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How Do I Choose the Best Cycling Machine?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2014
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During the winter months, many cyclists turn to a cycling machine to maintain fitness while riding indoors. Choosing a good cycling machine is a matter of determining your budget and deciding between the two most common styles: the cycling trainer and the cycling rollers. Some people also choose to purchase an exercise bike, which is a piece of exercise equipment that is stationary and offers adjustable resistance. This will be the most expensive of all the options, and it will also take up the most space within the home, though some people prefer it because of the ease with which it can be used.

A cycling trainer is a type of cycling machine that attaches to the rear axle of a bicycle, thereby holding the rear wheel of the bike off the ground. The trainer features a metal or hardened rubber roller that presses against the rear wheel to provide resistance; the roller is connected to a resistance unit that can often be adjusted for more or less resistance. This type of cycling machine is very stable and easy to use; choosing one is a matter of finding one with a sturdy frame, adequate adjustments for the axle and tire, and adjustments for the resistance unit. There are several types of resistance units, so be sure to research each kind and determine which is best for you.

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Cycling rollers are a type of cycling machine that is more difficult to use than a trainer, but they will improve fitness and balance. This type of machine will take some practice to get used to, and the rider will have to concentrate on staying upright, because there are no supports for the bicycle at all. The bicycle will rest on a series of cylinders — two for the rear wheel and one for the front — that will rotate as the bicycle's wheels rotate. The rider will need to stay balanced, or he or she runs the risk of slipping off the sides of the rollers. This is a compact system that will provide fitness and balance improvement, so for a rider looking for a more complete workout, this is a great choice.

A traditional exercise bike is also an option when choosing a cycling machine. These are larger, more expensive units than other types of machines, and they will need a permanent spot within the home. Choosing one is a matter of finding a unit that fits the purchaser's price range and needs; some, for example, feature computers that can monitor heart rate and calories burned, while other models are more basic and simply provide adjustable resistance. Try to find one that is appropriately adjustable for size and comfort.

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pastanaga
Post 3

@irontoenail - Actually you can get a fairly compact and reasonable cycling machine these days if you look for one. The only caveat I would make is to check the reviews for the machine you pick to make sure that it's going to be sturdy as sometimes they cut costs by making it very lightweight and it breaks after only a few months.

irontoenail
Post 2

@umbra21 - I think you could probably get one for relatively low cost if you looked for it second hand or at a warehouse or something like that. It would still be much less expensive than a cycling machine, that's for sure.

Although, honestly, I'd much rather just pay for a gym membership than spend money on any kind of equipment like that. It's almost always more trouble than it's worth and a gym membership gives you access to the full range of different kinds of equipment.

A trainer is really for people who need to get used to a particular bike and don't want to have to change their exercising style.

umbra21
Post 1

My sister used a trainer to help when she was getting ready to do an Iron Man and they are actually more expensive than you would expect, considering that they are essentially a cycling accessory. But she used it all the time and it was still cheaper than getting a stand-alone exercising cycle I suppose. It was also a lot quieter, since it wasn't powered by anything other than the bike itself.

Still, I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone who wasn't doing some serious training. It can't compete with actually getting out there on the bike, and it's quite expensive for such a dinky little thing.

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