The Complete Exercise Bike Buying Guide
Complete Guide to Buying Exercise Bikes
When shopping for an indoor exercise bike, there are several factors that you need to consider, but one of the most important is your goals.
Do you want to lose weight? Stay in shape? How often will you use the bike? Your goals will help steer you in the right direction towards a bike that will meet your needs and lifestyle.
This exercise bikes guide will talk you through various different factors to help you find the best exercise bike for your home gym.
What Type of Exercise Bike Do You Want?
There are several different types of exercise bikes. Each type has its own unique benefits.
The air bike is unique in that it doesn’t have a flywheel. It uses a resistance fan, which is connected to the pedals. The harder and faster you pedal, the greater the resistance and the more difficult the workout.
The advantage of this bike is that it can accommodate any fitness level. Whether you’re a novice or have been exercising for years, you will always get a challenging workout.
A recumbent bike is designed to provide more back support. Most exercise bikes offer nothing more than a bicycle seat, but these bikes have regular chair seats with back support.
The seat design is the primary difference compared to other types of exercise bikes. It offers more comfort and may allow for a safer workout if you have joint or mobility issues.
The most common type of indoor exercise bike is the upright bike. A wide range of models are available in this category, but most offer similar features:
- LCD consoles
- Heart rate monitors
- Built-in workout programs
- Resistance levels
Most have ergonomic seats, which allows for a comfortable ride. Upright bikes are a great option for beginners who are just getting started with indoor cycling. They offer a low-impact workout with resistance that allows you to build strength in your lower body.
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Where Will You Place the Exercise Bike?
One important thing to consider when choosing your exercise bike is where you will place it. Some indoor bikes have bigger footprints than others. Air bikes and recumbent bikes tend to be larger so would be more suitable for a home gym.
Consider the room or space where you plan to put the exercise bike. Will you need a more compact bike? Will you need to move the bike around? Take the time to measure your space and use this information to find an exercise bike that will comfortably fit in your space.
The size of your space may ultimately be a major determining factor in the bike you choose.
Consider Weight Limits and the Weight of the Exercise Bike
Weight is something that is often overlooked when choosing an exercise bike. It’s important to consider the bike’s maximum weight limit and the weight of the bike itself.
Every exercise bike has a weight limit, and this information should be listed in the product description. It’s important to make sure that you choose a bike that can accommodate your weight or the weight of anyone who will be using the bike.
Along with the weight limit, you also want to consider how heavy the bike is. The bike’s weight is important for two reasons:
- Heavier bikes are generally more stable, which is important for safety reasons.
- The weight of the bike will determine how easy it is to move around.
Lightweight bikes may be easier to move around the room, but they are also less stable during use. If you don’t mind a bit of rocking from side to side, this may not be an issue for you.
If you plan to tuck the bike away in a corner in between uses, make sure that you choose a bike you can easily maneuver on your own. The average exercise bike weighs anywhere from 35 kg to 90 kg, so they can be quite heavy.
What is Your Budget?
Cost will likely be the determining factor when choosing your bike. Before you even start looking at and comparing models, sit down and figure out your budget.
The good news is that exercise bikes are available in a wide range of prices, from budget-friendly to high-end.
When setting your budget, think about your goals. Do you want a bike that will accommodate your progress as your fitness level improves? Do you want a model that has extra features, like iFit compatibility or speakers? It may worth waiting a little while longer to save up for a bike that meets all of your needs and desires.
How Much Resistance Do You Need?
Most exercise bikes have some form of resistance, whether it’s air or magnetic. Magnetic systems allow for a greater range of resistance, more workout options, smoother operation and a quieter riding experience.
The greater the resistance, the more difficult the workout will be. If you’re experienced or at an advanced fitness level, the resistance range will be an important thing to consider. If the resistance isn’t great enough, the workout may not be challenging enough to help you progress.
Air resistance is a good compromise if you’re concerned about a bike not providing a difficult enough challenge.
Some bikes are equipped with a tension resistance system, which has to be manually adjusted. There’s typically a knob near the handlebars that allow you to adjust the resistance.
For an all-around good workout, a bike with 16+ resistance levels is a great starting point.
What About the Flywheel?
The flywheel is another overlooked component of an exercise bike, but it’s an important one to consider. The flywheel is located at the front of the bike, and it plays two important roles:
- Controlling resistance
- Determining how smooth the ride will be
A heavier flywheel will provide a steadier, smoother and quieter riding experience. Flywheels are measured in kg or pounds. The average bike’s flywheel weighs about 17kg, but some can be as heavy as 20 kg.
Consider the experience you want to have on your exercise bike. What are your priorities?
Does the Bike Have Adjustable Features?
Comfort and ergonomics are important when choosing an exercise bike. You want a bike that fits your body. Otherwise, you may not be getting full range of motion, or your workouts will be uncomfortable.
There are three main areas of the bike that should (ideally) be adjustable:
The height of the handlebars is important. If they’re too low, it can cause excess tension in the neck and shoulders. Ideally, you want to choose a height that allows you to keep your elbow slightly bent and not put too much weight on the bars.
Not every bike offers adjustable handlebars, but it’s a feature worth considering. You can adjust the height of the seat to make up for the lack of handlebar adjustment, but that can cause issues with pedaling.
If you’re especially tall or short, it may be worth finding a model that offers handlebar adjustment.
Virtually every exercise bike will have an adjustable seat. Depending on the bike model, you may be able to adjust the height and/or position of the seat (forwards or backwards).
Seat adjustability is important because the position of the seat will determine how effectively you can pedal.
Most indoor bikes have adjustable pedal straps. These straps keep your feet firmly in place while you pedal. Without them, your feet would just continually slide off and make it impossible to pick up the pace.
Make sure that the straps offer a reasonable range of adjustability to accommodate a wide range of users.
Which Features Do You Want?
Basic indoor exercise bikes may only have a handful of features, while mid-range and high-end models may have dozens of options and features. It’s important to decide whether you want a no-frills model, or a model with all of the bells and whistles.
Some features you may find on exercise bikes include:
Many basic, budget bikes have built-in exercise programs that make workouts more interesting and challenging.
Some bikes have more programs than others. Most also have a manual program option, which allows you to set your own resistance.
Consider whether built-in workout programs are something that you want. If so, consider how much variety you may want.
High-end bikes may offer compatibility with apps like iFit Live. Some offer interactive workouts with instructors, or the ability to use Google Maps to ride anywhere in the world. The bike will even simulate the terrain by adjusting the resistance as you ride.
You may also have the option of connecting to your Android or Apple device to track your progress, personalise your workouts and serve as a display for your workout stats. In some cases, app compatibility will keep you motivated and vary your workouts.
Consoles and Controls
Virtually every exercise bike will come with a console that has controls. The console should have a display of some kind that will display your workout stats, including:
- Calories burned
- Heart rate
- Resistance level
Some consoles have more advanced displays or even LCD screens that can display video workouts or iFit Live content.
Controls can be as simple as a few buttons, or it can come in the form of more advanced touchscreen options.
Your workout style will determine what type of console is a good fit for you. If you prefer to hop on and get moving, a complicated display with multiple options may not be ideal.
Many new exercise bike models are loaded with extra features that can enhance your workout experience. These aren’t necessary features, but they’re nice to have if your budget allows.
Some of the most popular “extras” include:
- Built-in speakers
- Tablet and phone holders
- Water bottle holders
Decide whether any of these features are important to you. If you enjoy working out while watching Netflix or reading eBooks, it may be worthwhile to choose a bike that has a built-in tablet holder.
What Do User Reviews Say?
When comparing any type of exercise equipment, it’s important to see what users are saying. Are they happy with the bike and their workout experience? Are there any significant problems that you need to lookout for?
A few important points to consider when looking through reviews are:
- Do reviewers complain about the bike breaking down after a few months or weeks of use? Have people been using the bike for years?
- Does the bike offer a good amount of resistance, or do most users find it to be too easy? If there are built-in programs, do they offer good variety?
- How loud is the bike? Are people complaining about the noise?
- Ease of use. Is the bike easy to use, or does it have a complicated interface?
- One important thing to consider. Do people complain about a difficult assembly or lack of instructions? Does it take a long time to put the bike together? Is there an option for professional installation?
In general, if a bike has a large number of positive reviews, it’s reasonable to expect that you will have a positive experience as well.
Many of our bikes have reviews from customers, which offer honest feedback from people who are using these bikes every day.
Is There a Warranty?
One important thing to look for when selecting an exercise bike is a warranty. A warranty is an indication that the company stands by its products and offers a quality product.
If the bike has a faulty component or it stops working for no apparent reason, a warranty will ensure that your bike can be repaired or replaced at no cost to you. Find out as much information as you can about the warranty when comparing models to ensure that your purchase is protected.
Warranty periods vary from one manufacturer to another. But look for bikes that offer at least a two to three-year warranty on parts and at least a year for labour.
Some bikes also come with a money-back guarantee. If you’re not pleased with the bike or your experience, you can return it for a refund.
Guarantees and warranties give you peace of mind that your purchase is protected.