The choice of models is remarkable, from pedal-only options to fully immersive cycling experiences.
We've concentrated on a range of stationary bikes that are designed to help you focus on your fitness and give you a complete workout.
We do not accept products directly from manufacturers; we use our own funds to purchase the same “off-the-shelf” products that you do.
And when we've finished our testing and consumer reviews, we donate all these products to charities and other non-profit organizations.
Here is our shortlist of the 5 best exercise bikes available in the market today:
Comfort and ergonomics aren't quite the same thing. Road racing cycles, for example, are not particularly comfortable but do have advanced ergonomics. If you're going to use an indoor fitness cycle regularly, you should definitely look for one that satisfies both requirements.
Some exercise bikes barely look like they would last the week, so obviously we haven't included those. The remaining models are rated for structural strength, rigidity, and whether they're easy to move around.
Modern stationary exercise cycles deliver all kinds of functions and features — some with clear health purposes and others that have been developed to make your cycling more fun.
Our reviews tend to shy away from the cheaper models in order to avoid issues with poor quality. However, we are aware that budgets vary, so we've been careful to include some excellent exercise bikes which are very reasonably priced.
Denise has a background in healthcare and physical therapy. She also has the unique experience of raising three boys. Through the years, she has coached her sons and many of their friends through their share of childhood health problems and accidents. When not helping others recover from their injuries, you may find Denise working in her garden or reading.
At first glance, the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike might seem like a basic model. Look closer, and you'll see it's a very functional machine, with all of the adjustments you need to make it suit your body. The manufacturer says it's made for people from 5'3" to 6'3", with a maximum weight of 300 pounds. The handlebars are curved to offer a choice of resting positions for your hands or arms, and the cushioned seat is particularly large - although some owners did comment that they would actually have preferred a more cycle-like model. All of our top five exercise bikes have adjustable safety straps on the peddles to prevent injury from your feet slipping out.
The Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike has a more typical cycle layout - with seat and handlebars at a similar height, thus moving your weight forward onto your arms. Having said that, there are lots of adjustments available to move the seat both up and down as well as forward and back. Additionally, the handlebars have a multi-curved design that lets you use your hands or rest on your forearms. The seat is also reminiscent of a traditional outdoor bike, though standard fitting size means you could easily change it. The maximum supported weight of this machine is 275 pounds.
With an exercise machine like the Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike, you lean back to cycle — the idea being that there's no danger of back strain. The seat is something like you would find on a good office chair — wide, supportive, and well padded. It will support someone of up to 300 pounds, and it sits on a rail, allowing for easy backward and forward adjustment. There are forward handlebars to make it easy to get on and off, but in use you would normally grip the supports on either side of the seat.
The Diamondback 910SR Fitness Recumbent Bike is similar in design to the Schwinn, but it adds even more in terms of comfort and ergonomics with adjustable seat height, seat back, handlebars, and reach to the pedals. The weight capacity of this bike is also greater — around 325 pounds. The manufacturer is keen to point out the therapeutic benefits of recumbent exercises bikes, allowing those with moderate upper-body injuries, arthritis, or pregnant women to undertake some level of exercise without undue exertion.
The Expresso HD Upright Exercise Bike has a general seating position quite like the Exerpeutic - which for many people might be viewed as "normal" for a stationary bike. The seat is fairly comfortable and is adjustable for height and angle. The handlebars are also adjustable, although they don't offer the range of hand/arm positions that you find with the Exerpeutic or Sunny models. The manufacturer doesn't seem to provide a weight rating, but we found the support to be very similar to the other bikes we reviewed.
The welding on the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike is neat and consistent, pointing to the extremely high quality of construction. The frame itself is perfectly adequate and, like all of the bikes reviewed, bracing legs extend either side to give the required stability. Some self-assembly is required, but this is minimal and — as many owners have said — very easy. The big advantage with the Exerpeutic is it's portability. It takes moments to fold up, and even though it only weighs 49 pounds, it has little wheels in the rear of the frame so you don't have to lift it entirely. It's an ideal exercise bike for people who are short on space.
The Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike wears its structural rigidity proudly on its sleeve, making a feature of the substantial, girder-like build and prolific, smooth welding. Like the Exerpeutic, some self-assembly is required, but most owners only took between twenty minutes and half an hour to complete it. Although this is not a fold-up model, and the flywheel alone weighs 40 pounds, moving it about is relatively simple thanks to the built-in transport wheels on the front frame rail.
Weighing in at 101 pounds, the Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike is probably not something you'd want to move several times a day. However, like the Sunny exercise bike, it does have transport wheels to make the job as strain-free as possible. The upside of that bulk is that you get a machine that's sturdy and durable - a quality that's underlined by Schwinn brand, which provides a ten year guarantee for the frame.
With the Diamondback 910SR Fitness Recumbent Bike, you don't just get an exercise bike that looks really solid; you get a beautifully engineered machine, too. The craftsmanship is clear from every angle — something that's reiterated by owners who consistently praise how well made it is. That being said, we should point out that this bike is quite heavy, weighing in at 152 pounds. While not much assembly is required, it's better to have two people around to do it.
There's no doubt that the Expresso HD Upright Exercise Bike is structurally sound. It's another well-engineered, quality product that looks like it has plenty of years — or should that be miles — of use in it. Although initially similar in appearance to the Exerpeutic, it's actually a very different bike. It's not foldable and weighs 155 pounds - so something you would prefer to have a fairly permanent position in your home. What assembly there is for the Expresso is done for you, by their "white glove" delivery service, although as we'll see in a moment, it should probably be called "installation" rather than delivery.
In terms of features, the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike provides everything you need. The handlebar-mounted digital display is clear and concise, giving information on distance covered, calories burned, your speed, the time you've been pedaling, and your heart rate. There are eight tension settings (making it increasingly difficult to peddle), controlled by a large, tactile knob mounted just below the handlebars. Under that, there's a little pocket suitable for a TV remote control. This is specially handy given the near silent belt drive which makes the machine quiet enough for you to watch your favorite program while exercising.
The Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike is a performance oriented, no-frills machine. Tension is more or less infinitely variable, based on a braking system that restricts the heavy flywheel. The only other feature is a push lever that quickly stops the flywheel when you've finished your workout. It's a chain drive, so it's not as quiet as the Exerpeutic, but we didn't find it to really be that noisy either. It's not particularly aimed at the TV watcher, though, as it's much more a piece of equipment for the serious fitness fan.
You won't be worrying about the TV with the Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike either — you'll probably be too focused on the multi-function, twin LCD display. There are the usual settings for time, distance, heart rate, and calories, but now you get access to all kinds of extras — 29 in all — allowing you to not only monitor current performance but track it over weeks, months, or even years. The same data can also be used with the popular MyFitnessPal calorie counter app. There are 25 resistance levels, delivered by a small, but high-inertia flywheel that keeps everything nice and quiet. Further features — unrelated to the fitness aspects — are a USB charging port so you can use your smartphone or tablet while exercising, a media rack, and even loudspeakers built into the display.
The Diamondback 910SR Fitness Recumbent Bike takes features to a whole new level, starting with 32 levels of resistance and a front console that offers 35 different workout programs and functions, including the ability to wirelessly connect to Lifecore or Polar chest straps for heart monitoring. Once again, this unit offers speakers, this time with MP3 connectivity too. To make sure you don't get overheated while you cycle, there are three variable cooling fans, and it even has a fold-out magazine rack and water bottle holder - although rather amusingly, we're told the bottle itself is optional! Finally, if you're an Apple user, there's a 30-pin charging connector and USB port for your iPod, iPhone and iPad.
The advertising for the Expresso HD Upright Exercise Bike says "don't call this a stationary bike!" It may be fixed in one place, but the experience is something completely different. This exercise bike doesn't just have settings, it connects to the internet and allows you to experience more than 40 virtual-reality rides, ranging from a mile-long track sprint to 20 miles of arduous mountain climbing. This thing really is remarkable. It steers, it shifts gear, and its pedal resistance is linked to the terrain mapping provided by the software - so if the screen shows you going up a slope, pedaling gets progressively more difficult. Not surprisingly, given the technology, the bike remembers just about everything you do. You can even race against a "you" from a previous ride or, via Facebook, compete with others. In use, you soon forget you're looking at a screen and become completely immersed in the competition.
Many people would be happy to pay the $199 list price for the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike - but you can actually save 25% of that, because it's currently on sale at just $124. That's really an excellent deal for such a good all-round stationary indoor exercise bike.
The Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike also offers great saving right now, down from $599 to $239. Whether it's worth almost a hundred dollars more than the Exerpeutic will depend what kind of exercise you want. The Sunny has "Pro" in its name for a reason - it's much more a machine for serious workouts, or for the cyclist who want to keep up a routine when the weather is too unpleasant for them to do so outdoors.
Schwinn has a great reputation for quality exercise equipment, and the Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike continues that tradition. At the moment you can find one for $465 (normally they are $800), so if recumbent exercise appeals to you, you can get a top-rated bike at a considerable savings.
The Diamondback 910SR Fitness Recumbent Bike is priced at $784. It is very high quality, and it's packed with features. If the Schwinn is the top-class saloon, then the Diamondback is the luxury limousine — except it's one that will keep you fit!
The price of the Expresso HD Upright Exercise Bike - $6999 - will make anyone pause. Then there's $450 for the guys and gals with the "white gloves." That's actually nearly two thousand dollars off list price, but it's still a lot of money for a stationery exercise bike. The point is, like they say in the ads, it's much more than that. It's a video game and a fitness routine in one, and comments like "absolutely no regrets," and "keeps me in great shape year round," tell you just how pleased owners are with their investment.
From the five top indoor exercisers, we now need to narrow it down to one — the best exercise bike currently available. It's almost impossible. They aren't all just good, they're very good. Each will suit someone absolutely perfectly.
But we can't leave it at that, so, when pushed, we choose the Expresso. It's not the most affordable exercise bike on the market, but if you are gunning for the absolute best, this is the one for you. Most people want something that they can adapt to relatively easily — something that looks good when left in the room, that's easy to use, and that copes with various existing fitness levels — or even some temporary physical impairment. The Expresso does all of those things at an exceptional level that far surpasses its competitors. It gives you the feedback you need, has a provision for personal entertainment devices, and will even keep you cool while you're working out. If you're looking for a flexible, indoor exercise package, what more could you want?
If you've got a grand to spend on a luxury recumbent exercise bike, the Diamondback definitely won't disappoint, and the Expresso HD Upright Bike is just a tremendous technical accomplishment. But if we're talking about the best value for the money, there is no need to look further than the Exerpeutic.
This exercise bike does what it does very well. It looks good, it's incredibly robust, and it has all the features you really need. It folds easily so that you can keep it out of the way. It's cheap to buy, but not cheaply made, and it has literally thousands of happy owners who use it regularly because it's so easy to live with. Our prize for best value goes, without a doubt, to the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike.