Today there is a lot of variety in the type of bikes people can purchase. This naturally brings about a lot of questions.
After all, there is a good reason why there are different types of bicycles as they all have different pros and cons.
Such is the case when it comes to exercising and overall fitness.
Both road bikes and hybrid bikes can be used for fitness and to improve your cardiovascular endurance. Road bikes are better for speed and long-distance fitness rides. In comparison, hybrid bikes are more versatile and are also great for fitness and staying fit as they can make your muscles work.
That being said, there are some important details when it comes to choosing a bike for fitness, especially if you are uncertain which one will be best for you and your needs.
Are Bikes Good For Fitness?
Biking has many different health benefits. However, people can have different goals in mind when it comes to fitness. Some people will want to lose weight, while others may be more interested in building muscle.
So can a bike help?
Generally speaking, biking is a type of cardio, and it is a great way to exercise and keep your heart rate up, which is associated with higher rates of burning fat.
This means that biking is good for losing weight and toning.
In fact, biking at a moderate pace can burn about 300 kcal per hour. According to the information provided by the University of Rochester Medical Center, at moderate to vigorous exertion levels, riders can burn between 480kcal to upwards of 1,300 kcal per hour, with heavier riders usually burning more calories.
Thus it is no surprise that experts consider biking to be a good way to exercise and burn body fat.
If you are interested in building muscle, biking may not be the best option. The problem is not that you cannot build muscles while biking—you can, but it is not optimal for muscle building. On top of that, another issue is that riding a bicycle does not work out your whole body but just a few muscle groups, like the quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, and abs.
While you can develop very muscular legs over time with biking, your other muscle groups will lag behind.
The good thing about cycling is that it is a very low-impact activity when done right. It tends to put less strain on your knees, ankles, and hips. Conversely, pushing hills while standing upright can be very strenuous and taxing as it involves more sheer muscle power than endurance.
Are Road Bikes Good For Fitness?
Road bikes are built for speed, maneuverability, and efficiency. Typically they have a very light frame and use narrower tires. This makes them very lightweight, weighing on average between 17 to 33 lbs.
Road bikes are designed for moving at higher speeds and covering more distance. So they are excellent tools for working on your cardiovascular endurance and overall fitness.
Although you can build some muscle on your legs, and most likely you will over time, road bikes will work mostly on your endurance. In a certain way, you can compare them to long-distance running.
Are Hybrid Bikes Good For Fitness?
Hybrid bikes are built to be more versatile and be taken on different terrains. They usually have bulkier and stronger frames and wider tires. This makes hybrid bikes, on average, considerably heavier—typically between 25 to 35 lbs.
Although hybrid bikes can do well on the road, they can be taken on light gravel, cobbles, rail trails, and other surfaces. They can also be taken on some trails but are not really suitable for the tougher mountain bike trails.
This, however, does not mean a hybrid bike cannot be good for fitness. Although most hybrid bikes are not built for speed, they can still get your heart rates up and keep you working hard. They can be used for a good cardiovascular workout but can also be used to make your muscles work more and work on your explosive power.
There are different types of hybrid bikes. Of particular interest are fitness bikes and dual sport bikes.
- Fitness bikes typically are built to be faster, more efficient, and fairly lightweight. They also come with a flat or upright handlebar, which a lot of people like.
- Dual sport hybrid bikes, on the other hand, are perfectly capable of being taken off-road. In a sense, these can be considered a sort of hybrid mountain bike, which can also provide a very good workout.
Road Bike vs. Hybrid for Fitness
Experts recommend putting on between 90 to 300 minutes of biking per week for the best results, which can be achieved with both a road bike and a hybrid bike.
Road bikes are built for the road. Often they can have less suspension compared to hybrid bikes and a firmer ride due to the narrower tires. The narrower tires can also be more prone to punctures and cause more problems if you are not on ideal terrain.
The frame on road bikes is smaller and longer. The longer reach and shorter stack are great for better aerodynamics but tend to put the rider into a lower and more aggressive position.
They also feature dropped handlebars which provides the cyclist with some variety as to where they can place their hands.
Overall, road bikes are better for performance and speed, and they may not really be suitable for urban commuting. Often they do not take racks and fenders. If you tend to carry stuff around or have a backpack or a shoulder back on yourself, these tend to slip down to the side and in front of you and get in your way.
Compared to road bikes, hybrid bikes are excellent for riding around town, traversing different types of terrain. Hybrid bikes are also good for fitness as they can be used to make your muscles work harder.
Hybrid bikes are typically not built for speed and long-distance riding. They focus on providing comfort and versatility. Hybrid bikes put the rider in a more upright and relaxed position, which many will find a lot more comfortable compared to a road bike. The upright position also provides better visibility.
Typically hybrid bikes have flat handlebars, which are comfortable but limit the rider to just one hand position, resulting in increased fatigue on longer rides.
The geometry of the bike should also be considered before making a purchasing decision. The more aggressive and lower body position on a road bike can cause some people to feel back pain and place more strain on their neck, shoulders, wrists, and arms.
Hybrid bikes are heavier, but just because a bicycle is heavier does not make it better for fitness. However, it is possible to provide you with some benefits, all else being equal.
The rider should also consider if a heavier bike will decrease their enjoyment from riding. The weight of the bicycle is of little benefit if it is not ridden often.
When it comes down to the basics, it is more of a matter of how the rider uses the bicycle and not what type of bicycle they have.
Overall, road bikes are a bit more specialized. Because of that, they tend to be more expensive, and many riders may not be interested in getting into that kind of lifestyle. Conversely, for people looking to ride long miles on the regular, a road bike may be the better choice.
However, keep in mind that a new road bike at the same price as a hybrid bike will usually be of lower quality. A good way to go about it is to purchase a used road bike. Though, used road bikes tend to require more maintenance and care, which can be a downside.
In any case, both road bikes and hybrid bikes can be used for fitness and working out.
Many riders can do just fine with a quality hybrid bike because it is more versatile and can handle different terrains. If you are riding to work often, a hybrid bike may be the way to go. In fact, one study showed that riding a bicycle to work can be an excellent way to lose weight, so you don’t need to go all professional.