Both Airdyne bikes and indoor cycling bikes offer indoor alternatives to road cycling. The two types of stationary cycles possess certain features that mimic riding conditions similar to those experienced on roads and trails using traditional outdoor bicycles. Though similar in fitness benefits, both possess unique features riders must consider before choosing the better bike for conditioning and workouts.
The Airdyne bikes, manufactured by Schwinn, have the same basic geometry as upright bicycles with one major exception: a large fan -- similar to a window fan -- in place of the front wheel. The fan wheel provides the resistance that provides the core workout, according to Fitness Obsession. Users set their own workout intensity based on the pedaling speed, with harder pedaling equaling more resistance. The rotating fan creates air circulation, mimicking the outdoor air and wind that helps cool cyclists as they ride. And two moving handles provide a workout for cyclists' arms. Indoor cycling class bikes rely on a front flywheel for the resistance that simulates riding on various graded surfaces. The flywheel is adjustable for various difficulty levels. These stationary bikes most closely mimic actual road bikes in shape and feel. Adjustable seats and handlebars allow cyclists to achieve a fit for maximum pedal thrust, rotation and comfort. Indoor cycling bikes have fixed handlebars, such as those on traditional road bikes.
Considerations for Use
Because Airdyne bikes create their own air circulation, these stationary cycles offer options for workouts in small or enclosed spaces with little or no circulation, such as floor fans or windows. Most stationary bikes can cause riders to overheat more quickly than outdoor riding because of a lack of air or wind flow indoors. Airdyne bikes help mitigate this issue. Indoor cycling bikes afford the closest alternative to actual road riding, making them an option for cyclists to maintain conditioning for distance riding during inclement weather or the off-season. Like the Airdyne bike, Indoor cycling bikes provide alternatives in the home or health club.
The Schwinn Airdyne bike possesses digital consoles with meters that show various workout stats, including time elapsed during riding, estimated calories burned and distance covered. These features help stationary cyclists keep track of progress during workouts. Most stationary bikes lack these digital readouts but do allow various flywheel adjustments that more closely match outdoor riding surface conditions, such as level riding or elevated slopes.
According to Fitness Obsession, the two moving handlebars on Airdyne bikes provide an arm and upper-body workout not often associated with other stationary bikes. Both Airdyne and Indoor cycling bikes afford users the traditional leg, lower-body and cardiovascular strengthening and conditioning that most stationary bikes provide. Depending on your exertion level, indoor cycling classes can have you burning a minimum of 400 calories.
Preventing Fatigue and Injury
With any stationary bike, users must take precautions to prevent overuse injuries and fatigue. Proper seat adjustments are key to preventing knee injuries and maximizing workout benefits. Seat levels should allow cyclists' legs to be nearly straight -- with just a slight bend in the knee -- when pedals sink to their lowest point in the rotation. Proper seat adjustment gives legs maximum thrust without overextending knees. And seats that sit too low mean knees remain bent during workouts, causing fatigue and soreness. Because of a riding intensity closely matching outdoor cycling, Fitness Obsession recommends users of Indoor cycling bikes enroll in coached Indoor cycling classes geared to beginner, intermediate or advanced levels.