Air Bike vs Spin Bike: Differences & How to Choose

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When it comes to getting your indoor cycling fix, you have many different options. You could have a spin bike, recumbent bike, upright exercise bike, or even an elliptical bike, to name a few. We often get asked, “Air Bike or Spin Bike?”

They are both fantastic choices but provide very different indoor cycling experiences. In this article, we will discuss both options and tell you how to pick the correct bike for you. We are going to be running through:

  • What Is An Air Bike?
  • What Is A Spin Bike?
  • Comparing An Air Bike And A Spin Bike
  • How To Choose An Air Or Spin Bike?

The Quick Answer

  • The air bike is ideal if you are looking for a very high-intensity short workout with much more upper body. Unfortunately, it lacks resistance adjustment options and is incredibly noisy when up to speed. 
  • If you are looking for a bike to sit on for longer periods at lower intensities, giving a more traditional experience, the spin bike is the better way to go. The only drawback is you don’t get as much upper body as an air bike

What Is An Air Bike?

An air bike is unlike any other type of exercise bike. It’s quite simply a bike attached to a huge fan with handles. When you pedal, the fan spins, and the quicker it goes, the more resistance builds up, making it tougher and tougher for you to pedal.

Photo by Ambitious Studio* – Rick Barrett on Unsplash

Unlike many other types of indoor bikes, you also have handles that you can use to help spin the fan. This gives you not just a lower-body workout but also an upper-body workout. Air bikes are not often used when it comes to standing, but some people do. 

Air bikes generally don’t have resistance dials. The air is the resistance, so the faster you go, the harder it is to continue. At slower speeds, it’s fairly easy to move. It’s incredibly difficult at high speeds, and the resistance is endless, and so are the noise levels when you get up to speed.

Air bikes are not designed for applications like Peloton or JRNY. They are generally used in circuit classes, crossfit gyms, and you wouldn’t often spend more than 20 minutes on them as they are used for intervals more than anything else. 

What Is A Spin Bike?

A spin bike is what you would typically use when doing a spinning session. It’s a bike made to resemble a typical road bike but instead has a large flywheel at the front. They are very dynamic and made for mixed-intensity sessions where you are on and off the saddle. 

Spin bikes create resistance using the flywheel. Friction versions use a brake pad, while frictionless versions have a magnetic system that uses eddy currents. Spin bikes are very quiet, and even under heavy resistance, they feel silky smooth and make barely any noise. 

Spin bikes come in many shapes and sizes. You can get very basic bikes, which will give you an okay workout, and all singing and all dancing machines that take you into interactive online classes, and even the bike inclines and declines. 

The Peloton is a great example of an interactive spin bike for home, which will offer classes and much more on a screen. Spin bikes are the most popular machine available and really what is most common to find when looking for indoor bikes. 

Comparing An Air Bike And A Spin Bike

So now you know what an air bike and a spin bike are, how do they compare against each other?

Here’s what you need to know. 


The first thing to mention is the price. Air bikes generally cost around $300 to $600, while spinning bikes cost anywhere from $100 to $3500. This comes down to availability and technology. Some spin bikes are more basic. Others are incredibly advanced.  


Air bikes take up a fairly large footprint and are typically heavy. Spin bikes generally are much smaller and lighter, making them easier to move. You also require less space when working out on a spinning bike.

Bowflex C6 vs. BODi (MYX II) Bike
Bowflex C6 & BODi Bike size. Two of the most popular spin bikes.


When it comes to choice, you will probably find around five different air bikes from the bigger brands. There are hundreds, if not thousands, to choose from with spinning bikes. If you want more options, spin bikes offer much more. 


The resistance on an air bike is generated by going faster. The quicker the fan spins, the harder you must work to keep up the pace, making it non-adjustable. A spin bike creates resistance through either a pad or magnets and is fully adjustable with a dial. 

Muscles Worked

Both bikes work many muscles, but a spin bike will predominantly be core and legs. An air bike does much more of an all-body workout as you have the handles you need to push back and forth using arms, back, and chest. 


When it comes to intensity, a spin bike can give you a really low-intensity workout, which can last for hours, while an air bike is much harder. Air bikes are designed for high-intensity intervals and to boost the heart rate up very high quickly. 

Interactive Capabilities 

When it comes to interactive capabilities, you are very limited when it comes to air bikes, and there are next to no applications that can give you a special workout. When it comes to spin bikes, there are so many options, from Peloton, JRNY, iFit, and many more. 

Some bikes also can automatically change resistances for you while riding, and others can even incline and decline through online classes, giving an amazing experience simulating outdoors. 


Air bikes are incredibly noisy. It’s not something you can use to its full capacity without the neighbors knowing. Spin bikes (especially those with magnetic resistance) are incredibly quiet, and many people choose them if they live in apartments or very close to others but love to train at home. 

How To Choose An Air Or Spin Bike?

When it comes to picking between an air or a spin bike, you can feel a little lost. In my opinion, it comes down to the experience that you want to have. Here’s my step-by-step guide. 

Step One: The Essentials

The first factor you’re going to need to check is how much you want to spend. If you want to spend less than $300, an air bike might be out of reach. Spin bikes have a much larger range and will fit most budgets. 

Then you have space. It’s a good idea to check where you plan to put the bike to see if you have enough space for an air bike. They can be really big, and the last thing you need is one to turn up and not fit.

Then, noise is finally on the essentials list. If you need a quiet bike, there are better options than an air bike. A spinning bike is much more silent.  

Step Two: What Experience

Next, you need to consider the experience you want from the bike. If you are looking for an interactive experience like a Peloton, then the spin bike is the best way forward. Air bikes typically don’t have this connectivity, so that does write them off here. 

If you are looking for a mix of high and low-intensity workouts, the spin bike will be better for you than the air bike, as the adjustable resistance goes a long way. The air bike won’t have this, making it either flat out or no effort. 

Then, we have an upper body workout. If you want to push your upper body just as much as your lower body, you might want to consider an air bike over a spin bike

Step Three: Testing

Finally, the last thing to do is test. Local gyms in your area will have a lot of equipment for you to use. I recommend getting a day pass and trying both an air and a spin bike. It will be a clear indicator of what you enjoy and what’s going to be best in the long term.

A Spin Instructor’s Opinion

As a spin instructor and personal trainer for many years, both air bikes and spin bikes are excellent. In my experience, air bikes are fantastic for short, quick interval workouts or as part of a circuit. 

If you want a bike for longer workouts, which will open you up to applications and keep you entertained, the spin bike is the better option. Most cyclists go down the spin bike route as it offers so much more in the long run. 

A Final Note

Both air bikes and spin bikes are going to give you an amazing workout. As a user of both, I highly recommend them. Thanks for taking the time to read our article, and hopefully, you now know what you want. 

Important Information

Spin®, Spinner®, Spinning®, Spin Fitness® are trademarks of Mad Dogg Athletics. Even if we use the phrase “spin bikes” sometimes to refer to the Indoor Cycle type of bikes, we must inform you that they are not in reality. When we are referring to Spin Bikes, we mean the official Spinner Bikes of Mad Dogg Athletics. However, keep in mind that in this article, where we talk about resistance, the Spin Bikes and Indoor Cycles share similar characteristics.

Robbie Ferri CPT

Robbie from “Riding with Robbie” is a Personal Trainer living in in Norfolk, UK. He has bikepacked all over the World, and also raced ultra distance at a top-level. He has worked closely with industry leaders such as Shimano.

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