Different bikes function differently and thus produce different results. Spin bikes have been with us a while but air bikes are fast on the come up. Just which between the two is the overall best?
I’m a guy who appreciates the benefits and combined experience of mixing up training routines. When recently I went out to shop for my High Intensity Interval Training bike, I was shocked at the variety available.
When I asked the attendant about the best picks, he pointed me to these two bikes that by appearance looked the same but in functionality, resistance and purpose, one bike seemed superior to the other.
Thankfully I have the experience to guide my decision but it got me thinking about all those other trainees who might miss out on the details and end up buying the wrong bike. This review is for you.
What are the key differences between Spin Bike and Air Bike?
Ease of Use
Risk of Injury
Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, triceps, core, biceps
Biceps, triceps, hamstrings, pecs, obliques, hamstrings and quads
Increase Speed, resistance or stand
Increase speed or resistance
Spin Bike vs Air Bike: How they compare?
Both types of bikes are made of welded steel material which make them hardy and durable. The spin bike has you leaning forward toward the handlebars and the saddle is raised to the same level which keeps your body positioned horizontally with a straight back.
Air bikes on the other hand give you a more upright riding position because the seat is placed on a lower level than the handles giving you more control over the bars.
The wheels on the spin bike are smaller than on the air bike and could weigh anywhere between 15 and 20 pounds. These are actually called flywheel and the heavier they are, the smoother the ride gets and the more variety you have in resistance.
Air bikes feature a big wheel fitted with blades similar to those you would find on a fan and they are designed in this way to allow enough air to be displaced which is how you get better resistance and the quiet riding experience.
A spin bikes seat and handlebars are leveled but the air bike seats are placed at a lower level than the handlebars which positions your body differently.
This is what presents a real difference between the spin and air bikes. Due to the fact that on a spin bike the handlebars are on the same level as the saddle, this means that your hands don’t really get to move around as much.
This leaves room for you to focus on working out harder by cycling it out to build up your heart rate for a good cardio workout. You could, however, pedal with your body off the bike and with you leaning forward into the handlebars which brings the center of gravity over the pedals.
This little shift does you great service as you can then push harder against higher resistance meaning you workout more muscles.
Air bikes engage your arms and shoulders and the motion of pushing and pulling on the handlebars as well as your rotations on the bike is what powers it up. With an air bike you work out your arms, core and legs.
Air bikes give you more control over your handlebars as compared to the spin bikes because of their geometry.
Though the pedals on these bikes do not differ to a far of degree, the spin bike pedals have been fitted with pedals to keep you secured in training.
The air bikes are ultimately used for HIIT trainings and because they require you to get off and, on the bike, as quickly as possible, these straps are not included as they would present a hazard. However, some air bikes have included straps and if you must have straps and your bike is missing, you can change them.
Spin bike pedals have adjustable straps on them which is a feature that lacks in air bikes.
Both bikes sport similar padded seats but the spin bikes have narrower seats resembling those found on a road bike. Cycling classes usually last about an hour and having a narrower seat will reduce chafing of your thighs. This increases the impact on your glutes and hamstrings
Air bikes are far more comfortable to sit on and their large surface is due to the fact that you are only required to cycle on them for no more than 30 minutes at a time before you have to change up your routine again.
Spin bikes have narrower seats compared to air bikes which reduces the friction impact on your thighs.
This differs from bike to bike and the spin bike could either be magnetic resistance or friction resistance though you could have a bike that incorporates all two forms of resistance.
Your resistance is built up by inertia meaning that the more you spin, the harder the resistance. Your pedaling motion is what moves the flywheel. Alternatively, you could adjust resistance by use of a knob which will bring closer the felt pads or magnets drawing back the speed of the flywheel.
This is how resistance is created which will then force you to pedal harder and faster to maintain your revolutions per minute.
Air bikes are powered and driven by air. As you tug on the handlebars and push down on the pedals, this rotation effect keeps your wheel turning. As it is fitted with angled fans, this is what draws back the speed and brings about resistance. The harder you pedal the more the drawback will be.
Magnetic spin bike resistance is much different in functionality as compared to the air resistance bikes.
Cycling on a friction resistance bike requires the felt pads to touch the flywheel which may create a whistling noise. This is however not loud enough to be considered annoying or distracting. The magnetic resistance on spin bikes is the ideal option and it is the quietest cycling option available.
Air bikes have a whooshing noise created by the large volumes of air passing through the wheel. As this would be expected based on its angled fans, it also wouldn’t be that loud or disturbing.
Spin bikes using magnetic resistance have the quietest operation.Though the air bikes create a whooshing sound, it can’t really be referred to as noise.
Bikes are not just cardio machines, they also tone, strengthen and add muscle to targeted areas of your body. For example, with air bikes you get a full body workout because you need to exert pressure to move the handlebars around.
The more pressure you exert, the harder the resistance gets and the more energy you need to muster to push through the rotations. Muscle in your bices, triceps, hamstrings, pecs, obliques, hamstrings and quads are all targeted and you should see significant change in their form and appearance in a few short months.
With the spin bike, your leg muscles are the main target. They tend to involve your core and lower body strength to keep the flywheel turning. In high resistance, your leg muscles and your core are super challenged and this helps develop, tone and strengthen these parts of your body.
The up and down, side to side motion you make while slightly raised off the bike keeps your posture upright and your center of gravity balanced.
Air bikes provide a full body workout as compared to spin bikes which are more focused on the lower body.
Verdict: Which Between the Spin Bike and Air Bike Is the Best Overall?
Both bikes are perfect for working up a sweat and pumping up your heart rate. At the end of the day it all boils down to preference and expectations.
If you love the simulation of a real bike while you training, then the spin bike is your best pick. Maybe you love to cycle outdoors for fun with friends and family. To incorporate training indoors, the spin bike will do wonders for you.
Air bikes on the other hand are for more experienced and highly driven cyclists or fitness enthusiasts. This bike will burn your calories at an exceptionally high rate and that’s probably why they are a favorite among Crossfit games.