Direct-Contact Exercise Bike Flywheel vs Magnetic Flywheel: How Do They Measure Up? 

If you’ve been looking at exercise bikes lately, you may have noticed that the type of resistance is noted in the specs. If the bike features a direct contact resistance on the flywheel, the creators would go into why having this type of resistance is the way to go. And the same can be said with bikes that have magnetic resistance.

Direct contact resistance uses braking pads (leather or felt pad) to apply pressure to the flywheel, while magnetic resistance utilizes magnets to generate tension against the flywheel.

But here’s the question: which is better?

We’re here to compare these bikes side by side and put a stop to this controversy!

Take your time reading our detailed exercise bike flywheel vs magnetic guide.

exercise bike flywheel vs magnetic.

Direct-Contact Exercise Bike Flywheel vs Magnetic Flywheel: What’s the Difference?

Direct Contact Flywheel

The direct contact flywheel essentially involves friction. Braking pads are fitted along a direct contact flywheel to generate a braking effect and add resistance. The rotation decelerates when these braking pads touch the flywheel, and, as a result, resistance is created at the flywheel’s rotational speed.

The resistance makes your workouts more challenging, wherein you have to exert more force and power to get the bike moving at higher speeds. And this, eventually, results in greater calorie burn. 

According to Harvard University, the average number of calories that a 125-pound person burns when cycling at a moderate speed of 16-19 miles per hour is 360. With a direct-contact flywheel exercise bike, you can increase this rating as you build up your resistance and go on with your training.

Magnetic Flywheel

Direct-contact flywheel exercise bikes have dominated the market until manufacturers came up with magnetic exercise bikes, which are created to make up for the shortcomings of the direct contact bikes. 

It goes without saying that magnetic bikes use magnetic forces to generate resistance against the wheel. The resistance system in these bikes uses a flywheel and 2 rotating magnets that engage and disengage to change the amount of resistance placed on the wheel.

The flywheel acts as a metal conductor but doesn’t come in contact with the rotating magnets. In order to increase or decrease the resistance, you will need to manually adjust it using a knob or buttons on the console.

Changing the Resistance Level

You’re probably curious as to whether it’s possible to change resistance levels easily in a direct-contact bike and magnetic bike. The answer is yes!

With a direct-contact flywheel, it’s just about the braking pads moving closer and creating more friction, whereas magnetic resistance is all about having the gears necessary for adjusting the magnet’s interaction with the flywheel.

As long as the bike is in good condition, both should enable you to increase or decrease the resistance easily.

Accurate Resistance Levels

After finding out that both bikes allow you to change the resistance level, you may wonder which one delivers accurate resistance levels. 

The direct-contact flywheel is slightly less accurate, but it’s generally still good enough to help you complete your workout and see visible results. On the other hand, the magnetic flywheel system wins in this department as it is typically computer-operated. All you need to do is look at the console and punch in the resistance level you want.

How to Achieve High Resistance Levels on Direct-Contact Exercise Bike Flywheel vs Magnetic Flywheel?

When deciding between an exercise bike flywheel and a magnetic resistance model, it’s also important to consider high levels of resistance achieved. Of course, getting to the highest level of resistance means having attained a high level of conditioning. This is especially true when you’re strength training for your legs and lower body.

The good news is that both the exercise bike flywheel and magnetic resistance model enable you to reach very high resistance levels. With a contact-based resistance system, you can keep increasing the resistance until the pedals can’t continue. Magnetic bikes, nevertheless, have a fixed range of resistance.

Wear and Tear Level

The contact-based resistance bike tends to have more wear and tear. You have to constantly lubricate and dust the flywheel as it comes in contact with the braking pads. After a few years of regular workout, there may be a need to replace the braking pads, and the flywheel may even fail or be in very bad condition.

With a magnetic resistance bike, you don’t have to worry about wear and tear. This is thanks to the fact that no parts of the bike come in contact to create resistance. It will only need minimal maintenance, such as tightening the screws and wires after years of continued use.

Noise Level

Which bike is louder?

Because braking pads are touching the flywheel, contact-based resistance models tend to be very noisy.

On the contrary, no parts of the bike come in contact when using the magnetic resistance system, resulting in a much quieter and smoother operation.

So if you plan to work out early in the morning or late at night, go for a magnetic bike, and your family will thank you for it.

What is the Cost Difference Between Direct-Contact Exercise Bike Flywheel vs Magnetic Flywheel?

Of course, when comparing an exercise bike flywheel and magnetic resistance model, we can’t overlook the cost. So which is cheaper than the other? The answer – direct contact exercise bike flywheel.

Conclusion: Which is better?

Overall, the magnetic resistance model is better because its benefits outweigh the benefits of direct-contact flywheel exercise bikes. It is quieter, smoother, requires less maintenance, and provides accurate resistance levels. Plus, it comes with all the bells and whistles!

But then again, the decision between getting an exercise bike flywheel vs magnetic is a matter of personal choice and budget.

If you want to splurge on a magnetic flywheel, go for it. But if you’re looking to own an exercise bike that doesn’t break the bank, choose the direct contact exercise bike flywheel. 

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