Exercise bikes are a great type of fitness equipment for working out the muscles in your legs (hamstrings, hip flexors, quads, and calves), hips, and glutes (butt) and our Exercise Bike Buyers Guide will guide you through the features in modern exercise bikes. Many people enjoy exercise bikes as an excellent alternative to running or jogging.
Selecting the ideal exercise for you can be easier than you think.
All you need is good information and a little guidance. That’s what you’ll find here. You’ll learn more than the average person and will be well on your way to making a sound investment in an exercise bike and in your health.
Price & Your Budget for your Exercise Bike
Knowing your budget or price limit BEFORE shopping can save you valuable time.
After all, why look at bikes outside of your price range? There’s no need to entertain the idea of extra features that you can’t afford or possibly don’t need.
Your goal is to buy the best exercise bike.
This means one that has the NECESSARY features to achieve your health and fitness goals…and if possible a few extras for fun and further enjoyment during your workouts.
The Price Range of Exercise Bikes
Exercise bikes can range from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars.
Often the units priced closer to or above the $2,000 price range are for commercial use such as in fitness clubs and gyms. However, buying such an exercise bike might be worthwhile for home use depending upon the number of users, duration of workouts, and desired warranty.
Mid-Range Exercise Bikes
You can find a decent exercise bike for somewhere between $350 and $600 dollars.
Although, you can get one for less than $350, this is a great range to start in if your budget allows. Quieter, smoother, and more comfortable bikes can be found at this level.
Top Notch Exercise Bikes
For the investment of $650 or more, you’ll find yourself in the land of top-notch exercise bikes. Not only should you expect a quiet, smooth, and comfortable bike, you should look forward to a higher quality machine with quality displays, various programs, and better warranties.
4 Important Exercise Bike Considerations
In addition to your budget, you want to consider the following before shopping for your new exercise bike:
#1 How frequently will i use it?
The wear and tear placed on your exercise bike will be partially dependent upon how frequently it is used. In combination with the next 3 factors, your answer to this question will ensure you invest in the best exercise bike for you. Ask yourself:
- Will my exercise bike be used several time each day, every day, every other day, or a different frequency?
#2 How long will my workout sessions last?
The duration of your exercise bike workout, in addition to the frequency, helps to determine which bike is right for your needs. Consider the following:
- Will I ride my exercise bike for half an hour, 1 hour, or more each workout?
#3 How many people will use it?
Typically, the more people using anything, the faster it will wear out. Your goal is to have a quality exercise bike that doesn’t break down and consistently provides you with quality fitness.
- How many people will use the exercise bike?
Once you’ve answered that question, consider the first two questions above. How frequently and how long will they use it? This is a no-brainer for single people, however married individuals and those with a family should think about it. Also, if you have a workout partner, they might want to use it also.
#4 how much do the people weigh who will use it?
Every exercise bike has a user weight capacity. The average for exercise bikes is about 275 pounds, give or take 25 pounds. Nevertheless, be sure to do two things:
- Determine the maximum weight of the heaviest intended user.
- Determine the exercise bike’s maximum weight capacity.
Doing these two things will make sure you invest in the right exercise bike and that your investment stands the test of time.
Space Constraints & Placement
In comparison to some exercise equipment, exercise bikes generally don’t take up much space.
However, unlike dumbbells and stretch banks, your exercise bike can’t be neatly tucked away under the bed or in a closet. Therefore, you have to consider space and a few other things.
Determine where you’ll put it.
- Check the dimensions of a few exercise bikes to get an idea.
- Make sure that you have a few feet around it.
Exercise bikes are relatively quiet in comparison to some equipment. But, sometimes the simple pedaling motion might be a disturbance to those beneath you, whether downstairs in your home or beneath you in an apartment.
The great news is that most quality exercise bikes are very quiet. You only have to select a good one. Also, a good rule of thumb is to place exercise equipment and do your workout routines on the lowest possible level of your home. This almost always reduces noise and allows you to workout at any hour.
Recumbent or Upright Exercise Bike?
Although you’ll discover a wide variety of exercise bike manufacturers and features, exercise bikes fall into essentially only 2 categories: recumbent and upright.
Recumbent Exercise Bikes
Typically, a recumbent exercise bike has a larger seat bottom. The seat bottom is typically wider than that of the upright bike and provides more area for you to sit on.
It also has a seat back, similar to that of an office chair. The seat back is going to provide you with back support, from your lumbar region to the mid back region. This makes it great for people who have lower back problems.
Recumbent exercise bikes are great for people who are just starting to workout and possibly a little overweight. It’s a great way to gradually enhance cardiovascular conditioning with little, if any, stress on the knees and ankles. Additionally, recumbents tend to be gentler on the butt and back than uprights.
Upright Exercise Bikes
Upright exercise bikes provide you with seating and position of a traditional non-stationary bike. Think of the days (or current moments) of riding a bike on the roads or trails.
Upright exercise bikes allow for a slightly more intense workout than recumbent bikes and are also a great way for competitive cyclists to train. Also, when considering space constraints, these types of bikes are a bit more compact than recumbent ones.
There are some upright bikes that have moveable handle bars, somewhat like those on an elliptical machine. It creates a sort of rowing motion, which adds a slight workout to your upper body.
Which is The Best?
Both recumbent and upright bikes provide you an excellent workout. Ultimately, the choice comes down to your preferences, goals, and needs.
Factors such as comfort and adjustability matter in making the right choice.
When buying any type of fitness equipment, you want to make sure it can be easily adjusted to suit you during workouts.
Make sure the seat and any other aspects can be easily adjusted without strain. Ideally, you want to be able to make any necessary adjustments so that you are comfortable and can quickly get on with your fitness routine.
Depending upon your fitness goals and training routine, you’ll want to either increase or decrease the resistance of pedaling for your workouts. Sometimes this needs to be done only once, but it can be done throughout the entire workout.
The Right Resistance Range
You want to make sure the resistance levels suit your fitness level. They should not be too hard for those new to working out. Meaning the lowest resistance level doesn’t cause you to exceed your target heart rate maximum
Exercise bike resistance is created and adjusted in essentially two ways: tension belts or magnets.
Tension Belt Resistance
Lower end (cheaper) exercise bikes frequently use tension belt resistance. Generally it is done with the twisting of a knob. Exercise bikes with this type of resistance often aren’t as quiet or smooth as those with magnetic resistance.
The more common type of resistance for exercise bikes is “magnetic.” Most people consider these to be quieter, smoother, and easier to adjust. Depending on the exercise bike, the resistance can be adjusted by a knob or simply by pushing a button.
Some of the top-notch models have what’s called “electromagnetic resistance,” which boasts a wider range of resistance and push button adjustments, in addition to quiet and smooth rides.
Exercise Bike Display Console and Programs
Most exercise bikes will have a display console with a variety of readings and programs.
Following are a variety of display readings you might find on exercise bikes:
- Elapsed Time
- Time Remaining
- Interval Time
- RPM (revolutions per minute) or Pace
- Distance Remaining
- Calories Burned
- Calories Per Hour
- Heart Rate
- BMI Measurement
Generally, the price of the exercise bike will increase the more sophisticated the control panels and readings.
Pre-set Workout Programs
In addition to the display readouts listed above, many exercise bikes come with pre-set and customizable workout programs.
Many people find workout programs motivational. Such programs can add variety and challenge to your exercise bike routine.
Heart Rate Monitor
Although not essential, exercise bike heart rate monitors are a great addition.
To get the maximum results from a workout, it’s good to gradually reach and then stay within your target heart rate. Heart rate monitors let you know when you’re in that range. Exercise heart rate monitors come in 2 forms:
- Chest Straps
- Handle or Grip Sensors
It’s really hard to say which is better. It’s truly a personal preference. Most complaints about either are of a personal nature.
It is noteworthy to mention that many commercial and high-end bikes come with the handle or grip sensors. Depending on the sophistication of your exercise bike, it will even adjust the intensity level or resistance of your workout to match your chosen program and target heart rate.
Extras and Features
Some of the following extras and features are worth considering.
- Transport wheels for easy movement
- Water bottle holder
- Reading rack
- Built-in fan
- Oversized pedals
- Oversized saddles
The greater your investment in an exercise bike, the better manufacturer’s warranty you will want. An exercise bike’s warranty will generally cover
- Frame and brake system
- Parts & electronics (mechanical)
- Wear parts
Frame & Brake System:
Generally covers anywhere from 2 to 10 years. Higher-end exercise bikes will provide a lifetime warranty on the frame and brake system.
Parts & Electronics (Mechanical)
The standard parts and electronics warranty falls somewhere between 1 to 2 years. A 3 year warranty is seldom found with less expensive bikes and typically means you’ve invested in a high quality exercise bike.
Wear parts warranties range from as little as 6 months to 1 year, even on higher quality exercise bikes. It’s not uncommon to find exercise bikes of less than $600 without any wear parts warranty.
A 90-day labor warranty is very common for exercise bikes. With an investment of $800 or more, you’ll likely find a labor warranty for close to or at 1 year.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices for an exercise bike, be sure to take a look at customer reviews.
Customer reviews are great for giving you information about
- Common positives such as smoothness, comfort, and ease of assembly.
- Common negatives such as noises, squeaks, and discomfort.
- Quality level and/or malfunctions.
- Manufacturers honoring of their warranty and customer service.
You’ll generally find a mixed bag of reviews for any exercise bike. Be sure to look at the bad and the good. Beware of equipment that has more than 1/3 bad reviews.
We hope you enjoyed our exercise bike buyers guide. You’ve finished preparing yourself to make a wise investment in a new exercise bike. Congratulations.
Best wishes with your new exercise bike, health, and fitness.