Magnetic Resistance Vs. Friction Resistance: Which One is Best For Your Indoor Bike?

Resistance is the opposing force against the efforts of cyclists. It plays a key role while cycling inside for exercise and entertainment purposes. If we relate it with outdoor cycling, resistance is an opposing force while moving upward on a steep road. Indoor bikes possess two types of resistances which are following:
When people buy an indoor bike, they consider resistance first, but it is hard to decide the best. A comprehensive study of the working mechanism involved in both kinds of resistances will help you choose the appropriate one for your indoor bike. Read this article to know which type of resistance will suit your indoor bike.

Magnetic Resistance Indoor Bike

As you can see from the name, magnets are involved in this type of resistance. Let’s talk about an ordinary indoor bike that has a flywheel on the front side. Steel is the metal used to make a flywheel due to its brilliant magnetic conductance ability. Resistance is produced by the magnets placed on the top of a flywheel or on either side in an indoor cycle.

The function of these magnets is to offer resistance to stop the movement of the flywheel. When magnets get closer to provide resistance, the flywheel slows down and pedaling becomes harder. On the other hand, when magnets move away, it becomes easy to pedal your indoor bike.

Have you ever heard in a physics lecture room that opposite poles attract each other? Every magnet has two bars; one is the south pole, and the other is the north pole, and these opposite poles attract each other when placed closer. In your standard indoor cycling bike, the flywheel works as a conductor between two magnets with opposite poles and generates plenty of opposing force to halt the spinning motion of the wheel.

Friction Resistance Indoor Bike

In this type of resistance, opposition force is applied with the help of cotton felt pads that halt the movement of the flywheel. Various bikes have cotton pads on the upper side of the wheel, while some of them possess these pads on both sides. Crank pushes these pads to compress the moving wheel to create friction.

The friction resistance phenomenon is common in most outdoor bikes (for braking) and indoor bikes (for adding resistance/gear). Resistance crank is attached with a wire which, upon pulling, forces cotton felt pads on the flywheel to produce friction resistance.

The only good thing that I can think about friction resistance is the unlimited resistance that it offers. You have 100% control over the resistance intensity while in magnetic resistance, you get a preset minimum and maximum resistance.

Difference Between Both

When pads make contact with the wheel, they create a slight sound that is not too noisy. But, it is impossible to detect even a little sound in magnetic resistance. Cotton pads may fatigue after some time, so new pads are required from time to time to maintain the resistance level. However, magnets are not needed to be replaced because they (flywheel and the magnets) don’t touch each other so there is no friction and ultimately no maintenance.

Which One is Costly?

Magnetic bikes are costly because they produce no sound, and less maintenance is needed to keep this type of bike. Indoor bikes with friction resistance are inexpensive than magnetic bikes.

Which One is Better for Your Bike?

Both are tough contenders to attain the first spot, and each one has its advantages and disadvantages. It is hard to differentiate between the rate of resistance produced by the magnetic and friction bikes, but specific parameters can tell you which one is the best.

Indoor bikes with magnetic resistance are strongly recommended. Friction resistance lags behind magnetic resistance because it needs regular maintenance. Worn-out-brake pads should be replaced after some time. On the contrary, a magnetic resistance bike is silent, easy to use even for beginners and requires less maintenance than other indoor bikes.


The selection of an indoor bike with suitable resistance depends on your needs. So, choose an exercise bike that suits you in the best way. Having a thorough knowledge of different resistance types will come in handy. Pick a budget-friendly, low-maintenance and lightweight bike to attain your fitness goals.

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