How to Choose the Best Exercise Bike

Exercise BikeFor many people, an exercise bike is the first piece of exercise equipment we bring into our homes, but it is important to choose a bike that is useful, and one that provides excellent value for the money.  Many a poor quality exercise bike has ended up being an expensive clothes rack, so it pays to do your homework and find out the factors that make a great exercise bike.

Why an Exercise Bike
Exercise bikes provide a number of important benefits to users, no matter what their level of fitness or fitness goals.  One of the best things about exercise bikes is that there is no learning curve.  If you can sit down and pedal, you can use an exercise bike.

In addition, exercise bikes can provide an excellent cardiovascular workout, and cardiovascular exercise has been shown time and time again to reduce the occurrence of many of our most serious diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and others.  Working out a couple of times a week on an exercise bike can provide excellent benefits, both in terms of weight loss and overall fitness.

Best of all, exercise bikes provide all these benefits in a very low impact way.  Compared to many other forms of exercise, like running or jogging, exercise bikes are very easy on the knees and joints.  This makes exercise bike workouts perfect for those who are prone too, or recovering from, sports injuries.  As a matter of fact, exercise bike routines are a cornerstone of sports medicine programs around the country.

Types of Exercise Bikes
When shopping for an exercise bike, it is important to keep in mind that there are two different types of exercise bike – upright and recumbent.  Both styles have their own advantages and disadvantages, but for many shoppers the choice will boil down to personal taste.

Exercise Bike

Upright Bike

Recumbent Bike

Recumbent Bike

Most people are already familiar with the upright exercise bike.  This style of bike is designed with the same style as a traditional bike, except that it is stationary.  The pedals, the handlebars, etc. are all where you would expect to find them on a traditional bike, and upright exercise bikes are quite easy to use for just about any rider.

The design of the recumbent exercise bike, on the other hand, is quite different from that of a traditional bike.  The pedals of a recumbent exercise bike are placed at the front of the machine, instead of on the bottom as on an upright bike.  To operate a recumbent exercise bike, the rider lays down, reaching out for the pedals in a reclining position.

It is a good idea for exercise bike shoppers to look at both upright and recumbent exercise bikes as they shop.  Some riders will prefer the traditional upright bike, finding it easier to use.  Others will prefer the style and ease of use of the recumbent model.  Recumbent models can be especially good for those riders who have experienced back problems, as many people find the position of the recumbent bike a lot less stressful on the lower back.

Factors to Look At
When shopping for an exercise bike, there are a number of things to consider.  Some of the most important factors to look at when shopping for an exercise bike include:

1. Height Adjustments. It is important to choose a bike whose height is easily adjustable.  This adjustability will allow riders of all heights to easily use the equipment, an especially critical factor if more than one user will be riding it.  It is of course important that all riders are comfortable on the exercise bike, as exercise equipment that is not comfortable to use will be unlikely to see much use.

2. Seat. It is also important to make sure that the seat fits you properly, and that the seat is large enough to accommodate riders of all sizes.  If you purchase the exercise bike from a traditional store, be sure to try it out and make sure the seat is comfortable.  Fortunately, if the seat is not up to snuff, it is relatively easy to purchase and install a new seat on most models of exercise bikes.

3. Pedals. The pedals of the bike should be easy to operate and provide smooth operation.  In addition, many models of exercise bike provide an easy way for users to strap their feet into place while riding.

4. Safety. It is important to make sure that all the moving parts of the exercise bike, like the chain, are covered with a safety shroud.  This will help to ensure safe operation and make sure that small children and pets cannot be inadvertently injured by the device.

5. Weight Rating. It is also important to choose an exercise bike that is rated for your weight.  Different models of exercise bike will come with different weight ratings, and it is important to choose one that is capable of supporting your pre-workout weight.  Many of the best exercise bikes are rated for weights of up to 300 to 400 pounds, so finding a good one should not be that much of a problem.

6. Adjustable Intensity. It is also a good idea to look for an exercise bike that provides an adjustable workout.  Most exercise bikes provide a way to adjust the intensity of a workout, and this is an especially important factor for those embarking on an exercise routine.  Adjustable tension will help make the workouts more intense as your fitness level increases, providing continual challenges as your level of fitness improves.

7. Heart Rate Monitor. Another good way to track your level of fitness is to use the heart rate monitor that is included on many models of upright and recumbent exercise bikes.  A heart rate monitor is a great way to track your progress and gauge the intensity of the workout.  In addition to heart rate monitors, many models of exercise bikes provide additional features, like tracking for calories burned and distance ridden.  Some even include reading racks and headphone jacks to keep you entertained as you work out.

8. Warranty. In addition to these important factors, it is important to look for an exercise bike whose manufacturer provides a lengthy warranty.  The warranty period will of course vary from model to model and manufacturer to manufacturer, and while it is true that most of the time the most expensive models will have the longest warranties this is not always the case.

It is important to look for a minimum warranty that includes coverage of materials and labor for at least one year.  Some of the most expensive models of exercise bike come equipped with five year, ten year or even lifetime warranties on the frame, and some even kick in extensive warranty coverage on labor, parts and electronics as well.

9. Price. When it comes to price, exercise bike shoppers can expect to pay anywhere from a low of about $500 to $1500 or more for a high end fitness center quality machine.  While there are some cheaper models on the market, most of them are of questionable quality.  As with other fitness equipment purchases, it is important to balance quality and value when shopping for an exercise bike.

A Word About Elliptical Trainers
elliptical trainerElliptical trainers are one of the most recent innovations in the world of fitness equipment, combining the best features and benefits of an exercise bike and those of a treadmill into one combined package.  While an elliptical trainer can be a good choice for many people, it is important to know what to look for, and to know how these machines differ from both exercise bikes and treadmills.

First the positive aspects of elliptical trainers.  Many users report that elliptical trainers are able to provide a lower impact workout than treadmills, or even exercise bikes.  Studies have shown that elliptical trainers give users less stress on their knees and other joints, while still providing a good workout.

In addition, elliptical trainers can allow buyers with limited space to pack more fitness equipment into less space.  Many of us lack the space required for both an exercise bike and a full size treadmill, and a high quality elliptical trainer can provide the best of both worlds in a minimum of space.

On the negative side, elliptical trainers can be more difficult to learn to use than either exercise bikes or treadmills, and many first time users find it takes some time to learn how to use the machine properly.

When shopping for an elliptical trainer, smooth operation is perhaps the most critical factor.  It is essential that the elliptical trainer provide smooth and quiet operation, as it is this smoothness that provides the joint healthy benefits of this type of fitness equipment.  While not the right choice for everyone, a quality elliptical trainer can be an excellent choice and a great value.

Brands and Models

afg exercise bikes

 

AFG 2.0 AR Recumbent Exercise Bike
AFG 4.0 AR Recumbent Exercise Bike

 

Bladez Exercise Bikes

 

Bladez Fitness Jet GS Indoor Bike
Bladez Fitness Jet GSX Indoor Cycle
Bladez Fitness PTS68 Master Indoor Cycle
Bladez Fitness Aero PRO Indoor Cycle
Bladez Fitness Synapse SR3i Recumbent
Bladez Fitness Synapse SC3i Upright
Bladez Indoor Cycling Bike PTS68

 

cybex exercise bike

 

Cybex Sigma C Upright Bike Cyclone 530C

 

diamondback

 

Diamondback Fitness 510Sr Recumbent
Diamondback Fitness 910Sr Recumbente
Diamondback Fitness 910Ub Upright
Diamondback Fitness 510Ub Upright
Diamondback Fitness 510Ic Indoor
Diamondback Fitness 910Ic Indoor

endurance

 

Endurance B2.5U Electronic Upright
Endurance B2U Upright

Fitnex

 

Fitnex R70 Recumbent
Fitnex B50 Upright
Fitness Master X Series Momentum
Fitnex B70 Upright
Fitnex Velocity Indoor
Fitnex B55SG Upright

healthrider

 

Healthrider H30x Upright

horizon

 

Horizon Fitness RC-30 Recumbent
Horizon Fitness M4 Indoor

KETTLER

 

Kettler Giro R Programmable Recumbent
Kettler Giro P Programmable Upright
Kettler Axos Cycle
Kettler Giro GT Programmable
Kettler Lotus R Indoor Recumbent
Kettler Ergo Race Indoor Training
Kettler Race Indoor Training
Kettler Polo M Upright

lifecore

 

Lifecore Fitness LC850RBS Compact
Lifecore Fitness Airbike
Lifecore Fitnes LC950RBS Compact

lifefitness

 

Life Fitness C1 Lifecycle
Life Fitness Club Series Recumbent
Life Fitness R1 Lifecycle

lifespan

 

LifeSpan C3i Upright
LifeSpan S1 Indoor
LifeSpan S2 Indoor
LifeSpan S4 Indoor
LifeSpan Standing Desk Cycle
LifeSpan R3i Recumbent

livestrong

 

Livestrong LS5.0U Upright
Livestrong LS9.9IC-2
Livestrong LS5.0R Recumbent
Livestrong LS6.0R Recumbent

marcy

 

Marcy Upright Mag
Marcy Recumbent Mag
Marcy Air 1 Fan
Marcy Foldable
Marcy Classic Upright
Marcy Club Revolution

nautilus

 

Nautilus R514c Recumbent
Nautilus NB3000 Upright

precor

 

Precor UBK 835 Commercial Upright
Precor UBK 835 Commercial Recumbent
Precor RBK 815 Commercial Upright
Precor RBK 815 Commercial Recumbent

proform

 

ProForm 210 CSX
Proform 215 CSX Upright
Proform 315 CSX Recumbent
ProForm 300 SPX
ProForm 115 CSX
ProForm 280 CSX Upright
ProForm 290 SPX
ProForm 385 CSX Recumbent
Proform 315 IC
ProForm XP Whirlwind 320

Schwinn

 

Schwinn 250 Recumbent
Schwinn AD2 Airdyne
Schwinn 150 Upright
Schwinn 120 Upright
Schwinn IC2
Schwinn A10 Upright
Schwinn A20 Recumbent
Schwinn AD6 Airdyne
Schwinn 140 Upright