Best Exercise Bike Buyers Guide


It feels like we are in the middle of a health revolution these days, which I am absolutely thrilled about.  More and more people like us are understanding how living a healthy lifestyle can make every part of our day-to-day existence better.  Since my goal on this site is to make our health journey as easy and clear as possible, I did a ton of research and then put together this simple guide to choosing the Best Exercise Bike for you to use at home.  

There are 5 main details you should consider when buying an Exercise Bike.  

  1. Style of Indoor Bike:  Spin, Recumbent, or Upright

  2. Fit for Your Body Type:  Weight Capacity and Height Adjustability

  3. Dimensions of Bike When in Use

  4. Display Features and Functionality

  5. Warranty

Beyond these 5 key features, which we will talk about in more detail, we will also cover a few more that may vary based on the style of indoor exercise bike you choose.  

Some nice to have features you may want to look for in any style Exercise Bike:

  • Cup Holder
  • Wheels to Move the Bike Easily
  • Pulse Monitor
  • Padded Seat
  • Phone Dock or Bluetooth Connection
  • Programmable Workouts
  • Display Featuring Distance and Calories Burned

Accessories You May Want for Your Exercise Bike

As we mentioned before, you will find a lot of bikes out there with similar options and specifications.  Also, we listed above some nice to have extras that can add value to your bike of choice. Beyond the features on the bike you choose, take a look at some of the extra cool stuff that can improve your home cycling experience.  

  • Floor Mat
  • Extra Seat Padding
  • External Heart Rate Monitor
  • Pedal Blocks
  • 3 Style Options of Indoor Exercise Bikes

    Spin Bike

    These are also known in the industry often as simply “Indoor Bikes”, which can be a bit confusing since the general public would probably use that term in the same general sense that I’m using it here.  

    When we talk about a Spin Bike, you can just imagine the type of bike that you would see in a Spin class at your local gym.

    Spin Bike

    These bikes are designed to feel like a high end road bike.  The angle of your body while riding will be angled more aggressively forward, again to simulate the feeling of being on a road racing bike.  

    They may not have the variety of programmable workouts you would find in other style bikes, but they should allow for a serious cyclist to get a great workout.  

    Some specific features you should look for in a Spin Bike would be:

    • Flywheel Weight – Heavier is Better
    • Seat and Handlebar Adjustability
    • Pedal Style
    • Resistance Level Range

    Recumbent Bike

    These bikes will put you in a somewhat reclined position that is preferred for anyone with a history of back pain. Recumbent Bikes are also often recommended after many types of lower body surgeries.  They are also great if you like to watch TV or read a book while exercising.  

    When my Mom had her knee replaced a few years back, she borrowed a recumbent bike from a friend and used it everyday during her rehab.  She is only 5’1” so these can be a great choice for Short People looking for an Exercise Bike.  

    Home gym exercise bike

    Recumbent style bikes may feel a bit awkward at first if you grew up riding bikes.  Your legs are more in front of you than a traditional bike, but don’t worry, you will get used to it, and may even find that you are getting a better workout since different muscles are used to keep pedaling with this style bike.  

    Common features found in Recumbent Bikes:

    • Programmable Workouts
    • Detailed Display
    • Heart Rate Monitor
    • Wide Range of Seat Adjustability for Various Heights

    Upright Bike

    These may be the most common style of bike, and have been around the longest. Upright Bikes are pretty self descriptive, you are sitting in an upright position just like a normal street bike. 

    Often Upright Bikes have a smaller footprint than the other styles so they may be the best choice for an apartment or small room.  

    Indoor Exercise Bike

    Since these bikes are the probably still the most common type, you will also see the widest range of options, from high end to very budget friendly bikes.  

    Features to look for:

    • Pedal Style and Construction
    • Durability and Weight
    • Foldable Design
    • Adjustable Handlebars and Seat
    • Type of Resistance
    • Battery Powered or AC Adapter
    • Covered Chain for Safety

    Fit For Your Body Type

    Adjustability Features

    As I looked into all the different options out there for Exercise Bikes, I realized that not everyone is going to be able to use every model of bike.  

    Since I’m a pretty large dude (6 feet and about 220 pounds), I always think about whether I will fit on a particular machine, and if it will feel sturdy enough to handle my frame.  

    While on the other end of the spectrum, many short folks (like my 5’1” Mom I mentioned earlier) have trouble getting machines that they can fit in comfortably without feeling like they are over extending constantly.  

    Each style of exercise bike can be found to fit the large and small of us.  Spin Bikes often have the most adjustability, with the seat being able to move up/down and front/back, while also having adjustable handle bars typically.  Upright and Recumbent bikes may have similar adjustability, but be sure to look at the specs of each machine to see if you will fit.

    Dimension of Your Bike

    Size Matters

    For most of us, we have to seriously take into account the size of any cardio machine for a couple of reasons.  If you live in a small apartment, or will be using an extra bedroom as your workout space, you need to know if the machine will eat up too much of your precious square footage.  

    There are a number of folding machines that can be the most space efficient, but there may be a heavy sacrifice in the sturdiness of any machine built to fold up and be stowed away after use.  

    Picture the large sturdy machines at any big commercial gym and you will realize they are made to take daily use from many, many people.  These machines are heavy duty, and definitely made to last.

    Your home workout equipment doesn’t need to be on that level of course, but you will want something that can easily take the amount of work you plan to put into it.  

    Display Features and Functionality

    How Much Tech Do You Want

    Over the last 10 years or so, there has been a movement towards something called the Quantified Self.  These folks were the early adopters of wearable tech like Fitbit, and Garmin watches. They went deep into heart rate variability measurement and have now begun optimizing their sleep by doing things like reducing the blue light emitted from their smart phone before bedtime.  

    Now, if your eyes glazed over as you read that last paragraph, don’t worry.  You don’t need to do any of those things to see a massive improvement in your health.  You can be like my parents generation and barely use tech, or even be like me, and find a lot of tech cool and useful, while shying away from the over the top stuff.  

    What this has to do with your Exercise equipment can be a lot or very little.  I’ve discovered that if you are a high tech fan or a total technophobe you can find a great machine that gives you exactly what your need.

    Some Display Features and Functionality

    • Heart Rate Monitors
    • Calorie Tracking
    • Timed Interval Workouts
    • Google Map Integration
    • Bluetooth Connectivity
    • Built-in TVs

    Warranty

    Check the Fine Print

    Most of the top manufacturers offer extended warranties that will protect you if a mechanical defect were to cause your machine to malfunction.  

    In our reviews, we try to give some insight into the type of warranty you will find with each machine.  There can be variation of warranties even within the same branch, so be sure to check the specific warranty of the machine you want first.  

    Here are some of the Best Exercise Bike Brands when it comes to warranties:

    Additional Info and Tips

    Types of Resistance and Why they Matter

    Direct Contact Resistance uses brake pads that are similar to the pads on a regular road bike.  These use friction from the pad on the flywheel to create the resistance you need for your workout.  Just like your road bike brakes, these pads will need to be replaced over time, and can be a bit noisier than other options.  Generally you will see bikes with Direct Contact Resistance to require manual adjustments as you ride.

    Magnetic Resistance is the newest type of resistance in the industry and offer the most options in your workout, since the resistance can be controlled electronically and works well with programmable workouts like interval training or HIIT training.  

    Air Resistance is made possible by the flywheel effectively being a giant fan.  I think back to my old high school gym whenever I see one of these machines.  They are often used with machines that have Arm and Leg workouts combined. I have to say, it is pretty nice how these machines create a steady flow of air in your face as your workout.  Noise can be an issue with Air Resistance Bikes though.

    Workout Tips

    Partly depending on the type of bike you choose, you can have a number of options for how you want to structure your workout.  Spin Bikes, for example, have relatively limited options since you must manually adjust the resistance level as you ride. While the other two types of bikes will often have programmable workouts that you can choose with the push of a button.  

    For the beginner, or for anyone using a bike to workout post-injury, you may want to start with the most basic option of warm up, steady pace, then cool down.  A lot of the machines you will find with programmable settings will have this as the default workout. You may need to manually control the warm up, but often a cool down kicks in once you complete your set timed workout.    

    If you want to really Get After It with your workouts, give a HIIT workout a try.  HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training.  A HIIT workout is a burst of high intensity, followed by a short recovery.  A common method of HIIT is a Tabata workout, which could be 20 seconds of what is basically a sprint, and then 10 seconds of rest.  That may not sound like a big challenge, but give it a go, and after 5 or so sets like this you will definitely be feeling it.

    A less intense, but still great, type of workout would be a basic interval program.  Most programmable machines will include interval training, that could be something like a minute or two at a high level, followed by another minute or two at about 50-70% pace, then up and down following that same pattern for the duration of your workout.  

    Ben

    Hi there! My name is Ben and I am the creator and editor of this site. I am on my own personal journey towards health and wellness, and want this website to be a place to share the best information possible to help others on their own path to wellness.

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