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Exercise Bike Buying Guide

Exercise Bike Buying Guide Video
Exercise Bike Buying Guide
Exercise Bike Buying Guide Video Exercise Bike Buying Guide Video
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Bring Spin Class Home with High-Efficiency Exercise Bikes

Exercise is vital to our health. Along with sleep and nutrition, it is the third pillar to our physical health and mental wellbeing. That said, many of us do not have the time to get to the gym on a regular basis. Paying for a monthly gym membership is a financial challenge for many. The answer, however, is exercise bikes. These machines are affordable, especially when weighed against the costs of joining a gym. They don't take up much room in your home and they are always available so you can exercise whenever you have the time.
Side View of Exercise Bike
If you're thinking about getting fit and burning calories on an exercise bike, but aren't quite sure which one is right for you, read on for information on the following key topics:
The concept is simple, but stationary bikes have come a long way over the years. Now there are many different models with many different features. You may find it difficult to find the one that's right for you. This exercise bike buying guide provides tips and information on the available features and purposes of different models. Some people may want models that ride quietly or have safety locks to prevent young children from injuring themselves with them. Others may be more interested in bikes that have many programming options and advanced features.
Exercise bikes come in a range of prices too. It's possible to purchase one for less than $500 or you could spend over $5,000 for a health-club-quality model with a heart rate monitor and a large touchscreen display. Whatever your budget, if burning calories on an exercise bike is your goal, Abt has a model for you. We also have a wide range of exercise and fitness equipment to get you in shape.

Choosing an Exercise Bike

Many of us have unrealistic goals when it comes to exercise. When considering which bike to purchase, think about how much you intend to use it. This helps determine what features you need and how much you should spend. There's no need to get a top-of-the-line model if you only plan on using it a few hours a week. Likewise, it won't be helpful to your workout if you get a model that doesn't give you everything you need from it. Once you've been honest with yourself and determined your goals, the choice becomes much easier. If after reading this guide you're still unsure which fitness cycle is best for your needs, Abt experts are on hand to answer your questions about the models we carry from brands such as Life Fitness.

Types of Exercise Bikes

There are two main styles of exercise bikes, upright and recumbent. There are also subcategories of indoor cycles, air bikes, and spin bikes.
Here is a breakdown of the main differences between these stationary bicycles:

Upright Bikes

Upright bikes resemble traditional cycles. The seat is the same. Upright bikes have handlebars with front displays. This type is good for people who want to do comfortable workouts with easy-to-use displays. Most models record speed, distance, and the number of calories you burn during the workout. Some bikes keep track of resistance, heart rate monitoring, and feature programs that allow you to change up your routine. These bikes do not provide back support and are not recommended for high-intensity workouts.

Recumbent Bike

A recumbent bike in contrast to an upright bike seats the rider in a reclined position. This creates a more comfortable position with better distribution of body weight. People with back problems or joint pain prefer the more relaxed position of recumbent bikes.
Models feature front handlebar displays or displays mounted on the sides of the seat. Features such as built-in workout programs and heart-rate monitoring are available. The wide stance of these bikes means they take up more space than upright exercise bikes so that is something to take into consideration when choosing a model from brands such as Spirit Fitness or Body-Solid.

Indoor Cycling Bike

An exercise bike that closely simulates a real riding experience is an indoor cycling bike. These bikes skip many of the extras and concentrate mainly on the ride which includes mimicking vertical climbing. These bikes are more for serious cyclists in training than those looking for an easy workout. They are best for high-intensity training and burning calories on an exercise bike quickly. Models with adjustable seats and handlebars let riders create the most comfortable position for their sessions. These bikes use either a belt-drive or chain-drive to give resistance and strengthen leg muscles.

Spin Bike

Spin bikes are similar to indoor cycling models in that the flywheel provides the resistance to create an experience that is similar to riding an outdoor ten-speed.

Air Bikes

The main difference between air bikes, also called fan bikes, and other types of fitness cycles is that the resistance comes from a fan that blows air while you pedal. The harder you pedal the more resistance it creates thus increasing your cardio workout. Air bikes also feature handlebars that move backward and forward which strengthens the upper body as well as the lower.
Person Using a Exercise Bike

The Basics of Stationary Bicycles

Here are the basic components of exercise bikes.

Flywheel — This would be the front wheel of an outdoor bike but it's larger on a stationary cycle and as heavy as 50 pounds on some models. This big disc connects to the pedals via a belt or chain. The flywheel is what creates a smooth-riding simulation as you pedal.
Saddle — This is the seat of the bike. Just like outdoor bikes, some are narrow and some are wide with extra padding.
Pedals — This is how you power the bike with your feet. Some models feature a strap or cage that you place your feet into so they don't slip off the pedal. Some models have a clip-in mechanism for cycling shoes.
Resistance — Resistance is the tension that's created as you pedal. This is typically controlled by a button or a knob located on the console. Some bikes use a strap-based resistance system. Tightening the strap, which is attached to the flywheel, creates more resistance. Mechanical or friction resistance is created with pads that clamp down on the flywheel. They are controlled by knobs that tighten or loosen their grip on the wheel thus controlling resistance. Most high-end models create resistance using electromagnets. Instead of clamps on the flywheel, magnets control the resistance of the bike.
Display — Speed, duration, calories burned, heart rate — this is the screen that displays all the data you need to monitor your workout. Depending on your budget, models are available with high-definition touchscreens and Bluetooth capability or no display at all.

Things to Consider When Choosing an Exercise Bike

There are several things to take into account as you shop for an exercise bike.

Get a Good Fit

One of the most important considerations when choosing an exercise bike is its size. You need to be sure it fits your body. If possible visit the Abt store in person so you can get a feel of the different models available. Most models feature adjustable seats and handlebars. With a bit of adjustment, you should be able to create a good fit. Some exercise bikes feature ergonomic seats and handlebars.


Stationary bikes typically offer up to two- and three-year warranties on parts and labor. Do some research as only major moving mechanical parts may be covered. Available extended warranties may be worth the price depending on the repair costs. It's hard to know until something goes wrong. Give Abt a call and we'll be happy to assist you with your questions about warranty coverage.


Of course, a stable bike is a safe bike, but with stability comes extra weight. Test a few models for yourself. If the bike wobbles as you pedal it is not the right one for you. Make sure you check the weight limitations of the model you're interested in. Choose one that matches your current weight. With regular exercise, you'll get to your desired weight, but you need to do so safely while burning calories on an exercise bike.


A bike's resistance is how you get your workout. The more resistance the harder you need to pedal and the more you are burning calories on an exercise bike. It's good to have a variety of levels to choose from. This way, as your leg muscles grow stronger, you can increase the resistance of the pedals. NordicTrack offers a model featuring 24 different digital resistance levels.

Noise Levels

If you're concerned about bothering family members or roommates while you are burning calories on an exercise bike, noise is something to consider. Some bikes generate more noise than others. This could be due to bikes that use fans or bikes that just get louder as you pedal faster. Of course, for yourself, you may consider listening to headphones while you pedal.


Stationary bikes, while safe to ride for adults, may pose a danger to young children. They feature a lot of moving parts and can be quite heavy. Lock your bike when you're not using it and keep young children away if the bike does not have safety locks. It is also important to keep both the chain and the flywheel covered to prevent children from sticking their fingers in them and injuring themselves.

Must-Have Features

While the above considerations are important to the success of a workout, other features are just nice to have. You can find models with straps on the pedals to make sure your feet don't slip out while you're burning calories on an exercise bike. Gel seats and ergonomic handlebars add extra comfort to your workout routine. A book rest is great to keep you entertained while exercising and a water bottle holder comes in handy as hydration is important to any workout.
Here is a breakdown of some of the must-have features consumers look for in exercise bike from Abt:


The built-in computers of some models display speed and duration, RPMs, resistance levels, and if your main goal is burning calories on an exercise bike, that's a good stat to know as well. Displays that are easy-to-read and easy-to-use are helpful. Depending on your budget, a high-definition touch screen display may be worth the investment.


Many models have programs that you can use to change up your exercise regime when burning calories on an exercise bike. You can use different programs to challenge yourself as you become stronger and pedal for longer durations. Some offer heart-rate-controlled programs which are adjusted according to your weight, age, and gender. Affordable models from Horizon Fitness offer as many as 10 workout programs.

Heart-Rate Monitor

Many models have heart rate monitors but contact monitors give the best results. A recruitment or upright bike from TRUE exercise bikes comes with a heart rate strap included.

Additional Options & Accessories

There are many options and accessories available for exercise bikes. A water bottle holder comes in handy. A smartphone dock or a tablet holder keeps you connected to work while you work out. A tablet holder gives you the option of following different workouts online.
If you enjoy listening to music or podcasts while you work out, built-in speakers may be an option you'd be interested in. To keep track of your training regime, Bluetooth capability is a great feature that allows you to sync data to your cell phone. The built-in fan option on some models keeps you cool while you're burning calories on an exercise bike.
For an at-home exercise session that creates the feel of a gym, consider a model with a 22" touch screen. This allows you to connect to online interactive fitness platforms like iFit. A 1-year membership is included when you purchase certain models from Pro-Form. This gives you full access to their mobile app with content focusing on strength training and road and mountain biking with virtual scenery provided.

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