When you are going to buy a recumbent bike, you might want to know what makes the prices so much different among them. There must be some factors that make one group of the units cost a lot more than the other. Apart from different types of materials used, fancy programs provided in the computer and whether the unit is magnetic or an electric bike also plays an important role.
Before we dig deep into the differences between the bikes and the benefits of each of them, we will need to show you some of the parts in the bike including:
Tension cable: This component is connected to the tension adjustment knob. It is used to tighten or loosen the bracket in order to increase or decrease the tension on the flywheel.
Flywheel: This is a round disc which is connected to the pedals. When you are pedaling the bike, the flywheel in the unit will rotate and provide a level of resistance. This is the part where the magnets or magnet bracket send the magnetic field and create tension. Also, the size and the weight mean a lot to the performance of the bike. The larger and heavier the bike is, the better and smoother pedaling the bike will be.
Magnet Bracket: The bracket is sometimes replaced by magnet rings or magnet discs which are located on both sides of the flywheel. The unit has the function of releasing the magnetic field onto the flywheel. In the strap resistance type, the magnets are replaced with the fabric belt.
Let’s see how many types of resistance are used in recumbent bikes. There will be more explanation when it comes to comparison between the two recumbent bike types I mentioned earlier.
- Strap Resistance – This type of resistance can also be called fabric belt resistance, felt pad resistance, direct tension, direct friction, or friction resistance. The system uses a felt pad or fabric belt against the flywheel. The level of resistance is increased by manually adjusting the tension. This is the least expensive system with many drawbacks including that there will be more noise when it is in use, less reliability as pads will wear-out over time and regular maintenance will be needed.
- Wind Resistance – It is also called air resistance. This system used to be popular a long time ago but is now rarely used. The air resistance bikes work by utilizing a fan blade to make wind and create resistance.
- Magnetic Resistance – It is the most commonly used in recumbent bikes. The system works by using an adjustable series of ferrous magnets that surround the flywheel. The mechanism is controlled by a manual dial. To create the resistance, two magnets are set on each side of the flywheel. They create tension and pedal resistance. The magnets are moved further from or closer to the flywheel depending on your adjustment of the resistance knob. We call the bike that has this resistance system a magnetic bike. For example, Exerpeutic 900 XL is a popular magnetic recumbent bike in the market.
• Electric Resistance – The system is also called Electro-Magnetic Resistance. There will be a copper coil wire which surrounds the flywheel. The system then creates electrical current which is put through the coil. Then, the coil makes magnetic resistance and can be controlled by a programmable computer console. Schwinn 270 is a good example of the bikes in this category.
Source: Flickr.com Erik The base
Differences between Magnetic and Electric Recumbent Bikes
• Magnetic bikes tend to be less expensive due to less complicated technology.
• Magnetic bikes can be reliable to a certain level in term of providing resistance. However, many find that the resistance can be weaker in some models in comparison to the electric ones.
• There is no electrical cord needed for a magnetic bike. However, the unit may still need batteries for the computer console. The electric bike definitely needs electricity.
• Because it operates more on mechanical friction, a magnetic bike can be more durable. You can still use the unit even when the console is broken down. The electric bike won’t work if the computer is down or if there is no electricity input.
• Electric bikes provide you with more choices of resistance. In addition, in a more advance bike, it can automatically adjust to the selected program. For example, some bikes may give you automatic resistance adjustments according to your heart rate. Magnetic bikes cannot do this. You can just select one tension setting for a certain workout.
• In magnetic bikes, you may have to slow down, pause or stop your workout in order to adjust the resistance knob. The electric one allows you to easily adjust during your workout by pushing buttons.
It is obvious that magnetic and electric recumbent bikes are different. It is hard to say which is better because it depends on your use and your budget. If you like fancy workout programs and don’t want to easily get bored, you may want to select the electric bike which is more costly. But if you want a basic bike and do not use it that much, you may want to look at a less-expensive magnetic bike.