Exercise Bike vs Treadmill- The Pros and Cons

Exercise Bike vs Treadmill Which One Is Better?

When it comes to cardio exercise equipment, the most commonly used and most popular options for the past several years have been exercise bikes and treadmills. Both of them have a loyal following which swears by the benefits they provide. However, as with everything else, both of them are bound to have their benefits as well as their disadvantages. This is especially necessary to know since most homeowners do not have the kind of space to accommodate both options.

Hence it becomes a necessity to decide upon one of the two options, either due to practical or monetary reasons. Here, we will try to list the major pros and cons and provide you with an exercise bike vs treadmill showdown. We’ll do this by comparing each attribute we consider necessary for a good workout and pit them against each other.

1.      Convenience:

The first aspect which strikes a person while using exercise equipment is to see if it is convenient to use. Both treadmills and exercise bikes rank equally here. Both do not require too much space, do not need any sort of setup after they are assembled once and can be started off in a few seconds at the most. They are also fairly simple to use and do not require any prior explanation since the processes are mostly self-explanatory. So, the first attribute results in an even draw for both pieces of equipment.

2.      Cost:

For a lot of people, the cost is a major issue while making an investment and is a major point in the exercise bike vs treadmill debate. A piece of exercise equipment is a definite cost worth evaluating before committing to the expense. When compared across various segments and price ranges, exercise bikes end up costing less than treadmills. What is more, even the maintenance cost is lesser for exercise bikes since the only moving parts are the wheel and belt, which are not very complex setups. However, maintaining a treadmill may end up being costlier due to the price of parts and the work involved in repairing it.

The price of electricity may also be an issue for people in some countries. Most treadmills use electricity to rotate the belt which uses a fair bit of electricity. Exercise bikes, on the other hand, use the energy created by the pedaling action of the rider to power the LED displays. Even the models that utilize electricity use it for mainly varying the intensity of the workout and use far less electricity than treadmills.

The exercise bike is a definite winner here.

3.      Efficiency:

The most important factor to measure here is how well the machine does its job- after all, the primary aim is to burn calories. According to various studies, treadmills burn more calories than exercise bikes on a per hour basis since they require the whole body to move and the legs to carry the weight of the entire body. They can burn up to 640 calories per hour. Exercise bikes, however, majorly involve only the lower body and the abs and back to a certain extent. Hence they can burn about 550 calories per hour of exercise

However, the calculation isn’t that simple. There are several other factors to be considered. For one, the treadmill is a lot more tiring and most people can’t put in more than 20-30 minutes on the treadmill at one go. The exercise bike, however, is a lot more comfortable, less taxing and a lot of people can cycle for sessions as long as 45 minutes. So typically, typical sessions on an exercise bike vs treadmill burn approximately an equivalent number of calories.

Also, if you are into mixing up your workout by including Tabata or HIIT, the exercise bike is a better option since you can exert yourself a lot more on the bike.

Exercise bikes are also a lot less boring and tiring than treadmills. Studies have shown that treadmill users are more likely to quit working out due to boredom rather than exercise bike users.

For this attribute, there isn’t too much of a difference between both but the other options tilt the scales slightly in favor of the exercise bike.

4.      Comfort:

When it comes to comfort while exercising, the exercise bike is miles ahead of the treadmill. Not only can you adjust the seat height, you can also move the seat forward or back depending upon the position which best suits you. If you want to exercise your lower abs, you can just reduce your seat height and ensure that the angle between your back and legs is reduced. If you want to relax your back, you can push back your seat and allow a straighter seating position.

Treadmills, however, have none of these settings. You are in the same position irrespective of the type of workout, duration or intensity. This is one of the main reasons why treadmill users drop out of their workouts. Also, while working out, your complete focus needs to be on your body to ensure that you do not slip or fall off the treadmill.

For exercise bike owners, even if they are tired after a hard day at work, they can push the seat back, get a gel seat to soften the seating surface, and cycle at low speeds while reading a book or checking their email.

5.      Safety:

Safety is another major aspect to consider before buying any exercise equipment, and it is here that the exercise bike vs treadmill contest becomes clearly one-sided.

While both of these equipments are stationary by themselves, the treadmill requires constant motion of your whole body and you have no support whatsoever. In the case of exercise bikes, you are always seated and the only parts moving are your legs. Also, the exercise bike is powered by the rider. The speed and the stops are dependent only upon the rider. If you feel tired, all you have to do is reduce your own speed, much like a regular bike. The only difference is that you don’t need the brakes and are in no danger of hitting anyone ahead of you. The worst that can happen is that your foot might slip off the pedal and you might get a sharp rap on the shins, which, while painful for a few minutes, is not a serious injury by any stretch of imagination.

Cycling is also a low impact exercise which is easy on the knees and great for the elderly and people suffering from joint pains.

Treadmills require you to be constantly aware of your surroundings. One misstep and you can miscalculate your landing or speed and fall off the treadmill, especially at higher speeds. Also, you cannot stop suddenly without having to press the emergency stop button since the treadmill belt rotates automatically independent of the user. If you suddenly feel weak or dizzy, there is a high chance of falling off the treadmill and hurting yourself badly.

Also, while they are padded, constant use of the treadmill can cause joint pain since running is a high-impact exercise and places considerable strain on the ankle and knee joints. Hence, it is not a recommended exercise with family histories of arthritis, joint pains and those with prior ligament injuries.


After comparing all these major aspects, the eventual outcome is that exercise bikes are cheaper, safer, more versatile, more engaging and can be used by everyone in the family- ranging from adolescents to the elderly. Hence, an exercise is a much better investment compared to a treadmill.