Exercise Bike vs. Indoor Trainer (Everything You Need to Know!)

Choosing between an exercise bike and an indoor trainer can be hard sometimes. They both offer complete cardio workouts that are easy on your joints. With their different levels of resistance, you are also assured of toning and strengthening your entire body after consistent training.

There are unique features that make each product suitable for certain people. An exercise bike, for instance, might not be a great fit for beginners to indoor cycling because it is rather intense. One of the oldest indoor trainers in the market is the roller. While they have a rather simple design, they are highly effective for endurance training. They are also useful for perfecting your pedaling technique. While most indoor trainers are quite loud, they have been the preferred indoor equipment for riders since the manufacture of the roller.

Here is a complete outlook of both these products.

How do the exercise bike and indoor trainer compare?

Exercise Bike
Indoor trainer
No. of calories burned
400-800kcal per hour
350-600+ kcal in 45 minutes
Resistance Levels
Areas Toned
Lower body- abs, quads, hamstrings and upper body as well
Upper and lower body including hamstrings, calves, glutes, quads and back

Exercise bike v Indoor trainer- what are the differences?

Muscles Worked

Both exercise bike and indoor trainers are loved for a full body workout but they lay emphasis on the lower body first.

Some of the muscles worked are your back, core, quadriceps and gluteus (glutes). By maintaining the correct form, you will be greatly enhancing your results. For instance, both your core and back progress depends on maintaining a stable stance to achieve overall benefits.

On the quadriceps, you get to tone your muscles around your legs as you cycle up hill-like simulations. Hamstrings on the other hand are made stronger with every lifting of the pedal. Calves are also worked well as you cycle with them to prevent unwanted injuries on your feet and ankles.

For proper upper body fitness, consider lifting weights or using dumbbells during workout sessions. Most indoor bikes lay heavy emphasis on lower body fitness. For balanced and effective workouts, you should focus on all areas.

Workout Intensity

Both the exercise bike and indoor trainer have different levels to the resistance you want to cycle on. Generally speaking, exercise bikes are commonly known for the intense workouts they deliver. Indoor trainers, on the other hand do not also fall behind. Most trainers are able to reach high intensity levels depending on your effort.

For example, wind trainers build up resistance with each pedal stroke as there is a fan on the bike’s back wheel. In fluid trainers this is also the case. Depending on how fast you pedal its hydraulic substance moderates between the different resistance levels.


One of the stark differences between the exercise bike and indoor trainer is the hardware components they are made up of. A exercise bike for instance has a front flywheel that is made entirely out of steel. Its added 38-42 pounds makes workouts more intense while low impact enough to not hurt your joints.

Indoor trainers on the other hand are almost as heavy with different modifications to it. Some of the keys parts include the kinetic machine frame and its resistance unit bracket.


As already stated, indoor trainers are quite noisy. An example is the wind trainer which is quite affordable but creates a ghastly amount of noise. If you are looking for a relatively silent cycling session, you should consider a exercise bike. While it is not ultra-quiet it is still better than some indoor trainers that are noisy with every rotation of the wheel.

Exercise Bike overview

Spin Bike vs. Indoor Trainer

Invented in the 80s, an exercise bike is an indoor cycling bike that is used for extensive training. With a flywheel that is made of steel and weighs about 38lbs, it is the ideal product if you are looking for intense workout sessions. It might not be a good choice for those with chronic pains as well as newbies to indoor cycling.

Nonetheless, it offers an exhilarating indoor riding experience similar to the outdoors for those who take a chance on it. Its higher level of intensity means more calories burnt per hour as well as toning of muscles. It is still low impact enough to be gentle on your entire body. You can also easily monitor and control your progress by setting your own pace.

To add, modern versions of this bike come with advanced tech-features that are able to give you feedback on your workout status. They are powered to tell your heartbeat per minute, mileage covered as well as the revolutions per minute.

Another bonus feature is the water bottle holder and one pedal that has a cleat for special shoes fitting. To further engage all your muscles on the exercise bike, standing up periodically is going the extra mile. It also livens up your workout that might get quite boring with just pedaling continuously.

The only drawbacks include its front flywheel that adds to its intensity. It also does not come to a stop immediately you halt pedaling. Simply indoor cycling continuously can also get a bit monotonous for some. In such cases, take intervals in your workout to engage your upper body in other exercises.

An exercise bike is still the go-to equipment if you are looking for a complete workout that will tone your muscles and reduce your stress levels as well.


  • Indoor riding experience is similar to cycling outdoors
  • Gives intense cardio workouts
  • Seat and handlebars can be easily modified depending on the rider’s height
  • Easily portable because of its wheels


  • Not ideal for unfit people or those with chronic knee pains
  • Quite heavy making it not entirely portable
  • Costly investment

Indoor Trainer overview


Spin Bike vs. Indoor Trainer

An indoor trainer is just like any mountain or road bike that has different gear levels to it.

Some of the key components of indoor trainers are its bare bones, tension knobs and the kinetic resistance unit. Its entire set up adds to the outdoors feel as it looks almost like any ordinary bike on the road and rough terrain as well.

Another remarkable feature of this bike is that it allows you to load various workouts. It also offers cycling simulators that greatly enhance your biking experience. An example is Zwift which has high-end features that give you the feel of interacting with terrain developed by a software program.

Some of the different kinds of indoor trainers are direct-drive, fluid, magnetic, wind and smart trainers. First, you can easily identify a direct-drive trainer because it is usually expensive and requires a cassette. It wins out by having the highest levels of resistance that are needed for an intense workout. For the fluid and wind trainers, they are classified like this because of the system of resistance they use.

In fluid indoor trainers, a hydraulic substance is used to shuttle between the different resistance levels. The only drawback with this product is that they easily leak or overheat when you hit the pedals too hard. For wind trainers, how fast you pedal determines the resistance because of the fan installed on the back wheel. It is quite noisy while at it.

Yet another example is flywheel trainers that are the go-to products for high resistance and a realistic cycling feel. The downer with flywheels is that they are not easily portable. Finally, a smart trainer is usually either of these types above only that it has digital developments. Nowadays, indoor trainers like the latest rollers come with fancy tech-features to enhance your riding experience. One example is the performance metrics system and virtual reality that can be easily loaded into the software. This adds to creating the outdoors feel while cycling indoors.

Despite all these good features, indoor trainers still have some faults. For instance, it requires constant adjustments to its set-up every time you ride. For this reason and others, having your own indoor trainer proves to be a must-have for proper utilization.


  • Easy to stow away
  • Affordable
  • Real calorie burner with intense workouts


  • Quite loud (the loudest are air resistance trainers)


Before settling on an exercise bike or indoor trainer, they are many factors to consider. While they might seem the same in certain aspects, they have unique features that set them apart. For instance, an indoor trainer wins out to the exercise bike because it is lightweight and easy to move about. They can be easily folded and stowed away if you have limited space. They are also budget-friendly. An exercise bike on the other hand is more stable and offers the optimum intense workout. The best choice ultimately depends on one’s individual needs and taste.