Exercise bikes, like recumbent & upright exercise bikes, can help you achieve your fitness goals at home. Which is the best exercise bike for you?
Resistance is what makes your workout on an exercise bike challenging; it’s the tension you feel under your foot when you pedal and it’s what makes your workout both calorie burning and muscle building. You will need to consider what type of resistance you require for your new exercise bike. Price will also come into play here since sophisticated resistance is more expensive.
Belt & Fan
Less expensive bikes use manual resistance which must be controlled by the rider using a knob or lever. These types include tension belt resistance & air fan resistance. Bikes that use a tension belt rely on friction from the belt to increase pedaling difficulty. The ride isn't smooth and gets louder the more resistance you use. Air fans work by having the rider pedal against the airflow of a fan blade. Both these types of resistance are considered inferior to magnetic resistance.
Magnetic resistance is the highest quality resistance type and provides the smoothest and quietest ride. Electromagnetic currents alter your resistance level by moving magnets close to or away from the flywheel. This resistance can be tracked electronically using your display monitor, allowing for more precision and variation. Some bikes allow for manual adjustments as well, using a knob or lever. Generally speaking, electronic adjustment is preferred since it allows for fewer interruptions to your workout. Bikes using magnetic resistance are favoured by health clubs and tend to be more expensive; however, since they have fewer moving parts, magnetic exercise bikes can be less likely to break down.
Different exercise bikes also have different ranges of resistance. A bike with the biggest range can give you the most variation in your workout. The size & weight of the flywheel, typically located at the front of the bike, can help determine the range of resistance; the larger and heavier the fly wheel, the greater range of resistance available.
Depending on how many users your bike will have and on any physical restrictions, adjustability can be an extremely important feature on your bike. On almost all models, the seat can be raised to suit riders of different heights so everyone can reach the pedals; however, not all models allow you to adjust how close your seat is to the handlebars. This adjustment can help ensure you are positioned in the best way to prevent stress on your joints. Also consider the size and cushioning of the seat for a comfortable workout.
Handlebars should be able to be raised or lowered, like the seat. For multiple users, the ease of moving these parts should be considered, along with a measuring system (numbers or letters) which can help different users remember their settings.
Pedals should be equipped with toe straps which secure your foot to the pedal, allowing for comfortable pedaling. For more advanced riders, pedals with clips may be more desirable since specialty cycling shoes can be fastened to the pedals to improve pedaling efficiency.
Display & Monitors
For many stationary bike riders, receiving feedback on the distance travelled, time elapsed and calories burned is vital to tracking fitness levels and staying engaged in the workout. This makes a computerized display and a heart rate monitor very important features to consider when looking for an exercise bike. With no display or monitor, your workout can be less interesting and cause you to become bored more easily. Built-in programs or workouts provided by an LED display and pulse driven heart rate monitor can make a working out more enjoyable for novices and experienced cyclist alike. These features are common to more expensive bikes, since magnetic resistance control is necessary to electronically track your workout.
Once you’ve decided on the price and type of bike you want, these little extras could help make the final decision.
- Built-in sounds systems
- Cooling fans
- Mobile compatibility
- Water bottle holder
- Wheels to easily move the machine around