At-home workouts were already growing in popularity before the coronavirus pandemic — Peloton’s customer base first surpassed SoulCycle’s back in 2018 — but quarantine and lockdown orders have accelerated the trend. If you’re one of the many people to have bought a stationary bike in the last year (and there were certainly many, as it was nearly impossible to find one in stock this past spring and summer), you’ll likely need additional accessories to maximize your workout. To find out which cycling shoes, weights, and water bottles pair best with your new spin bike — whether it’s a high-tech Peloton or a more budget-friendly Schwinn — we asked seven cycling instructors and enthusiasts to share their favorites.
While some spin bikes have cage-style pedals that let you ride with regular sneakers, others, like Peloton, require cycling shoes that clip into the pedals. Even if your bike gives you the option, Keegan Draper, personal trainer and fitness specialist at Mindbody, recommends buying cycling shoes to “enhance” your ride. “The secure lock in the pedals keeps your foot in contact with the pedal without slipping, so you can really push through those hard climbs,” he says. For men, he’s a fan of these Venzo shoes that can be used on both indoor and outdoor bikes.
Three experts we spoke with recommended the Tiem Slipstream, a hybrid cycling shoe and sneaker. “Unlike regular spin shoes, the hardware is tucked inside the base of the sneaker, which means you can walk around in them without teeter-tottering,” says Well+Good beauty and fitness editor Zoe Weiner. “They’re just as great for walking around on the streets as they are for clipping into the bike.” Tammeca Rochester, owner and founder of Harlem Cycle, agrees and says “you don’t have to do the crazy walk once you get off the bike and risk hurting yourself.” Nicole Murray, a cycling instructor with Moxie, says the shoes are “a major time saver when working on and off the bike,” like if you’re alternating between sprints in the saddle and weights on the mat.
If you’d rather not buy specialized cycling shoes, or you’re doing more of your workouts off the bike than on, Peloton instructor Tunde Oyeneyin recommends the Under Armour HOVR Rise, which she wears during the strength-training portion of her Bike Bootcamp classes. “Flat shoes allow me to train more efficiently by aligning my body in proper form,” she says.
“You are going to sweat,” says Draper, “so it’s crucial for your enjoyment of the session, your health, and recovery that you hydrate. Get a water bottle, or two that can fit in the bottle holder on the bike.” Since it’s designed for the water-bottle cages on road bikes, this CamelBak bottle should be compatible with most spin bikes, Draper says. The squeezable bottle makes it easy to get a quick sip in mid-ride.
The ever-popular, stainless-steel S’well bottle is also a favorite among indoor cyclists. “It fits perfectly in the holder and keeps water cold all through your ride,” says Murray. She considers the pop-up sport cap a necessary addition since her hands are often too sweaty while exercising to twist open the standard metal cap, and it makes it easier to control the flow of water. “When you have the standard cap and you try to drink in a hurry, you can get too much water at once,” she says. “With the pop-up you know you’re getting just enough for a quick sip to hydrate and then get back into the workout.”
For a bottle that you’ll want to use on and off the bike, Johnny de Triquet, studio manager at the Life Time 23rd Street gym and an experienced spin instructor, “swears by” this smart bottle that tracks how much water you drink. You can program it to light up to remind you to drink either at a standard interval or when you’re behind on your daily hydration goal. De Triquet says drinking enough water is “super important, especially when you’re exerting yourself through rigorous exercise such as indoor cycling.” The smooth silicone outer sleeve is easy to grip no matter how sweaty you are.
“Again, you will be sweating a lot,” Draper reminds us. “You will want to be able to wipe off your sweat as you ride.” He recommends these absorbent towels that dry quickly and don’t get soggy.
Murray agrees that a towel is a must-have when you’re cycling. She specifically looks for one that’s large enough to cover the bike’s handlebars, like these. Because it’s often hard to hold on to the bars with sweaty hands, adding the towel allows for a more secure grip.
Although you may want larger weights for strength training off the bike, Murray says for arm exercises during the ride, you should stick to small weights, around three pounds. She particularly likes CAP Barbell’s neoprene weights, which are easy to grip even when you’re sweating and fit into the weight holders on most bikes.