When I first started cycling indoor training, I was either on my turbo trainer at home or doing spin classes at the gym. In both cases, exercise bike and home trainer, I was surprised by how much I was sweating indoors. This is how it got me thinking about buying a mat from my setup at home.
Since then, I have had different types of smart trainers and mats, and I can tell you there is more than one benefit to using a mat.
Let me share with you my experience on this matter and review the reasons you should buy a mat for your exercise bike or indoor fitness equipment. Let’s see what’s best for you.
Do you need a mat under an exercise bike?
A mat is recommended under your exercise bike to protect the floor from your sweat. It will ensure the bike will remain steady while you exercise, preventing your floor from getting scratched. A mat will also dampen the sound from the bike and can reduce vibrations in the case of hardwood flooring.
If you use cleats on your indoor trainer, having a mat underneath will definitely protect your floor. The cleats for these types of bikes are made of metal, which can easily indent and damage your floor; especially for hardwood floors, and floors covered with linoleum. It is common to use cleats with indoor trainers from Peloton and NordicTrack or exercise bikes such as spin bikes and Watt bikes.
I myself experienced it when I first started indoor cycling. After a tough session, I kind of jumped back from the bike to the floor and one of my cleats left a mark on the hardwood floor. Not great especially if you are renting the place. So a mat is definitely needed with an indoor or smart trainer.
People with smart trainers tend to use other type of cleats (from the world of road cycling) which are made of plastic. These ones are unlikely to damage your floor but will get damaged while walking on hard surfaces. So a mat can only spare them a bit more.
Pros of using a mat under your exercise bike
- Protect you from slipping
Excessive sweating is the norm with indoor cycling. If your floor is made of hardwood, linoleum, or tiles, the sweat will accumulate on the floor next to the bike and when you will get off, you are likely to slip and fall off.
- Protect the floor from sweat
Some materials are easier to clean than others. But in general, sweat will tend to leave marks on your flooring that can be tough to clean, especially if you let it dry. Trust me, when you work out indoors on your bike trainer or exercise bike, you will be pouring sweat.
With hardwood flooring, you can end up staining the wood, leaving dark marks on it.
With carpets, sweat will get absorbed by the fabric and remain humid for a long time. With excessive sweating, you can dampen an area of your carpet which can lead to a mildewed carpet. The salt from your sweat is also likely to leave white stains on the carpet. But really, the main issue with sweat on a carpet will be the smell after several uses.
With floor tiles and linoleum, sweat won’t damage them and it’s easy to clean afterward.
- Protect the floor from dirt and lubricant
All bikes, even exercise bikes, will use some grease and lubricant that can be projected nearby when you train. It can be hard to clean on any material – especially carpets – and will easily leave a stain. This is especially true with indoor trainers, where most people will use a bike they take out and back indoors regularly; bringing back more dirt from outdoors.
Dirt will accumulate, like everywhere else in your house, but it’s hard to move the bike to clean around it so having a mat will make it easier. The floor below is clean and the mat can easily be wiped with a sponge.
- Ease of cleaning after your workout
It’s really easy to clean a mat compared to the floor in general.
- Dampen the sound and vibrations from the bike
This is essential for your neighbors if you live in a flat for instance, or if you have family in the other rooms. Sounds and vibrations tend to propagate very easily, especially on hard flooring. Carpet on the contrary will help to reduce the nose and the vibrations.
Like a smart trainer, it is possible for your exercise bike to generate vibrations through the floor while riding. Compared to a turbo trainer, an exercise bike is much heavier and won’t move as much. Vibrations are only a problem on hardwood floors. These vibrations can be propagated to other rooms, which can be very annoying to your family members and/or neighbors. I have written an article on the topic “how to reduce turbo trainer vibrations?“.
- Protect the floor from your cleats
Cleats for exercise bikes are made of metal and they will easily make a dent in your floor when you hop back from the bike. This is the case with hardwood flooring and linoleum.
Cons of using a mat under your exercise bike
- Mats can be expensive
Especially after buying an exercise bike, you might not be ready to add another $50 to $100 for a mat.
- Mats take extra space on the floor
If it is already tight to fit your bike in your place, the mat under it might feel like extra space lost.
Can you put an exercise bike on carpet?
You can put an exercise bike on the carpet directly. It will stabilize the bike as the feet will snuggle themselves inside the carpet. It will be good to reduce vibrations but it will damage the carpet. And since sweat will make the carpet smelly, it is best to use a mat on the carpet.
Can you use a yoga mat under an exercise bike?
Yoga mats can be used under an exercise bike but are not ideal. First, they are long but very narrow, generally narrower than the width of most exercise bikes. Also, they are quite thin and won’t absorb many vibrations. It will only take care of the sweat and prevent the floor from getting indented or scratched.
Yoga mats are generally not rigid enough and will get damaged quickly by your fitness equipment. They are not the best solution.
Then, what mat is recommended to be used with an exercise bike?
Now that you understand the importance of a mat for your indoor trainer. What do I recommend?
The best solution is clearly rubber mats, but they are really expensive. They are meant for professionals.
If you do have sufficient money, I guess the mat from Nordictrack itself is the way to go.
Otherwise, this mat from Amazon seems similar in my eyes to the one from Nordictrack but at a cheaper price. Some users complain about it being punctured after a short period of time. But I believe this is what to expect with this kind of mat. I recommend this one because it is long enough to fit most exercise bikes.