The 7 Best Exercise Bikes Under $500 – Budget Bikes with Upgraded Performance

We gave this article a bit of a refresh and were pleased to find that most of the models in our chart still remained worthwhile picks over a year later. However, we decided to make a few tweaks to bring the chart more up to date.

New additions included our new top pick, the swish Nautilus U616, as well as the excellent sub-$500 spin bike, the Schwinn IC3.

The winner after the latest chart update:
Nautilus U616-01
  • Design: Upright
  • Folding: No
  • Height: 4ft 8” to 6ft 4”
  • Resistance: 25 levels
  • Features: 22lb flywheel, adjustable seat, DualTrack LCD display, 29 built-in workout programs, Bluetooth connectivity, heart rate monitor, built-in speakers, USB charging port, adjustable fan, media shelf

Where do you turn when you want a good workout without leaving the house? An exercise bike of course! Compact, convenient and able to leave even the most hardened athlete in a panting mess.

But where do you turn when you want an exercise bike that doesn’t cost more than $500? The good news is that you are already here!

In this article we are going to highlight seven of the best exercise bikes you can buy for under five hundred bucks. We take a look at upright bikes, recumbent bikes and spinning bikes, all coming in at that wallet-friendly price tag.

After our chart of mini reviews, we take a closer look at the world of stationary bikes and offer a guide on what to consider before buying one.

Top 7 Best Exercise Bikes Under $500:

Pros

  • Stable build, with smooth and quiet performance
  • 25 magnetic resistance levels and 29 workout programs add good variety
  • Includes a solid control console and dual backlit screens
  • Advanced secondary features – great for this price range

Cons

  • Bluetooth syncing can be a bit temperamental
  • Seat feels a little uncomfortable

Design: Upright
Folding: No
Height: 4ft 8” to 6ft 4”
Resistance: 25 levels
Features: 22lb flywheel, adjustable seat, DualTrack LCD display, 29 built-in workout programs, Bluetooth connectivity, heart rate monitor, built-in speakers, USB charging port, adjustable fan, media shelf

With the U616, Nautilus has managed to squeeze a lot of features and performance into a bike that remains fairly compact and affordable. For this reason, it’s our top pick!

Under the sleek exterior you will find a very solid bike, with a 22lb flywheel and belt drive for a quiet performance. The U616 also offers 25 levels of magnetic resistance for a versatile machine that always provides a challenge – as do the 29 built-in workout programs.

A big selling point is the media features. An advanced console with dual backlit screens is a good start, but the secondary features really sell it. These include built-in speakers, Bluetooth connectivity (for fitness tracking apps), and an adjustable fan, all boosting the value.

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Pros

  • One of the most comfortable bikes in this price range
  • Solid build and consistent performance
  • Lightweight and easy to wheel away post-workout
  • 24 levels of resistance provide good versatility

Cons

  • Backrest positioning is not ideal for shorter users (5ft or under)
  • Console design is a bit basic with no backlight

Design: Recumbent
Folding: No
Height: 5ft to 6ft 3”
Resistance: 24 levels
Features: Precision balanced flywheel, 12 preset workout programs, heart rate monitor, LCD screen, transportation wheels, media shelf, 325lb weight capacity

The Exerpeutic 4000 recumbent bike is a significant step up from Exerpeutic’s lower-priced – but just as popular – 900XL, with the emphasis shared between comfort and performance.

The comfort is reflected by features such as the cool mesh backrest, padded armrests, and a 3” padded ‘Air Soft’ foam seat, which has to be one of the most comfortable in this price range. Meanwhile, the 4000 offers a smooth and consistent ride, thanks to a precision-balanced flywheel and V belt drive.

The central console is a little more basic than some others in this range, yet it is home to all the controls you need, a small LCD screen, and a gel-padded media shelf on which to rest a smart device. NetFlix while you work out? Yes please!

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Pros

  • Smooth and quiet performance
  • Versatile bike with 20 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Simple streamlined console with two display screens
  • Great secondary features for this price range

Cons

  • Display screens lack a backlight
  • Annoying beeping noise accompanies button presses

Design: Upright
Folding: No
Height: 4ft 6” to 6ft 6”
Resistance: 20 levels
Features: Adjustable angled handlebars, adjustable padded seat, 22 preset workout programs, heart rate monitor, DualTrack LCD screen, three-speed fan, built-in speakers, USB charging port, media rack

The 130 from Schwinn is very similar in its specs to the Nautilus U616, although comes with a lower price tag for unbeatable value.

This upright bike features a slimline frame with a clean and sophisticated design, and caters for users up to 6ft 6” thanks to the generous seat and handlebar adjustability. Under the hood the 130 features a 10lb flywheel and a high inertia drive system, with 20 magnetic resistance levels providing a hefty challenge.

The central console is simple and streamlined, with dual screens that allow you to make use of the integrated media rack while still seeing your workout data. The USB charging port is another nice addition at this price.

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Pros

  • Excellent performance for an affordable spin bike
  • Infinite resistance caters for users of all levels
  • Features adjustable handles and choice of pedal style
  • Deep water bottle holder and media shelf are handy additions

Cons

  • Feels a bit cramped for people over 6ft
  • Flywheel can become a bit squealy over time

Design: Spinning
Folding: No
Height: Unspecified
Resistance: Unlimited
Features: 40lb flywheel, belt drive, race-style seat, SPD pedals with toe cages, multi-position handles, LCD screen, media shelf, 300lb weight capacity

The IC3 is another popular bike from Schwinn to make this list, although one that will appeal more to serious cyclists. This well-made spin bike boasts some excellent features for the affordable price, including a 40lb flywheel connected to a smooth and quiet belt drive system.

This delivers unlimited resistance, making it ideal for cyclists of any ability level – from beginners to pros. It’s also great for users of multiple sizes, with good handlebar adjustability and the option to choose between SPD clips or toe cages.

Even at this price, Schwinn do not skimp on features, giving you everything the modern indoor cyclist needs. This includes a clear LCD panel with workout feedback, a generous water bottle holder and a media rack allowing you to prop up your entertainment.

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Pros

  • Sturdy build and smooth performance
  • Hefty flywheel and belt-drive system for quiet ride
  • Plenty of adjustability in seat and handles
  • Transportation wheels for easy maneuverability

Cons

  • No central console or screen
  • Tension dial offers no set numerical levels

Design: Spinning
Folding: No
Height: Unspecified
Resistance: Adjustable
Features: 49lb solid chrome flywheel, belt-drive system, adjustable padded seat, adjustable multi-grip handlebars, adjustable caged foot pedals, emergency break, water bottle holder, transportation wheels

If spinning is your indoor biking style of choice, then the SF-B1002 from Sunny Health & Fitness is another worthwhile consideration in this sub-$500 category.

With a sleek design and a sturdy steel frame, the SF-B1002 features a 49lb solid chrome flywheel and belt-drive system for a smooth, quiet and consistent ride. Adjustable multi-grip handles ensure you can find your perfect position, regardless of your workout intensity.

This bike features a durable leather pad for resistance, with a basic adjustable dial to add as much or as little resistance as you want. It’s a great bike performance-wise. Secondary features are nothing too special – especially with no central console or workout feedback – but a push-down emergency break adds security.

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Pros

  • Air resistance offers a good challenge and a way to stay cool!
  • Movable handles allow for a full-body workout
  • Sturdy powder-coated steel frame
  • Foot bars allow you to concentrate solely on upper body

Cons

  • Fan is quite noisy when in use
  • Not ideal for more casual users

Design: Upright
Folding: No
Height: 5ft 2” to 6ft 2”
Resistance: Unlimited
Features: Air resistance fan, adjustable seat, steel frame, foot bars, transportation wheels, adjustable base levelers

If you’re looking to blitz calories, max your heart rate and involve your entire body – all while not spending over the odds – the AIR-1 from Marcy is our recommendation.

This upright bike features an air resistance fan – the harder you pedal, the harder it is. Couple this with the movable handles to work your upper body, and the workout you can achieve is incredible. The added bonus of this design is that the fan cools you down as you work!

The AIR-1 is built to last, with a 14-gauge powder-coated steel tubing frame, while transportation wheels allow you to move it for storage when you are finished. The console is nothing special, but is simple with a clear LCD screen offering metrics for a glimpse into your workout.

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Pros

  • Ideal design for multitasking while you ride
  • Feels sturdy and well made
  • Offers a smooth and quiet performance
  • Plenty of adjustability

Cons

  • Eight levels of resistance are less versatile than others in this range
  • Relaxed design won’t appeal to everybody

Design: Recumbent
Folding: No
Height: Unspecified
Resistance: 8 levels
Features: Removable and adjustable media platform, accompanying media shelf, adjustable oversized seat, interchangeable cup holder, transportation wheels, 350lb maximum user weight

Spinning and upright bikes are ideal for burning calories, but when you need to blitz through some emails at the same time, only a recumbent bike will do – and this is exactly what the SF-RBD4703 from Sunny Health & Fitness is built for.

This bike features a large and sturdy platform (15” x 22”) to comfortably hold a laptop or book, while adjusting in countless ways to suit your situation. You can also remove it completely if you want to use the bike with no distractions.

The performance of the SF-RBD4703 itself is decent – nothing spectacular, but quite smooth and quiet, offering eight levels of magnetic resistance to add a bit of a challenge. It’s not as versatile as others in this price range, but the real draw here is the ability to multitask in comfort.

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Shopping for an Exercise Bike Under $500

If you haven’t already noticed, exercise bikes are a rather diverse category. This is why knowing exactly what you need and what will work for you is crucial in finding the right bike.

Choosing from the three main bike designs is your most important task, but then you must consider things like space, resistance and features.

Starting to get confused? Don’t worry – the next part of this article will guide you through what to look out for when shopping for an exercise bike costing under $500.

Design

As you begin to browse stationary bikes, you will quickly discover that there is more than one type of bike design to consider. In fact, there are three: upright bikes, spinning bikes and recumbent bikes.

All three have their own benefits and drawbacks, and all are targeted at different users. Let’s take a brief look at all three.

Upright Bikes
Upright bikes are the most common of the three designs and probably what you first imagine when somebody says ‘exercise bike’.

They are ideal for the general user who wants a good cardiovascular workout at home, with more comfort than a spinning bike and less reclination than a recumbent bike.

With the seat placed below the handlebars, an upright bike will allow you to do pretty much anything you would on an outdoor bike (with the exception of actually moving, obviously). Because the position is comfortable and the seat is usually well padded, these prove to be great bikes for long-distance sessions.

Spinning Bikes
Spinning bikes tend to be more popular with people looking for a higher-intensity workout and those who like to train in different positions.

Because the seat is at the same level as the handlebars – and that the seats are typically quite uncomfortable – you will tend to use spinning bikes either while leaning forwards or stood up. This engages more muscles groups, burns more calories and adds more spice to a cycling workout.

Due to the more demanding position, spinning bikes are most effective for shorter workouts and higher-intensity sessions, as well as for following along with online spin classes (via an iPad for example).

Recumbent Bikes
Recumbent bikes are the most relaxed design of the three, as they place you in a more reclined position and usually offer ample padding on various contact points.

The advantage here is that this position takes the load off your knees, which is why they are popular with seniors, beginners and people with joint conditions.

While some people may deride recumbent bikes due to their more relaxed nature, it is believed that the workout on a recumbent bike is no less effective than one you would perform on an upright bike – providing, of course, that you put in enough effort.

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Frame

Most bikes in this price range will come with a sturdy steel frame, capable of holding users from around 250lb to 300lb+. Spending the extra money compared to more affordable bikes guarantees you a more stable ride.

Another frame aspect you will want to consider is whether or not the bike folds. If you are looking for a bike to fit into a small space, then a folding bike will be ideal. The bike will, however, lack some of the stability of its non-folding counterparts.

However, shopping in this sub-$500 price range will only throw up a few folding options – none of which are currently on our chart. If you are particularly interested in folding bikes, check out our list of the best budget exercise bikes, which tend to feature more folding models.

Resistance System

Regardless of the design of your bike or the features it is loaded with, one of the most important factors is what resistance levels are on offer. Ultimately, resistance is what makes the workout worth your time. The more there is, the higher the intensity and the greater the rewards.

However, while having more resistance levels usually makes for a more versatile bike, it is also about the quality of the resistance.

You will find several resistance systems available to you as you shop in this sub-$500 range.

The most common systems center around a flywheel. This large weighted wheel – which is either exposed or covered – creates resistance just by being heavy, taking significant force to get it going. However, to offer enough resistance for most users to have a worthwhile workout, the wheel would need to be huge.

This is why flywheels are paired with other systems to create enough resistance for the modern user.

One of these is direct-contact resistance. Like an outdoor bike, direct-contact resistance places a physical brake pad or friction band onto the flywheel to add resistance.

The advantage here is that the resistance is more accurate and consistent, while also providing the greatest amount of resistance. However, this system requires the pads to be replaced occasionally and can be a little noisy.

More popular these days than direct-contact is magnetic resistance. As the name suggests, magnetic resistance bikes use magnets to create the feeling of friction, meaning no part of the flywheel is touched.

The prime advantage of magnetic resistance is that you have great consistency with specific markings on the resistance knob, or even digital resistance controls allowing you to dial in the exact level that suits you. Magnetic resistance is also much quieter than direct-contact and requires much less maintenance.

The main drawback, however, is that magnetic resistance is more expensive. Thankfully you will still find many models on our sub-$500 chart offering magnetic resistance.

Finally, in lieu of a flywheel, a handful of bikes in this range offer air resistance. Here, the pedals are connected to a large fan in place of the traditional flywheel. As you pedal, the fan moves, creating air resistance on the blades. The faster you pedal, the harder it becomes!

As you may have guessed, the main downfall of these systems is that they become noisy as you ramp up the speed.

Height Range

Like the stride length on an elliptical, the height of your exercise bike is a very important consideration when shopping for a new model.

Ultimately, a bike with a height range that doesn’t fit you will ruin your experience as you struggle to reach handlebars and seats if you are too short, or feel cramped if you are too tall.

Unfortunately, despite being such an important part of buying a bike, not every manufacturer lists the recommended height range of their bikes.

The good news is that most exercise bikes in this price range will cater for users of most heights (around 4ft 6” to 6ft 6”), unless you are very short or very tall – even then some bikes still cater quite well.

However, if you are significantly taller or shorter than average, double check the height range of the bike as you may need to buy something more specialist to fit you.

Control Module

Bikes in this price range differ greatly when it comes to the control modules. Some are absolutely swamped with controls while others are as basic as they come. Of course, it depends on what you bike you are buying as to what controls you will end up with.

For example, an upright bike in this range usually offers significant control modules. You will find digital controls allowing you to change the resistance, as well as commence workout programs. If your bike has media options or a cooling fan (see below), then you will often find controls for these as well.

The control modules on other bikes – usually the spinning variety – are more streamlined, as resistance is manual instead of digital and there are fewer secondary features to tend to.

Regardless of the bike style, most will include an LCD screen (or sometimes two) to deliver some key workout data. Each bike will offer something different, but you can expect to see metrics such as your speed, workout time, distance travelled and calories burned. You may also find heart rate feedback if your machine has built-in monitors.

Secondary Features

The secondary features are important to consider when buying a stationary bike and, in many cases, can be the deciding factor between one model and another. For example, if two upright bikes on your list offer the same resistance levels and controls, but only one offers a cooling fan, you may use this to make your final decision.

The good news is that the majority of models in this sub-$500 range offer a significant step up in terms of feature variety and quality over their entry-level cousins.

In this range you will find things such as heart rate monitors in the form of pulse grips built into the handles, with your data fed back to you via the LCD screen. These monitors are usually far from precise, but do offer a glimpse into how hard you are working out.

Some machines will offer adjustable fans, which are useful for cooling you down on a warm day or when the intensity rises. They don’t compare to the breeze delivered by a dedicated room fan, but are better than nothing.

Some bikes may have more of a focus on entertainment. This may be in the form of something simple like a media shelf (there to hold your iPad or tablet as you ride), or more advanced with speaker systems, USB charging ports and Bluetooth connectivity.

However, just as you wouldn’t buy a new car solely because it has heated seats, you wouldn’t buy an exercise bike because it comes with a USB charger!

Make sure the bike you are buying fits you and your riding style, and offers enough resistance to help you meet your workout goals. Then enjoy the secondary features as a bonus to make your ride more comfortable.

Frequently Asked Questions

They most certainly are! Although having access to the bike is just one part of it – it’s up to you to put in the effort to see results, whether that’s weight loss, boosted cardio health or increased stamina.

Like a good elliptical, an exercise bike is an excellent low-impact machine that you can use at both the gym or at home. Many people will find it feels more intuitive than an elliptical, and is therefore slightly more approachable.

However, before diving into a purchase, you should be careful to find the right bike for you. Exercise bikes come in three main styles – upright, spinning or recumbent.

All three have different qualities. For example, if you are struggling with knee pain and want to take the load off, a recumbent bike is your best bet. Placing your body in a reclined position, these are comfortable and low-impact bikes, while still allowing you to break a sweat.

If you’d prefer to really feel the burn and blitz some calories, then an upright or spinning bike will be more suitable.

When you have your bike, you should also have a specific purpose for it. There are many exercise bike workout plans out there, all catering for different goals, from fat loss to training for a triathlon.

Finding a good plan – whether that’s searching online or talking to a personal trainer – will result in a much more effective workout with better results in the long term.

Anybody who has endured the pain of a high-intensity spin class will be able to vouch for the effectiveness of spinning to raise your heart rate, boost stamina and relieve stress. But how does spinning stack up when weight loss is the target?

Pretty well indeed! Using a spin bike in your fitness routine can be great for aiding weight loss – providing you also do a few other things.

Look at it this way. To burn a pound of fat, you have to be in a 3,500-calorie deficit every week (equaling 500 calories a day). The simplest way to do this is to get your diet and nutrition in check.

First, determine how many calories you actually need to consume per day (feel free to use our excellent TDEE Calorie Calculator. Then consume smaller portions, eat wholesome foods, and avoid sugar, junk food and alcohol, all with the aim of creating a slight deficit.

In addition to a good diet, using exercise – especially activities such as cycling or spinning – can burn considerable calories, helping to boost your overall deficit.

While calorie burn is determined by many factors, it is generally agreed that 30 minutes of moderately-paced spinning will help you burn around 210 calories (if you weigh 125lb) and around 260 calories (if you weigh 155lb).

Upping the speed and intensity, as well as properly engaging your core, can all contribute to a much higher calorie burn.

So, providing you eat in a deficit, add a few spin sessions to your weekly routine – whether at home or in a class – and don’t go chasing up your workout with a large pizza, then you should soon see some positive changes to your waistline!

With many cardio exercises, your knees can take a bit of a bashing. The impact caused by activities such as running and jumping can eventually take its toll on the joints in your lower body. That impact – whether on the sidewalk or a treadmill – adds up over time and can result in knee issues.

Thankfully, using a stationary bike – including upright, spinning and recumbent designs – is a very low impact way to work out and is therefore great for your knee health.

This is because exercise bikes are a closed system. This means your feet remain in contact with the pedals throughout the session, thus placing less force on your joints.

While upright and spinning bikes are already low impact, if you have existing knee pain, you may want to consider a good recumbent bike instead. With these bikes, you take even more weight off your knees as you are reclined throughout the movement.

Other activities that can be great for movement without hurting your knees include water-based cardio sessions or walking – especially on softer surfaces like grass.

Of course, if you are exercising with pre-existing knee pain, take care regardless of what activity you are doing. Don’t start any new activities until you first discuss it with a physician, who will be able to advise the best course of action.

With your stationary bike set up in the comfort of your own home, you may be tempted to ride it every day. But is this a good thing?

Many health and fitness organizations recommend 30 minutes of exercise every day for at least five days a week. Using an exercise bike to reach these daily minutes is ideal.

Due to the low-impact nature of an exercise bike, repeated daily use should have no negative impact on your joints, especially when compared to something like a daily 30-minute run.

However, jumping onto your bike for 30 minutes may start to get mentally draining – doing the same thing day in, day out may become boring and could result in you eventually losing interest. Not good.

Instead, look to change up your program every once in a while. If you only ever do 30 minutes of steady-state cycling, then try some interval training to shake things up. Or set a certain time on a 10km cycle, then aim to break it the next time. There are countless programs out there to keep your daily cycle session interesting and effective.

In addition, you should consider supplementing your biking with some other forms of exercise. For example, exercise bikes only tend to work your lower body, so adding some weightlifting to work your upper body will help create more balance.

The Ver(ve)dict!

There we have it – the complete guide to exercise bikes under $500! The bikes in this range are a great way to get into cycling and stay engaged thanks to their upgraded quality over those in the lower end of the market.

The seven models we have selected represent a good cross section of what is available with five hundred notes in your pocket, as well as what you can expect in terms of performance and features.

However, these seven models just scratch the surface. Armed with this new information, take a good browse on the market and see if something different appeals to you.

Don’t forget to come back and thank us when you are shedding the pounds and recording new bike PBs!

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