Exercise Bikes for Your Fitness Goals
Maybe you remember those old exercise bikes, the ones with the uncomfortable bicycle saddles, single bicycle wheels with the pressure resistance. Some of the really old ones didn’t even have a speedometer or odometer. Exercise bikes of all kinds have come a long way from those original indoor spinners. In fact, there are so many indoor biking options that you might be truly confused by all the choices. Let us help you sort them out, along with giving some pointers on what to watch for when buying an indoor exercise bike.
Types of Indoor Exercise Bicycles
There are two primary types of exercise bike: the upright bike and the recumbent bike. However, while those are the primary types, there are variations on these themes. The variations include weighted cycle wheels, air resistance fans, magnetic resistance, desk bikes, and stands to convert your regular street bike into an exercise bike and even eco-bikes that can generate enough electricity to power a cell phone, laptop computer or even a small television. Don’t count on running a refrigerator, deep freeze, air conditioner or electric heater with pedal power, however. It takes a lot of pedaling to produce even ten watts of electrical energy.
Digital Devices and Pedal Power
Digital equipment and exercise bikes definitely go together. One of the better features of modern exercise bikes is the digital console. The best ones offer training regimens and coaching, along with measuring effort in distance, resistance, speed, heart rate, respiration, and other vital statistics. Some of them even offer audio-visual scenarios such as bicycle tours or dramatic racing or evading fantasy monsters to enliven the daily round of exercise. More mid-range bikes frequently include little extras like a charging stand for cell phones, tablets or mp3 players. Some interface with downloadable software that can help drive your fitness efforts with coaching, recording progress, and even connecting with other fitness cyclers via the Internet. Joining up with an exercise bike club or organization takes a little of the loneliness out of your solitary pedaling toward a better you.
Resistance for Increased Effort
Unless you are using your exercise bike simply to rotate joints that could otherwise become stiff and painful, you can slowly increase the effectiveness of your exercise sessions by increasing the resistance against which you are pedaling. Some bikes provide little programs to emulate the kind of exercise you would get on different sorts of terrain. These give you the opportunity for bursts of effort interspersed with easier pedaling – a method often recommended for slowly building your fitness. Resistance can be generated in several different ways. The older bikes simply used a clamp that impeded the turning of the bicycle wheel. The newer models, however, use more sophisticated methods that guarantee a smoother ride and a more consistent flow of effort. Magnetic resistance is easy to control digitally, which lends itself readily to programming interesting rides. Weighted wheels also are a way to provide a smooth ride, without jerky starting grinding of gears. One of the most unique ways to provide resistance is using pedal power to turn a large fan. As the fan blades bite into the air they create natural resistance. The faster the fan turns, the more air resistance it encounters. This means that air resistance bikes do not require any electronic regulation of their resistance. The harder the user pedals, the greater the resistance.
Pedals might not seem like a big deal. How different can they be, after all? It seems that they can be very different and they can change your exercise options. For example, if you want to be able to bike standing up, you need extra sturdy pedals that will hold your weight. If you are a scrawny teen who weighs less than a hundred pounds, this might be a negligible consideration. But if you top out at six foot plus in height and are correspondingly heavy, you will want a pedal that can hold your weight. Even if you don’t plan to pedal standing up, you want a pedal that will take some force. You will also want a toe strap or other safety mechanism to make sure your foot doesn’t slip when you are really getting into your ride.
Unless you plan to pedal standing up, you will want a comfortable seat. It is one thing to pedal hard for thirty minutes, but it is quite another to pedal hard when your backside is growing increasingly uncomfortable. If you plan long exercise sessions, a seat that feels good and that supports your weight efficiently is a must.
Bike warranties come is a wide variety of types. Most will place the longest warranty on the bike frame, with a shorter one for digital parts and labor.