It’s often recommended to have an equipment mat or gym flooring under your gym equipment. Exercise bikes like spin, upright and recumbent bikes are no different. Do you really need an equipment mat under your bike? Let’s find out.
While it’s not strictly necessary to have a mat under your exercise bike to be able to use one, it can provide some benefits. A mat helps with stability, prevents the bike sliding around, is easier to clean, reduces noise and protects your floor. Especially on carpet an equipment mat is beneficial.
Find out more about what equipment mats do below.
Do you need a mat under an exercise bike?
Whether you have a spin, upright or recumbent bike, it’s a good idea to have an equipment mat under it. Equipment mats do a few things;
- Stability: An exercise bike mat can give some extra stability to your bike. It can be hard to level out gym equipment exactly so it doesn’t rock or wiggle during a workout. An equipment mat is solid but has a little give at the same time. This helps keep everything stable.
- Anti-slip: Equipment mats provide grip. This reduces or flat out eliminates your exercise bike sliding around on the floor. Especially on tiles or other slippery floors, the bike can slide around during a hard workout. It’s supposed to be a stationary exercise bike.
- Easy to clean: A good quality equipment mat is easier to clean than most types of flooring. You can even take them outside and wash there if it gets really dirty.
- Reduce noise: Equipment mats are soft. That soft layer between your bike and the floor means you transfer less noise and vibrations which can bother the neighbors. It also reduces the noise inside the gym a little.
- Protects your floor: The feet of an exercise bike can cause damage to the floor. The rubber feet combined with the rubbing and vibrations from a workout can create enough friction to cause some damage. It might not happen in a few days but it will over time.
- Protects your equipment: Most stationary bikes have rubber or plastic feet that touch the floor. Those won’t be easily damaged but they can wear out over time.
If you feel like you need any of these things, a good equipment mat is a good idea. Is it strictly necessary? No, you bike will work without a mat but it can improve the things listed above. Most people will definitely benefit from getting an equipment mat.
Of course it also depends what kind of flooring you want to put your bike on. There are huge differences between types of flooring which all have their own characteristics.
Tiles are very easy to clean but slippery so the bike can move around. With heavy bikes and bigger people tiles could crack as well. Tiles also don’t absorb any of the vibrations so the neighbors will hear a lot of what you’re doing.
Hardwood can be hard to clean if the sweat gets in between the planks. The bike sliding around is a bit is going to be common on hard wood and you really don’t want to take the risk of scuffing or scratching a hardwood floor. If you have hardwood floors, go for a vinyl mat because rubber sometimes has chemicals that can react with some varnishes used on hard wood.
Vinyl flooring is easy to clean, does provide enough grip to prevent sliding in most cases. It absorbs some noise and is usually fairly stable because it has a little give but not too much. The only concern would be puncturing the vinyl which is a possibility. Just some smaller rubber tiles you place under the feet can work well in this case.
What about carpet? Find out next.
Can you put an exercise bike on carpet?
What about carpet? Can you use carpet as an equipment mat? It seems to do a few things equipment mats are supposed to do. The problem is that carpet also does a few things you really don’t want.
Carpet does provide some anti-slip properties (depending on type of carpet), reduces noise and is softer on your equipment. However, there is a chance your carpet will get damaged. And even if you don’t really care about your carpet, there are some good reasons why putting an exercise bike on carpet is not the greatest idea;
Using an exercise bike makes you sweat. Those droplets get on the bike but some of it will also get down to the floor. Sweat isn’t just water; there are many other things in there besides pure water like minerals. This makes any sweat deposits a great place for bad things to grow. Since sweat is hard to clean from carpet, this makes it a magnet for bacteria and mold. Pretty much the opposite of what you want to be around, especially while doing exercise. A good rubber or vinyl mat is much easier to clean after a workout.
The dust is another issue. Carpet holds on to and releases dust and fibers. Especially when you’re moving around near it, this can cause some dust to start moving around. This dust will eventually make its way: A.) Into your lungs B.) Into the moving parts of your exercise bike.
This is especially going to be a problem with air bikes since you’re basically driving a big fan blade which creates airflow that blows up dust. Find out more about air bikes here.
Getting dust and dirt into the moving parts of an exercise bike is never a good thing and can reduce the lifespan. It will also increase the maintenance requirements. You’ll be cleaning and lubricating everything more often. A simple equipment mat can keep your spin bike healthy for longer.
Best exercise bike mat on carpet
If you want to put your exercise bike in a place where there is carpet, you might be conflicted now. Putting your exercise bike on carpet is not a great idea so what can you do? Luckily there is no problem with putting a mat over the carpet and then putting the exercise bike on top of that.
Getting a high quality mat with the least amount of chemicals is a good idea. It’s better for any children or pets that might play on or around the mat in the first place but the fewer chemicals there are, the less chance you have that it will interact with the carpet and possibly discolor it. This is rare but can happen.
Other than safe and clean, you want something that’s high quality, non-absorbent and at least ¼” thick. I personally prefer rubber mats but vinyl is usually quite a lot cheaper. The thicker/softer the carpet underneath, the thicker/harder you want the mat to be. Because soft carpet can cause some instability in the bike. This just feels weird and not good to work out hard on.
A thick rubber mat is heavy so it compresses the carpet underneath. The thicker mats are also less flexible which means a more stable surface as well. Rubber is also great because it usually looks better than vinyl, it’s longer lasting and absorbs more noise and vibrations.