Exercise bikes are becoming the preferred method for getting fit at home. As you scratch the surface on exercise bikes, you will learn that they are not all the same. On the contrary, there is so much to explore in this particular category.
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Without further do, let’s get started.
Indoor cycling bikes on their own are pretty impressive. However, when you step into higher end territory you really start to see just how far these bikes can go. Life Fitness Lifecycle GX is a great example. You are looking at a performance built machine which covers all of the details, from core components to those tiny features. The frame is very sturdy but also somewhat different from the most.
The whole mass of the bike is focused at the very center of the frame. In terms of performance, everything is smooth. Lifecycle GX packs a large, precision machined flywheel which is located behind the seat instead of under the handlebars. Belt drive system they have used ensures a very fluid motion and easy inertia control. Both the seat and handlebars are fully adjustable, allowing you to find that perfect seating position.
Pedals feature a dual sided SPD design which means that you can use a variety of cycling shoes and achieve a positive grip. Life Fitness Lifecycle GX also scores high in comfort. The seat is well contoured, ergonomic and sufficiently padded. Last but not least, we have a large LCD display which shows your stats in real time.
When it comes to upright bikes, Sole Fitness LCB is one of the more refined models you can find at the moment. They have packed a whole bunch of features in a package that isn’t too cumbersome. At the core of LCB is a low profile but sturdy H pattern frame which has no issues carrying the full weight of the bike and you on it.
Very little of the frame is exposed due to a larger flywheel housing that extends over the entire length of the bike.The seat is adjustable both vertically and horizontally, making it very easy to set up. Considering that it comes with a capable computer module which features a large display unit, it is impressive that LCB is energy independent.
All of the power it requires is generated during the workout. In terms of built in features, you are looking at 10 workout presets, 2 user defined presets, manual resistance control that has 40 levels and a whole lot more. Sole Fitness LCB is easily one of the more complex bikes on the market, but also one that is worth the investment. We can recommend Sole Fitness LCB to both intermediate and advanced users.
Schwinn Airdyne pro is a very interesting bike. Where all other models on our list utilize the tried and tested flywheel design, this one uses a large fan instead. The idea is that progressive air resistance allows you to increase workout intensity without having to rely on magnetic resistance settings. Built in a simple but robust frame, Schwinn Airdyne Pro is a truly professional piece of gear.
Schwinn went a step further and built in a set of moving handles which allow you to engage your upper body as you work out. Central console features an interesting layout where an odometer is a unit of its own, while the lower display shows the stats and allows you to navigate various built in features. Despite its somewhat unorthodox design, Schwinn Airdyne Pro is a perfect tool for those who are constantly pushing the limit. The seat is fully adjustable and features a good amount of padding.
We can comfortably say that Schwinn Airdyne Pro’s seat reduces fatigue quite effectively. Since this bike is somewhere between indoor cycling bikes and upright bikes, it is worth mentioning that it not only allows but encourages cycling while standing on pedals. Overall an awesome bike.
Indoor cycling bikes can sometimes be deceiving in appearance. BodyCraft SPX Club shows why. On a first glance it looks like any other model in this category, which is why most people are caught by surprise when they see its price tag. One thing that is worth remembering about this particular models is that its lack of features is only superficial.
Sure, it doesn’t come with a built in computer module or even a display unit. However, when you scratch the surface and see what is inside, you’ll understand why it is one of the best machines on the market. To start things off we have an incredibly sturdy steel frame that features leveling plates as well as transport wheels. BodyCraft did a great job with making this frame bulletproof.
After all that is one of the requirements for it to be considered a true commercial grade bike. The flywheel is perimeter weighted and comes in at 46lbs. It’s linked to the pedals using an automotive belt. The flywheel itself sits on a set of SKF sealed bearings which alone should inspire confidence. If you’re looking at an indoor cycling bike which is built like a tank, this is it.
Finding a capable and powerful upright bike which is also compact can prove to be fairly difficult at times. However, that doesn’t mean it is impossible. 3G Cardio Elite UB fits this description as it has a rather small footprint compared to what it offers. You are looking at a smaller but every bit as stable H pattern frame which focuses the weight displacement neatly towards its very center.
The flywheel comes features extremely precise machining and super fluid performance on all of the 16 available resistance levels. Pushing this thing up to speed comes across as quite organic. The seat is fully adjustable and features an oversized design. Thanks to this and its sufficient amount of padding, it’s one of the more comfortable seats on the market right now. Coincidentally, that seat makes Cardio Elite UB a perfect choice for beginners as well as casual users.
The built in computer module compact but perfectly intuitive. You have a large display that shows you everything in a clear and legible fashion, while all functions are controlled using a small number of buttons at the bottom of the unit. 3G Cardio Elite UB also comes with plenty of built in presets.
L NOW LD577 combines two seemingly different worlds. It is a proper indoor cycling bike that falls well within the commercial territory but also packs features which are most often found on models designed for domestic use. Before we get to that, lets look at the frame and core components. LD577 features a very sturdy and robust frame which leaves very little to chance.
If we were nitpicking, we would say that L Now might have just over engineered this bike. However, that is anything but a flaw no matter how you look at it. Despite its larger size and weight, you can still push LD577 around with relative ease thanks to the large and accentuated transport wheels mounted at the front of the frame.
The flywheel is a 44lbs piece of precision made metal which is smooth and incredibly silent. Both the seat and handlebars are fully adjustable, making it very easy to find that perfect riding position. Speaking of the seat, it is ergonomic in nature but also much more comfortable than what most other indoor cycling bikes have to offer. Last but not least there’s a simple but effective display unit that is mounted on the handlebars.
Recumbent bikes are very dependent on frame design. The reason for this is the fact that the frame dictates the angle of the seat and your position in relation to the peals. Diamondback 510SR shows us how its done. It is one of the best designed recumbent bikes on the market and also one of the most capable ones.
What we have here is a device that’sbased on a very minimalist but ultimately sturdy frame that features a step through design. Getting in and out of the seat is effortless. Speaking of the seat, you are getting a fully padded package that is adjustable in all ways imaginable. Not only can you move the seat horizontally along its rail but you can also adjust the height of the backrest. The bike comes with a great flywheel package as well as a pretty capable computer console.
Being computer controlled has allowed Diamondback to design 20 different fitness programs. But wait, there’s more. 510SR also features integrated speakers with mp3 input, a built in cooling fan and more. If you are looking for a great recumbent bike that will serve you well, Diamondback 510SR is about as good as it gets.
Compared to other recumbent designs out there, NordicTrack Commercial Vr21 is fairly hard to classify or put into brackets. It combines many features which are often found on commercial bikes, but it is ultimately a mid range package. Because of that, we consider it to be one of the best bang for the buck choices out there. The frame it sits on is somewhat unique although it’s still a variation of a classic H pattern design.
The chair features a fully padded seat that is paired with a mesh backrest. We were very pleasantly surprised with how comfortable this model is. So much so that we are convinced it could provide enough comfort even for prolonged sessions. The flywheel is a 20lbs unit which may be ever so slightly inferior to the competition, but NordicTrack has wired it straight to a capable computer console. You are looking at 32 different workout presets, easy programming and a very intuitive display.
There’s also a built in fan which actually does work quite well. Overall, NordicTrack Commercial Vr21 represents one of the most attractive recumbent bikes youcan get in the mid range segment. We recommend it to both beginners and intermediate users.
ext we have another awesome recumbent bike. This time around we are looking at a piece of fitness equipment which was streamlined for performance. XTERRA SB2.5r may not look as intriguing as some of its competitors, but you can bet that it packs the best surprises on the inside. We have a properly padded seat mounted on an angled rail, just like we have expected to see.
The frame itself is fairly stealthy but ultimately very stable. XTERRA has built in two sets of handlebars, one found next to the seat and the other mounted around the computer console.Speaking of which, this bike comes with one of the best and most intuitive consoles on the market. It is a dual backlit unit that is extremely easy to read even under extreme light conditions.
It packs 24 different presets, each one optimized for specific goals. On the other hand, you can also manually set resistance by choosing any of the 24 available levels. XTERRA SB2.5r also features builtin speakers among other things. Generally speaking, this bike is the value for the money champion of the recumbent segment. It’s definitely worth looking into if you are a beginner.
Last bike we want to show you is an upright design that features a very interesting layout. On a first glance it looks like most other uprights but it is quite different. For starters it’s a step through bike which explains why the flywheel assembly is located right below the seat. Aside from allowing you to mount the bike more comfortably, ASUNA 4200‘s frame also makes it quite agile and maneuverable with no ill effects in terms of stability.
The seat is adjustable horizontally and comes with a sufficient amount of quality padding. Using this bike for a prolonged period of time won’t leave you in pain.. There are presets available, but they aren’t conventional. Instead of offering you two dozen different terrain simulations, Sunny Health & Fitness ASUNA 4200 comes has Beginner, Advanced, Sporty, Cardio and Watt presets.
Rest assured that even those fairly limited presets can keep you busy for a long while. Features aside, the redeeming benefits ASUNA 4200 brings to the table is good performance, sturdy frame and a relatively silent operation. Compared to other upright bikes in its price range, ASUNA 4200 is easily among the top ones. We can safely recommend this bike to beginners.
Riding a bike is something just about everyone knows how to do. Static bikes eliminate the need to keep balance, which makes them even easier to use on average.
Compared to other machines such as treadmills or ellipticals, bikes are generally more forgiving when it comes to the strain they put on your body.
This makes them a great choice for those who have an injury which prevents them from using other machines as well as older users.
Another important aspect of bikes is the low stress they exert on your joints. If you compare cycling to running, you are basically eliminating any impact stress, which makes bikes much healthier in general.
Bikes also help with recovery from injuries where you shouldn’t overload recovering joints in your lower body.
Although everyone prefers riding a bike out in the nature, weather won’t always permit you to do so. With indoor exercise bikes, it doesn’t matter if it is raining or snowing outside, you will still be able to get that workout done.
This is something that applies to all cardio machines out there. However with bikes, especially indoor cycling bikes, you can actually train yourself in an environment which is pretty authentic to the ‘real thing’.
One of the best things about exercise bikes is their price. With treadmills and other fitness machines, you will generally have to invest a considerable amount of money in order to get the necessary reliability and performance.
That isn’t the case with exercise bikes. Due to their simple nature, you can find awesome models which come with pretty cheap price tags. This is one of the main reasons why most new fitness fans start out with a bike instead of something more complex.
As we are going to find out later, exercise bikes are extremely versatile. The come with computer modules which feature workout presets of various types. On average, each preset will offer a challenging experience comprised of different resistance levels stacked together.
This type of programs do a great job at simulating various terrain profiles with great precision and authenticity. On top of that, a good number of bikes with computer modules allow you to design your own resistance preset. In other words, you can do just about anything you can imagine, thus maintaining a very dynamic fitness regimen.
If we exclude recumbent bikes, most exercise bikes are fairly compact compared to other indoor fitness machines. On top of that they are also light.
When you add transport wheels, you realize that moving a bike in and out of storage is extremely easy. Those who don’t have a lot of space to dedicate to fitness equipment will definitely appreciate such a small footprint
Exercise bikes seem pretty straight forward to most newcomers. On the surface, they really do seem that way. However, when you look into this type of fitness machines a bit closer, you will find that there are many layers in there.
The purpose of this guide is to help you understand what different exercise bikes can do for you and which one will best fit your specific needs. When we finish explaining different types of exercise bikes, we will focus a bit more on things to look out for when shopping for a bike. By the time we are done, you should be armed with enough information to make a good, educated decision.
Despite how different some bikes are, they all share the same components. Static bikes are limited in a way that there are only so many solutions which will yield the necessary results. That is why we don’t see too many ‘different’ bikes out there.
More often than not, brands take the standardized design and put their own spin on it. With that said, we can name the most important components of any static bike. You have your frame, flywheel, seat and optionally a computer module.
Frame is one of those things which are often times overlooked despite being the most important element of any bike. You would think that much is obvious, but it is astounding just how many people don’t really care about what kind of frame their bike comes with. A good frame is the foundation every other component is built into.
If the frame is not up to the standards, the rest of the components either won’t be able to achieve their full potential, or will be hard to use. An ideal frame is robust, strong and stable. Almost every bike out there features an H pattern frame although some come with more niche designs. An H pattern frame has proven to be the most reliable and elegant solution.
What you are looking for in a frame is stability under stress. You could weld three thin pieces of piping and they will probably support your weight. However, when you push that flywheel up to speed and start going hard on the bike, you will notice movement, instability and other things which can ruin the whole exercise experience. In short, look for proper tubing made out of quality steel and you will be fine
Aside from the structural stability of the main construction, there are some desirable features you might want to pay attention to. The most basic ones are transport wheels. These are small wheels usually mounted on the front bar of the frame, which allow you to maneuver the bike in and out of storage more easily.
Even though most bikes come with wheels, there are still some which don’t. The other feature worth looking into are leveling plates. Leveling a bike is important as using a bike on an uneven surface can introduce unpredictable results which can be dangerous at times.
Most bikes with leveling plates have them mounted on the rear bar although some come with plates on all four corners.
Flywheel is what produces resistance on just about every exercise bike out there. It is essentially a large metallic disc which is liked to the pedals either directly or indirectly depending on the type of bike you are using. A good flywheel needs to meet certain standards.
It has to be precision machined, well balanced and generally well designed. If it isn’t, you will experience a variety of issues which can be serious in some cases. A flywheel which is out of balance will give you an impression that you are running over a bump with every revolution.
This effect isn’t all that noticeable at lower RPMs but as soon as you start pushing the bike a bit harder, you will run into serious issues. Fortunately for us, most modern exercise bikes come with fairly decent flywheels.
The weight of a flywheel will dictate how much base resistance you will have at your disposal. Base or core resistance is equal to the amount of force you need to input in order to get the flywheel spinning without magnetic resistance being applied.
Naturally, as you start pushing more and more magnetic resistance onto the flywheel, you will get have to put in more force. Heavier flywheels are generally a good thing to have. They will allow you to simulate steeper inclines and thus get a better exercise. With that said, lighter flywheels have their place in this world as well.
They are mostly used in compact bikes which are designed to have as small of a footprint as possible. When we get to computer modules, we will go deeper into magnetic resistance settings and how they can affect the performance of the bike.
The distinction between these two is fairly straight forward. With direct drive systems the flywheel is liked directly to the pedals. This solution is present in the large majority of exercise bikes available on the market right now.
Indirect drive systems are usually reserved for indoor cycling bikes. The main benefit of a direct drive is its simplicity. It requires a minimal amount of components and is pretty straight forward.
Indirect drive systems are those where pedals are not bolted directly into the flywheel but rather use a belt or chain of some kind to transfer user input. Although more complex in nature, indirect drives or belt drives offer a more authentic experience.
Being one of the three main contact points between you and the bike, seats are pretty important. Depending on the type of the bike you have chose, you will find different seat designs being used. Most bikes come with standard contoured saddle type seat just like you would find on a regular road bike.
However, some feature seats which are optimized more for comfort than authenticity. This mostly applies to upright bikes but especially recumbent bikes. The most important aspect of any seat is its adjustability.
You should have the option to adjust the seat both vertically and horizontally if possible with former being essential. A fully adjustable seat allows you to find a perfect seating position for your build and height
Seeing how digital technologies have advanced quite a bit, it wasn’t all that surprising that fitness machines saw a huge boost in this department. Modern exercise bikes often come with computer modules which do a lot more than just display your current stats. Compared to simplistic display units which were standard not so long ago, you could say that computer modules are changing the way we experience exercise bikes.
Where computer modules really change things up is resistance control. Aside from the fact that you no longer have to turn a knob in order to find a setting you want, resistance has become much more versatile. Most computer modules come with built in presets which combine different resistance levels at different intervals.
In other words, each of those presets simulates riding on a different terrain. We don’t have to explain just how much this boosts the potential of exercise bikes. It transforms them from dull workout machines into something that is truly on a different leve
We have already mentioned that not all exercise bikes are the same. This might go against what most people think. After all, it is only a bike, right? Well, not really. As of now we can name three very niche types of exercise bikes.
We have upright bikes, recumbent bikes and indoor cycling bikes. Each of these categories is optimized to deliver a different experience.
Figuring out which of these three fits you the most is also the very first step you need to take when shopping for an exercise bike. Lets take a closer look at each individual category.
Upright bikes are what most people think of when they imagine a static exercise bike. You can recognize an upright bike simply by observing how its seat is configured.
Upright design offers a good balance of comfort and performance which is what most users are looking for these days. In the grand scheme of things, upright bikes are the perfect choice for beginners.
Compared to upright models, recumbent bikes are exponentially more comfortable. Instead of sitting on a standard bike seat, with recumbent bikes you are assuming a reclined seating position. Because of that they are lower to the ground but usually longer.
In purely technical sense, there aren’t any major differences between recumbent and upright bikes. They come with similar flywheels, direct drive systems and often times computer modules. The main difference is in the seat.
Instead of a saddle or a lightly padded contoured seat, recumbent bikes offer an actual chair with a back rest and everything. The whole purpose of recumbent bikes is to isolate your lower body from your upper body. Although exercise bikes in general don’t really engage your upper body in any aggressive way, they do improve your core.
The fact that recumbent bikes are so exclusive when it comes to which parts of your body are engaged makes them a perfect choice for those who value comfort over anything else. Additionally, people with specific conditions will most likely find them to be the best choice
Last category of bikes we want to talk about are indoor cycling bikes. These are very different compared to the previous two categories and are usually chose by experienced users as well as professional athletes. Indoor cycling bikes were designed to mimic the geometry of standard road bikes.
That explains why their frames feature front forks and other familiar features. It is worth mentioning that indoor cycling bikes put you in a very aggressive riding position. You are sitting pretty high with your upper body leaning into the handlebars.
Additionally, indoor cycling bikes utilize indirect drive systems. The best thing about cycling bikes is the fact that you can stand on pedals as you cycle. Anyone who has any experience with road bikes knows that riding while standing is one of the most demanding things you can do.
Being able to do the same on an exercise bikes means that the scope of exercises you can do is much larger. Interestingly enough, indoor cycling bikes rarely come with a computer module. The most you will see on average is a display unit which shows you the most relevant stats.
There are really only two questions you need to answer in order to figure this out. First one is what type of exercise bike you want and the other is how much are you willing to invest in one.
Cheap exercise bikes do exist and offer great value for the money, however investing more in a bike will get you into a much more rewarding territory.
We generally recommend that you stay away from super cheap bikes as they are often times made using poor materials. Even so, there are some pretty awesome affordable models out there which you can check out in our dedicated guide.
Advanced features such as computer modules can be an awesome tool to have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to track your progress with great precision, but you will also be able to plan your workouts long term. The real question is where should you draw the line?
There are exercise bikes out there which come packed with all kinds of creature comforts.We are talking entertainment packages, built in speakers, Bluetooth connectivity and others. These features are not relevant to the core performance of a bike but they often tend to raise the price.
Unless you absolutely need them, we suggest that you don’t focus on advanced features all too much. Instead, it is much more important to chase good core components.
One of the most common mistakes new users make is to skip setting up their bikes properly. There is actually a technique to riding a bike that has nothing to do with how fast you should go or what kind of gear your should wear. Instead, it has to do with seat positioning, understanding pedals and understanding how to apply force to said pedals.
The seat should be high enough for your legs to have full range of motion. If the seat is too low and your legs remain bent during an entire revolution of the pedals, you are drastically reducing the efficiency of your workout. Additionally, finding the right position of the handlebars where adjustments can be applied is also important.
Proper cycling technique is something that is worth looking into. It can help you target the right muscle groups and engage your whole lover body with more intensity. If you have chosen to go with indoor cycling bikes, you should definitely look into this matter. As most pros will tell you, what applies to road bikes also applies to cycling bikes.
Last but not least, we have to touch upon leveling the bike if your model has the necessary features to do so. Cycling on uneven surface can add unnecessary stress to bothyou and the bike. You may not feel it right away, but eventually you will notice that something is simply off. Leveling the bike takes only a couple of minutes and is definitely worth doing.
At the end of the day, it is our opinion that Life Fitness Lifecycle GX is the best overall exercise bike. It comes with all the right features and packs the necessary performance for a dynamic, challenging and reliable home cardio experience.
With that said every bike on our list has proven its worth in one way or another. No matter which one you go with, you won’t be disappointed.
All of them will enhance your quality of life and allow you to work on your health. When all is said and done, that is what it is all about.