Finding the best exercise bike can be a little tricky at times, especially when you take the various price points, seating positions, and resistances into account between models.
For instance, spin bikes are some of the most popular cardio machines on the market, but we believe some of the best recumbent and air bikes are also worth considering, both of which come with their own distinct advantages for different fitness goals.
A recumbent machine, for example, provides a low-impact form of exercise, while air bikes up the intensity to give you a full-body cardio workout, thus making them one of the best exercise machines for weight loss around.
As a result, we've put together a list of our top picks based on price, reviews, and standout features to help you find the perfect cardio machine for your home or garage gym.
In addition to some of the best spin bikes on the market, like this NordicTrack Commercial S27i, we've also featured some relatively inexpensive options, like this Exerpeutic Upright Bike, to ensure all bases and budgets are covered.
We've also answered some of the most commonly asked questions to help you make an informed decision about which is right for you and your home setup. Before that though, let's get into the best exercise bikes right here...
Best Exercise Bike
- NordicTrack Commercial S27i
- Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B1203
- Exerpeutic Upright Exercise Bike
- Echelon Smart Connect EX-15
- Schwinn Fitness 270
Best exercise bike for home gyms - NordicTrack Commercial S27i
This NordicTrack S27i puts in a strong case to be considered one of the most well-rounded machines on the market as it comes packed with technology to help you complete challenging workouts every time you step onto it.
For instance, it comes with an inertia-enhanced flywheel plus a 27” rotating and tilting HD display that allows you to stream iFit spin classes, helping to keep your motivations high as you push yourself to achieve your fitness goals.
With -10 to 20% live incline matching technology and 24 digital resistance levels, this bike is similar in many respects to some of best treadmills as each level allows you to continue your fitness progression and vary your workouts.
Ultimately, if you're looking for a gym-standard machine for your home setup, then this spin bike might be your answer.
Best budget exercise bike - Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B1203
Its 45lbs flywheel should provide the resistance you need for a killer cardio session when you're trying to replicate uphill terrain.
Furthermore, the machine can be adjusted in four different ways, has a bottle holder, and features wheels that allow you to move it from one place to another with ease.
All in all, this budget spin bike ticks more than a few boxes in our books, especially for the price tag.
Best foldable exercise bike - Exerpeutic Upright Exercise Bike
We like this piece of kit because it has a strong build capable of handling up to 300lbs, an affordable price tag, and, according to Exerpeutic, an ultra-quiet ride with its magnetic drive system.
The magnetic system also comes with 8 resistance levels, so you can up the difficulty with ease to keep progressing towards your fitness goals.
However, perhaps this bike's standout feature is that it's foldable, so should be a great option to consider if you're looking to save space in your home gym.
Best indoor exercise bike - Echelon Smart Connect EX-15
For tackling tough spin classes or relaxing indoor rides, this Echelon bit of kit looks to be a great mid-range option to consider.
With 32 levels of adjustable resistance, you can tailor your workout exactly to your needs and, according to Echelon, each level is silent, which is ideal if you live in close proximity to neighbours.
If you opt for an Echelon membership as well, you gain access to live, on-demand classes led by world-class instructors which are designed to take your training to the next level.
Best recumbent exercise bike - Schwinn Fitness 270
Continuing with Schwinn, this laid-back exercise bike appears to be a particularly well-rounded recumbent machine that should offer you a great way of strengthening your legs without putting as much strain on your joints.
We particularly like that it comes with 50+ global routes. Not only that, but the bike will auto-adjust in real time to your speed, allowing you to vary your workouts each time.
Furthermore, there are 25 levels of resistance, but if you're not sure how to continue your progress, the LCD screen provides 29 workout programs for you to choose from.
All in all, we feel the Schwinn 270 is well worth considering if you're looking to upgrade your home gym.
Best air exercise bike - Schwinn Fitness AD Pro Airdyne
It comes with a 26-blade fan, designed to offer you greater levels of resistance to ensure your workouts remain challenging, particularly with the handlebars working your upper body at the same time.
Moreover, you get a console display that includes a tachometer to visually signal how hard you're exercising, which can add a little extra motivation to help you achieve your fitness goals.
On the whole, we feel the fan-driven Schwinn is well worth considering if you're after a well-rounded air bike packed with tech.
Best exercise bike for spin classes - Peloton Bike+
The Peloton Bike+ looks to be well worth considering as it offers you the opportunity to take a high-intensity session from the comfort of your own home.
This particular machine differs from the standard bike as it comes with an “Auto-Follow” system which scales the resistance based on your set target metrics, and adapts to what the Peloton instructor is telling you to do.
Moreover, the bike boasts a large rotating HD screen which is ideal for switching between bike and floor-based workouts, and more optimised audio compared to the regular bike.
Another appealing element to the Peloton Bike+ is its motivational aspect, as Live Rides along with monthly challenges and milestone badges should push you to achieve above and beyond your fitness targets.
This bike is certainly a premium choice, and even comes with the additional All-Access Membership, but if you're serious about your fitness and want to invest in one of the best, then we believe it's worth checking out.
Frequently Asked Questions About Stationary Bikes
People often have a tonne of questions about stationary bikes, but we're here to clear up a few common queries to help you make your purchase.
What should you look for when buying an exercise bike?
We believe there are three main things to keep your eye on when buying an exercise bike:
- Type - As mentioned above, exercise bikes can come in many forms including spin, recumbent, and air-driven. Therefore, it's important to determine which is right for you and your needs before making a purchase.
- Resistance - Make sure you pick up an indoor bike with enough resistance levels to keep your workouts challenging whilst offering plenty of room for progress.
- Metrics - Some exercise bikes come with monitors which can track workout metrics like your heart rate, calories burned, and distance. If this is something you deem necessary, make sure you find a machine that comes with the right tech.
Can an exercise bike help you build muscle?
Regularly riding a stationary bike can help build your lower body and leg strength as well as improve your cardiovascular fitness, especially if you use a higher resistance.
More specifically, the pedaling motion is great for targetting your calves, hamstrings, and quads, making exercise bikes the optimal machines for lower body sessions.
Is an exercise bike worth it?
Havard Health Publishing recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, something we feel an exercise bike can easily provide and, therefore, makes owning one worth it
However, your fitness goals and whether you enjoy cycling as a form of cardio will determine whether an exercise bike is worth it for you.
That said, exercise bikes are a good place for beginners to start their fitness journey and for more advanced riders to perform more intense routines, in our opinion.
If you look at some of the more premium bikes as well, you may find you gain access to a wide variety of challenging workouts away from cycling to keep your motivation high and push you past your comfort zone.
Should you use an exercise bike every day?
While you may be fine using an exercise bike every day, we'd recommend including some rest days and a few days focusing on your upper body to counteract any imbalance caused by just cycling.
Giving yourself adequate time to rest during the week will help your legs recover and rebuild which, in turn, will help maxmise your performance whilst also reducing the risk of injury.
This is supported by the American Council on Exercise which states that not allowing your body to rest can cause a depletion of glycogen in the muscles.
This depletion can then trigger your body to use proteins for energy, meaning there is less protein available to assist muscular repair and growth.
Can you lose weight using an exercise bike?
Exercise bikes can be very effective if you're looking to use weight as they offer a low-impact alternative to other cardio-based workouts, such as running.
In fact, you'll burn around twice as many calories on an exercise bike compared to a brisk walk, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Havard Health Publishing goes on to state that a 155-pound person who cycles vigorously for 30 minutes on a stationary bike burns an estimated 391 calories.
This is supported by a systematic review by Chavarrias et al.. The study found a combination of indoor cycling and diet is effective for improving your lipid profile, losing weight, and reducing blood pressure.
Exercise is just one piece of the puzzle though, as you need to team it up with the right diet, sleep, and stress management, plus a regular and consistent training regime tailored towards your weight loss goals.
That being said, what we like about exercise bikes, in particular, is that they're extremely accessible and easy to use, meaning almost anyone can jump on and start cycling right away.
Recumbent bikes especially are a great way to introduce exercise into your life, without having to get used to the often uncomfortable feeling of a bike seat.
How long should you ride an exercise bike for?
This ultimately comes down to how often you plan to exercise using an indoor bike, and will vary depending on your fitness level.
According to Livestrong, aiming for at least 30 minutes on an exercise bike between 3-5 days a week is a good rule of thumb to follow.
However, it's important to keep challenging and progressing your workouts as your cardiovascular fitness improves.
While it's recommended you aim for 30 minutes, this doesn't necessarily mean it has to be one continuous ride.
For instance, you may choose to complete a 30-minute spin class that will incorporate periods of fast-paced riding with rest intervals which, in turn, should burn calories and improve your aerobic fitness in an extremely time-efficient way.
What do the different types of resistance mean?
Indoor bikes often use one of three resistance methods to create tension whilst you pedal. These include fan, mechanical, and magnetic resistance.
The fan creates resistance as it moves through the air, with the tension increasing as you pedal faster.
Mechanical resistance provides tension via a belt wrapped around a flywheel. With most flywheel bikes, you can adjust the tension via a knob that applies more pressure onto the strap, thus creating more resistance.
A magnetic resistance system also utilises a flywheel, however, instead of direct contact, the flywheel interferes with the magnetic field between the two magnets.
The resulting attraction of the flywheel brings about resistance, but the magnets do not come into contact with the flywheel.
The magnetic system is perhaps the most popular mechanism available right now, with many bikes choosing it over the aforementioned resistances. Whether it's the best for you though will come down to personal preference.
What does the flywheel on an exercise bike do?
As touched on above, a flywheel is a weighted disc that sits either at the front or the back of your stationary machine.
Because the flywheel is connected to the pedals, once you start cycling, the flywheel begins to spin.
Although flywheels come in a range of weights, it's important to keep in mind that a heavier flywheel doesn't result in increased resistance.
Instead, it works in tandem with some sort of resistance system, whether that's magnetic or mechanical, which we've gone into more detail about above.
A heavy flywheel is actually designed to build and maintain momentum to help you maintain your speed whilst cycling.
Can you adjust the seat and handlebars on an exercise bike?
It's important to get the setup correct in order for you to perform to the best of your ability and avoid injury on your exercise bike. As a result, most stationary machines allow you to adjust the seating position and handlebars.
Firstly, we'd recommend adjusting the saddle height roughly to around your hip bone when standing next to your machine.
To double-check this is right for you, place your heels on the pedals and extend one foot to the bottom of your stroke. If you have a very slight bend in your knee with the heel on the pedal, you're in the correct position.
You should then move the saddle either forward or backward to ensure your knees are slightly above the centre of your foot, but make sure they don't extend past the middle of your shoelaces.
We'd then suggest adjusting the height and distance of your handlebars until they're around a forearms length away from the start of your saddle. This should ensure a comfortable ride for both upright and spin sessions.
How accurate is an exercise bike?
No cardio machine is 100% accurate at counting your calories.
VeryWellFit estimates that cardio machines overestimate your calories burnt by 15-20% as they can't account for all the influencing factors.
Having said that, it's important to keep in mind an exercise bike tracks only the calories burned during the workout, not those you would burn otherwise, so you may be using more calories than you may realise.
Should you clean an exercise bike?
Cleaning your exercise bike should be a habitual routine as riding one can cause sweat, fingerprints, and bacteria to build up, whilst not riding your bike can leave it to collect dust.
We'd recommend wiping down your bike after every use to remove the sweat. You can either do this with neutral wipes or a non-abrasive spray and a cloth.
We'd also advise cleaning the screen (if your bike has one) with a dry microfibre cloth to get rid of any fingerprints and marks which can hinder your viewing and workout experience.
For longer-term maintenance, we'd suggest lubricating some of the moving parts occasionally to ensure they continue to move smoothly, without resistance.
Should you warm up before using an exercise bike?
As with all forms of exercise, you should warm up before using an exercise bike in order to prime your nervous system and muscles for exercise.
This should minimise the risk of injury as you're preparing your body and muscles for the increased strain that you're about to place on them.
Moreover, warming up gives your body a chance to increase blood flow and temperature so you're not going into your workout cold.
Also, with an increase in heart rate, you should get more oxygen to your muscles prior to cycling so you're ready to work out to the best of your ability.
However, it's important to warm up gradually and not overexert yourself too early. If you do, you may find yourself fatiguing earlier than anticipated during your cycling session.
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