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Your Quick Guide to Buying an Exercise Bike

Buying an exercise bike is an exciting time. Once you have an indoor bike you have many rides, fun times, and fitness goals ahead of you. But given that there are many exercise bikes to choose from and differences in capabilities, accessories, and price, it’s difficult to know where the shopping should begin.

We’ve put together a quick guide for you to consider while looking for an indoor bike.

Before you buy a bike or even really start shopping for one, you want to better understand what you need and want in a bike. Here are some things that can help you determine these factors.

What should I look for in an indoor bike?

Man on a Bicycle at a Gym on Headphones

Before you buy a bike or even really start shopping for one, you want to better understand what you need and want in a bike. Here are some things that can help you determine these factors. 

1. Consider your comfort

Bikes will have different levels of comfort and options for comfort. While comfort may include the type of bike seat or physical setup, it also could consist of how comfortable you will be riding the bike. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

What do you imagine indoor cycling will look like for you?

What is your plan for your exercise bike? Does it include fast, challenging workouts? Or just general movement? How often do you plan to use your exercise bike? How long do you plan to ride? 

What’s your fitness level? 

Given there are different bikes for different fitness levels, determining your baseline can help you choose the best bike. 

What kind of bike seat will you need? 

Specifically, you want to determine whether you need a bike seat with back support or not, as this means different bikes. 

If you are shopping for a wider or more plush bike seat, that is also something you’ll need to look for. But if you find a perfect bike with a not-so-perfect seat, there are ways you can switch it out or add a cushion. 

Types of bikes based on comfort

After you’ve evaluated some of the differences between bikes, you’re likely to find that one type of bike might be better than another. 

Here are the three most common types of exercise bikes to choose from:

Upright bike 
Woman Riding on Her Upright Indoor Bike

An upright bike is a bike that looks pretty similar to a bicycle. It has an adjustable seat and handlebars (although check specifically on handlebars) and ranges in its resistance capabilities. 

Frequently, an upright bike will come with other accessories such as a display screen or console. 

An upright bike is a good starter bike as it allows you to try different workouts. However, that being said, if you are planning on doing high-intensity rides, you may be better off with a stationary bike model. 

Recumbent bike
Man & Woman Riding a Recumbent Bike At Gym

A recumbent bike provides more support than other models. The recumbent bike seat has a back. Its seat is placed further back, so as you pedal, your legs are farther out in front of you. 

The recumbent bike is a good choice for those looking for lower intensity and supportive biking. It’s great for back and joint pain. 

That being said, this model is usually larger and will require more space. 

Stationary bike
Man & Women Riding Spin Bikes At Gym

This bike is most similar to an outdoor bicycle. It has an adjustable seat and adjustable handlebars. The entry-level exercise bikes may not come with many accessories; however, they are small and can fit in many spaces. 

Stationary bikes are built for high-intensity workouts and can mimic the experience of an outdoor ride. 

2. What accessories are non-negotiable?

Perhaps the biggest contrast between specific bikes is the various accessories they include. While more affordable bikes are often just the bike itself, more expensive bikes might offer a variety of added accessories. 

Here are a couple of accessories you may want to be included with your indoor bike:

Console display

Some bikes come with a console/TV add-on that you can watch while you ride. 

Virtual cycling connect 

Besides a TV, a bike might come with a virtual cycling app or the ability to explore specific fitness apps from your bike. 

Electronic connect

Many bikes have the option to connect heart rate monitors, headphones, or other devices to your bike. 

Weights

One thing you might decide you want is a small weight rack at the back, so you can add in arm exercises while you bike. 

3. Dimensions

Different bikes range in size and how much space they take up. You’ll want to consider how much space you have and where you plan to put your bike. 

If you are working with a smaller space, specific bikes will be lighter and moveable, while if you have more room, you have more options on types of bikes. 

4. Adjustable seat/handlebars

While most bikes should be able to adjust to a certain extent, ideally, you’ll want to purchase something that allows you to adjust the seat and handlebars fully to accommodate your body. Some bikes only allow you to adjust the seat so checking for handlebar adjustment is never a bad idea. 

5. Resistance & types of resistance

When you buy an indoor cycling bike, you will probably find that different models have different types of resistance or fewer options for resistance.

The less expensive models have fewer resistance levels and typically add resistance by using a type of friction, which may be more likely to get worn down. While more expensive bikes are likely to use magnetic resistance.

6. Quick guide to buying bikes

After considering your goals, what accessories you’ll need, and other factors, you can begin shopping. We’ve broken down the different types of bikes into four different categories—basic bike, smart bike, basic trainer, and smart trainer—along with different pricing options, so you have somewhere to start. 

Basic Bike

A basic exercise bike will most likely be most similar to many bikes you are accustomed to seeing. These bikes have all the movement capabilities you need in a bike, and typically some resistance range that you can manually change. Most of these bikes will also offer some adjustment in physical settings to be comfortable riding. 

Between $500 to Over $1500

Smart Bike

A smart bike will look similar to a basic bike but will have more capabilities and features regarding resistance and intervals. Instead of manually adjusting resistance, a smart bike can automatically adjust resistance, whether that’s in response to a Vingo road or a structured workout. Smart bikes also often come packed with a wide range of other features such as fans, monitors/screens, and 

Between $500 and Over $1500

Basic Trainer

A basic trainer is placed on the back wheel of your cycling outdoors bike. This makes it easy to switch from outdoor training to indoor training. Often basic trainers will have levels of resistance to mimic the feel of a hill, roads, and intervals. 

Under $500

Smart Trainer

A smart trainer will likely still attach to the back of your exercise bike (while you will see some that are separate trainers). A smart trainer has Bluetooth and ANT+ capabilities so while using an app it will immediately sense resistance and gradient to change. You will also be able to access all the data about your riding. 

Under $500

Between $500 and $1500

Over $1500

7. Things to consider before making a final decision

Man on an Indoor Bicycle Looking Down on His Phone

After you’ve considered what you are looking for in a bike and the main bikes to choose from, you can do a couple of additional things to ensure you make the right decision. 

Browse reviews

Reviews are a great place to see what types of people buy the bike and how they like it. Look at general reviews of different bikes, to get a sense of what people think so you can know what you might think. 

Warranty

Check if the bike has a warranty. The fact of the matter is, things can happen, and if your bike breaks or a part is faulty, you want to know what you are responsible for. Many bikes have different policies for warranty, and depending on the price, your warranty is likely to vary. 

Key Takeaways on finding your perfect bike:

If you are going to buy an indoor bike, you want to take the time to pick the right one for you. So, before you shop, determine what you want to use the bike for and the necessary accessories. Next, look at the different bikes and what model you are likely to want. Lastly, check on reviews and warranty to seal the deal. 

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Photo Sources:

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels
Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels
Photo by Kampus Production from Pexels

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