Exercise bikes (also known as stationary bikes or indoor bikes) can be differentiated based on a couple of things. A good bike bike will typically offer a number of alternative seating, pedaling and handlebar positioning selections . These bikes are ergonomically designed and come with a number of safety features such as foot straps to prevent foot, toe, and ankle injury.
Because of the overall versatility and ability to adjust the difficulty of the cycling session, exercise bikes are becoming popular tools for physical therapists, high-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) enthusiasts, and even soccer moms and dads for daily in-home health and fitness routines. But no one loves them more than cyclists who want to bring their great outdoor experience inside. We reviewed the best options in different price brackets to help you find the right one for you.
|Best low-end||Best middle range||Best high-end|
|Product||Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse Monitor||Sunny Health & Fitness Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike||Sole Fitness SB700 Exercise Bike|
|Our Review||Read our full review||Read our full review||Read our full review|
|Product weight||49 pounds||115 pounds||140 pounds|
|Max user weight||300 lbs||275 lbs||300 lbs|
|Dimensions||31”L x 19”W x 46”H||90"L x 20"W x 44"H||42"L x 21"W x 40"H|
Pre-Purchase Inspection Tips
At home, you will want a bike designed with mobility and storage in mind. Look for the lighter models that are easy to move out of the way for house cleaning and storage. Make sure that the bike you purchase will hold up to your bodyweight and the frequency with which you intend to ride it. Beware of the very cheap models that may not cost as much, but that will be clunky in use and wear out quickly.
Commercial units intended to be used in e.g. gyms are available and if your budget allows, they make a better investment as they typically provide a better user experience and will last much longer than the lighter residential designs. The parts are much thicker and more resilient than those found in the residential bikes and the welding quality is a lot higher as is the overall finish of the unit. Heavy-duty bolts, straps, attachments and other moving parts make for a longer-lasting unit that can be ridden hard seven days a week.
Reviews of our top choices
Best exercise bike in the low-end bracket: Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse Monitor
It is exceptionally effective for those days when you just can’t get outside to run or cycle. You will find the right comfortable as you improve cardio and burn calories.
Its foldaway design makes it easy to store when space is needed around the home or apartment. The lightweight makes it easily transportable even for those of less than average strength.
When folded, the bike takes up about only one half the original space making it possible to “hide” the unit in a corner or behind the sofa, or roll it conveniently into a small closet.
The built-in transportation wheels enhance the ease with which anyone can move this bike about. So you can set it up in your favorite spot in the house but quickly move it out of the way or store it if that space becomes needed.
The quality of craftsmanship and sturdiness of parts makes this a reliable, durable partner in your personal health and fitness journey.
Designed with your comfort in mind the large cushioned saddle makes for an easy ride regardless of your size and weight. And on that score, this upright bike can accommodate riders of up to 300 pounds in weight, and any height from about 5’3” up to 6’3.” The versatile adjustments give this unit mass appeal. See latest prices at amazon.com.
Unmatched in Its Class for Cardio and Calorie Burn
For instance, the Magnetic Tension Control System offers users eight different levels of resistance. This allows for a wider variability in the difficulty of the exercise session.
Like tension of course is for beginners. It is possible to increase intensity up to eight levels so that even stronger, more advanced users may benefit from this bike.
The high-quality frame and base support render a sturdy, balanced riding experience. Senior users can safely mount and ride without fear of toppling over.
The accompanying hand pulse monitor is quite handy for tracking heart activity while burning calories and increasing cardiovascular effectiveness.
The onboard computer features a large, easy-to-read LCD display (3.3 inches wide and 1.5 inches high) indicates calories burned distance traveled, elapsed time, speed, and heart rate.
Very Safe, Super Smooth and Ultra Quiet
Not only is the ride smooth thanks to the consistent pedaling action created by the ingenious three-piece crank system, but it is also quiet.
This is attributed to the V-belt dual drive system and the flywheel which has been machine precision balance. This is a mark of precision quality and manufacturing practices and is one of the reasons why we’ve given a high rating to this bike.
You will enjoy the smooth and comfortable ride thanks to the advanced three-piece high torque crank system and the dual drive transmission system.
To have both these features on one bike is quite rare but to have them on the low-end bracket makes for an exceptionally good value.
For your safety, plastics foot straps help keep the foot on the pedal throughout the work session. No matter how great the intensity, or how fast the pedal action, you will not have to worry about your foot slipping off and becoming entangled in the crank system.
As with any consumer bike on the market, minor assembly will be required. All tools needed for this roughly 30-minute operation are included in the box.
Product dimensions are 46 x 14 x 9 inches with a unit weight of about 49 pounds and shipping weight of about 51 pounds.
We are awarding this one full it five stars!
Best exercise bikein the middle bracket: Sunny Health & Fitness Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike
When it comes to indoor cycling bikes, Sunny Health and Fitness will not be outdone. This premier bike features a hefty 49-pound flywheel. The flywheel is responsible for producing the highly-desirable 360° fluid pedal stroke.
The All-Important Flywheel
When the originator of indoor bikes created the concept, it was specifically to achieve a feel that closely matches that of a real world outdoor cycling experience. His experimentation found that the application of a heavy flywheel produced significant aggressive inertia. This in turn produced the smooth action of the crank mechanism as opposed to the vertical up and down pump associated with ordinary exercise bikes.
The heavy duty steel frame is sure to last for decades even under the most punishing use. The belt drive mechanism provides for a very quiet cycling session that will not disturb sleeping babies of pets, or other family members who may be watching TV or doing homework (see latest prices at amazon.com).
Whisper Quiet and Fully Adjustable
The whisper quiet ride makes this unit exceptional for any home application, but it is exceptionally beneficial for those who live in upstairs apartments. The neighbors below will have no clue that you’re enjoying an indoor cycling workout.
The seat and handlebars are universally adjustable as is the level of resistance. This allows for an almost limitless variety of seating positions that will vary the stress and intensity of your workout.
Top of the Line Quality & Safety
Manufactured from leather, the resistance pad is extremely durable, quiet, and allows for easy adjustments.
For fast and safe stopping, this unit is equipped with a press down brake system.
The heavy-duty lower support frame features for easy to adjust floor levelers to help give you a balanced ride on virtually any surface.
Using the handlebar it is possible to tilt the backend of the bike up placing it on the built-in rollers for easy transportation of the unit from room to room.
The dimensions for this bike are 90 x 20 x 44 inches (H x W x L), with a weight of about 115 pounds and the shipping weight of about 130 pounds.
About Pedal Clips and Cleats
One minor complaint we have is that compared to the high quality of the rest of this bike, pedal clips seem to be substandard. The good news is that this can easily be fixed without much cost.
When changing pedal clips it might be worth noting that the current trend in cycling footwear is the mountain bike type shoe with recessed SPD cleat. The industry is pushing cyclists in this direction largely for safety reasons. The secret is the recessed cleat.
The recessed cleat allows the cyclist to walk as they normally would on virtually any surface. The typical road shoe or the athletic shoe have cleats that are not recessed and will cause damage to flooring or carpets. On concrete, the exposed cleat can become quite slippery and can place the cyclist at risk for a fall and injury.
Pedal clips notwithstanding, this model has been referred to as the “Cadillac” of indoor cycling bikes. Such is the high quality craftsmanship, rugged durability, and smooth, quiet ride that it matches and even surpasses many of the more expensive commercial bikes in the gyms.
Taller Cyclists Give It a Thumbs Up
The good news is that taller cyclists, those over 6 feet tall, have reported this unit is comfortable for them thanks to the wide range of vertical adjustments to the saddle and the handlebar. It should be noted that this particular handlebar moves only vertically.
Expect to have your bike out of the box and assembled in less than 30 minutes. The box contains all the necessary tools. The parts are marked to make it a joy to assemble.
This bike easily wins five stars!
Best exercise bike in the high-end bracket: Sole Fitness SB700
Aggressive Inertia and the Smooth Ride
The flywheel is in fact the core component and defines the quality of this stationary bike versus a more medicore bike. The latter, lacking a flywheel, also lacks the aggressive inertia and instead of a smooth circular pedal action produces a bouncy, vertical action.
Aggressive inertia results in almost a zero impact workout. This protects the joints, ligaments, tendons, and bones of the lower limb. It also produces a smooth ride that goes easy on the cyclist’s spine, lower back, and buttocks.
This additional comfort makes it easy to withstand longer cycling session. But make no mistake, the reason cycling both outdoors and indoors is so popular is because it is one of the most highly effective calorie burning cardio exercises.
Another reason for its popularity is that the smoothness of the pedal action is reminiscent of actual road cycling. In short, it produces a more effective workout with far fewer negative side effects (see latest prices at amazon.com).
Perfectly Adjustable to Accommodate Most Anyone
The Sole Fitness SB700 features fully adjustable saddle and handlebars that can be adjusted up or down as well as forward or backward. This feature allows the cyclist to assume why range of positions which affect the stress placed on various body parts.
The name of the game is to mimic the various intensities, and challenges found when cycling outdoors. By adjusting the universal resistance knob, this bike delivers authentic hill or mountain biking intensity.
Health and Fitness Extras!
The Sole Fitness SB700 is excellent for Tabata or other high intensity interval training (HIT) workouts.
Included are a backlit LCD console that displays speed, distance, time, RPM, and calories burned. This unit is compatible with Garmin or Polar wireless chest straps that monitor heart and pulse rates (not included).
These items enhance the cyclist’s ability to monitor the biofeedback while pushing the intensity envelope.
Quiet Authentic Road Cycling Experience
Indoor cycling was developed to present as authentic road cycling experience as possible indoors. While this model is perfect for the home or apartment, it delivers a quality experience similar to that of expensive commercial units found in the local gym.
The heavy flywheel is whisper quiet and the smooth pedal action means that other family members in the home, or downstairs neighbors in an apartment, will not be disturbed.
Specifications and Features
Unit dimensions are 42 x 21 x 40 inches (L x W x H), with a weight of 140 pounds. The shipping weight is approximately 150 pounds.
The electronic LCD display measures a full 3 x 4” and is backlit in blue. The heavy-duty frame consists of 2 mm oval steel tubing. The transport will is included for convenience and mobility.
Additional features include brake pads, easy turn resistance knob, toe strap pedals, water bottle holders and the ability to accommodate up to a 300-pound cyclist.
Thanks to the nearly limitless adjustability of both the seat and handlebar, taller cyclists should have no problem finding this bike to be the perfect fit for their indoor fitness cycling program.
This unit features a lifetime warranty on the heavy-duty frame, three year warranty on parts and electronics, and one year warranty on labor. This is one of the best warranty packages out there.
Easy to Assemble, Perfect to Own
In less than 30 minutes from the un-boxing you will have the Sole Fitness SB700 up and running. Parts that must be assembled are clearly marked and instructions are easy to follow. All tools required for assembly are included in the box.
If you could own only ONE piece of fitness equipment, this would be the one you’d want. Built like a tank, it is sturdy and rugged, yet smooth and quiet.
We awarded this bike a total of four stars.
More Information on stationary bikes
Some basic facts
The main concept of an indoor bike is the variable intensity of the ride. It is possible to create real world intensity that mimics open road cycling, mountain cycling, and more. Some high-end units feature automatic seat leveling, handlebar leveling, and intensity of the pedal mechanism.
Anyone can select adjustments that meet their body height and weight, reach, and fitness level. This makes for a safer workout that is custom tailored to the individual needs of the rider. Some models may not allow for universal positioning adjustments which means that the seat and handlebars must be independently moved. This can put the rider in an awkward position. Universal positioning allows for a wider range in adjustments and close coordination between the seat and handlebars to optimize ergonomics, comfort, and safety.
Note that exercise bikes are sometimes referred to as spinning bikes or spin bikes. This is misleading as Spin and Spinning are registered trademarks of Mad Dogg Athletics and consequently refer only to products marketed by that company. Just like Xerox became at some point a general name for copy machines, spinning bikes and spin bikes are sometimes erroneously used to refer to the whole category of products.
The Secret Ingredient: Perimeter Weighted Flywheel
The main component of an indoor bike is the flywheel. The more fluid the flywheel, the greater the ease of pedaling. A cheap flywheel is a waste of your hard-earned money for a number of reasons. First, the flywheel is what differentiates a high level bike from an ordinary exercise bike. Usually a high quality unit will have a weighted, cast iron flywheel that provides a fluid pedaling experience similar to a real bicycle. Note that the flywheel should be perimeter weighted to achieve that perfect, fluid cycling feel.
A non-perimeter weighted flywheel is cosidered to be the inferiour option. The underlying theory behind the perimeter weighted flywheel is that it lends aggressive inertia to the pedal stroke. This is the principle that creates the highly fluid 360-degree stroke in comparison to the up and down pumping stroke found in most exercise bikes. Today, various bikes feature flywheels made of iron as well as aluminum and steel. Check the specs to ensure your flywheel is between 36-38 pounds. Lighter flywheels lend themselves to mechanical failure and less fluid pedaling.
The flywheel should prevent the need for choppy up and down pedaling motion and allow for a smooth circular action which is better for the knees, hips, and ankles. While exercise bikes are certainly lower impact than jogging or running, the choppy linear pedal action is hard on older riders or those already suffering from joint, ligament or tendon ailments.
Another important aspect is the quietness of operation. This is especially desirable at home as you can work out without the fear of waking the baby or disturbing others. Apartment dwellers are especially pleased with the low noise levels, as are the people living downstairs.
Chain-drive is preferred as it offers greater durability especially in bikes that suffer frequent high-intensity usage.
Correct Setup and Attire Ensures Safety
If you have never used an exercise bike, you must get familiar with the correct set up and form to ensure safety. Cycling shoes or a good cross-trainer shoe with a rigid sole is best. Fitted pants or shorts are preferred over lose sweat pants to avoid entanglement in the chain drive.
When making adjustments to the various components of a stationary bike, it is important to ensure that all elements (push pins or screws) are locked in tight and that there is no play. A wobbly seat is going to produce a most uncomfortable ride, and also could result in injury.
Seat height is critical. To avoid knee injury from hyperextension (lockout), there should be about a 10-20 degree bend in the knee when the leg is in the extreme down stroke position. Never set the seat so that the knees lock out.
Seat alignment (front-to-back) is also important. To get this right, sit all the way back in the seat and bring both feet an equal distance from the floor. The straighter leg should feature a knee cap that is parallel to the instep. If the knee if forward of the instep then the seat is to far forward, and vice versa.
For proper foot placement, it is recommended that the ball of the foot should be over the center point of the pedal. Do not make the mistake of cramming your foot all the way to the front of the toe cage (if your bike is thus equipped) since this will reduce you pedal stroke power and can cause numbness in the foot.
Handlebar adjustments are a matter of personal comfort, however, a person with back ailments should have a higher handlebar to avoid stress on the back. Typically, the handlebars and seat will be about the same level.
Brand new cyclists should begin with higher handlebars until they feel safe with a lower position. As with the knees, it is crucial that the rider not lock out the elbows. The back should be flat, not rounded. The handlebar should be griped with a loose grip.
When standing, it is important not to lean forward onto the handlebars. Balance bodyweight over the center of the bike. Always engage some resistance when standing as this allows the machine to better support bodyweight.
An additional knee safety tip is to always engage some level of resistance. Without resistance riders tend to blast through a cycling session with superhuman pedal strokes. Not only does this nullify the cardiovascular development value of the session, but it places an inordinate amount of stress and wear and tear on knee cartilage, ligaments and tendons. Exaggerated hip sway or bouncing up and down in the seat should also be avoided as these can destabilize the bike and increase the risks of injury. Lastly, your pedal stroke should always be as smooth and fluid as possible.
More information on indoor bikes including setup tips on this video: