How to Choose an Exercise Bike

Exercise bikes provide a fantastic cardio workout with many fitness benefits. Workout plan with an exercise bike can be an excellent way to increase muscle tone, strengthen your legs, and burning calories. Finding a new exercise bike can be both an exciting and frustrating experience. People would be puzzled easily as so many different brands and models of exercise bikes are available in the market. Every brand claims that they have the best features exercise bike for workout which makes the decision difficult for the potential buyer. 

Read this article on “How to choose an exercise bike” to learn everything you need to know before buying an exercise bike for you. 

Basics of Buying an Exercise Bike

For your easy understanding exercise bike buying guide is discussed in two part. Basic component, special features & terminology related to an exercise bikes are discussed in first part. The second part is designed based on determining the style (types) of exercise bike which is right for you. When you’ve finished reading the guide and have a better understanding of exercise bikes style (types) and features, you’ll be able to look into which brands and models are best to achieve your fitness goals.

Part One: Basic Component, Features & Related Terminology

Go through following articles for easy understanding the basic component, features & related terminology of an exercise bike-

Flywheel: A flywheel is the core component of a exercise bike. It is a large circular weighted disc located at the front of an exercise bike. The flywheel’s weight decides how smooth the bike is to ride. It’s easier to get moving with lighter wheels, but they’re more likely to be bumpy. Beginners can use a wheel that weight 6-8kg but for advanced training 9-15kg is a good place to start although experienced riders can prefer a heavier wheel. It is connected with the pedals with a chain or belt. Basically, this helps to store rotational energy during pedaling of an exercise bike.  

Resistance of Flywheel: One of the best factor for narrowing your selection of exercise bikes is determining the types of resistance. Resistance is the feeling of hindrance during pedaling an exercise bike. An exercise bikes will provide resistance through several different ways while you pedal. Most of the exercise bikes generally provide full adjustable resistance through direct-contact and magnetic braking systems. In addition to these two styles, some exercise bikes have a fan that transforms fan air into resistance when you pedal on a bike. As it’s one of the most important decisions when choosing a bike, so let’s discuss the matters in little bit details-

  • Direct-Contact Resistance : An exercise bike that use direct contact braking system provide resistance based on the principle of friction. The friction is applied by wool or rubber brake pads that touch the flywheel from either side & reduce your pedaling speed. This type of exercise bike allow you to choose different resistance levels by changing pads clamp position. There is a chance of wear out the braking pads over time due to frictional abuse. So, you have to replace the pads, even in rare cases the flywheel itself. As the braking system is completely mechanical, direct-contact exercise bikes are noisy. This type of resistance also known as mechanical or friction resistance.
  •  Magnetic Resistance : An exercise bikes with direct-contact resistance were market leaders before the arrival of magnetic resistance bikes. Most higher-end bikes now use magnetic resistance due to huge benefits. With this type, two magnets are placed close to the flywheel to create resistance. Different degree of resistance can be applied by keeping the magnets closer or further away from the flywheel. Magnetic resistance can be adjusted either by twisting a tension knob or electronically through a digital monitor. There is no direct friction or even touch with flywheel, so there is no chance of wearing the parts. They are extremely quiet also. 

  • Air Resistance: Air bikes use a fan instead of a flywheel. While both electromagnetic and direct-contact resistance exercise bikes create resistance by applying pressure to the flywheel, air bikes generate resistance as the fan blades push against the air. The faster you ride, the more resistance you will get. Air resistance is a popular choice if you are interested in HIIT or tabata training.

Saddle: The place where you sit when riding an exercise bike is often referred as the saddle of the bike. Saddles that are wider & extra weighted (also known as plush saddle) are usually be more comfortable & suitable for long time ridding. Another types of saddle that are long, thinner & have minimal padding (also known as performance saddle) are less comfortable & suitable for short intensive workout.

Pedals: Place where you keep your feet during ridding an exercise bike. Some pedals are bare, while others have a loop or cage to hold your feet in place. Few bikes have a clip feature in pedals but it requires special cycling shoes to ride.

Display: The exercise bikes screen (display) visualize information such as your pedaling pace, exercise time, approximate calorie burn, and heart rate. Some displays are analog and show only the essentials, while others are high-definition digital touchscreens with pre-set programs, shows a variety of statistics and much more details of workouts. Furthermore, some bikes have no display at all. 

Programming: Some exercise bikes have programs setting feature  that allow you to adjust routines based on your fitness level. You can also performs heart-rate-controlled workouts by setting a programs considering your age, weight, and gender.

Other features: Exercise bikes come with a variety of additional features to make your training as comfortable as possible. Water bottle holders, smartphone docks & tablet holders can keep your belongings close and within reach. Built-in speakers can also provide audio enhancement for a better music listening experience. Lastly, some bikes can track your training via Bluetooth and sync the data to your smartphone. Determine the items are important to you and which are merely a bonus. 

Safety: An exercise bikes have a lot of moving parts and can be dangerous. Make sure your exercise bike is locked and out of reach of small children, and keep young children away from equipment that does not have safety locks. Children should not be allowed near your exercise bike when it is in operation. According to statistics thousands of children are injured each year as a result of using fitness equipment. 

Warranties: An expensive bike will give a good warranty, or a written guarantee to the customers. They will repair or replace the damaged item within committed warranty period. Usually manufacturer offer different warranty period for frame, parts, electronics, and labor. The warranty on the frame should be the longest if possible lifetime and the warranty of parts, electronics, and labor should be between 1 and 5 years. Each model and brand differs slightly, so before you buy an exercise bike, take a look at the warranty to see what exactly it covers and for how long. Sometimes, you will get extended warranty period by paying extra once the allotted time for the warranty has passed. 

Part Two: Determination of best Style of Exercise Bike

There are different styles of exercise bikes: upright, recumbent and dual action, Indoor cycling bikes. Each offers many advantages to achieve your fitness goals. Choosing the best style of exercise bike for you would be the great challenge. Read carefully the following style of exercise bike to overcome the challenge.

Option-01: Upright Exercise Bike

Upright Exercise Bike
Upright bikes can be a great choice for medium-intensity workout with reasonable comfort

This is the most popular style of exercise bike, also known as a static bike. There is no back support in seat like a normal shopper bicycle. Designed for adjustable seated cycling (seat can be set at different position) for optimum comfort throughout your ride. Upright bikes often have a resistance controller device generally located at between the handlebars. This allows you to control the resistance by pushing buttons. Upright exercise bike offers front display to make visible of workout time, distance, calories burned, speed etc. Furthermore, Some models may also have built-in programs to keep your workouts green and constantly evolving. If you’re searching for a cheap, comfortable & low impact workout, upright exercise bikes are best for you to purchase for home. 

Option-02: Recumbent Exercise Bike

Recumbent Exercise Bike
Recumbent exercise bikes can be a good option for people who are suffering/recovering from knee or back pain/injuries.

These bikes gives you an almost same type of workout to the upright exercise bike. But unlike upright bikes, they gives you to sit in a position which supports the back. The pedal is also mounted further ahead of the body, enabling the rider to recline slightly when pedaling.

Performing workouts with recumbent exercise bike put less pressure in the lower back & wrist area. They also disengages few core muscles like lower stomach muscles of the body because of the presence of seated position. Recumbent exercise bikes may be a good option for people who are suffering/recovering from knee or back pain/injuries. 

Option-03: Dual Action Exercise Bike

Dual Action Exercise Bikes
Best for HIIT and Tabata workouts as rider may tire quickly than any other bikes due to intense effort.

Dual action exercise bikes also known as air bikes. They are similar to upright stationary bikes but they have a set of moving handlebars. This handlebars moves alternatively forward & backward in a rhythm with the pedals & allowing the user to perform upper body workout while the pedaling motion works on lower body movements. You can lock the handles in place if you want to read or do other things while pedaling. These bikes generally use fan wheels, which generates cooling air that blow back on the rider. It also produce resistance—the more you are pushing, the harder it will be. Dual action bikes are perfect if you have intension to burn calories in a short duration of time.

Workout using dual action exercise bikes are laborious & not perfect if you want to make workout for longer duration time. But, they are best for HIIT and Tabata workouts as rider may tire quickly than any other bikes due to intense effort.

Option-04: Indoor Cycling Bikes/ Studio Bikes

Indoor Cycling Bikes
Great option for anyone who is searching for high intensity & fat burning workouts.

Features of indoor cycling bikes are comparatively less than any other bikes. People are purchasing this bikes for their home  gyms to get almost the mimic feeling of outdoor cycling. This bikes have a slim adjustable seat, pedals right underneath the feet & handlebars that allow you to place your hands in different position to get optimum comfort.

 An indoor cycling bike will have a flywheel or a big weighted disc at the front of the bike. The weight of the flywheel is usually between 30 and 40 pounds & connected to the pedals by a chain or belt. This flywheel will provides enough resistance to keep you moving. Ensure that the resistance is easily adjustable and has a variety of levels. Magnetic resistance systems offer extremely silent & robust resistance. Chain drive bikes are noisy and require maintenance but the belted drive bikes make little noise & require almost no maintenance. 

Some model of indoor cycling bikes have front screen that will display revolutions per minute (RPM), calories burned, speed, resistance levels, time & distance passed and pace of your workouts. A standard indoor cycling bikes are a great option for anyone who is searching for high intensity & fat burning workouts.


Option-05: Bike Trainers

Bike Trainer
Space-friendly and a good way to get use out of your bike during blustery winter months

A bike trainer is a piece of equipment that convert a regular two-wheel bicycle to a stationary bike. This trainer will clamps down the back wheel and presses a roller on the wheel while the front wheel stand on floor. This generates magnetic resistance in which flywheel like mechanism creates friction on the wheel. You can also generates resistance using fluid generally known as fluid resistance which also has a flywheel, but contains some fluid in the inner chamber to create friction. Magnetic trainers create more friction and are often noisier whereas fluid trainers are more costly. A direct-drive trainer is one in which the rear wheel is completely removed and replaced with a resistance unit. 

Trainers can cause damage to the bike, particularly those that clamp onto the back wheel, and they involve more maneuvering than a stationary bike that you set up once and store in the corner of your basement. They also won’t save you as much money as you would believe—a high-end trainer will cost over $1,000. Even, it’s a nice way to get some use out of your bike during the chilly winter months.


Summary of Buying Exercise Bike

This article discusses the most crucial factors to consider when purchasing an exercise bike. Before moving on to specific models that meet your needs, we suggest first agreeing on a budget and style of bike.

The good news is that there is an exercise bike for everybody out there. There are some excellent bikes available, whether you’re a novice or an athlete, have a limited budget or want a premium model.

Please use the comments form below if you have any concerns about selecting an exercise bike. We’ll be pleased to assist you!

Buying an Exercise Bike (FAQs)

What should I look for when buying an exercise bikes?

Firstly, you should select the perfect style of exercise bike that is  best fit to achieve your fitness goal. Choose an exercise bikes that have a clear display in which you easily see the pedaling speed, calories burned, time passed etc. It is better to consider other factors like flywheel resistance, saddle, pedal, safety and range of exercise programs.

How much does a good exercise bikes typically cost?

Cost of an exercise bikes can vary depending on style (types), range of programs exist, availability of other factors like heart rate monitoring & safety features. If you want to buy an exercise bikes that has a good range of programming, better flywheel resistance & updated features, you have to spend between $200 to $2000. 

What is the best exercise bike for weight loss & fitness?

Generally, upright bikes are the most preferable for your fitness and losing weight. This bikes will give you comfort workout as they support a great posture. It also keep you inspired by offering fitness programs. 

Air bikes are also an excellent choice for weight management if you work regularly and enjoy an intense training. If you have the stamina to push yourself hard, then you can burn calories more quickly. Air bikes are also an effective way to improve your cardiovascular fitness and performance.

What are the best exercise bikes for 2021?

  • Nordic Track S22i Studio Cycle  
  • Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike.
  • Peloton Exercise Bike.
  • Exerpeutic 250XL Upright Bike with Pulse
  • Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike.
  • Echelon EX5 Bike
  • Bowflex C6 Bike
  • Lanos Folding Exercise Bike
  • Advenor Exercise Bike
  • Leikefitness Leike X bike.

What speed is best for performing workouts at exercise bike?

Flywheel RPMs (rotations per minute) and MPH (miles per hour) are used to calculate the speed of most exercise bikes. For an effective workout, alternate the speed you ride at on a home exercise bike between 60RPM and 90RPM. If you work hard at 60 RPM (e.g. the resistance levels are relatively high), you can mimic hill training and gain muscle strength. If you cycle hard at 90 RPM, you’ll get a workout that’s more focused on weight loss and toning (assuming a lower resistance level).

Does stationary bikes burn belly fat?

Cycling on a stationary bike is an excellent way to burn calories and lose belly fat. Exercise with stationary bikes can burns a lot of calories (300-700 kcal per hour) and fat. To lose belly fat faster, you can alternate between cardio (aerobic zone) and high-intensity interval training (anaerobic zone). 

Why should we choose a bike for exercise?

Stationary bikes offer an effective aerobic workout regardless of your current fitness level. They’re much more lightweight than treadmills or cross trainers, and they don’t make as much noise. People with disabilities will benefit from exercise bikes if they are used properly. Since biking is a low-impact sport, there is less risk of injury to the knees, hips, and ankles. Indoor cycling is also an excellent way to maintain cardio health when healing from injuries.

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