The best upright bikes offer more than just an indoor workout: With sophisticated pedals and gears, they simulate a real-world experience suitable for training or creating a serious workout. Experts say users can burn more calories and strengthen more muscles by alternating between standing and sitting positions.
Fitness professionals and experts say the Keiser M3+ Indoor Cycle (Est. $1,800) is a first-class exercise bike that offers an array of settings for a customized experience. ExerciseBikeCentral.com calls it a "sensational home exercise bike that really does tick all the boxes that a buyer would be looking for in a top-end piece of equipment." The M3+ incorporates professional-grade features such as adjustable Shimano pedals, a comfortable padded seat and a computer that displays revolutions per minute, distance, heart rate and more at the same time.
Its magnetic "Eddy Resistance System is the market leader for life-like resistance and whisper quiet functionality," according to ExerciseBikeCentral.com. A precise knob shifts between the 24 gears for an experience that ranges from a "flat road spin to an out of the saddle mountain climb, with never a wobble or shake to the sturdy frame," says an owner at Amazon.com. "It is brilliantly designed and visually appealing, but more than that, high functioning," concludes personal trainer Arthur Thares at Bestcovery.com. Keiser's excellent comprehensive warranty is one of the best in its class, including 10 years of frame coverage.
The Livestrong LS9.9IC2 (Est. $1,000) is another solid spin bike that comes close to the Keiser in terms of features, but costs less. In an owner review at DicksSportingGoods.com, a road cyclist recommends the LS9.9IC2, and describes it as "solid, quiet, smooth and easily adjustable." It uses a belt-drive system rather than magnetic and a 40-pound flywheel to create resistance, and riders appreciate the wide range of tension it offers. Overall, reviewers are satisfied with the LS9.9IC2's performance but say convenience features are less user-friendly than on the Keiser M3+, and some complain that the seat isn't very comfortable. Livestrong includes a five-year frame, two-year parts and one-year labor warranty.
Experts say users can still get a heart-pumping workout with a less expensive upright bike, and name the Exerpeutic 1200 Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse (Est. $130) one of the best values available, with components often reserved for more expensive bikes. "This bike is quite sturdy and stable when you're cycling," writes a former personal trainer at Amazon.com. Its solid frame can support up to 300 pounds, and its magnetic resistance system features eight tension settings. Similar to the Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike (Est. $150) , this bike features a hinged design for compact storage. Owners say whether it's folded or set up, the 1200 takes up very little space. Overall durability is good for an entry-grade upright, with a short one-year limited warranty from Exerpeutic.
The Sunny Health & Fitness Pro B901 Indoor Cycling Bike (Est. $260) is also a reviewer favorite thanks to its well-built body. "The bike has enough similar features to the higher-end bikes so that you will feel right at home on it, without the expensive touches that tend to rapidly drive up the costs of these bikes," explain editors at DavesCheapBikes.com. The chain-drive system is louder than magnetic and belt-drive systems, but users say they can still comfortably watch TV during their workouts. Its 40-pound flywheel provides smooth pedaling and plenty of stability for pedaling performance that is smooth and wobble-free. "The handles work well and the brake is a nice feature to stop at any time," adds an Amazon.com owner. The Pro B901 also includes a basic warranty: one-year frame and 90-days parts coverage from Sunny Health & Fitness.