Searching for indoor cycling or spinning consoles after you’ve bought your bike can be a frustrating experience.
It is possible to get a good indoor cycling or spinning workout without any tracking. In fact that seems to be the approach of many indoor cycle bikes manufacturers not to include a console, but it’s not one common to other types of exercise bikes.
Many people like this approach too. But it’s not really a favorite for me.
I always find it easier and more motivating to track performance when I’m exercising. I’m not good with estimates and don’t have the rhythm to follow along instructions as to cadence (RPM). It helps to prevent me from drifting away after I’ve got the cadence etc. on track.
Although, sometimes I do go without (to be clear I mean without a track device) which can be an enjoyable break from being focused on the numbers.
Unfortunately, it seems there really isn’t a console or computer that can be bought for an indoor cycling bike unless it is one specially made for a particular model (Schwinn AC Performance Plus) or brand (Spinner).
But not all is lost.
You can fit some bike computers or bike Bluetooth sensors to an indoor cycle and use with Apps to get the data needed to help with the workout feedback and motivation.
(Or you can fit other model spin bike consoles to your bike but this may give more skewed results as some are designed with a specific gear ratio.)
They don’t necessarily conveniently fit indoor bikes. There is the need of a bit of adjusting to fit them to provide you with the data you want.
As a general rule it is easier to attach wireless sensors and consoles than wired ones. With wire versions you need to allow some slack for when the handlebars are moved up/down or forwards/backwards to avoid breakages in the cable.
Due to this, my top picks don’t all attach as easily as I’d like, but you can still get the numbers needed to help with an effective workout session. Importantly, they can be installed and relied on.
The solutions here don’t give you a calculated power or resistance (To get power you may need to purchase pedals). Resistance still needs to be estimated by feel and experience.
Wahoo Cadence and Speed Sensor
The cadence and speed sensors are made for bicycles and indoor bike trainers (where you attach your bicycle to them for training) rather than the indoor cycling variety but they can be set up on them and monitor workouts.
They are small – about an inch long. The sensor “sense” movement on their own. There is no need to use a magnet to the flywheel or crank as with older style sensors. It makes installation more straightforward.
The cadence sensor is attached to a crank either by sticking it on or using zip ties. Everything needed to do this is included.
Alternatively you can attach this to your shoe and get a good reading, you may need to play with orientation to get the reading but once done you are set. You can use it on any spin bike or bike you choose.
The cadence sensor can be bought on its own and provides the RPM/cadence information to help you stay up with a class.
The speed sensor is a little more tricky to attach. Wahoo themselves don’t recommend using the sensor with an indoor cycle or spin bike. The sensor is designed to be attached to the hub of a bicycle to measure the turning speed of the wheel and then multiply it by its circumference to determine speed and distance.
They believe it is too difficult to get the right orientation due to a solid wheel and the speed and size of the wheel is not likely to equate with a road bike.
Having said that people have managed to successfully attach the sensor and get data that is reliable enough to gauge performance to their satisfaction. It is approximate but gives feedback to see how you are performing and comparing workouts.
To get the sensor working on an indoor bike it can be placed on the flywheel hub (taped, zip tied velcroed ) if there is room, which depends on the bike design. Other people have attached it to the flywheel itself using velcro or industrial strength tape some near the hub and others at the rim and got effective measures. To get the circumference they’ve used a tailors measuring tape to measure it or used a little of the maths they probably last used at school by measuring diameter and multiplying by 3.14 (Pi). This seems to give a reasonable approximation of speed and distance for indoor cycling measurement purposes.
The sensors have their own App and there is a heart rate strap or armband sensor that can be added if you’d like that information. The information can be uploaded to other training Apps.
The sensors can connect to Peloton Digital (heart rate and cadence), Zwift, TrainerRoad, SufferFest, Fulgaz, Strava and many more. They Ant+ as well as Bluetooth for the connectivity to the range of Apps and cycling devices like Garmin cycling computers.
The adding of the heart rate strap allows you to monitor effort through beats per minute or stay in a heart rate zone. It can also help with calories burned calculations.
If your bike doesn’t have a tablet holder or media tray you may need to buy one to be able to view your numbers as you workout.
With the 3 sensors you can measure, cadence, speed, distance, heart rate and time when used in conjunction with either the Wahoo App or other. It can all be saved and linked to Strava and other fitness Apps too.
Setting up the App is easy to do on your phone. The only other piece of equipment you may need is a tablet or phone holder for your bike so you can see the numbers easily as you exercise.
The sensors connect with Bluetooth and Ant+ so will integrate with Wahoo, Polar, Garmin computers and more.
The sensors use a CR2032 coin battery each (included) and should last about a year and can be replaced by the user.
- Easy to install cadence sensor
- Has its own app to see stats all in one place
- Bluetooth connects with other Apps such as Zwift and Peloton
- Ant+ capability to connect to Garmin etc
- Provides good level of feedback and connects well
- Has own heart rate straps and sensors
- Sensors can be bought separately
- No wires involved
- Speed sensor needs a little DIY to attach to flywheel
- Wahoo don’t recommend speed sensor for spin bikes
- Doesn’t have a monitor
- May need to buy tablet/phone holder if one is detcluded with the bike
- Heart rate strap needs to be bought separately
Xoss Cadence and Speed Sensors
These work in a similar way to the Wahoo sensors . They are more square and can be attached with the rubber bands rather than zip tie that are included.
You can buy them separately if you only want one set of measures.
The set up is a little more involved than the Wahoo with putting in batteries and taking them out to tell the sensor what it is to monitor.
Attaching the cadence sensor is easy and this gives you the information needed for following workout classes.
It’s this added step of the batteries that has caused some issues in setting them up properly.
The speed sensor is straightforward for a bike but not so for a spin bike due to the hub and you’ll need to check your bike has the space to attach it. You’ll need velcro and or strong tape to attach to hub or the flywheel.
With speed sensor you can have speed and distance. They are about the size of a quarter and 1/4 inch thick.
They have their own App. Also, it works with a number of Apps and bike computer with Bluetooth and Ant+ including the Wahoo Fitness App, Peloton etc.
For heart rate you can buy the Xoss heart rate strap or others to keep a check on effort and/or when wanting to keep in heart rate zones.
There are less instructions online about the setup but it does come with fold out instructions.
Some people have struggled to connect both the cadence and speed sensors to the App but for those that only have connected the cadence sensor don’t appear to have had an issue. It is important that one is set up for cadence and one for speed when using as a pair.
To be able to see your measure you may also want a tablet or phone holder for your device depending on your bike . There is a number of good choices on these and depends on your bike which one you want.
- Good price
- Can buy separately
- Has its’ own App
- Is compatible with a wide range of Apps and cycling computers
- Cadence easy to install
- It is wireless
- Speed sensor can be tricky depending on bike
- Heart rate strap needs to be bought separately
- Doesn’t come with own monitor
- Can be tricky to set them up separately Cadence and Speed sensor and with App
TAOPE Ant+ Bluetooth Bike Speed Cadence Sensor
It looks and works in a similar way to the Xoss sensor – it is has both Bluetooth and Ant+ allowing it connect to a wide range of Apps and cycling computers including Garmin, Peloton and Zwift.
The sensors can measure speed or cadence. You select or change the mode by removing the battery and putting it back in. To measure both speed and cadence you need to have two sensors.
It doesn’t have its’ own App or monitor but works with a wide range of Apps and computers through Ant+ or Bluetooth including Wahoo Fitness and Peloton Apps.
To use you’ll need a phone or tablet or computer. And as with the other sensors of this type you probably want a tablet or phone mount if your bike doesn’t come with one as standard.
As with Wahoo and Xoss sensors it is attached to a crank for cadence and
the flywheel for speed. Attaching to the crank is straightforward with the material provided (bands). For the flywheel you can use velcro or tape to attach rather than the included bands, e.g. it was successfully attached and used for cadence and speed on the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B1002C 49 lbs Chain Drive Indoor Bike
The lithium battery is included and it is expected to last for 320 hours of use.
Again the speed and distance calculations will be approximate but can help with monitoring performance and improvement and help keep you on track. The cadence measurement is accurate and can help keep you on track with the spin class.
It doesn’t have a heart rate monitor but you can buy one separately if you want to track heart rate or train using heart rate zones.
- Good price
- Cadence sensor works well
- Easy to install the cadence sensor on indoor cycles
- It is wireless
- Works with wide range of Apps and cycling consoles
- Doesn’t have its own App
- Can be tricky to set as cadence or speed sensor
- Using two sensors can sometimes not work properly with an App
- Heart rate strap needs to be bought separately
- Needs a smart phone or tablet to work with
- You may need to buy a tablet or media device holder
CAT EYE – Strada Cadence Wired Bike Computer
This is a good choice for those that don’t want to use their phone or tablet and aren’t concerned with it all being loaded up to an App for monitoring workouts. This gives you a console you put on your indoor cycling bike and once set up you have it all in one place.
However, it is a wired bike computer and therefore requires some DIY skills and approximations to work for the purposes of indoor cycling or spinning.
This computer has been attached to a variety of spin bikes/indoor cycling including the Sunny Health and Fitness Sunny Fitness 49 pound flywheel (SF-B1002) indoor cycling bike model.
It may need some patience when getting it installed and set up. It probably won’t look the prettiest but it is effective and can be used to follow along to spinning workouts.
Some customers haven’t got it to work. The magnet for the speed is designed to be attached to the spokes of a bicycle wheel (and this has caused the problem). To overcome this you can buy industrial strength disc magnets and use them instead or use velcro pieces to bulk up the magnet to allow for spoke attachment. Whichever method used it is important to get the magnet within 3 mm of the sensor for it to read.
To attach the cadence sensor you may need some pipe and/or tape to get it to sit as close as needed. See details here
Other than the bits where you need for the DIYing it has all the pieces needed.
Mounting the computer to the handlebars is straightforward and fits handlebar size 22 mm to 32 mm.
It requires a CR1620 (coin style) battery and comes with it. It is expected to last 2 years. The wire distance is up to 55 inches but do allow for some slack in the cable so it doesn’t get pulled out when adjusting the handlebars.
When the display has been set up the mph number is bigger than the cadence number which is a shame for using for spinning. The computer monitors speed, distance, time elapsed, cadence, total distance and clock time. It doesn’t measure heart rate.
- Comes with its own monitor
- Has been used by spin bikers successfully
- Simple to use
- No App or tablet/phone required
- Long life from battery expected
- Numbers can be hard to see and small screen
- It is not backlit
- It has wires
- Doesn’t measure heart rate
- Can’t upload measures up to a Fitness App
- It can be difficult to install properly
- Doesn’t include heart rate
DREAM SPORT Wireless Bike Computer with Cadence Sensor
A wireless bike computer that is fully featured and according to the supplier works with indoor cycling bikes. It is new, so it has later technology but it has yet to prove it worth with the test time. Initial feedback is promising.
This is for those that want a console to attach to their bike and aren’t bothered about it workoing with capability of connecting to fitness Apps.
This seems to come with everything you can get from a spin bike computer except for power, resistance and doesn’t work with Apps for monitoring and storing workout results. Instead of the App it has its own monitor that you attach to the handlebars.
It is relatively new but the supplier says that it can be used on an indoor cycling bike. A user has installed on their spin bike and is pleased with the results.
It seems it has the functionally needed for indoor cycling workouts and it is only the newness that has resulted in it being lower down the rankings. (That and it doesn’t have an App.)
It comes with a heart rate chest strap so, all metrics other than power and resistance can be seen in one place.
As with the Cateye you are required to install magnets for the sensor to pick up cadence and wheel speed. It comes with ties and hardware to install but you’ll need to supply tools
Also, you do need to be flexible when adding to your bike and may involve using tape, velcro and other padding to get the magnet and sensor into position.
You can set to scan through the metrics or select the ones you want to see. The numbers are relatively easy to see and comes with EL backlight to help but it could do with being a little larger.
It has a good range of measures including heart rate, cadence, speed, distance, calories, temperature, fat burnt and variations such as max, average or current.
It requires 4 CR2032 batteries. These are included.
In many respects this may be the only indoor cycling bike computer that is on my best of list, although the others on the list I believe give the measures required to support your workout.
- Comes with heart rate strap
- Supplier says it can be added to an Indoor Cycling Bike
- Has a good set of metrics
- Good price with all that is included
- Easy to read
- New to market and little information
- Doesn’t work with Apps for uploading data
- Some adjustment needed to attach to indoor cycle
- Numbers are a little on the small side
It’s disappointing that someone hasn’t come up with sensors or a computer designed with indoor cycles and spin bikes in mind. Fortunately, wireless technology and Apps are making it easier to get the measures required to help with more effective workouts, for keep motivation and to prevent drifting off track.