But how do you choose the best one? This buying guide will show you exactly what to look for when shopping so you can find the very best exercise bike for your needs!
First, ask yourself which class of exercise bike you would like. There are 2 general classes of exercise bikes:
1) Recumbent Bikes
Recumbent bikes are the newer exercise bikes on the market with the chair-like or bucket seats. Your body is placed in a semi reclining position and your legs angle out in front of you to reach the pedals instead of hanging down as on an upright bike.
2) Upright Bikes
These are also called "Stationary bikes" although this term is now becoming a catch all term for both upright and recumbent bikes. These are the traditional exercise bikes that have been around for years and are similar in form to traditional outdoor bikes.
An offshoot of the standard upright bike is the 'Dual Action' Stationary bike. These bikes have movable bars or levers on arm handles to incorporate your upper body into the workout.
Know what you want before you start comparing different exercise bikes. Personally I've owned both and after a while upright exercise bike seats just don't feel too comfortable if you know what I mean. But the choice is yours.
The next thing you need to decide on is your budget. How much are you willing to pay for your exercise bike?
There are really 3 price categories:
1) Under $500
2) Between $500 - 1000
3) $1000 +
Under 500: While there are some above average exercise bikes under $500, don't expect to get a top quality machine for this price. If you don't plan on using your exercise cycle much or if you're on a budget, this may be a good price point for you.
Between $500 - $1000: Unlike treadmills or elliptical trainers, you can usually get a very solid, higher quality exercise bike for your home in this category. Most exercise bikes in this category offer magnetic resistance and high grade consoles that give you feedback on your workout. You should also expect several built-in workout programs, foot straps and heart rate monitors.
$1000 +: These exercise bikes are either the cream of the crop for the advanced home exerciser or they are commercial grade for the health club. Examples of bikes in this category include spinners and commercial bikes like Life Cycle and Star Trac.
Always remember that with exercise bikes - in general - you get what you pay for so try to spend the most that you can and get a quality machine that will last you.
These are really the 2 most important features to decide on: the type of bike and the price you can afford. Here are a few more features you should know about when choosing an exercise bike.
There are several different types of resistance you'll find in your exercise bike
1) Direct Tension - offers you a manual adjustment of resistance
2) Air - resistance is provided by pedaling against the airflow of a fan blade
3) Magnetic Resistance - this is the most sophisticated type of resistance allowing magnetic currents to create and track the resistance. It generally allows for a greater variety of workout levels.
Magnetic resistance is generally viewed as the best option since it tends to be quieter and provides a more even feel when pedalling.
Most exercise bikes give you information on speed, distance traveled, and time of the workout. The more sophisticated you go, you'll also find things like total calories and fat burned, resistance level, heart rate and program mode.
You can also get exercise bikes with numerous preprogrammed workouts and information storage as well as iFit compatibilit and Interactive Disc players.
It really depends on your personal preferences whether you choose a bike with 10 preset programs and an ultra high tech computer display or one with just a simple display.
However, keep in mind that in general, the higher priced bikes have more sophisticated options and are built with higher quality materials.
Exercise Bikes come with a variety of warranties from 90 days to lifetime warranties on different parts of the bike. For example, parts and labor may be covered for 6 months, electronics for 1 year and the frame for a lifetime. In general keep in mind that a longer warranty is indicative of a higher quality machine.
Final Note: It is also important that you decide how much you are planning to use your exercise bike. For example, if you are new to exercising and not sure you'll use your exercise bike much, you might want to save some money and go with a cheaper model.
If however you plan on using the bike a lot and/or are a regular exerciser, invest a bit more and get a machine that will last.
That's it - good luck and have fun!