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Best Upright Exercise Bike

By: Kelly Burgess on December 05, 2017

Get a good low-impact workout with an upright exercise bike

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 (covered below), 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. $130) 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. $550) 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. 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 option for heavier users. The Marcy Foldable Bike comes with a two-year warranty.

You can have a gym-quality exercise bike in your home

Some upright indoor bikes do more than just provide a good workout, they are designed to closely replicate the experience of riding a regular bike outdoors. They are suitable for a more leisurely ride, of course, but they feature a reinforced design that lets riders lean into their workout, including the ability to stand up on the pedals and lean forward, just as they would in a competitive bike race or when tackling a steep incline. These bikes are the type used in indoor exercise bike classes, and the popularity of those classes has led to an increase in interest in people purchasing these class-level bikes for their home.

For those looking for the best indoor bike, and who have the budget to match, experts and amateur biking class fanatics say the Keiser M3i Indoor Cycle (Est. $2,000) is a first-class exercise bike that offers an array of settings for a customized experience. The M3i 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 -- all at the same time. It's also Bluetooth-enabled so you can pair it with a chest strap heart monitor like the Polar H7 (Est. $55). When you do, users say, it works very well; otherwise, however, the Bluetooth function is widely panned because there simply aren't many devices and apps that it's compatible with. Most, however, say the Bluetooth functionality was not a factor in their purchase at all.

At Dave's Bikes, biking enthusiast Dave Henly names the Keiser one of the top indoor cycling bikes, saying it's "snazzy" and that it's "designed with all of the bells and whistles that coaches across the country have consistently asked for." Users agree, giving the M3i high ratings for its smooth ride and simple, intuitive adjustments and quality build. Assembly is reported as easier than with some of the other bikes we review in this report. Keiser's excellent warranty includes 10 years of frame coverage and three years for mechanical and electrical parts, and they get excellent reviews for their customer service. The Keiser is suitable for users up to 300 pounds.

If your budget puts the Keiser M3i out of reach, we found a couple of less-pricey indoor bikes that deliver a solid blend of performance and value. Of these less-expensive models, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B901 Pro Indoor Cycling Bike (Est. $300), is a top choice. Owners say it's a club-level bike at a much more modest price than indoor exercise bikes of comparable quality. It gets raves for its easy assembly, solid feel and quiet ride, although the chain-drive system is louder than magnetic and belt-drive systems. Still, users say they can comfortably watch TV during their workouts. Its 40-pound flywheel provides smooth pedaling and plenty of stability, even for those at the top of its 275 pound weight rating.

The seat on the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B901 is reported as very comfortable by most. Owners indicate that the bike itself accommodates users of various sizes very well, but a few very short individuals wish the handlebars had more adjustability options other than just up or down. There also aren't a lot of extra features, users point out, but most add that they don't expect much in the way of features in a quality bike at this price point. Instead, most say they'd rather have the good build quality and forgo computers and displays. Henly names this indoor bike the number 3 bike in his "best of" roundup, saying, "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." The SF-B901 doesn't have the most extensive warranty, however; just one year on the frame and 90-days parts coverage.

An equally well-reviewed, slightly heavier-duty choice with a 49-pound flywheel, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B1002 Indoor Cycle Trainer (Est. $260), has a few more features and a slightly quieter belt-drive system. It also gets raves from owners who say it rivals club-level cycles and is a great choice even for serious outdoor cyclists who want an option to train indoors in bad weather. Many say it's the closest to an outdoor bike that they've ever used indoors. Like the Sunny SF-B901, it has an upper weight limit of 275 pounds, but even those who are at or near that weight say this bike is extremely stable even during hard workouts or when standing, climbing or sprinting. While neither of the Sunny Health & Fitness bikes feature onboard computers, a large number of reviewers say they pair their bike with a separate bicycle computer and are very happy with the results.

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