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It’s been about a year since Covid-19 came knocking, turning our lives upside down and inside out. One casualty of the turbulence for many has been establishing—and sticking with—a regular exercise practice. If you’ve struggled with consistency and are ready to commit, consider a piece of home exercise equipment like a treadmill, elliptical, or find the best exercise bike for your needs with our guide below.
The best exercise bikes for home include the Bowflex VeloCore, which stands out with a unique “leaning” mode.
Of all the home exercise equipment out there, why choose a stationary bike? Cycling is effective, efficient, and gentle. The movement of biking helps lubricate joints and improves range of motion over time, in addition to being much gentler on weight bearing joints like hips, knees, and ankles when compared to other forms of cardio such as running. Turn up the tension and you’ve got a lower body strength workout too, engaging legs, hips, glutes, and the lower abdomen. Indoor cycling can improve heart health and lung function, as well as increase overall endurance. And it’s fun—especially if you’ve got the right music going, or have found an instructor you like on a fitness app.
You worry about the vibe, because we took care of the comparison shopping. The best stationary bikes can range from a few hundred to quite a few thousand dollars, and you want to make ‘em count. We dug through what’s out there to compare and contrast what’s available, finally coming down to eight of the best exercise bikes for a variety of users and needs.
Most home riders will be well served by this spin-style bike by Yosuda. Similar to what you’d find in a gym or studio, this bike has a slim profile, a heavy-duty steel frame, and a 35 pound flywheel for resistance. The seat is cushioned and can be adjusted up and down for height as well as front and back, an important feature for getting the correct form for your ride and keeping undo stress off weight-bearing joints like the knees.
The handlebars are adjustable, too, with a 10 inch threshold up and down. There’s an LCD monitor that displays time, speed, distance, odometer, and calories burned, but—pro tip—never trust a machine not strapped to your body to accurately gauge your calorie burn. More important, there’s a bracket where you can mount a smartphone or tablet and stream a workout, watch TV, or listen to music. A bottle holder keeps water close by and cage pedals mean you can ride in your sneakers, no need to invest in pricey spin shoes.
It runs on a belt driven system (as opposed to chain driven), so it’s quiet enough to use in a shared home. Because it’s so adjustable, multiple members of the household should be able to use the bike (just write down your seat and handlebar numbers for easy set up when it’s your turn). And with a footprint of just 22 inches wide by 40 inches long, it’s an easy fit for most homes—and there are handy transport wheels in case it needs to be moved. The bike averages 4.4 stars on Amazon based on over 9,000 global reviews with 64% of reviewers giving it all five stars.
A great Peloton alternative, this impressive home bike from Bowflex is our pick for best exercise bike with screen for two reasons: the special features of the bike itself paired with the breadth of options for the screen. Let’s start with the bike, which sets itself apart from competitors with “Leaning Mode,” an option to, well, lean as you ride, similar to taking a sharp turn riding a bike outdoors or swaying with the beat in a group class. This added movement allows you to engage your arms and core in a way other bikes can’t, giving more of a full-body workout. Other highlights of the bike include an adjustable seat and handlebars, 100 levels of magnetic resistance, and versatile pedals that work with sneakers and toe cages or clip-in spin shoes.
Onto the screen. Models are available with HD touchscreen consoles sized 16 inches or 22 inches and come with the company’s JRNY experience, a library of on-demand workouts that include trainer-led videos, virtual coaching, and destination rides. Like its competitors in the connected-fitness space, Bowflex requires a monthly membership to JRNY with the purchase of its bike, which will run you $20 per month. The platform also has a built-in app library for seamless streaming of Netflix, Hulu, and other top entertainment hubs. Additionally, there’s a mount for smartphones and tablets so you can stream workouts from Peloton, Zwift, or any other app.
The other big benefit of a tech-y bike like this is its capability to track accurate metrics and your ability to see progress over time, fun for anyone interested in quantified self or who misses cycling classes with leaderboards. The bike averages 4.6 of 5 stars from reviewers, with 96% saying they would recommend the bike to a friend.
If you’re looking for a solid ride at an affordable price, this Barwing bike is the model for you. Using a combination of magnetic resistance and a belt-drive system, this bike delivers as much as 35 pounds of resistance smoothly and quietly. The cushioned seat has six levels of height adjustment and a 2.4” range of front-back adjustment, which is important for getting the correct form and riding safely at home. Additionally, the handlebar offers four levels of height adjustment to further tailor the bike to its rider.
The handlebars feature a simple LCD display for basic workout metrics like time and distance. There’s also a bracket mount for smartphones and tablets, so you can stream workouts from brands like Peloton by paying for their app and not their pricey equipment. The bike has cage pedals so you can ride in your sneakers and don’t need to invest in expensive spin sneakers. There’s a bottle holder, too, so H2o is always near by.
The footprint of this affordable exercise bike is just 19” wide and 39” long. Lastly, the bike has two transport wheels on the bottom, making it easy to move out of the way when you’re done sweating. The bike averages 4.7 stars on Amazon with 81% of reviewers giving it all five stars.
For an upright exercise bike, check out the much loved Schwinn IC3. This is a great pick for spin die hards, serious outdoor cyclists, and anyone looking to level up speed, resistance, or endurance. The bike is anchored by a 40 pound flywheel on a belt drive for a smooth, quiet ride with nearly infinite resistance. Unlike models with wide, cushioned seats, the IC3 features a ventilated, race-style seat. Its adjustable horizontally and vertically to ensure correct form.
The handlebars can be adjusted up and down and are padded for comfort. There’s an oversized water bottle holder right at the handlebars, so no need to reach down to grab a sip. You’ll also find an integrated media holder up there to easily mount a smartphone or small tablet to stream a workout, a playlist, or whatever Netflix has you currently addicted to. A basic LCD display up tracks time, distance, RPM, and so on.
Since this bike is designed for more experienced riders, the pedals work with clip-in spin shoes, but can also be converted to toe cages for use with standard sneakers. The bike averages 4.5 stars on Amazon based on nearly 3,000 global reviews with 74% of reviewers giving it all five stars.
If you’ve ever been subject to an AirBike, just looking at one should raise your heart rate. These high intensity beasts are a favorite of CrossFit gyms, HIIT studios, and trainers. The leading brand is named Assault for a reason—you only need 60 or 90 seconds on one of these bad boys before considering filling an assault claim on whatever personal trainer or CrossFit instructor sent you to this sick punishment. That said, they’re damn effective.
The bike is powered by pedals (no special spin shoes needed) and handlebars, kind of like an elliptical, for a full-body workout against the unlimited resistance of air. A simple console offers seven programs including a Tabata interval session. You can also set your own workout goal based on metrics like time, distance, or watts. The seat adjusts up and down as well as front and back for the right fit. It also features transport wheels, but this thing is massive—about 100 pounds with a footprint of 23” x 60”. Given the size and noise of an air bike, this is best suited for a dedicated home gym space like a spare bedroom or garage, not the shared living room.
There is a newer model of the AirBike, dubbed the AirBike Elite, with an updated design and a few minor feature additions like multi-hand position and the ability to pedal backward in addition to forward. There are two downsides, however. First, the price tag is significantly higher than the Classic model (currently $699), with the AirBike Elite priced at $1,299. Second, there’s currently a shipping delay of one to four weeks, whereas the Classic is in stock on Amazon and eligible for Prime shipping. The AirBike Classic averages 4.8 stars on Amazon based on nearly 1,600 global reviews with 88% of reviewers giving it all five stars.
If you aren’t interested in having an exercise bike as a permanent piece of furniture, a folding bike may be right for you. The major compromises you make with a folding exercise bike are stability and resistance. This style is best suited for someone looking for a low-impact, steady state cardio workout and would be great for those with joint pain, anyone new to or getting back into exercise who doesn’t want to spend a lot, or for watching TV without just sitting still on the couch. A compact folding bike is not going to be the best choice for interval workouts or for building muscle.
The FB150 from XTERRA has a big, cushy seat that can be adjusted up and down to fit riders from 4’10” to 5’10”. It has equally cushy, padded handle bars for comfort and a basic LCD display to track metrics like time, speed, and distance. The handlebars also have heart rate pulse grips, but these are notoriously unreliable (not just in this model but in cardio machines across the board—bottom line, don’t bother with pulse or calorie measurements from anything that isn’t actually strapped to your body).
You’ll get eight levels of resistance from the machine’s petite 3.3 pound flywheel, enough to get your heart pumping and maybe a little burn in the legs depending on your fitness level. Once it’s folded up, the FB150 takes up just 18” x 18” of floor space, and it has transport wheels to make it easy to move. This folding exercise bike averages 4.6 stars on Amazon based on nearly 10,000 global reviews with 74% of reviewers giving it all five stars.
A recumbent bike is a great choice for those with limited mobility, or those looking to avoid any back and knee stress that may flare up when mounting an upright-style bike. The low to the ground design of a recumbent makes getting on and off easy, so users can get their heart rate up with minimum impact.
We like this inexpensive model from Marcy for its additional considerations for the recumbent cyclist. The ergonomically designed seat is made of high-density foam for comfort and adjusts front and back to get the right fit, which is important for correct knee alignment. A back rest adds comfort and padded handlebars make it easy for the rider to stay steady up top while working the legs. Eight resistance levels should be enough to feel a little burn, but this is not the machine (or position) for building significant muscle mass.
The weighted pedals have adjustable foot straps for support and control while cycling. There’s also an easy to read LCD screen at the front of the bike which displays basic metrics like time, speed, and distance. There are two transport wheels to move the bike, but beware: The thing weighs a little over 60 pounds once assembled. This recumbent exercise bike averages 4.5 stars on Amazon based on over 14,000 global reviews with 71% of reviewers giving it all five stars.
Last, a home exercise bike for the ultimate multitasker. There are not as many desk-bike hybrids on the market as you would expect, but we’re sure various manufacturers are hard at work changing that, given the proliferation of remote work spurred by the coronavirus.
For now, Flexispot dominates the work/workout from home sweet spot with models that fit under standing desks as well as models with their own 20” x 23” desktop, large enough to fit a laptop or study materials. These desk bikes fit people from 5’1” to 6’2” thanks to a vertically adjustable seat. There are eight levels of magnetic resistance, so it’s not going to be the most hardcore ride, but instead a good steady state cardio supplement to a stretch of time that would otherwise be inert. They’re quiet, too, which is ideal for work time and shared spaces. The bike averages 4.6 stars on Amazon with 79% of reviewers giving it all five stars.