How to Choose the Best Exercise Bike
With all the high-tech equipment you can find in gyms these days, it’s easy to overlook the trusty stationary bike. But an exercise cycle can be a smart investment when you’re building a home gym or just looking for an easy way to get some cardio at home.
Exercise bikes provide many of the physical and mental benefits of cycling without having to face the elements (or the traffic) outdoors. So how can you choose the best exercise bike for you? Here’s what you need to know.
What to Look for When Choosing an Exercise Cycle
If you’re not happy with your exercise cycle, you’re probably not going to commit to using it regularly.
“Most people give up on their fitness equipment because it wasn’t what they thought,” says Courtney Grafton, a certified spin instructor and master trainer at Spokehaus Spin Studio in Toronto and cycling expert at ExerciseBike.net.
The first step is to find a bike that feels comfortable to you. It should feel similar to riding a real bike, Grafton says.
According to the REI bike fitting guide, when you grip the handlebars with your elbows slightly bent, your torso should ideally be at a 45-degree angle — not hunched over. And when the pedals are parallel to the ground, the knee of your front leg should be over your foot.
Grafton also recommends paying attention to these features when shopping for an exercise cycle:
- Smooth flywheel. “Not only will it feel better, but a smoother flywheel will also be quieter,” Grafton says. “This is important for people in apartments or who don’t want to disturb the whole house when [using the bike].”
- Bluetooth connectivity. This isn’t a necessity, but it can make it easier to track your workouts on an app.
- Seat comfort. “You’ll be sitting on it a lot,” Grafton says — and if you’re not a seasoned biker, a narrow seat may feel uncomfortable. Grafton suggests looking for a bike with a wider seat or purchasing a cushioned seat cover.
- Handlebars and pedals. If your bike workouts are high-intensity, you may prefer a bike with clip-in pedals. Just keep in mind you’ll need to buy compatible shoes.
- Price. “Why pay for features you aren’t going to use?” Grafton says. “There are a lot of great bikes on the market that won’t break the bank.”
Recumbent vs. upright: Which is better?
There are two main types of stationary bikes: recumbent and upright. “The main difference between a recumbent bike and [an] upright bike is your overall body positioning,” Grafton says.
A recumbent bike has a full seat back, so you’re in a reclined position while pedaling. “Recumbent bikes are great for seniors and those rehabilitating an injury,” Grafton says. “I would also recommend these for those with back or hip issues.” However, recumbent exercise cycles don’t provide as much of a core workout as upright exercise cycles.
An upright bike is the type you’d typically see in a spin studio — it has a smaller seat and requires an upright body position, similar to riding outdoors.
“Upright bikes are great for those looking for a good cardio burn,” Grafton says. “An upright bike will work more muscle groups, and you have more riding options on an upright bike, such as sprinting or raising up out of the saddle to climb.”
Our Pick: The MYX Bike
The MYX Bike from MYXfitness is our top pick for the best exercise bike.
This professional-grade Star-Trac exercise bike features mechanical-friction braking and a 41-pound flywheel for a quiet and smooth ride. The bike can be easily adjusted to accommodate riders from 4’11” to 6’8″, and the versatile pedals are compatible with SPD clip-ins or regular sneakers.
The science-driven MYX Bike uses heart rate-based training to help you reach your fitness goals. You’ll be given three customized heart rate zone targets to make sure you’re working out across a variety of intensity levels, which can help to reduce fatigue and prevent overtraining.
The SmartMYX AI engine offers personalized workout recommendations based on your specific goals. Whether you’re a biking pro or just beginning your cycling journey, these workouts will meet you exactly where you’re at — and then push you even further.
The 21.5-inch HD touchscreen monitor makes it easy to select a cycling workout. When you want to switch it up, the app includes an extensive selection of classes — including yoga, HIIT, and dance — and the screen swivels out so you can easily take your workouts beyond the bike.
Plus, the MYX Bike has a lower price point than similar high-tech exercise bikes, and the compact footprint is ideal if you have limited space in your home gym — you only need a 4′ x 6′ space around the bike to ride and move comfortably.
Bottom line: If you’re looking to invest in the best exercise bike for your indoor cycling workouts, the MYX Bike strikes a perfect balance between cost, comfort, and connectivity.