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Exercise Bikes vs. The Real Thing… Which is Better?

September 2014

A recent search of the following, led someone to my site:  “Is 28.5 miles at 18.5 mph on an exercise bike good”.

To answer the question properly would be near impossible without knowing the resistance setting, but that begs a bigger question:  How does an exercise bike stack up against the real thing?  Seriously.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the last three years on my bikes, upwards of 16,000 miles worth and I’ve spent all of ten minutes in my entire life on an exercise bike.  Now, the new TdF model withstanding, which has some technical advantages over “exercise bikes”, there’s a reason I’ve only spent ten minutes on an exercise bike in my life – it’s because they suck next to the real thing.  On the other hand, on a real exercise bike, at least you can really crank down the resistance so they do have their benefits – especially in the off season.

I mean, let’s face it folks, if it isn’t below freezing outdoors, what looks like more fun?

Exercise Bike
Or this:
20140719-194058-70858427.jpg 20140713_160811

Talk about bringing a knife to a tank fight, holy smokes!

Of course, and this is actually pretty funny, my real bike cost ten times more than that exercise bike.

In the end there are benefits to each…  One is good in the winter when it’s nasty outside and the other is better every other day of the year – and twice on Sunday.


  1. No comparison. I’ve been following your blog off and on for quite a while and have always enjoyed your insights and information about cycling and life. I also admire your stick to it approach to your blog unlike myself who has flitted from blog to blog not quite finding my ‘thing’ yet. Formerly Beech Creek Project… aka Singletrack State of Mind.. and now Ouachita Shutterbug. It’s hard for me to meld all my interests ..hiking, mountain biking and photography. It’s a work in progress. 🙂 Riding and exercise bike compared to a real bike.. would rather go to the dentist. Walking a treadmill compared to hiking a forest trail… sign me up for a prostrate exam. Like they say.. you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit. 🙂 Keep up the great work on the blog and keep those tires spinning.. on the asphalt or dirt.. not the bike stand.

  2. magnuminsp says:

    I have to agree! I use the stationary bike because it is convenient….and we have several hot girls to look at at our gym! I much prefer riding the bike though……..far less boring and, in general, I ride further on a real bike vs a stationary one.

    As for the treadmill….I absolutely hate it! I would rather run a half marathon than 20 minutes on a treadmill!!!!

    • bgddyjim says:

      There’s a reason I left the hamster wheel out of this post. I’ll run with my eyes freezing shut from the cold before I’ll spend a minute on a treadmill.

  3. my1sttrirace says:

    Both bikes have their own purposes. I certainly prefer riding outside to the trainer or spin bike. The benefits of being outside breathing fresh air, and checking out sights are great.
    The spin bike has some advantages as well. You can get a great workout in a shorter amount of time. There is no stopping for cars, no coasting or mechanicals. I can get the benefits of a 1.5 hour ride outside in amount 50 minutes on the indoor bike.
    Being a time crunched triathlete. I do 60% of my bike training outside, and the rest indoors. In the winter those numbers will flip.

    • bgddyjim says:

      I’m 100% outdoors until winter, then I’m probably 95% indoors, same difference. With the indoor trainer, I have it all – including the bike set up in my office in front of a big screen so I can watch Netflix while I get my workout in. Still, by the time March rolls around I can’t WAIT to get back out on the road. I do see how you could use the e/bike indoors to save time. Good point.

  4. Sue Slaght says:

    With you here for sure. Outdoors whenever possible but that indoor bikes save those of us who have dreadful winters. Did I mention it is snowing here?

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