Let’s talk about the best air bike (airbike) for 2020. We’ve got details on all the popular models.
The Rogue Echo Bike is our top pick, and is shown here as an example.
Let’s dive right in, by first explaining what the best air bike would look like – and how it is used.
Here’s the air bikes we’ll be reviewing in this article. Be sure to read the entire article to understand the pros and cons of each.
What is an Air Bike (Assault Bike)?
An air bike, also called a fan bike, is an upright, stationary bicycle for indoor fitness use. They can also be called assault bikes, but that is usually referring to a specific brand.
It is different than traditional stationary bikes in that it uses air resistance to provide a limitless range of work. When you pedal, you are moving a fan. The harder you pedal, the more air resistance is provided.
An air bike also incorporates your upper-body through the use of push and pull handles.
This turns something that is traditionally just a lower-body workout into a low-impact, total body workout.
Notice how air bikes like the Schwinn Airdyne Pro (AD Pro) have multiple grips on the handles.
This helps a variety of riders of different heights in being able to grip the handles comfortably – or gives you a little bit of variation for your workout.
You pedal, push, and pull your way to a full body workout.
As such, the air bike or fan bike is known as a brutally effective workout. It is low-impact exercise, but the combined action of your legs and arms means it is not just an efficient calorie burning exercise, but also great for endurance and conditioning.
At this point we should mention this device has a nickname: Satan’s Tricycle.
But that’s why the air bike is such an effective fitness “engine builder”.
Before we move on, let’s clear up some confusion: air bike vs assault bike – what’s the difference?
What is an Assault Bike?
You may hear of an assault bike or air assault bike. This is an air bike model made by Assault Fitness, called the Assault AirBike.
It was one of the first models popular for CrossFit use, and therefore some people use the term interchangeably with fan bike or air bike.
The Assault AirBike makes an almost guaranteed appearance at one or more CrossFit Games events every year.
But, the Assault AirBike was not the first fan bike. Fan bikes have been available for many years, there are many popular models.
For cardio endurance and metcon what is the better choice – the air bike or the indoor rower? The air bike is unbeatable for HIIT – but you can do that on a indoor rower such as the Concept2 Model D as well.
The benefit of the rower is that it does work better for lower intensity cardio (LISS) and longer steady state cardio workouts.
Secondly, some people find the air bike seat uncomfortable for long workouts. However, the air bike is very lower back friendly – where the rower is less so.
How to Workout With an Air Bike
As we mentioned above, the air bike provides a wicked low-impact, total body workout. Here’s a few workout ideas you can use to utilize this excellent training equipment.
First of all, it’s a tremendous calorie burner. Because you are using both your arms and legs against significant resistance (and often at maximum effort) it can provide a very time efficient, calorie burning workout. Of course, this all depends on how hard you are pedaling (and pushing and pulling with your arms).
It is possible to burn up to 90 calories per minute on an air bike – but understand you will be working very hard to achieve that.
Perhaps more importantly, most units have an electronic monitor built in which will give you a very accurate estimated calorie burn.
The other benefit of an air bike is that you control the pace, and you can speed up or slow down at will.
How about LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) cardio?
Yes, you can do that on an air bike – but the air bike is really a better option for interval training (sprints) or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
This is because as soon as you stop pedaling, pushing, and pulling – the bike slows down. It’s a lot of work to keep a stead state pace like you might do on a leisurely 45 minute bike ride.
We’ll talk about that next.
Air Bikes are best for HIIT
High Intensity Interval Training (or HITT) is an exercise method comprised of short bursts of all-out effort followed by a brief recovery period, repeated multiple times.
Tabata is a good example. That’s 20 seconds of all-out work, followed by 10 seconds of rest – and repeat for a total of 8 times.
It is very efficient and allows you to reap most the benefits of longer bouts of low-intensity exercise in a shorter time. It’s also more “interesting” than long, slow cardio – at least for most people.
Air Bikes are great for HIIT – because you have an electronic monitor front and center that tells you how much work you are doing – in watts, rpm, or calories burned.
Stationary cycling is also an excellent fit for Heart Rate Training.
Most bike units are also compatible with heart rate trackers.
This lets you target precise heart rate zones with ease and precision. This allows you to tailor your workout to fat loss, endurance, or both.
What’s the difference between an Assault Bike and a Spin Bike such as Peloton or Keiser?
Firstly – you can’t free-wheel on an air bike/assault bike. You’ve got to keep in constant motion – and you use your arms to push and pull.
Air Bike workouts are far more intense and let you do more in less time. Air Bikes are really a whole different class of equipment – because the harder you pedal (and push/pull) the more resistance there is – it is fundamentally different than a spin bike. A spin bike is much more akin to a riding a bike on the street.
An air bike is typically used indoors. And this means you can use it year round, in the summer when it is very hot, or in the winter when it is very cold. It also has some carry-over training effect for road cyclists – because after all, you are pedaling a bike. Some models even allow you to attach the same handlebars and seat (saddle) as your road bike.
Many people hop on the air bike for a quick warm-up, or a cool-down after the WOD.
Lastly, the air bike is a great tool for rehabilitation, or keeping in shape while working through an injury. It’s a low-impact, safe movement. It can be done moderately or intensely. It’s all up to the rider.
The air bike involves no eccentric movement. In that regard, it’s very easy to recover from. Muscle soreness largely comes from the eccentric portion (as opposed to the concentric portion) of muscle contraction or flexion. Just like pushing a weight sled is a wicked workout, but easy to recover from.
The complete home or garage gym needs a serious piece of cardio equipment. We always recommend an air bike or indoor rower, for every home gym.
It depends on how hard you pedal, push, and pull!
What’s perhaps the best thing about these bikes – you control the effort. Most have a calorie display in the electronic monitor that will tell you precisely how many calories you are burning for your effort.
Air Bike Workouts
Need some workout ideas for your Air Bike? Try these:
- Tabata – Tabata intervals are ideal for the air bike. What’s a Tabata interval? It’s 20 seconds of all out effort, followed by 10 seconds rest – and repeat 8 times total.
- The 60 Second Challenge- See just how many calories you can burn in one minute, with all out effort, for as much as you can stand. This is tougher than it sounds.
- 50 calories for time – Just how fast can you burn 50 calories?
- Death by Assault Bike – Start with 2 calories per minute. Raise up effort by 2 calories with every additional minute until you can not complete a full minute of effort.
- 2,3, or 5 Mile Ride for time
- Boxers sometimes use timed rounds that mimic the 3 minute cadence of their matches.
Want more workout ideas?
Check out our Air Bike Workouts web page – it will give you almost 30 heart-pounding, burn inducing nightmares – and includes everything you need to get started, including a built-in timer.
What Are the Features of the Best Air Bikes?
Beyond having a fan and push/pull handles, here’s the important things you need in the best air bike.
- Stability – When you are pedaling, pushing, and pulling with all your might you are going to want to ensure you are on stable equipment.
Look for a beefy unit, made with heavy gauge steel. And the general rule of thumb is – the heavier – the better. Maybe not for shipping costs, but certainly a stable unit is much more enjoyable to use than one that shakes and wobbles.
On the plus side, it’s easy to find free shipping deals on these products.
- Belt Drive –
All air bikes have a fan – But they can differ in how the power and torque from your feet working the pedals is transferred to the fan.
The best units utilize a belt drive. This is a low-maintenance, durable, and quiet option.
Some units have a chain akin to a regular bike chain. Chain drive is noisier, messier, and not as desirable. A chain can also stretch and break – and then it has to be replaced.
- Seat or Saddle –
Next in importance is the seat, or saddle, as it is known in biking terms. Look for a unit with a comfortable seat with full adjustability. This will ensure you can exercise in comfort, and the adjustability (height and depth) means the equipment can accommodate many trainees. Some units have seat upgrades, or accept standard bike seats. This is also a plus, especially if you are trying to replicate the setup on a road bike.
Here’s the seat on the Rogue Echo Bike. It’s quite good and comfortable.
Similarly, the pedals are often upgradable. Whether you add aftermarket pedals or use the ones provided with the unit, you’ll want to ensure the pedal crank is strong and robust.
Some units have multi-grip handles. This lets you vary the position of your hands, wrists, and arms for ultimate comfort. These handles also let you vary arm position to stave off fatigue.
- Electronic Monitor –
Much of the appeal of the fan bike is knowing just how much power you are generating, distance you are going, calories you are burning, etc.
There are certain features any electronic monitor should have – workout modes, intervals, and a variety of metrics (RPM, time, speed, calories, distance, etc.) should all be easily accessible.
Make sure to find a unit that is compatible with a heart rate monitor (which is always an add-on). This will allow you to utilize heart rate training, if you wish.
Nearly all monitors are compatible with ANT (an old-school standard for heart rate monitors), but the best are also Bluetooth compatible – so they’ll work with phones and watches.
- Wheels for Easy Storage –
Fan bikes are a great option for a home or garage gym. But most home or garage gyms are space limited – so you probably don’t want to dedicate floor space to it. Look for a unit with wheels or rollers for easy re-positioning.
Another plus are leveling feet. Most garage floors are not level – they are cambered such that water will drain outside of the garage. A good fan bike will have individually adjustable leveling feet that can be used to level the unit. They will also offer good grip to ensure the unit doesn’t move while in use.
- Warranty –
Lastly, look for a comprehensive and long duration warranty. Whether the equipment will be used by a few people in a home or garage gym, or in a CrossFit box, it’s good to know any defects or breakage will be covered. Please note warranties will not cover improper use and regular wear and tear, of course.
What is the air bike most likely to show up in a CrossFit competition event?
Hands down it is the Assault Fitness Air Bike.
This bike makes a regular appearance at the Games, and can be found in many CrossFit boxes.
The Concept 2 BikeErg has also made a Games appearance, but not nearly as often – in fact, I believe it has only happened once.
But, if you are an athlete or competitor you might want the same bike that will show up in the event – and in that case we’d recommend the Assault Fitness AirBike.
Best Air Bike Accessories
One of the benefits of exercising with an air bike is that they are customizable, to a degree.
- Upgraded Seat (Saddle) –
The most popular upgrade is an upgraded saddle (aka bike seat). Given there is a wide range in individual preferences for the seat this is understandable.
Most air bikes will fit a variety of seats – such as Shimano bike seats.
Clipless pedals –
These are available – but are highly optional. Clipless pedals have a small catch to receive the cleat on a cycling shoe. This helps you stay firmly connected to the pedals. For most trainees the stock pedals are fine.
Wind Guard –
The fan makes a considerable breeze.
If you are in a cold climate – this can be annoying, at least before you get warmed up.
A wind guards or wind diverters will prevent the breeze from hitting the rider (although that refreshing breeze is often an upside!)
Some people just throw on some duct tape to block the wind. That will work too.
- Phone Holder –
Smartphone holders are also popular.
Here’s a look at the Rogue Echo Bike’s phone holder in action. You can see that it accommodates any size phone (that’s an iPhone 7 Plus).
Now that we know what features to look for in the best air bike, let’s review some popular models.
Assault AirBike by Assault Fitness
Assault Fitness makes the Assault AirBike.
It’s one of the most popular models used in CrossFit boxes around the globe. You’ve probably seen it in use at the CrossFit Games.
The Assault AirBike checks off most of the features we consider required for a good fan bike.
- Fan – It has a heavy-duty 25″ diameter steel fan.
- Seat – The seat is reasonably comfortable and adjustable for height and depth. It is compatible with Shimano bike accessories. Want to swap out the seat or pedals? The sky is the limit.
- Electronic Monitor – The LCD console shows the basic outputs (Watts, RPM, Calories) and includes interval training modes (Tabata and custom).
- Available Accessories – A wind screen, to block the air from blowing in the user’s face during workouts. It also has the benefit of reducing the noise. A water bottle holder kit is also available.
But, this air bike uses chain drive and is significantly noisier than those that use belt drive.
It will also require the maintenance that comes with a chain – tightening and lubrication specifically.
The AirBike weighs 98 lbs. It is built with thick-gauge chromoly steel, sealed cartridge bearings and oversized pivots mean this unit is at home in a commercial facility, or your own garage.
But, to be honest, this is not one of the most stable and robust air bikes.
It does have a 5 year warranty on the frame, and 2 years on other parts.
|Product Weight||98.1 lbs|
Do we recommend it? Yes, it’s a proven piece of equipment, in use in many CrossFit boxes.
Rogue Echo Bike
Rogue Fitness entered the fan bike market recently with the Rogue Echo Bike. They wanted to take lessons learned from existing equipment and make something better.
This unit is built like a tank – weighing in at over 127 lbs, it’s built for a smooth ride. Whether you are pedaling all-out or cruising a bit, it’s a rock solid unit. Meanwhile, it’s easily portable thanks to 1” polyurethane wheels.
User reviews indicate it is smoother and quieter than the Assault AirBike. And, it’s got that legendary Rogue build quality. That is likely a factor in the smoothness of this unit.
- Fan –
It uses a belt driven fan. It is quiet and will likely never break. The only maintenance required is occasionally checking tightness of bolts.
- Electronic Monitor – It includes a high-contrast, battery-powered LCD console. The electronic monitor provides all the outputs you would expect, including time, distance, calories, and more. 20/10 and 10/20 intervals and custom work/rest intervals are available.
The LCD console is compatible with ANT, but not with Bluetooth.
This unit can use certain Polar heart rate transmitters. The heart rate will then be displayed on the LCD.
- Warranty –
A two year warranty is included.
- Avaialable Accessories –
A wind guard and phone holder are available, and it is compatible with Shimano seats and pedals.
The main selling points for this model is that it is smooth and stable.
It would be nice if the LCD console were backlit (so you could use it in the dark) and Bluetooth compatible – but at this time it does neither of those things.
|Product Weight||127 lbs|
|Other Product Specs||Textured black powder coat, weight limit of 350lbs|
|Foot Print||44-1/2″ x 23-3/4|
Here’s a video of the Rogue Echo Bike:
Lastly, this unit has that legendary Rogue build quality.
I can’t stress just how solid and smooth this unit is.
Really, it’s a pleasure to ride (as much as an air bike ride can be a pleasure).
Rogue Echo Bike vs Assault Air Bike
Let’s pause for a moment and directly compare the Rogue Echo Bike to the Assault Air Bike.
The Assault Bike is a common-place piece of equipment in the CrossFit box – so maybe you’ve used one, or seen one.
The Rogue Echo Bike is Rogue Fitness’ entry into the field.
How do they compare?
- Price –
The Assault Air Bike is currently cheaper – available at $699 – with free shipping.
The current pricing on the Rogue Echo Bike is $775 (also with free shipping). But, it’s occasionally on sale for $699 as well.
- Stability –
The biggest difference is this – the Rogue Echo Bike is smooth and quiet.
This is for two reasons.
Firstly, it has a near silent belt drive – as opposed to the Assault Air Bike’s chain drive.
Secondly, the Rogue Echo Bike is over-built – it’s built like a tank.
- Noise Levels –
Because of the belt drive, it is also a smoother, quieter workout experience.
Now, please understand – no model of air bike is silent – the fan makes wind noise – and the more you pedal, the more noise there is.
But it’s not an unpleasant sound.
- Maintenance –
Also consider that the Rogue Echo Bike is nearly maintenance free – the only recommended check-ups are occasionally making sure the bolts are tight (like those on the handle.)
The Assault Air Bike will need all the things that go with a chain – lubrication, tightening, and more.
Ask anyone with a motorcycle – moving to belt drives vs a chain was a huge leap forward.
If you can get a good deal on a lightly used Assault Air Bike – go for it.
But, if you are buying new, I whole heartedly recommend the Rogue Echo Bike.
Rogue has taken the basic air bike concept – and made it better.
Here’s one more key difference – the fan blades on the Echo are bigger, and there are more of them.
Which is Harder? The Assault Bike or Rogue Echo Bike?
It’s the Rogue Echo Bike hands down.
Because the fan blades are bigger, and there are more of them.
That means more work required to spin that fan faster and faster.
Here’s the fan blades on the Assault Bike. There are 6 of them, and they are approx. 2.75″ wide by about 6″ long.
The Rogue Echo Bike fan blades have these proportions: 10 blades – 2.75″ wide, 26″ diameter.
The fan blades are much bigger, and there are more of them.
That’s why it is harder.
Also the handles on the Echo bike are massive – compared to those on the Assault model. That’s more mass to move – so it contributes to the sensation of the Echo being harder to get going – and to keep going.
Having said all that – it’s an air bike – it is supposed to be hard. You aren’t going to pedal one of these for pleasure.
Let’s move on, and look at some other contenders.
Schwinn Airdyne Pro (AD Pro)
Our next featured fan bike is the Schwinn Airdyne Pro (AD Pro). Schwinn was one of the originators of the indoor fitness bike, and it shows in this product.
Where does this bike stand out?
- Multi-Grip Handles –
Grip high or low with the multi-grip handles on this bike. It’s nice because it works with a variety of rider heights – and it gives you some variation in your workout.
These multi-position handles allow you to choose a vertical or a horizontal grip also. This is a nice option – because it lets you vary your grip.
- Belt Driven Fan –
A single stage belt drive system provides smooth power flow to the 26 blade performance fan.
This gives all the benefits we spoke of earlier – smooth, quiet(er), durable, and maintenance free.
- Stable –
Weighing in at 113 lbs, this is a beefy unit. It also has leveling feet, and wheels for easy re-positioning.
- Electronic Monitor –
The LCD electronic monitor has 9 programmable workout options, and includes the metrics you would expect: time, distance, calories, RPM, watts (power), pulse, and speed.
- Seat –
One particular area of note on the Airdyne bike is the use of a oversized, padded seat. Many users find this more comfortable than the seat on other bikes.
- Warranty –
The AD Pro is a commercial gym quality unit.
There’s a 10 year warranty on the frame, 2 years on parts, and 6 months on labor. This is a unit built to last.
- Available Accessories –
A wind guard – which they call an air diverter – is available. It’s also compatible with Shimano clipless pedals and saddles.
The AD Pro is a great unit – but it is significantly more expensive that the other models we’ve reviewed so far.
|Product Weight||113 LB (51 KG)|
|Other Product Specs||Maximum user weight: 350 LB|
Let’s move on and look at our last classic Air Bike option.
Assault Fitness AirBike Elite
Assault Fitness also offers the AirBike Elite. This is the top of the line option in air bikes.
Why? Because it has just about every feature we look for – and is built rock solid. It’s commercial facility tough – and built for interval training
Assault set out to make a higher quality model as compared to the regular Air Bike.
- Stability –
With a massive steel frame, solid steel cranks, corrosion resistance, and a solid aluminum seat post and slider – this unit is more robust and smoother than the AirBike Classic.
It weights 150 lbs.
- Electronic Monitor –
The LCD console has all the features you expect.
The AirBike Elite will work with both ANT and Bluetooth heart rate monitors – which is nice. The Rogue Echo Bike is not currently compatible with Bluetooth technology.
- Chain Drive –
This model uses a chain drive – so it will not be as quiet as a belt drive model. IT will also require maintanence.
- Multi-Grip Handles –
This model has multi hand position handles – vary your grip for comfort or variation. They are not adjustable, but you can choose your grip with more freedom.
- Comfort –
Exceptionally comfortable large seat to offer support on lengthier rides. Additionally for comfort, a the wind guard is built in.
The major downside of this air bike is that it is the most expensive option in our round up.
Here’s some of the stats:
|Brand||Assault Fitness AirBike Elite|
|User Height||5’0″ – 6’4″|
|Product Weight||Product Weight: 150 lbs. / 68 kg|
See it in action here:
A Different Indoor Bike Option: Concept2 BikeErg
Concept2’s BikeErg is not quite a proper air bike, by our definition.
It has fixed handle bars and therefore the upper body is not utilized in the workout.
But it does use a fan (as part of the erg). And, we think it’s got some compelling special uses.
By the way, the “erg” is short for ergometer. An ergometer is a device used for measuring work.
It provides a much closer feel to actual outdoor riding. It has a clutch to let you freewheel like a standard bicycle, and through a special damper you can even simulate the effects of changing gears.
One thing to note, the BikeErg isn’t built for HIIT style workouts – it’s more of a traditional cycling workout.
|Assembled in USA||Yes|
|Product Weight||58 lb (26 kg)|
|Length||48 in (122 cm)|
|Width||24 in (61 cm)|
|Material Type||Welded aluminum frame, steel feet, black powder coat frame, gray anodized posts|
You can also attach many standard bike accessories – including handlebars and pedals similar to that of your road bike.
Given that you can free wheel and with the fixed handle bars – this is the option this is going to most resemble a real bicycle.
As such, if you are a road cyclist looking for a way to supplement your time on the road (perhaps during the winter or during the hotter months of summer), the Concept2 BikeErg would be our recommendation.
If you’ve ever used a Concept2 indoor rower, you will feel right at home on this unit. It uses the same PM5 electronic performance monitor to provide a variety of information to the user.
This unit uses belt drive, as opposed to a noisier chain.
Warranty is 5 years on the frame, and 2 years on all parts. The warranty is transferrable to subsequent owners of the equipment. If you ever decide to sell the bike, it will hold more value because of this.
You can see the BikeErg in action here:
We recently did a deep dive on the Echo Bike vs BikeErg.
Best Air Bike – In Summary
An air bike or fan bike is one of the best choices for a home or garage gym. But, it’s an expensive piece of equipment. We hope we’ve provided helpful information for you to make your buying choice.
You might also be interested in our article on the Concept 2 indoor rower, which is also an efficient, effective, and low-impact total body workout.
And, if you like the AirBike from Assault Fitness, you may want to check out their AirRunner – manual treadmill – it works great for interval training.
Photo and Image Credits
- The Rogue Fitness logo and some product imagery on this page is property of Rogue Fitness and provided by Rogue Fitness.
- Some additional product imagery is courtesy of Concept2, Inc.
- Some additional product imagery is courtesy of ForceUSA, Inc.
- This website is not affiliated or associated with CrossFit, Inc. CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc.