I need to know how exactly speed is calculated on a stationary bike. For this I need to know in which units the resistance on the bike is set. The scale is from 1 to 25, but what exactly do these values mean? Is this the strength in joules or something else?

Thank you in advance.

2 Answers 2


The numbers are manufacturer specific and generally not calibrated. Bigger numbers are likely to mean more resistance, but a given setting is probably not going to produce the same resistance even between two machines of the same model, especially once they are no longer new.

If the bike has a display that shows speed and what not, check the manufacturer's manual to see if they document how it is determined.

  • So if I would like to compare two people on two machines from different manufacturers, then there is no way to set the same resistance? Considering that one machine can have resistance in the range 1-25 and the other machine can have resistance in the range 1-45. Can we assume that the maximum resistance is the same on different machines from different manufacturers?
    – Paweł
    Aug 9, 2018 at 15:04
  • @PawelD No, there is no universal plan for exercise equipment that manufacturers are trying to meet. Some machines top out at rather soft levels of resistance and others at nigh-impossible.
    – gwaigh
    Aug 9, 2018 at 15:56
  • How about Watts? Are they a reliable unit of training comparison? If I go cycling for 5 minutes continuously to produce 100 watts on two machines from different manufacturers, then my fatigue should be the same? Is it a good way to make two people have to put on the same amount of effort in cycling?
    – Paweł
    Aug 10, 2018 at 9:01

When selecting the number on the scale there should also be a measurement given in Watt (atleast thats what I always see on the bikes in my gym). Maybe look for that.

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