The History of Indoor Cycling


Today we give you a brief historical account of how one of the inventions that completely revolutionized the fitness industry evolved.

It all started with a man Johnny G, a visionary who had the idea of creating exercise bikes that simulated the movements of a real one, and from his great work, the current indoor cycling would emerge.

Classics of the '90s

In 1995 Johnny, together with Schwinn company, brought the Original Schwinn Johnny G Spinner Pro to market that transformed the indoor cycling industry by having a weighted perimeter flywheel bolted to the frame. That created more aggressive inertia and, by applying manual resistance simulated different types of rides.

In response, its competitor Stra Trac introduced the V-bike, which had a handlebar adjustable to any body type, but since the flywheel was uncovered, its pedal stroke was up and down, not 360°. Curiously, another company released a similar model, the Lemond Rev Master, which only changed its color to lemon yellow.

Indoor cycling: generations of the 2000s

At this time, Johnny G separated from Schwinn and, in 2003 joined its competitor, creating the Star Trac Johnny G First Generation Spinner Pro. It innovated with a rounded apex flywheel, a corrosion plastic protector on the chain, and a handlebar offering three positions (priest, hand, climb).  However, it used a single top load pad that made the change from easy to hard level short.

In the contrary, Schwinn's indoor bike had a dual felt pad which allowed to apply more resistance.

Then came the elite version of the Spinner Pro, and it featured a red smart release label. This was a unique safety brake mechanism for amateurs, but its maintenance was complex; the clutch was contaminated if conventional lubricant was applied.

Years later, Schwinn brought out the IC Evolution and its smart release version, which solved the clutch contamination problem. But they created a smaller bottom brake with crank arms attached to tapered spindles; if the crank fold kept tight, the crank arms could come off and cause severe injuries. 

A real improvement on this model was that they triangulated the towers, and when they were adjusted, the machine did not rattle.

That prompted Johnny to improve, and for the second-generation Star Trac Johnny G Spinner Elite, he created a new handlebar, new fender shape, and incorporated SPD basket pedals designed by Mad Dogg Athletics, who had patented the term "spinning." The best thing was that it didn't have the clutch problem, but its drivetrain was overtightened, which could damage the flywheel and chain.

In the face of this model, its competitor developed the Schwinn Evolution and its smart release version, this was ideal for people whose lower body was compromised. The third generation of the Evolution model featured a non-slip, easy-to-clean handlebar and was notable for its oversize bottom break technology on both sides of the spindle.

The remarkable development of indoor bikes in 2009

Here is a quick review of the most productive years of indoor cycling history with the most relevant models:

Start Trac Spinner Version 2.0: the first with the "spinner" label had a micro-adjustment sliding mechanism, did not use holes to fix the plates, and had a resistance click that facilitated the instructors' work.

Star Trac Spinner Pro: it had two bottle cages on the handlebars, was easy to assemble in terms of base as it had two screws at the front and two at the back. Closer holes in the towers provided more adjustment range and a redesigned fender to protect from sweat.

Star Trac Spinner Elite New Version: due to its smart release configuration, the flywheel disengages from the drive train to avoid pedal injuries when you stop pedaling.

Star Trac Spinner NXT: it was made of aluminum, it was brighter, had more space for the hands, and protection against the sweat on the flywheel.

Spinner Fit: had a heavier flywheel, better graphics, and a plastic protector around the chain and drive train.

Star Trac Spinner Velo: ideal to have at home, high-quality crank arms, and anti-slip handlebars.

Star Trac e-Spinner: innovated with a touch screen, cable TV connection, adjusted to weight, age, difficulty level.

Compute and control in indoor cycling

Here we mentioned two of the models that stood out for incorporating smart technology.

Keiser M3: It was the only American design, it had a computer and magnetic resistance. This one stands out for its wattage that indicates your power and gears and its Shimano SPD pedals. Its handlebars move up and down.

Schwinn AC: made of aluminum, modern design, protection against sweat and corrosion on the chain, high mobility engineering, magnetic resistance, with perimeter, measures heart rate, time, and other values. 


The indoor cycling evolution since the '90s, and the great variety of indoor bikes presented resulted from the healthy competition between Schwinn and Star Trac companies that each year sought to perfect their models and the vision of Johnny G.

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Special thanks to:

Jeff Wimmer, Master technical instructor to the spinning program.