The at-home fitness industry is booming. It’s never been easier or more affordable to pursue an active lifestyle, especially if you’re hoping to avoid gym membership fees. And the range of at-home equipment is huge. Great news for thosein the market for a new exercise bike, rowing machine or treadmill, but the sheer amount of choice can be overwhelming, especially for fitness first-timers or anyone looking to ramp up their exercise routine.
One thing you’ll notice right away is the price difference between the various makes and models. You can expect to pay anywhere from £100 for a basic stationary bike to upwards of £2000 for a more advanced indoor cycling bike. One reason for the higher cost at the premium end of the scale is the rise of more technically and technologically advanced bikes. These smart bikes provide a more efficient and effective means of exercising and training and are popular with athletes,dedicated cyclists and fitness enthusiasts.
Of course, you'll still find plenty to pick from at the budget end of the market too.
Shopping for exercise equipment is always going to be subjective. There’s no universal right answer applicableto everyone. Picking the right indoor bike means weighing up several factors including individual budget, current fitness level and future performance goals. You may also have to factor in the amount of space available in your home to position the bike near an electrical socket if there's a screen or by aTV or window. There are also different types of stationary bike to pick from – indoor cycling, upright, recumbent and air bike.
In today’s post we’re comparing two popular bikes in the Roger Black range with Energym’s electricity-generating RE:GEN. Both represent value for money, albeit at opposite ends of the market.
The Roger Black folding bike is the brand’s best-selling product and isdesigned for easy storage while the Roger Black Gold bike is a standard but affordableupright exercise bike with an LCD display screen. The RE:GEN is a smart indoor cycling bike that captures and converts human power and turns it into useable electricity.
- The Roger Black brand has a reputation for quality and affordability. 15 years of testimonials attest to the fact its equipment is ‘beginner-friendly’ and suitable for those in older age brackets or those recovering from illness or injury. Don’t assume that the Gold Bike won’t give users an intense workout though, because it can.
- The RE:GEN is also beginner friendly but is designed to withstand high-intensity sessions like indoor cycling classes andvirtual races on Zwift. It’s a good place to start if you want toramp up your calorie burn in high-intensity sessions.
- Flywheel weight is on the biggest differences between the bikes. The flywheel is the weighted disc at the front that rotates as the rider pedals. The Roger Black foldable bike has a flywheel of 3kg, and the gold bike has one that’s 6kg. Compare both of these to the RE:GEN’s much heavier 15kg flywheel.Not everyone is bothered by flywheel weight, but it’s still important to understand why it can make a difference to your riding experience. Heavier flywheels need more effort to get moving but once there’s enough momentum it builds a smoother and more comfortable ride. This may not be noticeable if you’re riding at a regular pace, but if you’re planning on taking an indoor cycling class or pedalling at higher speeds, then you’re going to get uncomfortable and will probably start feeling unstable on the bike fairlyquickly.
- That’s not to say that you won’t get a workout in with the folding bike. It still has 8 levels of tension which will create enough resistance to get the heartrate up. The Gold Bike has 16 levels of resistance which will help ensure a varied riding routine with room for progression once you begin building your cardiovascular stamina. Workouts on these bikes can also be combined with other forms of exercise like walking, swimming or running.
The RE:GEN has digital resistance. This means that the bike’s artificial intelligence or one of the app’s on-demand instructors can change the difficulty level without the rider having to do it manually. What’s particularly useful is that the artificial intelligence can change resistance to align a rider’s current effort with their pre-set fitness targets. This helps take the guesswork out of progression and keeps the rider on track to hit milestones and goals.
- Of course, one of the biggest differences between the Roger Black bikes and the RE:GEN is that the RE:GEN generates electricity. It captures and converts human power and stores it inside a portable battery unit that locks onto the bike. Riders can then use this to power their electronic devices like phones, tablets, laptops, etc.
- The RE:GEN is also a smart bike. It uses software to monitor a rider’s performance and progress helping build out training plans and making exercise more energy and time efficient.
But it depends on the level of feedback and planning you want. All three bikes can display performance information albeit to differing degrees. The RE:GEN pairs with the Energym app for performance monitoring but it also has an FTP meter built into the Ohm battery. Functional Threshold Power or FTP can be a little complicated to explain. It’s beyond the scope of this article but ultimately it’s a measurement of a rider’s best physical effort over 60 minutes. It’s a common cycling metric. Once you’ve calculated your FTP, the RE:GEN will colour-code your performance: red you’ll need to work harder, amber you’re doing average and green you’re hitting your stride!FTP is important if you're planning on training online or joining rides and races on Zwift and other indoor cycling apps.
The Roger Black bikesaren’t smart butnot everyone wants or needs access to in-depth performance metrics. You’ll find basic monitoring on the folding bike including measurements for time, speed, distance, pulse, and calories via an easy to navigate display on the front of the bike. The Gold bike has an LCD monitor offering both manual and programmed workouts. One of the cool features is that the bike’s computer will adjust resistance to keep you within your set training target. The pulse monitors on the handlebars are a great way to track performance even if you’re not too concerned about monitoring progress initially.
- Neither the folding bike nor the RE:GEN are mains powered. This means you don’t need to position them near to an electrical socket. The folding bike’s display runs on batteries and the RE:GEN generates electricity rather than uses it. The Gold bike has an LCD monitor that runs of the mains so this may influence where inside your house you put it.
- The folding bike while convenient to store in small spaces and use in high-traffic areas of your home isn’t particularly attractive. That’s not specific to this brand however as most folding bikes are basic and are designed to be functional rather than win any design awards.
The Gold bike is better but again it’s the functionality that matters. It’s what the bike can do rather than what it looks like. Premium bikes will often have a sharper and more appealing physical appearance and that may tempt you into paying more.
One area where the Roger Black bikes have a clear advantage is that they’re available to buy right now. You can go onto the Roger Black website and get one shipped straight away. The RE:GEN is currently only available for pre-order for delivery Q2 2023 delivery.
- The RE:GEN also costs more. This is reflected in what it can do: clean energy generation, software, FTP, app compatibility and design, etc. Indoor cycling bikes are often more expensive than exercise bikes because they can do more and are designed for higher intensities. But obviously, not everyone has the disposable income to spend on a premium smart bike.
Summary of Pros and Cons of Each Bike
- Its space-saving design folds flat and is easy to store in small houses or apartments.
- This is an affordable bike costing £179.00
- It has a padded and adjustable seat for comfort and posture
- The monitor offers basic information so it’s not overwhelming for beginners
- It offers 8 levels of tension
- You can put a phone or tablet onto the display stand to watch or stream TV as you exercise
- Itonly has abasic design
- The bike isunsuitablefor riders wantingahigh-intensityworkout
- Theflywheelis light
- The bike has 16 levels of resistance
- It’s more robust than the folding bike
- It has programmable workouts on the LCD display and better performance monitoring than the foldaway
- Its flywheel is light enough for beginners but heavy enough for a smooth workout at higher intensities than the foldaway bike.
- It has an adjustable seat and handlebars
- It’s affordable
- It has good customer reviews
- The lighter flywheel isn’t ideal for high intensity classes
- It's not Zwift-compatible
- The LCD display must be plugged into the mains so you may need to think about positioning in your house
- The bullhorn handlebars won’t suit everyone
- It’s electricity-generating so you can power electronic devices with your workout.
- Its 16 kg flywheel allows for a smoother and more realistic feeling ride even at higher speeds
- It’s designed for indoor cycling classes, games, Zwift and high-intensity fitness classes.
- It’s a good-looking bike
- It has an FTP meter and additional performance monitoring and tracking.
- It uses automatic digital resistance
- It can be paired with other fitness apps or the Energym app for added features
- Suitable both for high-intensity workouts and casual rides
- The RE:GEN costs more than the Rodger Black bikes
- It’s currently available for pre-order. You can secure yours in the next manufacturing run with £100, but obviously this means you won’t be getting it right away.
- It doesn’t have a screen (but it does have a screen holder)
All three bikes are great examples of what’s available to buy. And each one is ideal for the right audience. What it shows is that there’s something for everyone and every budget, so spending a little time figuring out what type of bike you want and why can help ensure that you make the right choice.