Joseph Lampen and The All Seasons Cyclist are heroes, of sorts, to me. They ride in conditions that most people refuse to run in. I’ll run in deplorable conditions (snow, ice, frigid cold, it’s all good after you warm up) but when it comes to cycling, when the temp dips below freezing, I’m done. I don’t like the fact that my muscles don’t work properly at speed and that the cycling clothing required to make them do so comfortably costs more than most big-box bikes so I relegate myself to the indoor trainer four days a week to keep myself in shape through the winter months. Many other bloggers choose to take spin classes – and the owner of my LBS leads classes to stay in cycling shape.
Terence, over at Jesus Was A Roadrunner is doing yeoman’s research on the difference between spin bikes and running on a treadmill that really got me to thinking about the differences between spin bikes and riding your own bike on a trainer.
First the pros for riding on a trainer:
Cost effective: At a mere $100 used or $250-$600 new (computerized versions up to $1,500-$2,000), trainers make a lot of sense for those, like me, who would prefer to spend the big bucks elsewhere (like on more cycling shorts, jerseys, jackets, lights, etc., etc.).
Comfort: While it is possible to dial in an exercise bike or spin bike, nothing can compare to riding your own bike, which is assumed to be fit properly to you (crank arm length, stem length, bar height and saddle height just to name a few).
Space, mobility and weight: A trainer, by comparison, is tiny and ultra-light when viewed against an exercise bike or spin bike. I can pack my trainer and my bike into my small SUV in a matter of minutes. Try that with an exercise bike or spin bike – without a help and a pickup truck.
No membership required.
Bikes make a lousy clothing rack: If you even like your bike a little bit, you’ll loath to drape clothes over it. Exercise bikes, on the other hand, frequently find themselves relegated to becoming a $6,000 clothing rack.
Pros for the spin/exercise bike:
Superior workout resistance: Trainers are great for maintaining fitness but they lack in the resistance department, something that the exercise/spin bike has in abundance. With a spin bike it’s “easier” to get stronger – if you’re willing to put in the effort.
Calorie burn: You can expect to burn between 600 and 800 calories an hour on a trainer. With the increased resistance you can burn much more on a spin or exercise bike.
Classes: Being a part of a fitness group has too many benefits to list. Though a group could gather with their bikes and trainers at someone’s house, it’d have to be one big house! Actually, that gives me an idea for next winter (my house is rather smallish, just under 2,000 sf, but my living room is huge. The point is, it’s easier to pack a small bag and hit the gym for a spin class than it is to get a bunch of people to bring their bikes and trainers to your house for a weekly jam.
Eye candy: While I have heard of people choosing some rather interesting viewing material during their spin time, real-life eye candy is much more interesting.
If you happened on this post to investigate the best choice, celebrate the fact that you have willingness – follow that up with action and build the you that you’ve wanted.
Having done so myself, I can tell you there is little in life as rewarding as liking what you see when you look in the mirror.