A single social media post announcing you used an “assault bike” will earn you oohs and ahhs and virtual fist bumps.
The name alone insinuates that you went through a crushing workout that taxed your body and self-discipline.
If you’re new to fitness, the air bike, which often sits near rowing machines in Cross Fit boxes, might look like a new torture device set to blow you away with the swift arm and leg movements it requires.
However, if you’ve been around gyms for decades, you’ll recognize the contraption right away, like a familiar fitness friend.
“Assault bikes” or “air bikes” were ubiquitous in gyms throughout the 1980’s and 90’s, and some versions of it existed well before then.
The onset of the popularity of interval workouts, however, has made these bikes gain in popularity recently.
The word “popular” is being used loosely here – many people love to hate these bikes because of the tough workouts they provide.
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What Makes Air Bikes So Popular?
Since fan resistance bikes have been around for years, companies who make them have been able to perfect their models.
Thus, they are a solid investment for both gyms and individuals alike.
The bikes tend to be sturdy and able to accommodate a variety of body sizes.
And, truth be told, they make users feel like hardcore athletes.
Many exercisers experience improved cardiovascular function and increased strength when using an air bike regularly.
One of the reasons they are effective is because using one involves little-to-no learning curve since there are no “settings.”
Your pedal and arm strokes move the fan. The faster you pedal, the more wind resistance you create.
So, there are no “level” buttons to distract you or tension knobs with which to fiddle.
You just hop on. Start pedaling and MOVE!
As you become more physically fit, you’ll be able to self-generate more wind resistance through your improved pedal stroke and arm strength.
In addition to arm and leg strength, your abdominal muscles also engage while using an air bike.
Air bikes can provide a joint friendly, low impact workout that is high intensity for your heart.
The simplicity and safety of using an air bike is alluring, especially for no-nonsense interval workouts.
Should You Get Your Own Air Bike?
Maybe. They can be found for under $1000.
If that sounds like an assault on your wallet, try one first.
It might be worth it to pay a personal trainer for a couple of sessions to craft a couple of air bike based workouts (or three!) before you decide to bring a bike home.
The Rundown on Top Three Air Bikes
Here’s a quick look at our favorite options for the best air bikes for home workouts.
best air bike for Crossfit
The Rogue Echo Bike appeals to users of all sizes in a variety of workout environments.
The steel fan allows you to generate ample power relatively quietly. It accommodates users up to 350 pounds.
The bike itself weighs more than 120 pounds.
But, attention has been paid to make it portable, so you can move it when you need to get it out of the way.
- Rubber on handles to protect hands and provide grip
- LCD monitor with calories, distance, heart rate, etc.
- Belt driven steel fan for a quieter ride
- Rubber, adjustable feet to protect floor and to decrease wobbling
- Height and fore-aft seat adjustment
- At under $800, it costs less than other models
- Standard seat might not be comfortable for all
- 58 inches long. Requires ample floor space
- Single handlebar position
The Rogue Echo is a solid choice. With eight height settings and five fore/aft seat settings, it should accommodate a wide range of exercisers.
Schwinn has been making Airdyne bikes for decades. There is a reason why they are still leaders of the pack.
The company has had time to reflect on what users demand and respond with attention to detail that provides durability and dependability.
From the wheel to the steel crank shaft, the Schwinn Airdyne Pro is built to last for users up to 350 pounds.
You’ll pay a bit more for one of these compared to other air bikes out there.
But, many would argue that shelling out a few more bucks is a solid investment.
- Multiple handlebar adjustments provide comfort and variety
- Comes with a large padded seat that comfort seeking exercisers like. However, Schwinn makes it simple to swap out the seat for another one if desired.
- Double coated steel frame for durability
- Foot platform designed to reduce slippage
- Monitor tracks everything from watts to distance and more
- At 42 inches long, it requires less floor space than other models out there
- 10 year warranty
- Like all air bikes, make sure it fits your space!
- Pricier than other air bikes out there
Schwinn Airdyne bikes, in general, are a good investment. Consumers pay a little bit more for the product.
But, the company’s products reflect decades (actually more than a century) of paying attention to exercisers changing needs.
Experts at LifeCORE Fitness who know their stuff when it comes to coaching, fitness and exercise teamed together to design and test this bike.
It features sturdy construction, while still weighing less (91 pounds) than many of its competitors (more than 100 pounds).
The great thing about the Assault AirBike is that it can work for a beginner, a rehabbing athlete, or a seasoned pro training at the highest levels of competition—no matter their sport, body type, or ambition.
- Sturdy construction for less wobble
- Monitor has all the bells and whistles- watts, calories, interval training, etc.
- Pedals and crank are reinforced
- Rubber on handles for comfort
- The frame is longer than some other bikes at more than 50 inches long.
- Standard seat
- Only one handlebar position
This is a decent basic air bike that has been designed and tested by coaches and athletes.
It lacks some of the adjustability of the Schwinn Airdyne Pro. However, it does cost a little less than some other air bikes available.
Stationary Bike vs Air Bike
There are several differences between a regular stationary bike and an assault bike.
Assault bikes have a fan in the front “wheel” that you power by both pedaling and moving two levers with your arms.
It’s the same arm motion you’d use on an elliptical machine.
However, unlike an elliptical machine, there is nothing to plug in.
That makes an air bike a decent at-home piece of exercise equipment if you want to be able to pump-up your workouts, not your electricity bill.
Air Bike Buying Basics
There are eight primary things to consider when shopping for your own air bike.
Some of these things might be more important to you than others depending on your living environment.
For example, if you live in a shared apartment or home, noise and size might be a deciding factor for you.
If you’re not a heavy sweater, you might not be overly worried about moisture resistance. Consider the list below before deciding.
Things to Consider:
- Noise. Since you increase resistance by way of wind, the stronger your pedal stroke, the louder some air bike fans become. Look for a model that has noise dampening features.
- Adjustability. Exercise equipment makers often claim available adjustments will accommodate all users. If you are unable to reach the oatmeal off the top shelf at grocery stores, or, conversely, you find yourself ducking under the door jamb to get into a coffee shop, seek a bike that has maximum adjustment features.
- Handle padding. Good body mechanics on an air bike involve both upper and lower body movements. Handles that generate blisters or get overly slick with sweat can inhibit your ability to dig into productive arm movement. Find a bike that addresses this detail.
- Seat. Width and cushioning are a personal choice. If you’re not picky, go with the flow. Otherwise, find a bike that has a seat you can swap out for a custom fit.
- Floor space needed. Do you have room for the bike? Will your floor support the weight of the bike with you on top of it? Double check before you order.
- Monitor. Does the monitor display the type of data you seek? Speed, cadence, mileage, watts, calories burned, etc.? Figure out what matters to you and find it!
- Construction materials. The bike will be in your home for a while. The bike will make you sweat. Fortunately, air bikes usually have corrosion-free materials where they are needed.
- Maximum weight. Remember to make sure the air bike will support your current weight.
There’s a reason why some version of air bikes have been around for more than a century.
In relation to other forms of high intensity exercise, riding an air bike is joint friendly.
If you seek an efficient, versatile piece of equipment for home use that can provide a quick cardio or interval head-to-toe workout, an air bike is a solid choice.
If you’re willing to welcome an air bike into your life, the bike will meet you where you’re at on a physical fitness level and grow with you.
Purchasing one could be the start of a healthy relationship!