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Last Updated: January 13, 2023
Exercise bikes have exploded in popularity in the last few years — and one primary reason is the engaging content that is now available on many bikes. Rather than ride inside alone in a dark room, indoor cycling bikes now feature full-color interactive touchscreens with live classes, personal trainers, crisp outdoor landscapes, and even a full 24-stage breakdown of the Tour de France. This new generation of exercise bikes is redefining a sport once claimed by weekend warriors and rugged mountain bikers.
We have researched, tested, and compared the best exercise bikes on the market, and here is our breakdown for 2023. So jump on, and try one out! You may not be a professional cyclist, but you’ll sure feel like one.
Here are the Best Exercise Bikes of 2023 – by Awards
- Best Exercise Bike Overall: NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle
- Best Exercise Bike Under $1000: Bowflex C6
- Best Exercise Bike Under $1500: ProForm Studio Bike Pro 22
- Best Exercise Bike Without Subscription: Sole SB900
- Best Exercise Bike For Heart Rate Training: MYX II Fitness Exercise Bike
- Best Exercise Bike With The Largest Screen: NordicTrack S27i Studio Bike
- Best Air Bike: Assault Fitness AssaultBike Elite
- Best Rear Flywheel Exercise Bike: Echelon EX5s
- Best Exercise Bike For Core Strength: Bowflex Velocore
- Best Value Exercise Bike: ProForm Studio Bike Pro
- Best Exercise Bike For Heavy People: Sole SB700
- Best Expensive Bike With Screen: Peloton Bike/Peloton Bike+
Schwinn IC3 – Honorable Mention
As you can see, there are lots of great options when it comes to choosing an exercise bike. We have our favorites based on quality, components, tech features, warranty and overall functionality. Depending on what you are looking for, there are several great options to choose from!
See the Pro’s and Con’s, features, specs, and why each exercise bike made our best list below.
Why Buy an Exercise Bike?
- Exercise bikes are considerably smaller than other types of indoor equipment.
- Bikes are easy to use and understand. Most people have ridden a bike before, so using one at home isn’t overwhelming.
- They are quiet so they won’t disturb neighbors or family members
- With an indoor bike you can workout on your schedule, in the safety of your own home.
- Bikes are low-impact. They are not jarring on your joints or spine.
We’ve reviewed exercise bikes that include a screen, some incline and decline, some are recumbent and others offer subscription content. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite exercise bikes in 2023!
Why You Should Trust Us
Even though we’re called Treadmill Review Guru, we test exercise bikes just as thoroughly and as often as we test treadmills. We put time in the saddle and sweat on the handlebars while we test out all the features of each, take classes if subscription content is available, and compare every bike to others on the market.
As we review, we are able to jump from bike to bike to get a good feel of every flywheel, every saddle, and every subscription app to get the best comparisons possible. This gives us the opportunity to bring you the most detailed and informative reviews so you can take home an exercise bike you will love and be excited about, just like we are about all these bikes on this list.
Sneak Peek of Best Exercise Bikes:
Best Exercise Bikes of 2023 — Our Guru’s Top Picks
1. Best Exercise Bike Overall – NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle
The NordicTrack s22i is our #1 Best Exercise Bike for 2023! The s22i has it all: streamlined frame design, high-end features, and innovative tech all at an affordable price point! It also includes iFit free for the first month with classes and outdoor routes led by personal trainers. Add to this the automated incline and decline feature which makes the s22i the best indoor exercise bike on the market.
The Nordictrack s22i changed what it means to ride inside. While other bikes offer fun studio-based rides, the iFit content on the s22i features outdoor routes for both road and mountain rides. I loved the variability of the routes in iFit. You can traverse the rugged mountains of New Zealand or join a road race with hundreds of other cyclists on the Tour of Utah. The s22i also inclines and declines, so the bike will literally tilt while you ride to match the terrain of the route. The incline and decline features are automated, so you don’t have to adjust it one your own – which makes riding the s22i feel very natural. (You can override the automation at any time if desired).
The 22” touchscreen is placed at the end of the handlebars so it is easy to see and reach, but not right in your face. Control buttons on the handlebars also make it a breeze to adjust the resistance or incline when needed. We also love the built-in fan at the base of the screen with four power settings. The s22i has hybrid pedals so you can ride it with an SPD cycling shoe or any athletic shoe. It also includes 3lb hand weights for upper-body work in the strength training workouts on iFit.
The Nordictrack s22i is best suited for those who want an outdoor riding experience. Consumers looking for innovative tech. Those who will enjoy the automated incline/decline. Riders who prefer outdoor routes. Those who want a 22” touchscreen. Riders who want subscription content that is updated regularly. People who want something engaging and fun, but also quiet and not overly large.
Click Here for In-depth Review of NordicTrack s22i
2. Best Exercise Bike under $1000 – Bowflex C6 Exercise Bike
The Bowflex C6 Bike is our pick for Best Exercise Bike under $1000. This bike is new on our list this year and it’s already ranked #2! The Bowflex C6 bike surprised us with its comfortable saddle, handlebars, and overall design. We like this bike because it has a Bluetooth enabled console, so you can sync any number of cycling apps with the C6 for customized training and real-time metrics. The C6 includes an armband chest strap (HR shows up on the console) and has 100 levels of magnetic resistance. We think the Bowflex C6 is a great all-around bike and a good option for those who want the freedom to use other apps — you’re not locked into one subscription. This is one of our favorite bikes and we are thrilled with the great price point!
The Bowflex C6 bike does not have a touchscreen but it has a Bluetooth-enabled console. The console provides ride metrics such as speed, distance, calorie burn, time elapsed, RPM’s, etc. Since the console is Bluetooth compatible, it will also sync with a phone or tablet and it will connect with certain 3rd party apps. This means you can use Zwift, Peloton, iFit, or other cycling apps while riding the Bowflex C6. While watching the Peloton app, for example, your cadence will show up on your phone or tablet screen. (There is a tablet holder attached to the handlebars.) While you don’t get the same metrics as on the fully integrated Peloton app, you can still see all your other riding metrics on the C6 console including calorie burn and wattage, etc.
Another thing we like about the Bowflex C6 bike is it has 100 levels of magnetic resistance. 100 levels of resistance just makes sense. Other bikes have 32 resistance levels or maybe 26, but these arbitrary levels can make it harder to interpret overall resistance and rider strength. The Bowflex C6 bike also has hybrid pedals, so it will work with any athletic shoe — you don’t need cycling shoes to ride. However, there are SPD clips on the underside of the flat pedal for those who prefer SPD spin shoes. We are impressed with the combination of a Bluetooth enabled console, the ability to sync with 3rd party apps, the use of 100 levels of resistance and the hybrid pedals on the Bowflex C6.
The Bowflex C6 is best suited for riders who: Want a comfortable indoor bike that is stable and well built. Are interested in using cycling or other entertainment apps, but don’t want to pay for a touchscreen. Would like the option of using different training apps rather than be limited to just whichever one comes with the bike. Want hybrid pedals so you can use a regular athletic shoe or SPD cycling shoe. Want a bike any rider will fit on (the Bowflex C6 has four adjustment points). Need something quiet and low impact. Are looking for a way to train or exercise indoors.
Click Here for In-depth Review of Bowflex C6 Bike
3. Best Exercise Bike under $1500 – ProForm Studio Bike Pro 22
The ProForm Studio Bike Pro 22 has an amazing 22” touchscreen! This sturdy bike sits firmly on the floor so it won’t rock or wobble while you ride. The 22” touchscreen is the same size as both the Peloton Bike+ and the NordicTrack s22i. We like the ProForm Studio Pro 22 because you get the benefits of the 22” screen for a great price on a stable frame. This bike is currently priced under $1500 and considering the content, features, touchscreen and magnetic resistance, this is a fantastic deal.
As exercise bikes have become more popular in recent years, we’ve seen an explosion of tech updates on the bikes themselves. Old fashioned spin bikes had no tech and were designed for semi-professional cyclists who wanted to train inside during the off season. You were on your own when it came to training content (your personal regimen) and tech (an old TV mounted in the basement). Today we see hundreds of cycling apps and lots of tech-enhanced bikes to choose from. However, they don’t all have the same quality or content.
We like the ProForm Studio Bike Pro 22 because it capitalizes on ProForm’s history of building quality exercise bikes with the added feature of iFit which has built an extensive library of video training content. The Studio Bike Pro 22 brings the best of both worlds together so you get a quality bike and impressive training content in one affordable package.
While the NordicTrack bikes have a motor that inclines and declines the bike frame as you ride, not all cyclists may want this feature. A motor is something that may wear out or break over time and for riders who want to just hop on and go, the Bike Pro 22 provides a gorgeous 22” touchscreen with the full iFit library — but you don’t have to worry about any motor other than your legs!
Read our full review the ProForm Studio Bike Pro 22 to learn more.
4. Best Exercise Bike Without a Subscription – Sole SB900 Exercise Bike
The Sole SB900 is a great bike for riders who want quality and durability, but don’t want to pay for added tech or a subscription. This is why it is our pick for Best Exercise Bike that doesn’t require a Subscription. Sole has a reputation for building high-quality fitness equipment and the SB900 is no different. It does not offer all the bells and whistles frequently found on newer spin bikes, instead it keeps the geometry clean with a precise design and solid engineering. If you are a spin enthusiast who loves to ride, values quality, and doesn’t want extra tech, this is the best bike for you!
Sole has a reputation for building sturdy, quality equipment and the SB900 is Sole’s premier exercise bike. It has all steel construction, solid seat and handlebar posts, and sturdy stabilizers under the front and rear to keep it from rocking while on the floor. Also, the 48lb flywheel is the heaviest of any bike on our list! The heavier a flywheel is, the smoother it will rotate, so you can ride at any speed and the flywheel will glide along without any jerkiness or hiccups in the motion.
Sole also offers extensive warranties on all their products which indicates confidence in both build and design. With a lifetime warranty on the frame, the Sole SB900 is really the best bike you will find under $1000.
Sole designs it’s machines for committed athletes who already have a workout routine and do not need trainers and programs to stay engaged. The SB900 offers: Quality design with steel construction and ergonomic seat and pedals. Multidirectional handlebars. Forward positioned flywheel mimics traditional bike design. Whopping 48lb flywheel creates smooth motion and balanced pedal stroke. Four points of adjustment for riders of all sizes.
Read our full review of the Sole SB900 Exercise Bike here.
5. Best Exercise Bike for Heart Rate Training – MYX II Exercise Bike
MYX Fitness is a relatively new company that offers a Star Trac exercise bike with proprietary training content and a 21” touchscreen for a great price. Like the other bikes on our list, MYX II has capitalized on the renewed interest in indoor cycling with a quality bike and science-backed training content. Unlike other bikes, this one won’t drain your bank account. Like Peloton, the MYX II bike showcases indoor cycling classes on the touchscreen — it just does it for about $1000 less.
MYX recently upped their content game by partnering with BeachBody and giving not one but two options for subscription workout content. You can choose between live and on-demand classes on OpenFit, as well as BODi. Both offer indoor cycling classes as well as various mat classes, nutrition content and more. OpenFit is the more affordable option, whereas BODi has a monthly fee on top of the annual BeachBody membership. All of the classes in BODi are taught by BeachBody instructors.
When you’re taking a live class, you can share your live feed with the instructor to get feedback in real-time. The MYX II also has a cadence sensor that is 10% more accurate in tracking your speed, cadence, and distance than standard magnetic-resistance bikes. You can connect your Apple Watch and use it as a heart rate monitor as well.
One thing we like about the MYX II is that both of the subscription memberships are more you vs you rather than you vs everyone else. MYX II uses heart rate training as the fundamental module, rather than competition or a Leaderboard. Using your target heart rate, the MYX II bike aims to help enhance your conditioning and also gives you a fully immersive experience with direct feedback from your instructor as well as optional additional weights to purchase to make your bike more of a complete home gym, rather than just a bike.. The touchscreen swivels 360 degrees so you can see it off the bike during floor workouts as well.
The fact that MYX uses your heart rate as a training tool makes it an attractive option for those who are more interested in personal improvements rather than in being on top of a Leaderboard. The MYX II bike uses friction resistance, which isn’t as advanced as magnetic resistance — but it isn’t as expensive either. The feel of the MYX while riding is still smooth and fluid, but the mechanics are simple and won’t break. For those who want quality but are willing to consider new options, the MYX II Bike is an attractive alternative.
Click here to read our full review of the MYX II Fitness Exercise Bike.
6. Best Exercise Bike With The Largest Screen – NordicTrack S27i Studio Bike
The NordicTrack Commercial S27i has the largest screen we’ve seen on an exercise bike. That’s why we’ve awarded it as the best exercise bike with the largest screen. The attached touch screen is 27” and makes for an extremely interactive experience while you’re riding. The S27i is enabled with iFit, which comes free for the first 30 days. With a membership, you can explore iFit’s entire library of trainer-led classes. Choose from studio indoor cycling classes, and outdoor classes filmed in beautiful locations around the world. The 27” screen is impressive and captures iFit’s high-quality content, well. Plus, the NordicTrack S27i is perfect for bike boot camp, as well as mat classes like strength and yoga because the screen pivots up to 360 degrees side to side. So, once you’re finished working your lower body on the bike, you can turn the screen and move into an upper body workout on iFit.
The massive screen isn’t the only aspect that makes the S27i unique. Just like the NordicTrack S22i, the S27i has an attached motor that tilts the frame of the bike up and down to mimic the experience of riding hills outdoors. When you’re riding, the bike will incline up to 20% and decline to -10%. There are also 24 levels of adjustable magnetic resistance to add variability to your rides. We love that the S27i is quiet and feels solid mainly because of the steel construction and large 350 lb weight capacity.
The S27i also comes with hybrid pedals that are compatible with any athletic shoe, as well as SPD cleats. This way, users can ride based on their preference to get the most enjoyable experience. There is a fan mounted below the touch screen that provides a nice breeze to help cool you off during sweaty sessions, too. You can also keep a personal item like a phone or keys nearby on the tray that’s in between the handlebars. We really like the included storage on this bike, since many bikes don’t offer this
We recommend the NordicTrack S27i to users who want to take classes led by instructors. Riders who want a bike that has innovative features. Those who want to feel like they’re riding outside. Users who want a bike that’s fun to ride and offers plenty of variability for training. Riders who want a bike that adjusts on its own to follow the preprogrammed workout.
Read our full in-depth review of the NordicTrack Commercial S27i Studio Bike here.
7. Best Air Bike – AssaultBike Elite
The AssaultBike Elite from Assault Fitness is our pick for the best air bike overall among these exercise bikes and it’s at the top of our best air bikes list, too. This premium air bike from Assault has everything you want in an air bike and then some. First off, the construction is of commercial grade quality, making the AssaultBike found in public and private gyms. Plus, being that it’s one of the most popular air bikes on the market, it’s tired and tested to be durable, and hearty all while giving you a killer total body workout. What more could you ask for?
The flywheel is a large 27” fan with 6 fan blades that suck in air that’s used as resistance while you pedal. What makes this bike perfect for a challenging workout is that the fan provides unlimited resistance, so the harder you pedal the more tension you get. The handles also move in conjunction with the pedals so you’re able to work your entire body simultaneously. Targeted training is possible when you rest your feet on the foot pegs, too.
We appreciated the two-way adjustable seat that is wide to support you during shorter intense intervals and bursts. We appreciate it’s adjustability to handle all of our reviewers ranging from 5’0” up to 6’5” comfortably, and the large 350 lb weight capacity.
Another appealing factor is that the AssaultBike Elite air bike doesn’t require electricity to use. The LCD display is battery-powered to turn on when you start pedaling. This display is where you can keep track of your workout metrics and connect through bluetooth to the FIIT App for guided workouts led by energetic instructors. A small lip serves as your device holder, or you can place the air bike in front of your TV to use the app on a larger screen. Keep in mind that this powerful bike does make more noise than magnetic and even friction resistance bikes.
Learn more at our review about the Assault Fitness AssaultBike Elite.
8. Best Rear Flywheel Exercise Bike – Echelon EX5s Exercise Bike
The Echelon bike has a unique design with the flywheel placed in the rear of the bike, under the saddle. This keeps the spinning wheel out of the way of the “sweat zone” under the handlebars. The rear placed flywheel also creates a more V-shaped frame design where the seat and handlebars extend away from each other when they are raised. This makes the Echelon bike a good option for taller riders who may need more leg span and/or torso room between the handlebars and seat.
The Echelon EX5s has 32 levels of magnetic resistance, so it is quiet to ride. It also has a touchscreen like other bikes, but it is priced slightly less. The Echelon Fit app is designed to compete with the iFit and Peloton apps with live classes and trainers. The purchase of a bike and one-year subscription for the Echelon EX-5s costs less than comparable models, making it an attractive option in a field of high-end players.
The Echelon EX-5s offers a few distinct features: The Echelon Fit app can be streamed to any phone, tablet or TV screen to display workout routines anywhere, anytime. The 22” HD Touchscreen displays Echelon Fit programs with personal trainers and live classes right on the bike. Echelon places the flywheel in the back, out of the “sweat zone” where there is less possibility of rust or damage to the flywheel. Echelon EX-5s is only 54” long and 20” wide, making it one of the most compact indoor bikes on the market. The Echelon EX-5s only weighs 124 pounds so it is lightweight and easy to move.
Read our in-depth review of the Echelon EX5s here.
9. Best Exercise Bike For Core Strength – Bowflex Velocore Exercise Bike
The Bowflex Velocore bike is our pick for Best Bike for Core Strength. If you’ve seen or know anything about this bike, it is the one with the frame that can be unlocked to lean gently from side to side.
This makes riding the bike feel like a motorcycle race! It requires a bit of balance and core strength, but once you get the hang of it, this bike is a scream to ride! We love how the leaning feature really targets and strengthens your core. Unlike standard bikes where you just need to sit on the saddle, the Velocore is a full-body challenging workout! You can’t sit idly by and spin the pedals on this one. The leaning feature can also be locked so the frame doesn’t move for those riders who may not want this added experience. We love how Bowflex is thinking outside the box here to make indoor riding both more fun and more challenging on the Velocore.
The Bowflex Velocore is best suited for riders who can sit upright and lean slightly side to side without losing balance. We recommend this to cyclists who are looking for something fun that requires more core engagement than a standard spin bike. This is also a good option for those who want to watch 3rd party apps like Hulu or Disney+ (Bowflex JRNY subscription required to access 3rd party apps).
Read our full review of the Bowflex Velocore Exercise Bike here.
10. Best Free Exercise Bike – ProForm Studio Bike Pro Exercise Bike
The ProForm Studio Bike Pro is a great indoor exercise bike with a full-color 10” touchscreen attached. The Studio Bike Pro is a solid exercise bike with a comfortable frame and integrated touchscreen. ProForm is currently offering this bike free with the purchase of a 3-year iFit membership. This is why the ProForm Studio Bike Pro is our pick for Best Value Exercise Bike. Since most users will probably use iFit anyway, it’s a great deal to get the bike free along with the impressive iFit content!
The Studio Bike Pro 10” touchscreen showcases ProForm’s iFit content with both indoor studio rides and outdoor routes all over the world! Users can log in to ride the mountains of New Zealand, or bike through the cobblestone streets of Germany. There are so many routes and options available, it would be difficult to run out of training options on the Studio Bike Pro. The screen also pivots up and down and swivels from side to side, so you can adjust and rotate it as needed. iFit classes are not only for biking, you can also do strength training, yoga or gentle stretching off the bike. The fact that the screen swivels to the side makes it easy to workout adjacent to the bike and still be able to easily see and hear the iFit trainers.
The Studio Bike Pro uses silent magnetic resistance which makes literally no noise while riding — so you can ride anytime day or night and not bother those around you! There are 22 levels of digital resistance and convenient buttons on the screen bevel for each level. This makes adjusting resistance a snap while riding. The resistance is also automated in iFit, so it will adjust for you while riding in a class or outdoor route. This makes it so you can keep your hands on the handlebars for a much more realistic bike experience! We love the ProForm Studio Bike Pro for its comfortable feel and updated tech!
For users who may not have the full amount up front, you only have to pay $39 out the door to get the Studio Bike Pro. Subscription (and bike) can then be paid via the ongoing subscription cost for three years, which you would probably pay anyway. This makes the bike very affordable for students or those on a limited budget. The Studio Bike Pro is a stable exercise bike with a sturdy frame and comfortable geometry. Studio Bike Pro has a compact footprint so it should easily fit in most homes or apartments. iFit classes and content are fun and engaging. Attached screen is easy to see and use.
Click Here for In-depth Review of Proform Studio Bike Pro
11.Best Exercise Bike For Heavy People – Sole SB700 Exercise Bike
When it comes to weight loss, consistency is king. The Sole SB700 is our pick for Best Exercise Bike for Weight Loss because it is a great option for anyone who wants to lose weight while exercising in the safety of their own home. Too often, people assume they need all the updated tech with high-end features and components on fitness equipment. While all the bells and whistles are nice, most often what people really need is something affordable, compact, comfortable and easy to use.
The Sole SB700 is the least-expensive bike on our list. It is also one of the quietest and most comfortable. Indoor cycling is low-impact so it is not hard on your joints. It is easy to do, since most people have been on a bike before. The Sole SB700 only weighs 141 pounds and has two wheels on the front stabilizer so you can move it out of the way when needed. You can roll this bike in front of your TV and exercise while watching your favorite program — or even subscribe to an online cycling app like Peloton or Zwift! You don’t need to pay a lot to get a quality bike that will help you lose weight.
The SB700 is built with several features that keep it lightweight, compact, and simple: Built of heavy steel tubing with aluminum overlay, the SB700 only weighs 141 pounds. Front-mounted transport wheels so you can move it out of the way. Large, red resistance knob is easy to see and reach. LCD screen displays ride metrics. 48lb Flywheel creates smooth pedal motion.
Read our full review of the Sole SB700 Exercise Bike here.
12. Best Expensive Bike – Peloton Exercise Bike & Peloton Bike+
Peloton has taken the exercise bike industry by storm. The celebrity trainers, engaging classes, current music, and impressive marketing platform have kept Peloton at the top of the home-fitness market. Peloton recently released their new Bike+ which is an updated version of the original bike with added features such as automated resistance and front-facing speakers. Both the original Peloton Bike and the updated Bike+ feature the 22” touchscreen which showcases Petoton’s impressive library of content and classes. Also, the screen on the Peloton bike is the clearest in the industry. There is much to love about Peloton and the company certainly has an impressive community of subscribers.
We love the feel of the bike and the content of the Peloton app. However, Peloton is also the most expensive bike/app package on our list. The original Peloton bike has been reduced to $1895 while the new Bike+ is $2245. The monthly subscription for the Peloton app is $39/month or $468/year. We love that riders now have the option of both a more expensive upgraded bike and the original bike for a reduced price. But buyers must factor in both the cost of the bike and the subscription, plus the added expense of Delta LOOK cycling shoes that are required to ride the bike since it doesn’t have standard flat pedals. This is why we have ranked the Peloton Bike and Bike+ the Best Expensive Bike. It certainly has great content and the screen is very impressive. You just have to be willing to pay for the cost of the bike and then the ongoing expense of the app.
The Peloton Bike+ is best for users who want the full Peloton experience. Some people just aren’t going to be happy with a watered-down, tablet version of the app on an “alternative” bike. The Peloton Bike and Bike+ are best suited for those who: Want motivating trainers with engaging content. Want an excellent HD touchscreen mounted right on the bike with crisp graphics and bright resolution. Are slightly competitive and who love the Leaderboard rankings and Live classes where the trainer can see and “call out” (or recognize) your name as you ride. Desire to be a part of the Peloton community which has hundreds of thousands of subscribers online. Want a sturdy and comfortable, well-built bike that is enjoyable to ride and has the full app integration in the touchscreen.
Click Here for In-depth Review of Peloton Exercise Bike
13. Honorable Mention – Schwinn IC3 Exercise Bike
Rounding out our list of best exercise bikes, is the Schwinn IC3. We are impressed with the overall build of this bike and it’s affordable price point. For tech, the IC3 has just enough to show your workout metrics on the console all while not requiring a plug-in to use the bike. The Schwinn IC3 also doesn’t require a subscription to use so it’s an appealing option for users who want a bike that they can just hop on and use.
The console displays your time, distance, RPMs, estimated calories, and heart rate. This bike uses friction-based resistance so you can’t see your resistance level on the screen, but most should feel plenty of tension when you turn the resistance knob.
This exercise bike only weighs 100 lbs when it’s assembled, but has a 40 lb flywheel. The heavy of flywheel definitely makes this bike solid and steady while giving you a smooth, consistent pedal stroke. The Schwinn IC3 can hold up to 300 lbs of user weight, too.
I like the large water bottle holder that sits on top of the handles and console so it’s out of the way, yet within reach. The hooks in the front of it serve as a device rack for you to place your phone or tablet. This allows you to stream/read whatever content you want. You could also park the Schwinn IC3 in front of your TV as well.
Users who want a cheap exercise bike from a reputable brand should look into the IC3 Exercise Bike. The hybrid pedals with toe cages on one side and SPD clips on the other make this bike accomodating for any riding preference. It also has four adjustment points, allowing users to get a good bike fit. Schwinn backs the IC3 with a 5 year warranty for the frame, to give you confidence in the construction quality that comes at an unbeatable price.
Finding the Best Exercise Bike: Factors to Consider
So what to look for in an exercise bike? There are lots of features and components so let’s take a look at the most important ones:
Exercise Bike Cost
The price of an exercise bike is based on the components and frame. Look for the following features:
- When evaluating a bike, pay attention to the frame. It should have steel stabilizers and support posts to keep it stable while riding. Most solid bikes weight between 125 – 200lbs. Leveling feet under the stabilizers will also help keep the bike from rocking. Also check the weight of the flywheel. Typically, heavier is better.
- You also want to check for multiple points of adjustment:
- You should be able to raise/lower the saddle and handlebars. If you are a tall person, make sure the bike offers enough vertical lift to bring the handlebars up away from your knees.
- Moving handlebars and saddle forward/aft is also tremendously helpful in getting the right fit.
- Make sure you know what you are paying for. Some bikes are more expensive because they feature an attached screen that is designed for subscription content. If you don’t want to pay a monthly fee for an app, then look for a bike without a screen — or one with a tablet holder for your personal tablet or phone.
There are several different styles of exercise bikes:
This design is similar to a beach cruiser, where the seat is lower with handlebars higher. This design allows you to sit up while riding so your torso is not compressed. Upright bikes typically feature a wider, more comfortable seat and handlebars that gently angle up.
Your typical “spin” bike where the seat is level with the handlebars for a more aero-style position. Riders lean forward from the hips so torso is lower. Handlebars typically extend horizontally so riders can rest arms on the handlebars. Studio bikes have a narrower, less-padded seat similar to outdoor road bikes.
A recumbent bike allows you to sit back, behind the pedals rather than over them. This provides more lumbar support and less knee tension. Recumbent bikes are also lower to the ground and easier to get on and off. These bikes work well for those with hip or spine issues, mobility issues, or anyone recovering from an injury. Recumbent bikes typically feature a very wide seat with a backrest and wide, ergonomic pedals. Check out our list of best recumbent bikes.
These bikes move the flywheel — or front wheel — to the rear of the bike. This keeps the flywheel out of the “sweat zone” so you don’t drip moisture down on your flywheel while riding. It also allows riders to sit up more like they would on an upright bike. Handlebars often can be adjusted to angle upward or stay horizontal.
Air bikes have large fans attached to the front of the bike. When you’re using the bike, air is sucked into the fan and the fan’s blades push against the air to create resistance for you to pedal against. Most air bikes have moving handles that move in conjunction with the pedals to work your entire body. The handles move forward and backward in a push/pull motion. Typically, air bikes are used for short bursts of high-intensity like HIIT training. The fans generate sound so these bikes aren’t best for areas where noise could be an issue.
The flywheel on a bike is the heavy, suspended wheel that moves when you pedal. The heavier the flywheel, the more momentum it will gain as you pedal, which keeps it spinning evenly.
Bikes that feature a “perimeter weighted flywheel” or “inertia-enhanced flywheel” utilize the weight of the flywheel to create a smooth pedal stroke that glides along with you. Weighted flywheels support riders both in the saddle or when standing for a hill climb.
Freewheels are much lighter and do not offer the same fluid motion of a weighted flywheel. However, freewheels are safer. As soon as you stop pedalling, the wheel stops — there is no inertia to keep it going. This makes it so the pedals will not spin out of control if you stop pedaling. Freewheels are a little harder to use if you like to stand up out of the saddle and they can feel jerky if you don’t have enough resistance.
Exercise bikes typically feature four different kinds of pedals:
SPD cleat pedals
These are the “clip in” cleats found on indoor spin bikes and mountain bikes. You must buy a cycling shoe and SPD cleats that “clip” down into the metal casing attached to the pedal.
Delta LOOK cleat pedals
These are the cleats used most often by road bikers. They require specific shoes and cleats that attach to the sole of the shoe. These are larger than SPD cleats and lock right down into the pedal itself. Peloton bikes use LOOK pedals.
Most indoor bikes (except for Peloton) feature hybrid pedals, with a cleat on one side and a standard flat pedal on the other side. Check the kind of pedal on each bike so you know if you need additional cycling shoes to ride.
Flat, Ergonomic Pedals
This is the standard flat pedal. It is wide and textured and will work with any athletic shoe. Often flat pedals also have a “cage” or “strap” that comes around the pedal to hold your shoe in securely.
Screens are relatively new on exercise bikes and they offer exciting features and content! A few things to watch for with a bike screen:
Many high-end bikes offer touchscreens where you can choose a program or manage data and navigation through the screen. The size of the screen will affect how well you can see any program. Even if it is full-color touchscreen, if it is less than 10” you may find it hard to see. Also, check to see if the screen rotates side-to-side or swivels up and down. This helps avoid overhead glare and makes it so you can see your screen if you are doing classes off the bike. However, be aware — most touchscreens do not allow riders to access the internet while riding. Most screens are designed to feature specific apps and programs, so don’t assume just because it has a screen you can watch Netflix or browse the web — this is most often NOT the case.
Some bikes offer screens that will show a limited number of full-color outdoor routes even if you don’t have a subscription app. While most bikes with screens are intended to be used with subscription content, you may be able to access a number of onboard programs through the screen. However, if you don’t pay for the subscription service, you won’t get all the classes and features.
This is the standard, digital screen found on traditional workout equipment. It will not display a subscription program with classes and trainers. It will display of your metrics and stats while riding. LCD screens are typically found on more economical bikes and usually offer just a few onboard programs.
The most well-known subscription app is probably Peloton. However, NordicTrack and ProForm offer iFit, Echelon offers FitPass, and other companies are now following suit with additional fitness apps. Subscription content can typically be accessed three ways:
Included or Prepaid for a limited time:
Many companies will offer their app free for 1 to 3 years when you buy an exercise bike. A code allows you to login and set up your free account which includes all the classes and features. After the prepaid period ends, you must then subsequently pay for the service.
Subscription app required
Some bikes are built to feature the app and if you don’t plan to use it or pay for it, I would look for a different bike. The Peloton bike is built around the app — the screen doesn’t really do anything if you aren’t paying for the service. Similarly, the NordicTrack s22i features a 22” touchscreen with iFit free for 1-year. Some of the functionality of the bike is integrated into the app — for example, the incline/decline feature on the bike will adjust to match the actual terrain of whatever route you are riding. There are some really cool features on these subscription services, just make sure you know how the app is integrated with the bike.
Subscription app supported
This option is often found on mid-range bikes where the color screen will play a limited number of onboard programs if you don’t want to use an app. But if you decide to subscribe, it will play all the features and content.
Subscription app available via compatible tablet or phone
This option is found on more economical bikes that have a tablet holder so you can watch the app of your choice while riding. Be advised, some of the functionality of specific apps will be limited. For example, you will not show up on the Peloton leaderboard if you are just using the tablet app because the trainer can’t quantify how hard you are working. Similarly, the automated incline/decline feature in iFit cannot adjust your bike from a tablet.
Resistance Type and Calibration
There are a few different ways resistance is created and measured. Both affect how the bike feels and functions
Magnetic Resistance – this the best kind of resistance on an exercise bike. Magnets adjacent to the flywheel oppose the motion of the wheel. Magnetic resistance is quiet and easily calibrated. Because no friction is generated with magnetic resistance, it is noticeably quieter; it also creates less wear on the wheel.
Friction Resistance – this type of resistance is created when a brake pad creates drag as it rubs against the wheel to generate resistance. Tension resistance causes wear on the flywheel and the pads must occasionally be replaced. Also, as the pads wear down, it affects the amount of resistance on the flywheel, so it is not as easy to measure the actual tension.
Digital Levels – Preset digital resistance is the most accurate way to measure resistance. With digital resistance levels, you can set and find the same tension each time. There is no guesswork when increasing tension. It is also superior for moving quickly between resistance levels. Digital resistance is measured using preset levels that correspond to numbers on the console or screen.
Manual Knob Tension – Knob tension is usually found on bikes with friction resistance. This tension is much more difficult to measure and there are no preset levels you can automatically select.
Chain Drive vs. Belt Drive
Bike pedals connect to pedal arms that turn the crank wheel. A belt or chain loops around the crank wheel and connects to the flywheel to create rotation.
Chain Drive System
A metal chain loops around the crank wheel and connects to the flywheel. One benefit of a chain drive is it is slightly more durable. However, chain drives are noticeably louder due to the movement of the chain. Users often report hearing rattling inside the drivetrain cover.
A rubber or composite belt connects the crank wheel to the flywheel. This design is much quieter, however, belts are known to wear out before chain drives with heavy use.
One of the most exciting features on recent bikes is actual incline and decline built into the bike. A motor on the rear stabilizer and an arm under the flywheel lift and tilt the bike to mimic outdoor terrain. Rather than just use resistance to simulate a hill climb, some of the new bikes actually pivot and tilt as you ride. This is a valuable feature and greatly enhances the functionality of the bike. Check out the NordicTrack and ProForm bikes for this feature.
Quality and Warranty
Exercise bikes are economical, but check for quality and warranty before you buy. Read reviews on how the bike typically holds up and what warranties are offered. In our reviews, we include warranty information on every bike. An extensive warranty usually indicates a well-built bike.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different types of exercise bikes?
The kinds of exercise bikes on this list are also referred to as “spin: bikes or indoor cycling bikes. Other types of exercise bikes include upright bikes, recumbent bikes, and air bikes. You can learn more about each type here.
Is cycling better than running?
Depending on if you have joint issues or if you just want a low impact exercise, you will probably prefer cycling over running. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, it just depends on which one works better for your body and your overall preference. Both provide excellent health benefits and are popular workout activities
What type of resistance should I use on a stationary bike?
One of the most common types of resistance on an exercise bike is magnetic resistance because it is smooth and really quiet. On some bikes, it is even practically silent. This type of resistance also requires less maintenance than others and lets you see workout metrics like watt output and resistance level.
Magnetic bikes are usually more expensive. Friction resistance bikes are typically less expensive, but can make a little bit more noise and require a little bit more maintenance because they use a brake against a pad that can cause a bit more wear overtime. Friction resistance usually isn’t measured in levels like magnetic resistance so it’s often not displayed on the bike.
Air resistance is another form of tension that uses air which is louder than other types. Air resistance offers unlimited amounts of tension though. Each of these resistance types come with pros and cons though.
Which exercise cycle is best for home use?
We’ve rated the NordicTrack s22i Studio Cycle as our top exercise bike for home use. Along with having iFit content on the touchscreen, the s22i inclines and declines to give you an even more realistic indoor riding experience at home.