Air Bike Workouts: The 5-Mile Ride for Time

Airbike Workouts

The 5-mile ride for time…

… aka:  “The 5-mil’er”…

… is a middle distance cardio masterpiece.

Because it’s an air bike workout, it’s also low-impact yet high fatigue.

The 5-mile ride for time is ideal for the individual who’s looking for a time efficient, simple yet difficult cardio challenge.  The average time to finish this workout will be anywhere from 11-15 minutes.

5-Mile How-to…

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

No, I am not being a smart ass.

Hop on the bike and cover 5-miles as fast as you can.  Record your time so you can monitor progress and identify the time to beat for the next ride.  If you can self-motivate, tracking your numbers will give you massive fuel for future attempts.

I’ve seen plenty of recorded times using the large fan Schwinn Airdyne, but much less using the Assault Bike or the Xebex Airbike, both of which are vastly superior to the older model Airdynes.

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.

It’s a little surprising considering how valuable this workout is for measuring aerobic capacity in athletes and average folks alike.

Now, I was able to locate several of 5 -mile air bike rides on YouTube, but to be honest, watching someone ride a bike for 12 minutes is boring.  I just want to know the times and have visual verification of the computer monitor upon completion (for proof).

Strategies to win the 5-Mile Ride…

Briefly, your best 5-mile time will probably be proportionate to the following:

  •  Increase in fitness levels (strength, power, endurance, etc)
  •  Willingness to be uncomfortable for an extended period of time (guts).
  •  Strategizing pace for 80-85% of the ride, sprinting the remaining distance.

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

Don’t sprint too early.  If you 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.  The mental chatter gets louder and louder if you push too hard, so much so that it often convinces you to back off so much that it affects your finishing time drastically.

Don’t save it all for the end.  If you save most of your effort for the end, you’re likely lose valuable seconds in the beginning and middle, which you might not be able to make up at the end.

Pace yourself with RPM’s and heart rate.  When I’ve tested myself on the 5-mil’er, I monitor my heart rate (beats per minute) and RPM’s closely to gauge my effort.  I try to limit any tunnel vision on mileage and time in the beginning, because the mileage never moves fast enough and the time drags on.

Mentally, obsessing where you’re at distance-wise can be awfully defeating, so I avoid checking it until the middle to back-end of the workout.  The beginning and middle of the ride is a time for pacing and breathing.

When the monitor reaches the 3.5 mile mark, it’s go time.  All out until the end.

It hasn’t always been this way.  I used to kick it into gear around the 4.3-4.5 mile mark.  The point at which you drop the hammer and go for it

Use your arms.  The legs have a far greater capacity to do work, but the arms can take on some of the workload.  The dual action arms are attached to the bike for reason, use them to your advantage.  Push and pull, push and pull.

Lift your legs.  Resting your legs on the pedals creates more resistance for the working leg. Actively pull your knee up to help the pedals turnover.

Sidenote:  I recommend maintaining upright posture, chest facing forward, butt slid back on the seat.  Take in as much oxygen as possible while riding.  Hunching over restricts breathing and doesn’t do anything for anyone.  Your body will try to convince you slump (taking the path of least resistance) as you get tired, but fight it, stay upright.

What’s a good time?…

A good time for a 5-mile ride is right around 12 minutes, maybe +/- 30 seconds.

Finishing in 11 minutes or less can be done, but you’re going to be giving it hard to achieve that.

In my last attempt, I finished at 11:26 min/sec.


Shaving a few seconds off of your best time is a lot harder than it may seem.

Air bikes are magic…

I have friends that rip on my love affair with the air bike, but it really is one of the best pieces of cardio building fitness equipment out there.

The proof is in the pudding with air bikes.  The harder you exert, the harder it gets.  It’s awful at higher intensities.  Air bikes have no learning curve, no impact and an extremely high training effect, making it ideal for fat loss,

Riding 5-miles for time is short enough to keep you interested, but long enough to initiate the “I want to quit this right now” thought pattern.

Goofy as it may seem, building an unshakeable attitude toward pushing through physical stress will spill over into all areas of your life.

Not giving up is an attitude, and it’s free.

Next steps… I need your help…

Here’s my request…

If you decide to test yourself with the 5-mil’er, come back and record your time on, either in the comments section or on the Meauxtion Facebook Page, Meauxtionfit on Instagram, whatever.

*** If you choose to submit your time, please take a snap shot of the computer monitor immediately after finishing.  We need proof.  No cheaters allowed.

The original mission of writing this post was (and still is) to establish an online logbook of best times for the 5-mile ride using the Lifecore Assault Bike, Schwinn Airdyne or Xebex Airbike.

I have not been able to locate a list of best times, similar to what Concept 2 does with popular Skierg and Rowing Erg distances.

Note:  If you’re riding the 5-mile using the Schwinn Airdyne, please make sure it is the large fan version, not the small fan. Large fan bikes provide more air resistance.  One more consideration for Schwinn Airdyne users… it’s been reviewed by many that the newer generation bikes (Assault Airbike, Xebex Airbike) have an increased level of resistance.

I cannot yet quantify how much harder the Assault bike is over the Airdyne, but I’ve read some people speculate there is up to 40% more resistance with the Assault and Xebex bikes.  I previously owned a large fan Schwinn Airdyne before transitioning to the Lifecore Assault Airbike, and I can say that the Assault bike is a much more challenging bike to ride.

Just something to think about.

Assuming this article can draw enough visitors who are willing to share times, we can start to compile the data and create percentiles, competition, baselines, etc.

Just in case you’re wondering, there is no bad time for the 5-mile, so please take a chance, get vulnerable, submit your time!

If you’ve got the courage to get on and give it your best, that is absolutely what matters most. I salute that effort.


Cheers to the 5-mile ride for time,