Daily exercise is an essential part of healthy living. For many people, riding an exercise bike can be a fun and approachable way to fit working out into a daily routine. From doing cycling classes, to recovering in physical therapy, to training for upcoming races––there are lots of ways to use an exercise bike. However, the popularity of this machine also means that there is an overwhelming amount of bike options to choose from. So, to lighten the stress and the required research that goes into finding the best exercise bike, we’ve compiled a comprehensive exercise bike buying guide to help you find the best option for you.
Finding The Best Exercise Bike For Your Home
Everyone has different needs when selecting personal exercise equipment. For example, a busy parent may want an exercise bike with an easy-to-navigate and quick workout program to take out the guesswork of coming up with their own workout, and provide a challenging and entertaining session. Perhaps even a bike with Bluetooth® capability to avoid distractions at any time of the day.
An older rider may prefer the position of a recumbent exercise bike, which offers more comfort with a laid-back reclining position and the user’s weight is distributed comfortably over a larger area.
A competitive racer may require an exercise bike with more advanced features like an impressive incline range to help improve their cycling performance.
In other words, finding the right exercise bike isn’t as simple as choosing the most popular one on the market. Instead, you need to analyze your personal requirements and preferred features, then find the best option that suits you. Fortunately, Exercisebike.com is here to help.
The Basics Of Exercise Bikes
From the bike with all the bells and whistles (and the price tag to match), to the most budget-friendly basic option, all models have a few common features. These include the saddle, pedals, resistance mechanisms, and display.
- Saddle: Every exercise bike has somewhere to sit. Some models have a narrow saddle that is very similar to one on a racing bike. Others have a wider seat that provides more support. The latter is especially common on recumbent exercise bikes and more casual models.
- Pedals: Naturally, the majority of bikes have either bare pedals or ones with loops to hold your feet in place. Some pedals are almost the size of your feet whereas others are more similar to a regular bicycle’s pedals. Certain performance exercise bikes have clip-in pedals that require cycling shoes.
- Resistance Mechanism: All exercise bikes have a mechanism for providing resistance to the pedals. For most bikes, this is adjustable. The following are a few common mechanism types:
– Strap Flywheel: Many bikes have a weight disc mounted at the front of the bike. Its spinning creates a feeling of resistance, as well as a pleasant, smooth riding experience. On some bikes, straps provide resistance for the flywheel. This tends to only be the case for lower-end models.
– Friction Flywheel: Other bikes share a similar design but have a friction mechanism to create resistance for the flywheel. By mechanically slowing the flywheel, the bike can offer different resistance levels.
– Electromagnetic: Many more expensive bikes use an electromagnetic system rather than a weighted flywheel. This is more adjustable and much smaller. They may have a small flywheel or a different system. By moving the electromagnets, the resistance can be adjusted.
– Display: Nearly all exercise bikes have some sort of status display. On some, this may be a set of LEDs that illuminate to show that the bike is on and the current settings. The latest high-end exercise bikes typically have large HD touchscreens. Most exercise bikes have an option somewhere within these two models, though some bikes, especially older models, have no display at all, which will also reflect in its price.
Benefits Of Using An Exercise Bike
There is a lot to love about riding an exercise bike. You don’t need the best exercise bike in the world to enjoy the health benefit. For most people, the primary advantage is that an exercise bike offers a great way to get regular physical exercise. Participating in physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day is associated with substantial health benefits.
Riding an exercise bike can also help a user achieve weight loss. In fact, a 2010 study found participants that did indoor cycling, combined with a low-calorie diet, achieved a reduction of body weight and fat over the span of 12 weeks.
Not to mention, the physical activity of working out on an exercise bike can strengthen muscles. The main muscles targeted by riding an exercise bike are the quadriceps and hamstrings in the upper leg, and the gastrocnemius and soleus in the calf. Riding an exercise bike is a relatively low-impact way to work on these muscles, making it a great option for people whose joints can’t handle running or other athletics.
Finally, some people use exercise bikes to improve their road bike riding. If you want to improve your times, being able to get in a convenient workout while indoors and avoiding all the distractions and bystanders that are presented outdoors can be very helpful.
Things To Consider Before Buying An Exercise Bike
Finding the right exercise bike starts with understanding what you need. Factors you need to consider include features, updates, warranty, budget, and your personal fitness goals. Once you know what you are looking for, you can examine top brands and exercise bike reviews to find the ideal model for you.
The main differentiator between the best exercise bikes on the market and more entry-level options is the feature set. The following are some of the most noteworthy features to look for:
- Display Type: Some bikes have basic LED screens and others have larger HD touchscreens. You likely want to find a bike that can at least display your workout information, such as time, speed, RPM, resistance levels, and calories burned. If you want something a little fancier, consider getting a bike with an HD touchscreen with workouts and other bells and whistles. These additional features may not only help you keep a closer eye on your activity and calorie burn, but they also increase its entertainment value that can increase the length of your workouts without forcing it.
- Pre-Programmed Workouts: A lot of people like using particular exercise bikes for the built-in workout options. In some cases, these even include instruction for exercises with weights or stretching. Modern high-end bikes have instructors on-screen simulating a cycle class. You may also want to find a bike that lets you program your own workout routines.
- Heart Rate Monitor*: Getting your heart rate up is an important part of exercising. Having a built-in monitor helps to ensure that you are getting the workout you want. You can also always buy a standalone monitor as well.
- Resistance and Incline: Different bikes have a variety of mechanisms for managing resistance. Some even have incline settings. Typically, those with electromagnetic systems have good adjustability. However, some people may prefer friction-based flywheels; it just depends on your personal preference.
If your exercise bike includes software, consider looking at the manufacturer’s update procedure. Look for exercise bikes that have regular software updates conducted and how they do it. These software updates are completed to ensure your bike continues to perform the way it should.
The difference between the best exercise bike for you and the runner-up may be that the bike you choose continues to work properly with new workout content on a regular basis. This can keep your exercise at home fresh and fun!
Again, make sure to check the update process. If you need to run complicated software yourself, it may not be ideal. Some bikes can connect to Wi-Fi® and receive over-the-air updates automatically without you having to do anything.
Make sure to review the bike’s warranty when making your selection. Having a warranty could change the answer to “should I buy an exercise bike?” from a no to a yes.
Many exercise bike warranties are divided between the frame, parts, labor, and electronics. Typically, the frame is the longest warranty with some brands offering other protection, including additional packages that prolong warranties. If you are nervous about the cost of maintenance, make sure to pick a bike with a good warranty program. Also be sure to read the warranty closely as there may be specific terms stated that may void the warranty altogether given your choice of bike placement in or outside your home.
As with all purchases, buying an exercise bike needs to be based upon your budget. The best exercise bikes are often priced at several thousand dollars, but entry-level bikes can be found for a few hundred dollars new. Think about what you can afford to buy and how much value you expect to get from your bike. Remember, you could be saving a big chunk of money when investing in an exercise bike at home when compared to attending regular cycle classes or gym memberships that surely add up throughout the year.
Your Workout Goals
Finally, remember your workout goals. Are you trying to get in daily activity, get toned, prepare for a big race, or achieve some other goal? Your intended use is a big part of deciding which bike to buy. Think about where you are in your fitness journey currently and where you would like to be in a few years.
Exercise Bike Types
There are a few different types of exercise bikes to choose from, so we’ll break down each one below. Each type provides different form factors that can have a big impact on your workout experience.
Stationary Exercise Bike
The term “stationary bike” refers both to exercise bikes in general and to a specific type. When contrasted against other types, it refers to the indoor cycles that are most similar to a road bicycle. The saddle is usually small, and the rider must assume a bent-over riding position.
Stationary exercise bikes can vary from basic entry-level models to advanced performance designs intended to help advanced users train. Thanks to the popularity of cycle classes, this type of bike is very common. Several of the most popular exercise bike models are versions of this style with screens. They are ideal for more intense workouts.
Upright Exercise Bike
If you want a slightly more relaxed exercise bike, consider an upright. In this arrangement, the saddle is wider, and the user sits in a more upright position. It is good for people who want to get a good workout without putting as much strain on the back. These also tend to take up a little less floor space than some other designs. If square footage is at a premium in your home, this may be a good choice for you.
Recumbent Exercise Bike
Recumbent exercise bikes feature a chair-like saddle with a backrest. The rider’s feet extend forward to the pedals rather than down. This design puts minimal pressure on the joints and back. It is highly popular in physical therapy and for older users. The riding experience is typically less intense, but it can still offer a solid workout.
Air bikes feature a resistance mechanism with an open flywheel featuring fan blades. It uses air resistance to adjust the intensity. This resistance increases the harder you pedal, making it ideal for very intense workouts. Plus, there are moving handles that offer an upper body workout while riding. This is a popular option for athletes and others looking for major exercise intensity.
Best Exercise Bike Brands And Models
Now that you have a better understanding of the kind of exercise bike features you want and the type of bike that you’ll be most comfortable working out on, it is time to start looking at specific models. It can help to examine exercise bike reviews, including looking at top brands that are well-known and been around the exercise bike manufacturing block:
- NordicTrack: This is one of the top names in the fitness realm. Their Commercial Studio Cycles are viewed as some of the best exercise bikes thanks to their quality engineering and virtual training capability with iFit®. The company also sells recumbent and upright bikes for riders who want a little more comfort.
- ProForm: ProForm offers great quality bikes in different styles. For instance, their Studio Bike Pro exercise bikes with their huge HD touchscreens provide a workout experience unlike any other. ProForm also offers recumbent and upright bikes. It even has a hybrid machine that combines a bike with an elliptical. Not to mention their unbeatable financing program.
- Freemotion: Freemotion offers gym-quality exercise bikes, including recumbent and upright bikes. Their indoor bikes are high-quality and sturdy for regular use. This brand can also be found in gyms.
For many people, owning an exercise bike can be a positive and great experience. Compared to other forms of exercise equipment or paying gym fees, they are relatively affordable. Remember, you don’t have to buy the most high-end exercise bike. If you want something accessible, you can opt for an entry-level model. Simply go off of how you feel, what you want, and the information we’ve provided you. You’ll be well on your way to achieving your fitness goals in no time on the best exercise bike for you.
And check back here on ExerciseBike.com to continue to learn more about new exercise bikes, new features, and for all your bike support.