Tried to work out on an Assault bike and are wondering why it’s so incredibly tough? It can almost take you by surprise the first few times you try it. What causes a fan bike to be so hard?
Fan bikes also known as Assault bikes can be very tough to work out on because the foot pedals combined with the arm levers provide a full body workout that uses a lot of muscle mass. The pedals and levers spin a fan blade. Increasing the speed of the fan blade increases the resistance dramatically
You might still not be completely clear on what makes a fan bike tick. Read a deeper explanation below.
What is an assault bike?
An Assault bike is a very specific type of exercise bike from the Assault brand. It has nothing to do with attacking people. However, if you have used one before, you might have noticed that it’s an assault on your energy levels because these things can be very tough.
The assault bike is the most well-known model of a specific type of exercise bike. This type of exercise bike is also known as an air or fan bike. That is a bit more descriptive of a name and gives you an idea of what’s going on. An assault/fan bike has a fan blade that spins when moving the pedals. Fan bikes usually also have arm levers to involve your upper body into the workout.
Why is a fan bike hard?
So now we know what we’re talking about, why are these things so tough?
The biggest reason that fan bikes are tough workouts is the way they create resistance. The faster the blade spins, the more energy it takes. To double the speed of the fan, you have to put in much more than double the energy. Air resistance doesn’t increase linearly but quadratically.
Think about a car. The biggest reason cars don’t keep accelerating infinitely is because the engine isn’t strong enough to overcome the air resistance. (there are other factors as well but air resistance is the biggest). To go a little bit faster, you need a lot more power. For a standard sedan to go 145MPH, you just need about 200 horsepower. To get to 200 MPH you already need about 550 HP and for that same car to crack 300 MPH you would need close to 2000 HP. So you can see air resistance is quadratic and not linear.
So if you pedal at a speed that is light on a fan bike, you don’t have to push much faster to get a lot of resistance very quickly. So while a fan bike doesn’t HAVE to have high resistance, it really quickly becomes high resistance if you pedal only a little bit faster.
The other reason that compounds the toughness is that most fan bikes provide a full body workout. Because you have pedals for your feet as well as levers for your arms, many muscle groups are used at the same time. More muscle mass used means it will feel a bit tougher (although it’s also a more effective way to burn calories). On an assault bike you’ll be using;
And on top of that you’ll also engage your core and chest to a smaller degree. So you can see that pretty much your whole body is being used. Combine that with virtually unlimited resistance and you have the potential to sink a lot of energy into using this type of bike in a very short period of time.
What are the benefits of an assault bike?
Why would you put yourself through a grueling workout if there are more comfortable options?
- Lots of muscle mass used: Because you’re using the pedals for the lower body and levers for the upper body at the same time, you get a full body workout.
- Burns a ton of calories: Because you can have all the resistance you want and it’s a full body workout, you have the potential to burn a lot of calories.
- Virtually infinite resistance: The air resistance means you can have more resistance than anybody can overcome.
- Seamless resistance transition: There are no buttons to be pushed or knobs to be turned to change the resistance. The only thing you have to do is pedal harder and the resistance will go up. Also, you’ll never be in a situation where you wish there was a resistance setting in between the two settings you’ve got because the resistance always matches the energy you put in.
- Perfect for interval training: The high resistance in combination with the fact that changing resistance is super easy, makes a fan bike very well suited for interval training. Any type of interval training is possible but high intensity interval training is amazing on an air bike. While new research suggests that HIIT isn’t actually much more effective for burning calories, it’s still a great type of workout for its cardiovascular benefits.
- Low maintenance: Unlike a treadmill or elliptical trainer a fan bike doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. Cleaning the fan blade and tightening/lubricating the chain is enough.
- Affordable: It’s a bit more expensive than a fan bike but not too much more and you get a full body workout with higher resistance in return. Fan bikes from good brands are simple and sturdy and will last a long time.
- Compact: A fan bike is only slightly larger than a spin bike which is one of the most compact cardio machines. The other type of cardio machine that uses both pedals and arm levers is the elliptical trainer which is much bigger and more expensive than a fan bike.
Should you get an assault bike?
A fan bike is a great tool for a full body, high intensity or medium intensity interval workout. For steady state cardio it’s usable although for that type of workout there are plenty of other types of cardio machine out there.
An easier workout doesn’t mean a more effective one. So if some other way of working out feels easier, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. If one type of workout takes twice as long as a fan bike to burn the same amount of calories, is it better? Fan bikes are tough but in a short period of time you can burn a lot of calories so it depends on you. Do you want to suffer for a short period of time or be a little less uncomfortable for longer?
Many Crossfit workouts use an assault bike in their routines so if you want to follow that, this bike will work well.