Cycling has long been known as a great way to lose weight and improve your fitness, but you don’t always have time for a long ride out on the road, or you might not want to brave the cold, wet weather.
If this is the case, a stationary exercise bike that you can use at home is a really great option. But with so many to choose from, how do you find the best exercise bike for you?
In this article we’ll look at:
- Different types of exercise bikes
- Things to consider before you buy
- Pros and Cons of a few different exercise bikes
We’ll also briefly cover the health benefits of cycling, as a reminder why purchasing an exercise bike is a great idea!
Scroll down to continue reading, or use the links below to jump to the relevant section.
The Benefits of Cycling for Weight Loss
Cycling a great way to kickstart your workout routine and reach your weight loss goals. Aside from making you feel more energetic, stronger, and healthier, cycling for weight loss has a host of additional benefits.
- It’s a great aerobic workout – Getting your heart rate up is one of the more important things when it comes to impactful and effective exercise. Increased heart rate feeds the brain, heart and blood vessels. When you get your heart rate up, all of these organs are worked and get stronger and healthier. Additionally, when your heart rate goes up your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are a hormone that boosts your mood and reduces pain. Essentially, the more cycling you do, the happier both your heart and your brain will be.
- Your sleep will improve – You may be a little more tired than usual when you wake up for your morning cycling session, but that initial sleepiness will pay off in dividends that night. When you get up and get your body moving in the morning, you sleep significantly better. Exercising wakes up your body and rids it of cortisol, a stress-producing hormone. With the decrease in cortisol and the early morning workout, you will fall asleep faster and sleep deeper. This deep, restorative sleep will leave you feeling more rested the next morning leading to a better day ahead.
- You can burn more fat – An increased metabolic rate is the key to burning away unwanted fat. When you cycle for 30 minutes, your body actually keep burning fat for a few hours after you finish your ride. As you start to get more seasoned and strong as a cycler, you can start to adapt your ride to work in higher intensity speed intervals. These fast intervals of riding quickly increase your heart rate and can help you burn more fat over the duration of your ride.
- Cycling builds muscles – As with any exercise, cycling builds muscle strength and health. As you push down to pedal, the glute muscles are worked along with calf muscles and quadricep muscles. Additionally, the hip flexors and the hamstrings are worked as the pedal moves upwards. Your core and abdominals are also constantly engaged as you hold yourself up as you are cycling. This exercise is a full body workout and over time, it can build muscle strength all over your body.
- Your brain will work better – Cardiorespiratory fitness like cycling has been proven to increase brain power and processing. When you cycle, new brain cells are built in your hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory. Getting moving also increase the flow of blood to your brain. Each time your brain receives an increased flow of blood, it’s receptors fire and regenerate which helps keep it healthy.
Different Types of Exercise Bikes
Recumbent vs. Upright
There are two different types of exercise bikes: stationary recumbent and stationary upright. While the exercise done on the bikes is generally the same, there are a few differences that should be noted.
This refers mainly to the position the rider sits while cycling. In the recumbent position the rider sits back in the seat, while an upright bike is the most traditional position that a normal bicycle uses.
Recumbent vs. Upright Bike Comparison
|With a recumbent bike, the seat is in line with the pedals and the rider sits into the bike instead of on top of it like with an upright bike.||An upright bike has the more traditional seat position where the seat is located well above the pedals.|
|With a recumbent bike, the rider has a low center of gravity making them more stable||Higher center of gravity|
|The recumbent bikes reclining design puts less stress on the hands and arms and gives the glutes a more intense workout||Riders often feel more hand and arm strain and less of a glute workout with an upright bike|
|With recumbent bikes, riders do not need to lean and their back and neck stay in a neutral position||The rider has to lean forward in order to pedal effectively.|
|The more natural position reduces fatigue and can help people with lower back problems ride further and for longer.||This lean can oftentimes produce a sore neck and lower back. Riders with upright bikes often find themselves getting fatigued faster due to the unnatural body alignment|
Magnetic vs. Air resistance
Exercise bikes use resistance and that resistance can be provided by either magnets or air. Magnetic resistance is the most common; it is easy to adjust, silent, and gives the rider their own personalized level of resistance with the simple touch of a button and bikes with magnetic resistance last a long time since the magnets don’t wear out easily.
As for air resistance, bikes that use air are equipped with a giant fan. If you want more resistance, you have to pedal faster. If you are doing longer rides, magnetic resistance is probably the way to go. If you are focusing on short intervals of intensity, air resistance is a great option.
Both upright bikes and recumbent bikes provide a great cycling workout, but there are important things to consider with each type of bike. What it essentially all comes down to is your personal body and fitness goals. There is a bike out there that is a great fit for you, you just have to take the time to find it.
Things to Consider When Buying an Exercise Bike
If you are in the market for an exercise bike, there are a few things that you need to consider before purchasing:
1. Do you want an upright bike or a recumbent bike?
When making this decision you have to look at your body’s abilities and your fitness goals. If you know you are prone to a sore lower back, a recumbent bike is best for you. If you want to work your abs and do interval training, an upright bike is the way to go. Make sure you go to a local gym or fitness store and test both out, it will help you understand how your body responds to each bike.
2. How much do you want to spend?
Exercise bikes vary in price. You can get a simple upright fan bike for as little as $130 and a basic, upright magnetic bike for $150. Recumbent bikes tend to be a little more expensive; a basic one comes in at about $180. Of course, if you want to splurge, you can find both upright and recumbent bikes with tons of features like heart rate monitors, TV screens and more for $2000. Cost largely depends on what you want out of a bike. It can be as cheap or expensive as you desire.
3. Do you want the bike to be foldable/portable?
If you live in a smaller space, it may not be feasible to have a large exercise bike taking up a lot of valuable floor space. If being able to get the bike out of the way easily is important to you, look into folding bikes. These are portable bikes that fold up smaller for easy and convenient storage. They don’t typically offer a lot of features, but there are easy to put away and keep out of sight when not in use.
4. How quiet do you want the bike to be?
The noise the bike makes is largely due to the type of resistance it uses. Magnetic bikes tend to be almost silent while fan bikes make a ton of noise. Also, portable bikes can sometimes squeak due to the frame being less rigid. If you want a silent bike, go for a solid frame, non-folding, magnetic resistance bike.
You should also consider the alternatives. There are many other types of affordable home exercise equipment, such as compact treadmills, balance boards and mini steppers, all of which can help with different aspects of fitness.
Best Exercise Bike? Take a look at these options…
There are a lot of exercise bike options out there. In order to help you find the best bike for you, we’ve created a short list of the bikes that we think are the best on the market.
Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse: This is an upright, foldable bike with magnetic resistance.
Key Features: This bike features a heavy-duty yet portable design with a large seat cushion and a LED screen for stats such as calories burned and miles biked. The bike has magnetic resistance with 8 different levels for ride difficulty personalization.
Pros: The Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike has a sturdy frame that does not move during the ride. The bike is easily assembled and easily folded up and stored. The magnetic resistance makes it nearly silent and perfect for a ride at home.
Cons: If you ride a lot, this bike can tend to wear out quickly. Some of the straps can become loose and the flywheel can start to squeak a little. If you are going to be riding a lot in a short period of time, consider purchasing the extended warranty just in case.
Body Rider Exercise Upright Fan Bike: An upright bike with dual action handlebars and fan resistance.
Key Features: This bike has a unique feature in that the resistance levels of the fan can be adjusted. With a display that tracks calories, distance and speed, the dual action handlebars will give you both a lower and an upper body workout. The new and improved softer seat give you more comfort while riding allowing you to ride longer without additional pain.
Pros: The ability to adjust the resistance of the fan is a unique feature that is not usually seen in fan bikes. The frame is sturdy for the price and the bike gives riders an upper and lower body workout simultaneously.
Cons: The fan can be a little loud and some users note that this is not a true fan bike. The resistance is not singularly dependent on the speed of the fan, it is also controlled by the tension on the fabric strap on the bike.
Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike: An upright bike with a sturdy frame and a 40 pound flywheel for added stability, this tension resistance bike can be easily moved around your living space for convenient workouts and storage.
Key Features: The Sunny Healthy Bike has a set of adjustable handlebars and seat to make your bike a perfect, custom fit. The heavy 40-pound flywheel makes the ride smooth and keeps the bike stable and secure. Tension resistance allows the rider to change the resistance easily giving them the ability to make their workout as easy or difficult as they want.
Pros: This bike is solid and sturdy. It is quiet and can put up with a lot of riding every day. It can easily move from room to room for easy working out and storage. It is fully customizable for the individual working out and can accommodate riders of every experience.
Cons: Some people complain that the pedals can be a little weak. With repeated riding, it is possible that the pedals may become loose but it is highly unlikely. Overall, the bike is a good solid choice for the serious rider.
XtremepowerUS Indoor Cycle Trainer Fitness Bicycle: This is a bike for people serious about their cycling. With a 22-pound flywheel and a smooth chain drive mechanism, the XtremepowerUS Cycle give users a great workout.
Key Features: The bike’s seat and handlebars are fully adjustable making it easy to get a custom fit for each rider. The 22-pound flywheel gives the bike stability and keeps the ride smooth and quiet. The XtremepowerUS Cycle also features an LCD screen for tracking speed, distance, calories, and more.
Pros: The 22-pound flywheel keeps the bike stable and sturdy during the ride. This makes each ride smooth and enjoyable. The resistance levels can be easily changed during the ride making building the ideal workout a breeze. The LCD screen is right in the middle of the handlebars and is easy to read allowing you to quickly check your progress without interrupting your ride.
Cons: Some users complain that the bike to too small, but the adjustable seat and handlebars should be able to accommodate people of many different heights. The bike can get a little loud as it wears out but is otherwise almost silent.
Over to you…
Hopefully this guide will serve as a useful resource to help you find the best exercise bike to satisfy your needs.
Cycling is a really effective way to burn calories, lose weight and improve your fitness, and having a stationary bike that you can use in the comfort of your own home is a great way to get started.
Combining regular workouts on the bike with a healthy balanced diet is a sure fire way to get you in great shape in almost no time at all.