Spin Bike Vs Indoor Trainer – Which One Gives You What You Are Looking For?

Outdoor riding can become impossible at certain times of the year. If you don’t want to put a stop to your cycling exercise you have to choose between a stationary bike like a spin bike or use your outdoor bike with an indoor trainer. Here is a spin bike vs indoor trainer comparison to guide you.

Winter has set in but I still need to keep up my training for next season’s races. I’m not sure if it would be better to continue my training on a spin bike or hook my outdoor bike up to an indoor trainer so I can train at home.

In this spin bike vs. indoor trainer comparison we explore the two forms of indoor cycling and find out which one is a better option for you.

What Are The Differences Between Spin Bikes And Indoor Trainers?

Spin Bike
Indoor Trainer
Space occupied
Has large foot print ( requires significant space)
Has small foot print ( requires very little space)
Cannot be stored away when not in use
Foldable (can be stored away when not in use.)
Fit and positioning
Cannot achieve a perfect fit  ( not fully customizable)
Bike is fit to individual owner ( fully customized)
Ease of use
Convenient for multiple users
Cumbersome for multiple users
Primary purpose
Mainly used for exercise
Mainly used for professional training
Noise level
Quiet  ( doesn’t disturb people in the room)
Loud ( will disturb you and other people in the room)


Occupied Space and Storage

Spin bikes require a good amount of space. The Peloton bike, one of the more popular brands has a footprint of 48 inches by 24 inches. The Keiser M3i takes up 49 inches by 26 inches.

These footprints might not be anything to think twice about if you have dedicated space in a home gym. If you have nothing more than a small living room and bedroom to fit your bike in, space is a major consideration.

With an outdoor bike and trainers, you need very little space to set up your bike and ride. You can set it up in your living room every time you need to use it and then put it away somewhere else.

It is possible to do this with a spin bike but they are heavy pieces of equipment. The Keiser M3i for instance weighs 85 pounds. Sone spin bikes weigh 100 pounds and more. It would be quite a hassle to move them every time despite rolling wheels.

Ease of storage is another aspect to think about. You can conveniently store your indoor trainer away in a closet during outdoor riding months. A spin bike cannot be folded away into a closet. It will always need some room even if it’s not being used.

 Fit and Positioning

When you buy your road bike, it is fit for you perfectly to your body’s dimensions. When you are using a spin bike it is possible to adjust the seat and handlebars. Even then it is almost impossible to achieve as perfect a fit as in a road bike.

Spin bikes are not built in the same way that road bikes are built. Their geometries are different. This is why you are not in the same position when you are riding a road bike and when riding a spin bike.

Position and posture matters. If you are using either one of the bikes to prepare for professional racing, time spent on the spin bike may not fully benefit race specific training.

Work done on a spin bike may not necessarily carry over to the track. With trainers, you are riding your bike, the same one or a similar one to the one you use in a race. It therefore follows that gains made in indoor training carry to the track.

Ease of Use

The question of ease or convenience of use arises when there will be 2 or more people using the trainers on a regular basis. If this is the case, trainers are inconvenient because each user has to mount his bike and dismount it after use to leave room for the next user.

This process could end up eating 15 to 30 minutes of your workout time every time. With a spin bike, there are some adjustments to be done for each individual user but it takes no more than a minute to make them. Making seat and handlebar adjustments on a spin bike is a quick and easy process.

Primary Purpose

Every piece of equipment you come across is designed with a specific purpose in mind. Even if it ends up being used differently, it is important to take into consideration what the manufacturer had in mind when they designed and made it. This is one area in which there is a clear difference between the spin bike and indoor trainers.

Spin bikes are designed for exercise and fitness enthusiasts who are looking to lose weight, burn calories or maintain good cardiovascular health. Many people turn to spin bikes when it’s too cold or rainy to ride a road bike outside, but their primary intention is purely fitness.

Indoor trainers were made with professional cyclists in mind. The manufacturer realized that these people have to continue training even in bad weather but if they do so on spin bikes, the different position of spin bikes means that few gains made in training transfer to the racing road bike. Why not find a way to continue training on the actual bike but indoors. Hence the birth of indoor trainers.

A Tour de France rider would rather train using indoor trainers in the winter than on a spin bike.

Noise Levels

The amount of noise produced by a bike when it is being used indoors is important especially when you don’t have dedicated gym space. If you are cycling in an apartment for instance, there are likely to be other members of the household or neighbors who are disturbed by loud noise. Even you may not like the idea of loud noise as you pedal.

Spin bikes are relatively quiet as long as they are in good working condition. Trainers are undoubtedly loud, louder than spin bikes. Some trainers produce resistance using fans. The faster you pedal the louder the fan becomes. Those which create resistance using a magnetic system are not as loud but still produce some noise.

There is a way to dampen the sound. Using training specific tires serves to reduce noise but must be replaced after about 1700 miles (3000 Km) of use.

Spin Bikes Vs Indoor Trainers – A Comparison Overview

Spin Bike Overview

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A spin bike is a stationary bike with a large solid frame, the kind you would find in a gym or training center. Spin bikes generally feature a heavy flywheel which is used to create a smooth ride because the heavy flywheel metal gathers momentum as you pedal.

The handlebars are typically large elaborate bars with padding to increase riding comfort and increase friction to ensure the user doesn’t slip even when their hands get sweaty.

Seat and handlebar adjustment can be done quickly and easily by loosening a lever. Seats can be adjusted upward and downward as well as back and forth. Handlebars can be adjusted up and down and some can also be adjusted back and forth.

Most spin bikes come with a console which is used to display measurements such as speed, distance, RPMs and heart rate. Some spin bikes have a small basic console while other pricier ones have large, touchscreen, high definition screens.

Resistance is provides using a magnetic system or a direct contact system. In the magnetic system two strong magnets are placed on either side of the flywheel and resistance adjusted by moving the magnets closer to the flywheel for increased resistance and further away from the flywheel for reduced resistance.

Direct contact resistance works like the brakes in an outdoor bike. Strong pads are used to slow down the flywheel by direct contact which creates sufficient friction to create the desired resistance. Resistance adjustment is typically done using knob.


  • Very stable
  • High weight capacity
  • Suitable for multiple users
  • Quiet
  • Large padded handlebars
  • Infinite resistance


  • Occupies significant space
  • Good but not perfect fit
  • Difficult or impossible to store away
  • Uncomfortable seat
  • Heavy
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 IndoorTrainers Overview

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A bike trainer is a piece of equipment which lets you ride an outdoor bicycle indoors in a stationary position. Its riding you bike in the house with equipment to make sure it doesn’t move. Trainers are common among racers for warm ups or regular training.

With trainers you can easily build bicycle skills and power in a controlled environment without the inevitable interruptions of outdoor riding. A rider can achieve greater focus in a room than if he were riding along a road.

Trainers also help you simulate conditions similar to those you would find outdoors without depending on the ones available near you. You can simulate steep hill climbs even if there are no steep hills in your neighborhood.

A bicycle trainer consist of a frame, a clamp onto which the bike is securely held and a roller. The roller puts pressure on the rear wheel. All these work with a resistance mechanism.

The two main types of indoor trainers are categorized based on how they provide required resistance. These are wheel-on and wheel-off trainers.

In wheel-on systems the rear tire remains in position and continues to spin just like it does if you were riding outside. A wind, magnetic or fluid system is used to create resistance.

In a wheel-off system, direct drive being the main method, the rear wheel is removed. Once you remove it, the bike is mounted directly on to the cassette on the trainer.

In this system, resistance is applied at the cassette and transferred directly to the drivetrain through a belt or motor.


  • Occupies little space
  • Perfect individual fit
  • Easy to store away
  • Efficient skill transfer
  • Makes bike versatile
  • Light


  • Loud
  • Cumbersome with multiple users
  • Can be unstable with vigorous riding
  • Highest resistance unchallenging for many
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Spin bikes and indoor trainers are the same in that they will both provide you with the same workout. Your lower body muscles get that much needed exercise and your cardio goals can be met whichever way you choose to go.

Verdict: So Which Is Better. Spin Bike or Indoor Trainer?

Assuming you already have an outdoor bike and have to choose between a trainer and a spin bike, the indoor trainer would be a better option. Trainers are a lot cheaper and the space factor is a big deal. You can fold the trainer frame and store it away in a closet for months. With a spin bike it takes up space whether it is being used or not.

If you are training in preparation for cycling races, indoor trainers are better because you get to use your own outdoor bike which has the perfect fit for you. All gains made from training are directly transferred to the track. The downside to trainer is that it wears out your tire but you can get a special tire for indoor training and swap it when it is time to get back to outdoor riding.

The versatility is definitely an advantage. You can convert your outdoor bike into an indoor stationary bike using a trainer but you cannot convert a spin bike into an outdoor bike.


How many calories can I burn from riding a spin bike regularly?

It depends on your weight, duration of riding and intensity of the workout. Use this calculator to calculate how much you can burn.

Can I use my mountain bike on an indoor bike trainer?

Yes, most indoor trainers are compatible with mountain bikes’ tires.