Spin bikes and both recumbent and upright stationary bikes can be found in most gyms and health clubs. These machines differ in the way they work and in the kind of workout they deliver. The spin bike tends to offer the most difficult workout, followed by the upright stationary bike. The recumbent bike typically is the easiest of the bikes.
A spin bike is a metal-frame bike that has an open "flywheel" that controls the resistance of the workout. The seat height is adjustable, and the handlebars are typically lower than most other stationary bikes because it is intended to simulate the positioning of a racing bike. An upright stationary bike can look similar to a spin bike, except the handlebars are higher and usually don't look like bike handlebars, and they usually do not have a visible wheel. A recumbent stationary bike has a chair-like seat instead of the bike seat you see on an upright bike. The pedals are out in front of you, instead of underneath you, as they are on the other two bikes.
Spin bikes are most commonly found in group workout rooms where trainers lead spin classes, often strenuous workouts set to music. While some gyms put a few spin bikes in the general workout area, you will find mostly recumbent and upright stationary bikes in cardio rooms. These bikes are more likely to have digital screens that allow you to select preprogrammed workouts.
Spin bikes offer a very strenuous workout. They are meant to simulate racing. According to the Exercise Equipment Expert website, these bikes are meant to be used while going through all the various positions a bike racer uses, such as standing up and leaning forward.
According to health writer Martica Heaner, upright stationary bikes may offer a tougher workout than recumbent ones. As Heaner writes, your heart rate and rate of oxygen consumption tend to remain lower when you are in a recumbent position. Recumbent bikes are often recommended for seniors, people who aren't very fit or people who have heart problems.
According to the Exercise Equipment Expert website, the type of bike you choose depends on what your goals are. If you are just starting to exercise and want something you can stick with, an upright or recumbent stationary bike is probably best for you. If you want to get into bike racing shape, or if you are an experienced athlete and know you can handle strenuous workouts on a regular basis, then you should try spin bikes.