As there is such a wide range of makes and models available for you to choose from today, selecting the best home exercise bike will largely be influenced by your own personal taste and any physical issues you may have.
With almost 50 different brands on the market, narrowing down your choice to just one exercise bike can be a daunting task.
To make it easier, start by deciding what type of exercise bike you want to get. The 3 main categories of exercise bikes you have a choice of are the Spin Bike vs Recumbent Bike vs Upright Stationary Bike.
This type of exercise bike has no gears and uses a heavily weighted flywheel directly linked to the pedals. Once you start pedaling, the flywheel inertia makes it easier to keep the momentum going. You can then vary the amount of effort required to maintain a fixed speed by adjusting the resistance settings . Just like on a racing road bike with the small seats and leaning forward posture, some people may find their back can quickly get tired at first.
Here is an example of some spin bike workout exercises you can try yourself:
A bigger piece of equipment where the rider is slightly reclined and appears to be siting in the frame of the bike on a chair. You have a lower center of gravity and pedal with your legs almost straight out in front of you, almost parallel to the ground. Some people may find it limiting to get an effective all lower body workout, but really good for those with lower back issues who still want to exercise.
Upright Stationary Bike:
Looking more like your regular outdoor bike, you sit upright or lean forward to hold the handles and access the resistance controls etc. If you have experience riding a normal bicycle then you will be comfortable with this type of exercise bike. Once you set the appropriate resistance program you can then ride in the upright position. An alternative, if you already have a standard road bike, is to use an indoor cycle trainer. This will effectively turn your road bike into an upright stationary bike. The range of adjustment for the resistance settings on the indoor trainers is usually very limited.
Resistance settings and the types of control panels can vary a lot between the different brands and models. Built-in heart rate monitors are almost a standard accessory today on exercise bikes. They are often built into the handles so the readout is continually displaying your heart rate. This is important so you can avoid over or under exertion.
Noise can also be an important factor when making your selection, especially when you will be using the bike in the home. Those with fan blades that use wind resistance tend to generate the most noise. Friction bands around the main wheel would be the next in terms of noise generation. The magnetic resistance type will be the quietest of all.
In terms of price, the Recumbent bike is the more expensive and the largest in physical size. Next would be the spin bike followed by the upright stationary bike. The cheapest option would be the indoor cycle trainer for which you would need to already own a bicycle.
For stability, the recumbent would be the most stable unit and then the spin bike, closely followed by the upright bike.
If you can – Try Before You Buy! There are a number of fitness equipment companies that hire out exercise bikes, usually on a monthly basis. This could be a low-cost way to help you decide on the best exercise bike for your needs and avoid you buying the wrong bike.