What’s The Difference Between An Exercise Bike vs A Spin Bike?

November 4, 2021

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What’s The Difference Between An Exercise Bike vs A Spin Bike?

Want to know the difference between an exercise bike vs a spin bike? Sometimes the difference is just a matter of definition and other times an indoor spin bike will have a specific frame style or design. We’ve reviewed all types of bikes, so let’s take a look at a few different kinds of indoor exercise bikes.
Exercise Bike vs Spin Bike

What Is An Exercise Bike?

An exercise bike is any stationary bike that is designed to be ridden indoors. All indoor bikes are technically exercise bikes because they sit in one place but still allow you to pedal. However, most “exercise bikes” have a specific frame design that is patterned after outdoor road bikes with a flywheel in front, the handlebars and seat roughly in line with each other, and the pedals positioned underneath the seat. This style is also referred to as a “studio bike” since indoor cycling classes occur in a studio. Exercise bikes usually have multi-position handlebars allowing riders to lean forward or sit up. This design allows for a more aggressive riding style with the torso resting on the handlebars. Heavier flywheels on exercise bikes also allow riders to stand up while riding.

Many newer exercise bikes also include a screen at subscription content for at-home classes. Peloton, Nordictrack, ProForm, Bowflex and Sole all have exercise bikes that look and feel like an outdoor road bike. If you enjoy riding fast and competitively or if you like “rhythm riding” where the instructor integrates fun dance moves with the ride that is all synced with the music – an indoor exercise bike is the way to go!

What Is A Spin Bike?

A “spin” bike is actually a term that was coined in the 1990’s by a California company called Mad Dogg Athletics. This company created the “Spinning” brand and titled their classes ”spin” classes. Spin classes are indoor cycling classes conducted in the dark to music and are led by an instructor. Indoor “spin” classes have been incorporated by many gyms and companies since then and this is the format used on the Peloton Bike. While this term is often applied to any type of indoor exercise bike, “Spinning” and “Spin Bike” actually refers to a specific brand. Spin bikes are patterned after road bikes as well with the same styling as an exercise bike.

What Is An Upright Exercise Bike?

Another type of indoor exercise bike is an upright bike. This design has elevated handlebars with a lower seat which allows the rider to sit upright while riding. Typically upright bikes are best for riders who want to keep their shoulders and torso elevated for easier breathing and less aggressive positioning. Upright bikes typically have a lower-weight flywheel and don’t support a lot of out-of-the-saddle riding. These bikes are patterned after casual beach-cruiser or commuter bikes and work well for those who want a more casual feeling ride with less aggressive positioning.

What Is A Recumbent Bike?

Another popular indoor bike design is a recumbent bike with a low, wide seat and pedals in front of the saddle rather than beneath. Recumbent bikes are well-suited for riders who may have mobility limitations or joint sensitivities as the low seat is usually easier to get on and off and the design puts less strain on lower body joints. Recumbent bike saddles are typically wide and include a backrest for lumbar support. These often have handles alongside the seat as well as on the front of the bike.

What Is An Air Bike?

Finally, air, or assault, bikes have a front fan with upright handles that help move the air blades rather than a standard flywheel. This style of bike functions similarly to an air resistance rower. The rider moves the blades with their upper body while they pedal with the lower body. Fan bikes provide a more intense, full-body workout and are usually used for short duration HIIT intervals in CrossFit workouts or HIIT sessions. You can check out some of our favorite fan bikes on our best air bikes page.


Indoor exercise bikes come in many shapes and sizes, so hopefully you can find the right style for you! Pretty much all indoor stationary bikes provide a low-impact high-intensity workout. Bikes tend to be quieter, smaller and easier to use than other types of fitness equipment, so they are a great option for use in your home.