Written by Caitlin

How do I choose an exercise bike with the right resistance?

So you want to buy an exercise bike. Cool! What kind of resistance does a fitness machine like that have, though, and which one is best for you? Will you get an exercise bike with magnetic resistance, electromagnetic resistance, or air resistance? To help you choose, we'll explain the 3 most commonly used resistance mechanisms below.

Magnetic resistance

If an exercise bike has magnetic resistance, the resistance is adjusted by moving the magnets closer to, or further from, the flywheel. The magnet's distance from the flywheel determines the resistance. Because the magnetic resistance itself moves, it's subject to wear. You'll often find a magnetic resistance in the more affordable exercise bike category, and it's suitable for people who don't use their exercise bike every day.

  • More affordable than electromagnetic resistance
  • Subject to wear, due to its movement

Electromagnetic resistance

If an exercise bike has electromagnetic resistance, the resistance is adjusted by having more or less power flow through the magnets. This current determines the resistance. One advantage of an electromagnetic resistance is that it can be accurately set. In addition, an electromagnetic resistance is virtually noiseless. Because the magnets in an electromagnetic resistance don't move themselves, they're less subject to wear than those in a magnetic resistance. You'll often find an electromagnetic resistance in the more expensive exercise bike category, and it's recommended for when you use the exercise bike often.

  • Can be accurately set and isn't subject to much wear
  • More expensive than magnetic resistance

Air resistance

If an exercise bike has air resistance, the resistance is determined by the power you supply. The harder you cycle, the harder it will be to pedal. An exercise bike that uses air resistance is often known as an air bike. Since training with air resistance is tough, you often also use your upper body. As a result, you're training your whole body. An added advantage of air resistance is that cycling faster also makes it harder. That's why this system is great for interval training.

  • Great to use for interval training
  • Air resistance is noisy

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