There are many criteria involved in choosing the indoor cycle that is right for you. One of the most important is the type of resistance that the bike employs to control the speed of the flywheel. There are several different ways exercise bikes provide resistance while you pedal, each with its pros and cons. Let’s take a look:
Bikes with mechanical resistance resemble gears on a road bike’s brake mechanism. When you tighten the tension knob, there are rubber pads set up on both sides of the flywheel that will press against the flywheel, slowing the flywheel and making it harder to pedal. The more you tighten the knob, the more it increases the pressure between the rubber pads and the flywheel. As a result, you to can easily customize your preferred resistance level and can tailor your workouts to advance from the norm to higher intensity.
On the other hand, the maintenance cost of mechanical resistance bikes is higher than other types, as lubrication and dusting are often needed due to wear and tear of the moving parts, and they generally require regular replacement of its pads in contact. Furthermore, due to the rubbing of the pads against the flywheel, these are not the quietest bikes out there. When the bike starts making considerably louder noise, lubrication of the flywheel is necessary.
For many years, mechanical resistance exercise bikes dominated the indoor cycling market, however today, magnetic resistance bikes have largely taken over by providing solutions to all the issues associated with mechanical resistance. With magnetic resistance mechanisms, nothing touches the flywheel. Instead, two magnetic bars are placed on the either side of the flywheel that repel each other. In some of the bikes there is a tension knob. Whenever you tighten the tension knob, the distance between the magnetic bars decreases, this creating more resistance to the rotation of the flywheel set in between those repelling magnets. In some other magnetic resistance bikes, the magnets will not move closer to the flywheel to offer more resistance. Instead, a motor is designed to vary the amount of current passed between the magnets to vary the repelling strength of the magnets for resistance. In this case, there’ll be an option to change the resistance level digitally on a display.
Fan-based resistance bikes are completely different from the mechanical and magnetic systems. Instead of a flywheel, these bikes are designed with a resistance fan, which rotates as you pedal. As you pedal faster, the fan starts rotating fast, and the air around it offers more resistance to the fan blades. Besides the cool breeze that hits you while you ride, these bikes are known for their high performance, while the lack of adjustable components minimizes the maintenance needed.
While each one of these types has its own pros and cons, understanding the different types of resistance will help in getting the right exercise bike for you!
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