Choosing the Right Exercise Bike: Spin Bike, Exercycle, or Recumbent Bike?

Home fitness has become a top priority for health-conscious individuals, and exercise bikes offer a fantastic way to stay in shape without leaving the comfort of your home. If you're considering investing in an exercise bike, it's essential to understand the differences between the three most popular options: spin bikes, exercycles, and recumbent bikes. In this blog post, we'll explore the unique features of each bike type, their relevance to different fitness levels, and how they cater to individuals recovering from injuries or surgery.

What is a Spin Bike?

A spin bike, also known as an indoor cycling bike, simulates the experience of outdoor cycling. It features a weighted flywheel connected to the pedals, which provides a smooth and continuous riding motion. Spin bikes allow users to adjust the resistance, using either friction or magnetic resistance systems that are adjusted with dials, inbuilt computers or levers simulating uphill climbs and sprints for a challenging workout.

What is an Exercycle?

Exercycles are the classic stationary exercise bikes commonly found in gyms and homes. They offer a simple design with a standard seat and handlebars. Exercycles typically have a dial (manual machine) or a digital console (auto machine) to adjust the resistance level, making it suitable for various fitness levels.

What is a Recumbent Bike?

Recumbent bikes are distinct from spin bikes and exercycles as they come with a reclined seating position. This design reduces strain on the lower back, making it an excellent option for individuals with back issues or limited mobility. Recumbent bikes offer adjustable resistance for users to customize their workout intensity.

Differences Between Spin Bikes, Exercycles, and Recumbent Bikes

  • Resistance Mechanism: Spin bikes use a direct resistance system with the pedals directly connected to the flywheel, and no free hub (if you stop pedalling the momentum of the flywheel will continue turning the pedals). Exercycles and recumbent bikes employ a more passive resistance system, when you stop pedalling the pedals will stop with you, reducing risk of injury.
  • Riding Position: Spin bikes have an upright riding position, exercycles have a standard upright position, and recumbent bikes have a reclined seating position.
  • Intensity Level: Spin bikes provide a high-intensity workout, while exercycles and recumbent bikes offer a more moderate and low-impact workout, respectively.
  • Targeted Muscles: Spin bikes focus on leg muscles and core, while exercycles and recumbent bikes engage leg muscles and lower body more comprehensively.
  • Calorie Burn: Spin bikes can burn more calories due to their high-intensity nature, while exercycles and recumbent bikes burn fewer calories but are ideal for longer duration workouts.

Choosing the Right Bike for Your Fitness Level

  1. Assess your fitness level: Determine your current fitness level and your fitness goals before choosing an exercise bike.
  2. Consider your preferences: Think about the type of workouts you enjoy and the riding position that suits you best.
  3. Test before purchasing: Rutherford Fitness hire before you buy option gives you certainty you're investing in the right machine for your needs - its completely risk free!

Choosing the Right Bike During Injury Recovery

  1. Consult with a professional: Seek advice from a fitness expert or physical therapist to determine the best bike type for your recovery needs.
  2. Prioritize comfort: Opt for a bike that offers ergonomic features and reduces strain on the affected areas during your recovery period.
  3. Gradual progression: Start with low resistance and shorter workout durations, gradually increasing them as your recovery progresses.

Passive Resistance in Exercycles and Recumbent Bikes

Exercycles and recumbent bikes utilize a passive resistance system, meaning that the resistance remains consistent regardless of the user's pedalling speed, and stops when you stop pedalling. This design offers a safe, smooth and consistent workout experience, suitable for beginners and those looking for steady-state cardio sessions.


Choosing the right exercise bike is crucial for achieving your fitness goals and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Consider your fitness level, preferences, and any injury recovery requirements when selecting between spin bikes, exercycles, and recumbent bikes. Whatever your choice, Rutherford Fitness offers a wide range of home fitness solutions to cater to your unique needs. We have 4 models of Spin Bike, 4 Exercycles and a new recumbent bike arriving late 2023, so whatever your needs we can hire or sell you the best machine, talk to your local operator to get the best advice and great local service!