ASTM F1250-20: Exercise Bicycles And Ergometers

Exercise bicycle adhering to safety requirements in ASTM F1250-20.

During the 1970s – 1990s, the fitness industry boomed, and as a result, stationary bike sales sky-rocketed. At this time, commercial gyms and exercising at home were picking up, which lead to a tremendous surge of popularity with the use of exercise bikes. Companies began tweaking the design, adding their own unique features, and giving exercise bikes fancy names. The sophistication and technology of exercise bikes has dramatically changed over time, such as eliminating the bike chain and brake pads all together and including an interactive digital experience from consoles that measure a rider’s heart rate, bike gear, revolutions per minute, wattage output, distance, and much more. ASTM F1250-20: Standard Specification For Stationary Upright And Recumbent Exercise Bicycles And Upper And Total Body Ergometers provides design and manufacturing specifications to ensure the safety of stationary upright and recumbent exercise bicycles and ergometers.

What Is ASTM F1250-20?

ASTM F1250-20 establishes parameters for the design and manufacture of stationary upright and recumbent exercise bicycles and ergometers. It details requirements for pedals, seat posts, handlebars, crank endurance, saddle, and other components of exercise bicycles and ergometers. It is the intent of this standard to specify fitness products for use only by an individual age 13 and older. The standard is to be used in conjunction with ASTM F2276-10(2015), Standard Specification for Fitness Equipment, and ASTM F3023-18, Standard Test Methods For Evaluating Design And Performance Characteristics Of Stationary Upright And Recumbent Exercise Bicycles And Upper And Total Body Ergometers.

ASTM F1250-20 is intended to reduce the demonstrated hazards associated with the use of stationary exercise upright and recumbent bicycles and ergometers. Thus, it provides safety specifications for the user of stationary upright and recumbent exercise bicycles and ergometers during storage, movement, entry, use, and exit from the product. The standard assists designers and manufacturers in reducing the possibility of injury when these products are used in accordance with the ASTM F1250-20 operational instructions.

The standard does not apply to mechanisms that convert road bicycles into indoor stationary bicycles.

The Invention of the Stationary Bike

In 1866, French mechanic Pierre Lallemont took out the first United States patent on a bicycle with pedals. It is not clear, however, who first invented the stationary bicycle, but exercycle company records showed the invention of the stationary bicycle in 1932 when a New Yorker known as Howard J. Marlowe took out a patent for a stationary exercise machine called the “exercycle.” This machine which was designed to work the same muscles that would be worked when cycling, rowing, or horseback riding.

In 1940, a New York engineer by the name of Gordon Bergfors took Marlowe’s exercycle and performed a few tweaks to make it more comfortable and help the pedals and other mechanisms work smoother. The biggest change he made was making the machine motorized. During the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, this stationary bike was marketed and sold for home use, giving people a way to exercise and get fit from the comfort of their own homes. Over the years, celebrities who bought exercycles included Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. The exercycle was shown in the 1988 movie Working Girl, and celebrities who used the exercise machine included the movie’s director Mike Nichols, Barbra Streisand, John Wayne, and Jane Fonda.

Types of Exercise Bikes in ASTM F1250-20

ASTM F1250-20 defines the following types of exercise bicycles:

  • Consumer exercise bicycle: stationary exercise bicycle intended for use by one person or family unit in a home environment.
  • Direct drive exercise bicycle: stationary exercise bicycle wherein the flywheel is directly coupled to the pedals without the use of a freewheel mechanism, also referred to as fixed wheel exercise bicycle. These exercise bicycles are often used in a “class” or group institutional setting.
  • Ergometer: stationary exercise bicycle-like device where the user is in a seated or standing position and engages the crank mechanism by hand or the equipment may have both upper body and lower body cranks. Upper body ergometer is used to specify an ergometer with only upper body components for motions. Total body ergometer is used to specify an ergometer with both upper and lower body components for motion.
  • Institutional exercise bicycle: stationary exercise bicycle intended for use by numerous persons in a commercial or institutional environment, as opposed to a consumer or residential environment.

Key Benefits of Exercise Bikes

Here are some health benefits of using an exercise bike:

1. Strengthens the Lower Body

Exercise bikes increase the conditioning of your hamstrings, thigh, quads, glutes, and calves. Pushing down on the pedals is strengthens the quads, while pulling up strengthens the hamstrings.

2. Results in Toned Muscles

These machines can improve your core, and if you use the handle bars or dumbbells, they can train your arms too. More notably, riding an exercise bike will help tone your thigh muscles as cycling is a leg-focused exercise.

3. Improves Heart Health

Regular cycling stimulates and improves your heart, lungs, and circulation, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, high blood pressure, and heart attack. A study from 2019 indicates that cycling can enhance aerobic capacity, and it might improve the body’s ability to synthesize oxygen.

4. Helps with Weight Loss

Working out at a high intensity on the exercise bike aids in burning calories while building strength, translating to fat loss. A 2010 study (in which participants cycled for 45 minutes three time per week and consumed 1,200 calories per day for 12 weeks) found that indoor cycling coupled with a low-calorie diet was an effective way to reduce body weight and body fat. In the study, participants also lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

5. Less Stress on the Knees & Joints

As opposed to outdoor bikes, running, and jogging, exercise bikes cause less stress on the knees sand joints since you are riding on even terrain with less impact involved. An exercise bike puts even less stress on the back, hips, knees, and ankles than walking.

ASTM F1250-20: Standard Specification For Stationary Upright And Recumbent Exercise Bicycles And Upper And Total Body Ergometers is available on the ANSI Webstore.

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