Friday, 28 March 2014

How to Choose the Best Exercise Bike for Your Needs

If you’re thinking of buying an exercise bike, you can be overwhelmed by the amount of different bikes there are to choose from, with prices ranging between anything from under £100 up to $800+.  You may be dazzled by the amount of features a manufacturer claims to offer on their exercise bikes, such as a high number of programmable workouts or resistance levels, but there are a lot more things to consider when buying an exercise bike.

While you may be limited to the amount of money you want to spend on an exercise bike, it is important to consider factors such as the build-quality for long-lasting durability, how smoothly and quietly the bike operates, how much adjustability does the bike have in terms of user height, what the user weight ratings are, how stable and safe the bike is, and of course what warranties do the manufacturers offer on their exercise bikes.

Upright Exercise Bike, most common type of exercise bike, usually comes with a computer console with a variety of workout programs and LCD screen to track your workout statsWhen most people first think of an exercise bike, the first type of exercise bike that comes to mind is the Upright Exercise Bike.

Upright exercise bikes are the most common type of exercise bike and as the name suggests, you sit in an upright position as you pedal.

These types of bikes usually come with a computer console with an LCD display and offer a variety of workout programs to keep your workouts interesting, varied and challenging.  Your workout stats are displayed on the LCD monitor so you can keep track of your progress.

But did you know there are several other types of exercise bikes which some people may find they are better suited to?

Recumbent Exercise Bike has a large seat with back support for people with back problems or recovering from injuryRecumbent exercise bikes are ideal for people who suffer from back problems or people who are recovering from injury who need to exercise to start building their muscles back up.

Recumbent exercise bikes feature a comfortable large seat with back-support and a step-through frame design which makes it easy to get on and off the seat.

The pedals on recumbent bikes are situated towards the front of the bike rather than under the saddle area, so you have a much more relaxed laid-back feel while you’re cycling.

Air or Fan Exercise Bike work on air resistance for unlimited resistance levels, usually have dual action handlebars to work upper and lower body togetherFor those people who want a bit more of a workout, Air or Fan exercise bikes offer a total body workout with their dual-action handlebars which you pull forwards and backwards as you cycle, effectively working both your upper and lower body at the same time.

Air or fan exercise bikes work on air resistance which means that the faster you pedal, the harder the resistance will be.  This type of resistance effectively gives you unlimited resistance levels.

Pro or Spin Exercise Bike, for serious cyclists who want to train or cycle indoors with the feel of an outdoor road bikeFor the more serious cyclists who want to train or cycle indoors with the feel of an outdoor road bike, then the Pro or Spin exercise bikes are the ones for you.

Pro or Spin exercise bikes tend to have racing-style handlebars and you sit in a forward-leaning position rather than an upright position, just as you would on an outdoor road bike.

Other Factors to Consider when Choosing the Best Exercise Bike for You:


Before buying an exercise bike, make sure that you can adjust the height of the seat so that you can comfortably reach the pedals.

With pro or spin bikes, you can usually adjust the height of the handlebars as well as the seat, with many models now offering adjustments not only up and down, but fore and aft also.  This is a particularly important point on pro or spin bikes, as well as the ability to swap out the seat and/or pedals for ones of your own choosing.

Seat Comfort

The biggest complaint when it comes to exercise bikes is usually due to an uncomfortable seat.  Seats on bikes vary in size and firmness.  Before you buy an exercise bike, think about whether a smaller or larger seat would suit you better.  If you can buy a bike with a padded seat then you will definitely benefit from the added comfort.  Alternatively you can buy padded seat covers or gel seat covers to fit virtually any exercise bike, so it’s very easy to solve the problem of a hard seat.

User-weight Ratings

Manufacturers offer different user-weight ratings on different models of exercise bikes.  This means that some exercise bikes are designed to accommodate heavier users than others.  Always check the user-weight rating before buying an exercise bike to ensure that you are well within the bike’s weight rating.  If you are close to the edge of a bike’s weight rating, it would be better to go for the next one up, rather than choose a bike that will be put under more strain than it is built for.  Generally speaking, the higher the user-weight rating of a bike, the better the bike is built for long-lasting durability.  So, regardless of your weight, if you have the money, go for a bike with a higher user-weight rating.

Resistance and Programs

If you want to keep your workouts interesting and challenging, then choose a bike which offers a good variety of workout programs and resistance levels.

If you choose a bike with a computer console and LCD display, you can track the progress of your workouts, including stats such as speed, distance, time, calories burned and heart-rate.  If keeping track of your heart-rate is important to you, check that a heart-rate monitor is included, as not all exercise bikes come with one, although many bikes have built-in hand-pulse sensors and offer compatibility with separately bought chest heart-rate monitors.

An adjustable resistance system is particularly important if you want to continue to increase the intensity of your workouts as you get more used to cycling.


Most exercise bikes come with stabilizers and levellers to ensure the stability of the bike while in use, so that it doesn’t move or tip over.  Some exercise bikes feature over-sized stabilizers for added stability.

The pedals on the exercise bike should ideally have foot straps to secure your feet in place and prevent your feet slipping off the pedals while you cycle.  For optimum comfort, choose a bike with ergonomically designed pedals.

If you have young children or pets running around, make sure you buy an exercise bike that has no exposed moving parts.


Many exercise bikes come with added extras, which although not necessary, are a welcome bonus.  Extra features can include: headphone socket, USB charger, sound system, built-in fan, reading rack, and water bottle holder.

Price and Warranty

If you have the money, a quality-built exercise bike is always worth paying that bit more for.  With a higher-end model, you will get a smoother quieter operating exercise bike that will have longer-lasting durability than a cheaper one.  Cheaper exercise bikes are fine for light use.

Remember to check the warranty offered on an exercise bike.  Generally, a higher-end model will offer a better warranty, but this can vary between manufacturers.  Normally you will find that the frame is covered by a longer warranty over the parts, electronics and labor.

N.B.  It’s always advisable to consult your doctor or health care professional before undertaking any new exercise regime.
Prices/discounts indicated are correct at the time this article was written/published.  E&OE.

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