Exercise bike flywheel vs magnetic (Which One is Better?)

Exercise bike flywheel vs magnetic
Written by Steve M. Ford

One word you will often hear about when it comes to exercise bikes is RESISTANCE. 

Resistance plays a vital role in ensuring you get a good workout from your exercise bike. Usually, the higher the resistance, the higher the intensity of the workout. Thus, investing in a bike with strong resistance can help you build strength and muscles. 

Two types of resistance that are commonly mentioned are magnetic and flywheel resistance. So, between an exercise bike flywheel vs magnetic resistance, which one is better? 

Just to be clear, virtually all exercise bikes feature a flywheel. So, there’s really no basis for comparison. The “vs” situation only arises on how tension is created with the flywheel.

In this article, we will examine how a plain flywheel bike differs from a magnetic “flywheel” bike. 

Differences Between a Flywheel and Magnetic Resistance Bike

As earlier indicated, both flywheel and magnetic resistance exercise bikes have a flywheel. The biggest difference between them is that one uses magnets to create tension with the flywheel while the other uses mechanical friction. Both resistance has their pros and cons, and choosing the best one will depend on your preference and goals.

Changing the Resistance Level

One of the first things to consider when choosing between a flywheel and a magnetic resistance bike is the ease of changing the resistance level. 

Thankfully, it is easy to change the resistance on both bikes. Bikes with magnetic resistance typically feature gears that determine how the magnet interacts with the flywheel without direct contact with it. 

On the other hand, flywheel bikes come with contact pads that move against the flywheel to create friction. In other words, there’s direct contact between the pads and the flywheel. For this reason, bikes with this type of resistance are often called contact flywheel bikes. Two common types of contact pads used in such bikes are felt and leather pads.

As long as your bike is in good condition, moving from one resistance level to another shouldn’t be a challenge. 


Another thing to consider when deciding between flywheel vs magnetic resistance is the level of wear and tear. 

Bikes with contact-based resistance tend to experience more wear and tear. This is understandable since something is touching the flywheel. The pads will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. 

Magnetic resistance, on the other hand, uses a powerful magnet to generate resistance instead of mechanical pads. As a result, there’s nothing touching the flywheel. This makes it nearly maintenance-free.

So, while flywheel bikes cost less initially, you will need to replace the pads every now and then. With a magnetic bike, that is not usually the case. This doesn’t mean you won’t replace anything, but the cost is far lesser compared to a flywheel bike. 


Noise is another thing to be concerned about when buying a spin bike. The last thing you want is a bike that will disturb the peace in your home or neighbours around.

Magnetic resistance bikes barely make any noise, so they are the ideal option if you want a stationary bike that operates silently. Bikes with contact-based flywheel resistance are much louder, and that is because there’s contact with the flywheel. This contact creates friction which slows it down and causes the noise you hear. 

The level of noise from the bike depends on the particular model. Some contact-based resistance flywheels are not that noisy.

In addition to being louder, bikes with flywheel resistance are typically heavier than their magnetic counterparts. And maybe be harder to move around, especially if they don’t come with transport wheels. Again, the individual weight of the bikes differs depending on the brand and model. 


Another point of distinction is price. Exercise bikes with contact-based flywheels tend to cost less than those with magnetic resistance. So, if you’re on a budget, a contact-based flywheel bike should be perfect.

Bikes with magnetic resistance typically come with more advanced features such as LED display, programmable options, and much more. All these are geared towards giving users a better experience, which explains the higher price point. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean bikes with contact-based resistance are less superior. It all depends on what you want as a user. Overall, with a contact-based bike, you will get more of the traditional feel of riding a regular bike, though without the bells and whistles of a magnetic resistance bike. But you will be paying less for the bike.

Final Words

We will draw the curtains here. Both types of resistance offer great results for a low-impact cardio workout. It’s up to you to decide which one will best suit your goals, style, and budget. 

Whichever bike you choose, make sure there’s enough space in your home to accommodate it. You may also want a model with transport wheels and adjustable handlebars and seats to make it easy to move about and accommodate different users. A built-in screen is also desirable, but it’s not always a requirement. The primary feature you should look out for is a display screen that records your workout metrics. 

Let us know if you have any more questions about choosing between an exercise bike flywheel vs magnetic resistance. 

About the author

Steve M. Ford

Hey! My name is Steve M. Ford and I am a fitness expert. I have been working in the fitness industry for over 10 years, and I have a lot of experience and knowledge to share with others. I am 6’0″ tall and weigh 149.2 pounds. I am in the best shape of my life and I want to help others achieve the same level of fitness and health. I have a lot of advice to share when it comes to diet, exercise, and overall health. I believe that living a healthy lifestyle is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, and I am passionate about helping others achieve this.

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