Article by Siroko: Exercise bikes in cycling: 10 reasons why they’re not worth it

Article by Siroko: Exercise bikes in cycling: 10 reasons why they’re not worth it

Siroko (Spain) - Exercise bikes in cycling: 10 reasons why they’re not worth it.

If you’re a beginner cyclist or you only go for a ride on sunny days, you might be asking yourself if an exercise bike is a good investment, so that you can use it when you don’t have the time to go out, when it’s too cold outside, or simply just to stay in shape. Assuming you already have a regular bike and all the basic equipment to start pedaling, here are 10 reasons why an exercise bike is not worth it in comparison to a basic indoor bike trainer:

They take up a lot of space:

Yes, indoor bike trainers also take up some space, but they can be taken apart, and most of them can also be folded and easily stored. However, exercise bikes, particularly big and complex ones, take up loads of space, so you’ll have to take this into consideration if you live in a small house or a flat. There are very few models of exercise bikes that can be folded and stored. The vast majority of them, once put together, end up being just another piece of furniture.

They’re quite heavy and tricky to take apart:

Both exercise bikes and smart bikes can be really heavy. This extra weight gives them stability but, on the other hand, reduces mobility and ease of transport when compared to a regular bike in combination with an indoor trainer. If one day you feel like exercising by the window, in the garden or on the balcony, you’ll need at least a pair of extra arms to help you move or take apart the exercise bike.


As it is the case with most things, there are really cheap exercise bikes but these inexpensive models are plainly inferior to even the most basic indoor bike trainer. High-end exercise bikes with advanced features are quite pricey, even more so than the most expensive bike trainer. Bottom line, getting an exercise bike is not a great investment, especially if you don’t even know if you’re into indoor cycling at all. Given that you already have a regular bike, it’d be much better to invest in an indoor bike trainer, either new or second hand, and try it out first.

Less realistic experience:

Any cyclist who has used a basic exercise bike or spinning bike is well aware that the feeling is not comparable to riding a bike outdoors. Even a bike combined with a trainer won’t provide the same experience. However, the latter comes close enough, especially because it is your own bike, your saddle, handlebars and pedals.

Then, there’s that pedaling feeling that in most exercise bikes is not even close to that of a real bike, essentially because the resistance offered by exercise bikes is based on friction against brakes, contact with the wheel or turning of the pedals. Top-of-the line exercise bikes do offer electromagnetic resistance, which is a bit more realistic.

Low resistance:

If you have been cycling for a while, it is very likely that the levels or the resistance and training programs of an exercise bike will fall short of what you need. That is, you might have to increase resistance to level 6 out of 10 to be able to feel like you’re getting somewhere pedaling. This is because most exercise bikes are not designed or conceived for cyclists, but for fitness sports and people who want to do a general training program focused on cardio. Exercise bikes specifically designed for cycling do not have these limitations, but that still means you’ll have to have extra space for it at home and get ready for some serious expenses.

Limited to indoor use:

As opposed to regular bikes that can be used both indoors (with a bike trainer) or outdoors, exercise bikes can only be used indoors and in a specific place designed for them, because they’re not easy to transport and take apart, as we have already mentioned. On the other hand, a bike trainer can be either used at home, outside in the garden if you like or even taken with you on holidays.

Zero versatility:

Whether you have a mountain bike, a road bike or a city bike, you can always do mundane tasks like going grocery shopping, to the gym, for a ride with your family and friends, and apart from all that, use it with a bike trainer at home. Even the most discipline-specific and technically complex bikes, such as downhill and time trial models, can still be used as a means of transport to run simple errands. However, an exercise bike has one single purpose: pedaling at home. If for some reason you just want to train at home, then an exercise bike will be a perfectly good choice.

Limited adjusting and fitting options:

As mentioned above, the vast majority of cyclists feel a little awkward on an exercise bike. For the most part, this is due to the lack of authenticity in comparison with a regular bike, especially when it comes to posture, as a lot of exercise bikes don’t have the same handlebars, saddle or pedals cyclists usually use. This results in an uncomfortable body position, particularly during long workouts, and even more so if the bike doesn’t properly adjust to your body or doesn’t have enough fitting options, which is unfortunately the case most of the time. The best, high-end exercise bikes and smart bikes allow you to achieve almost the exact same posture as on a regular bike, but there is always a downside, such as them affecting your Q angle or the fact that they are heavier and more expensive.

Risk of getting bored during workout:

This is something we have previously tackled in our blog post on working out with indoor bike trainers. No changing scenery, no sounds, no company, no different terrains nor any of the challenges that can be found in outdoor cycling… Most cyclists who use indoor trainers do so because they have no other choice. There are many ways not to get bored, and apps such as Zwift or Bkool have turned indoor cycling into an e-sport. On the great majority of exercise bikes you won’t have the chance to use these apps as they are available only for smart bikes. Therefore, the possibility of getting bored and ending up hating indoor cycling is high, and that is the opposite of what you should be looking for.

Resale potential and depreciation:

Inexpensive exercise bikes can be easily resold in second hand markets, as there’s always someone wanting to get fit without breaking the bank. However, due to constant offers and sales in stores, exercise bikes lose their value exponentially. Also, the more expensive and complex the exercise bike, the lower the chance of reselling it. In the end, if you get bored with pedaling indoors, you could be left with a big, expensive gadget that takes up a lot of space and doesn’t even serve as a piece of furniture.

Having said all this, the combination of a bike and an indoor trainer has some disadvantages as well, but they’re nothing compared to the downsides of an exercise bike. For the vast majority of cyclists, the choice is clear: an indoor bike trainer. Then, it’s up to each individual to choose the option that best suits their needs and circumstances.

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