Magnetic Bike vs. Indoor Cycling Bike (Everything You Need to Know!)

You probably know the differences between different exercise bikes if you are reading this, and you know there are indoor cycling bikes and magnetic bikes. However, the differences here might confuse you, especially when you are buying them for the first time or are not sure what makes them stand out from each other – you might even incorrectly assume that all bikes are the same.

Before you go ahead and buy an exercise bike though, it is important to know what the differences are in order to make the right choice for your workout plans. In this article, we will look at both of these and see which is better for different workout styles that you might use.

Comparison table

Bike type
Magnetic bike
Indoor cycling bike
Due to high production cost, tends to be expensive
Better for those on a budget
Resistance system
Use of magnets
Belt mechanism
Noise levels
Noiseless, due to the lack of contact between the magnets and flywheel
Can sometimes make some noise (though at low levels), especially when it has worn out parts. Exception is when you grease the system

How they work

Indoor cycling bikes

Also referred to as a stationary bike, an exercise cycle, or an exercise bike, it is also among the most famous indoor exercise bikes and is what you are probably thinking of when you have them in your mind. It was first introduced in the 1980s and consists of handlebars, pedals and a saddle.

It is great to note that indoor cycling bikes are considered as prototypes of outdoor bikes, as they are very similar in many ways – even to the exercise positions they allow you to take. The only differences they have with outdoor bikes are that the latter is for transportation, while indoor cycling bikes are mainly for fitness purposes.

Whenever you stroke the pedals, the flywheel is activated (it is located at the front part of the bike). The indoor cycling bike therefore gives you a similar experience to riding a bike outdoors. The gear is also fixed in place, so this allows the pedals to continue turning even when you stop pedaling, due to the weight from the flywheel. Changing the resistance is also easy, and the higher it is the harder you will pedal (similar to riding a bike up a mountain or hill).

Magnetic bike

It is quite easy to customize your exercise intensity using different levels of pedal tension – specifically, there are two types of pedal tension: magnetic and belt resistance. Between the two, magnetic resistance is more far-reaching compared to the belt resistance, making these bikes more powerful and versatile.

The system is due to the use of two magnets that are on both sides of the flywheel. To create tension and regulate it, the magnets move closer or farther away from the flywheel, depending on whether you want to increase or reduce it. For instance, when you reduce the resistance, it becomes easier to pedal through as the magnets move away from the flywheel.

You can make adjustments to the resistance both in digital and manual ways. If you want to do it manually, you use a tension button to regulate the magnets. It will direct the adjustments through a wire that regulates the distances of the magnets from the flywheel. On the other hand, the digital adjustment method uses an electronic indicator to control the magnetic power.

How do they differ?


When it comes to magnetic resistance bikes, the production cost is quite high due to the inclusion of these special magnets in the system. Even though they are expensive, it cannot compare to the benefits they will give you – the investmen3t will be worthwhile in the long term. Because they use magnetic resistance, they are also more comfortable to handle.

On the other hand, indoor cycling bikes are more affordable comparatively because they use friction resistance mechanisms – so they are friendlier to your wallet if you are on a budget. They can also offer you unlimited levels of resistance, but this also makes it hard to get used to them as the hardest resistance levels can be quite difficult to overcome. In addition, the maintenance cost can also rise in case the flywheel unfortunately rips up.


For magnetic bikes, the noise levels are non-existent because the magnets never touch each other – good news if you want a noise-free bike. For instance, if you have a newborn baby and you want to cycle in the house without making them wake up.

For indoor cycling bikes, they are highly efficient at what they do and will not make too much noise. However, if it has worn-out parts or mechanical abuse (which happens over time), it will create dissonance – so you need to be careful when you are maintaining them.


Magnetic bikes do not have extra upkeep costs because they do not have lubricant or dust issues – you only need to tighten the screws after a few years of use. Indoor cycling bikes are different though, as the brake pads can have fatigued the longer you use them, so you need to get replacements every six to 12 months (depending on the frequency of use).

In addition, you will also need to use lubricating oil that is silicon-based, and this will prevent too much friction in the flywheel or brakes areas, and also clean up the floor where they are due to oil stains.

Resistance markings

The indoor cycling bikes do not have distinct resistance levels, as this will depend on the resistance levels that you want, and know where you initially were in order to turn the tension knob back to that position. The resistance levels will also persist regardless of the cycling BPMs.

However, magnetic bikes will keep your previous resistance levels, which allow you to go back to them even at later times. The magnetic resistance will follow Eddy currents, which means higher resistance levels are due to higher speeds of the metal objects that are going through the magnetic fields. The faster you pedal, the higher the resistance levels.

Final thoughts

At the end of the day, both bikes are excellent at their job and quite similar in the muscle groups they target, so your choice will depend on your budget as well as the noise levels you want. If you are looking for a good one on a budget, the indoor cycling bike is the best choice, while magnetic bikes are good for those looking for highly sophisticated bikes.