top of page

Indoor vs Outdoor Cycling

Updated: Nov 21, 2021

Biking, both outdoors and indoors, is one of the most fun activities you can do when it comes to cardio exercise.

Cycling is a generally safe practice. Its benefits for people with osteoarthritis have been studied over a long period with excellent results.

It also has proven benefits for general health, both physical and psychological. In this article, we will focus mainly on the difference between cycling outdoors compared to indoors.

We will look at each of these practices' benefits to help you discern which one is right for you.

Table of Contents:

Scroll down or click here to see the best indoor & outdoor bikes.

indoor vs outdoor cycling

Benefits of Outdoor Cycling

Below are some of the benefits of outdoor cycling.

1) You can cycle with friends

By riding a bike outdoors, we, fortunately, have the chance to do it with friends, and even meet new people on our rides and potentially get exercise buddies!

Exercising with your friends will help motivate you every day.

When you don't want to attend the session, the others will insist that you don't miss, thus giving you a commitment to the group and increasing discipline.

By riding a bike outdoors, we, fortunately, have the chance to do it with friends, and even meet new people on our rides and potentially get exercise buddies!

cycling with friends

2) More ways to distract yourself

When riding your bike outside, you can find different scenes to distract you. From a street show to a wild animal in case you practice it in nature.

Any external phenomenon will be able to capture your attention, as riding your bike is likely to increase your desire to explore.

The fact that you are already fulfilling your exercise quota, and at the same time being able to appreciate different things outside, will make your sessions a much more pleasant moment.

I can't recommend enough going for a long bike ride, listening to your favourite music, on a sunny day without too much heat. It really can be therapeutic.

3) You can change your training environment

If you're a true explorer, biking outdoors is something you can't afford to miss.

The possibilities of different settings to embark on your journeys are endless.

From the mountains to the big city. Your favourite park, or your childhood neighbourhood.

All of these are great options to explore and have fun while doing your body a favour by giving it all the benefits of cardiovascular exercise.

4) It's a mode of transport too

In addition to exercising, you can get anywhere with your bike, whether it's long distances, which in most cases means fun adventures with many surprises along the way, or shorter distances, such as to your workplace, to a nearby eating place, or a friend's house.

On days with heavy traffic congestion, you'll be thankful to be riding your bike instead of finding yourself in the middle of a desperate show of horns and engines!

5) You're taking care of the environment

By riding a bike, you will be helping the environment in a significant way.

CO2 emissions are one of the leading environmental problems we suffer today.

Most of these toxic emissions come from large factories, but cars, buses, and trucks are also responsible for air pollution in big cities.

Fortunately, more and more electric vehicles and other healthier alternatives for our environment are being produced.

Why spend thousands of dollars on an electric car when you can travel with a bicycle for a fraction of the price? You'll be exercising too!

taking care of environment

Benefits of Indoor Cycling

Below are some benefits of indoor cycling.

1) Great for your joints

While outdoor cycling can be enjoyable, doing it at home can be as pleasant and also a lot safer.

Cycling itself is safe by itself, whether it be indoors or outdoors.

Most of the dangers regarding riding a bike are external factors that we can prevent by using a stationary bike

If you have bad joints, it would probably be best to practice indoors cycling.

Irregular surfaces can bring some discomfort to people with previous injuries.

If you've had any knee problems in the past, you should ask a doctor if becoming an active bicycler is a good idea.

2) You control the setting

When training on a stationary bike at home, you control absolutely everything. There are days when the weather, for example, does not help outdoor riders.

It is common knowledge that direct sunlight is very detrimental to the health of the skin at certain times of the day.

If these are the only times we can exercise, cycling indoors can help us not miss the opportunity to practice this beautiful sport safely.

Not to mention rainy days, which can often ruin a cycling session in an instant.

Indoor cycling can help mitigate all these aggravating factors and make you the leader of your training environment.

3) You can cycle at any time

As we mentioned in the previous point, there are times when it is better not to go out cycling when certain external factors, such as the sun, can be harmful.

There is also the possibility that you may prefer not to go out at a specific time for safety reasons because of where you live.

The reality is that not all places are ideal for a night bike ride. If this is your case, acquiring a stationary bike may be a good option.

You won't have to take risks during your workouts, and you'll be able to concentrate on what interests you instead of paying attention to your surroundings out of insecurity.

cycling at night

4) Virtual courses & live training become available

One of the main benefits that I enjoy the most is that indoor biking and exercise bikes give you the ability to game while you train.

For example, Zwift offers online competitive race training with bikes that are compatible with their software.

The Zwift and Peloton training and gaming communities are relatively new to the scene.

Still, they are growing fast in popularity because of how fun and entertaining these virtual training games make working out.

5) Less time consuming

Sometimes, it can be tedious how long it can take to get an excellent outdoor cycling session going finally.

You may not have your bike at home, but in the garage, or the nearest place you enjoy riding is not very close.

Having a stationary bike in your home will take you just seconds to get on it at any time of the day and start exercising.

A quick shower after the session, and you can go on with your everyday life. Many people enjoy being indoors more than outdoors, which is perfectly valid. In this case, indoor cycling is for you.

6) No dangerous external factors

Sometimes, a rock in the road, or an animal that quickly crosses your path, can mean a nasty scrape, and in some cases, even a severe injury.

The reality is that this doesn't happen often enough to stop millions of people around the world from practising this sport.

But it is also true that the small risk that does exist is completely mitigated when cycling at home.

dangerous road for cycling

Indoor Cycling vs Outdoor Cycling: Which One Is Best?

Below is a list of comparisons, helping you decide between indoor and outdoor cycling.

Best for Seniors

When we refer to older people, some of the previous points mentioned can be somewhat more complicated.

In addition to being physically more sensitive, older people may not be at the best of their cognitive abilities. Indoor cycling will mean a significant reduction in the risks that exercise carries.

If we are talking about an older person who may be compromised by some of the external factors that cycling outdoors may involve, going indoors would be best.

That said, seniors tend to appreciate the outdoor cycling experience highly.

A common denominator in this type of person is a greater appreciation for the environment, the scenery, and the different terrains to be ridden.

Also, it can be helpful to find other fellow seniors to ride with. Both practices have their benefits for seniors. Each case will have its answer.

I strongly recommend consulting with a physician before becoming an active rider in the case of seniors.

elderly cycling

Best for Beginners

The answer to this question will depend on several factors. The most important being the objective of each beginner.

Although there are more critical things to consider than the rider's level in deciding whether indoor or outdoor cycling is better, it is true that cycling outdoors will captivate the rider's enthusiasm to a greater extent and more quickly than cycling indoors.

However, I think it is essential to consider several other factors, such as previous health and time availability, before deciding.

Which Costs More Money?

This issue is a bit more complex. There are several factors to consider when determining which option will be more economical.

Mostly this will depend on the quality of the equipment you wish to purchase.

In the high end, both fixed and regular bikes, you will find exorbitant prices. You will also find cheaper options on both sides, allowing you to practice cycling on a budget.

Outdoor bikes, although maybe slightly cheaper, tend to require more fixing than indoor bikes.

However, these repairs are usually quite simple and not at all expensive to cover. When a stationary bike fails, the situation changes, and repairs can be much more costly.

Best Outdoor Bikes

best outdoor bikes
Read below to see the best outdoor bikes

Best Overall: Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bike

The clear winner is the Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bike when it comes to the best overall outdoor bike.

This bike will not offer a sturdy aluminium frame ideal for city riding. It also features a suspension fork and an alloy crank system.

Its alloy linear traction brakes will allow smooth braking without jerky movements, and it also has the convenience of a rear rack that will allow us to carry our gear wherever we go.

This bike is fantastic, and you won't regret it if you buy it.

Best Value For The Money: Shimano Road Bike

The Shimano Road Bike is our choice for deciding which one offers the best value for the money.

It features 21 different speeds, a lightweight double-butted aluminium frame, and CNC machined 700c double-walled wheels with quick-release lockout.

If your budget is not very high or just getting into the world of bikes and don't want to invest a large amount of money, this fantastic Shimano gear will be one of the best options for you.

A solid bike that will be your faithful companion for a long time if you take care of it properly.

Premium Option: Schwinn Volare

Schwinn Volare 1400 700C is the winner. If you're a bike nerd, this is the one for you.

This bike has it all, integrated 14-speed shifter and brake, alloy dual-pivot brakes front and rear, oversized road tires, and much more.

This is a durable, comfortable, fast, but somewhat expensive piece of equipment.

We can assure you that if you can afford it, it will bring more than a smile to your face during your adventures.

Best Indoor Bikes

best indoor bikes
Read below to see the best indoor bikes

Best Value For The Money: Schwinn IC4

Schwinn Fitness has different models of bicycles. From straight to recumbent and elliptical.

Also, within its "indoor cycling" line, we can find more complex (and expensive) equipment, but very valuable for what they offer.

The Schwinn IC4, however, really stands out from the pack.

It offers a ton of features like Bluetooth connectivity, an LCD display, and more.

It provides a premium experience with an attractive price tag.

Great Budget Option: Fitness Echelon Smart Connect

The Fitness Echelon Smart Connect bike is designed for everyone and every home.

With a modern design and small size, the EX-15 bike provides an intensive workout without taking up space.

It features 32 levels of precise resistance that allows you to vary your workout intensity, with fully adjustable pedals for a secure fit.

We consider it the best economical option to purchase.

This piece of equipment provides a lot of features to make your workouts more enjoyable.

Premium Option: Peloton Bike

The Peloton Bike brings you the most convenient and immersive indoor cycling experience: streaming daily live classes from their studio directly into your home.

You'll have 24-hour access to studio cycling classes available to your entire household.

With this fantastic but expensive piece of equipment, you'll not only acquire a great bike, but you'll also get professional instructors to show you the best ways of setting up an indoor cycle routine that suits you.

This is not a cheap piece of equipment by any means, but if you have the economic possibility to acquire it, don't hesitate. This is just heaven turned into a bike.


Written by Billy White

billy white

Billy White is a qualified Kinesiologist and Personal Trainer. He is an aspiring bodybuilder, fitness enthusiast, and health and fitness researcher.

He has multiple years of experience within the fitness, bodybuilding and health space. He is committed to providing the highest-quality information.


The information provided in this article is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a physician or other competent professional before following advice or taking any supplement. See our terms and conditions.

Real Muscle leads the way in terms of transparency and privacy, which is why we want to let you know that some of the outbound links in this article may be affiliate links in which we may earn a small commission through. Despite this, our product recommendations are completely unbiased.


Give Your Feedback

How would you rate this article?TerribleNot greatSatisfactoryGoodPerfectHow would you rate this article?

Get Your Free Workout Guide

Sign up to receive your free guide to workouts, including 5 of our best tips guaranteed to help you achieve your goals! Sign up now.

Great! Check your inbox.

Our Promise

Real Muscle is a fitness, health, and bodybuilding information publishing company working to make honest, accurate, and evidence-based information easy to find. We are working hard to improve the health and fitness of everyone.

Our evidence-based articles are based on the latest, most trustworthy studies and research, every statement is cited. Read the policy here.

Our evidence-based articles are regularly updated, scientifically reviewed, and fact-checked by subject matter experts. Meet the team here.

All of our articles are put through the most rigorous of editorial standards to ensure the highest-quality article possible. See our process here.

bottom of page