Exercise Bike Buyers Guide: Upright, Spin, Recumbent?

Last Updated: November 8, 2020
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The Home Gym Review Squad

You need to allocate time for Cardio, as it's vital for your goals. Whether that's losing a few pounds so you can show off those Abs on holiday, or if you're concerned about your body fat percentage and simply want to live your healthiest, best life.

The exercise bike is becoming one of the more popular methods of Cardio, with many fitness enthusiasts ditching the treadmill.

Riding a road bike is also great fun, as it challenges you to physically complete a circuit. You can't just stop your bike at the side of the road and get off, you need to get home!

However, it takes quite a lot of time to plan and execute an outdoor route. If you don't have time for this, a fixed indoor exercise bike is a fantastic alternative.

In this guide, we will explain everything that you need to understand, before making your decision on what exercise bike you should purchase.

As always, we are going to strip it right back & explain from the start.

What is an Exercise Bike?

The exercise bike is a stationary bicycle, which you can use to increase your cardiovascular fitness. If you've visited a gym, it's likely that you will have seen these, they're often situated together in the cardio area… and there's usually lots of them.

They're also becoming increasingly popular in homes too. People opt to put these in their Living Rooms, garages or offices due to the fact they take up very little space.

There are many benefits to choosing a stationary exercise bike instead of a road cycle. Although you miss out on the ‘fresh air' from being on a road bike, you can also take safety in the fact that you're guaranteed not to be knocked off your bike.

Unless someone decided to smash through your garage, that is!

It's also a much more time-efficient machine. For example, if you've only got an hour of free time, you're less likely to put all of your gear on and get your bike out. However, it doesn't matter what you're wearing on a fixed bike.

You're also twice as likely to ride a fixed bike, than you are a road one. If the weather's poor outside, you can find an excuse not to exercise. However, your fixed bike will be sat there waiting for you, in perfect conditions all year round.

There are various types of exercise bikes available to purchase, so now that you know about the exercise bike, it's time to look at the different versions.

Best Type of Exercise Bikes

In a similar fashion to how there are different types of road bikes, there's also various kinds of fixed bikes.

Firstly, it's important to point out that all kinds of stationary bikes can be either Manual or Electric.

A Manual bike relies on your legs applying the power to the pedals, whereas the electric one has mains power. Generally, the electric ones cost a little more, but tend to have extra features.

Spinning Bikes Explained

If you've ever been to a ‘Spin Class', you've already been on one of these bikes. It's a high intensity workout, which is designed to shred calories.

The riding position of this bike represents being on a road racing bike. They're designed to position you in a way to achieve maximum intensity.

The Spin Bike will be your best option, if you're looking for a brutal workout. They make you pedal hard, requiring intensive effort to get your results.

If you want to burn calories quickly, this is the one for you.

Upright Bikes Explained

The upright bike is the most common and definitely the most popular type of exercise bike. The riding position is similar to your typical mountain bikes, with an upright and raised position.

Using these, your body will be tilted slightly forward, which gives you a little more comfort when riding as your body isn't hunched in. The seat is often wider and also more comfortable than a spin bike.

With most upright bikes, you should also receive an on-board computer. Depending on the cost of the bike, it will have various functions… but the minimum you should expect is the workout length, strides per minute and calories burnt.

This type of bike is specifically designed for a medium-intensity workout. You'll be comfortable whilst on this bike, although you with have the capability to tear it up a little. It's a great option for Interval Training.

Recumbent Exercise Bikes Explained

Recumbent Exercise bikes are completely different to your upright or spin bikes. The first thing that you will notice is the body position, which is completely unique.

A Recumbent bike has a super-wide seat, with a supporting backrest. The pedals are positioned in front of the rider, providing a really comfortable, relaxed ride.

Recumbent exercise bikes split the opinion of avid riders. The general belief is that recumbent bikes are for a ‘lazy ride', but there are many advantages of using this bike.

Firstly, they are comfortable & if you do a long distance ride, you won't get off it feeling like you've been tortured. If you suffer from back pain, or really struggle in the upright position, this bike offers you a comfortable alternative.

Exercise Bike Features

Resistance

The resistance of your bike is provided by friction. On most bikes, you have a mechanical knob which can be used to increase or decrease the resistance.

Flywheel

The flywheel is designed to give an immersive experience, so your exercise bike feels and reacts like a real bike would. It's a physical large wheel, found at the front of the bike.

How much should I pay for an exercise bike?

Prices of exercise bikes vary greatly, so it's important to understand the functions and features before you consider a purchase.

The minimum that you should expect to pay for an indoor bike is between £200 and £500, although this can shoot up to £1,000 for the specialist models. A quality spin bike will cost between £500 and £1,000.

It's my preference, but I like to ensure that the bike I purchase is brand new. I would also accept a refurbished one, depending on the brand and re-seller.

The reason for this? Simply because you're never really aware of how the bikes been used, and components could be damaged. Obviously, if it's a bargain it's worth the gamble!

So now you're at the point where you understand the different types of bike, and you should also understand the amount of money you'll be looking at spending. There are some other things to consider, which we will discuss finally below.

Maximum Weight

The lower end exercise bikes will only support around 90kg. It's important to check the maximum weight out before purchasing. Remember, if you decide to add a weighted vest to your workout down the line, you need to take this into consideration.

Flywheel Weight

The weight of the flywheel will affect the ride, with lighter flywheels generally easier to build up speed. However, once speed has been built up, a light flywheel would start to feel jerky.

A heavier flywheel would be harder from a standing start, but would be the preference for experienced users. I'd probably look for between 10 and 15kg if you plan on taking this seriously.

Resistance Type

A Magnetic resistance bike would pre-set the resistance through the functions on the on-board computer. In contrast, the frictional resistance bikes will have a mechanically adjustable knob, or lever.

Adjustable Seat & Bars

Fixed bikes have limited appeal, especially if you aren't made to measure! It's important to be able to adjust both the seat and handlebars, as you shouldn't stay in the same position for too long.

If you aren't going to be the only one using it, it's also important that the bike can be adjusted to suit your training partner.

Trip Computer

The on-board computer on exercise bikes is becoming a staple now, even on the lower end models. I think manufacturers have noticed that people like tracking results, whether it's focusing on improving, or bragging that they're faster!

They aren't fancy at all, with the basic ones simply showing how long you've been on the bike, how many calories you've burnt & how far you've travelled.

Others will have pre-set programmes, mini-games & some now even have television access.

Manufacture Warranty

There's nothing like peace of mind. When you're spending hundreds of pound on equipment, it's important to check out your warranty & cover level. You're going to need at least two years warranty, but some exercise bikes now come with 5 or even 6 years, which is a great advantage.

Summary: Buying an Exercise Bike

Hopefully, we've managed to cover all of the required information which can help you make an informed decision on your purchase. The first thing that you'll want to find out is your budget, and then work from there.

If there's something we've missed & you have a query, just comment below & we will help you out!

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