Compared to other cardio equipment like treadmills and elliptical trainers, exercise bikes in general cost a lot less. You'd never find a quality treadmill for $150, but you can find a decent exercise bike at this price. However, budget exercise bikes that cost less than $200 typically have shorter warranties than more expensive stationary bikes. They also usually lack features like a heart-rate monitor or preset exercise programs. Durability can also be an issue. However, user reviews indicate that bikes in this price range can be a good choice for casual exercisers or those who are just getting started with an exercise program.
Among recumbent exercise bikes, we found the best reviews for the Marcy ME 709 (*Est. $160) . This affordable bike has magnetic resistance with eight levels of difficulty, as well as an adjustable seat and pedals. The Marcy ME 709 gets excellent reviews at online retailers, including Walmart.com, where it enjoys a 4.5-star rating after more than 500 individual reviews. The 230 reviewers at Amazon.com also give it a high overall rating. Users say the Marcy ME 709 is a great value, especially for those who don't need bells and whistles like a heart-rate monitor, bottle holder or magazine rack. The padded seat is comfortable, and the bike is also very quiet when in use, according to reviews. "It's quiet, easy to ride, has adjustable tensions, and the best part is my butt doesn't go numb like when I use upright stationary bikes," one owner writes at Walmart.com. Assembly is relatively easy and takes about an hour for most reviewers, but many users report missing washers or bolts. A number of reviewers also say that the computer display was broken when it arrived or didn't fit easily into the stand.
Another budget recumbent bike that gets high marks from owners is the Phoenix 99608 (*Est. $175) . It's similar to the Marcy ME 709, but with a couple of differences that make the Marcy a better buy. Both bikes offer eight resistance levels, straps with pedals, an adjustable seat and a small battery-powered readout that shows speed, time, distance and calories burned. However, the Marcy has a higher weight limit (300 pounds versus 250) and longer warranty (two years versus the Phoenix's one year frame, 90 days parts) for less money.
You can also find a good upright exercise bike for around $200. One prime example is the Stamina 5325 (*Est. $180) , an upright bike that receives very good user reviews. The magnetic resistance has eight different levels, and the bike includes attractive features like a handgrip heart-rate monitor. Like most budget exercise bikes, the warranty for the Stamina 5325 isn't very long -- one year for the frame and 90 days for parts.
The Stamina 5325 upright bike gets mostly positive reviews from more than 70 reviewers at Amazon.com. Users say the bike runs quietly, and an easy assembly process is a huge plus; most report that the bike takes less than 30 minutes to put together. "The bike is solid and built very well and I am impressed since it is a $200 bike but seems built like a $400 one," one owner writes. Even users who weigh close to the 300-pound weight limit say the Stamina 5325 feels sturdy while pedaling. Reviewers also say that the Stamina 5325 provides a good workout due to its adjustable resistance. "I love that there is so much variance between the minimum and maximum resistance levels," says one user. Reviewers also love the bike's adjustability -- the movable seat accommodates short and tall people. However, users say they wish the pedals had straps, which hold your feet more securely. We also saw a few complaints that the bike was missing some components when it was delivered.