Like indoor exercise bikes, upright bikes put the user above the pedals, just as would be the case on a standard bicycle you would use outdoors. However, unlike indoor bikes intended to be used in group class settings, classic upright exercise bikes are not meant to be used like outdoor bikes and are not designed for users to stand while cycling, or lean forward for greater virtual speed. As such, they produce a lower-impact but still highly beneficial workout -- and are a better choice for seniors, those rehabilitating injuries and others who might desire a less intense workout than is found in the types of bikes used in group class settings.
As we saw over and over when reading exercise bike reviews, inexpensive upright exercise bikes get as good as, or better, reviews than much more expensive models. That makes naming the Exerpeutic 1200 Folding Magnetic Upright Bike (Est. $150) our Best Reviewed pick a no-brainer. In spite of its budget-friendly price, the Exerpeutic is reported as well-built, solid and stable, even when ridden hard or by those that are close to its upper weight limit of 300 pounds. Its well-padded seat also earns rave reviews, with owners saying it's much more comfortable than other upright bike's they've used. Exerpeutic says this exercise bike can accommodate users between 5-foot, 3 inches to 6-foot, 3-inches, user feedback indicates that comfort isn't great as you approach those upper limits, while shorter users may struggle with proper form.
The Exerpeutic 1200 is a fairly basic model. There are no programs, just eight levels of resistance. Heart rate sensors are built into the grips, although most owners are unimpressed with their performance. The LED display provides workout feedback such as distance, calories burned and more. One big plus for some is that this is a folding model that can be stowed away between workouts. Assembly is reported as very easy as the bike comes nearly fully assembled, the instructions are good, and all tools are included. Although it only includes a one-year warranty, the 1200 gets good reviews for long-term durability, and Exerpeutic's parent company, Paradigm Health & Wellness, earns praise for its customer service.
It's quite a bit pricier than the Exerpeutic 1200, and it gets fewer reviews overall, but those who do weigh in on the Nautilus U616 Upright Bike (Est. $400) are highly complimentary. As you would expect in a bike in this price range, the U616 is very feature-rich, with Bluetooth connectivity so you can synch your data with various fitness apps. The two dual, backlit, LCD displays make it possible to see your results even if the main display is covered with a tablet (the tablet rest is located just below the main display). There are also in-console speakers, an audio port, and a USB port to charge your devices. An adjustable fan adds to the comfort features, although the seat itself doesn't get quite the praise for comfort that the Exerpeutic 1200's does.
In addition to its high-tech console, the Nautilus U616 has 29 pre-programmed workouts with different targets (such as heart rate, fitness, etc.) as well as a manual, quick start program. The computer tracks elapsed time, distance traveled and calories burned -- fairly basic information, users note, but usually all most need.
Owners say the Nautilus U616 is very easy to put together, with clear instructions and all necessary tools included; most say it took them about an hour. Once it's assembled, the U616 is very sturdy, even heavier users say it feels solid and stable when ridden. It has an upper weight limit of 300 pounds. The warranty is also solid, 10 years on the frame, two years on the mechanics, one year on the electrical systems, and 90 days on labor.
If you're short on space, have a tight budget, or just don't want to make too much of an investment in an exercise bike until you're sure you'll use it, the Marcy Foldable Bike (Est. $100) is a great deal. It's very basic, with a manual adjustment that increases or decreases the tension level as you turn the knob, and there are eight settings. We saw quite a few comments from owners who were leery of the low price, then pleasantly surprised at how sturdy and durable the bike was. It's easy to assemble and owners love how simple it is to fold and store. In spite of its very basic vibe, the onboard computer screen displays elapsed time, speed, and calories burned, and users say it works very well and is easy to see. The seat is reported as somewhat uncomfortable, and we saw a few comments from shorter users that it's hard for them to reach the pedals, even with the seat at its lowest adjustment. With a maximum weight rating of 250 pounds, it's also not the best options for heavier users. The Marcy Foldable Bike comes with a two-year warranty.