Investing in the best exercise bike is a great way to meet your fitness goals from home – and means you won’t have to compete with busy traffic or bad weather. You may also be wondering, are exercise bikes good for weight loss? The answer is absolutely! In fact, that is just one of the many benefits – you can also enjoy improved lung and heart health, as well as increased muscle definition and strength.
The first thing to consider when choosing between different exercise bikes is price. What’s your budget? The more you have to spend, the more feature-rich and high tech your machine will be. Cheaper exercise bikes often tend not to have screens, so if you want to save money and use a smartphone or tablet to stream virtual classes or free YouTube workouts, then this could be a good option.
Next, think about space. Some bikes have a large footprint, so check out the dimensions before you make a purchase. Thirdly, what kind of pedals do you prefer? Many exercise bikes come with dual pedals – SPD compatible (clip ins) and toe cage. Clip in pedals require cycling shoes, so you’ll want to know about the best shoes for Peloton to help you make an informed decision. Also don’t miss our article on the best exercise bikes on sale now.
Best exercise bike for a realistic riding experience
For something a little bit different, the Bowflex VeloCore Bike offers not one but two riding modes and has a unique leaning feature. This allows the user to sway, lean and rock from side to side, working a whole different set of muscles and adding another level to training. This really makes for a high intensity cardio burn that you simply can’t get from other home exercise bikes. While we found this a huge draw, and a new and exciting element to our indoor cycling workouts, the bike may not be ideal for anyone with balance issues or vertigo.
As you’d expect from Bowflex, the bike is smartly designed and compact, so you don’t need loads of space. It runs on magnetic resistance and has an adjustable dial that reaches level 100. You can track your metrics on the crisp HD touchscreen, which is adjustable and tilts if you want to move it out of your way.
The saddle is really comfortable and doesn’t need breaking in like some other models, making this a good option for new riders. The Bowflex VeloCore also comes with 3lb weights so you can use these during on and off-bike workouts. One drawback is that they are slightly hard to reach where they are positioned on the bike.
Best exercise bike on a budget
The Sunny Health & Fitness Indoor Cycle Bike is a quiet and affordable machine with a good resistance range. The app is lacking slightly in workout options, and the seat is a little uncomfortable. It also doesn’t track cadence so it’s hard to work out your target intensity.
If you’re after a basic indoor cycling experience without breaking the bank, then the Sunny Health & Fitness Indoor Cycle Bike is a solid option. It’s pretty compact, and has the look and feel of a gym-style spin bike with a good resistance range on the flywheel. The resistance goes up to 100, which is more than enough for a challenging workout, and it moves smoothly between gears with minimal noise.
You’ll need to pay for a subscription to access the virtual content on the Sunny Health & Fitness app, but you can use the bike without it. It’s also budget-friendly, so if you’re not sure how much you’re going to use it, this might be a good option for you.
We love how quiet it is, which is a bonus for anyone living in shared accommodation or an apartment. A drawback is the seat can be a little uncomfortable, but after a few weeks of ‘breaking it in’, it’s easier to ride on. There’s no way of tracking cadence (the speed you’re pedaling) so it’s hard to monitor intensity, but if you want to test-run an indoor bike without spending too much, then the Sunny Health & Fitness Indoor Cycle Bike is a no-frills choice.
Best exercise bike for home spinning workouts
Stylish and feature-rich, the Peloton Bike is a bestseller for good reason. It’s not cheap, but what you get for your dollar is an extremely well-made machine with endless features to keep you motivated and on track with your health and fitness goals.
It comes in Peloton’s signature black and red colors, and has a small footprint making it a good choice for people short on space. It’s also ergonomic so it feels comfortable and smooth to ride. Just bear in mind that the pedals require specific Look Delta cleat-compatible shoes, which is an extra cost on top of the bike.
The original Peloton Bike has a crisp touchscreen with all of its features hidden within the monitor – this is deliberate so that the bike itself isn’t cluttered by lots of buttons. With daily live workouts and on-demand classes via the Peloton app, one of the big draws of this bike is that you will never get bored as there is so much virtual content. A subscription is, however, needed to access the app. If you branch out and buy another Peloton product like the Peloton Tread, you can use your existing app subscription to access running content too. Another big pull is the bike is quiet and intuitive to use. Overall, the Peloton Bike offers one of the most satisfying riding experiences out there.
Best exercise bike for beginners
This is a compact bike that is easy to use. It’s probably best suited to beginners as it’s fairly basic, but it can still provide a good home cardio workout. A draw is that it comes with movable handlebars, which means you can get an upper body workout as well as training the lower body.
Be warned, while it looks like an ‘air or fan bike’ (a bike with arm handles and pedals attached to a fan at the front, which provides wind resistance as you pedal) it’s not – the resistance is created by the tension dial rather than the air, so bear this in mind before you buy. The seat isn’t the most comfortable so you might want to invest in a gel seat cover or wear padded shorts.
It might be lacking in some pizzazz, but it’s a great price and a good entry level machine for those new to indoor cycling. It’s also easy to move around because of the transportation wheels, so if you’re a fan of working out in front of the TV you can easily do this, and then move the bike back out of the way afterwards.
Best exercise bike for Peloton-style spinning classes
The Echelon Connect EX3 is a good-looking and cost-effective Peloton alternative, which offers a smooth riding experience and motivating workouts and challenges (via the Echelon app, for which a subscription is needed). The bike itself looks similar to something you’d find in a spin class, and it’s compact and well designed. It also has a max weight capacity of 136kg so is suitable for heavier users.
Unlike a Peloton it doesn’t have a built-in screen, but it has space for a tablet or phone where you can watch free online workouts or classes on the Echelon app – filtered by workout type, music, instructor and duration. Alternatively, you can use another third-party app to access virtual classes.
The Echelon Connect EX3 is fully integrated and connects with Bluetooth so you can track your stats in real-time. You can also connect it to Facebook to share your workout or compete with friends and family. The magnetic resistance dial, while quiet and smooth, is a little under-sensitive, but nothing that should get in your way. This is an impressive indoor cycling machine that is intuitive to use and a solid investment for both beginners and seasoned riders.
Best exercise bike for online studio-style classes
The NordicTrack S22i is a similar price to the Peloton Bike and offers an excellent and realistic resistance, plus a big screen with decent sound and picture quality. It works with the iFit app which we found was just as good, if not better, than the Peloton app. Like the Peloton app, a subscription is needed, but it’s full of amazing content – from scenic walks and interval training, to on and off-bike challenges.
The NordicTrack S22i comes with a multi-setting fan, which is much needed during more intense workouts, and a large touchscreen or control panel. Here you can select the iFit content and scroll through classes and challenges. There’s a slight delay on the responsiveness of the screen, but it’s nothing major.
The NordicTrack S22i also comes with a pair of 3lb dumbbells. A drawback is that they are slightly in the way in their holders next to the handlebars, and it’s a shame that the dual pedals don’t have clip-ins. However, the cages are enough to keep your feet in place and don’t require cycling shoes to use. This is a really impressive and feature-rich exercise bike that is worth the money, if you think you’ll use it enough.
Best exercise bike for endurance training
This is a competitively priced and high quality machine for anyone looking for an all-rounder exercise bike. It’s well made, with a ton of features that will appeal to both data-hungry athletes and people new to indoor cycling. Make no mistake, this is a big machine, and you’ll need a lot of space to house it. Whilst it’s 11kg lighter than its predecessor the Wattbike Pro, at 44kg it’s still a bit of a beast so you’ll need to find a good location for it before setting it up.
The Wattbike offers a smooth and realistic ride, thanks to its new electromagnetic resistance and impressive range through 22 gears. It has auto-resistance that automatically adjusts to simulate different terrains and inclines, making for a more intense workout. As well as the Wattbike Hub app, it syncs nicely with other fitness apps including Zwift.
It doesn’t have a built-in monitor and lacks a USB port to charge your smartphone or tablet, which is a bit frustrating considering this is likely to be your main way of following online workouts. It’s also not compatible with Apple Watch or Fitbit, which is a shame for the high price, but overall this is a well-made and feature-rich exercise bike that delivers on design and functionality.
Best exercise bike for those short of space
This is a budget-friendly and basic machine with a comfy oversized seat and pedals positioned in front rather than below, making it more of a recumbent bike. For this reason, it’s only suited to seated rides, so is a good choice for people with knee or joint issues. It may, however, not be so appealing to spinning fans who like to get out of the saddle for ‘running rides’.
The Xterra is really quiet thanks to the magnetic resistance, with the only real noise being the clicking sound when you change the tension dial. The bike folds up too, so it is easy to store away when you’re not using it. It’s not as feature-heavy as a more expensive machine, but the small LCD display works well and it provides a smooth ride.
Because of its recumbent design, the Xterra Fitness FB150 might not be the best option for taller people. If you’re over 5ft 10in you might want to opt for a different bike as you won’t be able to get proper extension in your legs during a ride. Nevertheless, this is a great value machine for anyone new to home exercise bikes or for people who want a lower impact workout.
Best exercise bike for those who don’t need loads of features
The Yosuda indoor cycling bike is a great value exercise bike for people on a budget who want a spinning style workout. It is well-made and sturdy, with a simple design that makes it intuitive to use, and has a friction resistance on the flywheel that is fairly quiet and smooth. It’s this slightly lower tech system that also makes the bike more affordable.
There is no touchscreen or monitor and the computer display is very basic, but it shows all the core metrics you need, including time, speed, distance and calories. The Yosuda exercise bike doesn’t have any programmed classes either, but you can get around this by simply watching a free Youtube workout on your phone or tablet, or using another app like iFit or Peloton to access live or on-demand online classes.
One big perk is the way the handlebars angle in – this really helps when leaning forward in racing style rides, as it’s a more comfortable and natural position for the shoulders and arms. The bike has dual pedals – cage and clip in – so you don’t have to buy expensive cycling shoes to use the machine unless you want to.
Best exercise bike for beginners
Good value and streamline, the Mobi Turbo Exercise Bike is a great starter machine for spinning fans on a budget. It is fast to assemble and compact with a small footprint, so it’s suitable for people short on space.
Despite it’s low price it has an efficient auto-resistance feature, automatically adjusting the intensity during workouts to simulate real terrains. This helps to create a more realistic riding experience, and also keeps you from ‘coasting’ or not pushing yourself during a class. However, you can also adjust the resistance via the dial or on the free app if you prefer.
Instead of a touchscreen, the Mobi Turbo exercise bike has a LCD control screen. It’s lacking a water bottle holder, which is frustrating, and the app has very limited workouts – although more content is promised soon. If you have a Peloton or iFit membership you could use these to follow workouts on the bike instead.
This is a no-frills, spinning style bike for people who don’t need a ton of features or virtual classes to keep them motivated. It’s not the prettiest of machines and it’s lacking in functionality, but it has an ergonomic design and a big padded seat that makes riding more comfortable.
What should I look for in an exercise bike?
The best exercise bikes have a mix of clever design, awesome features and motivating classes.
A bigger budget generally equals a feature-rich exercise bike, but if you’re new to fitness this may not be a priority for you. In fact you can save money by opting for a bike that doesn’t come with a screen, and just use your smartphone or tablet to stream virtual classes.
The size of the exercise bike is worth considering, so think about floor space before making a big investment, especially if you live in shared accommodation. If you’re particularly tall or short, check if you can adjust the seat and handlebar height. Cheaper exercise bikes also tend to have a lower weight limit, so it may be worth taking note of the max weight if you think this will be relevant to you.
Noise levels are also worth considering – read the best exercise bike reviews to see how loud they are.
If you are someone that likes a group class setting, you’ll probably want to choose an exercise bike that works with an app to stream online classes, like Peloton or iFit (subscription needed). Remember that you can still use these apps with your phone or tablet on cheaper exercise bikes – you just won’t be able to sync your metrics.
Finally consider the pedal type – toe cage ones work with normal sneakers, whereas clip in ones require special cycling shoes. Many exercise bikes have dual pedals, which are interchangeable.
So are you ready to take the next step towards achieving your fitness goals? Once you’ve chosen your perfect machine, make sure you read our handy guide on how to get the most out of your exercise bike.