In the wake of Peloton — which claims to have sold a bike in every state every day last year — cycling at home is having more than a heyday. But you don’t need to clip in and face the music to get a good workout. If you want to cycle at home, you have many options at your feet. Here are our choices.
The moniker is a dead giveaway for this strenuous vehicle, but there is nothing better for working toward the burn. The Assault Airbike (pictured at the top of the story) amplifies resistance as you push, pull, and pedal with greater speed and strength — working the whole body simultaneously. Given the intensity, you’ll be grateful it lends itself to interval training, tracking whatever goals you desire (calories, distance, heart rate, time).
An Elite version launched two years ago. It has a smoother ride and greater resistance against an increase in speed, but it also allows muscle isolating workouts. Whether you choose to cycle solely, engaging just the lower half of the bike, or focus on your arms, you still feel the assault.
Wahoo Kickr Bike
Newly launched by Wahoo, a tech-fitness company that specializes in indoor bike trainers, the Kickr Bike “blurs the line between virtual and reality … for a level of realism never experienced on an indoor training ride.”
The Kickr mimics outdoor riding with incline changes in real time. Riding up and over steep mountains and replicating speed on descents (wind in your hair not included) not only feels authentic but also delivers a more dynamic workout. Innovations also include virtual braking (a new concept to indoor cycling) and programmable virtual shifting. It pairs easily with your technology of choice (bike computer, phone, tablet, etc.) for easy tracking.
Can’t quit the elliptical you grew up on — which may (or may not, no judgment here!) also act as a clothes rack now? There’s a new bike for you. Street Strider stays in or goes out and conditions your whole body with little impact. As a weight-bearing exercise — you operate it standing — riding it can strengthen bones as well as burn fat. But it’s the fun factor that has Strider riders won over, saying the elliptical motion feels like “skiing down the street” and “running on air.”
There are several models, depending on your fitness level and goals, all of which feature a stable three-wheel platform and intuitive learn-to-steer system. For convenience, it folds for easy transport and fits on a roof rack.
We’ve divulged the merits of a rowing workout, so you can imagine our elation over the Rowbike, a hybrid of rower and bicycle. Though not a new invention, Rowbike has become increasingly popular among those seeking a zero-impact, total-body conditioning workout. In addition to melding the benefits of weightlifting (stronger arms, abs, and shoulders are within your reach) with the cardio of cycling, users rave that it’s exhilarating. Rowbike founder Scott Olson — whose legacy also includes Rollerblades — coined the term “rowling” (rowing and cycling) for this efficient workout.
Though it may feel counterintuitive, electric bikes (aka e-bikes) are a healthy workout. With pedaling assistance, you can go farther and ride longer — and they “provide physical activity of at least moderate intensity that is [lower than conventional cycling] but higher than walking,” according to Jessica Bourne, research coordinator at the University of British Columbia Health and Exercise Psychology Laboratory. E-bikes may just be the boost we need to keep going as we age. By reducing some of the physical effort, they eliminate issues such as joint pain without sacrificing the enjoyment or exertion you seek.
There are three classes of e-bikes:
Class 1: The motor kicks in only when you pedal and stops helping at 20 mph. This is ideal for new riders.
Class 2: Offers pedal-assist up to 20 mph plus a purely throttle-powered mode.
Class 3: Solely pedal-assist (like class 1), but assistance continues until you hit 28 mph. These are faster (and more powerful) and tend to cost more.
Regardless of your ride of choice, cycling can help you roll through aging with gusto. A 2018 study revealed that cycling helps preserve greater muscle mass and strength while maintaining stable levels of body fat and cholesterol. But the effects go deeper — to the immune system. The thymus, the organ responsible for our immune cells (aka T-cells), naturally shrinks over time, impeding its ability to create new cells. However, studies show that aging cyclists continue to generate T-cells as they did while young, allowing the body to fight infections.
And lest we forget, cycling begets joy. Whether indoors or out, experts believe cycling boosts mental health, reducing risks of depression, positively affects brain serotonin, and helps build new brain cells.