Are you confused about shopping for exercise bikes? Read my exercise bike guide where I cover the most important features to look for in a bike, and how to determine the proper type of bike that best suits your needs.
Comfort and Adjustability
Your exercise bike should be comfortable and adjustable. I know it sounds like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many people buy an exercise bike based on price alone, not thinking about how comfortable they’ll be while they’re riding it.
It seems obvious that an exercise bike should be comfortable. Unlike elliptical trainers and treadmills that you stand on when using, you must sit on an exercise bike for long periods of time while operating it so comfort becomes of the utmost importance.
Insist on buying an exercise bike that has an easily adjustable seat and handlebars, and consider the seating options closely.
There are two main exercise bike seating choices:
Recumbent Exercise Bikes – Recumbent bikes have an advantage over upright bikes because they have a more comfortable seat and place the rider in a more relaxed position. It’s easier on the butt and back to ride a recumbent bike than an upright bike if you’re not already in good shape with good posture.
Upright Exercise Bikes – Upright bikes have their advantages too. The upright bike seat is just like a traditional road bike and gives you the option to stand up on the pedals and really crank up the intensity of your workout. They also take up less floor space than a recumbent bike.
Most users who aren’t bike enthusiasts will be more comfortable on a recumbent bike and will be more likely to use an exercise bike on a regular basis.
Resistance Type and Operation
Exercise bikes provide adjustable resistance in one of two ways. The cheaper models use a tension belt, and the mid to high priced exercise bikes use magnetic resistance. Make sure your bike is outfitted with eddy current magnetic resistance is you can afford it, it’s the best resistance choice for smooth operation and durability.
When looking at bikes with magnetic resistance, try to get a bike that has push button or electronic resistance control, because you don’t want to be fiddling with knobs during your workout.
Heart Rate Monitor
Exercise bikes come in three flavors of heart rate control. Either no heart rate control on the budget models, pulse grip heart rate control on the mid-level bikes or wireless heart rate control.
Wireless heart rate control, like on the Ignite 746 recumbent bike is best, and gives the most accurate reading.
Some high end models even offer heart rate controlled workouts where the resistance of the bike is automatically adjusted to meet your target heart rate.
It’s important it is to have an exercise bike equipped with some form of heart rate monitor. Most bikes have at least a pulse grip point on the handlebars to check your heart rate while exercising.
Display Console and Built-in Workouts
Display consoles on exercise bikes vary greatly – from tiny little led displays, to full function backlit LCD readouts that show heart rate, time, distance, workout mode and speed.
Cheap exercise bikes have a poor display (or no display) and no built-in workouts. Avoid getting a cheap exercise bike, because the lack of feedback with no display console will quickly lead to boredom and lack of motivation.
When you move into the $300-$600 dollar range there are a lot more display console choices.
A good display console like the one found on the Schwinn 213 gives you feedback information on heart rate, time, distance, calories burned and is easily viewable at a glance to keep your workout on track.
High end exercise bikes throw-in everything but the kitchen sink. More workouts, larger more detailed led display consoles and 10+ built in workouts at a minimum.
Don’t think you can walk into a store and spend $100 bucks and get a decent exercise bike. And yes, I know they sell cheap models at stores like Walmart and Costco that look good for the money, but they’re not worth your tome.
A good exercise bike will set you back a minimum of $300 – and even at that price you’re not getting a great bike, but one that might work well for the average user for a few years.
Good mid-level models like a Schwinn exercise bike will cost between $300-$500 dollars. For your extra investment you’ll get smooth silent operation, magnetic resistance, a more comfortable seat, built in workout programs and heart rate control.
Higher end exercise bikes are about $600 and up. When you make an investment this large you should get: push button resistance control, a hi tech led display console, longer warranty, pulse driven workouts, adjustable handlebars and tons of built-in workout programs.
Exercise Bike Guide Bottom Line
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge you need to get an exercise bike, go see my picks for best exercise bike here. Or go read the exercise bike reviews and see how the machines on you’re list stack up to the competition.