How can I make my bike ride harder while staying indoors, saving cash, and not missing TV chatter?
January 7, 2011 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Is there any way to increase the workout difficulty or decrease the noise from a hand-me-down air-resistance based exercise bike?

I recently acquired a freebie bike from a family member and thought I'd give it a try as an indoor, watch netflix episodes of The Office type of workout device. For what it is it's actually not that bad. By that I mean I can watch TV and get a mild workout on at the same time.

The problem is that for it to be at the pedaling resistance I'd prefer you have to increase your RPMs. Fine, except that causes the volume of the fan blades that form the bike's resistance to drastically increase.

So any ideas as to how I could kludge something together to make it quieter for a given resistance or so? I haven't taken it apart yet so I really don't have any information as to the internals of the beast but imagine older, upright, fan blades in front type of exercise bike and you've got it.

I would prefer not to put any quantifiable amounts of cash into this since I'll probably just get a trainer sometime in the near future and put my road bike on it. But dang those suckers are expensive...

Thanks for the tips.
posted by RolandOfEld to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
The cheapest way is to get headphones with an extension cord to hook up to the TV.
posted by JJ86 at 11:06 AM on January 7, 2011

Best answer: What about wearing ankle weights while you work out? This would increase your level of difficulty without requiring you to pedal any faster.
posted by amycup at 12:11 PM on January 7, 2011

Response by poster: Nice idea.

And the headphone idea, while valid, does not actually make the bike quieter. It's doable and would help me out but leaves anyone else nearby out to dry.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:14 PM on January 7, 2011

I thought of using ankle weights when I was trying to build back leg strength after I broke a leg. There was some warning on the package that said something to the effect of "DO NOT USE WHILE CYCLING!" I can't recall whether it was ambiguous on the stationary vs. moving bike distinction, but I decided not to get them.

Could you remove every other blade of the fan? If not, perhaps build a cheap plywood box around the wheel to dampen the noise?
posted by MonsieurBon at 12:42 PM on January 7, 2011

Can you cover the vents? The fan should dissipate energy just as effectively even if the air it pushes just circulates inside the casing.

If you remove every other blade, the resistance will decrease. Try increasing the pitch (i.e., turn the blades so they present more flat-on to the direction of circulation).
posted by d. z. wang at 1:06 PM on January 7, 2011

Response by poster: I'm with you on not removing blades, counterproductive.

I was thinking about covering the fan housing myself. I don't think I'll go so far as to build a box but covering it with a cloth might do some good.

The blades are already pretty much normal to the rotational plane, so I don't think there's anything I can do with regards to pitch.

Any ideas that involve adding friction/magnetic resistance to the mix? I might be overthinking things but thought that might prove effective, just don't know how precise I'd need to be with that course of action.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:26 PM on January 7, 2011

Before you attempt anything overly elaborate, have a look at used stationary bikes on Craigslist. A lot of brand-new, hardly used exercise equipment ends up there for very little money.
posted by dodecapus at 2:24 PM on January 7, 2011

Is this an AirDyne? It would be sad to modify such a classic bit of exercise equipment. In any case, you could just do Tabata intervals on the thing as is and be done with a workout in 4-8 minutes or so. If you already get enough steady-state conditioning elsewhere, tabatas are great additions.
posted by Theodore Sign at 4:00 PM on January 7, 2011

Schwinn AirDynes came either with the classic big fan design, or the later, smaller Evo fan. The big fan machines have some controllable vents around the fan, and a minimal edge duct/guard, and can be fairly quiet at normal long distance pace workout speeds. The Evo design, not so much. With some cardboard, or sheet plastic, attached around the periphery of the fan cage with nothing much fancier than two-sided carpet tape, you could increase the effectiveness of a large fan model's vestigial ducting (see this article for advantages of ducted fans), by making it much wider (I'd guess 3x or more existing width). Ducted fans can cut noise by orders of magnitude over unducted designs, while increasing fan efficiency, and are the basic idea behind high bypass turbofan engines, the very foundation of modern passenger jet design.
posted by paulsc at 12:18 AM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

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