Exercise Bike vs Real Bike – A Detailed Guide to Choosing the Better Bike

Have you been thinking about starting a new workout routine? If yes, cycling is one great option.

However, you can’t just begin your cycling workout routine without getting a bike. So as you get set to buy one, there’s one question you will have to answer- exercise bike vs real bike: which is better?

We’ve put together a detailed comparison of these bikes to simplify things for you. Once you figure out the answer, you can then go ahead and start pedaling!

exercise bike vs real bike

Working out in the great outdoors is exquisite luxury, but so is working out in private. To ensure that you choose the better bike for yourself, take your time learning about the difference between owning an exercise bike and a real bike.

Exercise Bike vs Real Bike: How They Work

Exercise Bike

What makes the exercise bike different from the real bike is its build. While the real bike has two wheels, the exercise bike only has one. You still pedal; however, the wheel will keep you in one place. 

The wheel is probably the biggest change between the real and the exercise bikes. It is usually suspended off the ground and is generally located inside the body of the bike. This design explains why the wheels will only rotate as you pedal, but the bike remains unmoved. 

Since you’re not causing the exercise bike to move, you will need to use more resistance on the pedals for the suspended wheel to spin. In addition, some exercise bikes are designed for pedaling backwards, allowing you to activate different muscles than you’d be pedaling forward.

Real Bike

The real bike is still the primary equipment for outdoor exercising. For those who want to take in the beauty of nature while getting some exercise, the bike becomes their workout buddy. 

When it comes to seating, most real bikes have small and usually very uncomfortable seats. No one really knows why bike manufacturers can’t enhance this feature when the seats/saddles in exercise bikes are larger and more comfortable.

The only good thing about the uncomfortable seats is that you can easily replace them. This ease of customization allows you to keep your bike looking good and new all the time. 

Exercise Bike vs Real Bike: Comparing Benefits

Exercise Bike Benefits

  • Controlled Environment: The convenience factor is what attracts most fitness enthusiasts. By staying at home, you can get a great workout without obstacles like passing cars, traffic, stop signs, rain, snow, uneven terrain, muddy roads, periodic winds, hills, and the list goes on. And this benefit equates to maximum safety!
  • Controlled Form of Exercise: The very controlled form of exercise is another exercise bike benefit that we can’t ignore! This is great if you want to follow a consistent workout routine. With real bikes, you can’t get the same every time you pedal because of the obstacles mentioned earlier.
  • Low-Cost Maintenance: With exercise bikes, you don’t need to invest in special gears and bike accessories that are usually costly. You also don’t need to wear the appropriate layers as you’re doing the exercise at home. Get sweaty as you can because nobody’s watching!

Real Bike Benefits

The real bike also has some points in its favor, including:

Mental Boost: When you factor in the mental aspect of spending time in nature, the real bike becomes a must-have.

A 2010 study showed that spending at least 5 minutes outdoors can be very beneficial to your mental health. Indeed, you can’t get the same level of mental boost when cycling indoors!

Another study found that exercising in nature has shown some promising effects on one’s mental well-being.

Mindfulness: Sure, cycling with loud music can boost your energy. We appreciate that too. But there may be occasions when you’d rather lose yourself in nature and disconnect from the world for a while. For those instances, there’s an exercise bike! 

It’s a lot easier to contemplate and be mindful of your body when cycling outdoors. And by enjoying some quiet time in nature, you can reap a number of benefits. 

Multitasking: Not every exercise equipment allows you to do two activities simultaneously. That’s why we think that the real bike is a winner when it comes to multitasking. 

If you have to run errands like buying bread, you can just swing by the bakeshop and put the bread in your backpack. That’s way more convenient than cycling at home, showering, putting on clean clothes, and driving to the bakeshop.

With a real bike, you can easily take yourself to places where you need to get something done instead of waiting until your workout is over.

Will You Get The Same Results?

Exercise Bike vs Real Bike: Both Bikes Activate The Same Muscles

These are the muscle groups activated during a cycle workout:

  • glutes/buttocks- gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus
  • calves- soleus and gastrocnemius
  • arms- biceps and triceps
  • thigh- hamstrings and quadriceps
  • shoulders- deltoids
  • foot- plantar flexors and dorsiflexors

The only difference is that the exercise bike puts more resistance on your hamstrings so that the wheel will spin. 

Exercise Bike vs Real Bike: Real Bike Burns More Calories

The number one reason most people are doing active physical exercise is to burn calories. Thankfully, cycling helps you achieve this goal. But which bike helps you burn more calories? Here’s the answer: a real bike.

In 2014, researchers assessed cyclists’ perceived exertion and caloric burn in outdoor vs indoor cycling. They found that these cyclists exercised at a higher intensity in outdoor settings. 

Wrapping Up

As mentioned, there are different advantages to using an exercise bike and using a real bike. If you want to ensure maximum safety while exercising, you should probably get an exercise bike. But if you have a safe road to ride on, getting a real bike is the best decision.

The exercise bike is better if:

  • You want to ensure safety
  • You prefer a controlled form of exercise
  • You want a low-maintenance fitness machine

The real bike is better if:

  • Your goal for cycling is to boost your mood
  • You like to contemplate while cycling
  • You want to get other things done while cycling

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