Despite plenty of dedicated GPS sports watches by Garmin, Polar, and Suunto (and even more sports gear), people prefer the Apple Watch for its iPhone integration.
To woo cyclists, Apple released a major Watch OS 8 release last year. This update was clearly aimed at outdoor cyclists and allows the watch to automatically detect bike rides, Auto-pause/resume tracking when you stop at traffic signals, and detect falls while cycling. Plus, the tracking accuracy is improved for e-bikes. These features work for Apple Watch 6, 7, and SE.
But what about indoor cycling? Apple Watch surely has it as a workout in the ‘Indoor Cycle’ mode. As per the official website, this mode is dedicated to Spin Class or riding a stationary bike for people who have restricted movement due to COVID or those who prefer to hit the gym for a cycling class.
Let’s delve deeper, and find everything about what it feels like tracking indoor cycling on an Apple Watch.
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Is the Apple Watch Good For Indoor Cycling?
As far as the basic tracking of the Apple Watch is concerned, it’s a decent job. It accurately captures the calories burned (Active and Total) indoor cycling workouts without any problem. Plus, you get the heart rate, BPM (beats per minute) data from the onboard optical sensor on the latest Apple Watch Series.
However, the metrics are pretty basic when you compare them with the stats on your bike. You can certainly install third-party apps from the play store for advanced metrics like cadence and speed (only if you add a Bluetooth external sensor to the watch).
How to track Indoor Cycling on Apple Watch?
Follow the instructions step by step.
- Push the Digital Crown.
- Open the Workout app.
- Find the ‘Indoor Cycle‘ mode and tap on it.
- Tap the More icon next to the workout type to set the goal. (For indoor cycling, you can set a limit for calories burned.)
- Tap Start to begin your workout.
- There would be a 3-second countdown.
How Does Apple Watch Track Measure Indoor Cycling?
The watch has little to track as far as indoor cycling is concerned. It tracks only time, heart rate, active calories, total calories. The calories burned are often an estimate, guided by the complex algorithms patented by the company.
For the heart rate data, the answer is obvious. The sensor emits green light on the back of the watch is a complex assembly of photodiodes that detects the amount of blood flowing through your wrist at any given moment. The logic goes as the absorption of green light and the blood flow through your wrist is greater when your heart beats.
Apple Watch Compatibility with Spin/Stationary bikes:
Apple’s devices, including its iconic watch series, are compatible with a range of stationary and spin bikes. You can pair the following devices using the GymKit feature on the Apple Watch.
- Peloton Bike+
- Sole SB700 Bike
- Schwinn IC4
- Life Fitness C3 Lifecycle Bike
Even if your bike is not compatible with ‘Gymkit‘, you can watch the important stats like heart rate and blood pressure on your bike screen. There is a complicated method for it as you have to install third-party apps like ECHO to broadcast real-time data from the Apple Watch to your bike.
Top Apple Watch Apps for Indoor Cycling?
The sheer number of watch apps on the Apple Store has is more than all other platforms combined. Surely, there are plenty of apps for indoor cycling. With these apps, you’ll be able to access more detailed cycling data, training plans by professional coaches, and learn how well you are doing overall.
- Spinning Connect
- iBiker Cycling & Heart Trainer
If we have to choose one, Peloton stands out from the rest. You can install the app both on the iPhone and an Apple Watch to monitor performance metrics such as power, cadence, and heart rate. You can find detailed metrics and trends on the smartphone app.
The app is compatible with Apple Health so the data would automatically sync with the Apple Health dashboard.
We have found the calorie tracking on the Apple Watch native workout app to be similar to that on Peloton. However, the latter offers you the heart rate zone data.
You can stream your workouts to Apple TV via AirPlay or Chromecast to view all important metrics on the biggest screen in your home.
Our second choice for a third-party indoor cycling app on the Apple Watch is iBiker Cycling & Heart Trainer. The basic version delivers you estimated distance, speed, and time stats.
Whereas if you shell out extra dollars, you can add external sensors (cadence, speed) for accurate tracking, and can view the heart rate data from your Apple Watch. Plus, it allows you to create custom workout training sessions.
Most of the basic indoor cycling metrics are for free, but the ads are really annoying. We would recommend you to pay up for the pro version.
Best Exercise Bike For The Apple Watch?
For users on the budget (under $1000) looking for a decent stationary bike, Schwinn IC4 Indoor Cycling Bike is our best pick. The bike seamlessly pairs with the Apple Watch and has 100 levels of adjustable, magnetic resistance.
It is equipped with dual-purpose pedals, a media stand, and a large LED display. You can also pair a Bluetooth chest strap with the bike to get an accurate HRM.
Alternatively, you have Peloton Bike+. This stationary bike is more compact, sturdy, and is the gold standard in the industry. It offers a high-resolution display and an adjustable magnetic resistance wheel.
It also has a 5 MP camera to capture your exercises visually. A detailed review of the bike begs a separate article, but there is one prominent thing to mention at this point. You would have to pay nearly double the price of Schwinn IC4 for the comfort and durability Peloton Bike+ offers.
When it comes to indoor cycling, the Apple Watch has little to offer. If you don’t attach the external sensors, the watch can only track calories burned and heart rate. However, multiple stationary and spinning bikes have a wearable app on the Apple Store to give you access to the advanced metrics right on your wrist.