The Complete Exercise Bike Buying Guide

The Complete Exercise Bike Buying Guide

A staple of many home gyms, the exercise bike is a good all rounder – you can pick them up cheap, they can take up little space, and they can help you on your way to burning some serious calories. You can also watch television while using it. What’s not to like? Here is Fitness Savvy’s complete guide to the exercise bike, and how you can incorporate it into your home gym setup.

With so many options available in the market, buying an exercise bike can be an overwhelming task when trying to find one that best suits your needs. With that in mind, here are some things to ponder while you decide which type of bike to buy.

What are your fitness goals?

What do you intend to gain from using the bike? Some people target to lose weight; others want to tone particular muscles while others need to use the bike for physiotherapy while recovering from an injury.

How many times in a day/week/month will do you intend to use your bike?

Some bike manufacturers target light weight while some target hardcore workouts. Your equipment’s lifespan can come into play depending on the mileage you cover each month. A sturdy bike might be more durable when you use more frequently compared to a weaker one.

What features do you need?

Looking at bike feature is perhaps where you should spend most of your time. The features determine the quality of exercise, comfort, and safety you get. Your bike should have at least basic features like:

  • several resistance levels
  • a comfortable seat
  • strap on pedals to avoid your feet from slipping and injuring yourself during exercise.

If the exercise pedals don’t have straps, the manufacturers should at least use a nonslip material to avoid skidding during exercise.

Your equipment should also have a simple computer to show heart rate, speed, calories that you’ve burnt and speed.

What extras does the bike have?

Accessories can make your workout sessions a breeze. Some bikes have built in fans that help your body cool off from the heat. The fans also provide resistance.

Others also feature built-in radios that produce acoustic music that you can listen to while you exercise. Research has shown that enjoying music while you exercise can distract you from pain, and puts you in a zone that makes you work harder.

What’s your budget?

Different features and accessories determine the cost of a bike. Keep in mind that the pricier bikes have more features and accessories.

What category of bike do you want?

Exercise Bikes fall into three broad categories namely:

  • Recumbent
  • Upright
  • Spinning

You can differentiate between the types by looking at things like:

  • Where you place your legs while operating the bike
  • The position of the seat
  • Presence or lack thereof of handlebars

While upright bikes have been on the market longer, recumbent Exercise Bikes are now becoming a staple for many home gyms.

 


 Upright bike

An upright bike has a perched seat, just like a regular bike and is suitable for people that don’t have neurological problems.

PROS:
  • Cheaper, so it’s excellent for those with a thin budget
  • The bike’s upright position takes less storage space.
  • More versatile regarding workouts as it mimics an outdoor bike

CONS:
  • Has an uncomfortable seat that can cause the genital area to hurt. You might need to keep on taking breaks in between your exercise.
  • You have to hold on to the handlebars for support, so your hands are not free to do anything else.
  • You must maintain an upright posture throughout your session. Otherwise, you might start experiencing back pain problems.

Recumbent bike / Bent bike

The design of the bike allows you to sit in a reclined position as you extend your feet forward.

PROS:
  • If you value comfort or have spinal problems, this is the ideal bike for you.
  • The seat has a backrest that allows you to sit in a sloped position.  The position offers back support, enabling you to exercise for long periods without any discomfort-oriented distractions.
  • No handlebars so your hands are free to do other things like reading a book, surfing the net or catching up with your favorite program on TV.
  • Fewer fall off accidents because of the bike’s physical construction and sitting position.
  • Excellent for strengthening the hamstrings and other lower body muscles.

CONS:
  • More expensive than an upright bike.
  • To achieve the same workout as a person using an upright or spinning bike, you need to work out for a longer time.
  • The bike is heavy.
  • The bike takes up more storage space because of its sprawling design.

Spin/studio Bike

This bike resembles an upright bike and has a real chain and heavier flywheels. If you’re looking for a more authentic workout, this is the bike for you.

PROS:
  • You can adjust the pedal for different levels of resistance.
  • The bike gives you a more intense full body workout
  • The handles bars are much further than for an upright bike hence could be problematic for you if you have back problems.

CONS:
  • The seat resembles that of a regular bicycle which is smaller in size and a little uncomfortable
  • Most are basic and don’t have any computation that allows you to know how many calories you’ve burnt
  • Not ideal for beginners and might cause joint pains due to the rigorous workouts.

Compare Prices on Exercise Bikes


Below are a few suggestions of popular bikes covering different budgets, plus their accompanying features. The recommendations will help you understand what to expect with each budget.

Opti Folding Exercise Bike with Console Feedback (Below £200)

Opti Folding Exercise Bike is a compact bike that allows you to exercise from the comfort of your home.

  • Product
  • Specification
  • Deals
Features

Calories Burned, Distance, Heart Rate, Resistance Level, Timer

Key features:

  • Magnetic resistance system – the bike has a magnet on each flywheel. Increasing pedal resistance influences the magnets to switch the intensity of your exercise seamlessly.
  • Console feedback – the feedback system engages you to track your progress regarding how many calories you’ve burnt, distance and speed.
  • Quick release system – the system allows a swift and easy adjustment of the seat and pedals to accommodate people of different heights.
  • Foldable – if you live in small quarters, you can fold the bike and put it away, allowing you to save on storage space, thereby leaving your house neat.
  • Pedal straps – the straps secure your feet firmly in place to stop you from skidding.
  • Quiet – the noise level of this bike is negligible, allowing you to exercise at any hour without the worry of disturbing people around you.
PROS:
  • It takes a few minutes to assemble
  • Great design for limited storage and training spaces
  • Affordable for those with tight budgets

CONS:
  • A basic bike regarding features and accessories
  • You have to buy batteries separately
  • Pedal strap can be small for some people
  • The seat is not very comfortable if you intend to use the bike for an extended period.

 

ProForm 225 CSX Upright Bike Indoor Gym (From £200 to £999)

The ProForm 225 CSX is an upright Exercise Bike that comes with some useful accessories as well as iFit technology designed by certified trainers.

  • Product
  • Specification
  • Deals
Brand

ProForm Fitness

Features

Display, Fitness Programmes, Heart Rate, iFit, Resistance Level

Key features:

  • Padded seat – the bike’s seat is large and padded to provide you with comfort during your exercise. You can also adjust the position either vertically or horizontally to suit your preference.
  • 20 digital resistance levels – the broad range of resistance levels allows you to adjust to a level that suits you.
  • Inertia enhanced flywheel – the inertia makes the flywheel spin with ease eliminating noise and wheel damage.
  • Ipod and MP3 music port – the features let you plug in your earphones and enjoy the latest music to keep you distracted from pain and fatigue, allowing you to work out more.
  • Ergonomic foot pedals with adjustable straps – the pedals allow you to secure your feet and adjust according to your foot size.
  • iFit Bluetooth technology – allows you to gain access to workouts from certified trainers every day, to help you achieve your fitness goals.
  • LED display – grants you access to a display that lets you track your performance to know your progress.
PROS:
  • Can allow you to multitask
  • Gives you access to training sessions from fitness experts
  • Great price putting in mind the value
  • Easy adjustment
  • Inbuilt fan for cooling
  • Quiet and easy to use

CONS:
  • You have to buy the iFit subscription separately
  • Can only handle 130kgs/ 275lbs
  • You can’t exercise barefoot because the manufacturers have used a hard plastic material to make the foot pedals
  • Tricky assembly: Could take up to 2hrs

Star Trac E-Series Recumbent Bike LED (£1,000 to £4,999)

The Star Trac E-Series offers an unsurpassed comfort level during your exercise at home. The bike’s walk through design is accessible from all angles.

  • Product
  • Specification
  • Deals
Brand

Star Trac

Features

Calories Burned, Display, Distance, Heart Rate, iPod Connector, METs, Resistance Level, Timer

Key features:

  • Dashboard – provides you with data concerning calories burnt, miles covered, heart rate, and time elapsed.
  • 12 pre-installed workouts – the workouts give you a variety of exercises to choose from ranging from hardcore to mild exercises.
  • Contoured backrest – the backrest provides you with comfort by taking pressure away from your shoulders and proper airflow as you exercise.
  • USB port, iPod connector and TV tuner – allows you to catch up on the latest news or enjoy your favorite music.
  • 20 resistance levels – lets you choose how intense you prefer your workout.
  • Feet security – the bike comes with skate style pedal straps and secure strap free foothold.
PROS:
  • Worth every penny when it comes to comfort
  • Lets you choose to strap or go strapless when securing your feet
  • Easy assembly
  • You can access the bike from any side
  • Silent and smooth bike
  • Durable and doesn’t need frequent servicing

CONS:
  • Doesn’t burn too many calories per hour
  • A little expensive
  • The maximum user weight is only 159 kgs (350lbs)

Expresso HD Recumbent Bike (Over £5,000)

This state of the art walk through bike transforms your workout room into a fun and engaging cycling experience.

  • Product
  • Specification
  • Photos
  • Deals
Brand

Expresso

Total Weight

245lb

Features

Calories Burned, Decline, Display, Distance, Fitness Programmes, Incline, METs, Resistance Level, Timer

Dimensions (L x W x H)

72 x 28 x 50 in

Key features

  • Adjustable seat – this bike gives you 32 options for adjusting your sitting position.
  • Motion control handle bars – the handlebars allow you to control your bike’s handlebars just as you would an outdoor bike.
  • Bottle holders – the bike has two water bottle holders to keep you hydrated and energized throughout your workout.
  • Wireless internet connection – allows you connect to an online portal (Expresso.com) where you can save your performance data, then share on social media platform like Facebook.
  • Preset workouts – the bike eliminates boredom by letting you chose an exercise session type from the 43 options available.
PROS:
  • Simulates a natural riding environment
  • The bike has a sturdy frame

CONS:
  • The price is on the higher side
  • Requires a considerably large storage space compared to a foldable bike

Our Final Words

When it comes to choosing a bike, “one size fits all,” doesn’t work. To get the best value for your money, you have to consider the price, features, storage space, exercise goals, your height, and weight, etc.

As you might have noticed, the pricier Exercise Bikes come with more features, accessories, and comfort. The cheaper ones are pocket-friendly while they also lack in some important aspects, especially comfort when it comes to senior citizens or those recovering from injuries.

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