Our chart was given a bit of a refresh, as we ditched some older models to make way for more relevant options for this year.
New additions included the whisper-quiet JOROTO X2, along with the no-nonsense SF-B901 from Sunny Health & Fitness. We also adjusted a few things in our buyer’s guide to make sure it remained up to date.
Buying a good spin bike is one of the best things you could do for your fitness goals, whether they are losing weight, building endurance or training for an outdoor race.
Table of Contents
Of course, the brand names may become less familiar, but the quality remains surprisingly high – especially with the seven models featured on our chart.
After our chart of mini reviews, we will take a closer look at affordable spinning bikes in our buyer’s guide. We will also tackle a few of your most often-asked questions.
Resistance: Adjustable (Direct-Contact)
Features: 40lb flywheel, belt drive, four-way adjustable race-style seat, SPD pedals with toe cages, multi-position handles, LCD screen, media shelf, water bottle holder, 300lb weight capacity
When compiling this chart, the IC3 from Schwinn was always on the cards to place highly! While pushing the $500 price criteria to its limit, this popular indoor bike surpasses many others in this category with high-level performance and features.
The IC3 sports a 40lb flywheel with a belt drive system for a smooth and relatively quiet ride. It can take users up to 300lbs and multiple dimensions, thanks to a race-style seat that adjusts both vertically and horizontally.
With dual pedals, you can choose between SPD clips or toe cages to suit your style and equipment – an excellent option at this affordable price. It also comes with an LCD screen for your workout data, as well as a media shelf and water bottle holder.
Weight Capacity: 280lbs
Features: Bidirectional 35lb steel flywheel, belt drive, wide padded seat, four-way adjustable seat, four-way adjustable handlebars, adjustable caged foot pedals, digital monitor, water bottle holder, media shelf, transportation wheels
While some spinning bikes can be very noisy, the JOROTO X2 promises an experience so quiet that it wouldn’t wake a sleeping baby! Whether you are using it at night, or simply don’t want to disturb your loved ones, it’s good to see JOROTO deliver on their promises.
This serenity is down to the combination of a belt drive instead of a chain, and a magnetic resistance system instead of a direct-contact pad. This resistance is controlled by a tension dial, with an emergency stop feature, and provides ample challenge for riders of all levels.
Elsewhere, the X2 is a top performer for the sub-$500 price tag. It features a bidirectional 35lb steel flywheel for a smooth ride, while comfort is guaranteed with an adjustable padded seat, and adjustable pedals and handlebars.
Resistance: Adjustable (Direct-Contact)
Features: 49lb flywheel, belt drive, adjustable seat, adjustable multi-grip handlebars, pedals with toe cages, water bottle holder, transportation wheels, 275lb maximum weight capacity
Sunny Health & Fitness has a wide range of indoor bikes straddling both the budget and midrange market – all equally worthy of your time. However, the SF-B1002 stands out as one of the more popular choices.
This bike is fitted with a hefty 49lb solid chrome flywheel, with the option of either a classic chain drive or – for a few dollars more – a smoother belt drive, both with a heavy-duty crank. Resistance is ample and adjustable, coming from a direct-contact leather pad.
While the exact height range is unclear, there is good adjustability. This includes a four-way adjustable seat and two-way adjustable multi-grip handlebars, while the bike accommodates users up to 275lbs. It also features transportation wheels and a water bottle holder, which are both very handy.
Resistance: Adjustable (Direct-Contact)
Features: 48lb flywheel, four-way adjustable road-style saddle, pedal cage with toe strap, multi-position handles, LCD screen, media shelf, 5” LCD monitor, workout feedback, wireless heart rate receiver, water bottle holder, transportation wheels, 286lb weight capacity
This stunning indoor bike from Horizon Fitness is a solid choice that doesn’t break the bank. The GR3 manages to pack some high-end features and a stellar performance into a bike that still sits in the sub-$500 price range.
It features a hefty 48lb flywheel with a friction brake to offer a very smooth feel, while the frame is built to take users up to 286lbs. It’s a comfortable ride with a four-way adjustable road-style saddle and multiple handlebar angles – ideal, whatever your shape and size.
Notably, this bike also comes with a brilliant LCD monitor, offering a range of workout feedback as well as speed, HIIT and heart rate programs. A Polar wireless heart rate receiver is the icing on the cake of this affordable bike built for serious riders.
Resistance: Adjustable (Direct-Contact)
Features: 35lb flywheel, belt drive, pedals with toe cages, LCD screen, water bottle holder, media shelf, transportation wheels, 280lb weight capacity
This indoor bike from PYHIGH is very similar to our last choice and just as popular! It features a decent 35lb flywheel with a belt drive, keeping the action smooth and quiet.
Adjustability is good – the seat can be moved both vertically and horizontally, while the handlebars also move up and down to cater for your preferred shape. It’s a sturdy and compact bike, with transportation wheels allowing you to store it away post-workout.
Secondary features are on par with others in this price range, with just the basics on offer. This includes a tablet shelf to prop up your device, a water bottle holder, and an LCD screen that is pretty small but works nicely.
Resistance: Adjustable (Direct-Contact)
Features: 35lb flywheel, belt drive, four-way adjustable seat, adjustable handlebars, pedals with toe cages, LCD screen, media rack, transportation wheels, 270lb weight capacity
This sleek indoor bike is a sturdy but stylish model, built with a compact steel frame that inspires confidence. Like many others in this sub-$500 price range, it includes a 35lb flywheel attached to a belt drive for a smooth and quiet ride.
It only takes users up to 270lbs, yet the adjustability with the handles and seat (including a horizontal motion) means it is built to fit many dimensions. With adjustable direct-contact resistance, it’s easy to add a substantial challenge – you can quickly feel the lactic acid burning in your quads!
Up top, it is fitted with a basic but functional LCD module, along with a tablet rack to keep your phone or iPad secure as you follow along to a high-intensity indoor cycling class.
Weight Capacity: 275lbs
Features: 40lb steel flywheel, chain drive, four-way adjustable seat, two-way adjustable handlebars, caged pedals, emergency stop lever, transportation wheels, floor stabilizers
The SF-B901 is one of Sunny Health & Fitness’s entry-level spinning bikes, although it has plenty to offer the avid at-home cyclist!
The highlight is the heavy flywheel (40lbs), which ensures there’s nothing janky about the performance – just smooth riding throughout your session. You’ll find a four-way adjustable seat so you can tailor the fit for you, while it is also equipped with two-way adjustable handlebars and caged pedals.
The SF-B901 features direct-contact resistance with a classic adjustable tension dial to alter the resistance, as well as an emergency stop brake. Any negatives? Unlike others in this range, there’s no performance monitor, media shelf or other extras. Otherwise, it’s a no-nonsense bike that will suit spinners on a budget.
Picking a chart of seven affordable spinning bikes was no easy feat – there are some great bikes in the entry-level and midrange segments of the market. Competition is very hot!
Of course, this competition is great for us consumers, who have plenty of choice and value. The only negative is that it is quite difficult to decide exactly what you need.
In this section, we are taking a look at the components and features of spinning bikes, arming you with the information you need to make an informed purchase.
First things first – spinning bikes are considerably different in design to both upright bikes and recumbent bikes. Of course, they all have flywheels, pedals and seats, but the fundamentals of using the bike are different.
For starters, you will find that the seat is at the same level as the handlebars. This positioning means you must either lean forward and ride with your weight on your arms, or stand up as you ride. Both are very demanding when compared to the more relaxed styles of other stationary bikes.
Even in the budget price range, spinning bikes are very sturdy, usually built with steel or aluminum frames that can cope with the pressures of riding while standing up. This is also why you will find heavy-duty cranks and reinforced pedals.
On pretty much every budget spinning bike, you will find a metal flywheel at the front of the unit. This is what makes your workout go around. This flywheel will be pretty heavy – 35lb is the standard for this sub-$500 range, although flywheels heavier and lighter than this are also common.
In general, the heavier the flywheel the smoother the ride. However, the drive system also plays a big part. You will either find a chain or belt drive on bikes in this range, both doing the job of connecting the pedals to the flywheel.
Chain-drive systems work well, with a strong chain that never loses tension, and cannot snap or be cut. Belt-drive systems use a rubber belt in lieu of a chain. This all-round cleaner system results in a quieter ride, although you will tend to pay more for the privilege.
While the flywheel is what makes the workout go around, it’s the resistance that makes it worthwhile. Without resistance, you are simply wasting your time on an indoor bike – regardless of whether you are a beginner or pro.
There are several resistance systems used on spinning bikes, including both magnetic and air resistance. However, in this affordable region, it is direct-contact that you will see the most often.
As the name suggests, this system relies on a physical brake making direct contact with the flywheel – in the majority of cases, this brake will be a piece of wool felt. As you turn the resistance dial, the pad is pushed closer to the wheel, which increases the friction and – ultimately – the challenge.
This is a cheaper system for manufacturers to implement, compared to something like magnetic resistance, which uses magnets to add the feeling of friction.
Direct-contact is still great, although it can be a bit noisy. In addition, you may occasionally have to replace the brake pads, especially if you use the bike regularly.
Have you considered your height? Why does this matter? If you are 6ft 3” and try to squish yourself into a bike that can only cater for users up to 6ft, you may find the experience too cramped to be beneficial.
However, if you are very short, you are not safe either – if the bike proves too large, you may struggle to reach the pedals or handlebars!
This is why you should pay attention to the height range of the bike you are considering. Having said that, it is actually pretty common for manufacturers to leave this important detail out.
Sometimes they will list the leg inseam instead, so keep an eye out for that. Providing that you are aware of your own inseam measurements, this can be a good indicator of whether the bike will fit your legs.
If none of this information is available, try to read some user reviews (on Amazon or a similar marketplace). This may shed some light on how the bike performs for specific height ranges.
The good news is that if you are an average height (around 5ft to 6ft), then the majority of bikes will cater for you.
Regardless of the height range, a good indoor bike will offer ample adjustability in both the seat and handlebars. You can move the handlebars up and down, and the seat up, down, forwards and backwards to find the perfect position for you.
When browsing the spin bike market, you will come across two styles of pedal: those with toe cages, and SPD pedals.
Pedals with toe cages take the standard flat pedal design and add a rubber or fabric enclosure to secure your toes and enhance your grip on the pedal. The plus of these pedals is that you can wear whatever shoe you prefer, without having to buy specialist equipment.
SPD pedals on the other hand are a little more complex. These pedals offer the ultimate grip, clipping directly to the shoe. This makes your pedal pulling as controlled as your pushing, enhancing both power and efficiency, as well as consistency.
Besides having to invest in a pair of compatible shoes, the downside of SPD pedals is that they are only really found on bikes in higher price ranges. However, some bikes will allow you to make aftermarket alterations, so you can add SPD pedals when you are ready.
Having said that, if you are serious enough about spinning and want to make the jump to SPD pedals, you may be better off looking at some of the best spinning bikes on the market. These bikes may last you longer as you grow into them.
Even when shopping for a premium indoor bike, you won’t find much in the way of secondary features. Certainly nothing compared to the cooling fans and heart rate monitors found on good recumbent bikes.
This is because the emphasis on spin bikes is performance rather than comfort and convenience. Having said that, you will find some controls and features worth keeping an eye out for.
Regardless of the model you buy, you will always find a control to allow you to alter the resistance of the bike. This will be in the form of a dial or slider, offering accurate tightening of the brake, tailoring the resistance to exactly what you need for your session.
Aside from this, the features will depend on the manufacturer.
You will sometimes find a simple LCD screen that will display your workout data, such as your time, distance, speed and calories burned. In this budget range don’t expect much more than a small screen with simple button controls.
A considerate manufacturer will also add things like a water bottle holder and a media shelf. These aren’t essential, but surprisingly handy.
Having water nearby during an intense session needs no explanation, while an iPad or similar tablet secured to your machine can be great for workout motivation. You can follow along to online spin classes or apps such as Zwift and CycleCast, which can add significant direction and challenge to a workout.
Before we answer this question, let’s get one thing straight – there is no such thing as a ‘regular exercise bike’. There are multiple designs, including upright bikes and recumbent bikes, all serving different purposes.
However, a traditional upright bike is probably what you are referring to here, so let’s look at the differences.
Like an upright bike, a spinning bike will feature a frame, a seat, handlebars, pedals and a flywheel. However, the positioning and function of these are different.
While an upright bike will feature a seat that is at a lower level than the handlebars, a spinning bike’s seat is at the same level as the handlebars. This layout forces the rider to either lean forward, or stand on the pedals while riding.
The seats are also different. An upright bike will have a nicely padded and relatively comfortable seat, but spin bikes are usually equipped with smaller, harder seats. Again, if you are spending a lot of time leaning forward or standing, this won’t make much difference to you.
The overall build – including frame, pedals and handlebars – is more solid on a spin bike too, as the demanding body positioning means that a lot more stress is placed on the bike when in action.
Spin bikes also have a heavier flywheel allowing for a smoother ride and more resistance to be added.
With all this in mind, spin bikes may sound more uncomfortable – and they generally are. But this design allows you to take advantage of different positions, and maximize the fat-burning, endurance-boosting, stress-relieving potential of indoor bikes.
When it comes to exercise bikes, spinning bikes are undoubtedly the best for aiding weight loss. You can burn anywhere between around 400 and 1,000 calories per hour, depending on factors such as your intensity and current weight.
As you are probably aware, weight loss occurs when you are in a consistent calorie deficit – being in a 3,500-calorie deficit over a week will result in the loss of 1lb of fat.
So, throwing in a few indoor cycling classes or at-home spinning sessions to complement a good diet is a great way to boost that calorie burn and watch the pounds fly off.
However, you should be aware of some key points before adding spinning to your weight loss program.
Firstly, ensure that your bike is set up properly and that your posture is correct. If neither of these are right, it can affect how you spin and lead to a less beneficial session.
A full guide to setting up your bike and your posture goes beyond the scope of this answer, but there are countless instructional videos out there to lend a hand.
To maximize your calorie burn, ensure you are challenging yourself enough. Phrases like ‘If it ain’t hurting, it ain’t working’ and ‘No pain, no gain’ may be a bit overused, but they are very accurate. You can’t expect to see results if you aren’t keeping the intensity high.
However, also be sure to pace yourself correctly to be able to last the full session. If you are unsure, it can be beneficial to attend a spin class or to follow along to online spin classes at home.
Finally, in addition to regular spinning and a nutritious calorie-appropriate diet, include some other exercise. Try some running or swimming, lifting weights, or replace a spin session with one on a rowing machine. Anything that can keep you motivated and your body guessing will be beneficial to weight loss in the long run.
Like any kind of cycling, spinning is a low-impact movement that puts a lot stress on your joints when compared to an activity like running. So, generally speaking, no – spinning is not bad for your knees.
However, if you are not careful, you can develop knee conditions such as patellofemoral pain syndrome and patellar tendonitis.
While impact is unlikely to be the cause of pain when cycling, you can develop knee issues if your bike is not set up properly or your positioning is wrong. It is therefore best to consult a professional spin coach or personal trainer who can help you set up your bike and give feedback on your positioning.
However, you can also try a few quick fixes. This includes setting your bike seat at a height so your knees only have a slight bend as your ride. You should also consciously aim to keep your knees straight instead of leaning outwards or inwards.
If everything is set up properly and you are still experiencing pain, try easing off the resistance. If you are still suffering by this stage then you may be overusing your joints – in this case, rest is the best answer!
Above all, if you feel any pain during any exercise, it is best to stop and reassess, lest you cause further damage. Of course, if you already suffer from a knee condition, it is wise to consult a physician before you start spinning.
We’ll let you in on a secret: spinning is hard for everybody. Just like any form of exercise – from HIIT to lifting weights – it never gets easier; you just get stronger.
If it does get easier, then you probably aren’t putting in enough effort!
However, if you have never tried spinning before, you will definitely have a shock to the system. High-intensity spinning is a lot different to a steady-state session on a recumbent bike or even an upright bike.
One thing that beginners will notice is that the positioning of the seat in relation to the handlebars makes it difficult to sit down comfortably. Instead, you will spend more of your time leaning forward or even standing as you pedal. This is instantly a more demanding position.
Our advice for beginners to spinning is to try a good local spinning class before taking the plunge and buying a bike of your own.
Spending an hour under the guidance of a professional spin instructor will mean you take part in a structured workout, with no guesswork. If you have questions about the bike, your positioning or anything to do with spinning, you will be able to ask them (although save them for after the class!).
The environment of a spin class will also be beneficial as it will pair you with both experienced spinners and other newbies, allowing you to see that spinning is actually pretty tough for everybody – in a good way!
Hopefully this article will have proven to you that you don’t need to spend over the odds to end up with a comfortable and functional spin bike fit for purpose.
Our seven picks are excellent choices, although the market is awash with great bikes that may suit you better.
Take a good browse of the market and keep our advice in mind as you shop for your first bike – this way you will end up with something that works best for you and your fitness goals.