues in your body more elastic.
  • A recumbent bike is gentle on your joints, therefore reducing the risk of injury during exercise. The reclined position you sit in when using this bike is also gentle on the lower back.

Cons

  • A recumbent bike takes up more space in the home, so it might not be practical for you if you live in a small house or apartment.
  • For some people, using a recumbent bike can become boring, especially for people who are used to doing other types of exercise, such as vigorous, upright cycling.
  • Since they prioritize comfort, recumbent bikes have extra features to make you feel comfortable during cycling but this makes them more expensive than other types of stationary bikes. 

What Is A Spin Bike? 

spin bike differences

A spin bike is built to be very similar to a road bike. So, if you’re used to cycling on a road bike, you’ll feel right at home on a spin bike.

This bike has a flywheel in its design to mimic pedalling on a regular outdoor bike. You can pedal sitting down or standing, which adds variety to your workout.

Pros

  • A spin bike works out a variety of muscles and parts of the body, which include the back, biceps, core, triceps, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.
  • Since you can stand up and pedal on a spin bike, you’ll get more of an upper-body workout than what you’ll experience with a recumbent bike.
  • You can have a vigorous, and fast-paced cycling workout on your spin bike. This is what makes it such a great calorie-burning type of cycling.
  • A spin bike is gentle on your joints. It’s low-impact exercise so anyone can get on it and get a good workout.
  • A spin bike adds more variety to your workout and can keep things interesting if you get bored with using a stationary bike indoors.
  • Spinning improves your body composition and decreases your fat mass, so it’s ideal for weight-loss workouts. 

Cons

  • A spin bike usually has an uncomfortable saddle which can cause aches and pains, and make it less than ideal for long sessions. However, if you have a spin bike at home you’ll be able to change the seat for one that’s more comfortable.
  • You can’t use a spin bike daily as it’s too strenuous for your body. 

Recumbent Bike Vs Spin Bike: How Do They Compare? 

Now that we’ve looked at some pros and cons of both bikes, we need to compare them according to some important features.

Calorie Burn

burnin calories on recumbent bike

Earlier, we mentioned that working out on a spin bike is excellent to torch calories. You can expect to burn 400 to 600 calories per hour!

By comparison, on a recumbent bike you can expect to burn fewer calories – you’re looking at around 400 calories per hour.

Of course, with both bikes how intense and long your workout is will contribute to helping you burn more calories.

Comfort

By now you probably have realized that a recumbent bike is more comfortable than a spin bike. This is because of how it ensures you’re in a reclined position instead of being hunched over the handlebars.

The seat on a recumbent bike will be wide and flat, so you can evenly distribute your weight on it. By comparison, a spin bike seat is narrow and uncomfortable (but built that way to prevent chafing).

Variability

fit woman on peloton bike

If you want to keep your cycling workouts interesting, you’ll want to choose a spin bike. Since you can pedal sitting down and standing, this bike can help you to get more of an overall workout. 

That said, you will find it easier to watch TV or read a book on your Kindle device while using a recumbent bike, which might help you to stay motivated during exercise.

Injury Risk

As with any stationary bike or fitness equipment, you need to pace yourself and be careful to avoid injuries. On a spin bike, you can risk hurting your lower back or neck. If you haven’t adjusted your seat to fit you properly, this can also lead to knee pain. 

By comparison, the injury risk on a recumbent bike is really low because of how you’re in a reclined position throughout the workout.

Flywheel

Exercise bike flywheel

A major difference between a spin bike and a recumbent bike is their flywheel size and weight. On a spin bike you’ll usually find a heavier flywheel, which requires you to put in more effort to make it spin.

This is why a spin bike can be such an intense workout. In addition to that, the flywheel on a spin bike stops turning as soon as you stop pedalling the bike. This is why a spin bike can burn more calories.

By comparison, a recumbent bike has a lighter flywheel. This makes it easier to use for beginners.

Handlebars 

A spin bike has handlebars that are aerodynamic and enable you to get into more of a racing position. This can make the spin bike great to use if you’re training for long-distance events.

By comparison, you don’t need to use your hands at all when cycling on a recumbent bike.

Seat

We’ve already touched on how the seats of a recumbent bike vs spin bike vary, but these bikes also differ when it comes to how you can adjust their seats.

On a spin bike, you can adjust the seat up and down or left to right. This allows you to get the most comfortable riding position.

By comparison, on a recumbent bike you can adjust the seat forwards or backwards. You can’t adjust it up or down. However, since the seat is so comfortable you won’t have to worry about adjusting it too much.

Skill Level

recumbent bike couple training

If you’re using a stationary bike for the first time, which one should you use? Both the spin bike and recumbent bike have their benefits for beginners.

Using a spin bike for the first time doesn’t have to be intimidating because you can control the resistance and go at your own pace. Even if you’re in a spin class, you don’t have to follow what the instructor tells you to do because you’re in control of how fast and intensely you cycle.

By comparison, a recumbent bike is also great for beginners because of how you can recline and don’t have to worry about putting any strain on your joints. As with spinning, a recumbent bike offers low-impact exercise.

Space

When you need to choose between a recumbent and spin bike, you will obviously need to consider how much space you have at home for your fitness equipment.

If space is a concern for you, you should choose a spin bike instead of a recumbent bike, as the latter has features such as a padded backrest and a larger, more comfortable, seat, which take up a bit more space.

Price

You can find both recumbent and spin bikes in a variety of price ranges. Recumbent bikes usually cost around $500 minimum, while a spin bike can be bought for much less than that.

So, if your budget is a concern, you should opt for a spin bike instead of a recumbent bike. 

So, Which Bike Should You Choose? 

Now that we’ve looked at the differences between recumbent and spin bikes, it’s clear to see they both have pros and cons that you should bear in mind before purchasing one over the other.

When is a spin bike right for you?

which one is right for you
  • If you like having variety in your workouts when cycling and you want to be able to stand and sit, then a spin bike is worth considering. 
  • If you want to enjoy active, fun, and social cycling classes, a spin class is a good idea because it ticks all those boxes. 
  • If you want a low-impact exercise that can still burn a lot of calories in a session, you should opt for a spin bike. It has excellent calorie-burning potential that’s ideal for weight loss. 

When is a recumbent bike right for you?

  • If you’re battling with a sports injury or you suffer from a back condition, the comfort of using a recumbent bike will be appealing. 
  • If you want to engage in low-impact cardio and you don’t want to have a workout that’s too strenuous, a recumbent bike is a good idea. 
  • If you like the idea of multi-tasking while working out, such as by reading on your tablet, you’ll be able to make the most of that by using a recumbent bike. This makes the bike perfect for busy people. 

Related Questions 

How many times per week should you use a spin bike for weight loss?

It’s not healthy to use a spin bike daily. If you want to lose weight, you should commit to about three or four sessions per week to help you shed the pounds.

How often should you use a recumbent bike?

You should aim for 30 minutes of cardio on the bike five times per week if you want to achieve health benefits, and between 60 and 90 minutes five days a week for weight-loss purposes.

Conclusion 

If you want to use an exercise bike at home to increase your indoor cycling training, you’ll need to choose between a recumbent bike or spin bike.

As we’ve seen in this article, both bikes have their respective pros and cons to help you reach your fitness goals. This can make it difficult to know which one you should choose.

That’s why we’ve featured examples of why a spin bike or recumbent bike is your best bet to help you get fit and lose weight. 

Sources:

Billy Hughes

Billy Hughes is a fitness trainer based out of New York. She has registered success in training clients at multiple fitness centers and thus aims to establish her module relevant to the post-pandemic era. Her space, Cerevellum.com, is an attempt towards encouraging and educating more people on the scope of indoor fitness. She believes the power of fitness can transform attitude, personality, and way of living. She also finds it rewarding to help people achieve their goals and make their lives better.