Health Lifestyle

Indoor vs. Outdoor Cycling: Comparing Pros and Cons

Do you like spontaneity or stability of schedule?  Are you more adventurous or do you like to play it safe?  Do you like to take your time, or do you want to get things done?  These are all important questions.  Who you are personality-wise determines a lot of things.  What a lot of people don’t realize, is that it can determine your workout as well.  One of the few workouts that is personality-customizable is cycling.  Cycling indoors and outdoors is each a unique experience.  This post compares these experiences so that you can have the most fun while working out.  So without further adieu, here are the pros and cons of indoor and outdoor cycling.

Outdoor Cycling


  1. Easier Mentally

New sights, sounds, and smells definitely keeps things interesting.  In addition to this, obeying traffic laws and dodging cats will keep your mind occupied.

  1. More muscle group involvement

The variation that comes with outdoor cycling will cause more diversity in terms of the muscle groups that get worked.  The bike isn’t stationary, and neither is the ground.  Turns and slope differences will cause different muscles to be activated.

  1. Best way to train for competitions

All cycling competitions take place outdoors.  If you are cycling for competitions, it’s best to replicate the environment where you will race.  In addition, if you train outside you will know how to deal with the weather elements that could pop up when race time hits.

  1. Mood Boosting

In addition to being easier mentally as compared with its indoor counterpart, outdoor cycling goes above and beyond as it’s actually proven to increase your mood.

  1. Better cooling=more hydration

There is a lot more air flow outdoors than indoors.  Due to this, outdoor cycling will cool you off more than indoor cycling.  Even on a really hot day, you will lose less fluids while being outside than inside.

  1. No option to coast on the bike

Many people on indoor bikes can lower their difficulty settings.  This can make it look like they are working really hard, but in fact they are actually coasting on their bike with no resistance.  This option isn’t available for outdoor cycling.


  1. Expensive

Outdoor cycling can get really pricey.  You have to pay for the bike, repairs, water bottles, clothing, and night lights.

  1. Less Safe

If you cycle indoors, there is no chance you will ever get hit by a car.  In addition, there is no chance you will catch an edge and wreck your bike.  Injuries are nearly non-existent indoors.

  1. Know how to change a tire

If you are an avid outdoor cyclist, you will have to change your cycling bike tire eventually.  This means you have to have a spare and you have to know how to change a bike tire.

  1. Less of a concentrated workout

With indoor cycling, you can measure calorie loss more directly.  You can also work on pushing towards new personal records.

  1. Dress for the weather

You can’t always predict when it’s going to rain or snow.  For this reason, you might need to bring extra layers for the weather.

  1. No Convenient Food

In indoor gyms there is almost always a smoothie bar or a place where you can refuel with drinks, protein bars, and other fitness goodies.


Indoor Cycling


  1. Cheap

Even after paying for a gym membership, indoor cycling is going to be cheaper than outdoor cycling.

  1. More of a concentrated workout

You can adjust your seat and concentrate on working out specific muscle groups in your legs.  You can also monitor HR and calorie loss for extra precision with your workouts.

  1. More convenient

Getting all of your outdoor cycling gear on and finding a good place to go can be really inconvenient.  With a gym membership, all you need to do is pack some workout clothes on your way home from work and you are set.

  1. Option to have a group class or solo

Indoor cycling gives you further customization with how your workouts are in that you can go it alone or with a group.  A group cycling class is great to have some external motivation where someone is yelling at you and telling you what to do.  Classmates also push each other.  If you are more of a lone wolf, there are individual bikes where you can cycle to your heart’s content.

  1. Less risk of injury

I have never met or heard of a single person getting injured doing an indoor cycling workout.


  1. Can end up coasting with the fly wheel

The temptation to cheat while on the indoor bike is tremendous.

  1. Really hard mental game

Self-motivation, especially with workouts, is extremely difficult.  Even the most mentally tough people really struggle with pushing their bodies to the limit when they are bored and nothing is stimulating them.  Even with televisions, indoor cycling isn’t nearly as stimulating as outdoors.

  1. Less hydrated/really hot

Even though gyms are cooled, you will lose fluid a lot faster when you are indoors vs. when you are outdoors.

  1. Bikes may be taken or might not have good bikes

With indoor cycling, you run the risk of not having a good bike available to you.  Maybe there are a lot of people at the gym on a particular day.  Maybe there is a class going on that you don’t want to join.  There is no guarantee that you will get the perfect bike.

  1. Less Fun

Overall, indoor cycling is just less fun.  Anytime you are around a bunch of tired and sweaty people, you won’t have as much fun as if you are exploring your adventurous side in the great outdoors.


In conclusion, the great thing about cycling is that it is customizable.  One day you can be in the gym working on target zones and cardiac efficiency and the next day you can be outside exploring the mountainside.  There is something for everyone when it comes to cycling.  Hopefully the above post will give you some foresight into what you might be more interested in as you are working towards your fitness goals.

Tyler Dahl

Tyler Dahl

Tyler Dahl is a freelance writer and interior designer who has been writing for various design websites including interior design and graphic design for the last couple of years. In his free time, he loves spending time with his family and going camping.

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