We’re always trying to improve our exercise regimens.
Far too often, people leave cardio off the table, not realizing that they could be using an elliptical machine or an exercise bike to bring out far more benefits than just running or jogging.
Today, we’re going to go over all the differences: pricing, usability, accessibility, benefits, and even the drawbacks.
This is your fully transparent look at these two machine types, each of which will appeal to different athletes.
It’s time. It’s time for the elliptical machine vs exercise bike showdown you’ve been waiting for, and it has more contrasts than you could possibly imagine.
- 1 Elliptical Machines
- 2 Exercise Bikes
- 3 Which is Best for You?
Elliptical machines offer a dynamic range of motion, which isn’t always a given for exercise bikes, depending on the type you choose.
Typically, ellipticals are seen as a better full-body workout, though they may not be as good for solid, straight cardio workouts.
Ease of Use
These are almost neck-in-neck with exercise bikes. It’s easy to just step on and get to work, so the skill threshold is extremely low.
You don’t have to be an athlete to use an elliptical to its fullest potential.
In some aspects, it’s actually easier to achieve proper form on an elliptical than it would be on a spin bike.
Because ellipticals use a very specific design, there aren’t a ton of resistance types to weigh against one another like with exercise bikes.
They’re easy to use, and more simplistic to purchase.
This is where you can see a major disparity. A new elliptical machine is going to run you about $450 to $500 and you can get a decent or high quality exercise bike for about half that if you really wanted.
You’ll see in a minute that elliptical benefits vary from exercise bike benefits, which is where the prices start to sway.
Keep in mind that it also depends on what type of exercise bike you get. There are some that definitely exceed the maximum price of ellipticals.
Either way, if this is where you want to start, you need to do it with a bigger budget in mind.
With elliptical machines, you’re able to burn just as many calories as an exercise bike depending on your intensity level.
However, ellipticals do have a ceiling on the calories you can burn that cannot outmatch certain exercise resistant types, such as air and magnetic.
Using an elliptical trains a lot of muscles, including your calves, back, shoulders, core, biceps, and more.
It’s more of a full-body workout than strictly cardio, so you can see muscular growth across all of your body, which outweighs the reach of most exercise bikes.
Just because you’re getting a full-body workout doesn’t mean it’s a better workout. Because of the way ellipticals are designed, it’s very easy to let the machine do most of the work.
You end up standing back and letting it move from very minimal input on your part, and then the momentum does half or more of the work to keep it moving. It’s not the best way to approach it.
Because of this, you aren’t getting as much of a workout as you would on an exercise bike. Not for the time trade-off and lack of resistance.
Changing the resistance on an elliptical is also close to impossible, so the maximum level of calories burned is harder to achieve.
Ellipticals are good for those that are just getting started with cardio workouts, but it’s not something that you’re going to see a lot of hardcore cardio fiends using.
If you’re not keen on using a treadmill or an exercise bike, using an elliptical for your cardio workout is still better than doing nothing.
Exercise bikes are one of the staples of cardio equipment, giving you the ability to just keep going and burn calories like a beast.
Depending on the type you choose (magnetic, air, hydraulic, etc.), you can gain completely different benefits from other types of exercise bikes.
There are a lot of variables to account for.
Ease of Use
It may come across as ambiguous, but when you use an elliptical and an exercise bike, they both tend to have the same ease of use.
You can step on an elliptical, or sit on an exercise bike, and just go to town. It’s not that difficult.
Now, because ellipticals have different resistance types, it is going to be a bit different than using an exercise bike.
The resistance types of ellipticals are very linear, whereas with exercise bikes, you could have magnetic flywheels, air bikes, or hydraulic bikes—there are so many different resistance types that it makes it difficult to pit them all against each other.
Ellipticals are generally easier to use than air bikes, but are on-par with most other resistance types.
As a general rule, if you shop for ellipticals, you’re going to see a higher average price than you will see with exercise bikes.
Exercise bikes can be as low as $60 (with about as much usability as $60 will get you), but you can enter the high-end realm of exercise bikes at a round $200 or so.
Yes, there are some exercise bikes by manufacturers like Schwinn that can cost more than ellipticals, but on average they don’t.
Ellipticals start around the $450 to $500 mark, and that’s because they’re bigger and require more parts to work.
Price comes down to the cost of materials, and the amount of materials used, so you’re always going to be able to find an exercise bike for cheaper than an elliptical machine.
Ellipticals count as full-body workouts, whereas exercise bikes are primarily used for cardio exercises.
However, once again, we get into those little variables.
If you were to use a spin bike, you work out about seven to ten muscle groups including your shoulders, your lower back, and lower abdomen, which works differently from an elliptical.
You can use an elliptical for a good amount of time, but because of how rapidly it boosts your heart rate, you can’t pace yourself.
With an exercise bike, you can easily set your resistance weight and work up from there.
It’s easier to plateau at a certain level and then graduate when you feel that you’re able.
Exercise bikes allow you to train your endurance levels in a more structured, well thought-out and beneficial manner.
In comparison, exercise bikes do require more time to get a good workout from them.
You can spend 15 minutes on an elliptical and see benefits, but for the first 15 minutes of an exercise bike session, you’re just getting warmed up.
It requires more time, even if the benefits are better than ellipticals in many ways.
On top of that, exercise bikes don’t move as much as an elliptical, and it can feel mundane for a lot of people rather quickly.
That’s why even though I recommend getting an exercise bike, it’s always good to have a real bicycle at the same time to change up your scenery.
Exercise bikes are absolutely great for anyone who wants to lose weight, and take their cardio workouts to the next level.
Cardio exercise has numerous long-term benefits, and because of the extremely low, close to zero skill threshold required to operate an exercise bike, they work out very well.
If you’re a cyclist who actually enjoys being on a bike as a source of fun, you’ll be able to dedicate yourself to losing weight and staying fit on an affixed exercise bike a lot easier than people who tend to gravitate towards strength training regimens more often than not.
Which is Best for You?
We’re at the end of the road, but it’s not over yet.
Now you have to decide what you want to do: are you going to step onto an elliptical, or sit on an exercise bike and pedal your way to a trimmer waistline?
Cardio is imperative for a healthy exercise plan, so if you’re not already running or pedaling, it’s your chance to add this core exercise to your weekly workout plan, and start reaping the rewards as soon as possible.