There is a lot to think on when it comes to selecting the best exercise bike for your home. Which type of bike style, upright, studio, recumbent. Which type of resistance, direct contact, magnetic, air? Well just to add to the mix lets pose this question, folding exercise bike vs non-folding exercise bike?
Folding exercise bikes have the advantage of being very practical for home use, as storage is very simple and compact. Just fold up the bike after you have worked out and store it out of sight. Under the bed, at the back of the wardrobe or in the garage. But to be able to store easily are they sacrificing other properties? Things such as computer consoles/monitors, robustness and versatility? Let’s see, read on for a further analysis.
Folding exercise bikes
The popularity of exercise bikes, especially their use at home, led to an arms race of sorts. Manufacturers tried to out do each other by adding more to their stationary bikes. Things such as heart rate monitors, built in exercise programs, and smart device compatibility became far more prevalent. Another thing that manufacturers looked to do to distinguish themselves from the competition was to make their bikes easier to store. This is where folding bikes started to emerge.
Put simply a folding bike has a mechanism whereby when not in use, the bike folds at a certain point in the frame, so that it takes up less space. The first examples of folding exercise bikes were not great pieces of equipment. But that was to bed expected. The first forays into any new product are normally difficult, producing limited products with no great appeal. However as time has gone on the quality of folding exercise bikes has increased dramatically. Although they may not have all of the advanced features of stationary bikes, they can still provide a decent workout on a reasonably robust piece of equipment.
Pros and Cons – folding exercise bike vs non-folding exercise bike:
The number one selling point of a folding exercise bike is simply its storage potential. Folding it so that it has a much smaller footprint means the range of storage options increases dramatically. Different models vary as to the degree that they can be folded, and therefore the space they take up. But every model will have a smaller footprint than a non-folding exercise bike.
Many models will have transport wheels and handles, making it even easier to store them away after you have worked out. They are also much lighter than non-folding bikes, again increasing the ease with which they can be moved and stored. However before you rush in and buy one remember that they do not fold away to nothing! If you have a specific space planned to keep one, make sure the dimensions will fit. Most folding exercise bikes will state their dimensions when folded on their list of specifications. Popular places to store folding bikes include under the bed, at the back of the wardrobe, behind a door, in a cupboard, a garden shed and the garage. As I just said, be sure to work out where you plan to store and choose a bike to fit!
There are some drawbacks to folding exercise bikes however, especially when you compare them directly to non-folding exercise bikes. A flexible, folding frame does not have the robustness and durability of a non-folding frame. This is common sense really, but should be stressed.
This may or may not be a problem however. Much depends on how you intend to use the exercise bike, and your size and build. If you are looking for a really vigorous workout, then the folding bike may become less stable. Imagine getting out of the saddle and sprinting whilst effectively standing on the pedals. This will cause an element of shaking that could be too much for a lighter bike. If you plan to use very regularly, every day for instance, the folding mechanism will wear out quicker. If you are of lighter build and plan to cycle at a more gentile pace, and less often, then the less robust nature may not be an issue for you.
There is so much to say about non-folding exercise bikes, they are far and away the most common and there is a wide variety. For the purpose of this article I will concentrate on what distinguishes them from folding exercise bikes.
The most relevant and obvious thing to say is that they are more robust and hard wearing. Having a fixed solid frame means there is one less part to wear out, as there is no hinge. The lack of a hinge or folding point also makes them more stable. They are able to withstand far more vigorous usage then their folding counterparts.
As they are not designed specifically for easy storage, there is less need for additional space saving on a non-folding bike. Therefore the additional extras that may be excluded from a folding bike are included on a non-folding bike. Items such as computer monitor, bottle holder, larger flywheels and multiple point handlebars are far more common on non-folding bikes.
Where non-folding bikes fall behind folding bikes is – surprise surprise – storage potential. They can be bulky, taking up a fair amount of space. This is especially the case with recumbent exercise bikes and the larger, bulky commercial upright bikes. If you are exercising at home for convenience, some of that convenience is lost when you have a piece of equipment taking up space, especially when space is restricted. There is many an exercise bike that ended up a clothes horse!
To evaluate whether folding exercise bikes are as good as non-folding exercise bikes the answer has to be, it depends. If space is not an issue or consideration there is no reason to choose a folding exercise bike, it will not be as good as it’s non-folding counterpart. However if you are in a situation where space is potentially a factor, you need to think about how you will use the bike, and how often. This is a judgement call on your part. Where you are in a situation that space is very tight, and it is a decision between a folding bike and no bike at all, a folding bike will provide a decent way to work out at home and should not be discounted.
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