Exercise Bike Review
Why Buy an Exercise Bike?
Whether you want an intense cardiovascular workout, the convenience of working out in your own home or to enjoy biking during the winter months, an exercise bike is an excellent exercise companion. Stationary bikes can be used for vigorous workouts, and they don’t take up a lot of space in your home gym. Read our articles about exercise bikes for more information.
Cycling is an excellent form of exercise for all age groups. It is low impact, so it doesn’t strain your joints like other exercises, such as running, can. When you cycle, you work all of your major leg muscles, and it is a great form of cardiovascular exercise, which can help you lose weight. Regular cycling can also help lower blood pressure, which in turn lowers your risk of heart disease. Studies have also shown that regular cycling can improve your brain power by building new cells in the region of your brain responsible for memory.
Modern stationary bikes are complex machines with lots of different features. Use this guide and the information we have put together about different manufacturers and product series to help you find the perfect bike for your home gym.
There are three main types of exercise bikes – recumbent, upright and spin – each with its own benefits and limitations. Some companies specialize in making one type of bike, but you can find plenty of popular manufacturers that make different series of bikes in different styles.
Recumbent bikes are designed to provide extra back support. The chair sits in a comfortable position, and the pedals are located in front of the rider. Many of the best recumbent exercise bikes let you adjust how far the seat leans back. Recumbent bikes are recommended for people with limited mobility. Additionally, this type of bike is a good option for people who have a hard time sitting comfortably on an upright bicycle seat.
Upright exercise bikes are designed similar to commuter bikes. They are best suited for people without mobility problems, as riders must be able to step up onto the bike and sit on its backless seat. Upright bikes are smaller than recumbent bikes, making them a good choice if your workout space is tight.
The third kind of home exercise bike is a spin bike. These resemble road bikes – lightweight bicycles made for intense, long rides – and have high prices, much like their road counterparts. Best for serious cyclists, spin bikes are less comfortable than upright and recumbent bikes, and many models require special cycling shoes that clip onto the pedals. Additionally, some of these bikes require you to purchase additional equipment if you want to track your workouts.
Some companies, such as Diamondback Fitness, have bikes with similar entertainment and comfort features but completely different designs. It makes both recumbent and upright bikes, so choosing one depends mostly on your workout goals and needs.
Workout Control Features
Stationary bikes often include settings you can adjust to control the intensity of your workout. Here are the most important controls to consider when choosing the right bike for you:
Consumer stationary bikes create resistance in one of two ways, and magnetic resistance is the most popular option. Exercise bikes with magnetic resistance have ferrous magnets around the flywheel. Less expensive models tend to come with friction resistance, in which a felt or fabric pad presses against the flywheel. Be aware that friction resistance bikes require regular maintenance, as the pad can quickly wear down and need to be replaced.
All exercise bikes can be set to different resistance levels. The higher the resistance, the more difficult it is to pedal, which results in a more strenuous workout. Because of this, it is important to consider an exercise bike’s resistance range. Most consumer exercise bikes have resistance ranges with between 10 and 16 levels. A few bikes, like those in the Proform EX series, have 20 or more levels. The bikes in this series also have a lot of preset workout levels you can use to spice up your routine.
Many of the best stationary bikes include preset workouts programmed into their systems. These programs add some variety to your daily workouts. Often designed by personal trainers, each one has a specific focus in mind; for example, it may be intended to build endurance, burn calories or maintain a target heart rate.
Most modern exercise bikes adjust to meet your specific body type and needs. For example, the seats on the bikes in the Nordic Track GX Pro Series adjust both vertically and horizontally to match your height. Some models also allow you to adjust the position of the handlebars so you can get the perfect grip for your ride. You may also be able to adjust the console on the bike so no matter your biking position or your height, you can easily view your workout statistics. Bikes in the Nordic Track GX Pro Series also have fans that automatically adjust to the speed of your pedaling, which is another nice comfort feature.
Fitness tracking features are important, as they give you the information you need to get the most out of your workout. Even a little bit of data can make your ride all the more productive.
Most recumbent and upright stationary bikes feature electronic consoles that hold and display all of the machine’s controls and settings. The consoles have buttons you can use to adjust the resistance level, or you can press them to choose from the preset workouts. Most consoles also display your fitness tracking data, such as your distance traveled, time elapsed, speed, calories burned and heart rate.
A few manufacturers make bikes that are iFit enabled. The iFit program on your bike syncs with an app on your phone. You can access workouts based on actual Google Maps data, so the resistance on the machine automatically adjusts to match the incline changes on your route as you see Google Street View images on the screen. You can also use the program to create your own workouts and access hundreds of workouts beyond those available on the machine itself. You can even track your nutrition on the app. Be aware that to use iFit, you must purchase a separate subscription to the service.
Heart Rate Grips
Many exercise bikes have powerful heart rate monitors that track your heart rate during your workout, and they are usually found in the grips on the handlebars. Some other bikes have heart rate monitor straps that you wear on your body, usually around your chest. The monitors you wear on your body can be uncomfortable but give more accurate heart rate readings than those found in handlebar grips. However, most exercise bikes do not include a heart rate strap with the machine, and you must purchase it separately.
Small extra features on a stationary bike can make a big difference. While some are basic features included on many stationary bikes out of the box, you may have to buy some of them separately and attach them to your bike yourself.
Water & Media Holders
It’s important to keep water close at hand when you engage in strenuous exercise, and it is inconvenient to have to stop and get off your bike to get a drink. A lot of exercise bikes come with water bottle holders so you can stay hydrated while you workout. Depending on the bike, water bottle holders can found in the console, on the front bar or behind the seat.
Keeping yourself motivated and entertained while you exercise is important. Listening to music, reading and watching movies are all excellent forms of entertainment while you workout. Some exercise bike come with book and tablet holders to keep your entertainment safe and steady during your most intense workouts.
Integrated Media Center
You can also find entertainment features built in on many bikes. Built-in speakers and MP3 connectivity are common perks on the newest exercise bikes. Many systems also integrate with mobile apps, such as Google Maps and iFit, which allow you to keep track of courses, manage workouts and view past statistics. However, be aware that some of these applications may come at additional costs. Before purchasing an exercise bike, read the fine print to be sure.
No matter your current fitness level, you can boost your overall health with an exercise bike in your home gym. These machines are a great way to improve your fitness and lose weight without placing extra strain on your body.