Shopping for an Exercise Bike? Here's What to Look For

With all the high-tech equipment you can find in gyms these days, it’s easy to overlook the trusty stationary bike. But an exercise cycle can be a smart investment when you’re building a home gym or just looking for an easy way to get some cardio at home.

Exercise bikes can help you experience many of the physical and mental benefits of cycling without having to face the elements (or the traffic) outdoors. So how can you choose the best exercise bike for you? Here’s what you need to know.

What to Look for When Choosing an Exercise Bike

man using bodi bike | Best Exercise Bike

If you’re not happy with your exercise cycle, you’re probably not going to commit to using it regularly.

“Most people give up on their fitness equipment because it wasn’t what they thought,” says Courtney Grafton, a certified spin instructor and cycling expert at

The first step is to find a bike that feels comfortable to you. It should feel similar to riding a real bike, Grafton says.

With your bike properly set up, you should be gripping the handlebars with your elbows slightly bent, and your torso should ideally be at a 45-degree angle — not hunched over. And when the pedals are parallel to the ground, the knee of your front leg should be over your foot.

Grafton also recommends paying attention to these features when shopping for an exercise cycle:

  • Smooth flywheel. “Not only will it feel better, but a smoother flywheel will also be quieter,” Grafton says. “This is important for people in apartments or who don’t want to disturb the whole house when [using the bike].”
  • Bluetooth connectivity. This isn’t a necessity, but it can make it easier to track your workouts on an app.
  • Seat comfort. “You’ll be sitting on it a lot,” Grafton says — and if you’re not a seasoned biker, a narrow seat may feel uncomfortable. Grafton suggests looking for a bike with a wider seat or purchasing a cushioned seat cover.
  • Handlebars and pedals. If your bike workouts are high-intensity, you may prefer a bike with clip-in pedals. Just keep in mind you’ll need to buy compatible shoes.
  • Price. “Why pay for features you aren’t going to use?” Grafton says. “There are a lot of great bikes on the market that won’t break the bank.”

Recumbent vs. upright: Which is better?

There are two main types of stationary bikes: recumbent and upright. “The main difference between a recumbent bike and [an] upright bike is your overall body positioning,” Grafton says.

A recumbent bike has a full seat back, so you’re in a reclined position while pedaling. “Recumbent bikes are great for seniors and those rehabilitating an injury,” Grafton says. “I would also recommend these for those with back or hip issues.” However, recumbent exercise cycles don’t provide as much of a core workout as upright exercise cycles.

An upright bike is the type you’d typically see in a spin studio — it has a smaller seat and requires an upright body position, similar to riding outdoors.

“Upright bikes are great for those looking for a good cardio burn,” Grafton says. “An upright bike will work more muscle groups, and you have more riding options on an upright bike, such as sprinting or raising up out of the saddle to climb.”

Our Pick: The BODi Bike

MYX Bike | Best Exercise Bikes

The BODi Bike is our top pick for the best exercise bike.

This professional-grade Star-Trac exercise bike features mechanical-friction braking and a 41-pound flywheel for a quiet and smooth ride. The bike can be easily adjusted to accommodate riders from 4’11” to 6’8″, and the versatile pedals are compatible with SPD clip-ins or regular sneakers.

Featuring science-driven heart rate-based training customized to your own heart rate zones, the BODi Bike can help you reach your fitness goals faster and more efficiently. Plus, it’ll make sure you’re working out across a variety of intensity levels, which can help to reduce fatigue and prevent overtraining.

And with the BODi app, you can stream workouts or join live classes led by certified trainers to mimic the studio experience right at home. The 21.5-inch HD touchscreen monitor even swivels out so you can cross-train and take your workouts beyond the bike.

Whether you’re a biking pro or just beginning your cycling journey, these workouts will meet you exactly where you’re at — and then push you even further.

Plus, the BODi Bike has a lower price point than similar high-tech exercise bikes, and the compact footprint is ideal if you have limited space in your home gym — you only need a 4′ x 6′ space around the bike to ride and move comfortably.

Bottom line: If you’re looking to invest in the best exercise bike for your indoor cycling workouts, the BODi Bike strikes a perfect balance between cost, comfort, and connectivity.

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