9 Best Exercise Bikes to Stay Active Year-Round
You can stay fit year-round with indoor cycling. Here are the best exercise bikes, including spin and recumbent bikes, to use at home.
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The rise of exercise bikes and the home gym
Many people have tried to stay away from gyms and socially distance because of Covid-19, but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped working out—in fact, at-home exercise has taken off this year in an unprecedented way.
“It’s been amazing to see how many people haven’t stopped working out,” says Colleen Conlon, a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor at Equinox in New York City. “I started doing Zoom classes the week after we went into lockdown.”
One form of at-home exercise that’s really seen a huge increase in sales and numbers is indoor biking. According to National Public Radio, sales of indoor stationary exercise bikes—whether they are spin bikes or recumbent bikes—grew by 31 percent in the first quarter of this year over the same time last year.
“I think a lot of people realized that they couldn’t be runners a few months into the pandemic and have decided to invest in a home bike,” says Roxie Jones, a personal trainer in New York City. “It’s an easy way to stay engaged and accountable with so many digital cycling platforms. I think it may be a good thing given that we don’t know what’s going to happen this winter. It’s important for us to stay moving and active, for physical and mental health, so at-home fitness is a saving grace.” (This is the best exercise equipment for at-home workouts.)
How to choose the best exercise bike for home use
With so many indoor exercise bikes on the market, it’s important to know what to consider when choosing one. “Quality matters most,” says Joey Foley, owner and founder of Punch Pedal cycling and boxing studio in Brooklyn, New York. “Pay attention to the customer service for the company, too, because the bike will have issues, and you need to be able to get help to troubleshoot.”
If you want to get the most out of your bike, it has to work well. “Be sure to get a bike that’s stable enough to last a long time,” says Jones. (This is how to do a bike tune-up.)
Next, you should pinpoint your goals and what you’re looking to get out of an indoor exercise bike. “Make sure you know what you value before spending the money, because not all bikes are created equally,” says Conlon. “Do you want to be able to track wattage and distance? Do you want your bike to be quiet, so no one in your home can hear you working out? Do you want someone on the other side teaching you?”
Figure out if you want movement based on rhythm, power, or if you’re just looking to train for a race or ride. Once you know what you’re looking for, it will help to narrow down the field. And don’t miss these spin shoes for indoor cycling you’ll want to pair with your new bike.
Exercise bikes and on-demand class platforms
A lot of bikes come with on-demand class platforms or are compatible with different apps and on-demand class platforms. “I would try as many platforms and classes as you can,” suggests Foley. “Then, I would commit to a platform I like best.”
Most apps and platforms have free trials, so give a couple a go before you make a decision. And most are very affordable. “You’re paying for an experience, and knowledge, not to mention staying connected with a community,” says Jones. “It’s worth it if the user enjoys it and can commit to it.”
“Finally, look for a bike that fits your budget and style,” says Foley. But speaking of budget, It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes cost equals quality. “I would invest in the best quality, even though some seem expensive,” says Jones. “I know some people see the high prices and assume it’s too much, but you’re investing in an experience and your health. I’ve also heard of people purchasing cheaper options and using it only a few times before it just begins collecting dust.” Get the most out of it with these exercise bike products that help keep you healthy.
With all this in mind, here are nine of the best indoor exercise bikes to help you stay fit year-round.
Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Exercise Bike with Pulse
With over 11,000 reviews for a four-and-a-half out of five star average rating on Amazon, there’s no denying that this Exerpeutic bike is a great indoor option. The bike has a larger seat for a more comfortable experience, eight-levels of magnetic resistance, and an LCD display to track your distance, calories burned, time, speed, and pulse (which you can get from the hand sensors in the handlebars).
If you live in a small apartment and have limited space, this bike easily folds up to half the size and can be wheeled into the corner of the room when not in use. (Try these at-home workouts for a stronger core.)
Peloton Indoor Exercise Bike
$1,895, plus $39/month unlimited membership; $13/month for access to live and on-demand classes
While the Peloton bike is a hefty spend upfront, it’s an investment that will keep you coming back for more. After the initial investment, your $39 per month membership gives you unlimited access to live weekly classes on your built-in HD screen with instructors who will motivate you and even shout you out in real-time when you’re crushing a segment. (If you’re looking to save some money, check out these Peloton-compatible shoes.)
Can’t make the live scheduled times? Don’t sweat it; The bike also comes with a huge on-demand library of rides that range from five to 90 minutes in length. There are themed classes, classes with different music genres, and classes of varying difficulty levels, making cycling accessible for all. “What I appreciate about Peloton is that there’s an instructor and style for everyone,” says Conlon.
In fact, if you want a budget Peloton experience, you can download the app, use your own bike, and have access to all the live and on-demand classes for just $12.99 a month. (They also offer yoga, meditation, bootcamp, and other classes unrelated to cycling.) You won’t have the connected experience of seeing how your performance ranks against others in a class, but you’ll still get a great workout. (Here are some other at-home smart gym equipment options to consider.)
Schwinn Airdyne AD7
The air resistance technology in this Schwinn bike means that your workout never gets easier—you just get stronger. Why? The harder you pedal this bike, the more resistance you create, so the harder it becomes to pedal. It’s a great option for HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or circuit workouts, or switch between using just your legs to pedal or just your arms on the handlebars for a full body session. “This bike is sturdy, and you can easily track stats like time, distance, calories burned, RPMs (rotations per minute), watts, pulse, and speed,” says Conlon.
MaxKare Recumbent Exercise Bike
If you prefer to sit back and have support behind you while you cycle, consider this recumbent MaxKare indoor bike. The seat is easily adjustable, so all members of the family can use the bike. Rotate between eight levels of resistance, according to your fitness level and how hard you’re looking to work. The built-in LCD monitor can track time, speed, distance, calories burned, and heart rate (with the sensors on the handles), and the bike also has a phone and tablet holder, so you have the ability to pull up your favorite cycling app and pedal along to it. Don’t miss the benefits of having your own indoor cycling shoes for your at-home workouts.
Bowflex VeloCore Bike 16″
$1,699, plus $40 for monthly JRNY membership
Yes, this is a stationary bike, but you’ll be anything but stationary when you ride it, and the Bowflex Velocore bike allows you to move, tilt, and sway along with the ride you’re following on the HD screen, forcing you to use your full body, which mimics a true bike riding experience—or keep the bike in stationary mode if you prefer. This bike is compatible with many different fitness apps, so you can connect your smartphone or tablet and use your Peloton membership or Zwift subscription (as well as many others).
Another option: Choose to pay $40 per month for the company-offered JRNY membership that provides a library of on-demand workout classes with motivational trainers and workouts that automatically adapt to your level, so they get harder as you get stronger. It also includes a fitness assessment to establish your starting point and virtual coaching. Plus, this membership gives you access to Hulu, Netflix, Prime Video and more, so you can sweat along to your favorite show or movie as well. (Want a more affordable route? Here’s how to do workout moves with home objects.)
Sunny Health & Fitness Indoor Exercise Stationary Bike with Digital Monitor
Cycle along to your own external music device or while watching your television on this Sunny Health & Fitness indoor bike. It’s ergonomically designed for a comfortable ride, with an adjustable padded seat and foam-padded handlebars. A twist of the resistance knob will either make pedaling easier or harder, depending on what you’re looking for. The built-in monitor will keep tabs on your time, speed, distance, and calories burned.
NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle
$1,999, plus $15/month unlimited iFit membership (first year is included with bike purchase)
There’s a large initial cost to purchase this NordicTrack bike, but it’s your entry to membership of cycling classes. Browse daily schedules to join live classes with top instructors on your built-in HD screen, and even give your coach control of your bike, so they can pump up your resistance in real-time when it’s time to climb, and lower it for a song designated for a quicker RPM speed.
Along with live classes, you’ll also always have access to the entire on-demand workout library, and more classes are added weekly. You can even choose to do a strength workout following your cycling class. There are rides offered in exotic locations around the globe, where your trainer guides you through the roads of Switzerland, or mountain trails in Moab, Utah.
Cyclace Exercise Stationary Bike
First, adjust your seat and handlebars for a unique and comfortable fit, then turn up the resistance to challenge yourself as you cycle on this Cyclace exercise bike. The flywheel and belt-driven system offer a quieter option than some chain alternatives, which may be ideal in your home (especially if you’re cycling while others may be sleeping, working, or studying). The comfortable seat cushion will allow you to ride longer, and track your time, speed, distance, calories burned, and odometer as you progress.
You also can place a phone or tablet on the built-in holder to ride along to other videos or access other cycling memberships or apps you have access to. “A more experienced rider doesn’t need to be in a class setting and can train on a bike on their own, but it can be helpful to have the option to let someone verbally cue you through a ride,” says Conlon. “I think for experienced riders, using audio apps are just as powerful, too.” (If you’re using weights, avoid these weight-lifting mistakes.)
SoulCycle At-Home Fitness Bike
If you’re a SoulCycle lifer or want to join the fam, this SoulCycle bike brings the Soul experience of dance and rhythm-based cycling classes into the comfort of your home. It’s not cheap, but you’re paying for the experience. “SoulCycle offers financing for home bikes now,” says Jones, who is also a Spin instructor at SoulCycle. When you buy the bike, you also have to purchase a Variis membership, which is a digital platform that includes on-demand SoulCycle classes.
With the membership, you can choose from a library of immersive, rhythm-based classes with your favorite instructors, or try classes with new coaches. The front-facing speakers pump up the volume to get your hyped for a big hill or interval sprint. Plus, the bike keeps track of all your rides and stats. Variis also gives you access to other classes including running, yoga, strength, and more. (And if you belong to Equinox Fitness Clubs, your Variis membership is included for free).
- Colleen Conlon, CPT-PTA GLOBAL, 200YYT, RKC Level 1, Schwinn Indoor Cycling, group fitness instructor at Equinox in New York City
- NPR: "Bike Sales Gear Up As The Homebound Try Socially Distant Exercise"
- Roxie Jones, NASM-CPT, personal trainer in New York City
- Joey Foley, NSM, CFSC, owner and founder of Punch Pedal cycling and boxing studio in Brooklyn, New York