The Bike Cafe Archive

Want to get inspired?  Be the best indoor cycling instructor you can be?  Watch students line up for a chance to get into your class?  Oh yeah.

This is the place to post your questions and share your experience with others.  Come on in, the coffee’s on.


218 Comments On “The Bike Cafe Archive

  1. Jonnty Reply


    Do you have any of your playlists on a cycle timer cmt file as I’ve downloaded the app?

    Thanks jonnty

  2. Kathy petersen Reply

    Have these songs, been updated recently

  3. stewartfrench Reply

    Hi All !

    A few months ago Michele, our cycle instructor, was wishing she had an app for her iPad that would better manage her playlists, play her music, show a large countdown timer, other stuff. I talked with her after class and she drew up what she wanted. So I went off and made an app for her!

    It’s called Cycle Music Timer and is available on the Apple App Store. Here’s a pointer to it.

    It runs on both the iPad and iPhone (runs best on the iPad).

    Here’s my website that describes it, also shows some cabling that’s necessary at our club. May or may not be needed at your club.

    Hope you enjoy it!


    1. Ian Reply

      Hi. The only downside I find with the cycle music timer is that it counts the songs down backwards in minutes and seconds. It would be a much better bit of kit if it counted the song normally (like it shows in iTunes)
      Can the developer help with this and tweak it so we get an updated version ?

  4. Mike Reply

    Thank you guys for sharing all your playlists and Cynthia for creating this inspiring platform. Like you, I love cycling AND I love good music. I am not an instructor, but I use this blog for inspiration, to spice up my commuter rides. Sometimes my spinning class instructor uses one of these songs as well.

    Personally, I love some heavier stuff than regularly played in spinning class. As there are not a lot of rock songs around for cycling/ spinning, I wanted to share these with you. I made my own Spotify spinning playlist (look for: Michiel – Spinning real music playlist) with a mix of (hard)rock/ metal, drum ‘n bass but also mainstream spinning music. It’s all about diversity in life… Just a few examples from what I regard as “nice music to cycle to”, maybe you get inspired by these:

    Alien Ant Farm – Glow
    Black Keys – Lonely Boy
    Bloc Party – Flux (or Banquet)
    Daughtry – There and back again
    Fall Out Boy – This ain’t a scene, it’s an arms race (love to do sprint intervals on this one)
    Foo Fighters – Rope (Don’t remix rock music, please! But I have to admit the remix by Deadmau5 is also OK)
    Muse – Uprising
    Republica – Ready to go
    U2 – Elevation
    Wolfmother – Woman

    Metal (Warning, some of the songs are not for the faint-hearted):
    Metallica – Master of Puppets (8:36 version) – ideal for climbing
    Periphery – Parade of Ashes
    Textures – Reaching Home
    Machine Head – The blood, the sweat, the tears
    Deftones – Be quiet & drive (far away)

    Mainstream & various
    Black Sun Empire – Killing the Light (drum ‘n bass)
    Bombay Bicycle Club – Shuffle
    Foals – My number
    La Roux – Bulletproof

    Music where I gratefully thank Cynthia’s blog for:
    Calvin Harris/ Florence Welch – Sweet Nothing
    Deadmau5 – The Veldt (8 min+ version)

    Regards from the Netherlands,

  5. Michelle Reply

    I just recently started teaching and also got my certification! I love teaching and have been gaining confidence each class. However, I am struggling with doing jumps. Does anyone have suggestions and do you usually start them in the saddle or standing? Thank you fellow spinners!

    1. Cynthia Reply

      Michelle, I usually start seated and move to standing. I usually do 4 or 8 count jumps and coach riders to use enough resistance to ride with the music at a comfortable challenge pace. It is important to let the quads do all the work lifting and lowering (not lift/plop) and not using arms to pull or push – arms are for balance only. I also urge riders to sit a few jumps out if they fatigue and can’t continue with good form. It took me years to be able to count in my head and talk to the class, so I use a thumbs up sign to go up and thumbs down for down (also saves repetitious counting – who wants to hear three minutes of up-2-3-4 down 2-3-4?) I count until I see that everyone’s got it and then use my thumb. Jumps can also be done double-time, basically as a series of explosive standing runs (MUCH harder). I would do 8 counts for these.

      1. Amanda Reply

        Great info on jumps, thanks! Another question with regard to jumps- Does 1 count equal a full pedal rotation, a half pedal rotation or do you count beats to the music?

      2. Annie Reply

        Hey there Cynthia…nice work with the explaining! I love the results of jumps but quite honestly STINK at coaching them…I can’t seem to go below 4 counts and I always coach to the beat of the music (up-2-3-4-down 2-3-4), is that correct? Mentally it seems to make sense. How the heck do you coach 2 counts, literally, up/down, up/down? Isn’t that like popcorn jumps which can be a bit unsafe? Any guidance here would be great. Ive been sticking to a ton of climbing/strength profiles and really need to switch it up. You rock!

  6. Cristinacristina Reply

    I recently became certified and have an audition on Monday (11.25) The audition is only 10 mins long. Id like to use only one song to show all 5 core movements and talk about energy zones. (around 5-6 mins??) Any one have any suggestions?

    1. Cynthia Reply

      Congratulations on getting certified and obtaining an audition so quickly. I’d take a look at Beyonce’s Ring the Alarm (Freemason’s Club Mix) (8:34), The Veldt (8 minute edit) by Deadmau5 (8:40), The Black Pearl (Caribbean Trance Mix) by Scotty (6:39) or Play Hard (Albert Neve Remix) by David Guetta (6:53). All are relatively recent, high energy, versatile songs that will allow you to showcase your stuff. Listen to the song you choose until you know it inside and out and ensure the music is in sync with the class profile (e.g. don’t cue a sprint just as the music slows down).

      Good luck! Drop in after your audition and tell us how it went.

  7. Liz Reply


    I purchased the class builder app about a month or so ago and it is awesome! I wish i had found it earlier. It was $20 just as the previous comment said but yep worth it. Its a little confusing to begin with but if youre okay with technology youll work it out.
    Also just to add this blog is fantastic, it’s so great to get ideas and keep my classes fresh. Thanks :)
    Also I used tub thumping by chumbawumba for jumps in my class as someone else previously suggested and the riders absolutely loved it. In the saddle for ‘I get knocked down’ and out of the saddle ‘but I get up again’ I explained and then let the music guide the jumps it was great.

    1. Cynthia Reply

      Thanks Liz! I got the app and now have to find the time to play with it. I am glad you like the blog.

      1. Southern Girl on a Mission Reply

        I’ve reviewed both the Class Builder and MyFitnessDJ apps for an iPad mini. Any experience with the latter? I’m trying to decide which is most user friendly, no bugs and best tech support.

        1. Cynthia Reply

          I don’t have any experience with either but the developer of MyFitnessDJ emailed me (he’s a cyclist too) and I am hoping to experiment when my teaching term ends this spring. Anyone else?

    2. Kathy petersen Reply

      What is the name of this app??

  8. Judy Reply

    Can anyone recommend some 4 minute tunes for Tabata drills?

    1. fatalysis Reply

      The Rockafeller Skank by Fatboy Slim

    2. iann22 Reply

      Showtek & Justin Prime – Cannonball (Hardwell edit)

      1. Cynthia Reply

        A great tune Iann – thanks! I wasn’t able to find it on iTunes but listened on Youtube. (Note that there’s a bleeped m*fo in this one for those who teach at gyms that frown on explicit language.)

    3. Frank Reply

      Hey Judy,

      I have ended some of my classes with a song by: The Jim Carrol Band called “People Who Died”. This is a great Tabata type song. With 15 seconds on and 15 seconds off with the exception of three of them which are 30 seconds on.

      1. Cynthia Reply

        Nice driving beat – thanks Frank!

  9. ellen Reply

    Hey fellow spin instructors, So I got certified about 4 months ago. Couldn’t get a single class not even a demo. Finally offered to do a 930pm sat nite class which took off. From that I got a sub position at two other gyms. All in all I have taught in 3 different gyms but only about 8 classes. Now in order to try find something permanent they are all asking for resumes….What do i write. I have one certification and one class and a few subbing how do I put that down without it being only one paragraph?? Any suggestions on how to be creative appreciated especially from fitness directors who see these resumes daily

    1. Cynthia Reply

      Hey Ellen, Did you post on Facebook as well? I think I recall seeing your post and some good advice. I would keep it simple, one or two pages. Indicate you are a newly certified instructor starting out. They’ll want to know which certification you have and where you’ve taught. You don’t have to say it’s only 8 classes, just say you were certified on X date and have taught (or are teaching (or subbing) at) gym A, B, C – more impressive if you have a current relationship. Tell them you’re looking for one (or more) steady weekly classes. If you have other group exercise certifications that is relevant and if you’ve been a group exerciser for years, that’s relevant too, as is any outdoor athletic experience, especially competitive. If your education has anything to do with physical activity or health, that’s relevant – if you have a college diploma or degree, mention that. If your job (or job history) includes transferable skills (motivating a team? public presentations?) mention those.

      If they are unsure about you being new, offer to demo a class and bring your A game. Most of the time, new instructors sub for quite a while before getting a class of their own. One way to get a class is to be willing to teach at a time when it is harder to get instructors (early AM, during the work day, Friday after work, sometimes weekends…depends on the gym) Find out when the gym needs folks and see if you can meet their need.

      Drop by again soon and tell us how it is going for you. Good luck!

  10. Jess Reply

    Hi, I was wondering does anyone have any suggestions on a HIIT Spinning class?

    1. Cynthia Reply

      Hi Jess, I am working on one now. Leaning toward longer McMaster University intervals than shorter Tabata ones. There was a great graphic posted on a cycling Facebook page I belong to and I can’t find it anymore. Readers, has anyone done a HIIT class you can share with us? I understand the basics – one of the things I am still mulling over is how to cue and motivate the class so that they will truly work hard enough to get the benefit; the second is how to incorporate HIIT (which is necessarily short) into cycling classes lasting 45-60 minutes without the rest feeling superfluous.

  11. Angie Reply

    How do you know when to tell your class to add resistance?

    1. Cynthia Reply

      Hi Angie, it depends on your goal. The two ways your riders will increase their effort are with cadence and resistance, so you can play with the combination to get them to the level of exertion you are looking for. I let the music guide me, but I also choose the music with my overall profile in mind. For a fast best, you might get them to increase cadence rather than resistance for a seated flat; if the music slows, increased resistance will produce similar effort (and a hill climb). I wear a heart rate monitor, so while I can’t generalize my results to other riders, I can keep an eye on whether things are playing out as I’ve planned by watching how my own heart rate responds during a ride.

      I harp on always riding with some resistance on the bike, and never adding so much resistance that cadence goes below 60 RPMs. The way I put it with my class is that I will never ask them to ride slower than the music. They should always be able to ride with the music (since I’ve chosen it specifically for that purpose.) I cue resistance increases prior to sprinting or climbing (to avoid bouncing) and often cue increases during a climb, either tiered (e.g. increase every 60 seconds) or what I call rolling hills (where the resistance is tweaked up three or four times, then down again while the cadence stays the same. For these, I wing it, giving approximately 20-60 second intervals at each resistance level). Hope this helps!

  12. ellen Reply

    Hi Cynthia,
    Can you give me a good suggestion for something other than sprints for Beyonce’s All the single women. The last chorus is quite long so it might be too long for sprints wasn’t sure if single count jumps might work or presses then riding it out for the chorus. It’s one of my favorites and trying to work it into a playlist. Thanks for all the amazing good advice as usual. Your site rocks. Ellen

    1. Cynthia Reply

      Hi Ellen, thanks for the kind words. I would do jumps for this song – 4 count and 2 count. The beat is a bit complicated – I’d go with 2 count for the complicated bits. It could also work as a seated climb or climb/jump combo.

  13. Kelly Reply

    We’ve got a few football players in our house and have found that Sportzyme from Norwex (organic products) works really well for smelly shoes.

    1. Judy Reply

      Thanks—is it sold in the US? Having a hard time locating the product.

      1. Kelly Reply

        Hi. It looks like it is sold all over the world, according to their website,

  14. ellen Reply

    Hi Cynthia, I wanted yours (and others) advice on my first 15 minute practical in my Cycle training class. Heres what I was thinking as I am following someone who is doing a warmup and then a 10 min spin.
    Starting off with:
    1. Will I. Am-Scream and Shout (4:44)
    Starting in first out to third for eight back to first for eight.
    2. Disturbia-Rihanna (3:49)
    Triple jumps
    3. Babel-m=Mumford and Sons (3:28)
    Slow climb in saddle
    4. Amnesia (Radio Edit) – Ian Carey and Rosetta(3:08)-
    Out of saddle in third and sprints in first, second, third for chorus.

    ANY SUGGESTIONS would be completely appreciated. There will be two people after me for 15 mins each. Wish me luck. Ellen

  15. Shannon Reply

    Hi Cynthia – great site. A fellow spin instructor at my club told me about. There are a few exercises you or others reference on the site that I am not familiar with, can you explain? They are: tempo runs or drills, surge and squats.

    Also, what do you typically include in the cool-down? Do you remain seated and slowly take off the resistence and slow the legs down before getting off the bike and stretching? This is what I am doing now but curious how long you remain on the bike (whole cool down song ..) Big thanks for your help!

    1. Cynthia Reply

      Hi Shannon, I coach tempo as a seated flat at a steady cadence. Surges are not-quite-sprints, fast seated flats done at about 80% max capacity. Squats on the bike are not part of any certification that I know of – they’re very hard on the knees and should be avoided. As for the cool down, I usually use two songs, one where we are mostly on the bike, though we often dismount before the end, and a second for stretching. If I am running behind, I will compress them a bit.

  16. Jonny Reply

    Hiya guys, i take it you also use your I Phone/I pod for your music playlists etc.

    Is it me but am i the only one that finds it hard to read the time the song has been on and how much it has left on the top left/right of your screen?? obviously its handy knowing timing etc.

    My question is does anyone know if you can make those numbers any bigger or are there better devices you can use?

    1. Kelly Reply

      You’re right, those numbers are small! I use an elastic band and attach my iPhone to the handlebar (I use an extended cord to the sound system). It works really well for me, but it doesn’t really help you solve your challenge! Sorry!

    2. Jeroen Klinge (@jeroenklinge) Reply

      Hi, I had that problem also. I’ve found a app named BPTPro. You can load your playlist and after that you wil see numbers bigger and counting back. I’m still looking for a app to make my spinningClass on my iPhone.

      Good luck

      1. Cynthia Reply

        Cool! How can you go wrong for 99 cents? Thanks Jeroen.

      2. Miranda Reply

        I build all my classes on my phone using the Class Builder app. I believe it was around $20, but well worth the purchase!

      3. BAR Reply

        I’m going to try that on my itouch. I use the itouch exclusively for all my aerobic classes. Quick question…can you drop your “comments” for the ride into the application like you do on the “lyrics” of the playlists?

  17. Jonny Reply

    Oh and Merry Christmas to all my fellow spinners from the Rock of Gibraltar :)

    1. Cynthia Reply

      Happy holidays Jonny! Great to hear from you again.

  18. Jonny Reply

    Hi Guys,

    Any good ideas for an Xmas workout using xmas songs? have had a look at some but wondering if anyone has done anything in the past :)

    1. Cynthia Reply

      Check out my latest post here for lots of holiday ideas:

  19. Emily (UK) Reply

    This is a great site!! Picked up loads of tune tips on here. Thanks

  20. Brenda Thosath Reply

    I love how energized and competitive my class gets when I have a “race” song and alternate two teams, and randomly pick a team that “wins” but do other folks have other “race” ideas?

    1. Cynthia Reply

      Hi Brenda,

      I am also interested in incorporating race themes into my rides. Readers, bring it on!
      A few of the things I have done are:
      – I have three rows of bikes in my class so I sometimes use three teams instead of two and go 20/20/20 seconds so they get 20 on 40 off.
      – I’ve done a pace line where one rider sprints all out at the head of the pack and the others ride tempo (not recovery – about 70-75% effort) to simulate drafting. The sprinting rider waves a hand when s/he fatigues and the next rider has to take over with a sprint, and so on for the song, so everyone gets a chance to sprint at the lead. These are full-out anaerobic sprints so no more than 15-30 seconds each. I use an extended mix so everyone gets a chance to sprint. This works especially well if you happen to have a smaller class that day (say, under 10 riders).
      – I sometimes sneak in extra sprinting time. For instance P!nk’s Blow Me (One Last Kiss) has sprints of 33/33/1:07 and I tell them they are 30/30/60 seconds then afterwards confess that I got an additional 13 seconds of sprinting out of the class.
      – I will also sometimes get to the end of a sprint interval and – where the music supports it – say, “Who’s got a little more?” and then count extra seconds: 10, 20, 30 of sprinting and riders can drop out and recover whenever they need to. It’s a nice way of showing riders that even if they think they gave everything, there is often just a little more in the tank.
      – I have also used visualization of a race where riders attack and overtake (imaginary) opponents.

      1. Brenda T Reply

        Thank you!!

    2. Helga Camilla Reply

      Thank you all for the advises her on this page. I just started to teatch spinning classes in my gym and you guys have helped me alot !!
      Greetings from Iceland

  21. Kelly Reply

    Greetings from Calgary! Such a quick and complete response – thank you so much. I love trance and these DJs. I didn’t even think to research these for my class. I’m looking forward to listening to your trance-inspired profile. I’m a new instructor and finding this website has been invaluable already.

    1. Cynthia Reply

      Hey, no worries. I enjoy trance classes because I find I am able to connect with the ride better when the music doesn’t include vocals, but I don’t do many of them myself because I find them harder to cue.

    2. Kelly Reply

      Another question: do you have your i-Phone/i-Pod in hand when you are doing your drills for the timing or do you intuitively know when the changes are coming from what you’ve written in your notes?

      1. jennbrac4 Reply

        Not sure if this helps, but I have my i-pod so I can see it, ( I like to tell my class how much time is left to a certain hill sometimes) but my jumps and drills usually go with the beat of the song/or chorus….

        1. Cynthia Reply

          I do this too, Jen. Most songs I know what I have planned based on the music so I don’t need to check the exact time but sometimes there’s a break at a particular point or for a song I don’t know that well, or that doesn’t follow standard pop conventions (like trance) I need the cues I’ve jotted down to make the music and the ride fit together.

      2. Cynthia Reply

        Hi Kelly, I put my iPhone on the handlebars (which I am sure results in some very unflattering lighting) but it is easy to check timing and control volume. I have a great silicone case so it seems to sit there and I’ve only had it fall off a couple of times, with no damage because the case is quite protective. I have actually seen Groupons for devices that attach an iPhone to handlebars but I couldn’t tell if they’d be easy to snap on/off each time or if they required permanent installation. I also wear a heart rate monitor but I find it easier to time with the iPhone.

        I also have a plastic covered notebook where I jot notes (one page for each class) and I put that on top of the stereo and occasionally glance at it, but I try to do it as unobtrusively as possible.

      3. Cynthia Reply

        Kelly, I have a 8.5″ x 11″ notebook with a plastic cover and I write notes for my rides on a single page in three columns: song title and artist down the left column, duration of song, type of drill and notes (sometimes motivational cues, sometimes just ‘sprints 30/30/30 at 0:30 – 1:00, 1:30 – 2:00, 2:30 – 3:00’). When I teach a class I rest my iPhone on the centre of the handlebars (it has a silicone case so it hardly ever slips off) and I can easily use how far we are into a song to see what’s coming. Sometimes it’s obvious (e.g. sprints during each chorus) but other times the cueing is more complex – particularly with trance/house music). I have also taught classes where there is a small wall clock propped up on the floor at the front row of bikes for the instructor to use for timing.

  22. Kelly Reply

    Hello. I’m looking for some good songs to start my cycle class with — ones to build the excitement and anticipation. I’m specifically looking for songs with no vocals. I have one favourite — Mission Impossible (Ultimate Movie Themes Knightsbridge). Any suggestions?

    1. Cynthia Reply

      Hi Kelly, Good one! Some of the instrumental tracks I like best are: Levels by Avicii, Glasgow by David Guetta (there are several Guetta instrumentals on his latest CD), Dread Rock by Oakenfold (also a soundtrack song, from The Matrix), Mighty Love and Niton (The Reason) by Eric Prydz, Adrenaline by Liquid Soul, Clubbed to Death by Rob Dougan, Christmas / Sarajevo by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (riffs on God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen so only really works around the holidays). I would also check out DJ Armin Van Buuren and trance music as there are lots of instrumental picks. Van Buuren’s top hits have vocals, but lots of his work doesn’t. Here is a link to my laste (mostly) trance ride:

    2. iann22 Reply

      A couple of suggestions:
      Exceeder (fanfare mix) – Mas
      On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – Propellerheads
      Soul Grabber Part 3 – Paul Jacobs
      Kinetic – Golden Girls.

      1. Cynthia Reply

        Thanks Iann! I especially like Soul Grabber Part 3 because of the funky nod to R&B.

  23. jennbrac4 Reply

    I teach at two gyms..My one gym loves my music, its a mix of everything…hard rock, new rock….the other gym, he keeps telling me what I can and can’t use…what his vibe is at his gym….its a new gym not many members, the people who take my class love what I play…He wants me to change my list, he has told me no Prince, Led Zepplen, no hard rock….I feel I have to play what moves me and the people taking my class, he feels I should change to what he wants……thoughts.

    1. Cynthia Reply

      Hi Jenn,

      There’s an old saying: “The boss ain’t always right, but the boss is always the boss.” It sounds like you’ve already expressed your concerns, but if you haven’t that’s the first thing I’d suggest. Most gym goers don’t care about the music (I know – blasphemy), but a significant percentage do choose their classes based on music preference, so even at a gym where most instructors play Top 40, you can carve out a very successful niche by developing a signature style that’s different. Try exploring his reasons – what is he actually concerned about? You’re both after the same thing: packed classes, so there should be some common ground there. You could also invite him to one of your classes to see how much the participants like the music you play. But if you do explore it with him and he won’t budge, you have two choices: change to the type of music he wants, or start looking for another gym to teach at.

      1. jennbrac4 Reply

        Good advice, I will say everyone leaves loving my music and keep coming back because of it…but I did add some newer songs in my ride…I love your new October set. I have used I Cry by Flo Rida and it is awesome…For people looking for an oldie, I have ended my rides with Miami 2017 by Billy Joel and it got a huge round of applause…try it, worth the end of the ride…..

  24. Sue Reply

    I’ve moved to a city in Europe where Spinning classes are only at very expensive gyms. I have a found a great gym that has spinning bikes, but no classes. Can anyone recommend any CDs or website where an instructor is dubbed over the music (that is not just a playlist)? If not, how can someone with a bad sense of rhythm take advantage of playlists?

    1. iann22 Reply

      1. Cynthia Reply

        Thanks Iann – this looks like just what Sue was looking for and he’s got the Spinning Music stamp of approval for only using legal music. And all free, including his podcast. This is a great link, folks.

    2. Cynthia Reply

      Hey Sue,
      I remember backpacking through Europe after university and there were some cities where the only place I could afford a coffee was McDonalds! Does your gym have a whole classroom full of bikes, or just a few on the cardio floor? If they have a room set aside, my first inclination was to suggest that you get certified and become their first instructor!

      I don’t know of anyone dubbing cues over a playlist. Hmm, could be a market there folks…

      If you’re thinking of riding on your own with headphones you could look at The Sufferfest ( for rides with music and written cues over gorgeous scenery and real race footage. The site includes a 5 minute sample and the rides are $12.99 each advertised with a 100% moneyback guarantee.

      A free option is to choose a playlist from this blog or another cycling blog and simply print the instructions. Put together the playlist and bring the instructions into the gym with you. Stick them on the handlebars (you can use a plastic-covered binder insert to keep them dry and stiff, and a bit of stick-tac (that silly putty like material that sticks things to walls) to keep it on the bike.) Then just hit play and follow the written cues.

      Outdoor cyclists do much simpler workouts than I use. Check out Workouts in a Binder for Indoor Cycling by Dirk Friel. $20 on Amazon. He gives you the workout (on plasticized pages no less), you add the music. Any strong music suitable for cardio would work fine.

      Does anyone else have ideas for Sue?

    3. gr8tfulmMarianne Albretsen Reply

      sue, if you go to i-tunes, you can download the cd by rachel Buschert Vazirelli (Rachel Buschert i believe is what its under, as she got married) she is a Schwinn Master Instructor and a great contributor on Facebook under Indoor cycling Instructor and my site, Former cycling Pingers. We welcome everyone to join for ride profiles and music. But rachel will talk you through a great ride and has awesome cueing for any instructor out there.

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