Exercise Bike Resistance Levels: A Complete Guide

With different styles, capabilities and performance abilities, exercise bikes have come a long way. One of the most convenient ways to keep yourself in shape is to have an exercise bike at home. When it comes to exercise bikes, they vary based on the resistance levels.

The different resistance levels basically indicate the intensity of the workout. Once you figure out the different levels of resistance/intensity, you can better decide which exercise bike will be suitable for your needs. You need to consider the various types of seating, the weight limit of the bike, and the weight of the flywheel.

Exercise Bike Resistance Levels


Air Resistance

The fan blades on the front wheel of the bike create air resistance. The faster you pedal the more air resistance gets created. Those with a high fitness level who really wish to challenge themselves can consider the air resistance level.

Your speed of pedalling will create the amount of air resistance which will in turn decide the amount of work your body muscles will do in each session. It is needless to mention here that the higher amount of muscle work, the more calories will be burnt.

Different air resistance levels are available in air resistance bikes which helps people adjust as per their fitness goals and current physical fitness. These bikes also offer some additional resistance for extra weight-bearing. So along with getting those muscles worked and calories burned, you will also get a few toning benefits.

They are smooth to operate and make zero noise, unlike a few other types that make a buzzing sound when the workout catches pace.

Magnetic Resistance

Yet another type of resistance found in exercise bikes is magnetic resistance. A magnetic is attached to the flywheel of the bike which creates the magnetic resistance. Those looking for a consistent workout should get this exercise bike a try!

The magnetic brake system makes sure that the amount of variation applied remains the same without any variations to ensure you always engage in a tough workout. These can be a bit heavy on your pockets as they are designed for and found in both homes as well as commercial gyms. They are also noise-free and easy to operate.

Brake-Based Systems Resistance

Brake-based systems is the third type of resistance level found in exercise bikes. Here the resistance is created by the use of a brake pad to slow the flywheel down as you pedal. It creates drag against the wheel, which is why this type of resistance can be usually found in cheaper models. Automatic braking systems are available but less common than manual braking systems.

These ones mostly produce a lot of noise and are less consistent. Your intensity levels vary throughout your ride. If you have a tight budget, this could be your best bet! People who want a lot of control over their performance can control the resistance using brake-based systems.

Direct Contact Resistance

This is a fairly new type of resistance that has begun to gain much popularity these days. Here the flywheel collides with the electrically controlled pad which creates a drag against it. When you reach maximum intensity, it might get harder for you to pedal because of increased pressure against your wheel. You will have three settings available in your direct contact resistance machine.

  1.   Level one creates minimum friction and would help you during the first few minutes of your session.
  2.   Level two would raise the bar and create a little bit of difficulty in your cycling within say next 10 minutes and but you would still be able to pedal. After about 15 minutes.
  3.   Level three makes it even more difficult pedalling on your own. In direct contact resistance, the contact between bike and flywheel is a lot more direct than with hydraulic machines.

When compared to other types, it produces less noise but offers inconsistent workloads over time as friction increases tremendously with the increasing resistance levels. If you want complete control over the level of difficulty you reach with each session, then a bike featuring direct contact resistance can do the job for you!


Each system has its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Now that you have learnt about the different types of resistances available in exercise bikes, it would be easier for you to make a choice as to which one is an ideal choice for your needs.

In case you are looking out to have workout sessions that really feel like you’ve worked hard then air resistance is the right option for you. Looking for a seamless and quiet ride? Magnetic resistance is the answer! If you want complete control over your cycling sessions, brake-based systems resistance would be a great fit!

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