AirBike Workouts| 5-Mile Ride for Time

Airbike Workouts

Assault Air Bike

The air bike is a low-impact, low learning curve, low-risk of injury, high reward cardio machine that’s perfectly designed for high-intensity workouts.  

Air bikes deliver a potent cardio stimulus.  The harder you pedal, the more difficult the ride becomes.  Combining the traditional bike pedals with dual action arms, and air bikes become a total body training experience.  

This article is all about a middle-distance challenge, the 5-mile ride for time. 

The 5-mile ride for time is an oxygen depleting, soul-crushing aerobic threshold workout.

If you do happen to own an air bike, the 5-mile ride for time can serve as cardio for the day, assuming you’re looking to sprinkle some in after resistance training.

Most people will finish the ride in 15 minutes or less, making this ride extremely time-efficient.

Air Bikes

Air bike training is a bland topic to write about because there isn’t much technique to riding a bike.  

To be honest, there’s very little skill required to peddle a stationary bike.  

I’m not going to sit here and pick apart technique cues for riding a bike.

While the air bike is simple to operate, the simplicity IS what makes it such a great piece of equipment.  

You can go HARD on an air bike, focusing purely on effort and output, breathing and controlling your brain’s attempts to get you to quit.

I wrote a more comprehensive article on air bikes here.

I appreciate the mental conditioning aspect of air bike training as much as the physical benefits.

As mentioned previously, the training effect is potent, blasting the entire body with the addition of the dual-action arms.  Pushing and pulling the dual action arms fatigues the upper body, and it a lot tougher than it looks.  

The resistance is proportionate to intensity.  

In other words, the resistance increases as the exertion increases.  

Sustaining higher intensity efforts is a first-class way to trash yourself (in a good way).  

The 1-minute ride for max calories is a perfect example.

5-Mile Ride Instructions…

The instructions for the 5-mile ride are simple:  ride 5 miles as quickly as possible.

Record your time so you can monitor progress and identify the time to beat for the next ride.  

Tracking your numbers will give you massive fuel for future attempts.

Make sure you remember to record your time.  Each personal best time serves as the target for the next attempt.  

Constantly attacking your personal best is a great way to gauge improvements with conditioning. 

Here’s a cinema-quality video of the closing seconds of a 5-mile effort…

Finding the data…

Over the years, I’ve been unable to find a log of best 5-mile air bike times on the internet.  I’ve seen private gyms and colleges post times, but not the general public.

I’ve come across plenty of recorded times using the large fan Schwinn Airdyne, but fewer using modern air bikes like the Assault Bike.  

The Schwinn Airdyne has been on the market for 20+ years so naturally there will be more data for the bike. 

I was able to locate several clips of 5 -mile rides on YouTube, but watching someone ride a bike for 12 minutes is boring, not to mention no quality control to verify methods.  

I’m looking for is visual proof of finishing time.  


Strategies to crush the 5-Mile Ride…

Your best 5-mile time will depend on the following:

  •  Increase in fitness levels (strength, power, endurance, etc)
  •  Willingness to be uncomfortable for an extended period of time (grit).
  •  Pacing

Unlike a lot of popular air bike workouts, the 5-mile ride requires a bit of strategy.

Don’t sprint too early.  Come out of the gates too hard, you’ll hit the wall and have nothing left to give as you near the end.  I’ve done this plenty of times.  

Don’t save it all for the end.  Conserve energy for too long and valuable seconds are lost which might not be able to recover at later stages of the ride.

Pace yourself with RPM’s and heart rate.  Monitor your heart rate (beats per minute) and pay attention to RPM’s.  Both are tracked on the computer monitor.  

Avoid obsessing over how far you’ve ridden.  You’ll always think you’re farther than you actually are and wish you were farther.  Settle into a challenging RPM range, focus on breathing and stay there.  No need to keep glancing at the monitor when only 15 seconds have passed since you last checked. 

Use your arms.  The arms play an important part in finishing faster.  You must get your arms involved to take on the stress.  Push and pull, push and pull.

Lift your legs.  The deadweight of the non-working leg makes it harder for the working leg and arm.  Actively lift the non-working leg on each revolution. 

Posture.  Keep the chest tall and the butt planted firmly on the seat.  Do not stand up, that is cheating.  Keeping the chest tall will keep the airways open, versus hunching like a turtle and trying to breathe all coiled up.

What’s a good finishing time?

12 minutes or less is a great time.

Here are the closing seconds of my most recent attempt:

Finishing closer to 11 minutes is aggressive.  

A sub-11 minute ride can be done, no doubt about it.  However, as you become more fit, it becomes more difficult to shave seconds off the finishing time.

My best time is 11:07, verified with picture proof Instagram.


I need your help compiling the data…

After completing the 5-mile ride, stop back and leave your time in the comments section.

Snap a picture of the computer monitor like you see above.  

We need proof.  No cheaters.

Read more about fitness and workouts:


18 thoughts on “AirBike Workouts| 5-Mile Ride for Time

  1. Hi Kyle. Thanks for the post. I love the assault bike at my crossfit gym. It fits my body perfectly. I’m 315 lbs and have been doing crossfit for over two years and dropped 135 lbs in that time. I crush this machine as it crushes me. I have the top two times on Beyond the Whiteboard app site wide. 10:57 and 11:17. (The 11:17 came after double unders and a 1k row). I also excel at rowing. I think my biggest tool is my breathing ability and huge lung capacity. Being such a big guy would normally petering out quick but I have uncanny stamina for it and I feel awesome afterwards. Quick recovery time. I wish there were more bikes at my box for competitive WODs. Keep it up

    1. Peter, amazing man. Congrats on shedding the weight and getting after it consistently. 10:57 is a fantastic time, one which I have not touched, yet. The benchmark has been set! Stop in from time to time, and thanks for leaving a comment. Have an awesome day.

  2. Great article thanks. Do you happen to know a good resource or article on the specifics of air bike maintenance. I have a airdyne that is in great shape and I would like to keep it that way.

    1. Hey Bob, great question. I have not seen a really great resource on the topic. I started with an old model large fan Airdyne many years ago, which eventually led to the crank and pedal breaking off during a ride session. YouTube does offer some assistance, but the replacement parts are hard to find. Search: “Airdyne Maintenance” or “Schwinn Airdyne Repair” and there are a few decent videos. Not a highly discussed topic unfortunately.

  3. Dang. Guess I need to work up to 5 miles in under 12 mins. My time this morning was 10.5 miles in 40 mins 😢 #fatass

    1. That’s not bad at all. You’ll adapt with consistency. Celebrate the effort. Push it a little harder next time. Shorter distances (5 miles) will allow for a more aggressive effort.

      1. Do you think for optimal fatloss shorter distance in faster time is better than longer distance in slower time?

      2. How is your diet and calories in vs. calories out? This is priority #1, far beyond any amount of time spent exercising. 2nd would be non-exercise activity (walking, basic movement, etc…) throughout the day. This is probably the second most important factor. But, assuming you’re good on both of those, I personally prefer mid-range distances at a higher intensity. This is my preference. However, I do mix in steady state rides of 30-40+ minutes a couple days per week on average. Mix both short aggressive rides in with longer aerobic based rides. If diet is on point, fat will fall off without much effort.

  4. R u talking about 5 km or 5 miles ?
    I finished 5 km in 18:40. This was my first time.
    5 miles would be roughly 9 km.

    1. This is a great question and I really don’t know what specific RPM would need to be maintained to achieve a sub-12 minute 5 mile ride. My guess, and only a guess​, is somewhere between 67-70rpm for the duration of the ride. But even those numbers would fluctuate depending on how consistent you are to holding those rpm’s. Great question, I will have to reach out to Assault Fitness to see if they have any data on this.

  5. 46 years-old 6ft 160lbs. I’ve been doing 20 mile and 15 mile rides for a few years on the Assault bike. My PR for 15 miles is 37:13 (average 12:24 per 5 mile split x 3). I know I can hit sub 12 for a single 5 mile effort (going to try this soon) as I frequently do my third 5 miles at 12:05ish, but sub 11 is completely insane. Kudos to anyone even approaching that. Just mind boggling.

    1. Agreed. Sub-11 minute 5 mile Airbike ride on a large fan air bike requires that person go to the dark place. I know there are plenty of people who have done it, but regardless, it’s a gut wrenching time for that distance.

  6. I tried it today for the first time, just missed breaking 12 mins so I’ll aim for that soon, I got 12:06, definitely need to start at a high RPM I tried around 64-65.

    1. Nice! Nice job man. 12 minutes on the first time around is a great time. I find the 5-mile ride to be one of my “favorite” cardio efforts. It’s a quicker effort, fatiguing and gives the rider an opportunity to take shots at previous personal best times. Most weeks, I am not aiming to break any records, but push hard for the duration. I have a ballpark times that I aim for if I’m taking this approach.

    2. Hi-I am using my assault bike to get back in shape at 6mo postpartum. I’ve been doing a workout finisher of :30 as hard as possible :30 rest for a few rounds. Is the speed function a good comparison for these type workouts? For instance one day I hit 28 on the two rounds I did. But the last two days I can only get up to 27. I guess I’m looking for a good measurement (speed or RPM) to work towards. I know there’s other factors and it will vary workout to workout. Also, now I want to try this 5 mile ride! I’ve always used the assault for short sprints so it’ll be a mental workout for sure.

      1. I prefer the RPM measurement, but you could use either, just be consistent with which one you’re referencing for output. The 5-mile ride is a body burner! Let me know how it goes!

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