Exercise bikes have been available on the market for decades, they represent an accessible alternative to the gym and a hassle-free way of getting rid of those pesky extra pounds. We’ve seen them advertised on TV, on the Internet and in the newspaper, but because there are so many brands and types of stationary bikes available, choosing one isn’t as easy as you would expect. The fact that there is such a great variety of them out there can make you feel a bit overwhelmed.
When I started my research on exercise bikes, little did I know that I would spend so much time figuring which one has the best resistance type or the sturdiest frame. Truth to be told, I was rather ignorant in this aspect, thinking that if I want to lose calories, any bike will do.
Usually, the cheaper ones have basic features like a configurable workout resistance and a couple of programming options. Mid-range ones are better built, make less noise and feel more solid. As for the high-end ones, expect them to have more advanced features, like a more accurate and detailed computer, preset workout programs, user profiles, longer warranty and several resistance levels.
Reality Check: Just How Advanced Do You Need Your Exercise Bike To Be?
Before buying an exercise bike, you have to figure out what your exercise goals are. Think of how often you are going to use it and how hard do you want to push yourself. Many times, people overestimate their abilities and think they will manage to keep up with the workout plan they have in mind. This leads them into buying the most expensive spinning bike, like the one pictured right or for instance the Keiser M3 Plus, only to realize that they aren’t making the most out of its full potential.
Once you are able to make realistic estimations regarding the usage of the machine, you will find it easier to choose the one that matches your workout goals.
No matter how much money you’re willing to spend on an exercise bike or what model you are interested in, every piece of exercise equipment needs to have at least a couple of basic features. You will need to look for a bike with various resistance levels, and the seat should be comfortable enough because you will spend quite a lot of time on it. Also, if you are not exactly average-sized, look for seats that can be adjusted accordingly.
However, if you are really set on buying one bike in particular, which doesn’t have the best seat, you can always purchase an additional seat cover with gel or padding.
Comfort has to be a priority, regardless of the budget. Pedals not only have to be wide enough, but they also have to have some sort of strapping to ensure that your feet won’t slip while pedaling. The built-in computer also has to show basic stats like speed, time, and the number of calories burned. Also, while the heart rate is the most important thing you need to know, if it’s not incorporated you can easily buy a separate monitor.
If there are several stationary bikes you are keen on, look for extras which set them apart and help you make up your mind. For instance, bikes like the Schwinn AD6 Airdyne and the Body Rider have built-in fans which, apart from providing air resistance, help you cool off. If you can’t work out without listening to your favorite tunes, bikes like the Schwinn 270 Recumbent have built-in acoustic sound systems which allow you to play your music loud (see image right).
Another feature you might want to take into consideration is the water bottle holder – it might not seem all that important but it definitely helps if the bike has one, since you wouldn’t have to interrupt your workout to have a drink of water (or, of course, your favorite energy drink). Additional features you might want are remote control cups, which the Exerpeutic Upright Folding Bike has incorporated, or a magazine stand like the FitDesk FDX 2.0.
Check the Weight Limit and the Weight of the Bike
Stability is one of the most important aspects of exercise, since the last thing you want is to injure yourself when riding your bike. If the bike is wobbling, then you can just forget about it. Of course, some of you might want to buy the equipment online. In that case, to determine how stable the bike is, check out its weight.
The more it weighs, the more stable it will be. For heavy bikes, there have to be transport wheels included, otherwise you will have a tough time moving your machine from one place to another. And last but not least, make sure that your weight isn’t above the maximum supported weight, otherwise you can put your safety in jeopardy.
While this isn’t an issue for everyone, you have to keep in mind that, based on the bikes’ resistance, some are quieter than others. Bikes including fans tend to be noisier, because they feature air resistance – the harder you pedal, the stronger the breeze and louder the noise. Most exercise bikes don’t make an unbearable sound, but if, for instance, you want to listen to music or watch TV while working out, the noise might bother you.
Enclosed Mechanics for Safety
If you are living in a household with small kids, you must pay attention to the way the exercise bike has been built. Statistics show that thousands of children are injured due to using exercise equipment yearly. To avoid that, make sure that the bike’s mechanics (like the chain and the flywheel) are covered, so that children can’t get their fingers or other body parts stuck in them.
I tried my best to cover all of the important aspects you need to consider when buying a bike. Before spending money on one, consider how you’re going to use it. There is an exercise bike for everyone, from serious cyclists to regular users – you just need to find the right one for you.