Whether you want to lose weight, lead a healthier lifestyle or just compensate for a naughty one, riding a bike is a great way to burn excess calories but which is best, Spinning or outdoor cycling?

Calorie burning isn’t an exact science so the results vary but according to fitness monitoring service, My Fitness Pal, a 150lb person could burn around 475 calories in a 60-minute Spin class or 540 on a moderate outdoor ride, but what makes them different?

Here’s a quick look at how Spinning and outdoor cycling compare:

The Bike:

  • Outdoor Cycling

When you ride your own bike, you benefit from a frame, seat, riding position and pedal system that are personalised for your comfort and calorie burning goals, plus you can actually go somewhere!

If weight loss is your goal, you need to burn calories consistently and if you struggle to maintain motivation or stick to a timetabled Spinning class then outdoor cycling may be best option for you.

A bike enables you to get from A to B, making it easy to build exercise into your lifestyle: cycle to work, take the kids out or invest in panniers and use it to run errands. If you really want to shift those calories you could even cycle to Spinning class!

Every bike ride is an opportunity to burn calories and the more resistance you encounter, the more you’ll lose. A simple way to increase resistance is to add clipless pedals.

On a flat pedal bike, you meet resistance as you push down and recover as you pull up, but with a clipless system, your shoes attach to the pedal to create resistance on the push and pull, helping you to cycle more efficiently, travel at greater speed and burn more calories.

  • Spinning

Spin bikes generally have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ design which includes a flat or clipless pedalling option. The advantage is that with some comfortable clothing and footwear, you can take part in a spinning class today and with the right shoes, enjoy the calorie burning benefits of clipless pedals too.

The disadvantage is that your riding position and overall comfort is limited and because Spin bikes are stationary, you have to travel to them rather than on them.

In terms of cost, a Spin class is obviously much cheaper than an outdoor bike but if you invest in a quality bicycle like a Cube Road Bike, it will hold its value to make it an asset, not just an expense.

Gears and Terrain:

  • Outdoor Cycling

Taking on the great outdoors, whether in a flat urban landscape or across a rugged terrain, is easier with an appropriate gear set. Gears make it possible to tackle a variety of surface gradients without losing too much speed or momentum.

The better the gearset, the broader and more interesting your cycling horizons can be.

  • Spinning

Spin bikes include variable resistance settings that are designed to mimic the gear changes you would work through when tackling the rise and fall of the great outdoors.

Depending on where you live, a structured class may give you a more thorough workout than you could experience on the open road, but indoor horizons are generally limited to the back of the spinner in front of you.


  • Outdoor Cycling

When you cycle outdoors, you meet resistance according to the terrain, gear and pedal system, but also from the wind and variable road surface friction; a fresh stretch of tarmac is much easier to ride on than a gritty, worn cycleway.

  • Spinning

Because spinning bikes are stationary and located indoors, all the resistance comes from the bike itself which is controlled, in part, by a flywheel. Heavier than the wheel of an outdoor bike, it’s designed to replicate the differing resistance levels you’d experience outdoors.

However, the momentum of this wheel means that if you stop pedalling, it keeps moving, so the bike effectively does some of the hard work for you and this can limit your calorie burning potential.

Both forms of cycling can shift serious calories but outdoor cycling is hands down the best way to lose weight. It’s easy to fit into your lifestyle and with the freedom to go anywhere, a real bike can actually make burning calories fun!

To find out about more about purchasing a bike or upgrading the pedals or gears on your existing one, simply contact the friendly experts at Formby Cycles.