Upright Bike Vs Spin Bike

Upright Bike Vs Spin Bike: Which One Is Better?

by

Billy Hughes
August 27, 2021
62 Views

If you want to start using an exercise bike, you will have to choose between the different types.

Two popular types of bikes are spin bikes and upright bikes.

What are some similarities between spin and upright bikes?

These bikes are both used indoors and provide similar fitness benefits.

However, there are some important differences between them to know about. So, let’s see how they compare so you can decide which one is better for you to start using. 

What’s An Upright Bike?

what is upright bike

As its name suggests, an upright bike lets you sit upright. You’ll hold the handlebars of the bike while you pedal.

Pros

  • If you’re starting out with using an exercise bike, an upright bike will be easy to use.
  • Since their handlebars are higher than what you’ll find on other bikes, you will sit with a straight back on upright bikes. This ensures good posture during your workout.  
  • An upright bike takes up little space, so it’s ideal for small living spaces.

Cons

  • The upright position in which you have to sit can cause you to put pressure on your wrists and hands.
  • The seat of an upright bike can be quite uncomfortable, especially if you’re using it for a long period of time.
  • An upright bike is not as effective if you need to engage in regular athletic training. This is mainly because of how it doesn’t mimic the body position used on a road bike. 

What’s A Spin Bike? 

about spin bike

By comparison, a spin bike is built so that its handlebars are lower, therefore putting you into the same cycling position you’d use when cycling on a regular road bike.

Pros

  • You can use a spin bike by sitting down or standing up, which adds more variety to your workout.
  • A spin bike is fantastic lower-body exercise because it targets major muscles in the lower body, such as the glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
  • A spin bike is low-impact exercise. It’s gentle on your joints, therefore reducing your risk of injury.

Cons

  • A spin bike requires you to use specialized cycling shoes as you will need to clip into the pedals during your workout.
  • A spin bike doesn’t give you much of an upper-body workout. You’ll also be slightly hunched over the handlebars which can be uncomfortable.

Upright Bike Vs Spin Bike: How Do They Compare? 

Now that we’ve looked at the pros and cons of upright bikes and spin bikes, let’s compare them according to different features.

Seat

The seat of an upright bike vs spin bike varies quite a bit. It’s narrow in shape and has a bit of padding. By comparison, on a spin bike you won’t find much padding.

This is why you might feel you have to wear padded shorts in order to make your indoor cycling sessions much more comfortable.

You might also have to trade in your spin bike seat for a more comfortable one, but bear in mind you might also have to do this with an upright bike because its seat can result in discomfort. 

Cycling Position

cycling position

The way you sit while cycling will be different on an upright bike vs spin bike. On an upright bike, the handlebars are placed higher than on a spin bike so you’ll only have to lean forward slightly. This encourages better posture, although it can make cycling uncomfortable for longer periods of time. 

By comparison, on a spin bike the handlebars are positioned lower than the seat, so you will have to lean your body forward during your cycling session.

This makes a spin bike a great bike to use if you want to get the same feeling of using a road bike. If you’re used to cycling on a road bike, a spin bike will feel easier to use.

Resistance

A spin bike has a flywheel that’s heavy and enables you to gain resistance when you cycle. By comparison, an upright bike has either a magnetic resistance system or electromagnetic system, and a lighter flywheel. This difference affects how much effort you put into cycling. 

When you stop pedaling on a spin bike, the flywheel continues turning so you have to slowly lower your speed to let it lose momentum. Since it’s heavier, this will result in you having to put in more effort to slow it down.

On an upright bike, since the flywheel is lighter, when you stop pedaling it will enable you to coast as it stops. The bottom line? You’ll have to put in more effort when using a spin bike which results in more of a workout.

Muscles Worked

activated muscles

On an upright bike, you sit in an upright position so that you use more muscles, including those in your core. This translates into giving you more of an upper-body workout as compared to what you achieve on a spin bike.

However, you can improve how much of your upper body you work out on a spin bike by adding weights to your cycling session.

Experience Level

If you’re starting out with an indoor bike, you might want to choose an upright bike instead of a spin bike. This is because of how easy it is to coast on the bike when you stop pedaling.

However, you might find yourself steering towards a spin bike instead. This is because of how a spin bike is designed to mimic a road bike. It doesn’t require you to adapt your riding posture.

Calories Burned

upright position

On both spin bikes and upright bikes, you can burn a lot of calories per session. You’re looking at between 400 and 600 calories, but possibly even more depending on how vigorously you pedal.

This means that using either a spin or upright bike a few times per week will help you to shed weight. The upright bike might be able to give you a bit of an extra weight-loss boost, though, as a result of how it engages more muscles. Both a spin bike and upright bike enable you to stand up while cycling.

This intensifies the workout while also helps you to add more variety to it. However, with upright bikes there is a catch: although your feet will sometimes be strapped in while you pedal, this won’t feel as comfortable as when you stand on a spin bike, and it will be easier for your feet to slip.

Therefore, if you want to maximize your calorie burn by cycling while sitting and standing, a spin bike is your best bet.

Console

While you won’t find consoles on all exercise bikes, you can find them on some upright bikes. These types of bikes also offer more in terms of technology.

You will be able to monitor a variety of elements during your cycling session, such as your heart rate, distance, and how many calories you’re burning. By comparison, spin bikes are usually more focused on simplicity.

However, you will be able to find spin bike computers that you can buy.

Exercise Duration

what is exrercise position difference

If you want to engage in cycling for longer periods of time instead of doing anything too vigorous, you should choose an upright exercise bike.

This is because of how you’ll be in a more comfortable position with a larger seat, therefore enabling you to increase the duration of your workout. On a spin bike, the seat is more uncomfortable and sessions are more intense.

Injury Risk

Right off the bat, it’s good to mention that using an indoor exercise bike will be less dangerous than if you’re using an outdoor bike. There’s less chance of falling off the bike.

That said, there are some risks of which you should be aware. Both spin and upright bikes can result in aches and pains, especially if you overdo the exercise or you don’t use the correct form.

Not adjusting your seat and handlebars will also result in discomfort and risk injury, so it’s important to take the time to adjust the bike before your session.

Since you don’t have to hunch forward, using an upright bike can feel more comfortable. That said, it can result in neck and back strain if you use it for long periods of time. As for a spin bike, you also risk aches and pain, such as in your lower back. This is because of how intense the spin sessions can be.

Space

fit girl on exercise bike in living room

You’ll have to consider the size of the exercise bike before you purchase it to ensure that it will fit in your home. An upright bike is small and compact, so it doesn’t take up a lot of space.

That said, a spin bike is also quite small. Both bikes come in foldable models to make storing them easier when they’re not in use. 

Which Bike Is Best For You? 

By now you have a good idea of what upright bikes and spin bikes have to offer you in terms of fitness and practicality.

So, which one should you choose?

  • If you want to engage in a medium-intensity workout that feels comfortable and enables you to cycle for longer periods of time, an upright bike is a good choice. You will be able to use it to become fitter and lose weight.
  • On the other hand, if you want to engage in high-intensity cycling, a spin bike is essential. This is also a good choice for you if you’re in athletic training as the spin bike mimics a road bike. This therefore makes it easier for you to work out outdoors or indoors with the same fitness program. 

Things To Consider Before Buying An Exercise Bike 

things to consider

Before you go ahead and choose either an upright or spin bike, you will need to consider a few important things. Let’s take a look at them.

  • You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a stationary bike. While you might assume that the more you pay for an exercise bike the better its quality, this is a misconception. However, more expensive bikes will be heavier and therefore more stable, while also offering a larger variety of options when it comes to setting up your bike. For example, on a more expensive bike you’ll have more options when adjusting the handlebars and seat.
  • Look for non-slip feet. This is an important feature to look for in a stationary exercise bike to ensure that it won’t wobble around when you’re cycling and will protect the floors in your home. Of course, you can always purchase a non-slip bike mat to help in this regard, but that would require an additional expense.
  • Check the resistance levels. Before you buy an exercise bike, check how many resistance levels it offers. This will ensure you can add variety to your exercise workouts while also enabling you to work up to really high resistance.
  • Don’t forget about the bike warranty. When you purchase a stationary bike, you want to ensure it has a decent warranty to cover you if something goes wrong with it. The best (and often most expensive) exercise bikes will usually have longer warranties as a result of how they’re constructed to tolerate regular use. That said, you can find less expensive bike models that will offer you three to five year warranties. 

Related Questions 

Should you buy an exercise bike or treadmill?

Generally, both types of fitness equipment can be used for effective and high-intensity workouts, but exercise bikes are gentler on the body.

What is a Dutch upright bike?

A Dutch upright bike is a bike that has a taller frame than a typical bicycle and, as its name suggests, you can remain upright when riding it. 

Conclusion 

If you want to start exercising on an indoor bike, you will have to choose what kind of bike to use. Should you invest in an upright bike or spin bike?

In this article, we’ve looked at their respective pros and cons, as well as how they compare when it comes to what they can offer you.

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.