Watt bikes were for a long time assumed to be indoor bikes for the pros. Now that they have become a part of many gyms, spin bike die-hards are being unfaithful to their long-time partners.In this spin bike vs Watt bike comparison we analyze the two types of bikes and their benefits.
I have used spin bikes for my cycling workouts for many years and have been quite happy with the results. Recently I have heard friends at the gym talking about Watt bikes. What are Watt bikes and are they better than spin bikes?
Here is a Spin bike vs Watt bike comparison with explanations of what they are, how they differ from each other and the benefits of each.
What Are The Differences Between Spin Bikes And Watt Bikes?
High (back almost upright)
Low ( back bent forward)
-10 (few, basic ones)
+40 ( highly detailed info)
Dual system ( air and magnetic)
Spin Bikes Vs Watt Bikes -How Do They Compare?
Handlebars and Seat
The Watt bike is a specialized indoor bike which is designed to replicate the feel of a road bike.It is used by professional cyclists to enable them train with a bike as close as possible to what they use for professional racing. To achieve this, one of the key differences between these and spin bikes is the position of handlebars.
In watt bikes the handlebar base is lower down than in spin bikes. This causes the riderâ€™s back to be almost parallel to the frame rather than upright as is the case with spin bikes. Both the handlebars and the seat can be adjusted to replicate exactly what is in road bikes.
Cycling is a metric-based sport. You want to keep track of various metrics as you cycle to know how you are doing. Spin bikes have a monitor which provides basic measurements which are speed, distance covered, power produced and heartrate. These are all displayed on the screen and in some bikes can be transferred to another device via Bluetooth.
Watt bikes take metric measurement not one, not two but many steps further. They have more complex measuring ability and can measure more than 40 different metrics. All these are compared and analyzed to make determinations like a riderâ€™s fitness level which then helps to improve skill.
Some key additional measurements in watt bikes are maximum heart rate, pedaling technique(this is a big one for the pros), maximum minute power,left and right leg balance, power to weight ratio and average power.
All these are analyzed and used to determine where a riderâ€™s strengths and weaknesses are as part of training in preparation for professional races.
Resistance in indoor bikes refers to how difficult it is to pedal or complete a full pedal rotation. Both spin bikes and watt bikes are designed with mechanisms to adjust resistance in an effort to create anoutdoor ride feel.Â Resistance is adjusted in levels, lower levels used to mimic rides on flat ground and higher levels to mimic steep climbs. Most spin bikes use a magnetic resistance system.
Watt bikes use a patent protected dual resistance system. They have an air system and a magnetic system.
Air system:This one uses different gears to recreate the feeling of riding on flat ground. Gear levels range from 1 to 10. A lever is used to regulate air flow into the turbine. When inflow is increased, resistance increases and vice versa.
In regular riding, you only need to engage the air system gears and it is done just like in a road cycle.
Magnetic system: Watt bikes also have a magnetic braked flywheel which is used to recreate the feel of riding up a steep hill. The system is controlled using a dial which rotates clockwise through levels 1 to7. Level 1 mimics a flat road and level 7 mimics a very steep road. The rotating action works by moving a set of magnets closer to the flywheel thus making its rotation more difficult.
Fitness Level Comparison
Spin bikes give you few basic, individual metrics. No further analysis is done on them. Watt bikes give you more measurements and proceed to analyze and compare them mathematically to give you more information.
You can for instance take what users call a brutal 3-minute test which the bikeâ€™s computer uses to establish your fitness level. It is with these as a base-line that proceeding workouts are measured to establish if you are getting any fitter.
These same figures are used to give you a fitness score which you can use to compare your performance with friends and even cycling pros.
Watt bikes give you a continuous assessments so you are constantly aware of your progress.
Spin Bikes Vs Watt Bikes â€“ A Comparison Overview
Spin Bikes Overview
Spin bikes are stationary indoor cycling bikes used in gyms or at home. They feature a flywheel, the metallic circular wheel as the bottom of the bike. It serves to give the rider a smooth, consistent ride by building and maintaining momentum from pedaling motion. Although some experts oppose this notion, it is generally accepted that the heavier the flywheel in a spin bike, the smoother the cycling experience.
Spin bikes are known to have minimal seat padding. They have adjustable seats and handlebars with the latter usually being padded for comfort and increased friction especially when the riderâ€™s hands get sweaty.
In most bikes, the seat can be adjusted both vertically (up and down) and horizontally (back and forth). In a few bikes the handlebars have this four-way adjustment capability while in most bikes handlebars can only be adjusted vertically.
A majority of spin bikes in the market have a computer which is used to take basic metrics from the user to allow them keep track of their progress. Consoles display distance covered, speed, power output and heart rate if it is compatible with a heart monitoring device.
Spin bikes designed for commercial use generally have features which are supposed to enable the bike accommodate a wide variety of users in terms of height, weight and intensity of the workout. These have dual design SPD pedals which allow for users who are wearing specialized cycling shoes and those who prefer to use regular trainers.
The user height range generally stretches between 4 foot 10 and 7 feet for those made with very tall users in mind. Weight capacity ranges stretch from 220 pounds (100 kg) to about 300 pounds (136 kg) though some have capacity to take up to 350 pounds.
- 4-way adjustable seat
- Padded handlebars
- Dual design pedals
- Wide user height range
- Basic metrics
- Single resistance system
- Minimal seat padding
Watt Bikes Overview
The watt bike was created with professional cyclists in mind. They had expressed need for an indoor training bike which feels as close as possible to an outdoor bike. This way benefits of regular training on it indoors could easily be transferred to outdoor bikes on a racing arena.Itgetsits name from the fact that it measures power output in watts.
Manufacturers spent 10 years perfecting this product, working alongside Olympic cyclists, and world renowned sports scientists.
Who is the watt bike ideal for? It will be a godsend for you if you are a professional or fitness enthusiast whose cycling workouts have plateaued and you canâ€™t figure out why.
You are looking for insights into your technique in order to identify areas and methods to improve overall performance. The stats will be more than you need to get the answers you need.
The manufacturing company has also developed a watt bike app. It gives users access to workouts, tests and training plans. You can use the app on the bikeâ€™s performance monitor via Bluetooth.
When connected, you can start cycling sessions or choose from the saved plans, workouts or tests. Once you are done the data is saved to your phone or tablet as well as the watt bike site.
This bikeâ€™s maximum weight capacity stands at 350 pounds (150 kg).
- Numerous metrics
- Dual resistance system
- Lower handle bar positioning
- Watt bike app
- Individualized analysis of performance
- Ability to compare yourself to pros
- Training plans and pre-programmed sessions fromwatt bike hub
Â Â Cons
- Multiple metrics can be difficult to decipher
Spin bikes and watt bikes are both indoor bikes so you can get that much needed workout even in lousy weather. Both have a decent weight capacity upwards of 300 pounds so just about anyone can get on and ride without such safety concerns.
Verdict: So Which Is Better? Spin Bikes or Watt Bikes?
Spin bikes have been indoor cycling workout companions for years. The somewhat recent entry of watt bikes has taken the game to another level.
If you are looking to raise your fitness levels and understand the details of what goes into making that happen, the watt bike is for you. Needless to say, if you are a professional cyclist, the investment for a watt bike is well worth it.
With this bike you get all the basics in a spin bike as well as lot of data and analysis on how to improve yourself, information on crucial techniques such as pedaling technique and the ability to compare yourself to others. The dual resistance system lets you challenge yourself to the limits.
Is there any advantage to wearing cycling shoes over trainers when using a spin bike?
You can use either but there are some advantages to cycling shoes. These shoes have hard soles so your weight is more evenly dispersed across the bottom of your feet. The fact that they clip onto the pedals allows you to properly work your hamstrings and glutes when you pull up during a pedal stroke.
With trainers, your foot is only halfway in the cage meaning it is easier for it to accidentally slip out.
What wattage should I aim for on a watt bike?
There is no set figure to aim for. It depends on the individual and your fitness level. A beginner would generally average between 75 and 100 watts in an hour long workout. A relatively fit rider would average 100 watts in the same time and a pro cyclist easily pushes it up to 400 watts in the same time.