Which stationary bikes are best?
Stationary bikes are a great way to get your cardio workout in, as they help you stay engaged and motivated during your fitness routine. Indoor exercise bikes are also a great way for cycling enthusiasts to stay in shape and fit a ride into their schedule, even when the weather isn’t cooperating.
No two stationary bikes are the same, however. There are a few different styles and a number of different features that users may want to consider before making a purchase. As one of the top overall picks, the NordicTrack Commercial Studio Cycle has all the latest tech features to help you achieve your fitness goals.
What to know before you buy a stationary bike
Advantages of a stationary bike
If you’re looking for a premium cardio workout, a stationary bike is a convenient and rewarding option. They can assist with weight loss and muscle building, and are a safe alternative to road cycling. Unlike running, stationary bikes provide a relatively low-impact method of exercise, making it healthier for your joints.
Serious cyclists may also want to invest in a stationary bike as a way to augment their typical outdoor ride, train during rain, snow or other inclement weather or to simply help build lower body strength before races or long tours.
Types of stationary bikes
The three main types of stationary bikes include upright, recumbent and spinning styles.
Upright stationary bikes are most likely what you picture when thinking of an exercise bike design. This style allows the user to sit in a comfortable upright position which is similar to the natural seated position on many bikes.
Recumbent bikes allow the user to lean back in a more relaxed pose. Recumbent bikes are better for those with back issues as they provide more support. This style will often cause your legs to work harder.
Spinning bikes are designed to mimic the seating position and feel of a road bike. Users will sit slightly hunched, which allows for more intense workouts and realistic cycling experience.
Exercise bikes do take up a significant amount of space, with recumbent models being the largest of the three. Before buying a stationary bike consider the total footprint, where you’ll place it and how much room you’ll need while using it.
What to look for in a quality stationary bike
A sizable and legible display screen is important for keeping track of distance, average speed, total time and other metrics that can help improve your workout. Some models will have larger display screens with advanced touch controls and live video options, while more basic models may have simple screens displaying just a single measurement at a time. Depending on what type of experience you’re looking for, choose the display that will keep you motivated.
Another main aspect of a stationary bike that you’ll want to consider is the method of resistance. Some bikes will use magnetic resistance, while others will employ friction, belt- or fan-based modes of resistance.
No matter which style you choose, you’ll want a stationary bike that allows you to increase resistance as needed in order to challenge yourself and work up a sweat. There are models with more than 20 distinct resistance levels and some with fewer than 10. The more resistance level offered, the more precise control you’ll have.
Preset programs can be a great way to vary your routine, as they can automatically alter the resistance levels to simulate uneven terrain or simply increase the difficulty as your workout progresses. Presets are ideal for beginners and those who want a structured exercise routine.
Weight limit and adjustability
Every stationary bike will have a recommended weight limit, so be sure to check with each individual model to ensure safe riding conditions.
The best exercise bikes will also allow you to achieve a custom fit, letting you adjust the seat height or distance from the pedals. An adjustable bike will make sure you’re in the best position for your workout, without straining or overreaching.
High-end stationary bikes are often loaded with convenient features including built-in speakers, bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, supported app compatibility for tracking progress, an attached fan, water bottle holders, upper body weights, charging ports, padded seats and heart rate monitors. The more features, the higher the price.
How much you can expect to spend on a stationary bike
The most basic stationary bike models can be found for slightly under $100. Premium, high-end models can cost several thousand dollars, though you can expect to pay between $300-$700 for a quality, midrange option.
Stationary bike FAQ
How long should I work out on a stationary bike?
A. In general, most users will ride their stationary bike for 30 minutes to an hour per session. Beginners can opt to ride for shorter intervals, while more advanced riders can extend their workout accordingly.
Can stationary bikes cause knee injuries?
A. Stationary bikes are relatively low impact, reducing the pressure put on your knees. However, when not properly adjusted to your specific height, they can sometimes lead to back and knee pain. Be sure to adjust your seat so that your legs aren’t cramped or overextended while pedaling.
What’s the best stationary bike to buy?
Top stationary bike
What you need to know: This is a top of the line stationary bike that will give you reliable performance and comes with a number of handy features.
What you’ll love: You can either set your own pace or choose to ride with live trainers and even join studio classes. The large touchscreen display offers 360-degree rotation and presents all important metrics in an easy-to-read format.
What you should consider: With a high price point, this bike is not suitable for all budgets.
Top stationary bike for the money
What you need to know: The Marcy recumbent bike is ideal for first-time users, sporting easy-to-use controls.
What you’ll love: Featuring eight levels of resistance, a padded adjustable seat and counter-balanced pedals with non-slip loops, this affordable model is the perfect entry-level option for new riders. Plus, you can monitor your distance, time and speed on the LCD screen.
What you should consider: Experienced users may desire more advanced resistance controls.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: For a reasonable price, users will receive premium controls and features reminiscent of more expensive models.
What you’ll love: The comfortable seating position and 25 built-in levels of resistance offer a professional quality feel. The advanced program settings and inclusion of a built-in speaker, fan and USB port will keep you engaged, cool and entertained.
What you should consider: The heavy weight may be an issue for some users when attempting to move the bike from one location to another.
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Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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