Exercise Bikes vs Treadmills

It's no secret that both exercise bikes and treadmills are fantastic pieces of exercise equipment.

Both of them deliver a great cardiovascular workout, and they are some of the best ways to start burning some of those unwanted pounds.

With that being said, exercise bikes and treadmills are of course two very different pieces of cardiovascular equipment. 

They feature two different intensity levels, they work out different muscles, and they're generally ideal for different types of people.

Today, we want to compare exercise bikes and treadmills to see which one is best for you.


Exercise Bike vs Treadmills – A Side-by-Side Comparison

To help you figure out if it is a treadmill or an exercise bike that's going to help you the most, let's do a side-by-side comparison by taking a look at all of the most important features that both of them have.


Treadmill Sprint

Energy Expenditure and Weight Loss

Let’s start by talking about energy expenditure and weight loss because those are obviously two of the most important things that the majority of users are looking for when choosing a piece of cardiovascular exercise equipment.

Yes, it is important to enjoy the piece of equipment that you're working out on, but the results count for a whole lot as well.

What is important to note is that both exercise bikes and treadmills allow you to burn a lot of calories each and every single hour.

Related: How Many Calories can you Burn on an Stationary Bike?

Of course, a lot of this depends on a number of factors such as the intensity, your body weight, and resistance level that you use.

Both of these exercise machines allow you to burn over 1000 calories per hour if you exercise vigorously.

However, generally speaking, if you exercise at the same intensity on both machines, you will likely burn more calories on a treadmill than on an exercise bike.

The reason for this is most likely because, on an exercise bike, you sit down most of the time, which essentially means that you are just using your lower body.

Whereas on a treadmill, you're standing up and your arms will be moving, which means that you're also engaging your core and upper body.

So, if you're looking to maximize your calorie burn and weight loss, then it is a treadmill that will serve you best.

Exercise bike position


Muscles Utilized

Something we just touched on above is what muscles are used when exercising on both of these machines. As mentioned above, on an exercise bike, you're usually sitting down. 

This means that you end up using the muscles in your legs the most. Although, an exercise bike is of course a fantastic piece of exercise equipment to work out all of the muscles in your legs, including your quadriceps, your hamstrings, your glutes, and your calves. In fact, it's one of the best exercise types for this purpose.

Related: Best Exercise Bike Guide UK

Treadmill running techniqueOn the other hand, if we're talking about a treadmill, you're standing up and running the whole time, which means that you also have to utilize your core to stay upright. Most people also swing their arms back and forth, so you are using your arms, shoulders, chest, and back, at least to a certain degree.

Strictly speaking, therefore, an exercise bike utilizes less of your muscles than a treadmill, which is especially important if you want to sculpt your core a little bit.

Furthermore, a treadmill may also be beneficial for helping to alleviate back pain and strengthen back muscles, whereas sitting down on an exercise bike really doesn't accomplish that for you.


Overall Difficulty

Many people wonder whether using an exercise bike is easier or harder than running on a treadmill, and the answer is both yes and no.

This really comes back down to what level of intensity or speed you set the machines to.

For instance, if you set both the incline and the speed on a treadmill to the absolute maximum, it's probably going to be a bit harder than anything you could do on the bike.

However, if you set the resistance on the bike to the maximum, it probably won't be as hard as the maximum intensity on a treadmill. The simple reality is that working out on a treadmill is a little bit harder.

What you also need to consider here is the impact factor. On a treadmill, when you run, there is a degree of impact on your knees every time, and those impacts can cause some injury in the long run.

If you're somebody who already has bad knees, then running on a treadmill may prove to be far too difficult and painful.

Exercise bike being used

This is one reason why many people choose exercise bikes because they qualify as low-impact exercises that don't negatively impact your knees or other joints.

Now, what we're forgetting about here is the spin bike, because we've really just been talking about exercise bikes.

Spin bikes have you standing up at times during your workout, and they are indeed quite intense.

If you've ever watched a spin class, you'll know exactly what we're talking about. However, exercise bikes and spin bikes technically aren't the same things, so this is probably a conversation better left for another day.


Size and Spatial Requirements

Everything we've talked about so far today has had to do with the level of intensity and the actual exercises themselves, as opposed to the machines. However, if you're planning on buying yourself a cardiovascular exercise machine for your home, you do need to consider spatial requirements and constraints.

The simple reality is that a full-size treadmill is going to take up a whole lot more space than a full-sized exercise bike, especially if you compare it to a folding exercise bike.

If you don't have a spare room in your house, then a treadmill might not be right for you.

That being said, there are special types of treadmills that you could fold down into a compact package and then slide under a bed or a couch.

However, the problem with this type of treadmill is that it usually won't have the full range of features and the amount of functionality as a full-sized treadmill.

Therefore, you definitely want to consider your spatial constraints before purchasing either one of these types of exercise equipment.

Exercise bike vs treadmill space requirements


Main Types

In terms of the types of these machines, as far as treadmills are concerned, the main two types are motorized and non-motorized. But as far as home treadmills go, you only really see motorized treadmills.

Yes, you have larger and smaller treadmills, as well as ones that can fold together, but they generally all feature a motor with a running deck.

Some units also allow you to adjust the incline, but the basic principle is always the same.

On the other hand, if we're talking about an exercise bike, there are more types available. There are regular exercise bikes that have you setting up, just like on a normal bike. These are the standard bikes. 

You then also have recumbent exercise bikes, which are those that have a full seat complete with a backrest, and sometimes even armrests, you can see some of the best recumbent exercise bikes in our latest guide.

These are ideal for people who need to get some cardiovascular exercise, but have bad backs and need some additional support. 

The third main type of exercise bike is of course the spin bike, which is by far the most difficult one to use, as they require the most muscle power and the most intensity.

 Related: Exercise Bike vs Spin Bike - What's the Difference?

Versatility and Who They’re Ideal For

Versatility and Who They’re Ideal For

What is interesting to note is that even though there are more types of exercise bikes and treadmills that you can purchase for home use, a treadmill still tends to be a bit more versatile.

The reason we say this is because on a treadmill, you can walk, jog, run, walk backward, you even can do side steps which target different muscles such as hip abductors, plus a variety of other exercises as well.

Related: Hip Abduction vs Hip Adduction Guide

However, on an exercise bike, the only thing you can really do is cycle. That said, both these pieces of exercise equipment allow you to perform various types of high-intensity interval training.



What you probably also need to consider here is the cost. Generally speaking, a regular exercise bike will usually cost anywhere from $100 all the way up to $2500 at the very most, for the fanciest models. 

On the other hand, if we're talking about a treadmill, these tend to be a little more expensive, ranging from about $250 up to $4000, or even more, if you go for a very professional and high-quality model.

With that being said if you spend $250 on a treadmill the quality is likely to be poor and we would recommend you spend a little extra to get a good-quality treadmill that will last. Also, worth noting is that cheaper treadmills often have a lower top speed, so you might only be able to jog.

Whereas, with an exercise bike, even models that cost about $200, might be basic but the quality will be good in comparison as there are no electronic components required and there is no speed limit so can cycle as fast as you physically can.


Pros and Cons of Treadmills

Let's take a quick look at the pros and cons of a treadmill.


  • Very versatile
  • Many muscles used
  • Can be very intense
  • Ideal for heavy exercise
  • Can be very interactive


  • Take up a lot of space
  • Not many types
  • Can be very expensive


Pros and Cons of Exercise Bikes

Let’s now take a quick look at the pros and cons of exercise bikes.


  • Many types
  • Ideal for all fitness levels
  • Great to work out the legs
  • Space efficient
  • Can be cost effective


  • Not ideal for upper body exercise
  • Not as intense as a treadmill



Now that you know what the main differences between a treadmill and an exercise bike are, you can make your own informed decision between the two and find the one that suits your training style best.

Author's Photo

William Parrett

Will, co-founder of Home Gym Supply, launched the company in 2019 after 15-years in the fitness industry. His expertise stems not only from his professional background but also from his athletic pursuits. A former competitor in the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion (WBFF) and a competitive rugby player, Will has always been dedicated to health and fitness.