Alternative Training Spinning vs Road

Alternative Training Spinning vs Road

In this edition of the Cycling 360 podcast we discuss the idea of using a spin bike for cycling and triathlon training.  For those that don’t know about spin bikes, they are a special stationary exercise bike with a weighted flywheel and are generally used in a class environment in gyms or fitness facilities.

But what do the Cycling 360 guys think of them and would they recommend using one for your cycling training?

The topic came to us from some of our listeners, including Erin who phoned in with a specific question on using spin bikes for her triathlon training.  In this podcast Darryl, Victor, and Rob go over:

  • Reasons why you might want to use a spin bike
  • The mechanics of a spin bike and how they work
  • Getting yourself fitted properly to a spin bike
  • If a spin bike can be compared to riding on a trainer or rollers
  • The differences between a spin and road bike
  • If riding a spin bike is good or bad for your cycling
  • How spinning can be used to improve your cycling
  • What to look for in a spinning instructor
  • Plus much more information and the Cycling 360 Quicktip on getting the most out of your spin class

Additional Links:

Jennifer Sage – Indoor Cycling Association

Subscribe to iTunes | Subscribe to MP3 Feed

Our Partners

AfterShokz_Social_1 ad_podcast1200x628_cycling3_08022016


  1. Hi. Enjoying the podcasts from here in the UK where we can have dull wet weather for months.

    I ride out whenever life allows and I spin upto 3 times a week especially during the winter months. Not really sure you gave a fair hearing to the benefits of spin class. Great cardio workout, maintaining a level of fitness, keeping the winter weight off, working those cycle specific muscles more than general exercise and improving strength.

    I have seen some real benefits from spinning. Maintaining a steady high cadence, improving strength and mainly improving hill climbing. I live in a pretty flat location so finding hills is not always easy but spin has definately built up my hill climbing strength.

    You made the point not to cheat yourself at spin class and I couldn’t agree more. Don’t let the flywheel do the work. Keep the pressure on the pedals for the full session and use plenty of resistance. Essentially for any given exercise I use the a good amount of resistance, almost the highest resistance, where I can maintain high cadence. Over time this resistance builds up.

    As a result when you get on the hills you find the thought creeping into your mind “this isn’t as hard as spin class!”

    • Nick

      Thanks for your feedback. We probably were too critical on the spin classes. They can be great for fitness. Thanks for listening

  2. Chris Lassen says

    I’m a very novice rider trying to squeeze in some training anyway I can get it. I think your perspective on any benefits gained from spinning is based on your level of fitness, where seconds matter and the goal is long removed from just reaching the finish line. For the non-elite as myself and the majority, I think using the spin bike is beneficial to gain some extra fitness in the legs and lungs. I understand you lost this perspective long ago and it’s hard to remember when such basic gains were of benefit. All the fine adjusting and tweaking will come in time if that competitive level is reached and/or desired. Please don’t forget that a lot of your listeners are just average Joe’s, competing for the health benefits and fun of it. I also do enjoy riding outside road and mountain. I’m an ultra runner at heart, but thanks to my crazy tri friends, I’m dabbling in your world a little…and I really like the challenge of it, might actually try an Ironman (if I can learn to swim, Ha!) All that said, I will pay closer attention to setting up my spin bike better. Thanks!!!!

  3. I enjoyed this podcast. I’m one of the few roadies who actually enjoys riding indoors, even when the weather here in Southern CA is nice (how insane is that?!). I don’t go to spin class, but I enjoy the comfort of training on my CyleOps 410 Pro indoor cycle. Aside from slightly larger cranks, the fit is exactly the same as my road bike. This indoor bike is as close as you can get to a road bike, even down to road bike type handlebars. I hired a coach last Fall and have been doing the bulk of my structured interval riding indoors. The power meter data on the indoor bike is very close to what I produce on my power meter for my road bike. That aside, it’s amazing the gains I’m experiencing by primarily riding indoors. I was curious to see whether riding indoors would hurt my performance outdoors, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, I would argue that it’s helped my performance because I’m able to do structured intervals with no distractions whatsoever and have seen the progression of power. I do ensure I ride outdoors as well to not lose bike handling skills as well as riding in a pack. When I do venture out and do a group ride (1-2 times a week, with 4 days indoors), I have no problem staying with the “a” group. I will admit that I’m one of the rare roadies who rides indoors, but the workout has to be structured with intervals. I’d rather do my long endurance ride outdoors, although I have done those indoors as well (4-hours plus). Yes, I am insane. 😉 I own a ton of cycling performance DVDs, many of them virtual reality, and visually climbing and attacking along the likes of Alberto Contador gets me going; that’s all to say, the DVDs definitely help with motivation of riding indoors and oftentimes I’ll follow the DVD’s workout; some of them are harder than group rides! 🙂

  4. Jason Novack says

    I absolutely agree that riding on the road for training is and always will be the best bet to getting faster and better…..However, I have to say that where I live in Western PA….there is a very very very slim likely hood of being able to ride the road in the winter…shale, daylight limits, weather, and just down right frigid cold….So depending on your climate I think Spin classes are a good real good alternative. In my opinion, as long as you’re doing something, you’re improving, as your fitness level will be higher come April….when maybe it warns up enough and the roads become safe enough to ride on again.

  5. Just listened to your “Alternative Training Spinning vs Road” podcast where you mentioned that spinning cycles do not freewheel.
    I live in northern Illinois where outdoor riding is limited a few months out of the year, so I purchased a used “Bally LifeFitness Cycle” to use indoors. This cycle does freewheel just like my road bike and has many program options such as hill climbing with a variety of resistance levels through a PC panel. I do agree it does not replace riding my “real” bike, but hopefully it will provide a good enough workout during the winter months to prevent me from getting too far out of shape.
    Love the show… you guys have a great mix of entertainment and knowledge. Maybe Darryl can start another website called…Loving the Podcast.

  6. What reviews do you have on trainer tires?

    Will be trying my wife’s Tunturi this winter. Plan to get my cadence up.

  7. I just listened to your show for the first time. I wasn’t aware of it before, but I enjoyed it. I have a question, I do all my riding on the road or paved trails and there are days where the wind gets up pretty high. I live in the Las Vegas area and this is quite common. I was thinking of getting the new “tour de france proform bike and would like to get some input on it if you have any? Thanks and I look forward to listening to your show more as I enjoyed it.


  8. The podcast on spinning as an alternative or supplement to outdoor road cycling or roller-trainers road cycling was okay. Appreciated for the sincere attempt to tackle the mostly ignored topic. However, since there are so many people who consider themselves “people of the bike” who spend many more hours at spin classes than on outdoor group rides per week, I think you guys could have focused a little more on the stroke development and fitness benefits of spinning (aerobic/cardiac/strength), and the dangers of overuse injuries from too much time in the spin studio (spinning is strangely addictive… many weeks I feel like I can attend class 5-6 times in a week, which in and of itself leads to tendonitis; let along injuries from improper spin bike fit/setup, too high rpm, improper resistance on flywheel). Another benefit of spinning is the realization from spinning that pro racing road cycling is a physical sufferfest. This knowledge creates a sense of solidarityand community between all cyclists (lowest weekend amatuers to advanced amateurs to elite pros) that is healthy for out community, and not seen in ball sports or runners. One last thing, because in spin class you do not have to worry about balancing the bicycle, you can focus on biomechanical and technique aspects of cycling that are hard to drill outside (where you have to worry about dogs, cars, stoplights, and simple balance): By using toe-cages and clip-in road cycling shoes in spin class, I have developed a serviceable pedal stroke (“scraping” at the bottom and pulling up on the recovery) that was not coming on my outdoor rides.

    • Hi Jay, Thanks for listening and thanks for such a detailed comment. We get that a lot “you could of covered this or that”. We really try to get to as much as possible in one show and keep it under an hour. We do have plans to do more on the topic of technique, skill and training in the future but as you can imagine it all can’t go into one podcast.

      Have a great ride,

      Coach Rob

      • Coach Rob:

        Sorry if my original comment had the tone of bitterness or whining. I am completely aware of space/time constraints (as you can see from my iTunes review and above I have an extremely hard time being concise… David Foster Wallace and Thomas Wolfe are my favorite authors so go figure). I look forward to another pod on spinning topic.

        Last thought though: Spinning really does help in developing the ability to maintain consistent cadence. Lots of things contribute to this (lack of terrain change or variable road surfaces, not having to battle body weight resistance, etc.); but spin class drills have a significant comparative advantage in training that skill so I can now utilize it in my road cycling.

        But again, thanks a lot for your pod. Especially the energy and enthusiasm you guys bring to the enterprise.


  9. Love the podcast guys but i have one question…. What’s wrong with Trek bikes? 😀

    • Anj

      Thanks for listening. Truthfully there is nothing wrong with Trek bikes. They make great products. We just dont like the dogma associated with the brand.

    • I could make it easy and just say Ditto to Victor’s reply but I will add that when I go to an LBS I like choices and when you go to a Trek LBS you get Trek, Garry Fisher and Bontrager. I do not care for Bontrager components. I am a former owner of a Lemond Racing Bike which Trek use to distribute years ago. The Lemond bikes came with bontrager components and I found them to be sub standard on my bike. – Coach Rob

Leave a Reply to Victor Cancel reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.