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Upright vs. Indoor Cycling Exercise Bikes

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
Upright vs. Indoor Cycling Exercise Bikes
Cycling Photo Credit: masta4650/iStock/Getty Images

Most gyms offer both upright, motorized bikes and indoor cycling bikes. If your goal is to burn calories, build up a sweat and strengthen your cardiovascular and respiratory system, either will do. If you have specific cycling performance goals, enjoy the camaraderie of group exercise or prefer the feel of an outdoor bike -- the indoor cycling bike is your best option.

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Resistance and Feel

An upright bike is powered by a motor and uses digital meters to keep track of speed, heart rate and calories burned. Most models feature preset programs that help you build endurance, lose weight or perform intervals. The seat on these bikes tends to be wider than that of a traditional bicycle and an indoor cycling bike, making it more comfortable. Although the pedaling motion is the same as on an outdoor bike, the feel is not as smooth and you have less control. Indoor cycling bikes are built to feel like you're riding an outdoor bike. An indoor cycling bike has no motor. When you pedal, you move a flywheel, which rotates to simulate wheels on an outdoor bike. You can adjust the resistance with a knob or lever, which makes it harder for you to move the flywheel forward -- simulating wind resistance and hills. If your looking to train indoors in the offseason, or want a more realistic cycling experience -- an indoor cycling bike is for you. Indoor cycling bikes are the type featured in group exercise classes that create the feel of a group ride, without traffic, weather or terrain limitations.

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