Indoor Cycling Bike vs Cross Trainer (Everything You Need to Know!)

When on a tight budget and you do not want to compromise on your comfort; you are often left with choosing between an indoor cycling bike and a cross trainer. These are two types of indoor trainers that are highly effective for a real calorie-burning workout. With different levels of intensity, these bikes are good for both pros and amateurs.

Like outdoor cycling, indoor riding has many benefits for your overall health. An hour on the indoor cycling bike or cross trainer is bound to do good for you. They keep your heart pumping, boost your mood and energy levels and they also tone your muscles. Nonetheless, they still have subtle differences that set them apart.

The following is a complete overview of these training bikes.

Indoor Cycling Bike and Cross Trainer – Do they compare?

Indoor Cycling Bike
Magnetic Bike
Muscles Strengthened
Lower body mainly- quads, abs, knees and calves
Lower body muscles- hamstrings, thighs, abs and calves
Amount of Calories Burnt per hour
400-800 kcal
400-800 kcal
Intensity Level
Higher than normal stationary bikes
Can reach high levels that the front wheel does not even budge

Indoor Cycling bike v Cross trainer- what are their major differences?

Type of workout

For an intense workout, you will not go wrong with an indoor cycling bike. It has different levels of resistance all of which require a lot of effort. This is because the front flywheel alone weighs 38-42 pounds because it is made entirely out of steel. You can lose between 400 and 800 calories per hour on it. It depends on the level of resistance you are riding.

In a cross trainer, you can be assured of an even more intense workout.

Regarding a cross trainer, it reaches new levels of intensity. According to the fitness experts, you can lose more calories on a cross trainer compared to indoor cycling bikes. On average, you can lose more than 200 calories. This is quite something.

In both, you also get a low impact workout that is easy on your back and knees. In fact, a cross trainer is particularly useful for people with arthritis. It can be set at the lowest resistance possible for an effective workout that does not pose any injury risks.


The major difference between an indoor cycling bike and a cross trainer is its design and general structure. For the indoor cycling bike, it comprises a saddle, flywheel and pedals among other components. In the indoor cycling class, you can either sit or stand while riding.

In a cross trainer, on the other hand, you work out while standing because there is no saddle. It is a kind of indoor trainer that has you on your feet pedaling away. It is made up of foot pedals and two long handles. This stationary equipment has a more effective structure because it greatly works your core, arms and lower body as well.


In terms of noise, the indoor cycling bike is quite a noisy machine. However, with proper lubrication, it can work in near silence.

For a cross trainer on the other hand, clunks and squeaks are something you might need to get used to. To avoid disturbing your neighbors or family that you live with, make sure you are using the trainer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For instance, the manual dictates how many times you should lubricate the bike and in what format.

Body Area Worked

Like most indoor bikes, an indoor cycling bike lays a lot of emphasis on working your lower body. After constant indoor cycling, you will begin to notice toned quads, hamstrings and calves.

For a cross trainer, it works your upper and lower body. It tones your biceps, triceps and chest. Due to the intensity levels available, you can greatly tone your body with regular exercise on a cross trainer. For complete body workouts with both, consider supplementing your training sessions with other routines.


Indoor bikes usually cost a pretty penny. Luckily, there are many low-end models that come with good features and warranties as well. You can get a trainer that costs less than $300 but it has all the top-notch features like a heart rate monitor and a calorie tracker.

If you are a picky rider and want specific features on your equipment, you might have to spend quite a bit of money. Cross trainers are generally more expensive. They are still a good investment because you are assured of a low-maintenance product that will serve you for a while. For better comfort, you will also have to spend some.

Indoor Cycling Bike Overview

  Studio Cycle spin bike

Designed in the 80s, an indoor cycling bike is one of the most innovative training bikes. It has many impressive features. The most noteworthy is the highly intense workout it gives. This is partly because of its front flywheel that is made entirely out of steel and weighs between 38 and 42 pounds. Because of this flywheel alone, the type of workout you get on an indoor cycling bike is quite more challenging compared to other indoor bikes.

Some of its other components worth mentioning are the adjustable saddle and handlebars. If you go to an indoor cycling class, you should consider going in a bit earlier before the workout so that you adjust the indoor cycling bike to your height. An indoor cycling bike allows for easy adjustments making it a favorite among a wide range of people. Before you get to indoor cycling, take some time to check on the set-up of your bike as it heavily determines the kind of results you will get. For proper modifications, set the handlebars within comfortable reach and the seat at the hip level.

Modern indoor cycling bikes also have modifications to keep up with this tech world. For instance, the latest models come with a digital console that gives you real-time performance analysis. It measures your heartbeat per minute, revolutions per minute, and mileage. With this kind of data, you can easily tell whether the consistent trips to the gym are paying off.

With all these glowing features, indoor cycling bikes still have a few drawbacks. For example, it might be a tad too intense for the elderly or people who are entirely new to cycling. Also, while it is a low-impact workout, it is not advisable for people with chronic back and knee pains.


  • Easy to set up and use
  • Intense workout with many benefits like better heart health and energy levels
  • When properly lubricated, works in near silence
  • Gives an accurate simulation like riding outdoors
  • Easily adjustable


  • Not suitable for unfit people and beginners as well
  • Takes a toll on your joints if you have chronic pains
  • Be careful of the flywheel that can continue indoor cycling even after done pedaling

Cross Trainer Overview

Trainer and Exercise Bike

A cross trainer is a type of fitness equipment that works by your gliding on a platform that is attached to a wheel. It is quite different from other indoor trainers but once you get the hang of it, it is easy to use. They are like running outdoors because you do not get a saddle with a cross trainer. Actually, a cross trainer is designed to mimic patterns made when running, walking and climbing upstairs. It is all about standing and getting your fitness targets hit.

Depending on the level of intensity you prefer, there are innumerable benefits to using a cross trainer. For instance, it accelerates weight loss if that is your fitness goal.

While there are many budget options, you might want to consider investing in a mid-high-end trainer. They come with all the fancy features that just make your training all the more interesting. For instance, in this price range, most trainers come with exhilarating workouts that are designed to push you harder. Some even come with Bluetooth connectivity if you are into tech.

For beginners, a quality option is OBE8727 Interval XT Elliptical. If you are not new to indoor training and you are up for a challenge, OBE8728TE Power Stride Front Drive Elliptical will not disappoint. It offers a longer stride and up to 20-31 different levels of resistance.


  • Good cardio workout
  • Works your lower body as well as your arms and cores
  • Builds lung capacity
  • Easy on your joints


  • Does not provide stellar muscle toning


This guide has highlighted the differences between a cross trainer and an indoor cycling bike to help you choose between them. For instance, you are in to lose more calories on the cross trainer compared to an indoor cycling bike.

Nonetheless, they are both impressive products. Also remember the results you get all depend on your effort, consistency and workout plan. If you are a fitness enthusiast and you go for high-intensity sessions, you will burn fat on both.

Depending on your budget and storage space available, going for an indoor cycling bike or cross trainer should not have to be so hard.