The Ultimate Gym Cycle Buying Guide Part 2: Flywheel and Resistance


In an ordinary bicycle, you pedal against the friction caused between the road and the wheel. The weight of the cycle determines how much harder you need to exert yourself to push the pedals. These elements are substituted in the gym cycle by the resistance and flywheel, making them two of the most important features in such an exercise machine.


Flywheel

The flywheel is a weighted metal disk which is usually located at the front of the exercise cycle. ​The flywheel weight determines the comfort and fluidity of cycling. The higher the weight is, the more fluid and comfortable cycling on the stationary bike will be. When changing speeds, a heavier wheel speeds up or slows down gradually, decreasing the strain on your joints. Another advantage is that a heavier wheel is capable of greater resistance. A handy tip to remember is that heavier flywheels are generally found on better models, since they require sturdier and heavier frames to support them.

Flywheel Weight

Upright Bike

Recumbent Bike

Spin Bike

For Beginners/Intermediate Users

 

3 to 8 kilograms

 

3 to 8 kilograms

 

13 to 20 kilograms

For Advanced Users/Athletes

7 to 10 kilograms

7 to 10 kilograms

20 to 28 kilograms

The air bike flywheel mechanism is a completely different system from those models with metal flywheels. The wheel is quite large and has thin blades. This makes the wheel quite light and therefore the resistance is completely independent of the wheel weight. Instead, the resistance is created by the wheel’s blades cutting through the air. Here’s more info on how resistance is produced in any type of exercise bike.


Resistance Types

The resistance mechanism on an exercise bike allows you to adjust the pedal tension, which makes your workout less or more challenging. Simply put, the more you increase the resistance, the harder it is to pedal. Some bikes have manually adjustable pedal tension -- you turn a knob on the bike frame to change the pedal resistance. Some have digitally adjustable pedal tension -- press a button on the console to change the pedal resistance. This can be done in several ways, either by direct contact through friction from pads rubbing against the wheel, magnetically or others.

There are four main types of resistance.

Belt Driven Resistance

Magnetic / Electromagnetic Resistance

Wool Felt (or rubber pad) Resistance

Air Resistance

A belt with felt lining runs around the wheel, tightening as you increase resistance.

A magnet on each side of the metal flywheel pulls closer to it as you increase the resistance level, increasing the effort required to pedal.

Wool felt (or rubber) pads touch upon the wheel, pressing closer as you increase resistance.

A large wheel with thin blades cuts through the air and as you cycle faster, the resistance increases.

Found in upright bikes and air bikes

Found in upright bikes and recumbent bikes.

Found in spin bikes.

Found in air bikes.

 

Since there is never any contact between the magnets and flywheel, the workouts are noiseless.

Machines with this resistance have very heavy flywheels. This is because they can efficiently and safely slow down the bike.

The range of resistance is unlimited, but the cycle can’t maintain a steady amount of resistance on its own.

Although all resistance mechanisms serve the same function, each has a different effect on how the cycle operates. Direct-contact bikes are sturdy and simple in their construction, and while there is not much that can go wrong there you still need to replace a few parts here and there after a while. Magnetic bikes are quiet and smooth and allow you to fine-tune the resistance any way you choose. Fan bikes offer a completely different take on the subject, yet they have some cool unique features. Whichever you choose, you can’t go wrong.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the basic requirement for buying any gym equipment should be to know exactly why you require it or, at least, what type of exercise you would prefer. Understanding the functioning of the resistance and flywheel is an integral part to figuring out how an exercise cycle works. Following that, it should be easy to pick out what exercise bike would be the best fit for you and would give you the most effective results in your journey towards a fitter and healthier life.


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