Cycling is a great form of exercise with lower orthopedic impact than running. It combines a cardiovascular workout with muscle-building activity for the lower body, and doesn’t require you to learn any new techniques. It’s also got practical applications for commuters and can quickly become a part of your everyday life.
Of course, biking outside depends on the weather. And, if you get caught in the rain, you’ll have to do a lot of upkeep on your bike. Many people enjoy the convenience of indoor cycling machines to supplement their routines during rainy days or long winters. You can also workout between household activities, and spend time with your family while you exercise.
There are a few different options for indoor cycling. Bike trainers are inexpensive, and allow you to use those that you already have. Stationary models, or spin bikes, are an exercise machine that mimics the form of a road bike. Generally, they’re more comfortable than road versions, and come with a computer interface for programmed workouts, tension adjustment, and coordination with fitness apps. Recumbent models modify the normal cycling form so that you’re sitting back and riding horizontally. They work like stationary versions, but provide a full seat and back support to take stress off your joints and protect your back.
First, take a quick look at our recommendations for the best exercise bikes:
Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse
- “Surpassed my expectations!”
- “Amazing value!”
3 Month Warranty
- “Solidly built with great performance!”
3 Year Warranty
Top 3 Stationary Exercise Bikes
Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse
Features Exerpegutic’s signature 8-level magnetic resistance system in a compact, convenient package. An upright model with folding capabilities, it’s fully adjustable and can handle users up to 300lbs. It also comes equipped with a basic fitness monitor and flywheel drive mechanism. One reviewer said, “This is exactly what I was looking for. Now anytime, day or night, I can roll this great machine out and get in 30 minutes. Afterward, I roll it back in the corner of my apartment and it’s never in the way.”
“Works well. Easy to assemble. Performs as described. Excellent quality for the money.”
Sunny Health and Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike
A solid-steel frame with a flywheel and chain drive mechanism provide a full spin bike experience at a very low price. The handlebars are adjustable, and allow for a variety of riding positions. The resistance is manually adjustable, and users said “Bottom line is: If you want a durable sturdy bike that will take whatever you throw at it, you can’t go wrong with this Sunny, nor get a better deal.”
“Rock Solid! Amazing Value! I Love it!”
Exerpeutic 900XL Extended Capacity Recumbent Bike
A recumbent model which involves your glutes and core muscles to give you a great muscle-building workout. It’s a durable, well-built fitness machine with an 8-level magnetic resistance system and a 3-year warranty from the manufacturer. Perfect for people who want to avoid back and joint stress, as well as users looking for a way to build lower-body muscle. “It actually exceeded my expectations. I still can’t believe you can get this good of quality for such a low price.”
Buying Guide: Things to Think About
If you’re a serious cyclist, and frequently train for competitions or athletic events, chances are you’ll already own one you love. Trainers allow you to use that bike, and give you the most realistic road-riding experience. That’ll allow your indoor training to translate directly to your outdoor performance.
Spinning/stationary bikes are great for frequent users who want a more comfortable ride and more gadgetry. You’ll still be able to use your normal cycling form, but you’ll have more options for programmed workouts and resistance training. Many of the best stationary options also have onboard features for measuring heartrate, calories burned, etc. These models are well-equipped for buyers who want to train seriously and be able to track progress, and can also help new cyclists challenge themselves.
Both trainers and spinning bikes allow you to get a full cardio workout. This doesn’t work so well on a recumbent bike, because you can’t get out of the saddle. Recumbent versions are more suited for muscle building and strength training, and you’ll be able to turn up the resistance for an intense workout even while sitting. They also involve your glutes more than the other two types of setup.
If you’ve got pre-existing back/joint problems, recumbent models are perfect for you. Their seat design and modified form produce a workout with a low orthopedic impact. You might also enjoy the posture’s emphasis on the core and upper leg muscles. Most users will be perfectly comfortable on a bike trainer or spinning bike. Remember that any cycling machine will only be as comfortable as the seat. Gel pads and other options are available.
Larger riders also want to be sure that an indoor machine is adjustable up to their height. If you’re over 6’ tall, you might have problems with some models. And make sure you check to see the weight-rating on any indoor bike.
Bicycle trainers are the least-expensive option for indoor cycling, provided you’ve already got a bike. If you’re a serious cyclist, you’ll end up spending a bit more for a high-end trainer, but it’ll still be cheaper than an entire fitness machine. Stationary and recumbent options run about the same in price. With any indoor option, you tend to pay more for sturdier construction and durable materials. However, most trainers tend to come without electronic add-ons, regardless of price. More expensive spinning and recumbent bikes will come with more sophisticated electronic features and programs. Higher-end models can provide more detailed and accurate readings of heart-rate, speed, and calories burned. They’ll also have pre-programmed workout options onboard. These will keep you challenged and vary your training. However, if you’re concerned only with the quality of the mechanical workout, you’ll find many quality budget models online with sturdy frames and drive mechanisms.
Recumbent bikes have the largest footprint, and they’re rarely collapsible. Because of their stature, your body will be sitting lengthwise, as opposed to vertically on a normal bike. Expect them to be a permanent fixture, wherever you place them. A trainer may be your best option if space is a concern. You’ll have to store your bike somewhere anyway, and a trainer setup takes only as much space as your bicycle. Stationary/spinning bikes are a bit less lengthy than recumbent bikes, but they’re usually larger than a normal road bike. Look for collapsible models if you don’t have a dedicated space for exercise equipment.
Best Workout Spin Bike Reviews
Sunny Health and Fitness Indoor Cycling Bike
Our top budget pick provides all the essentials of the spin bike experience at a very low price. It’s a solid, no-nonsense budget model featuring a rugged steel frame, a chain drive mechanism, and adjustable brake resistance. LCD monitor keeps track of time, distance, and calories burned. It’s a great value and provides you with all the basic workout necessities. “If you are looking for a basic upright bike, you can not go wrong.”
Read our in-depth reviews and find our other selections in at our Best Spin Bike Reviews page!
Best Recumbent Stationary Bike Reviews
Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike
An extremely convenient budget model for indoor users. It comes with adjustable magnetic resistance and a basic monitor system. You’ll get readouts on heartrate, speed, and calories burned. The ride is quiet and smooth, and provides 8 levels of tension adjustment. Unlike most recumbent models, it folds up for easy storage, and will only take up half its assembled size. “I love it. It’s portable, light and neat. I think it’s great value for money. Very happy with my purchase.”
Read our in-depth review and find our other selections in Best Recumbent Exercise Bike Reviews page!
Best Bike Trainer Reviews
Kinetic Road Machine 2.0
“This is an amazing trainer. The resistance wheel is amazing, it provides such a realistic road feel I couldn’t believe it. If you shift up or down the wheel simulates the true resistance you would feel on the street. I highly recommend this device for riding at home, I love it!”
Our top quality pick is a top-of-the-line fluid trainer with a solid metal frame and automatic resistance. It fits most bikes, and provides an extremely realistic road feel. Because the fluid resistance increases and decreases based on your speed, you’ll be able to control the difficulty of the workout just like you would outside. And you can use your own gears to do so. You’ll also get a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer. We couldn’t find any reviews that mentioned damage or deterioration that didn’t result from the shipping process, and reviewers unanimously agreed that it’s a joy to ride on.
Read our in-depth review and find our other selections in Best Bike Trainer Reviews page!
By now you should have some sense of what type of indoor cycling setup will work best for you, using these exercise bike reviews. Our in-depth guides break down the marketplace for each type, and help you get a sense of the specific features you’ll want to look for as you shop.
Interested in other fitness equipment? We’ve got you covered! Check out our handy guides to the best treadmills, top rowing machines, and elliptical trainer reviews at homefitnessintel.com! You’ll find the best-reviewed products on the internet and breakdowns to help you choose the best machine for you.