What Is Bike Resistance And What’s The Best One For You?

A benefit of using ​exercise bikes is that users are given the leeway to choose and adjust the level of resistance they need. Because of this, users can amplify their routines without modifying the length or duration.

What is bike resistance though? Resistance refers to the capability of stationary bikes to replicate the feel of regular outdoor cycling. To increase resistance means mimicking uphill biking while lowering it permits for a moderate workout. There are different types of bike resistance, and they are as follows.


Kinds of Resistance in Stationary Bikes

The resistance for exercise bikes comes in four types—magnetic, mechanical, belt-based and fan-based.


Affordable upright bikes and some spin bikes come with mechanical resistance. This means the resistance unit of the bike is the same as a traditional bike’s brake system. The flywheel comes with rubber pads on either side and these pads rub against it, which makes the bike a challenge to pedal.

When users make the tension knob tighter, it boosts the pressure between the flywheel and the rubber pads. The rubber pads have to be changed at least once every six months if you use the bike regularly.

This type of resistance mechanism generates noises while in use because of the pads’ constant rubbing against the flywheel. If the bike starts to produce louder sounds, it’s time to lubricate the flywheel. Exercise bikes that have this type of resistance are not usually free from maintenance.


If you want a non-invasive means to acquire resistance for your routines, you can go for a bike that has magnetic resistance.

Several bikes come with a tension knob while some electromagnetic models are built with options to shift resistance levels through digital means.

For this kind of resistance, there are two magnetic bars positioned on the flywheel that resist each other.


For magnetic models with tension knobs, whenever users make the tension knob tighter, the distance between the bars is reduced, thus leading to more resistance to the flywheel’s rotation. Majority of magnetic stationary bikes come with 8 degrees of varying workout intensities.

For electromagnetic bikes, they come with a motor in order to change the quantity of current distributed to the magnets for changing the resisting action of the magnets. The magnets will not budge nearer to the flywheel to give lots of resistance.

Unlike mechanical bikes, magnetic ones do not require any lubrication or maintenance due to the lack of wearing and tearing. They are silent as well so you can do your routine in the evenings.


This type of resistance involves the use of a sizable fan located in front of the bicycle.

This fan then spins as the user pedals the bike by means of the unit’s belt and pulley mechanism.

As the user pedals in a faster manner, the fan begins spinning fast as well with the air all over it providing more resistance to the blades of the fan.

Fan Resistance Bike

These fan blades are designed in a fashion that it will give the user a cool breeze each time he or she uses the bike, which makes workouts more comfortable. Like magnetic bikes, it does not require any maintenance as well.


Strap-based resistance is usually found in older exercise bike models. Modern ones are designed with magnetic, mechanical and fan-based systems.

For this kind of resistance, a belt is fastened to the flywheel and the pedaling wheel.

When users modify the tension knob to boost the resistance, this leads to an increase in the force where the brake setup clutches the belt from budging.

Strap Resistance Bike

The system is somehow the same as mechanical resistance. However, in this scenario, the brake setup produces resistance to the movement of the belt compared to the resistance generating from flywheel rotation.

One disadvantage of this bike resistance type though is it is not as efficient due to the belt’s constant exposure to wear and tear. The whole belt requires replacement every so often.


So what bike resistance will be best for you then? If you want something that won’t disturb other residents in the house, high-tech and will not require maintenance, then a magnetic resistance bike is ideal for your needs.

If you want something affordable but wouldn’t mind the occasional maintenance work and a bit of noise, you can opt for a mechanical resistance model.

Exercise Bike

Fan-based resistance types do have their users, but majority finds out that using the bike takes some getting used to. It does not require any maintenance work like magnetic models, but if you do not want all that hassle of discovering how to use a fan-based model, then you must invest in a magnetic type resistance bike.

Certainly, for the most user-friendly resistance type, the magnetic resistance exercise bike wins. Magnetic models come in a good range of prices too so you will find something that fits within your budget.