Finding the right exercise bike depends on a lot of things including your body, preferences, and fitness goals. This is before we even get into the diversity of stationary bikes and the unique ride and exercise benefits. Luckily, we’ve taken the time to eliminate some of the guesswork by exploring two of the most popular styles — recumbent and spin — to find you the best models on the market.
Why Buy an Exercise Bike?
Exercise bikes are considerably smaller than other types of indoor equipment. They can be rolled into a closet or corner when not in use. You no longer need an extra garage or dedicated workout room to get the most out of your home equipment. With an indoor bike you can workout on your schedule, in the comfort of your own home. You no longer have to rush to the gym after work or plan your whole day so you can make your favorite class. Just pull the bike out of the closet and ride whenever you are ready.
In addition to a streamlined design and solid engineering, many bikes also offer full-color trainer-led classes and vibrant landscape rides on a front-mounted HD screen. NordicTrack, ProForm, Echelon, Peloton and others feature subscription content that will stream directly to your bike. This takes the boredom out of riding indoors. Many apps also feature combo classes so you can also incorporate weight training, yoga, and stretching into your routine. A few of the bikes even have screens that swivel, so you can turn it to the side when exercising off the bike.
Cycling is an exceptional cardiovascular exercise. It is low-impact, spares the knees and joints, and strengthens the powerhouse muscles of the lower body for an intense calorie burn. While athletes in many sports have to eventually retire, devoted cyclists range into their 80’s. The new generation of exercise bikes enables anyone at any level of conditioning to enjoy functional, overall fitness.
During the survey, people had different views about their preferred exercise bikes. Below are reviewed four exercise bikes that were found with some of the best benefits and reviews of users.
Top 5 Exercise Bikes Reviews
1. NordicTrack Commercial S15i Studio Cycle
The NordicTrack S15i is one of our Best Exercise Bikes and our Best Bike for Interval Training. The s15i has automated incline and decline, a 14” interactive touchscreen, and 22 levels of digital resistance. It also has preset incline/decline and resistance buttons on the console so you can quickly move from one level to another with just a touch of your finger. This is why it is our best bike for interval training!
Interval training has been shown to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time when compared with steady-state training. The incline and resistance controls on the 15i console make it easy to quickly move between levels. When preparing for a sprint interval, you can instantly jump from a level 15 resistance to a level 5. You can also move from a 3% incline to a 15% incline without having to turn a dial or find the right settings on the screen. I love the touchscreen controls on the s15i! They are within easy reach and very responsive.
iFit is another added feature because, as with the s22i, you have lots of training options and variables! The s15i offers innovative tech and navigable functionality at an amazing price.
2. Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bikebest exercise bike review
Sunny Health and Fitness Company does not manufacture but imports fitness equipment from China and Taiwan. This company is based in California and distributes its imported products only in U.S.A. currently. This Pro Indoor Bike is also imported and distributed by this company. Although this bike is named indoor, suggesting home usage but it can be used anywhere and by anyone starting from starters to tedious workout lovers, teenagers to athletes. Like an obedient student, it follows the directions of its user. Featuring a firm stable design and adjustable resistance system, everything seems easy and user friendly. This bike can handle weight limit up to 275 pounds and measures 20x 46.5 x 48.5 inches. The machine itself weighs 108 pounds. Due to the adjustable seat people of every height can use this bike. Furthermore, the handlebars can be adjusted also. Just like a normal bike, it has a chain drive system, plus it features a 40 pound flywheel, and both of these features enable the bike to run smoothly. The crank of Sunny Indoor Bike accepts every type of pedal. It comes with transport wheels so it can slide wherever you want.
3. Sole SB700 Exercise Bike
The Sole SB700 is one of our Best Bikes of 2019 because it is a lightweight bike ideal for home cyclists who want a streamlined design, weighted flywheel, and simple LCD screen on a quality steel frame. The SB700 routinely sits well under $1000 so it is a really good machine at an affordable price point. Additionally, Sole builds solid equipment and the SB700 comes with a lifetime frame warranty and extensive parts warranty, which is why we recognize it as the Best Warranty for a bike under $1000.
Once again, a Sole bike ranks in our top 10! The SB700 is a fantastic buy for the price. Like the SB900, it also has a 48lb flywheel, so your pedal motion is fluid underfoot. This bike is well built, has multiple adjustment points, a comfortable span from saddle to handlebars, and sits firmly on the floor while riding. The SB700 doesn’t offer the same tech found on more expensive bikes, but for those looking for substance over flare, we recommend the SB700 as a great option.
4. Sole SB900 Exercise Bike
The Sole SB900 is a solid, well-built and economical spin bike. This is why it is one of our Best Exercise Bikes for 2019. It is also our Best Exercise Bike under $1000 for its quality build and low sticker price. It does not offer all the bells and whistles frequently found on newer spin bikes, instead it keeps the geometry clean with a precise design and solid engineering. This is a great bike for any spin enthusiast who loves to ride, values quality, and doesn’t want extra tech!
Sole has a reputation for building sturdy, quality equipment and the SB900 is Sole’s premier exercise bike. It has all steel construction, solid seat and handlebar posts, and sturdy stabilizers under the front and rear to keep it from rocking while on the floor. Also, the 48lb flywheel is the heaviest of any bike on our list! The heavier a flywheel is, the smoother it will rotate, so you can ride at any speed and the flywheel will glide along without any jerkiness or hiccups in the motion.
Sole also offers extensive warranties on all their products which indicates confidence in both build and design. With a lifetime warranty on the frame, the Sole SB900 is really the best bike you will find under $1000.
5. ProForm TDF Pro Exercise Bike
The ProForm TDF Pro is one of our top Exercise Bikes for 2019. It too has automated +20% incline, but the TDF Pro will also drop to a -20% decline! This is the only bike on the market today with this amount of incline/decline range, which is why it is our Best Exercise Bike for Incline/Decline. TDF stands for “Tour de France,” so the signature feature on this bike is 24 Tour de France routes filmed live at each stage. You can train like a pro while you navigate the various stages through France.
Typically indoor cycling is limited to two training variables: speed and resistance. You can stand up and change positions a little on a bike, but ultimately speed and resistance create the challenge within your workout. With a 20% incline and 20% decline built into the TDF Pro, you not only add another training variable, you also increase the difficulty of the other two. Riding 20mph on a flat road is hard enough, but try riding 20mph at a 20% incline! That will torch some calories. The decline option also allows you to still work hard while going downhill. You can set the resistance at level 22 while in a 20% decline. This activates different muscle groups as you work to balance yourself against the descent, just as you would if you were riding outdoors.
The rear flywheel on the TDF pro also makes it stand apart. While traditional spin bikes maintain the standard form of a mounted front flywheel, rear flywheel bikes suspend the flywheel in the back, out of the “sweat zone.” This creates a slightly different look, but maintains the great functionality of an indoor cycle. It also opens up the front of the bike to enhance the effect of the 20% incline and 20% decline. The TDF Pro is a fun, powerful exercise bike with excellent features and impressive design!
How We Chose the Best Exercise Bikes
We looked at all the spin and recumbent bikes made by Bladez, Diamondback, Keiser, Nautilus, NordicTrack, Peloton, ProForm, Schwinn, Spinning, and Sunny Health — the most reputable companies in the exercise bike market. Our starting list of 57 bikes included a vast range of engineering choices, technology uses, and price points. To discover what elements make some bikes better than others, we consulted physiotherapy and fitness experts and dug into sports medicine data. Then we compared these learnings to the machines’ stats.
Resistance mechanisms recreate the intensity of outdoor cycling, caused by wind, incline, and changing terrain. There are two exercise bike resistance systems, and weighted flywheels are at the core of each. One relies on a heavy flywheel alone, the other simulates weight by pulling on the metal flywheel with magnets.
Clean, intuitive controls
Spin and recumbent bikes couldn’t be more different in terms of programming, but our standards for each were surprisingly similar: Clear, helpful, usable information that improved our workout.
Durability backed by warranty
We prioritize long warranties for all exercise equipment. You’d be hard-pressed to find a piece of residential-use cardio equipment that didn’t have at least a handful of customer reviews detailing an unexpected breakdown or malfunction during the first year. The better the bike, the less likely it is you’ll be sent the one with a manufacturing flaw, but it’s not unprecedented to find a bad apple in a good bunch.
Physical exercise is necessary for everyone. Everybody has a personal view about exercising. Some like to jog, some join gyms; others prefer buying exercise machines at home for continuous workouts. Exercise bikes are popular home based exercise machines. They help manage your weight, develop your immune system, and keep you safe from getting chronic diseases.
Many types of exercise bikes are available on the internet and it is difficult to choose among them. Four best exercise bike reviews are below for readers’ convenience.
Finding the Perfect Bike: Factors to Consider
So what to look for in an exercise bike? There are lots of features and components so let’s take a look at the most important ones:
Best exercise bike: Cost
The price of an exercise bike is based on the components and frame. Look for the following features:
- When evaluating a bike, pay attention to the frame. It should have steel stabilizers and support posts to keep it stable while riding. Most solid bikes weight between 125 – 200lbs. Leveling feet under the stabilizers will also help keep the bike from rocking. Also check the weight of the flywheel. Typically, heavier is better.
- You also want to check for multiple points of adjustment:
- You should be able to raise/lower the saddle and handlebars. If you are a tall person, make sure the bike offers enough vertical lift to bring the handlebars up away from your knees.
- Moving handlebars and saddle forward/aft is also tremendously helpful in getting the right fit.
- Make sure you know what you are paying for. Some bikes are more expensive because they feature an attached screen that is designed for subscription content. If you don’t want to pay a monthly fee for an app, then look for a bike without a screen — or one with a tablet holder for your personal tablet or phone.
Best exercise bike: Design
There are several different styles of exercise bikes:
- Upright — this design is similar to a beach cruiser, where the seat is lower with handlebars higher. This design allows you to sit up while riding so your torso is not compressed. Upright bikes typically feature a wider, more comfortable seat and handlebars that gently angle up.
- Studio — your typical “spin” bike where the seat is level with the handlebars for a more aero-style position. Riders lean forward from the hips so torso is lower. Handlebars typically extend horizontally so riders can rest arms on the handlebars. Studio bikes have a narrower, less-padded seat similar to outdoor road bikes.
- Recumbent — a recumbent bike allows you to sit back, behind the pedals rather than over them. This provides more lumbar support and less knee tension. Recumbent bikes are also lower to the ground and easier to get on and off. These bikes work well for those with hip or spine issues, mobility issues, or anyone recovering from an injury. Recumbent bikes typically feature a very wide seat with a backrest and wide, ergonomic pedals.
- Rear Flywheel — these bikes move the flywheel — or front wheel — to the rear of the bike. This keeps the flywheel out of the “sweat zone” so you don’t drip moisture down on your flywheel while riding. It also allows riders to sit up more like they would on an upright bike. Handlebars often can be adjusted to angle upward or stay horizontal.
Best exercise bike: Flywheel
The flywheel on a bike is the heavy, suspended wheel that moves when you pedal. The heavier the flywheel, the more momentum it will gain as you pedal, which keeps it spinning evenly.
- Bikes that feature a “perimeter weighted flywheel” or “inertia-enhanced flywheel” utilize the weight of the flywheel to create a smooth pedal stroke that glides along with you. Weighted flywheels support riders both in the saddle or when standing for a hill climb.
- Freewheels are much lighter and do not offer the same fluid motion of a weighted flywheel. However, freewheels are safer. As soon as you stop pedalling, the wheel stops — there is no inertia to keep it going. This makes it so the pedals will not spin out of control if you stop pedaling. Freewheels are a little harder to use if you like to stand up out of the saddle and they can feel jerky if you don’t have enough resistance.
Best exercise bike: Pedals
Exercise bikes typically feature four different kinds of pedals:
- SPD cleat pedals — These are the “clip in” cleats found on indoor spin bikes and mountain bikes. You must buy a cycling shoe and SPD cleats that “clip” down into the metal casing attached to the pedal.
- Delta LOOK cleat pedals — These are the cleats used most often by road bikers. They require specific shoes and cleats that attach to the sole of the shoe. These are larger than SPD cleats and lock right down into the pedal itself. Peloton bikes use LOOK pedals.
- Hybrid Pedals — Most indoor bikes (except for Peloton) feature hybrid pedals, with a cleat on one side and a standard flat pedal on the other side. Check the kind of pedal on each bike so you know if you need additional cycling shoes to ride.
- Flat, Ergonomic Pedals — This is the standard flat pedal. It is wide and textured and will work with any athletic shoe. Often flat pedals also have a “cage” or “strap” that comes around the pedal to hold your shoe in securely.
Best exercise bike: Screen
Screens are relatively new on exercise bikes and they offer exciting features and content! A few things to watch for with a bike screen:
- Full-Color Touchscreen — Many high-end bikes offer touchscreens where you can choose a program or manage data and navigation through the screen. The size of the screen will affect how well you can see any program. Even if it is full-color touchscreen, if it is less than 10” you may find it hard to see. Also, check to see if the screen rotates side-to-side or swivels up and down. This helps avoid overhead glare and makes it so you can see your screen if you are doing classes off the bike. However, be aware — most touchscreens do not allow riders to access the internet while riding. Most screens are designed to feature specific apps and programs, so don’t assume just because it has a screen you can watch Netflix or browse the web — this is most often NOT the case.
- Compatible Screen — Some bikes offer screens that will show a limited number of full-color outdoor routes even if you don’t have a subscription app. While most bikes with screens are intended to be used with subscription content, you may be able to access a number of onboard programs through the screen. However, if you don’t pay for the subscription service, you won’t get all the classes and features.
- LCD Screen — This is the standard, digital screen found on traditional workout equipment. It will not display a subscription program with classes and trainers. It will display of your metrics and stats while riding. LCD screens are typically found on more economical bikes and usually offer just a few onboard programs.
Best exercise bike: Subscription Content
The most well-known subscription app is probably Peloton. However, NordicTrack and ProForm offer iFit, Echelon offers FitPass, and other companies are now following suit with additional fitness apps. Subscription content can typically be accessed three ways:
- Included or Prepaid for a limited time: Many companies will offer their app free for 1 to 3 years when you buy an exercise bike. A code allows you to login and set up your free account which includes all the classes and features. After the prepaid period ends, you must then subsequently pay for the service.
- Subscription app required — Some bikes are built to feature the app and if you don’t plan to use it or pay for it, I would look for a different bike. The Peloton bike is built around the app — the screen doesn’t really do anything if you aren’t paying for the service. Similarly, the NordicTrack s22i features a 22” touchscreen with iFit free for 1-year. Some of the functionality of the bike is integrated into the app — for example, the incline/decline feature on the bike will adjust to match the actual terrain of whatever route you are riding. There are some really cool features on these subscription services, just make sure you know how the app is integrated with the bike.
- Subscription app supported — This option is often found on mid-range bikes where the color screen will play a limited number of onboard programs if you don’t want to use an app. But if you decide to subscribe, it will play all the features and content.
- Subscription app available via compatible tablet or phone — This option is found on more economical bikes that have a tablet holder so you can watch the app of your choice while riding. Be advised, some of the functionality of specific apps will be limited. For example, you will not show up on the Peloton leaderboard if you are just using the tablet app because the trainer can’t quantify how hard you are working. Similarly, the automated incline/decline feature in iFit cannot adjust your bike from a tablet.
Best exercise bike: Resistance Type and Calibration
There are a few different ways resistance is created and measured. Both affect how the bike feels and functions
- Resistance Type
- Magnetic Resistance — this the best kind of resistance on an exercise bike. Magnets adjacent to the flywheel oppose the motion of the wheel. Magnetic resistance is quiet and easily calibrated. Because no friction is generated with magnetic resistance, it is noticeably quieter; it also creates less wear on the wheel.
- Friction Resistance — this type of resistance is created when a brake pad creates drag as it rubs against the wheel to generate resistance. Tension resistance causes wear on the flywheel and the pads must occasionally be replaced. Also, as the pads wear down, it affects the amount of resistance on the flywheel, so it is not as easy to measure the actual tension.
- Resistance Calibration
- Digital Levels — Preset digital resistance is the most accurate way to measure resistance. With digital resistance levels, you can set and find the same tension each time. There is no guesswork when increasing tension. It is also superior for moving quickly between resistance levels. Digital resistance is measured using preset levels that correspond to numbers on the console or screen.
- Manual Knob Tension — Knob tension is usually found on bikes with friction resistance. This tension is much more difficult to measure and there are no preset levels you can automatically select.
Best exercise bike: Chain Drive vs. Belt Drive
Bike pedals connect to pedal arms that turn the crank wheel. A belt or chain loops around the crank wheel and connects to the flywheel to create rotation.
- Chain Drive — A metal chain loops around the crank wheel and connects to the flywheel. One benefit of a chain drive is it is slightly more durable. However, chain drives are noticeably louder due to the movement of the chain. Users often report hearing rattling inside the drivetrain cover.
- Belt Drive — A rubber or composite belt connects the crank wheel to the flywheel. This design is much quieter, however, belts are known to wear out before chain drives with heavy use.
One of the most exciting features on recent bikes is actual incline and decline built into the bike. A motor on the rear stabilizer and an arm under the flywheel lift and tilt the bike to mimic outdoor terrain. Rather than just use resistance to simulate a hill climb, some of the new bikes actually pivot and tilt as you ride. This is a valuable feature and greatly enhances the functionality of the bike. Check out the NordicTrack and ProForm bikes for this feature.
Quality and Warranty
Exercise bikes are economical, but check for quality and warranty before you buy. Read reviews on how the bike typically holds up and what warranties are offered. In our reviews, we include warranty information on every bike. An extensive warranty usually indicates a well-built bike.
- Why Buy an Exercise Bike?
- Top 5 Exercise Bikes Reviews
- How We Chose the Best Exercise Bikes
- Finding the Perfect Bike: Factors to Consider