At-home exercise solutions are becoming increasingly popular with many of us trying to achieve that elusive work-life balance, incorporating exercise as well as time with family and friends into our already packed schedules.
The concept of the gym at home isn’t a new one, but with the number of affordable equipment options that have become available in recent years, getting fit from the comfort of your own home has become accessible to more people.
When choosing which pieces of equipment to add to your gym, a stationary exercise bike is almost always at the top of the list.
It’s become one of the staples of a home gym because it offers a challenging cardio workout that can be adjusted for all levels of fitness.
An exercise bike also has the additional benefit of taking up very little floor space, and most models can be moved easily in and out of storage if needed.
Quick Exercise Bike Buying Guide
If you’re looking to jump directly to our top picks for exercise bikes, here they are below. All the picks are excellent choices and depend on your needs.
|Best Overall||Bowflex C6 Bike|
|Best for Beginners||Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Exercise Bike|
|Best Entry-Level Fan Bike||Body Rider Exercise Upright Fan Bike|
|Best Entry-Level Recumbent||Marcy Exercise Bike with Resistance ME-709|
|Best Intermediate||YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Bike Stationary|
|Best Pro-Intermediate||Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike|
|Best Intermediate Recumbent||EXERPEUTIC 900XL Recumbent Exercise Bike|
|Best Intermediate Fan Bike||Schwinn AD Pro Airdyne|
|Best Value||PYHIGH Indoor Cycling Bike Belt Drive Stationary Bicycle|
|Best Pro Recumbent||Nautilus R614 Exclusive|
What is an Exercise Bike?
While most of us are familiar with exercise bikes, it may come as some surprise to learn that there is a close to an unending range of options to choose from, although most bikes fall into the category of either upright stationary bikes or recumbent stationary bikes.
At its most basic, an exercise bike (or stationary bike as they are often called) is a piece of exercise equipment that looks similar to regular bicycles, with a saddle, pedals, and handlebars, but without the wheels. You’ll find them at most gyms and often in a home gym set-up.
Why Should I Buy an Exercise Bike?
A stationary bike is one of the best additions to a home gym as it offers a number of benefits.
Not only is it easy to use no matter what the weather looks like outside, but it has some incredible health benefits (not to mention the high-tech inbuilt features that come standard with some of the top-of-the-range models).
The top benefits include:
- Cardio workout, the importance of incorporating cardio into your workouts can’t be overstated. Cardio (aerobic exercise) helps to improve circulation, regulate blood sugar and lower blood pressure, and will help you lose weight faster.
- Weight loss, an exercise bike is one of the most efficient ways to burn calories. Riding for 30 minutes at a moderate speed will burn around 300 calories.
- Low impact, if you’re recovering from an injury or want to take the strain off your joints but still want a cardio workout, riding an exercise bike is ideal. A bike puts less strain on the knees and ankles, as well as the back and hips, compared with walking.
- Easy access convenience, whether it’s hot or cold outside, riding your stationary bike indoors is always a comfortable option. And, if it works for you, you can even exercise while watching TV or reading a book.
- Toning, if you’ve ever watched the Tour de France, there’s one thing that you’ll have picked up: cycling is great for toning your legs. An exercise bike works your major leg muscles — from your glutes to your quads and calves.
- Muscle strength, the push and pull motion on the pedals works to strengthen the quads and the hamstrings.
- Improved health, according to the American Heart Association, biking as a form of exercise lowers your risk of heart disease, slows weight gain, improves sleep, cognitive function, and bone health, and reduces anxiety and depression.
- Mental health, riding an exercise bike triggers the release of dopamine, which makes us feel good with one study showing that bike riding was responsible for improving energy levels by 20% and decreasing fatigue by 65%.
- Easy to store, stationary exercise bikes typically take up very little room compared to other home gym equipment, and most can be moved around with transportation wheels so it can easily be put away if you have guests over for dinner.
How to Choose the Best Exercise Bike
Modern exercise bikes are available with all the bells and whistles, from customizable fitness programs to built-in heart rate monitors, cooling fans, and more.
So, how do you choose one that works for you, fits into your lifestyle, and doesn’t go over budget?
To narrow down your options, ask yourself the below questions before you make the final decision:
- What is your budget, and are you willing to pay more for features that will improve the effectiveness of your workout?
- What space do you have available? Will the bike need to be smaller and able to fold up quickly, or do you have space for a bigger exercise bike that remains set up?
- How often, realistically, will you use the bike?
- Why are you buying a bike? What do you intend to use it for — is there a specific health benefit that is your primary goal?
- Should the bike be upright or recumbent?
Best Overall: Bowflex C6 Bike
Although the Bowflex C6 does come with a slightly higher price tag, the number of additional features and benefits more than justify the difference — it’s definitely our top pick!
If you’re an experienced rider or looking to become one, this is the bike for you. It’s a gym-quality machine, and you will not be disappointed with the abundance of features offered.
You get a well-designed bike that’s built to last with a backlit LCD metric console, 100 adjustable resistance levels, dual-link pedals (with toe cages), and even a pair of 3 lb dumbbells.
What sets the bike apart is the reliable Bluetooth connectivity that makes it easy to connect with the Peloton, Zwift, and Explore the World apps as well as a heart rate armband monitor.
This popular bike receives consistent 4 and 5-star reviews and is suitable for users up to a maximum weight of 330 lbs. Additional extras include free shipping and an excellent warranty.
Product Dimensions: 48.7″ L x 21.2″ W x 51.8″ H
Product Weight: 106 lbs (Integrated transport rollers included)
Warranty: Frame: 10 years / Mechanical & Electrical: 3 years / Labor: 1 year
Best for Beginners: Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Exercise Bike with Pulse
The Exerpeutic upright exercise bike is the Men’s Health Editor’s Choice, and it thoroughly deserves that accolade. Nearing 10,000 ratings, this bike continues to outperform other more expensive models.
It’s easy to assemble, extremely quiet, supports up to 300 pounds. It’s also easy to mount and dismount, offering a comfortable, yet still effective, workout.
The bike allows you to customize your workout with eight tension levels. The bike features a large LCD that shows calories burned, time on the bike, distance covered, speed, and pulse (monitored by hand pulse sensors). The height of the seat can easily be adjusted to fit user heights from 5’3 to 6’1, and users love the large seat cushion that makes exercising on the bike a comfortable experience. The high torque 3-piece crank system and double-drive transmission are included in this very affordable model.
The innovative space-saving design means that once you have finished exercising, the bike can be folded up to half of the assembled sized and rolls away easily for storage.
Entry-Level Fan Bike: Body Rider Exercise Upright Fan Bike
This popular, well-priced exercise bike features dual-action extended handlebars making it ideal for simultaneous upper and lower body exercise. You have full control over your workout intensity at the turn of a knob, which makes it easy to adjust the bike’s resistance.
Body Rider Exercise Upright Fan Bike makes use of a high momentum fan wheel system for a fluid workout, and the steel H frame design means that you feel secure and safe at all times.
This is a new version of the bike which has been updated from previous versions with a more comfortable seat cushion to address the main complaint of users.
The BRF700 Fan Upright Exercise Bike includes a fan wheel, designed to keep users cool, and features an easily adjustable seat for homes with multiple users.
Product Dimensions: 45.6 x 22 x 45.5 inches
Product Weight: 47.3 pounds
Shipping Weight: 50.9 pounds
Best Entry-Level Recumbent: Marcy Exercise Bike with Resistance ME-709
This is the most popular recumbent exercise bike on the market with its sturdy design, reliable performance, and extra features.
This bike has 5-star ratings in the multiple thousands, with many users remarking on the bike’s durability and comfort, as well that the specs that outperform bikes in higher price categories.
It’s an easy way to shed excess weight and build tone from the comfort of your own home.
Made from top-of-the-range 14-gauge steel tubing with rubber and PVS, the bike’s high quality is designed to withstand heavy daily use.
Its step-trough design ensures maximum mobility and makes it easy to mount and dismount. The eight resistance levels offer a customizable challenge for any user, and the ergonomic padded saddle provides a comfortable workout.
Features include an adjustable seat to make pedaling more comfortable, and adjustable resistance using the conveniently located resistance knob under the handlebars.
The LCD computer display shows the time, speed, distance, and calories to help you track your workout, while the recumbent handlebars and back support offer comfort for longer sessions.
The textured pedals safely grip your feet while the pedal straps secure your feet to ensure that they don’t slip during the workout. The bike is also easy to move and store after a workout using the transport wheels.
Product Dimensions: 55.5 L x 25 B x 37.5 H
Product Weight: 61 pounds
Shipping Weight: 66.5 pounds
Batteries: 2 AAA batteries required
Best Intermediate: YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Bike Stationary
Getting into shape from the comfort of your own home has never been easier (or more stylish).
The easy-to-assemble YOSUDA stationary bike features a 35lbs flywheel and a heavy-duty steel frame making the bike sturdy even up to a maximum user weight of 270lbs.
It makes use of a belt system that’s both smooth and quiet, so it’s enjoyable to use and won’t wake up the kids if you sneak downstairs for an early morning session.
The bike can be entirely customized to your needs with a large range of resistance settings, a handlebar that can be adjusted up and down, and a padded seat that can be moved forward and back and up and down.
This exercise bike also has a few extra features to increase the enjoyment of your workout, including an iPad mount and a water bottle holder as well as an LCD monitor that shows you time, speed, calories, and distance.
And, when you’re done, the transportation wheels make it easy to move the exercise bike — simply tilt and roll, no heavy lifting needed.
Product Dimensions: 40.2 L x 21.6 B x 46.1 H
Shipping Weight: 69 pounds
Batteries: 2 AAA batteries required
Warranty: 1-year free parts replacement
Best Pro-Intermediate: Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike
This popular exercise bike has many thousands of customer ratings and comes with a range of features that make it a stand-out favorite at an affordable price. We’re calling it the “pro-intermediate” — it’s sturdier than the one above and also has a realistic experience with a heavier flywheel.
In terms of the design, the sturdy 40- chrome flywheel consistently maintains momentum as you cycle, offering support for speed training along with all-important stability.
Users have full control of the resistance, which can be easily increased or brought to a complete and immediate stop using the friction resistance knob, which acts directly on the flywheel. The base levelers mean that you can keep the bike stable on uneven surfaces, so you are always in control.
The bike has adjustable handles that feature an ergonomic design that can support various riding styles.
The multi-grip handles can be adjusted up and down to match the height of the user. This is done in conjunction with the four-way adjustable seat, which means your cycling experience can be tailored to your needs, with a maximum user weight of 275 lbs.
Product Dimensions: 46.5 x 18 x 46 inches
Product Weight: 97.2 pounds
Shipping Weight: 110 pounds
Best Intermediate Recumbent: EXERPEUTIC 900XL 300 lbs. Weight Capacity Recumbent Exercise Bike
Another excellent exercise bike from Exerpeutic’s range, the EXERPEUTIC 900XL, is a top-performing recumbent exercise bike with pulse. It’s an affordable option that over-delivers on quality and features and also has thousands of positive 5-star reviews.
Exerpeutic’s step-through design makes it easy to mount and dismount from the bike, while the heavy-duty steel frame offers higher weight capacity (a maximum of 300lbs) compared to other bikes in the same price range.
There are eight different tension levels and a smooth torque cranking system, which allows for an even, consistent workout. The large console is easy to read and shows distance, calories, time, speed, and more.
The large seat cushion and comfortable backrest are designed to accommodate users of any height from 5’3 to 6’6.
The only slight negative is that the seat can’t be adjusted while exercising, and is quite challenging to do. If you’re sharing the bike with someone else in the home, this might not be the best bike choice.
Two useful features are the hand pulse that allows for heart rate monitoring, and the leg stabilizers that prevent any movement while the bike is in use. The bike also offers three workout goals settings via the free Bluetooth Smart Cloud Fitness so you can track your workout with your phone.
Product Dimensions: 54 x 22 x 34 inches
Product Weight: 72.2 pounds
Shipping Weight: 74.4 pounds
Batteries: 2 AA batteries required
Warranty: 1 year
Best Intermediate Fan Bike: Schwinn AD Pro Airdyne
The Schwinn Airdyne Bike Series includes the Schwinn AD6 Airdyne, the Schwinn AD7 Airdyne, and the Schwinn Airdyne AD2, all of which offer excellent build quality and design.
But, it’s the top-of-the-range Schwinn AD Pro Airdyne that is the most exciting stationary bike option.
With hundreds of 5-star reviews, this bike is more than worth the slightly higher price tag. Plus, it’s a Schwinn — one of the leaders in biking.
Users love the challenge of the bike as it’s intensity scales with your fitness level, and you can choose to use the arms only, legs only, or both at the same time.
The single-stage belt drive allows for instant activation and delivers a smooth, effective workout. The bike uses wind resistance technology to ensure that it can meet the workout needs of beginners through to elite athletes, as well as those recovering from injuries. And, the 26-blade fan outperforms competitors by enabling users to burn more calories at the same RPM.
The bike also has built-in HIIT programs that offer a new challenge as well as a tachometer that shows how hard you’re working.
The Schwinn AD Pro Airdyne is built to last, featuring commercial-grade construction, a double-coated steel body, and a moisture-repellent frame, so your bike will stay in excellent condition, year after year.
The smooth belt drive and sturdy frame platform with structural support and contact levelers keep you feeling stable and safe, with no loud sounds or jerky movements.
Product Dimensions: 55 x 26 x 53 inches
Product Weight: 113 pounds
Shipping Weight: 135 pounds
Batteries: 2 D batteries required
The PYHIGH indoor bike is ideal for users looking for an affordable, yet high-quality bike.
This exercise bike adjusts to fit users between the heights of 4’9 and 6’5, with a 2-way adjustable non-slip handlebar, and 4-way adjustable seat. The bike’s design has been recently updated with an extra fixing knob to keep the handlebar securely in place during workouts.
This exercise bike is also SGS certified, ensuring that it outperforms stringent safety requirements.
The design makes use of a belt-driven PK anti-loosing system for a smoother ride (compared to chain mechanisms) and a knob to quickly and easily adjust the level of resistance.
The LCD monitor displays information workout information. Other features include a heavy (35lbs) bidirectional flywheel, high-intensity bearings, reinforced pedals, an iPhone holder, bottle holder, and extended seat support (up to 280lbs).
There are also transportation wheels that make it easier to move the bike around.
One aspect that sets this bike apart from others in the same price range is the after-sales service. All customer support requests are responded to within 15 hours (usually less), and the bike comes with a 1-year warranty.
Product Dimensions: 40 x 21.7 x 46 inches
Product Weight: 79 pounds
Shipping Weight: 79 pounds
Warranty: 1 year
Best Pro Recumbent: Nautilus R614 Exclusive
Another excellent recumbent bike is the Nautilus R614 Exclusive from the Nautilus Recumbent Bike Series. Along with the Nautilus 616, these bikes get rave reviews from users who commented on the bike’s durability and good quality construction.
Some advanced features include the goal tracking capability that allows different users to set their individual workout goals. And, compared to other exercise bikes, there are more resistance levels (20 in total) to choose from so you can work out at a challenging intensity.
The DualTrack LCD also features 22 different workout programs.
The R614 drive system uses a weighted flywheel making it easy to start pedaling, as well as offering a smooth, consistent workout. The vented seat makes it a cool and comfortable ride, and the sliding seat rail system makes it easy to adjust and lock the seat in the right place.
Product Dimensions: 67.8 x 28 x 12.5 inches
Product Weight: 93 pounds
Shipping Weight: 98 pounds
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best exercise bike for beginners?
If you’re new to exercise bikes and cycling in general, there are a number of stationary bikes that are worth considering. We’ve covered many of the top options in the article, but as a beginner two things that you want to keep in mind are:
- Style of bike, there are three main types of bikes — upright, recumbent, and spinning. If you are just getting started, you’ll probably want an upright or a recumbent bike, and the best choice will depend on which you find more comfortable. So, before you make a decision, try out a couple of options at your local sports store and get a feel for what works for you.
- Flywheel weight, this is the inner mechanism that controls the movement of the pedals and determines how smooth the pedal movement is. Higher flywheel weights usually offer a smoother ride but are often more expensive. For beginners, a flywheel weight of between 15 and 22 pounds is considered ideal.
Can you lose belly fat by riding a stationary bike?
Yes, riding a stationary bike is a high-intensity workout that burns body fat because you’re burning calories and building strength. Compared to other forms of exercise, cycling on a stationary bike is very efficient in burning calories (somewhere between 300 and 700 per hour).
You can also alternate between aerobic and anaerobic exercises on the bike, which makes it possible to burn belly fat faster. One study found that indoor cycling, combined with a low-calorie diet, was effective in reducing both body weight and body fat.
Are stationary bikes worth it?
Yes, they are if you’re prepared to stick to an exercise plan. Regular exercise bike workouts will help you achieve your fitness goals as are a great way to strengthen your lungs, heart, and a number of different muscle groups as well as providing an effective way to burn body fat and calories.
Exercising on a stationary bike also offers the additional benefit of putting less stress on your joints while you work out.
Compared to other forms of exercise, a stationary bike is inexpensive as it’s a once-off cost of a couple of hundred dollars with no additional expenses further down the line.
What should I look for when buying an exercise bike?
While there are many excellent exercise bikes on the market, there are a few things to keep in mind before making a decision:
- Bike Height – if you are taller or shorter than average, you’ll need to do a bit more homework as some bikes can easily accommodate you even if you’re 6’4, whereas others will have you hunched over the handlebars.
- Warranties – the warranties are different depending on the bike and the manufacturer, so make sure you buy a bike that has at least a 1-year warranty.
- Features – make a list of what’s important to you. It might be something as simple as a water bottle holder, but if it’s going to make it easier for you to get in the saddle, then it’s worth making sure that the bike you choose has what you need.
Our top picks are the Bowflex C6 Bike for overall best performance and the PYHIGH Indoor Cycling Bike for the best value. Both have thousands of reviews and offer new users an excellent way to enjoy the health and lifestyle benefits of a bike ride from the comfort of their own homes.
Although the Bowflex and PYHIGH are our top picks, it was a tough decision with many well-priced, excellent quality bikes on offer.
As such, our other recommended exercise bikes are all great choices, and your final decision will depend on your personal exercise goals and feature requirements.