Often you get yourself an exercise bike if you have insufficient free time and want to put in some workout at your convenience, as “something is always better than nothing “. Surely you do not want to spend your minimum time tinkering away with the machine that is supposed to make your life easier. This is why you should have some troubleshooting knowledge of your exercise bike. The need is even dire if your exercise bike is using magnetic resistance. As it needs very less maintenance, it seems like a fair compromise to take some time out of your schedule and learn how to fix the few problems that may arise once in a while. With very few parts that are actually moving, you will be saving some money too if you can deal with these yourself.
- Console malfunction: Error codes will come up if there are any problems with the electric console. Codes such as E1, E6, or Fail to Start will show up on the screen. In a magnetic bike, the console is often used for tension control. If this not working, then you have to replace the electric console or repair the existing one, which is best to be repaired or changed by a professional
- Magnet issues: When there are loose bolts and screws in your magnetic resistance indoor bike, it might cause the placement of these magnets to shift from their original position. When these magnets are affected, the resistance of the bike will change.
- Faulty sensors: A faulty sensor will make the machine underestimate or overestimate any data like heart rate that the machines can monitor and store. This will completely disrupt your workout plan as target estimates set by the computer will have been based on the wrong data.
- Other issues: The pedals may come loose. Additionally, issues with the gearbox and wheel will affect resistance.
Some of the most common problems with magnetic exercise bikes are as follows:
Most of the problems that come with magnetic exercise bikes are mainly due to the following reasons:
- Screws & Bolts can be loose
- Loss in Resistance
If you find yourself dealing with some problems in your magnetic resistance bike, it is likely that some screws and bolts have come loose, which might have caused the magnets to sroblems with magnetic resistance bikes reshift from their places. Once these magnets turn the resistance is changed. Loose pedal screws can be an issue too. The resistance may also have been compromised by electrical or technical problems with the console. If the reason behind the resistance loss is the flywheel or the wheel gearbox, they have to be replaced.
1. Step 1
If you are facing any issues, check to see if the machine has any warranty left. There is a very high possibility that you will void the warranty if you decide to open the machine. Try to go through the user manual ( if you have access to one. Look it up on the internet).
Ensure that you have removed any electrical connections that the bike is using. You will not need any power tools to open the machine.
2. Step 2
Either a Phillips screwdriver, Allen wrench, or crank arm can get the pedals off the bike. Pedals often come marked R and L to show their designated position. Clockwise rotation will open up the pedal on the right-hand side while anti-clockwise movement should work for the left. Be careful not to damage the threading of the pedals by using a puller for the crank arm.
3. Step 3
Pedal removal is to be followed up by unbolting the screws of the side shield to dismount it. The shields at the top and side can be accessed by a tool that has a flat head. As you do so, you can see the belt and its flywheel.
4. Step 4
As you have opened the machine up, check to see if you can identify the gearbox and the wheel. They are connected using a tension cable. A typical configuration of the motor gearbox looks like this.
5. Step 5
Once you have identified the location of the above-mentioned components, it is time to check if the magnetic resistance mechanism is functioning properly. This can be done using the naked eye. As the magnetic resistance adjusts, this would cause the tension cable to shift. As you make adjustments to the resistance – the tension cable will shift. This will either make the magnetic bar drop inwards into the machine or shift outwards. If you do not see any change, the gearbox or the wheel likely needs to be replaced. It is recommended to contact the store from where you have purchased the machine or relay your issue to the manufacturer.
Take a look at the magnets themselves and check their alignment/positioning. Make the necessary screwing and loosening adjustments until they are back in their place.
Tips for basic maintenance of magnetic bike:
- To remove any dust or stain from the bike, it is recommended to use a soft cloth. This is probably the best action you can take to ensure that the machine is dust-free. Avoid liquids that are abrasive in addition to products that are petroleum-based to clean the bike.
- Your exercise is using many sensors, and they should all be functioning properly for the machine to deliver optimal performance. The sensors that measure your pulse are often located at the handlebars, while many models come with strap belts to track the user’s pulse. To check the accuracy, compare the data you can see on the display of the console of your exercise bike to a FitBit or any other means. Any mismatch means the sensor/sensors need to undergo servicing or replacement.
- Inspect the pedals with the straps. The loose pedal is a very common problem. If you have a pedal wrench near you, take a closer look. Inspect the bolt that is acting as the connecting interface here. This bolt is likely to come loose. Take hold of your pedal wrench and make necessary tightening adjustments. If you are working on the RHS pedal, use the wrench to turn it clockwise. The bolt-on the LHS pedal will need to be rotated anticlockwise until they feel tight. After you feel that the necessary tightening adjustments have been made, check again if the pedal feels loose. This is particularly important on stationary bikes. If you need to replace the pedals, you need to grease up the new pedals before scraping them in while they are perfectly perpendicular. Check the straps too.
- Use lubricant to ensure proper mechanical operation of the pedals, flywheel, and motor. Even though we have brought this up late in our list, it is surely the key to good maintenance as the service lifespan of your fitness bike depends on these 3 components. Applying grease on them before working out every time is a great practice to ensure smooth functioning.
- While it is advisable to use grease, do not go overboard with it. Try to clean off any layer of excess grease. Ensure that dust is not accumulated too.
Features to take into consideration for magnetic exercise bikes:
- Price: Magnetic exercise bikes will strain your wallet, yet provide good value for their cost, in comparison to other exercise bikes. The higher price is due to the “bells and whistles” manufacturers usually offer on such models. With several options for workout programs – both pre-installed and customizable, the price is a little high. The LED screens that accompany them work hand in hand to improve user experience so that even if you pay a little more, it should not bother you. Their production cost is higher, and the unique design of such bikes offer “perceived costs” in the form of low noise and little or no maintenance.
- Noise: Of course a magnetic resistance system will be noiseless. With no direct contact, the parts are moving independently of each other. You can easily use it to workout at home – no matter it is early morning or late at night.
- Maintenance: Magnetic exercise cannot be referred to as maintenance-free machines. However, the maintenance that they require is very less in comparison to other bikes. This is because the only component in the design of magnetic exercise bikes that are changing would be the magnet that is slowing down the flywheel. Still, the magnets do are prone to less maintenance as they are independent. Once in a while, you might need to change the battery of the bike’s console display or tighten a few nuts and wires. This is the extent of maintenance of magnetic exercise bikes require. We have included links for a few videos that can be helpful to guide you to deal with the common maintenance needs of a magnetic resistance bike:
- Levels of Resistance: The resistance on an exercise bike has a direct effect on the intensity levels that the equipment can simulate. It can be adjusted without much hassle. The convenience of adjustability means as a user, you will have better and adequate control over the intensity of workouts on the bike – which is based on the resistance. As a whole, your workouts will become more effective with seamless transition For example – many magnetic exercise bikes come with consoles that allow users like you to plan their workout routines. You can design a custom program that will use resistance levels A, B, and C for its 3 segments respectively. When there need to transition from one segment to the other, magnetic resistance does an excellent job to make the necessary adjustment. Modern exercise bikes will take into account the weight of the user, pulse rate, and speed whenever resistance needs to be adjusted so that the user can rely on the machine with full confidence.
- Marking these Levels: We will take you through the magnetic resistance levels on exercise bikes that use manual, motorized means.
- Manual magnetic resistance system: Resistance is adjusted by using a rotating dial or knob that can be found usually on the machine’s front section. As you increase the resistance manually, multiple magnets come close to the flywheel – slowing it down in the due process. A drawback here is you will not have many options for resistance level. We have included a video below to show the working mechanism:
- Motorized magnetic resistance system: The mechanism is similar to what is used in manual resistance systems, with the exception that resistance is changed by using the console of the machine. Usually, buttons or stickers are used to represent them on the console. You can select whatever resistance/intensity you want to work out at. It is more convenient, especially if you have trouble reaching down for the dial. There are more options to set the resistance level too. The video illustrates the working mechanism:
- Function: Magnetic resistance has become mainly popular since its functionality allows users to make quick, reliable, and abrupt changes to the level of resistance. This is different from the tension belts that were previously used for tension thanks to their consistency. The lack of noise and smooth operation act as incentives too. These bikes also allow users to store and display data points like resistance level, heart rate, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. How does a magnetic resistance system work?
Ans.: Magnetic resistance was developed to deal with the issues that usually come with bikes where the resistance is using a direct contact mechanism. There are several steps involved here. The mechanism involves two very powerful magnets and a flywheel that serves the purpose of a magnetic conductor. As you are doing so, it is interfering with the magnetic field that is prevailing between the magnets. As a result, a resistive force will oppose your riding motion while the magnets stay independent of each other. Therefore you will need to exert more force at the input. The resistance levels can be altered using a rotating dial or console that has been provided with the exercise bike. As it aims to eliminate all drawbacks that come with a system using frictional resistance, magnetic resistance bikes have a degree of competitive advantage.
Q2. Are magnetic resistance bikes good?
Ans.: If you are looking to build up your muscles, get rid of more fat, and improve your cycling speed – you need to have a machine that can go up to higher resistance levels. Even though magnetic bikes do this as well as of contact-induced resistance, the limit for the former is very high. The upper resistance limit on contact-induced machines can be accessed by a very strong individual. This is not possible on magnetic exercise bikes as at very high resistance the flywheel may stop altogether. The resistance generated via magnetism should be enough to get you a challenging workout, and you may take forever to adapt to the resistance. This will positively affect your fitness.
Q3. Are magnetic exercise bikes quiet?
Ans.: Exercise bikes that use a heavier flywheel will generate significant vibrations when they are used on tiled or wooden floors. Their scale will be such that anyone in the room adjacent to them and under the room can hear it clearly and it will surely bother them. This is particularly worse in apartment buildings or homes that are shared. On the other hand, bikes that use magnetic resistance can operate quietly as the magnets and the flywheel never come in contact with each other. So we can say that yes, magnetic bikes are quiet.
Q4. Why should I use a magnetic resistance bike?
Ans.: With magnetic resistance, you can add more resistance so that the bike becomes harder to pedal. Resistance can also be brought down during periods where you want to take a breather. The closest thing to an exercise bike that is used in gyms is a bike that is using magnetic resistance.
The flywheel and the magnets in an exercise bike are connected in such a way that the magnets can control the resistance levels using whatever current is passing through them. Pressing down a button or rotating a dial can boost the current that is flowing via the magnets. A larger amount of current will generate a magnetic force that is much larger, which will build up more resistance in the flywheel. Consequently, you will be using up more of your energy as you push harder. Each time you pedal will get rid of more calories. The same mechanism is used as you use the routines that are pre-installed in the console of your machine. The computer will automatically adjust the current level and therefore the resistance level. This will allow you to simulate riding on flat grounds, going up or down steep climbs – any scenario that is working for you. This is not possible with contact-based resistance bikes.
Q5. What should I look for more in an exercise bike – resistance or speed?
Ans.: Cycling and exercising seem to have the same basic foundations. As you work against an opposing force, you can build up your muscle. The more opposing force will need even more user strength so you must build up that capacity by adding up resistance. Even if you are moving fast at low resistance, it will not be able to deliver the desired results.
If you are having difficulty maintaining a minimum cadence of 60 RPMs, you would need to tune down the resistance as too high a setting might affect your knees. For better results, hill inns can be simulated by pushing the resistance up for a period of time and then bringing it back. If you engage in HIIT on a magnetic exercise bike, it would be very beneficial for you. Try to switch between lower resistance use while sitting for 1 min and standing up for 30 seconds at high resistance.
With all the key functions of an exercise bike that makes it effective, we can clearly see that resistance is playing a huge part. This is why we believe resistance is more important.
Magnetic exercise bikes are quite popular in the market today. Even though you may have to deal with a few minor issues with components, they are likely to be so rare that the value offered by the machine will surely outweigh them. As long as you are aware of what you may face, these problems can be taken care of quite well by you or any professional. A crucial game-changer here would be the warranty. If the warranty is still applicable, take full advantage of it and take the bike to the store. It would be wise to use your own skills at a time when the warranty is void and you would have nothing to lose.