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 Schwinn 170i Upright.
It's a mid-range bike with a DualTrack console and magnetic resistance. It's also highly adjustable and has 29 pre-set workouts. If you need an exercise bike that provides a great workout without costing a fortune, the 170i is an excellent choice.
Which are the Best Exercise Bikes of 2018?
|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 IC200 Indoor Cycle||Indoor Cycling||10kg||Friction||BUDGET||VIEW PRICE|
|Reebok ZR8||Upright||9kg||Magnetic||MID-RANGE||VIEW PRICE|
|NordicTrack VX500||Upright||10kg||Magnetic||MID-RANGE||VIEW PRICE|
|TOP PICK!||Schwinn 170i||Upright||Magnetic||MID-RANGE||VIEW PRICE|
|BH Fitness SB1.8 Indoor Cycling||Indoor Cycling||20kg||Friction||MID-RANGE||VIEW PRICE|
|BH Fitness Spada Racing||Indoor Cycling||20kg||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.
3. JLL IC200 Indoor Cycle
If you want an intense workout but don't have the money for an expensive indoor cycle bike, the JLL IC200 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 10kg, which is heavy enough for a smooth ride and to challenge even advanced riders.
It's built with frictional resistance and a direct-chain drive, and also comes with ergonomic handebars. The monitor is basic, but displays speed, time, distance odometer and calories.
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. While there are settings for resistance, the top level isn't as difficult as professional spin bikes.
Despite these drawbacks, the JLL IC200 is an excellent budget spin bike. If you want a harder workout than the uprights in this price category can provide, the IC200 is probably the best option. The Roger Black Manual Aerobic, which narrowly missed out on this list, is a slightly more expensive competitor with a heavier flywheel though, so this is also worth considering (click here to see all Roger Black exercise bikes).
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. Reebok ZR8
With an RRP of £350, the Reebok ZR8 is at the lower end of our mid-range price category. It's a big step up from budget models though, with a sturdier design and more advanced set of programmes.
Let's start with the 3-colour console. Aside from showing statistics about your workout (including heart rate via grip pulse sensors), it also has 12 pre-set programmes. These include a recovery mode, four target programmes and a user programme.
The ZR8 is a magnetic resistance bike with 32 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 9kg flywheel is perfect for intermediate riders, although it probably isn't heavy enough for advanced training. It also comes with an adjustable handlebar, seat and pedal straps.
A common problem with mid-range bikes is that the seat can be uncomfortable - and the ZR8 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.
In our opinion, the Reebok ZR8 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 VX500
Another excellent mid-range exercise bike is the NordicTrack VX500 upright. It's a magnetic resistance bike with a number of advanced features not found on cheaper models, such as a port for an MP3 player and compatibility with iFit Live.
The VX500 is built with a 10kg flywheel, making it suitable for intermediate riders. Its "Silent" magnetic resistance system makes it a smoother and quieter option than friction-based machine and there are 20 settings for resistance.
The bike comes with an LCD display, which features a number of options not found on cheaper models. These include electronically adjusted resistance, a range of statistics and a 5" screen. The seat height and position can be adjusted, along with the handlebar height. In addition, the VX500 comes with an oversized seat and ergonomic pedals for extra comfort.
An added bonus is the iFit Live integration. This needs to be bought separately, but allows you to download 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. Schwinn 170i
One of our favourite mid-range exercise bikes is the Schwinn 170i. It's another upright bike with magnetic resistance that's designed to provide a variety of workouts in addition to a comfortable ride.
The first thing to note about the 170i is that it has a much more advanced onboard console than cheaper exercise bikes. The display has dual backlit LCD displays showing a variety of statistics, including course profile, heart rate zone, intensity and goal achievement.
There are also 29 pre-set programmes, along with the four user profiles and the ability to connect with MyFitnessPal. This allows you to track your progress over time, which is great for motivation.
Aside from the console, the 170i stationary cycle has a number of useful features. The oversized pedals, forearm rest and large seat make riding more comfortable than inferior models, and a fan is included to help keep you cool. Both the handlebars and seat can be adjusted depending on your height and body position.
One of our biggest complaints about the 170i is that the manual isn't great at explaining all the options. You can find better instructions online if you can't work something out, but a more in-depth manual would be useful. The built-in speakers are also a little too quiet to be practical, so you'll probably end up using headphones.
Overall, the Schwinn 170i 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 magnetic resistance.
7. BH Fitness SB1.8 Indoor Cycling
If you're looking for a mid-range indoor cycling machine that mimics road cycling, then the BH Fitness SB1.8 is our top pick. It's a stylish bike with a racing seat, ergonomic handlebars and a durable design.
The most important feature of the SB1.8 is its heavy 20kg flywheel. This makes it a great choice for people who want a high intensity workout. The flywheel combined with the triathlon handlebars also make it suitable for advanced riders and athletic training.
It's built on a frictional resistance system, which BH 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 telemetric heart rate receiver (although you'll need to buy the monitor separately). While its not a magnetic bike, the poly-V belt helps reduce the overall noise.
There aren't many drawbacks to the SB1.8, 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. Overall, however, it's a fantastic bike that comes close to rivalling gym-level spin bikes.
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. BH Fitness Spada Racing
When it comes to premium spin bikes, the BH Fitness Spada Racing is one of our top picks. It's a durable model that can provide an intense workout, and also comes with a range of advanced features and app integrations.
The Spada is built with a 20kg flywheel with resistance provided by a magnetic system. This means it's smooth and quiet to ride, while the flywheel is heavy enough for advanced users.
The LCD console provides a number of options that aren't found on budget spin bikes. These include a telemetric receiver for heart rate (requires a separately bought monitor), 12 pre-set workout programmes and the ability to create custom workouts. The bike also comes with the ability to connect to various iConcept apps, including Cycle on Earth.
For comfort, the Spada is fitted with an ergonomic road saddle and SPD trekking pedals (both clips and standard baskets). There are also both ergonomic and trial handlebars, along with an adjustable seat.
While the resistance provided by the Spada can't quite match gym-standard bikes, it comes pretty close. We don't recommend it for people who are very tall though, as the seat height doesn't accommodate people over 6 foot. The instruction manual could also be clearer which makes initial assembly more frustrating than it should be.
Overall, however, the Spada is one of the best static bikes on the market. It provides close to the same workout you'd expect from a 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!