What Is a Fan Bike? (Ultimate Guide for Beginners)

One of the most popular and oldest types of exercise machines is known as a fan bike.

What is a fan bike?

A fan bike is a stationary bike that has a large fan attached to the front wheel. This fan creates resistance as you pedal, making the exercise more difficult and intense. A fan bike is a form of high-intensity interval training that burns approximately 650 calories per hour.

This is your ultimate guide to fan bikes.

What Is a Fan Bike? (Detailed Explanation)

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Person with red sneakers on a black fan bike—What is a Fan Bike?
Image by the author via Canva—What is a Fan Bike?

A fan bike is a stationary machine that you can ride.

You turn the handlebars and pedals to make it go. The whole thing has a large fan on the front wheel. As you pedal, the fan creates natural resistance, making it a more challenging and effective exercise.

A fan bike is also called an air bike or an assault bike.

Fan bikes were invented in the eighteenth century. Most historians credit Francis Lowndes, a British gentleman, for inventing the first version of the air bike.

Bicycles boomed in popularity during the nineteenth century.

Along with this popularity, fan bikes became a staple of exercise. There were even fan bikes on the Titanic.

One of the first famous fan bikes is the AirDyne, made by the Schwinn company.

Types of Fan Bikes

There are a few different types of fan bikes. The differences usually come down to size and features.

To truly answer the question, “What is a fan bike?” it’s essential to know the types.

Major types of fan bikes:

  • Standard fan bike
  • Big fan bike
  • Small fan bike
  • Dual action fan bike
  • Fan bike with display screen

Standard Fan Bikes

A standard fan bike is around 40 x 30 x 40 inches in size.

It’s made of alloy steel and weighs approximately 60 pounds. A good example of this type of fan bike is the Macy Fan Exercise Bike.

Big Fan Bikes

A big fan bike is any air bike bigger and heavier than the standard version.

A good example of a bigger fan bike is the Octane AirdyneX.

The Octane specs:

  • Height: 42.75 inches
  • Length: 55 inches
  • Weight: 113 pounds

Small Fan Bikes

A smaller assault bike is around 44.5 x 23 x 48 inches in size.

Or, anything smaller than a standard-size air bike. It weighs approximately 40 pounds and is made of steel alloy.

A good example is the Body Rider exercise fan bike.

Dual Action Fan Bikes

Dual-action fan bikes have both a wheel with petals and two push/pull levers.

This setup gives you a more varied workout. You work with different muscle groups with each type of movement.

Fan Bike With Display Screen

Some fan bikes come with display screens that show your progress and stats.

This can include things like heart rate, calories burned, time, speed, and distance. Display screens might also offer different intensity workouts.

The Schwinn Airdyne Pro is an example of a fan bike with a display screen.

Note: The display screen runs on two AA batteries.

What Do Fan Bikes Do?

Fan bikes provide a great cardiovascular workout.

If your assault bike comes with hand levers, the bike also works the upper and lower body simultaneously, making them a total-body workout machine.

The function of fan bikes offers another good answer to the question, “What is a fan bike?”

Fan bikes are excellent for high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

HIIT is a type of exercise where you alternate short periods of intense activity with short periods of rest or low-intensity activity.

This style of training has been shown to be more effective than traditional moderate-intensity continuous training.

How To Use a Fan Bike

When you first get on the fan bike, start by adjusting the seat height and handlebar position.

These two adjustments will help you get into the correct riding position.

Once you’re seated, grasp the handlebars and slowly start pedaling.

If you’re new to fan bikes, start with 10-15 minute workouts and gradually increase the time as you get stronger.

Fan bike workouts can be done either indoors or outdoors.

If you’re working out indoors, make sure the space is large enough to allow for a full range of motion.

What Do Fan Bikes Not Do?

Fan bikes are great, but there are limitations.

First of all, they are heavy and harder to move than some other exercise equipment.

Additionally, fan bikes are not always ideal for people who are rehabilitating an injury. It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting an exercise routine.

Fan bikes are not going to result in major full-body muscle growth.

Who Are Fan Bikes For?

Fan bikes are ideal for anyone who wants a great cardio workout.

They are especially good for people who are looking to improve their endurance or lose weight.

Fan bikes are also great for people who want to do high-intensity interval training. Crossfitters, athletes, and everyday exercisers use fan bikes.

They are perfect for working out indoors on cold or rainy days. I have a fan bike in my home gym and I love it.

Who Are Fan Bikes Not For?

Fan bikes are not for everyone.

You probably don’t want an air bike if you don’t want a stationary exercise machine.

They’re also not good for everyone who is rehabilitating an injury.

In particular, injuries to the lower half of your body.

Are Fan Bikes Good? (Pros and Cons of Fan Bikes)

Fan bikes are good for exercise and your health. They help with cardiovascular health, overall fitness, and weight loss.

The faster you pedal, the better the workout. There is a reason they call it an assault bike.

The more the fan blades spin, the more the fan cools you as you exercise.

Fan bikes build leg muscles, boost your endurance, and help you maintain balanced health.

Here is a chart with the major pros and cons of fan bikes:

Air Bike ProsAir Bike Cons
No electricity is needed for the bikeDisplay screen uses 2 AA batteries
Great cardio workoutIntense workout
Expensive for quality bikesCheaper than comparable machines
Holds up to 350 poundsHeavy
Full body workoutTakes up space
Pros and Cons of Air BikesWhat is a fan bike?

What Muscles Do Fan Bikes Work Out?

Fan bikes with handlebars provide a full-body workout. They work your upper and lower body muscle groups.

Here are the lower body muscles that fan bikes work:

  • Calves
  • Thighs
  • Quadriceps
  • hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Hip flexors

Here are the upper body muscles that fan bikes work:

  • Core
  • Shoulders
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Chest
  • Back

Fan Bike Vs. Other Bikes

When thinking about fan bikes, many people ask me if they are better than other types of bikes and exercise equipment.

That’s why, in this section, I’ll compare air bikes with ellipticals, stationary bikes, and the Peleton bike.

Fan Bike Vs. Elliptical: Which Is Better?

A fan bike is an overall better workout than an elliptical machine.

A fan bike is better than an elliptical because a fan bike puts less stress on your joints, burns more calories, supports more weight, and provides an unlimited amount of resistance.

Air bikes are also better for cardio workouts.

Now, I’m not dissing ellipticals. I like ellipticals. I use them regularly and think they are great machines.

Fan Bike Vs. Stationary Bike: Which Is Better?

A stationary bike is also called a spin bike.

Most experts consider a fan bike a better overall workout than a standard stationary bike.

Here are the reasons:

  • A stationary spin bike burns fewer calories
  • A stationary bike can only handle a lighter person (between 200 and 300 pounds, depending on the bike)
  • A fan bike burns more calories with a maximum weight limit of up to 350 pounds
  • A fan bike with handles provides a full-body cardio and strength-training workout

The downside is that an assault bike is heavier and more expensive.

For the benefits, I think a fan bike is more than worth the money.

Fan Bike vs. Peleton: Which Is Better?

For a pure exercise machine, the fan bike is the better option. A fan bike offers a more intense cardiovascular workout with strength training for your entire body. It does not require electricity and cools you as you ride the bike.

That means you can use a fan bike anywhere without any power source.

Well, any power source other than your body.

If comfort and versatility are your main concerns, the Peleton offers a more adjustable seat, a better display screen, and access to a massive database of Peleton workouts.

What about the price?

The Peleton bike is more expensive. The most basic Peleton bike package is around $1,500.

The price goes up from there to bankruptcy-inducing $2,000+.

Look, Peleton bikes are cool. My wife and many of her friends use them. But if we’re comparing prices, the air bike is cheaper to purchase and to run (no electricity needed).

The best air bike you can buy is as expensive as the bottom-tier Peleton.

Where To Buy Fan Bikes?

You can buy fan bikes at most fitness equipment stores and online at Amazon, Rouge Fitness, Schwinn, and many other places.

Typically, Amazon gives you the best cost.

How Much Do Fan Bikes Cost?

Fan bikes cost between $100 and $1,500, depending on the brand, style, and size. The average price of a good fan bike is around $800-$1,000. I wouldn’t purchase a fan bike below $700.

The cheaper fan bikes are usually made of plastic.

If you read the reviews, you’ll see that they are simply not worth it. You’ll probably end up returning the cheaper models and buying a better version.

In my experience, you usually get what you pay for with exercise equipment.

Best Fan Bikes

Here is a chart that goes over my favorite picks:

CategoryBest Air BikePrice
Best OverallOctane Fitness Airdyne ADX$$$$
Runner UpSchwinn Fitness Airdyne$$$
Best BudgetAssault Fitness AirBike$$
Best Air Bikes

The best fan bike is the Octane Fitness Airdyne ADX Fan Bike. This is the one I have in my basement gym.

I use it several times a week.

There is simply nothing better for a combined cardio/full-body workout.

FAQs for Fan Bikes

I get lots of questions about fan bikes.

To make this a complete guide, I wanted to answer some of the most common questions I get about air bikes.

Do Fan Bikes Make a Lot of Noise?

At a maximum, most air bikes make about 70dB to 75dB of noise. That’s about the same noise level as a vacuum cleaner.

Older fan bikes used to make a good deal of noise. However, newer models are much quieter.

There is still some noise—they are not silent.

The volume depends on:

  • How hard you pedal (as the noise originates from the fan blades)
  • The size of the room
  • The sound proofing of the room

If you want to make your fan bike quieter, petal slower in a larger room with padded surfaces (such as carpet and blinds).

How Often Should I Ride My Fan Bike?

You can ride your fan bike every day for 20-30 minutes (or longer). Depending on your exercise goals, you could focus on strength, endurance, or some combination.

Riding your fan bike every day can help with:

  • Fat loss
  • Weight managmeent
  • Getting stronger
  • Heart health
  • Lowers your risk for some health issues

Keep in mind that daily high-intense exercise can put pressure on your joints.

What Is a Good Fan Bike Exercise?

Some of the best fan bike exercises include sprinting intervals, speedrunning a distance, and maintaining a certain heart rate range.

These exercises were inspired by my personal workouts and bodybuilding.com.

Sprinting intervals (8-10 Rounds):

  1. Warm up with a low intensity pedaling for 5 minutes
  2. Sprint with high intensity pedaling for 20 seconds
  3. Petal with low intensity for a 30 second “rest”
  4. Repeat steps #2-3 (alternatiing sprinting and rest) 8-10 times
  5. Cool down for 5 minutes with low intensity pedaling

Speed run a distance:

  1. Choose a distance (1-3+ miles)
  2. Warm up with low intensity pedaling for 5 minutes
  3. Get to your distance as fast as possible
  4. Cool down with 5 minutes of low intensity pedaling

Hitting a heart rate range:

  1. Choose an appropriate heart rate range (60-70%, 70-80%, or 80-90%)
  2. Warm up with pedaling in the 60-70% heart rate range for 5 minutes
  3. Pedal in a heart rate range of 70-80% or 80-90% for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Pedal in the 60-70% range for 2-3 minutes
  5. Alternate step #3-4 for a total of 4 rounds/times
  6. Cool down for 5 minutes in the 60-70% heart rate range

Here is a good video with a 15-minute Fan bike HIIT workout:

YouTube video by Sunny Health and Fitness—What Is a Fan Bike?

How Many Calories for One Hour Fan Bike?

A fan bike burns approximately 650 calories per hour at a medium intensity. That equals 325 every half-hour. The range of calories burned by an air bike falls between 420 and 932. The most calories anyone has burned in a single minute on an air bike is 87 calories.

Rob McDonald, a personal trainer from America, holds the world record.

650 calories per hour is a more reasonable expectation for us mortals.

Final Thoughts: What Is a Fan Bike?

If you’re looking for an old-school exercise brought into the modern world, you can’t go wrong with a fan bike.

They aren’t called “misery machines” for no reason.

Read more about fans:


Health Benefits of Indoor Cycling: A Systematic Review

Note: Always consult with a licensed doctor and personal fitness trainer before starting an exercise regimen.

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