What the best
exercise bikes have
resistance. For adding
tension, experts say magnetic systems are the best because they are quieter and
more durable. Well-made belt and chain-drive bikes can also offer an effective
workout, but tend to be louder.
resistance levels. The best exercise bikes offer a broad range of
tension settings, challenging users of all levels from beginner to
top-of-the-line computer will include built-in programs to add variety and more
challenges to your workout. Some models allow users to customize the workout
with their own goals.
rate monitor. Many
exercise bikes include a contact monitor built into the hand grip, but the best
models can also link to a separate chest-strap monitor for more accurate
results. Precise heart rate monitors can help you maintain optimum intensity
during your workout or push you to train even harder.
display. The computer
screen should clearly show statistics such as distance, time, speed and
calories burned. The best computers have a backlit display for low-light
conditions, with a screen large enough to show all the information at once.
adjustable seat and handlebars. The best exercise bikes use adequate padding and
a comfortable design, with enough adjustments to achieve an ideal fit.
- Durability. Even a less expensive stationary
bike should be well made and feel solid when pedaling. Look at things such as
weight capacity and warranty terms for indications of a sturdy exercise bike.
- Warranty. The best brands cover their
stationary bikes for at least two to three years on the major moving parts, and
cover labor costs for one year. Experts say extended warranties generally
aren't worth the extra cost.
Do you want an upright or a recumbent exercise bike? If you have joint or
back trouble, the reclined position of a recumbent bike is strongly
recommended. Still, many people favor an upright seating position for a number
of reasons, including that it better mimics the experience of riding a standard
bicycle. Both types of stationary cycles deliver the same workout quality,
according to experts.
Test-drive the bike first. Experts
recommend trying out different models before you purchase an exercise bike.
"Make sure the bike fits you properly," says exercise physiologist Kelli Calabrese. She recommends getting help from the merchant or a trainer "to be sure the
seat height is correct and you're not sitting too far away from the
are your fitness goals? Choose an exercise bike that will best help you
reach your fitness goals. For example, if you need help tracking your intensity
and progress, look for a model that tracks distance, speed and calories, and includes
a built-in heart rate monitor.
much space do you have? Before you purchase something as large as a
stationary bike, you should know where you plan to use it. Measure the available
space, and don't forget to measure your ceiling height; upright exercise bikes
add 6 to 12 inches to your overall height. Also factor in the weight of the
bike. If it's light enough, you may be able to use the bike in an open space
and then move it into storage.
around children and pets. "Stationary bikes are quite safe in general," say editors
at ExerciseBikeCentral.com, "but if you have young children around, it is
best to look for a bike that is largely enclosed so that children do not get
their small body parts stuck in moving components of the bike."