Stationary exercise bikes are a good choice for a piece of fitness equipment because they provide an impact-free cardio workout, plus they are more affordable and take up less space than treadmills or ellipticals. They can be broken up into two categories – upright and recumbent. Upright exercise bikes are designed more like traditional bicycles with the rider positioned above the frame and the seat above the pedals. In a recumbent exercise bike the rider is positioned into the frame with the seat in line with the pedals horizontally. Uprights take up less space and are cheaper, but recumbents are much more ergonomically comfortable and are great for people with back or neck problems.
Some of the features to look for include the construction quality and noise level, adjustable seat positions, varying resistance levels, displays with easy to use controls, built-in workout programs, heart-rate monitors, and users also might want a water bottle holder and book rest.
We took a look at all the models from the top brands to come up with our list of the best exercise bikes. Price is not as big of a concern for stationary bikes as some other workout machines, so we only focused on models that cost less than $1000. Below we review the top 5 best recumbent exercise bikes and the top 5 best upright exercise bikes.
Best Recumbent Bikes
Our number one choice for best recumbent exercise bike is the AFG 4.0 AR with a pricetag of $899.99. It is really well built, stable, comfortable, and super quiet. This model features a 23 pound flywheel with magnetic braking for super smooth operating. You can choose from 1 of 10 programs including 2 that use the built in heart-rate monitor with chest strap or choose one of the 20 resistance settings. Besides the overall quality of this machine, we really like the console. It sits off to the side so you can have a direct sight line to watch a TV in front of you without straining your neck. The console also has large LEDs displaying important data and large easy to push buttons. We highly recommend this model for all users.
The Diamondback Fitness 510Sr is available for $699. Overall this machine has quality construction with smooth, quiet operation. The seat is adjustable from front to back, while the back rest height is also adjustable. There is 20 programs available and 16 resistance levels. It also has integrated speakers with a USB port, adjustable cooling fan, and a cup holder. We would not hesitate to recommend this Diamondback Fitness model to anyone.
Those of you with feet or back problems will truly appreciate the Sole Fitness R92 which is available for $999.99. The build quality is second to none and this unit is designed with special ergonomic touches not found on other models like the two-degree inward slanted pedals and lower back support which helps relieve stress on the body. It comes with 6 standard programs, 2 custom programs, 2 heart-rate monitor programs, a 9-inch LCD screen, built-in fan, and mp3 compatible speaker system. About the only negative is the cost – it is the most expensive on our list, but if you want a great bike regardless of price than this Sole model is perfect.
The Horizon Fitness RC-30 provides users with a quality piece of equipment at a more affordable price of $429. It has a 10 pound flywheel which provides a smooth ride, but maybe not quite as good as some of the other top models. You can choose between 8 exercise programs and 8 resistance settings. The seat is adjustable, but the back rest is not and we found that it does not support your lower back as well as it should.
The Schwinn 270, $499, is brand new with a release date of October 2013. It is an updated version of the Schwinn 240 which is a highly regarded bike by virtually everyone. Users will have a lot of choices with 25 levels of resistance and 29 programs to pick from. It has hand grip heart monitor, data export capabilities, large speakers, and a 3-speed fan.
Best Upright Bikes
The Sole Fitness B94 is our choice for the best upright exercise bike. At $799.99 it is the most expensive upright on our list, but still a bit cheaper than the most expensive recumbent models. The construction quality and operation rival any gym-quality equipment. The seat is adjustable in 4 directions – up, down, front, back, and the handle bars are also adjustable. It comes with six standard programs, two heart rate programs, and two custom ones. Other features include chest strap heart rate monitor, a fan, mp3 compatible speakers, and bottle holder. About the only complaint we have is that the seat is not that comfortable. Unfortunately this is a common complaint amongst all upright bikes. We recommend this unit for those people who want the best regardless of price, although there are other options that are cheaper.
The Livestrong LS5.0U is available for around $550. Consistent cycling motion is provided by an 8.8 pound flywheel with 20 settings of magnetic resistance. You can track your workouts with Livetrack Interactive technology by downloading info onto a usb drive. Other features include 11 programs, speaker system with ipod/mp3 support, and grip heart rate monitor. The overall construction quality is quite good, but not great, and again the seat is not super comfortable.
The Schwinn 130 is the brand new version of the Schwinn 120 which is available for $499. The 120 was one of the most highly recommended uprights available. This model features 20 resistance levels, 22 workout programs, and the console lets you track up to 13 different display feedbacks. The seat is adjustable up and down, but not front to back, while the angle of the handlebars can also be changed.
The Gold’s Gym Trainer 110 is a much cheaper exercise bike with a price of around $215. It is a pretty basic bike without a whole lot of options, but it is built decently with a quiet and reasonably smooth operation at this price point. The resistance level is set manually so you cannot have a program adjust this for you automatically. It does track your heart rate, but it is awkward to use since you have to place your thumb on the console to do it. We recommend this model for occasional users who do not want to spend a lot of money.
The Marcy Air 1 Fan, available for $374.99, is a highly rated fan bike. What makes fan bikes different is they provide more resistance the faster you pedal and also help cool you. This model also has arm exercising handles giving you a full body workout, just be aware that you must use these – they are not stationary. There is also no programs to pick from, the console just tracks your speed, distance, time, and calories.
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