Exercise bikes are a really popular fitness tool, both in gyms and at home, and are great for people of all levels of fitness as they provide a cardio workout which is impact-free on your back and all your joints.
Exercising on a bike will get your heart pumping and work the muscles in your lower body, although you can incorporate your core and upper body into workouts as well.
We want to make sure that you get the right bike so you make the most of your machine and enjoy using it. Below you’ll find our buying guide designed to make finding the best bike for you easier!
There are many things to take into consideration when browsing for exercise bikes so have a read of this guide before heading over to our online store and checking out the different bikes we stock.
Exercise Bike Type
Choosing the right style of exercise bike for you is key, and they can be grouped into three main types:
Replicating a real riding experience, these ensure high-intensity workouts and are ideal for those who take their cycling training seriously. They feature a chain drive system similar to on a racing bike and resistance is set manually. They can have fewer features than other the other types as the focus is primarily on performance and training.
These are the standard exercise bikes that let you ride in a position similar to that on a normal road bike. Upright bikes tend to be quite space efficient and they ensure solid cardio workouts for a great range of users. Whilst you can lean forwards when riding on one, if you keep a good upright posture you’ll engage your core muscles too.
Offering back support, a more relaxed and horizontal workout position and increased levels of comfort, these bikes help take pressure off your back and are good for lower intensity riding. The riding position will, however, work the muscles in the backs of your legs more. They will particularly suit more unfit users and people rehabbing after injuries.
Before you buy
Once you know the style of bike you’d prefer there are 4 major things to think about which will then help you get a clearer idea of what the right bike for you will be like.
What’s your aim?
To select the right bike you need to know your aims and your reasons for buying one. The first step would be to decide which of the above 3 types of bike is most suited to your needs. From there, it depends on a few things – who will be using the bike, how often and with what intensity? If you’ll be riding regularly, maybe considering investing in a higher quality model, built strong with quality components.
How much space do you have?
When it comes to home exercising, one of the key considerations is space. If space is at an absolute premium then take a look at the Folding Bikes section below. Uprights normally take up less floor space than a recumbent bike. You’ll find the most compact standard uprights are less than 1m long and around 50cm wide, whereas recumbents will start at around 130cm long, going up to roughly 170cm and will be a touch wider too. Indoor cycles tend to have dimensions in between the sizes of uprights and recumbents.
What’s your budget?
It’s useful to have a rough idea of your budget too as this will help focus your search on the bikes most appropriate to you. The most basic bikes can cost less than £100 and there are some great entry-level ones in the £150-£200 range. From around £250 to £1500 you’ll find all types of bikes (upright, recumbent and indoor cycles) in all price ranges. Above this and you’re into the commercial-grade equipment. Generally speaking, the quality goes up as prices do, but don’t think you have to spend more to get the right bike for you; your requirements might best suit a lower cost piece of kit.
Do you need extra features?
Extra features may come in handy on your bike so consider what you’d like yours to have. The most basic models may have no extras at all, as might indoor cycles where the importance of performance overrides functionality. However, bikes can have cooling fans, speakers to listen to your music and even Bluetooth technology and fitness app compatibility that lets you access a world of cool and motivating fitness features such as programmes, global workouts, performance feedback and analysis, user profiles and much more. Keep in mind that if there’s a big difference in features on two similarly priced models, the one with fewer extras may have higher quality parts and a stronger built.
Exercise Bike Specifications
The next step is to look into some of the main aspects of exercise bikes.
Flywheel & Resistance
As you pedal your action powers the flywheel which rotates and gains momentum. The flywheel is linked to how fluid riding will feel and, in general, the heavier the better for this. Over 7kg is good for a standard bike – entry-level or foldable bikes may have a lighter flywheel and on some high-performance bikes it might weigh over 20kg!
Resistance is what makes your riding harder work and there are 3 types of resistance possible on exercise bikes: mechanical, magnetic and air.
For mechanical resistance, direct contact with the flywheel creates friction which can be increased or decreased manually, usually by turning a knob. It might be a band that goes around the flywheel or a brake pad or other device that produces the friction. This can provide very high levels of resistance for leg-burning workouts!
The most functional system is magnetic resistance, which uses magnets in different positions to change the resistance. Changes can be made via buttons on the console and magnetic resistance works excellently with heart rate control and pre-set workouts.
Air resistance works by a your pedalling powering a fan that generates an air flow. The quicker you pedal the harder the resistance. One issue with air resistance is that it’s directly linked to your speed, so the only way to lower the resistance is to pedal slower.
The console is where you can control your session and see your stats as you ride. Select a workout programme, alter the resistance (depending on the bike) and track your time, distance, calories, heart rate and other key pieces of data. Low-cost bikes and some serious indoor cycles may have very simple consoles with minimal functions but other models may boast LCD and colour screens, audio inputs and more detailed feedback options. This is particularly useful if you find that keeping a close eye on your performance helps motivate you as you ride towards a goal for your session.
The main reason for buying an exercise bike is to get in shape, but since it’s going to be sitting in your home you may want to consider the aesthetic aspect. A bike that looks good will certainly be more enticing to use! A lot of bikes will feature similar designs but there are some that really have that wow factor! We wrote an article showcasing what we think are some of the most exciting and impressive bikes out there that can take pride of place in your home, so do check it out here: 5 Best Exercise Bike Designs You Didn’t Expect.
When space is tight but you want to ride at home, a folding bike could be the perfect solution. They are light, portable and fold up compactly so they can be moved between rooms and stored in cupboards with ease. Whilst the riding experience might not quite live up that of larger, more traditional exercise bikes, there are still some that offer enjoyable and effective riding, such as the Viavito Onyx. Practical and great value for money, these bikes serve a great purpose for people for whom space is the critical factor in selecting a bike.
Additional things to consider
Click on or tap the titles below for further info on some other features you should be aware of when purchasing an exercise bike.
The warranty is important as you should know what you will be covered for and for what period of time. Different manufacturers will have different lengths of warranty but a 1-year policy is a minimum, although most will provide between 2 and 5 years. Warranties normally cover labour, parts and the frame, but note that the warranty for the same bike might cover different things for different amounts of time. Check the policy before buying the product. Some brands require you to register the product after buying it within a certain time period in order to receive a longer warranty, otherwise you’ll be covered by a more basic policy.
Heart Rate Measurement
There are two ways to measure heart rate, one by holding hand pulse sensors on the handlebars, and the other by wearing a chest strap. For the latter to work it requires the bike to have a wireless heart rate receiver built into it and for you to wear a compatible chest strap. This method delivers much more accurate HR measurements than holding the hand pulse sensors does, and is what you’ll need if you want to train within your optimum HR zones for the most efficient workouts.
Why buy from Sweatband?
At Sweatband.com, we’ve got loads of experience in the fitness and sports equipment market as we’ve been selling products including exercise bikes for over a decade. Our expertise means we know what a good fitness machine is and, therefore, we only stock the best products that we know customers will get great use of out and really enjoy using. We sell products from the top brands in fitness and you’ll find a selection of exercise bikes from DKN, Kettler, NordicTrack, Reebok, Proform, Sole and more, ensuring you choose from the best models from the top brands, and we also strive to offer the most competitive prices around!
When it comes to buying from us, you can do so with great confidence knowing that we are a Google Certified Shop. Google affirms that we offer fantastic customer service, our dispatches are reliable and they will even protect purchases up to £1000. Yet, we’re not an online-only store! We have a shop in the heart of London, not far from Oxford Circus, and a fitness superstore in North Manchester where you can come see and try out a range of machines before you buy.
Here you can speak to one of our experts and even try out some exercise bikes and other pieces of fitness equipment before buying. Our specialists have years of experience when it comes to creating tailor-made recommendations for customers. What’s more, they will never push any brand or model on you, but rather will work to make sure you get the right equipment to suit you.
Our customer service team comes fully equipped to deal with any questions or problems, whether it’s before, during or after purchasing anything. Our dedicated agents are contactable via phone or email, or you can even drop in and speak to us directly. We can advise on all products, on how payment or delivery works or on what to do if there’s a problem with your order at any stage. We also have an after sales team with great warranties expertise, who won’t leave you on your own to deal with suppliers like some retailers do. If your equipment develops a fault, we will be there to work proactively to help solve the problem for you.