Air Bike vs Spin Bike: What are the Differences?

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Indoor stationary exercise bikes are a piece of efficient and powerful equipment; These bikes can help you not only burn the extra calories you have but also improve muscular flexibility, cardiovascular health, and circulation.

Compared to other types of cardio machines, exercise bikes puts less stress on your joints but still, contribute to a superb aerobic exercise.

Two of the most popular types of exercise bikes are the Air Bikes & the Spin (or Spinning) Bikes.

But what is the right one for me?

In this article, we will talk about the differences between indoor Air Bikes (Fan Bikes) & Spin Bikes, the advantages & disadvantages of each one and help you choose the right one for your needs.

A woman using an air/fan bike

Air Bikes

An air or fan bike is an indoor stationary exercise bike with independent handlebars (for the upper body) that move forward and back. An air bike creates resistance with a large fan driven by the speed and power of the bike’s pedals and handles. The harder you work, the more resistance you will be working against. The Schwinn® Airdyne® and the Assault AirBike Classic are two popular examples of air bikes, often seen in gyms.

A woman using a spin bike

Spin Bikes

Spin bikes are a modern upgrade to the standard indoor stationary exercise bike. A spin bike is built around a flywheel mechanism that simulates the variable resistance experienced while riding an outdoor ten-speed road bike. Spinning Cycles are designed and built for much faster and higher pedaling speeds. If you have seen a Peloton® commercial, you have seen a spin bike.

Difference Summary

To sum up, the main difference of an Air Bike, like Airdyne, and a Spin Bike is the handlebars and the type of the resistance.

Air Bikes, in contrast with Spin Bikes, can provide you with a full-body workout by using independent handlebars that move forward and back. Finally, an Air Bike creates resistance with a large fan while a Spin Bike is built around a flywheel mechanism with a friction or (usually) magnetic belt drive resistance.

Related:
1. Best Spin Bikes of 2020
2.
Air Bikes vs Rowers

Fan Bikes Vs Spin Bikes: Pros and Cons

Air bikes, often called fan bikes, have been available since 1978 with the introduction of the Airdyne® during the age of aerobics. Fan bikes grew in popularity with the introduction of CrossFit training in the late 1990s as crossfitters recognized the benefits of a full-body workout combined with the ability to train aggressively. There are no motors or electronics on true air bikes; YOU set the resistance level with your pace, and the harder you work, the harder resistance you have to maintain that pace using both your upper and lower body.

On the other hand, Spinning bikes were designed and built for group spinning (spin) classes and have only recently become available for indoor use. Many modern exercise bikes have a built-in screen for streaming or joining prerecorded virtual spin classes from home. Spin bikes are built to go fast and are targeted to people who are exercising to burn calories and meet their weight-loss goals. They are imitating the movement of a regular road bike.

Our Top Picks

Assault AirBike Classic

Our Air Bike Pick

The AirBike classic is forged from the highest quality, most durable materials. This bike has an excellent customer review score on Amazon.

Runner-up: Rogue Echo Bike

Bowflex C6 Bike

Our Spin Bike Pick

A highlight in the category of affordable commercial spin bikes for home use. High quality with a lot of extra perks at an excellent price.

Runner-up: Joroto X2 Bike

Air bike vs Spin Bike: Pros & Cons Table

Air Bikes

Air Bike vs Spin Bike: What are the Differences? 2

Pros

  • Real full body workout. Can help you even on the upper body
  • Most fan bikes are solidly built and require no electrical outlet
  • Thanks to solid construction, most air bikes will support users up to 350 pounds
  • Fan bikes provide all of the cardio benefits of running, and get your heart rate up, without impact
  • You will burn an estimated 500 calories per 30-minute workout
  • Simple to use, not easy, but uncomplicated

Cons

  • Large and heavy. Fan bikes are solidly built, heavy, and have a large footprint.
  • Quality air bikes may be expensive (and expensive to ship).
  • Air bikes do not fold, are not compact, and may need their own dedicated space.

Spin Bikes

Keiser M3i Indoor Cycle Bundle

Pros

  • When used correctly, spinning provides authentic HIIT training, periods of high intensity alternating with brief periods of lower intensity and recovery periods (interval training).
  • Spinning burns both calories and stored body fat. Spinning over 30 minutes will burn available carbs and stored glycogen and then tap into fat stores for fuel.
  • Spin bikes are a relatively quiet, low impact way to get your heart rate up.
  • When using the available screens and virtual classes, spinning can be both fun and challenging. You will look forward to the experience rather than dread your workouts.

Cons

  • Modern, high-quality spinning bikes can be costly.
  • Spin bikes are very tech-dependent; they need power and often a WiFi connection.
  • Spin bikes must be set up anatomically correctly to avoid butt, shoulder, and back pain. You will need to properly adjust the distances between seat, pedals, handlebars, etc.
  • While smaller and lighter than fan bikes, you still may need a dedicated space for your spin bike.

Air Bike vs Spin Bike: Which should I choose?

Both options have distinct advantages, and BOTH are healthy fitness tools, but your choice should be based on your personal fitness goals: 

● If you are interested in cardiovascular health, fitness, and building a LEAN and well-defined body (and don’t mind pushing yourself to your limits), choose a quality AIR BIKE like Airdyne!

● If your goal is cardio fitness, weight loss, and calorie burning and a toned butt and you are NOT technologically challenged, your best option is a quality SPIN BIKE like Keiser!

Air Bikes – Top Picks

Assault AirBike Classic

OUR PICK

The AirBike classic is forged from the highest quality, most durable materials. This bike has an excellent customer review score on Amazon.

Rogue Echo Bike

BEST ALTERNATIVE

Combines heavy-duty steel, precision engineering, and convenient customization to forge a stronger, sturdier fan bike.

Spin Bikes – Top Picks

Bowflex C6 Bike

OUR PICK

A highlight in the category of affordable commercial spin bikes for home use. High quality with a lot of extra perks at an excellent price.

JOROTO X2 Bike

BEST ALTERNATIVE

A virtually silent bike with sleek design & solid construction at a great price. The seat and handlebar are both 4-way adjustable.

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The article has been researched & compiled by the Editorial IF-FIT Team, a group of experienced fitness & health writers.

This post has 6 Comments

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  1. That’s a good guide above. I had herniated disc a few years back. At times the sciatic pain pops up so I do not exercise much other than walking. My hyper tension needs some activity. this pandemic has made it scary to venture out and looking for an exercise machine. Would airbike harm my back? I am holding back my purchase due to this doubt in my mind.

    Was thinking of ellipticals but read in many places it was not good with a bad back.

    1. Hi Subbu,

      Firstly, we would recommend getting some advice from a physician or an orthopedic doctor specific to your situation. Sometimes, depending on the exact injury that you may have, some exercise machines may be more beneficial from others. Ellipticals, treadmills, and stationary bikes are used from many people with back pain as they provide a low-impact exercise, which is one of the safest ways to lose weight with little to no risk of injury.

      Regarding Air-Bikes, we would say that they are generally safe if they are appropriately used, but Recumbent Bikes are usually better for back pain issues as they have a supportive backrest, making them very comfortable to use even for elongated periods of activity.

      1. thanks a lot for the reply. I checked with my doctor too. he said any exercise is fine if low impact.

        Still as you wrote , i was told by a dealer here in UAE where i live Airbikes need a bit more effort and he recommended recumbent bike hybrid from Proform.

          1. A visit to an only dependable sports and fitness store in my city Abu Dhabi turned the tides in favour of Airdyne AD6. Compact that it takes less space in our apartment than the Proform Recumbent Hybrid XT. Quiet compared to Xebex or Assault we saw on Youtube videos. And the seller is in the same town while Xebex or Assault are available only 100 miles away and not easy to commute due to COVID restrictions.

            Also the small stride length of Hybrid XT ( 15″ ) was uncomfortable when on elliptical. And the most important WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor). Now all of us (wife, daughter and I) are on Airdyne in the morning.

            At least none of us found it overly tiring and there is no joint pain or muscle aches after the workout even on the first day.

          2. Happy to hear it, Subbu! We hope that you’ll enjoy it.

            P.S. We forgot to mention that WAF is always one of the most important factors!

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