Fixed gear spinning
During my earliest days of being a bicycle messenger in Philadelphia, I saw these seasoned, tattooed veterans of the scene weaving effortlessly through dense traffic. They’d casually roll up to our standby spot, and it wasn’t long before I discovered that these guys had bicycles that couldn’t move without pedaling, had just one gear, and NO BRAKES.
Like many online pundits and cycling weekend warriors, I immediately chalked this practice up to youthful arrogance and the stereotypical devil-may-care attitude of bicycle messengers.
Inconveniently, many of these guys were the most delicate, graceful riders on the scene who respected the flow of traffic and certainly respected themselves and their fellow road users. Oh, and some of these guys were well into their forties.
Spin for the win
Flash forward ten some years, and I look back on a courier career spent mostly on one of these fixed gear bikes. It was fantastic. I had a few crashes, but I learned a whole lot and became a very strong cyclist.
The fact is that the direct-drive system of a fixed gear bike forces its user to maintain a perfectly even cadence. In layman terms, this type of machine will make you a stronger, healthier cyclist—and all around person—by not letting you get lazy by coasting, the way other cycling machines do.
For anyone—from aspiring pro cyclist to casual stay-in-shape exerciser—looking to increase their cardio capacity and enjoy the benefits of a cycling fitness routine, look no further than the spin bike.
Spin bikes are similar to classic stationary bikes, except they feature all the benefits of the fixed gear style (without the white-knuckle rush-hour traffic thrill sought by your local messenger). That is, as long as the wheel is turning, you are pedaling. You cannot coast. There is no free wheel to allow you to interrupt your cadence.
Spin bike health benefits
The consistent, even pedaling accompanying spin cycling will keep your joints happy, as they all work together in unison. The jolting, shifting tendencies many amateurs have on free wheel bikes (bikes on which one may coast) can cause over and underused joints, resulting in serious pain and bone issues.
By consistently pedaling against an adjustable resistance (a feature of most spin bikes), you will burn a tremendous amount of calories—sometimes more than 700 per hour—spinning.
The heart and lung component to spinning is nearly unmatched in the fitness world. As all forms of cycling are a low-impact sport (especially when compared to running), you will be able to focus on your breathing. Your heart and lungs will improve their capacity, rapidly improving your overall health.
Finally, for those involved in competitive, road, or mountain cycling, habitual spinning programs will improve all elements of your cycling.
Best spin bikes for home
The Keiser M3 product line is top-notch. Magnetic resistance systems allow for customizable resistance to accommodate all strengths. The streamlined design looks great. Moving parts never touch; maintenance is almost non-existent.
The Diamondback Fitness 510Ic has virtually every feature of the Keiser, but without the sleek magnetic resistance. At half the price, it is a worthy contender.
The STAR TRAC Spinner NXT offers many of the same features of the aforementioned models, with the additional benefit of boasting the most ‘authentic’ cycling dimensions—for those looking to replicate the bicycle, this is your model.