At $1,200, the Spirit XBR25 is pricey for a home exercise bike, but reviews say you'll get fitness-club quality for the money you spend. The XBR25 is a recumbent bike, meaning you sit as though you were in a chair, rather than atop the bike, which can be more comfortable for your back. The Spirit XBR25 offers some upgrades over the top budget recumbent bike in reviews, the Schwinn 230 (*Est. $450), namely more levels of resistance (20 versus 16) and a higher weight limit (350 pounds versus 300). In addition, the XBR25 carries a better warranty: a lifetime guarantee on the frame and a year on labor, compared with the Schwinn's 10-year frame coverage and 90 days for labor. The Spirit XBR25 also has a chest-strap heart monitor, eight pre-programmed workouts and a mesh seat back to keep you cool.
ConsumerReports.org has the best coverage of exercise bikes, based on thorough laboratory testing. Although a subscription is required to see the ratings chart, a Consumer Reports news release identifies the Spirit XBR25 as a Best Buy. FitnessProfessor.com appears to be unbiased, but testing methods aren't detailed and you have to click on each product to see its score. That site says the XBR25, although a step down from other Spirit models, is a "nice bike" nevertheless. Perhaps because $1,200 exercise bikes border on high-end territory, we found no owner reviews at the usual sources such as Amazon.com.
Consumer Reports ranks just five recumbent bikes, including the Spirit XBR25, and four upright bikes. There are no individual reviews, and the bare-bones ratings chart is behind a subscribers-only wall. Still, testing is thorough and ratings are highly credible.
Review: Stationary Bikes Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Feb. 2009
Although Consumer Reports' ratings chart is behind a subscription-required wall, the publication sometimes reveals top ratings in news releases like this one. The Spirit XBR25 is named a Best Buy among recumbent stationary bikes.
Review: Big Promises of Some Infomercial Exercise Machines Fall Flat; plus, Set up a Home Gym for Under $100, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Jan. 5, 2009
FitnessProfessor.com rates about 50 recumbent exercise bikes, most of them costing more than $1,000, but there's no way to see at a glance which rank highest. The Spirit XBR25 scores 67 out of 100, which is about average given that almost every bike gets a rating in the 60s or 70s. Editors call it a "nice bike."
Review: Spirit Fitness XBR25, Editors of FitnessProfessor.com