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Best exercise bikes 2021: Top stationary bikes for cycling workouts at home

Best exercise bikes 2021: Top stationary bikes from Echelon, Schwinn, and others
(Image credit: Getty)

The best exercise bikes bring you the benefits of cycling along with the comfort and privacy of working out in your own space. With a stationary bike you get an excellent cardiovascular workout, burn energy and raise your heart rate. Many people prefer this type of cardio machine because they’re low impact compared to others - good news for your joints and ideal if you’re recovering from an injury.

While there is an initial outlay of anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well over $1,000, depending on the bike you want, the best exercise bikes tend to be cheaper than a regular gym subscription in the long run too. They’re also safer than road cycling, though definitely not as fun! Speaking of mountain or road bikes, you could also try one of the best bike trainers for quickly transforming your bicycle into a make-shift exercise bike.

When it comes to choosing the best exercise bike for you, we’d advise thinking about any health needs you may have at present, and the way you like to work out. A regular upright bike suits most people, while a spin bike can give you a more intense workout. A recumbent exercise bike enables you to sit back if you need more support. These are good for rehabbing injuries (with your doctor’s permission, of course).

Exercise bikes cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand. Some stationary bikes have built-in features displayed on a screen, including calorie burn and heart rate. High-end brands, like Peloton, show you video workouts on-screen - we feature these in our best online fitness programs guide. The best exercise bikes are a fantastic way to stay fit at home and are more compact than a bulky elliptical machine. Some even fold up. So whatever your budget and preferences, there’s sure to be a great exercise bike for you. 

The best exercise bikes for home workouts

1. Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX3: Best exercise bike overall

Best exercise bikes: Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX3 Upright Bike

(Image credit: Echelon)

Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX3

A superb smart exercise bike to help you get fit at home

SPECIFICATIONS

Weight : 105lbs | Style: Upright | Warranty: One year | Workouts : Thousands (via a subscription) | Footprint: 950 (L) x 505 (W) mm | Rider weight limit: 300lbs

Reasons to Buy

Live and on-demand classes
Clip-in and toe cage pedals
Superb build quality

Reasons to Avoid

Fiddly to assemble

The new Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX3 is a fun way to get in regular fat-burning workouts at home, and to enhance your riding stamina. The smart fitness bike uses Bluetooth to connect to your tablet, via which you can take part in a variety of live and on-demand (3,500+) classes. 

These include spin class workouts designed to help you burn fat, as well as classes geared up to boost your stamina on the bike. On the subject of spin, the Smart Connect Bike EX3 comes with an attachment for you to store dumbbells behind the saddle. To ape cycling outdoors, you can join ‘scenic rides’, which have been pre-filmed, enabling you to virtually explore attractive cycle routes across the globe. 

The bike itself is incredibly well-built, with ergonomic handlebars that feel durable, and a quiet 13kg flywheel, though we did find the bike fiddly to assemble. We’d also recommend choosing your home gym space for this one carefully, as it isn’t the lightest thing to move once built.

Echelon, makers of the Echelon Stride running machine, has designed the Smart Connect Bike EX3 with a competition style-seat, and adjusting it to suit your height (there are 17 different height levels) is a cinch. The supplied pedals give you the option of toe cages if you’re wearing regular fitness sneakers, or SPD-style clips if you’re used to riding a bike clipped in.

When you take part in a class, your username and fitness metrics appear on screen. These show you how hard you’re working, where you appear in the ranking compared to other riders, and how many calories you’ve burned, and so on. For proper tracking, we'd still recommend using one of the best fitness trackers too.

The cost of subscribing to the Echelon Fit Pass costs $39.99 a month, $399.99 for 12 months upfront, or $599.99 for 24 months. That monthly cost is the same as Peloton All-Access and iFit, but the yearly cost for Echelon is $3.99 higher than iFit. We’ve used all three and prefer the Peloton and Echelon offerings (though Peloton charges extra for its NYC studio classes, which stings). 

The warranty isn't as long as other bikes we've tested, but the Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX3 is a superb way to keep fit at home. We’d recommend it if you want a well made piece of home gym equipment that you’ll never tire of, and that will help you have a lot of fun when exercising.


2. Nautilus U618: Best upright exercise bike

Best exercise bikes: Nautilus U618 Upright Bike

(Image credit: Nautilus)

Nautilus U618 Upright Bike

The best exercise bike for a variety of built-in cardio workouts

SPECIFICATIONS

Style: Upright | Warranty: Up to 15 years | Supported weight: 325 lbs | Workouts: 29

Reasons to Buy

29 workout presets
Adjustable seat and handlebars
Wireless HR chest strap included

Reasons to Avoid

One-year labor warranty

The Nautilus U618 Upright Exercise Bike continues to fly the flag for the brand's stunning home workout equipment. We've chosen it as one of the best exercise bikes you can buy right now not because it has the best video platform or the most modern setup, but because it's a solid bike that would make a perfect addition to any home fitness space. 

By that we mean it's well made, with a generous 15-year frame warranty, and it runs well. We like the quiet and smooth resistance system that uses a heavyweight flywheel to do the job right. 

There are 29 built-in workouts, plus and heart rate strap support so that you can take advantage of zone training to help you melt fat and achieve your wellness goals more easily. Want to add in fancy virtual rides or binge watch your favorite show? Ridesocial is built-in for the former, while a dedicated media stand is waiting to house your preferred device for watching classes and workouts, or for watching movies and shows are you exercise. 

You also get dual drinks holders, a comfy seat, and multi-grip handlebars so that you can find your ideal riding position for your arms. Considering everything you get here, the Nautilus U618 Upright Bike is a well-priced machine from a big name in the home fitness industry - Nautilus also makes some of the world's best treadmills - so you can expect reliable performance for the long-term too. 


3. Schwinn IC4: Best exercise bike for Peloton fans on a budget

Best exercise bikes: Schwinn IC4 Upright Bike

(Image credit: Schwinn)

Schwinn IC4 Exercise Bike

This top-rated exercise bike boasts 100 resistance levels

SPECIFICATIONS

Design: Upright | Modes: App limited only | Supported weight: 330lbs | Warranty: Up to 10 years

Reasons to Buy

Peloton and Zwift supported
Quiet when in use

Reasons to Avoid

No cooling fan
No preset workouts

The Schwinn IC4 is one of the best exercise bikes bar none, and it's also a super-fun option for Peloton and Zwift training. This Schwinn exercise bike features a large display and 100 levels of smooth and quiet magnetic resistance that makes it ideal for exercising along with live fitness classes, taking virtual rides, or doing a zone training program. 

The spin-style Schwinn IC4 is solid, so you can go all-out without worry of the bike giving in – you are the only limit here. In fact, the bike comes with a 10-year frame warranty and supports riders of up to 330lbs. 

Heart rate monitoring is an option, making this another good exercise bike for zone training. Not that getting out of your saddle will be so appealing, as the seat is very comfortable for an upright bike of this style. 

There are even weights included, along with holders that attach to the exercise bike, so you can get an upper body workout too. For a proper weights workout though, we'd advise checking out the best home gyms instead. 


4. NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle: Best exercise bike for guided workouts

Best exercise bikes: NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle

(Image credit: NordicTrack)

NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle Stationary Bike

If you enjoy online cycling workouts, hop on this

SPECIFICATIONS

Design: Upright | Modes: 1,500 | Supported weight: 350lbs | Warranty: Up to 10 years

Reasons to Buy

Clip-in pedals
HR monitoring

Reasons to Avoid

Installation costs extra

The NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle is a premium home exercise bike experience with an absolute wealth of features and a dazzling 22-inch HD touchscreen. This means you can take live classes, via the iFit system, or take part in virtual rides, all with proper immersion. 

Of course you can connect your heart rate chest strap via Bluetooth to get more data and see it all via the app, also available on your phone. 

But there are plenty of workout options: 1,500 to be exact, all ready to go if you just want to hop on and get riding. Take a virtual ride with a former Olympian, or get your head down on a virtual slope of up to 22% to really push your stamina and cardio prowess. 

Either way, the smooth resistance of the NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle makes it feel real. The price is steep too, but it's more than justified by everything this brilliant exercise bike has to offer.


5. Assault AirBike Classic: Best air bike

Best exercise bikes: LifeCORE Assault AirBike Classic exercise bike

(Image credit: LifeCORE)

Assault AirBike Classic

The best exercise bike for a seriously intense cardio workout

SPECIFICATIONS

Design: Upright | Modes: Seven | Supported weight: 300lbs | Warranty: Up to five years

Reasons to Buy

Powerful cooling fans
Infinite resistance
Works your upper body too

Reasons to Avoid

Shipping costs extra

The Assault AirBike Classic, as the name suggests, is an exercise bike that uses a large 25-inch, six blade fan to create air resistance for your ride. As such it has no upper limit, making it the go-to choice for the military. The Assault AirBike Classic is built to last and you get a decent five-year warranty to back that up.

This is for those that want to push their machine, and their bodies, to the limit. That said, the seat is comfortable and you can choose to use the handlebars or just your legs as you work. The display is basic and a Polar heart rate strap is the only brand compatible. But for the price the Assault AirBike Classic really is an impressive exercise bike.


6. NordicTrack Commercial VR25: Best recumbent exercise bike

Best exercise bikes: NordicTrack Commercial VR25

(Image credit: NordicTrack)

NordicTrack Commercial VR25 Recumbent Bike

A good choice of exercise bike if you're rehabbing an injury

SPECIFICATIONS

Design: Recumbent | Modes: 35 | Supported weight: 350lbs | Warranty: Up to 10 years

Reasons to Buy

10-year frame warranty
Silent magnetic flywheel drive
7-inch touchscreen

Reasons to Avoid

Screen isn't tiltable

The NordicTrack Commercial VR25 is the best recumbent exercise bike in this list as it offers back support with an airy mesh to keep you comfortable. There's also a wide and well cushioned seat that slides back and forward for comfy support with perfect positioning. 

You also get a 7-inch touchscreen with 35 workouts ready to go and the bike works with both chest strap heart rate monitors and grip-bar based tracking. The 10-year frame warranty is reassuring and the use of the iFit app means you get lots of workouts online including live coaching. 

Plus you can check your data on your phone and add more from there. Despite the price this is actually a good level for a recumbent bike, especially one from such a well known brand. 


7. Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright: Best folding exercise bike

Best exercise bikes: Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Exercise Bike

(Image credit: Exerpeutic)

Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Exercise Bike

The best exercise bike for small homes

Reasons to Buy

Folds down easily
Light enough to move around

Reasons to Avoid

Not suitable for stand-up riding

The Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Exercise Bike is the best for smaller spaces or those that need to store their bike away. This folds down easily to pack away and is light enough to move but solid enough for a decent riding experience. This isn't built for heavy stand-up rides, sure, but it'll work for harder seated rides without wobble or torsion. 

The magnetic resistance is smooth and relatively quiet with eight levels of resistance. The computer is basic but does offer data like speed, distance, pace, heart rate and more. Everything is well built, placed comfortably and easy to use. The seat is comfy and the price of this bike is reasonable for its performance level. 

Today's best exercise bike prices

Best exercise bikes FAQ

What are the different types of exercise bikes?

There are three main types of exercise bikes. The most common is an upright bike, but the most popular in recent years are spin bikes. Finally, there are recumbent bikes.

Upright bikes have backless seats and look and operate much like commuter bikes. They are generally the smallest, lightest and cheapest exercise bikes available. They suit people who don’t have mobility or balance problems, and work the same muscles you’d use when riding a traditional bicycle outdoors.

Recumbent bikes provide users with a chair for extra back support. The pedals are placed in front of the rider, and you can often adjust how far the seat leans backs. Recumbent bikes are easier to mount than upright bikes, and their chairs are more comfortable than traditional bike seats. 

Recumbents are similarly recommended over upright bikes for obese users and people with neurological conditions, and are especially good if you are recovering from injury.

Spin bikes are perfect for higher intensity, fat-burning cardio workouts, and are fairly similar to what you’d come across in a spin studio. They tend to be more expensive, and often have subscription based fitness platforms where you can exercise along with live and on demand spin classes. 

Depending on the spin bike, you may need to buy specific clip-in shoes to use them, and some may require you to purchase additional equipment such as light dumbbells for upper arm exercises to get the most out of your spin workouts.


How to choose the best exercise bike for you

Finding the right exercise bike can be tricky. As you’re doing your research, it’s important to consider the type of machine you’d like, your budget and the features you want. There are many options available, and it’s a good idea to become familiar with them before you start shopping.  

“Exercise bikes are great because they are low impact and easy to use at home,” said Nephi Gold, a licensed occupational therapist at Intermountain Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, “but there are a lot of different varieties.”

Whatever type of exercise bike you choose, Gold suggests you insist on an adjustable seat, adjustable resistance, and something that's easy to get on and off. “Especially,” he says, “if you’ve had a total knee replacement or if your balance is bad.”

Along with helping to boost your cardiovascular health and fitness, Gold believes that exercise bikes are excellent warm-up tools for rehabilitating most lower body injuries.

A woman sits on an exercise bike in her living room

(Image credit: Getty)

How much do the best exercise bikes cost?

The price of home exercise bikes ranges widely from under $350 to nearly $3,000. Based on our research, you should plan to spend around $800-$1,000 if you want a durable machine. but more affordable options suit many households just fine. 

The price you’ll pay for your exercise bike depends largely on its features. Less expensive stationary bikes have minimal programming options and limited tech. Midrange bike are often more solidly built and have more functionality. Smart exercise bikes and spin bikes generally boast the best features and longest warranties.

Common price tiers in the exercise bike market are $300 or less for low-end bikes, $300 to $1,000 for mid-range exercise bikes, and $1,100 to $2,000 for smart exercise bikes. Those priced above $1,000 are generally designed for serious fitness fans and spin class devotees.


What to look for in an exercise bike

Industry experts agree that there are several must-have features to consider before purchasing an exercise bike. Here Gold names his top three: “Look for an adjustable seat and ease of getting on and off,” Gold says. “It’s also nice to be able to control the resistance, to make it easier or hard.”

Other essential features include a heavy flywheel, large pedals with straps or clips, and a console with multiple workout presets and detailed readouts. These include speed, time spent working out, heart rate, calories and distance. 

It’s also beneficial to look for comfort features when choosing the best exercise bike for you. Bikes with fans, sound systems, water bottle holders and device racks are more comfy to use.


Are exercise bikes good for weight loss?

The best exercise bikes are a good option for weight loss if you combine regular workouts on your bike with a healthy diet and lifestyle. One study found that people can lose weight by working out on a stationary bike if they also follow a low-calorie diet.

However, you don’t necessarily need to dramatically reduce your calorie intake to lose weight with an upright bike over time. This might take a little longer but could be healthier in the long run.

A man uses an exercise bike in his living room to workout

(Image credit: Getty)

It’s not just weight loss but the overall health benefits that make indoor cycling a fantastic form of exercise. The same study found that 45-minutes on an exercise bike three times a week also significantly lowered cholesterol levels. A cardio workout on an exercise bike can also lower blood pressure, improve sleep, boost your mood and lower stress, as well as much more. 

Although you can burn many calories by working out on a stationary bike, many people find that exercise bikes help with weight loss because they allow you to exercise whenever you like. That means if you can’t make it to the gym one day or you’re back from work late, you don’t have to skip your daily workout.


Exercise bikes vs spin bikes: Is there a difference?

Exercise bikes might look like spin bikes, but there are a few differences between the two types. Both are stationary bikes, but exercise bikes and spin bikes have different wheels. Spin bikes have a flywheel design, this is often heavier than the wheels of a standard exercise bike, and they’re attached to the pedals via a chain.

When you use a spin bike, you often need to work harder to create momentum, and when you stop cycling, the wheels keep turning – just like a regular outdoor bike. You will get a more challenging, more intense workout with a spin bike. 

Spin bikes also look more like regular bikes, with a design that lends itself to leaning over the handlebars. In comparison, many of the best exercise bikes allow you to sit up straight. They also have larger, often more comfortable, seats. You can choose between an upright bike or a recumbent exercise bike – this allows you to lean back.

The question of whether you should get an exercise bike or a spin bike depends on how you want to work out and which type of bike you find most comfortable.


Do the best exercise bikes always have heavier flywheels?

Once you know the type of exercise bike you want, it’s time to look at an important feature: the flywheel weight. What is a flywheel on an exercise bike? It’s the inner mechanism. How light or heavy the flywheel is plays a big part in how fluid the exercise bike’s motion will be, and how quiet or noisy it is. 

A heavier flywheel weight usually results in a more comfy and quiet ride, but higher flywheel weights are usually found on the more expensive exercise bikes. 

For newcomers, you should be fine with a flywheel weight of anywhere between 14lbs and 22lbs. You’ll find this on many cheap exercise bikes for home use. If you’re a seasoned cyclist, the best exercise bikes for you will have flywheel weights of 30lbs upwards.