Bike Trainer vs Exercise Bike: Which is Best For Your Goals?

February 09, 2023 8 min read

Exercise bikes and indoor bike trainers are popular ways to exercise in the comfort of your own home. Whether you’re getting started on your fitness journey, or you’re an experienced cyclist, they can be great additions to your home workout routine. Our expert guide details the ways a Wattbike smart trainer can help improve your cycling performance.

Table of Contents:

Comparing Exercise Bikes & Indoor Trainers

When comparing exercise bikes to a bike trainer, there are differences which make a impact to your overall performance and ability to improve your fitness and cycling goals:

Indoor trainers - In comparison, indoor trainers like the Wattbike Atom smart bike, can be much more advanced. The Atom is a type of cycling machine that brings you so much more than an exercise bike. The technology used in our indoor bike trainers are much more advanced than your typical exercise bike.

Exercise bikes - A type of cycling machine you can keep in your home, to support your fitness. An exercise bike in its very basic form is a fixed flywheel bike that either gives no data or will only give you very limited data, such as distance and calories burnt.

How Indoor Trainers Can Improve Your Workout

If you’re choosing between an indoor trainer and an exercise bike, there are many reasons why you might consider them. The benefits of indoor cycling can include:

  • Never miss a chance to train, all year round - Training indoors means you can exercise no matter the weather. Through rain, snow, ice, and even heat waves, you’ll never have to miss a session. Stay on track of your winter training plan, and say goodbye to hazardous roads and numb fingers from the cold.
  • Prepare for cycling events - If you’re considering taking part in a sportive or cycling race, then an indoor trainer can help you prepare in the best way. Because you never miss out on a training session, you can dedicate yourself to getting in shape, practising the distance, and pushing yourself to the limit ahead of when it matters.
  • Efficient & convenient - Indoor trainers often require minimal set-up, so it’s ready for you when you want to train. You remove the hassle of traffic and route-planning involved in real-road cycling. Every pedal revolution counts, so you’ll be able to plan your training around a busy schedule and reach your goals.
  • Improve your health & fitness - It’s no secret that cycling can support your mental health and overall health. Having a bike trainer or exercise bike in your home means there’s no excuse to train. You’re able to focus, and include indoor cycling into your everyday routine.
  • You can still get that fresh air feeling - Indoor trainers can allow you to focus more clearly on your workout, but you may miss that outdoor cycling rush of wind in your face. An indoor cycling fan can keep you cool and provide the feeling of breeze as you train. Plus, when the weather’s nice enough, you can always take your cycling machine outside!

7 Reasons Why It’s Time to Upgrade to the Wattbike Atom Smart Trainer

Indoor training on an exercise bike or indoor trainer can be a great help to your fitness targets and training plan. However, you need to ensure you’re getting the most out of your bike trainer. With the Wattbike Atom, you’re guaranteed unparalleled data and performance tracking, to push you to reach your goals:

1. Choose from over 100 dedicated workouts

With the Wattbike Hub cycling app, you can choose the type of cycling workout you want to complete. Tailor your workout to suit your training goals, no matter what area of cycling you want to tackle. Whether you want to improve your pedalling, or improve your cycling endurance, you can with the help of our curated workouts, designed by industry experts.

2. Find curated training plans to reach your goals

Whether you’re new to indoor cycling, or have years of experience, you can set yourself training goals and stick to them with our indoor trainer. The Wattbike Hub provides the chance to workout with a training plan, and tackle curated cycling workouts to keep you on target. Not only that, but you’ll see the data from every ride, to best identify where to improve.

3. Test yourself to track your progress

Assessing your progress and identifying where you can improve is easier than ever with our smart indoor trainer. With dedicated indoor trainer performance tests to complete, you can measure yourself against your goals. You can complete time trials or test your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) to monitor your progress and stay on track.

4. More data than your turbo or rollers

For those who are beginners to indoor cycling, the data captured by our smart bike becomes the best tool in your training. You’ll find performance metrics to support your cycling by showing where you need to improve. Our Polar View and Pedal Effectiveness Score (PES) can help you dig into the data behind every ride. Many may begin their indoor training with an exercise bike, turbo trainer or bike rollers, before realising they need to upgrade.

5. The chance to train interactively

Thanks to a number of Wattbike compatible indoor cycling apps, you can channel your passion into an interactive experience. These apps can help to keep you focused on your goal, while recording the cycling data from every single ride. Follow real-road routes in virtual worlds, or try a number of workouts and share your ride stats with friends.

6. Control your resistance to stay in charge of your workout

Whether electromagnetic or air resistance, indoor trainers can make the difference between a good and a great workout. You’re in control if you want to be, with the ability to customise your virtual gearing or adapt the resistance with the touch of a button. Alternatively, you can select ‘ergo mode’, and the indoor trainer will adapt to the elevations in your selected route or resistance in your selected workout - so you can focus on your pedalling. Some exercise bikes may offer adaptive resistance, but they may be more basic.

7. Adjust to multiple users to ensure nobody misses out

Our indoor trainers are easily adaptable to fit every member of the household, where a standard exercise bike may restrict you. With the options of a racing saddle or comfort saddle available, adjustable handlebars, and pedals, you can ensure everyone can train effectively.

Pros & Cons of Exercise Bikes

Exercise bikes can offer a solution to getting your fitness up to standard without having to leave the house. However, there are some areas where an exercise bike alternative may offer more benefits to your training:

Where an Exercise Bike Can’t Compete with A Smart Bike

  • They offer limited interactivity - This is where you really do need an exercise bike alternative. If you want to push yourself and complete specific workouts, you’ll need a smart bike with app compatibility. For example, if you want to learn how to improve your VO2 Max, you’ll need a more substantial smart trainer than an exercise bike.
  • They may not record any data - If you’re serious about indoor cycling, or you have goals you want to complete, then comparing a standard exercise bike vs a smart bike, the exercise bike might not offer enough data. That means you won’t see how you perform with each session, or which areas of your cycling you need to improve, such as improving your pedalling technique.
  • They’re bulky and take up a lot of space - Some exercise bikes have a large footprint when compared to an indoor trainer, and if you aren’t fortunate enough to have a home gym, you may find you need to move it in order to continue your daily life. If you want a smaller footprint and wheels to allow you to easily move your trainer, you’ll need an alternative to an exercise bike.
  • Exercising on them can be tedious - With the simplicity of some exercise bikes compared to a bike trainer, you may find that your workout is dull and unmotivating. This can leave you feeling deterred from training, and wishing for a more dynamic workout, which is where an exercise bike alternative comes in handy.
  • A lack of training support - With a simple exercise bike, you’re on your own. Both in your own home, and when it comes to setting yourself goals and workouts to reach your goals. With a Wattbike smart bike, you’ll have a coach in your pocket thanks to our dedicated cycling app, with workouts and training plans created by industry experts and coaches.

Pros of Exercise Bikes

  • They offer straight-forward workouts - If you don’t have any particular targets to hit, or you fancy a ride at a reduced effort, exercise bikes can offer a solution. Without the interactivity offered with an indoor trainer, you can simply get on and pedal. Therefore, they’re great for a simple exercise opportunity.
  • Lower price points - Exercise bikes, due to their limited capability, are often at a lower price point to a more substantial trainer. Therefore, if you’re just starting out, you may opt for this option. However, this may leave your training hindered, and you’ll soon feel the need to upgrade to a smart bike trainer.
  • Remove the pain points of outdoor cycling - Whether you’re a fan of cycling or not, there’s no denying that sometimes it’s a task in itself to get out on your bike. Planning a route, fixing punctures, avoiding traffic and potholes, and numb fingers from the weather all take their toll. Exercise bikes offer the chance to workout without this hassle, especially over winter, and improve your fitness. Whereas an exercise bike alternative like a smart bike can offer the chance to ride real-road routes virtually, from your own home.

8 Considerations When Choosing: Bike Trainer vs Exercise Bike

When you’re choosing between a bike trainer or exercise bike, you should consider all of the reasons you may wish to invest in one. Ranging from your performance targets to your space constraints, here’s an overview of what you should consider:

  1. Training goals - If you have goals in mind for your cycling training, then an indoor trainer is the best approach to help you get there. From improving your cadence to getting started with sprint training, a smart trainer will help you.
  2. Entertainment - If you want to interact with cycling apps as you train, opt for a smart bike trainer, rather than an exercise bike.
  3. Technology - If you’re after a more technically advanced trainer, then you’ll need more than just a standard static exercise bike. An indoor trainer, like the Wattbike Atom, which tracks every pedal revolution and shows you real-time data is the way to go.
  4. Users - If multiple users plan on using your indoor cycling equipment, then you need to ensure you can adjust your indoor cycling set-up. A more standard exercise bike may not be adjustable, but Wattbike has you covered.
  5. Space - If you don’t have a large amount of space, or will be using your indoor cycling space for multiple purposes, then an indoor smart trainer with a smaller footprint, and wheels, is essential.
  6. Price - Where price is concerned, in general, the simpler the exercise bike, the lower the price. So if you’re on the hunt for a cheaper solution, opt for an exercise bike. If you’re committed to your training, and want to make the most of the indoor cycling benefits on offer, then a smart trainer is for you.
  7. Real-road feel - If you’re using your indoor training to support your cycling out on the road, then you’ll need your indoor bike to recreate the conditions of the road. Wattbike indoor trainers are designed to do just that, and thanks to the Wattbike Hub, you can tackle real-routes and let the app control the resistance for you. This is where a standard exercise bike may fall short.
  8. Comfort - If you need to be comfortable while you ride, then you’ll need more than the basic exercise bike may offer. Opt for the Atom comfort saddle - his saddle comes with extra cushioning for a comfortable ride, and a wider base to provide more stability while training.

Wattbike: More Than Exercise…

We’re passionate about providing an all-round training experience using our unparalleled data technology. Whether you’re looking for workouts to improve your cycling or tips on what to eat after cycling, Wattbike has your back.

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