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Exercise Bike Buying Guide

Exercise bikes, like recumbent & upright exercise bikes, can help you achieve your fitness goals at home. Which is the best exercise bike for you?

 

Investing in an exercise bike for your home is a great way to ensure you have access to physical fitness at any time, without an expensive gym membership. Exercise bikes are generally more compact than treadmills and other cardio fitness equipment making them ideal for small spaces. Just be sure to measure your space and check against a bike’s dimensions, while also leaving enough room to get on and off the bike easily. An exercise bike can provide a vigorous, but low impact workout. Versatility also makes an exercise bike a smart choice for the long term, since your fitness goals may change over time. Exercise bikes come in different styles and price ranges, so you can find a bike to suit both your budget and fitness level.

How to Choose

Price

How much do you want to spend? This is the first question you should ask yourself when considering buying an exercise bike, since it may determine which type of bike you can afford and what features you prioritize. Prices of exercise bikes vary considerably, as does the quantity of features. Simply put, when it comes to exercise bikes the more you spend, the more you get. If the bike is intended for light, occasional use by a single rider, a simpler, more inexpensive model might be all you need. For frequent use by multiple riders, a more durable, adjustable model with extra features as well as a bigger price tag is probably required.

 

Exercise bikes generally fall into two price ranges, under $500 and over $500. If you spend over $500, you will get a smoother, sturdier ride with better resistance (magnetic), more adjustability to suit your body type, and extra features like a pulse monitor or programmable workouts. For light use, spending under $500 will still get you a bike that provides a good cardio workout without the expensive bells and whistles.

 

Types of Exercise Bikes

Upright Bikes
An upright bike most closely resembles the ordinary outdoor bicycle we all know so well. An upright bike positions your body as it would on an outdoor bike, with your feet situated on pedals beneath your hips, your back tilted forward towards the handle bars and your arms providing balance and support. This set up will give you a more intense workout, since your abdominal muscles must be engaged to support your upper body. If you want to mimic the feel of riding outdoors or use racing or standing positions then this is the bike for you. Upright bikes also tend to be more compact, which is best if you are strapped for space.

 

Recumbent Bikes
On a recumbent bike, you sit in a reclined position on a bucket seat with back support, closer to the ground than on upright bikes, with your feet pedaling in front of you. This positioning is more comfortable, as well as more ergonomically correct, making this bike an excellent choice for someone with back problems or someone new to exercising. Benefits aside, the more comfortable position can also lead to a more leisurely workout. Reaching higher leg speeds is more difficult on these bikes; therefore it’s harder to raise your heart rate to the level needed for a high calorie-burning cardio workout.

 

Spinner Bikes
Spinner or spin bikes differ from upright bikes because they simulate the experience of using an on-road bicycle. A spin bike’s mechanism forces you to work harder to get the bike moving, however, inertia will keep the pedals and wheels spinning even after you stop pedaling. You will also be able to pedal at a faster tempo which may allow you to have a more efficient workout.

 

Fitness Goals

Understanding your own fitness goals is crucial when choosing a bike. An upright, club-style bicycle over $500 is the best choice for a rider who is interested in intensive cardio training. This doesn’t mean that an expensive bike isn’t a good choice for a novice, since more pricey models have displays with programmable workouts that can be fun, instructive and prevent boredom. If you are new to working out, but plan on making exercise a major part of your routine in the future, investing in quality bike can make you more likely to hop back in the saddle day after day. For more modest fitness goals, like body weight maintenance as opposed to weight loss, a simple model under $500 is more than adequate for light use. If more than one person will be using the bike, choose one that can handle at least 50 pounds more than the current weight of the heaviest user.