Indoor cycling is one of the best low-impact activities for getting in shape - but that doesn't mean all exercise bikes are created equal.
The best exercise bikes combine smooth performance with functionality to provide an effective workout. Poor quality bikes, on the other hand, are often noisy, have weak resistance and can even cause injuries.
There are also a number of different types of exercise bike (see our buyer's guide for more information). This can make deciding on a bike difficult - especially as a fitness bike can be an expensive investment.
To make finding your perfect bike easier, we've listed our top 10 exercise bike reviews. We've included bikes in multiple categories and budgets, so there is a great option for everyone on this list.
We think the best indoor exercise bike in terms of value, performance and durability is the NordicTrack GX 4.6 Pro.
It's a mid-range bike with a heavy 11kg flywheel and magnetic resistance. It's also highly adjustable and has 24 digital resistance levels, along with iFit integration. If you need an exercise bike that provides a great workout without costing a fortune, the GX 4.6 is an excellent choice.
Which are the Best Exercise Bikes of 2021?
|Name||Type||Flywheel Weight||Resistance System||Price Range||View Price|
|Ultrasport Foldable F-Bike||Upright/Foldable||<2kg||Magnetic||BUDGET||VIEW PRICE|
|York Active 110||Upright||4kg||Magnetic||BUDGET||VIEW PRICE|
|JLL IC260 Indoor Cycle||Indoor Cycling||15kg||Friction||BUDGET||VIEW PRICE|
|ProForm 225 CSX||Upright||Inertia Enhanced||Magnetic||MID-RANGE||VIEW PRICE|
|TOP PICK!||NordicTrack GX 4.4 Pro||Upright||9kg||Magnetic||MID-RANGE||VIEW PRICE|
|Reebok ZJET 460 Bluetooth||Upright||9kg||Magnetic||MID-RANGE||VIEW PRICE|
|JTX Cyclo 6 Indoor Cycling||Indoor Cycling||22kg||Friction||MID-RANGE||VIEW PRICE|
|Keiser M3i Indoor||Indoor Cycling||4kg (Inertia Enhanced)||Magnetic||PREMIUM||VIEW PRICE|
|Schwinn Airdyne AD8 Dual Action||Air Bike||No Flywheel||Air||PREMIUM||VIEW PRICE|
|Life Fitness C1||Upright||Magnetic||PREMIUM||VIEW PRICE|
Best Budget Exercise Bikes
If you want an exercise bike for a moderate workout, there are some great budget options available. These aren't going to match the smoothness and functionality of £1000+ gym bikes, but can provide a decent workout for a fraction of the cost. While you can also buy mini stationary exercise bikes for less than £100, such as those found on this page, we haven't included them on this list as they don't provide the same quality of workout.
1. Ultrasport Foldable F-Bike Exercise Bike
If you're looking for a simple exercise bike that doesn't take up too much space, the Ultrasport Foldable could be a good option. It's not robust enough for intense workouts, but it's great if you want to gradually increase your fitness without spending a lot of money.
As you would expect from a cheap exercise bike, it has a relatively low weight limit of 100kg (although there is a heavy option with a 130kg limit). It uses a magnetic resistance system with 8 settings, and can is a foldable bike to make it easier to store.
The console is relatively basic, although it shows calories, speed, pulse, distance and time. Despite the lack of a flywheel, there are eight resistance levels and the seat can be adjusted between 83cm-93cm. The handlebars are fixed, however, due to the nature of the design.
The biggest problem with the F-Bike is that some people feel the riding position is awkward - especially for taller cyclists. The lack of adjustable options (aside from the seat height) means that the bike either fits you or it doesn't, so we don't recommend it for people over 6 foot tall.
For riders under six foot who want a gentle workout, however, the F-Bike is a good option. It's cheap, easy to setup, quiet and doesn't take up much room when folded.
2. York Active 110
The York Active 110 is another budget upright exercise bike. It's more expensive than the Ultrasport Foldable, yet is also more robust and uses magnetic resistance for a smoother ride.
Like other budget bikes, the York 110 is targeted at beginners. It's a simple bike with a basic LCD screen, eight resistance settings and lightweight 4kg flywheel. This is too light for serious training, but is fine for beginners if you don't want to spend a lot of money.
One thing we like about the York 110 is that both the seat reach and height can be adjusted. It also has pedal straps and adjustable handlebars, so you can adapt it to your personal requirements. The magnetic resistance system also allows for four pre-set workout programmes.
As you would expect from a budget exercise bike, there are some drawbacks. It's one of the more fiddly bikes to put together, so you need to set aside a decent chunk of time to follow the instructions. The 110 also isn't robust enough for intense workouts, so we wouldn't recommend it for athletic training.
Even with these drawbacks, the York Active 110 provides great value for money. In fact, we think it's one of the best value exercise bikes on the market at the moment. If you're looking for an upright bike for medium-intensity workouts that also doesn't cost a huge amount of money, it's one of our top recommendations.
Note: To learn more about this brand, visit our York exercise bike page.
3. JLL IC260 Indoor Cycle
If you want an intense workout but don't have the money for an expensive indoor cycle bike, the JLL IC260 is an option to consider. It's a stylish spin bike that's available for a very reasonable price.
Unlike upright bikes, indoor cycles have a perimeter-weighted flywheel that's designed to more closely mimic the feel of a road. In this case, the flywheel is 15kg, which is more than heavy enough for a smooth ride and to challenge even advanced riders.
The JLL IC260 built with frictional resistance and a direct-chain drive, and also comes with ergonomic handebars. You can move the saddle both horizontally and vertically, which is important for maintaining good form. There's no frills to this bike, but it's arguably better for high intensity workouts than many more expensive options.
The monitor is basic, as it only shows speed, time, distance, odometer, pulse and calories. This is a drawback of most spin bikes though - if you want more metrics or workout programmes, you'll need to pay a lot more for a magnetic racer.
Considering the low price, it would be unfair to expect the same comfort and performance as more expensive spin bikes. With that said, it's a relatively noisy bike and the seat also isn't the most comfortable. The brake pads can also wear out quite quickly if you use a high resistance, so you may need to replace them at some point. Many pricier spin bikes also have an 18-20kg flywheel, which provides more scope for improvement.
Despite these drawbacks, the JLL IC260 is an excellent budget spin bike. If you want a harder workout than the uprights in this price category can provide, the IC260 is probably the best option. The Roger Black Manual Aerobic, which narrowly missed out on this list, is a slightly more expensive competitor that's also worth considering (click here to see all Roger Black exercise bikes).
Note: JLL also now produces a magnetic spin bike called the JLL IC300 Pro. It's more expensive and doesn't include advanced features like a power meter, but could be an option to consider if you prefer magnetic resistance.
Best Mid-Range Exercise Bikes
Mid-range exercise bikes are great if you need a robust model for more intensive workouts. While price isn't a guarantee of quality, most mid-range options have a higher build standard, smoother ride and more advanced features.
4. ProForm 225 CSX
With an RRP of £449, the ProForm 225 CSX (which replaces the now discontinued Reebok ZR8) is right in the centre of our mid-range price category. It's a big step up from budget models, with a sturdier design and more advanced features.
Let's start with the LED console. Aside from showing statistics about your workout (including heart rate via grip pulse sensors), it also has 20 pre-set workout programmes. There's also a "Custom Performance Center" to track your progress.
One feature that's not found on cheaper models is iFit Bluetooth Smart functionality. This is great for downloading new workouts, competing with friends, and replicating rides on Google Maps. You'll need to purchase an iFit subscription separately though.
The 225 CSX is a magnetic resistance bike with 20 levels. This allows for fine control over your workouts, and it's also quieter than frictional models. Importantly, the large number of levels provides a smooth transition when increasing difficulty. The inertia enhanced flywheel is perfect for intermediate riders, although it probably isn't heavy enough for advanced training. It also comes with a smart phone holder, built-in fan and front wheels.
A common problem with mid-range bikes is that the seat can be uncomfortable - and the 225 is no exception in this regard. If you're going to be using it a lot, you may want to buy a gel-based seat. It's also quite hard to assemble, so be patient and take your time.
In our opinion, the ProForm 225 CSX is close to the perfect mid-range exercise bike for beginner or intermediate riders. It's very quiet, so you can use it while watching the TV, and also easy to setup. The magnetic resistance system reduces maintenance too.
5. NordicTrack GX 4.6 Pro Cycle
Another excellent mid-range exercise bike is the NordicTrack GX 4.6 Pro Upright. It's a magnetic resistance bike with a number of advanced features not found on cheaper models, such as built in speakers, AutoBreeze fan and iFit integration (separate subscription required).
The GX 4.6 is built with a 11kg flywheel, making it suitable for advanced riders. Its "Silent" magnetic resistance system makes it a smoother and quieter option than friction-based machines, and there are 24 settings for digital resistance.
The bike comes with 7" HD backlit display, which features a number of options not found on cheaper models. These include electronically adjusted resistance, a range of workout statistics, and a workout fan that adjusts to the speed of your workout. The seat height and position can be adjusted for a comfortable ride, and there are EKG grip heart rate monitors. In addition, the GX 4.6 comes with wide foot pedals and a cushioned seat for extra comfort.
An added bonus is the iFit Live integration. This needs to be bought separately, but allows you to stream a wide range of programmes and even train for events using Google Maps.
Be prepared to spend an hour or two putting the NordicTrack together, as it's not the easiest exercise bike to assemble. Once built, however, it's one of the best stationary bikes in its price range that's suitable for both beginners and intermediates.
6. Reebok ZJET 460 Bluetooth
One of our favourite mid-range exercise bikes is the Reebok ZJET 460. It's another upright bike with electronic resistance that's designed to provide a variety of workouts in addition to a comfortable ride.
The first thing to note about the 460 is that it has a more advanced onboard console than cheaper exercise bikes. It comes with a 5.5" LCD display showing a variety of statistics and metrics, so you can see exactly how your workout is progressing.
With its 9kg flywheel, the Reebok can't match the smooth ride of indoor cycles. It's still enjoyable to ride, however, and provides decent value for money.
There are also 19 console programmes, along with 12 preset workouts and the ability to connect with the Reebok Fitness App. This unlocks a selection of advanced options, which can help you to stay motivated by tracking your progress.
Aside from the console, the 460 stationary cycle has a number of useful features. The 24 tension levels allow you to vary the workout intensity, while the adjustable seat and handlebars make it easy to ride in comfort. There's also a water bottle holder, although the Reebok doesn't include a reading rack, cooling fan, or built in sound system, which is a shame.
One of our biggest complaints about the ZJET 460 is that the seat isn't comfortable enough for extended rides. This is a common problem with most exercise bikes - including those more expensive than the Reebok - but you may want to buy a gel cover or separate seat. The instructions could also be clearer, although the console is relatively straightforward to use.
Overall, the Reebok ZJET 460 is a high-quality bike with the performance to match more expensive models. It has a range of useful features, high build quality and can provide a vigorous workout. It's also a quiet exercise bike due to the electronic resistance.
7. JTX Cyclo-6 Indoor Cycling
If you're looking for a mid-range indoor cycling machine that mimics road cycling, then the JTX Cyclo-6 is our top pick. It's a stylish bike with a sturdy feel, Polar-compatible computer and a durable design.
The most important feature of the Cyclo-6 is its heavy 22kg flywheel. This provides a rock solid ride and makes it a great choice for people who want a high intensity workout. The flywheel combined with the triathlon handlebars and optional SPD pedal system also make it suitable for advanced riders and athletic training.
It's built on a frictional resistance system, which JTX claims can provide near-infinite resistance. While the console is relatively basic compared to upright models, it still shows calories, speed and distance, and has a Polar-compatible heart rate receiver (although you'll need to buy the monitor separately). While its not a magnetic bike, the JTX has excellent build quality for a smooth ride.
There aren't many drawbacks to the Cyclo-6, as it provides great performance for the money. The seat isn't that comfortable though, so you'll probably want to buy a better one if you're going to be training a lot. The dispaly also isn't back-lit - although this isn't a major complaint.
Overall, it's a fantastic bike that comes close to rivalling gym-level spin bikes for a much lower cost.
Best Premium Exercise Bikes
Premium bikes are the cream of the crop. The best exercise bikes in this price range are durable, provide a smooth and comfortable workout, and can handle even intensive cardio sessions. They also often have advanced tracking and programmes not found on cheaper bikes.
8. Schwinn Airdyne AD8 Dual Action Air Cycle
The first air-resistance exercise bike on this list is the Schwinn Airdyne AD8. It's a premium model with a durable design that provides an intense cardio workout.
Unlike upright bikes, the Dual Action AD8 is designed to provide a workout for both the upper and lower body with its elliptical-style handles. It also doesn't have a flywheel - the resistance is provided by air and increases as you pedal faster. This allows for unlimited resistance so you'll never outgrow the machine.
The AD8 comes with nine programmes via the LCD screen. These include interval, heat rate, fat burn and aerobic programmes, along with a display for calories, pulse, speed and distance. Keep in mind that this is a heavy bike though - the total weight is 60kg.
It's also a highly durable model that's built with commercial-grade components. So if you're looking for an air bike that matches the intensity and feel of those in the gym, the Schwinn AD8 is a great choice.
A word of warning though - the AD8 provides a brutally difficult workout. You'll be glad for the air flow via the fan, as you'll get hot fast!
9. Keiser M3I Racing Indoor Cycle
When it comes to premium spin bikes, the Keiser M3I is one of our top picks. It's an outstanding bike that can provide an intense workout, and also comes with a range of advanced features and app capabilities.
Unlike many of the bikes on this list, the Keiser has a relatively lightweight flywheel - which is surprising at first glance. However, the advanced design of the Keiser means that the flywheel rotates 11 times for every pedal stroke, which provides plenty of inertia. This simply isn't the case for cheaper bikes with a similar flywheel weight. The Keiser flywheel also provides a consistent resistance throughout the pedal stroke, which isn't possible with heavy flywheels.
Resistance is provided by a magnetic system. This reduces wear and makes it possible to repeat workouts without guessing which resistance was used. The combination of rear flywheel and non-friction resistance also means the M3I provides a smooth and quiet ride, while providing plenty of challenge for advanced riders.
One of the great things is this model combines the form of a spin bike with the features of an exercise bike. There are far too many features to list here, but the console links to the magnetic system to almost-infinite resistance levels, while the overall performance matches pretty much any other bike on the market. As you would expect, the M3I can connect via Bluetooth to tablets and smart phones, so you can track progress using the M Series app.
The advanced LCD console provides a number of options that aren't found on budget spin bikes. It shows data such as RPM, power, energy and gear, along with basic trip information. These metrics make it possible to monitor and improve the intensity of your workouts, which can be more difficult on cheaper alternatives. The LCD is also automatically back-lit in darker rooms.
For comfort, the M3I is fitted with a four-way adjustable seat and a V-shaped frame to suit all riders. There's also the redesigned Keiser pedals, along with a universal tablet/smartphone holder.
The biggest drawback to this excellent model is the price, as it's one of the most expensive home spin bikes on the market. If you're on a tight budget, an alternative without the LCD screen may provide a similar workout for a lower cost.
Overall, however, the Keiser M3I is one of the best static bikes on the market - especially if you want to track your spin classes. It provides the same standard workout as a commercial gym bike, so you can get a high-quality workout from the comfort of your home.
10. Life Fitness C1
If you're looking for a premium upright exercise bike, the Life Fitness C1 is our favourite mode. It's one of the best exercise bikes on the market, due to its smooth operation and magnetic resistance, and provides value despite its high price tag.
The C1 isn't the most stylish exercise bike, but the "Go" console adds a high-tech appeal. There are 13 preset programmes, two user profiles and a clear screen, along with handlebar heart rate sensors and the option of wireless telemetry. The console also has an energy saving button, which allows you to lower energy usage without unplugging the bike.
Resistance is provided by an Eddy current system which ensures quiet and smooth operation. The seat can be adjusted and the pedals come with ratcheting straps for fast adjustments.
The Life Fitness C1 doesn't have many gimmicky features like others in its price range, but it provides a smooth and comfortable ride and is capable of handling workouts of any intensity. If you want a durable machine that's enjoyable to use, it's a great choice.
How We Pick Our Recommended Exercise Bikes
We've written an in-depth guide on how to choose an exercise bike here - and we use the same criteria when selecting the best exercise bikes. Here's a brief run-down of what we look for though.
- Flywheel weight. There's no "best" flywheel weight, but it should ideally be at least 6kg to provide a smooth riding experience. The exception is budget exercise bikes, as it's often unrealistic to expect a heavy wheel on a bike that costs less than £150.
- Display. Exercise bike displays can show a variety of statistics, from basic distance and speed to advanced measures such as cadence and telemetric heart rate monitoring. We take into account the quality of the display and the various statistics it provides.
- Workout programs. Bikes with resistance that can be controlled electronically often include pre-programmed workouts. These are designed to provide a more interesting or effective workout than basic riding. We look at the range of programs provided and also whether manual programs can be created.
- Adjustable frame. When we refer to frame, we mean the physical components of the bike. Ideally, a bike should have an adjustable seat, pedals and handlebars. This allows you to setup the bike to your personal requirements, which is important to avoid injury.
- Ease of assembly. You should expect to spend at least an hour assembling a new exercise bike, but some are more fiddly than others. We look for bikes that are easy to assemble and also come with clear instructions.
- Resistance type. The most common types of resistance are magnetic, frictional and air. For most people, magnetic resistance is best, as it's quiet, can be adjusted electronically and requires less maintenance. We also consider how much resistance a bike is capable of providing.
- Buyer reviews. We also take into consideration the rating of an exercise bike on online shopping sites. This allows us to get an overview of the benefits and drawbacks of a bike from real people who've used it extensively.
- Value for money. Price is one of the most important factors when choosing the best exercise bike - but we think the value is more important. Instead of just looking at the price, we try to compare a bike's features and performance to similar models to see whether it provides value for money.
What Are the Benefits of an Exercise Bike?
To finish this article, we wanted to go through some of the advantages of an exercise bike. So if you're still not sure whether a bike is the right choice, these factors should help you make a decision!
- Exercise bikes provide a low-impact cardiovascular workout. Unlike jogging, which places a lot of strain on the knees, ankles and hips, cycling increases your heart rate without any jarring impacts. This makes an exercise bike great for anyone who's worried about joint pain.
- While an exercise bike isn't the fastest way to burn calories, it's one of the most convenient. Even a moderate 30 minute biking session could burn 250+ calories - and you can do so while watching the TV (especially if you buy a quiet magnetic exercise bike).
- Regular workouts on an exercise bike can build the strength and endurance of your leg muscles. Recumbent bikes are particularly good at this, as they isolate the leg muscles. It's always a good idea to cross train with another form of exercise, however, so you work a variety of muscles.
- Buying a stationary bike is cheaper than road biking. While the initial purchase of the bike might have a similar cost (depending on which model you buy), indoor bikes require less maintenance and you don't need to buy any additional clothing or equipment.
The best exercise bikes can provide an excellent workout from the comfort of your own home - but that doesn't mean every bike is worth buying. We hope the exercise bike reviews on this page and the rest of TheHomeGym.co.uk have helped you make a better decision on which bike to buy.
If you have any questions about choosing an exercise bike, please let us know in the comments section!