There are three basic types of exercise bikes with moving handles: air-resistance upright bikes, arm ergometers and group exercise cycles. Because each style of bike utilizes the moving handles for a different purpose, think about the purpose of your workout before choosing one of these bikes.
Types of Exercise Bikes with Moving Handles
Air-Resistance Upright Bikes
Bikes like the Schwinn Airdyne Exercise Bike look similar to the traditional upright bike with a saddle seat, pedals and an LCD display, but they create resistance in a completely different manner. The front "wheel" of the bike consists of a large fan protected by wire. The bike's pedals connect to moving arm handles, which connect to the fan. When you pedal your feet or move the handles, you generate movement in the fan. The harder you pedal or the faster you move the handles, the faster the fan moves and the more difficult the workout becomes. This style of bike provides an effective full-body cardiovascular workout, and you can choose to isolate your arms or your legs during your routine. If you're an avid outdoor cyclist, this type of bike won't closely mimic traditional biking, and might not be the best option for you.
Arm ergometers are essentially a bike for the upper body. This type of cycle is especially beneficial for individuals with a lower-body disability that prevents them from easily using other cardio equipment. Most arm ergometers offer a padded, adjustable bucket seat and two handles at approximately chest-height. When sitting on the seat, you extend your arms in front of your body to grasp the handles, then rotate the handles forward or backward in a circular motion, just as if you were rotating your legs on a traditional bike. You can use the electronic panel to change the resistance level or to choose an exercise program. Some arm ergometers are especially ADA-friendly, offering a removable seat so that individuals confined to wheel chairs can simply roll their chair directly up to the arm handles.
Recently arm ergometers have made an appearance on the group exercise scene in the form of the Krankcycle. According to a 2010 American Council on Exercise study, a Kranking workout led by a certified instructor is an intense workout that can increase upper body strength and cardiovascular capacity.
Group Exercise Cycle
Group exercise cycles don't have arm handles that you can move during your workout, but they do offer arm handles that you can adjust and move before your workout begins so that the bike fits your body. This is one advantage of the group exercise cycle over the traditional stationary upright bike. When you sit on the bike's saddle seat, you want to lean forward to grasp the handles, keeping your back between a 45 and 60 degree angle. This will help reduce pressure in your lower back. If the handles are too low and you find yourself leaning too far forward, you can move the bike's handles, raising them up to a comfortable height. Similarly, if the handles are too high, you can adjust them downward.
Choosing an Exercise Bike
Choosing exercise bikes with moving handles will depend largely on your personal workout preferences. The group exercise cycle offers a workout most similar to a traditional outdoor cycling routine. The arm ergometer allows you to isolate your upper body, and is perfect for individuals with limited lower-body mobility. And the air-resistance upright bike offers an upper- and lower-body workout routine, but won't help improve traditional cycling performance.