Spin bikes were created by Johnny Goldberg to provide an indoor bike that felt like you were riding an outdoor bike. They do a good job of that with the resistance and heavy flywheel. But surprisingly there is not many spin bikes that have drop bars with most going just for a bull horn arrangement and loop.
Unfortunately, this does limit your choice when it comes to training as you can’t really train in the same position as you would on your outdoors bike – you can’t always get out on your bike due to weather or other considerations where it is better for you to be at home rather than out and about.
The good news is there are a choice of 3 good spin bikes that have drop bars. They are all made by Bodycraft and are relatively new. Bodycraft itself has a good reputation of making quality fitness equipment (like their bike the Bodycraft SPX, it has very high ratings but doesn’t have drop bars).
The 2 most popular bikes that I’ve looked at are described below. They have the same style handlebars but have differences in set up that are worth considering when looking for a spin bike for indoor training.
Bodycraft SPR Indoor Club Group Cycle
The handlebars give you the option of multiple hand grip positions with an aero loop in the middle, bullhorn, cross and an ergo drop bar with a straight section that can be more comfortable on the hands. The handlebars are coated to make gripping more comfortable and easier when hands get sweaty. They aren’t padded so if you intend leaning on them you may need elbow pads.
The bike comes with a basic computer for monitoring and tracking performance. It tracks resistance level, time, distance, calories, watts and pulse if you have a Polar compatible heart rate strap. You can set targets and it helps with feedback but you can’t upload information up to an internet account or computer.
Resistance is provided using magnets that sit either side of the 38 lbs flywheel which is at the back of the bike out of the sweat zones. There are 16 levels that are displayed on the computer making it easy to know where to objectively set it and return as you move through your training routine.
The flywheel is perimeter weighted to provide the inertia to pull the pedals through the cycle motion promoting a good pedal stroke.
The pedals supplied with the bike are for athletic shoes with toe cages and straps on one side. The thread is 9/16″ so if you have your own pedals you can replace the bike’s pedals with them.
The seat and handlebars are fully adjustable – horizontally and vertically. The adjustments are done by loosening the adjustment handles and sliding the poles into place and then tightening up. You set them where you want as you aren’t restricted to preset holes. This makes it easier to set the bike up so it closely resembles your road bike set up.
It is well constructed bike that holds stable at any level of intensity, low maintenance and quiet making it a good choice for cycling and spinning.
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Bodycraft SPT-Mag Indoor Club Group Cycle
This looks like a traditional spin bike with the flywheel at the front. It looks more like a bike than a the usual exercise bikes.
The handlebars have a similar set up as the Bodycraft SPR above giving you all the same options for hand and riding positions.
The bike doesn’t come with a computer as standard. You can buy one separately from the company that measures time, distance, calories, watts and pulse. Or if you are reasonably handy you could fit a standard bike computer but the issues you need to address are to avoid the magnetic resistance and how to fix the spoke magnet to the aluminum flywheel.
Resistance is provided by magnets on both sides of a light aluminum flywheel. This adjusted by turning the tension knob on the frame that moves the magnets closer and further away. There are no levels marked for resistance so to set it you need to do this by estimate and feel.
The light flywheel doesn’t pull the pedals through so you need to be better with your pedaling to prevent the up and down stroke that can have some impact on the joints. The light flywheel and magnetic resistance provides a similar feel to a road bike as the faster you pedal at a particular resistance setting the more resistance there is.
The pedals have toe cages on one side that fit athletic shoes. It is possible to buy SPD compatible pedals from the company. The pedal thread is 9/16 so if you have your own pedals you should be able fit those if you prefer
The bike handlebars and seat are fully adjustable forward/backwards and upwards/downwards. They are micro-adjustable too which means you should be able to get it set up very close to your outdoor cycle.
These 2 bikes are great with them providing a different riding experience with the flywheel and shape of the bike. They both can provide the necessary stability and durability for hard workouts and training in and out the saddle – racing or cruising.
They can also by other people if you want as they are suitable for different heights and abilities. The changes needed can be done quickly.
The Q Factor on both bikes is 175 mm which is going to be wider than you are used to on an outdoor bike. The seat can be adjusted between 28 and 37 inches from the pedals to give a good range for getting the bikes to fit correctly and along with the other adjustments (to handlebars and seat) it is possible to set the bike up to closely match most outdoor bike set ups.
The big difference (other than the computer) is the flywheel weight and how that impacts on the feel of the workout. This is a personal preference as to whether you want weighted flywheel pulling the pedals through for you (as happens on an outdoor bike) or the light flywheel with the variable resistance ( as happens when riding an outdoor bike) but can result in a choppier pedal stoke.
Both bikes can be used by people of all abilities and sizes and with the quick adjustments it can be used by other people to get low impact cardio as well as be used by someone for their indoor training.