Spinning, or upright bikes, provide a happy medium between the realism of an indoor bike trainer and the comfort and amenities of recumbent bikes. Their seats are comfortable, and they offer a wider range of electronic readings and programs than trainers, while maintaining the motion of a normal bicycle. You’ll also have to do less maintenance on an indoor model.
If you enjoy a typical road or mountain bike, chances are you’ll like a spin version. But, just like with outdoor bicycles, there’s a lot to choose from. We’ve done some research for you, and have compiled this list of three great spinning models available online now. Each of them is reviewed based on value, quality, and buyer popularity. Below, you’ll find a handy list of things to think about when you’re comparing models and thinking about which one to buy.
First, take a quick look at our current most popular recommendations:
Sunny Health and Fitness Indoor Cycling Bike
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Best Exercise Bike Reviews
Sunny Health and Fitness Indoor Cycling Bike
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. We think it’s an excellent choice for people who want a simple, straightforward exercise solution that won’t break the bank.
This is a budget model, but it’s shaped to feel like a real spin bicycle. It has handles which are molded to allow you to hold them upright like a road bicycle, or tuck your arms down like a time trial version.
It’s solidly built. This is a bare-bones model, but the frame is sturdy metal all the way through. Most users were very satisfied with the strength of the construction. Even users over 300 pounds said it was sturdy and reassuring.
Previous buyers reported that Sunny had provided excellent customer service, and was very helpful even after the warranty period was up.
You’ll rarely hear this one as a positive in reviews–the assembly instructions were described by most reviewers as simple, easy-to-follow, and overall very straightforward. There are only 5 steps, which are laid out easily, and the bolts are all labelled so there’s no guesswork involved.
It’s not for taller people. Reviewers over 6’ had trouble fitting comfortably on this one, even with the seat fully extended.
Some people found the seat to be a bit uncomfortable for long rides. They recommended adding a gel cover.
There’s no computer reading on the resistance, because it’s a manual knob. This is a common feature. It just means you’ll have to feel out your difficulty level. You also won’t find any exercise programs on this computer.
A few reviews mentioned that the drive mechanism was annoyingly loud. This seems to be an occasional quality-control issue, and most users who contacted the company for replacement parts were able to fix the problem.
A great starter model for new cyclists, and a good choice for casual users and exercisers on a budget. It provides a realistic, familiar ride and all the essential features you need. It’s sturdy, and you’ll be able to rely on great customer service. Previous buyers loved the simple design, and were very pleased with the value for money on this model. However, it’s probably not a good choice for users over 6’. If you’ll be spending a lot of time riding, you’ll want to look at something a bit more comfortable, and with more features.
Sunny Health and Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike
Equipper with fully-adjustable seat and handlebars, this is a heavy-duty machine with metal construction. It features adjustable resistance, and a crank chain combined with a flywheel for a smooth ride.
This frame is seriously sturdy. It’s rated for users up to 275 pounds. Reviewers over 6 feet and weighing more than 250 pounds all agreed that this felt sturdy and solid, even when they rode hard. The cranks are also sturdier than most indoor models, and are comparable to the solid metal type you’d find on road versions.
Almost all reviewers found the assembly process simple and painless. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, and parts are carefully labeled.
The seat isn’t terribly comfortable. Quite a few users opted for a gel cushion to add on top.
While it’s more solid than some cheaper models, it’s still fairly bare bones. The electronic system is still just a basic monitor, and it doesn’t come with water bottle holders or other amenities.
Some reviewers expected it to be quieter. While the addition of a flywheel certainly lessens the noise, the chain drive on this one will make some sound.
This is a very sturdy model, and provides quite a smooth ride for a chain model. The tension should be adequate for most workouts, and you’ll be able to adjust the seat and handlebars to fit you better. Plus, there’s no beating the price. It’s extremely affordable, and will be accessible to most buyers. We recommend it to people who are new to exercising, or who are on a tight budget.
Sunny Health and Fitness Belt Drive Indoor Bike
This spinning model combines a heavy-duty steel frame with a belt-drive system. This reduces noise and smooths the ride. The seat and handlebars are adjustable, and there are onboard wheels to move the machine around easily. We think it’s an affordable solution with a bit more challenge onboard than the chain-driven model we looked at above.
The belt-driven mechanism is quieter and more reliable than the chain version found in lower-end models. Previous buyers who had opted for the belt model over the chains said they felt that the extra smoothness and quietness made the extra investment worthwhile.
The tension is enough for spin classes and ardent cyclists. There’s a lot of room for adjustments, and previous buyers said they were continually challenged, even people who were already in pretty good shape. This option has quite a heavy flywheel, at 49 pounds, and this balances out bumps and jiggles even at a harder setting. Many reviewers complimented the smoothness and evenness of the ride.
It’s very well built. The frame is solid steel, and buyers took notice. They wrote that it was very reassuring to see that the company had put so much effort into the packaging and into producing clear, simple instructions. They said that it was easy to assemble, and felt very sturdy, even for bigger users over 6 feet/over 250 pounds.
The seat is uncomfortable. Most reviewers recommended the optional gel cover to make the machine more comfortable for longer rides.
Some buyers received damaged packages, and ended up having to replace individual parts or return the whole machine. This seems to be due to the delivery process more than to a fault of the manufacturer.
It’s very limited in terms of electronics. While you’ll get a basic readout of speed and calories burned, you might expect a better computer system on this. At twice the price of Sunny’s budget model, it still comes with the same computer.
This is a sturdy, serious bike at a budget price. It’s significant cheaper than most big-name brands, but offers everything you’d expect in a full spin version. With that said, the electronics are disappointing, and you’ll probably want to modify the seat cushioning.
If you’re not on a budget, try either the Pro or the Belt Drive model. They’ll offer a sturdier frame and smoother rides. Also, you’ll have more flexibility in adjusting the seat and handlebars. Even if you are on a budget, though, you’ll still get the essentials of a great workout on the basic $150 model, albeit with fewer amenities.
Hopefully, you’ve got enough information from these reviews to go out and do some research of your own. Our top picks should be adequate for most people. If you want more elaborate electronics, or more amenities (water bottle holders, etc.), you’ll probably be looking at machines at or above the $500 range.
Things to think about
Because of their onboard computers, spinning bikes can provide many options for pre-programmed workouts. You’ll be able to train in a variety of conditions without having to make manual adjustments as you would on a trainer. If you’re a self-guided person, you won’t need to worry about preprogrammed options. However, more body metrics could be useful to you as you measure your goals.
Some spinning models are more realistic than others. You’ll find models which are designed to feel more like a road version while giving you the stability and electronic amenities of an indoor model. This will allow your indoor training to translate into direct results on the road. More serious exercisers might want to look at those models.
If you can establish how big a part this will play in your fitness regimen, you’ll be able to judge how many features you need, and how durable of a model you’ll want to pay for.
Spinning bikes are great for people who feel comfortable on a normal bicycle, but want a bit more comfort. Most have cushier seats than you’d find on a road version, and weight isn’t generally an issue. They’re a good fit for most people. Even while being realistic, they are easier to adjust to your specific body than road ones can be. Many models allow you to slide the seat forward or backward, and let you choose from a variety of handlebar positions. Do check on weight/height ratings, though, and look for models with adjustable seat height and handle distance.
Upright bicycles place your body weight above the frame. As anyone who’s learned how to ride a bicycle will know, there’s a lot of room for instability. Just like on an outdoor one, you’ll want to find an indoor model with a solid base that’ll prevent tipping, and feet that won’t slide around. And since it’ll be handling your body weight during the ride, make sure you have one with a strong metal frame supporting you.
Drive trains on indoor models usually use either magnetic resistance or a simple brakepad system. You’ll get a longer life out of a model with metal drive components and heavy-duty pedals. Inexpensive models generally use plastic in the outer casings and external parts (like pedals). While casual users shouldn’t have problems with this, stronger users will want to find a machine that’s rugged enough to withstand serious workouts.
More expensive models will be made from more metal parts, and have a longer life as a result. Look to high-end models for long warranties, better and more elaborate onboard electronics, and more convenient features. However, sometimes it’s cheaper to buy a separate water bottle holder (for example) than to find a more expensive option that happens to have one.
If you’re interested in more than the best spin bikes — like other indoor cycling equipment, check out our reviews of the best recumbent and upright exercise bikes.