One of the main restrictions any home gym owner runs into is simple space.
Whatever range of equipment you might hanker after, you need to be realistic and make compromises so you can cater for your fitness goals with the least equipment possible.
Exercise bikes come in many variants and today we’ll look at the regular upright style. Next week we’ll explore recumbent bikes if you’re after something a little more laid back.
Best Exercise Bike Reviews
First up in today’s exercise bike reviews is a nifty folding upright from the well-established Exerpeutic.
If space is at a premium, the folding design and small footprint of this capable little bike makes it the perfect choice. Despite its lightweight nature, this bike is suitable for taller users and can bear loads of up to 300 pounds so it punches above its weight and outflanks much of the competition on this front.
It’s this solidity which has attracted such a legion of fans to Exerpeutic. Many folding bikes feel decidedly flimsy but the steel tubing in place makes for a great and rigid base. Although it weighs just 40 pounds, you’ll get some wheels on the bottom to simplify shifting the bike around.
When you need to make your ride more challenging, use the magnetic resistance settings to choose from 8 pre-set levels so you can keep on pushing yourself as you progress.
Despite giving you all the cardio you need in one highly affordable package, the Exerpeutic runs quietly so you won’t disturb your family or neighbors when you’re putting it through its paces.
Handlebars are neatly positioned and the large cushioned saddle won’t leave you sore but the pedals are housed pretty far forward so make sure this positioning is to your liking as it’s an acquired taste.
The pedaling motion is extremely smooth. The 3-piece crank system is torquey and ensures a consistent motion. The fly wheel and belt are built to last and everything comes together a treat.
You can keep tabs on your heart rate with the supplied hand pulse monitor but this is not the most precise unit so you might be better off with a third-party chest strap instead.
The data you need is displayed on a solid LCD front and center so you can keep your eye on things without breaking your stride.
If you’re looking for a strong all-purpose exercise bike suitable for even larger, taller users, the Exerpeutic is a great pocket-friendly option that breaks down for super-simple storage. Check one out today and start ratcheting up your cardio tomorrow.
- Compact space-saving design
- Generous weight capacity of 300 pounds
- Extremely quiet in use
- Tweak the resistance through 8 levels by adjusting tension
- Oversized ergonomic saddle so work out in comfort
- Hand pulse monitor for your heart rate
- Accuracy of heart rate gauge is questionable
- Pedals positioned fairly far forward
Next up in our exercise bike reviews is another affordable bestseller, this time from Body Rider.
Cheap fitness equipment tends to set alarm bells ringing. After all, it’s no use getting what seems like a bargain if it doesn’t last the distance. Build quality with this bike is surprisingly robust. It weighs just 47 pounds but you’ll get a rigid unit you can give some serious punishment at a price you’ll love.
Since this is an entry-level exercise bike, you need to be realistic with your expectations. As long as you set up on a flat surface, stability is amazingly good for a cheap exercise bike. The steel frame gives everything a rigid feeling and you should experience very little rocking as you ride.
Taller users might be restricted getting a full range of motion in so you’re best to look elsewhere if you’re a six-footer. You can adjust the height of the seat but the handlebars are static.
Fine-tuning resistance to uprate your workout couldn’t be easier. You tighten a belt around the wheel using a simple knob and this manual adjustment gives you the freedom to make things as easy or demanding as you like in line with your fitness goals.
Tension is delivered consistently and you should get no slippage as you pedal.
The felt belt will wear over time and need replacing. These are cheap and readily available.
Since the drive is like the chain on a road bike, expect a bit of noise. Most of this sound is masked by the fan wheel. Lubricate regularly for best and smoothest results.
Oiling aside, you don’t need to do anything else with this exercise bike except give it the occasional wipe-down.
Although this is not a folding bike, it’s still compact enough to stash away in a small closet. The only thing to watch out for is the lack of wheels so get some assistance if lugging almost 50 pounds is likely to strain you.
For a highly functional and inexpensive exercise bike from a brand you can trust, this Body Rider upright deserves a place on any shortlist.
- Very competitively priced
- Adjust seat through a range of heights fuss-free
- Simple but effective console to display data
- Use a knob to easily adjust resistance
- Straightforward assembly so get going straight out the box
- Almost zero maintenance aside from wiping down with a cloth
- Awkward to shunt around with no transport wheels
- Not good for isolating upper body
- No pre-set workout programs
Sunny Health and Fitness has quietly carved away a reputation for producing great gear at cut-throat prices and, while not dirt cheap, this exercise bike delivers outstanding overall value.
The generous and heavy flywheel is one of the key selling points of this bike. This added weight gives you the smooth feeling of cycling on the road without needing to leave home.
Assembly couldn’t be simpler. All the tools you need are included and you should be up and running within 15 minutes.
You can tweak the height of the saddle to optimize your stride length. Moveable handlebars allow a further degree of customization.
Pedals come with straps and clips chucked in. You’ll be able to fit your own pedals to the bike but, once done, it’s awkward to change them so choose wisely.
Build quality is commendable. The steel frame gives everything a durable and stable base while all other components feel heavyweight and set to last. Weight capacity is 275 pounds which should be sufficient for most users.
On the downside, no warranty is given by the manufacturer. If it wasn’t for the sterling reputation of Sunny Health and Fitness this would raise alarm bells. As it is, it’s a minor annoyance rather than a deal-breaker.
The other niggle is the complete absence of a console so you’ve got no means of tracking your workouts.
Even if you ride very briskly, this model is very quiet in use, ideal if your home gym is close to the living room.
Aesthetically, this bike looks lean and mean so you should be proud to consider adding it to your home gym.
If you’re not bothered by the lack of tech and you want a riding-centered bike at a reasonable price point, the Pro from Sunny Health and Fitness is a smart bet.
- Super-heavy flywheel mimics riding on the road
- Incredibly easy to assemble
- Cost-effective alternative to the gym
- Stable steel frame suitable for even vigorous riding
- Get the right stride length by adjusting saddle
- Padded handlebars adjustable
- No console is a disappointment
- Manufacturer gives no warranty
The Merax S301 is another design-driven exercise bike you won’t want to hide away in the basement and it’s astoundingly cheap considering the performance and versatility it delivers.
While this exercise bike is cheap, there are no shortcuts taken in terms of build quality. Robustness is more than you would expect with a class-leading 330-pound upper weight limit making this steel-framed bike fit for most users.
You’ll be able to monitor distance, time and calories expended on the crisp LCD screen. While you’re not going to be overwhelmed with technology, this very simplicity is what attracts so many happy customers to this mean machine.
The 22-pound flywheel could be heavier but it makes the nut. You need to expect some limitations with a cheap exercise bike.
The saddle polarizes opinion with some claiming it’s downright uncomfortable. If you don’t find it to your liking, replacing the saddle is not too much trouble.
This saddle can be adjusted for height and also for distance so you can get you posture perfect for that lengthy ride.
Twisting a central knob lets you make changes to the resistance with ease. Whether you’re a beginner or a keen and committed cyclist, make your workout just right.
Handlebars are adjustable and you can make use of them in several configurations expanding the scope of your training.
Removable pedals do not come with clips.
For a stealthy and budget-friendly exercise bike from a brand you can rely on, check out the S301 from Merax at your earliest convenience.
- Striking appearance
- Simple LCD display with all key data
- 330 pound capacity makes this bike very versatile
- Manual resistance adjustment straightforward
- Very keenly priced
- Use different positions of handlebar to expand your workouts
- Some questions about comfort of saddle
- Flywheel could be heavier
To round out our exercise bike reviews, we’ve got a sleek and compact upright from the industry powerhouse Nautilus.
The steel frame offers the rigidity you would expect. Levelers are a great help as are the stabilizer bars so even if you really get those pedals whirring, you remain perfectly fixed.
The saddle can be adjusted vertically only. That said, the default position is pretty nicely chosen and should be suitable for most.
If you are your partner both use the same gym equipment, you’ll be pleased with the dual settings meaning you can save time messing around.
If you need to export your stats to MyFitnessPal or the Nautilus app, you can do so quickly and easily. This connectivity alone is enough to drive many people toward this fine upright
A broad spread of 20 resistance levels mean this bike works well for beginners through to upper-intermediate. Really advanced riders might find the top level of resistance slightly lacking. Movement between the levels is crisp and smooth.
The weighted flywheel and belt drive come together to keep the noise down when you’re furiously pedaling away.
A general consensus on the padded seat is that it’s comfy enough even if you’re really putting the miles in. If for any reason this saddle doesn’t meet your standards, you can easily swap it out for a regular bike saddle.
Although the handlebars are covered, they’re not padded. You can change the angle to suit which goes some way being unable to tweak the seat horizontally.
If you don’t mind the restrictions with the seat and you’re looking for a straightforward exercise bike from an industry titan, look no further than the Nautilus U614.
- Impeccable brand heritage
- Superb range of 20 magnetic resistance levels
- Integrates with fitness apps to help you analyze your data
- Levelers help if your home gym has an uneven floor
- 2 user profiles ideal for couples
- Runs quietly despite the performance
- Cannot adjust seat horizontally
- Not easy to switch pedals
With the exercise bike reviews nailed, it’s time address some of the many questions that pop up when you’re looking to buy one…
Why Use an Exercise Bike?
Exercise bikes are space-saving all-rounders when you’re looking to build a home gym.
You can get a real burst of cardio while also strengthening and toning your legs, all without needing to leave home.
Before investing in a bike, you need to honestly analyze your goals and intended use…
If you want to use your bike for weight loss, you’ll have different priorities from a cyclist looking to continue training indoors.
Whether you’re looking to blow off a few excess calories or you have a serious event to train for, exercise bikes are central to a great gym.
We’ll look now at what you should consider when you’re looking for the best exercise bike for your money.
What To Look For When You’re Buying an Exercise Bike
First thing’s first, think about what type of exercise bike would work best for you.
- Upright or Static: An upright bike is probably the most popular style used in the home gym. For a low-impact shot of cardio that will tone and strengthen your legs, an upright gives you a position similar to riding a road bike
- Recumbent: Recumbent bikes allow you to sit with your back supported as you work out. Recumbents are useful if you have an existing injury since you’ll get a gentler workout. Using a recumbent allows you to target your glutes and core more than you could using an upright
- Hybrid: As the name makes clear, hybrid bikes give you the best of uprights and recumbents in one multi-purpose package. You’ll enjoy a richer variety of exercises while also safeguarding your back and improving your posture
- Indoor or Spinning: If you are a more advanced cyclist, indoor bikes offer a more challenging workout. The wider range of resistance levels emulate riding outside with hills and gears
There’s no right or wrong type of exercise bike so double down on the style that best fits your needs.
Functionality vs Your Fitness Goals
Think about what you want from training on your new exercise bike.
If you’re an accomplished cyclist used to putting in some serious distance, it’s reckless to expect a high-performing bike at the lower end of the market. You’ll need to spend a bit more for a robust pro-grade bike.
Equally, if you’re just starting out or want to exercise casually it might not be necessary to angle for an exercise bike dripping with screens and data.
It’s all about lasering in the core features that count for you and not being distracted by functionlaity you might never use.
Weight and Weight Limit of Bike
Most decent exercise bikes come with a rugged steel frame offering plenty of support and stability. Check user reviews for feedback in this area as you’ll usually get frank and honest appraisals from people who have already spent good money on a product.
Make sure that you factor moving the bike into the equation. While shooting for the heaviest bike you can find has its advantages, shifting larger units can be awkward. Look for models with integrated transport wheels to save yourself from a backache.
The other salient factor on the weight tip is the maximum load-bearing capacity. Most good exercise bikes are good for around 300 pounds which is more than enough for most people.
If you’re particularly tall or heavy, it’s worth looking for a bike specialty made for bigger users.
From cheap manual resistance machines on through magnetic resistance and topping out at fully automatic bikes fit for a commercial gym, the type of resistance you choose will dramatically affect your experience.
Look for larger flywheels to lessen the shock between resistance changes and think how demanding you need your training to be.
Most mid-level commercial exercise bikes come with magnetic resistance.
You should think about where your home gym is positioned and whether or not excessive noise would disturb anyone.
Most of the better exercise bikes tend to be pretty quiet even under duress but it’s worth checking that the model you have in mind doesn’t have a reputation for being noisy.
Ergonomics and Comfort
Getting a high-performance exercise bike is futile if it’s not comfy to use. Maintaining the discipline to train is hard enough anyway but if your bike packs a razor blade saddle or the pedals are too small, you’ll end up losing interest.
Think about how you like to train and whether or not you’d benefit from multi-position handlebars.
The saddle is of prime importance and users routinely feed back regarding comfort levels so read as many reviews as you can to get a feel. You can always replace the saddle, often with a standard bike seat, if you prefer.
If you have a challenging range of workouts and your bike is a joy to ride, there’s no excuse not to get right down to business.
Do you intend to leave your exercise bike permanently set up?
If so, the size is not so much of an issue.
If, however, you need to store it away when not in use, think carefully about the space you have available. If this really is limited, you may want to consider a folding model.
Price should always play a part in your buying decision but it should never be the deciding part.
Rather than obsessing purely over the bottom line, think of lifespan and performance set against price so you can get a more accurate idea of value.
With any luck, these exercise bike reviews have pointed you on the right trail and clarified what you should look out when buying one.
If you’ve got anything that you’d like us to look into here at Fitness Grit, just drop us a line any time. We’re here to help out with all aspects of health and fitness so don’t be shy, get in touch!