Even the most devout road warriors have days when the weather just isn’t cooperating enough for an outdoor workout. And, unfortunately, if you don’t have a stationary bike, you’re left scrambling for indoor exercise alternatives. Of course, a great exercise bike is (and should be) more than a plan B. Exercise bikes can help you stay consistent with your workouts and are a lower-impact form of cardio (compared to, say, running on a treadmill), as biking takes the load off of your hips, knees and ankles. But the best exercise bike for you depends on what you’re looking for.

Stationary bikes, which are most often used in a seated position, have a saddle and handlebars that mimic the feel of a traditional road bike. On the other hand, spin bikes are modeled after racing bicycles, with inclined handles that propel you forward into a leaning position that lets you lift your butt off the seat and pedal faster. Both types of bikes typically have built-in programs, so you can do interval or hill training with the push of a button. And, if you use a fitness app or streaming service, you can literally cycle through a variety of workouts, all from the same bike.

Whether you’re in the market for a stationary bike or spin bike, these are the best exercise bikes for every type of rider.

Best Exercise Bike Overall

A Spin-Style Model That Works With Regular Sneakers

  • Best for: Just about anyone
  • Resistance: Flywheel, 40 pounds
  • Footprint: 23 x 45 inches
  • Max. user weight: 300 pounds

The Schwinn IC3 is a great pick for spin die hards, outdoor cyclists and anyone looking to level up speed, resistance or endurance. The bike is anchored by a 40-pound flywheel on a belt drive for a smooth, quiet ride with nearly infinite resistance. Unlike models with wide, cushioned seats, the IC3 features a ventilated, race-style seat that’s adjustable horizontally and vertically to ensure correct form. The pedals work with clip-in spin shoes, but can also be converted to toe cages for use with standard sneakers.

The adjustable handlebars are padded for comfort and an oversized water bottle holder is within reach, so no need to reach down to grab a sip. You’ll also find an integrated media holder to easily mount a smartphone or small tablet to stream a workout, a playlist or whatever Netflix has you currently addicted to. A basic LCD display tracks time, distance, RPM and so on.

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Best Peloton Alternative

Comparable To The Cult-Favorite Bike, But A Fraction Of The Price

  • Best for: Studio cycle fans
  • Resistance: Inertia-enhanced flywheel, 22 resistance levels
  • Footprint: 22 x 60 inches
  • Maximum user weight: 350 pounds

When it comes to spin bikes, Peloton may be the most well-known name, but the NordicTrack Commercial S15i Studio Cycle rivals every feature (and for about $200 less than the bare-bones version). The bike’s resistance is controlled by an inertia-enhanced flywheel, which is a fancy way to say it’s balanced and weighted for optimal spinning motion. This means you can pedal faster without any shakiness or jerking. With 22 digital resistance levels and an incline range of -10% to 20%, you can customize your ride, just the way you want it. And it comes with two 3-pound dumbbells.

iFit, NordicTrack’s subscription service, is similar to Peloton’s, too. You can access a library of thousands of on-demand workouts, as well as jump into live workouts and compete with other iFit users across the country. With NordicTrack’s Automatic Trainer Control, elite iFit trainers can digitally control your cycle’s incline, decline and resistance, so all you have to do is ride.

At 14 inches, the touchscreen on this bike is smaller than both of Peloton’s models (22 and 24 inches), but it has HD graphics and it rotates, an additional feature that only comes with Peloton’s upgraded bike that starts at $2,495. If you’re sold on NordicTrack but want a bigger screen, you can opt for the NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle. It will cost you a few hundred dollars more, but you’ll get a 22-inch rotating touchscreen and 24 digital resistance levels.

Best Exercise Bike With Screen

A Large Screen And Fitness App Offer An Immersive Experience

  • Best for: Offering an immersive experience
  • Resistance: Magnetic, 100 levels
  • Footprint: 24 x 60 inches
  • Maximum user weight: 325 pounds

Another great Peloton alternative, this impressive home bike from Bowflex is our pick for best exercise bike with screen for two reasons: the special features of the bike itself paired with the breadth of options for the screen. Let’s start with the bike, which sets itself apart from competitors with “Leaning Mode,” an option to lean into your movement as you ride, similar to taking a sharp turn riding a bike outdoors or swaying with the beat in a group class.

This added movement allows you to engage your arms and core in a way other bikes can’t, giving more of a full body workout. Other highlights of the bike include an adjustable seat and handlebars, 100 levels of magnetic resistance and versatile pedals that work with sneakers and toe cages or clip-in spin shoes.

Models are available with HD touchscreen consoles sized 16 or 22 inches and come with the company’s JRNY experience, a library of on-demand workouts that include trainer-led videos, virtual coaching and destination rides. Like its competitors in the connected-fitness space, Bowflex requires a monthly membership to JRNY with the purchase of its bike, which will run you $20 per month.

The platform also has a built-in app library for seamless streaming of Netflix, Hulu and other top entertainment hubs. Additionally, there’s a mount for smartphones and tablets so you can stream workouts from Peloton, Zwift or any other app. The other big benefit of a tech-y bike like this is its capability to track accurate metrics and your ability to see progress over time.

Best Budget Exercise Bike

Everything You Need At An Affordable Price Point

  • Best for: Entry-level riders
  • Resistance: Flywheel, 35 pounds
  • Footprint: 22 x 40 inches
  • Maximum user weight: 270 pounds

Most home riders will be well served by this spin-style bike by Yosuda. Similar to what you’d find in a gym or studio, this bike has a slim profile, a heavy-duty steel frame and a 35-pound flywheel for resistance. The seat is cushioned and can be adjusted up and down for height as well as front and back, an important feature for getting the correct form for your ride and keeping undo stress off weight-bearing joints like the knees. The handlebars are adjustable, too, with a 10-inch threshold up and down.

There’s an LCD monitor that displays time, speed, distance, odometer and calories burned, plus a bracket where you can mount a smartphone or tablet and stream a workout, watch TV or listen to music. Cage pedals mean you can ride in your sneakers, no need to invest in pricey spin shoes.

It runs on a belt driven system (as opposed to chain driven), so it’s quiet enough to use in a shared home. Because it’s so adjustable, multiple members of the household should be able to use the bike, and with a footprint of just 22 inches wide by 40 inches long, it’s an easy fit for most homes.

Best Air Bike

Air Resistance Offers A Challenge—And Doesn’t Require Electricity

  • Best for: Those who wants a challenge without extra bells and whistles (including electricity)
  • Resistance: Air
  • Footprint: 25.7 x 49.7 inches
  • Maximum user weight: 300 pounds

If you’ve ever been subject to an AirBike, just looking at one should raise your heart rate. These high-intensity beasts are a favorite of CrossFit gyms, HIIT studios and trainers. The bike is powered by strap-in pedals (no special spin shoes needed) and handlebars, kind of like an elliptical, for a full-body workout against the unlimited resistance of air.

There’s a single-stage belt drive that keeps the whole thing running quietly while the front “wheel” fan generates a steady stream of air to help keep you cool as you work up a sweat. You’ll cycle through a progressive wind resistance system to give you pretty much limitless levels of challenge while you bike. A console tracks your speed, RPM, distance, time and calories. And, because this is an air bike, you don’t need to plug it in.

Best Recumbent Exercise Bike

An Exercise Bike That Offers Extra Back And Mobility Support

  • Best for: Anyone needing mobility assistance and/or back support
  • Resistance: Friction, 25 levels
  • Footprint: 27.7 x 64 inches
  • Max. user weight: 300 pounds

A recumbent bike is a great choice for those with limited mobility, or those looking to avoid any back and knee stress that may flare up when mounting an upright-style bike. The low-to-the-ground design of a recumbent makes getting on and off easy, so users can get their heart rate up with minimum impact.

This fairly priced model from Schwinn Fitness utilizes friction resistance, which gives a smooth ride and makes for seamless transitions between the 25 resistance levels. It has an oversized, adjustable contoured seat that helps pad your butt during longer rides, and an integrated tablet holder lets you watch shows or follow your favorite workout app while you exercise. A high-contrast LCD screen makes it easy to view and track your statistics as you go without having to get up close to the monitor.

Best Folding Exercise Bike

A Compact Option That Folds And Can Be Stashed Away

  • Best for: Cyclists with limited space storage space
  • Resistance: Flywheel, 3.3 pounds
  • Footprint: 18 x 32 inches (18 x 18 inches when folded)
  • Max. user weight: 225 pounds

If you aren’t interested in having an exercise bike as a permanent piece of furniture, a folding bike may be right for you. The major compromises you make with a folding exercise bike are stability and resistance, though, so this style is best suited for someone looking for a low-impact, steady-state cardio workout. It’s also great for those with joint pain or for anyone new to or getting back into exercise who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money. However, a compact folding bike is not going to be the best choice for interval workouts or building muscle.

The FB150 from Xterra has a big, cushy seat that can be adjusted up and down to fit rider heights from 4-foot-10 to 5-foot-10. It has equally cushy, padded handle bars for comfort and a basic LCD display to track metrics like time, speed and distance. The handlebars also have heart rate pulse grips, but these are notoriously unreliable (not just in this model but in cardio machines across the board—bottom line, don’t bother with pulse or calorie measurements from anything that isn’t actually strapped to your body).

You’ll get eight levels of resistance from the machine’s petite 3.3-pound flywheel, enough to get your heart pumping and maybe a little burn in the legs depending on your fitness level.

Frequently Asked Questions About Exercise Bikes

What Exercise Bikes Are Good For Home?

Keith Hodges, National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer and performance coach, and founder of Mind In Muscle Coaching in Los Angeles, weighs in: “When purchasing a bike for in-home workouts, make sure the bike you purchase is the best for you,” he says. “Be sure to select a style that you like that is within your budget. Your bike should come with different resistance levels to change the intensity of your workouts along with an adjustable seat. Most bikes come with monitors and programmed workouts, should you choose to join a live workout or follow a program on-demand.” And if you want to track your progress, “It should be Bluetooth compatible to sync with your Fitbit, Apple Watch, Polar Strap, Garmin, Whoop or Oura Ring,” he adds.

Are Exercise Bikes Worth It?

If you get the right machine to fit your needs—and you actually, you know, use it—then yes, it’s worth the money. Exercise bikes come with a range of features and in a range of price points to match, so it’s important to keep your personal needs and budget in mind while you shop. If you plan to use your stationary bike here and there, a less-expensive, no-frills bike might be more your speed. But if this is going to be your primary exercise routine, it probably makes sense to splash out for a fancier bike.

Can You Lose Weight Using An Exercise Bike?

Absolutely, says Hodges. “Cycling is a form of exercise and to see a reduction in weight, you must be at a caloric deficit.” In other words: The calories burned from cycling can contribute to weight loss. “If your goal is to lose one pound per week, you should aim to burn an excess of 3,500 calories per week,” says Hodges. But for best results, “You’ll also have to consume less calories from food in addition to riding an exercise bike.”

How Long Should You Ride An Exercise Bike?

Hodges says it all boils down to your physical ability and time constraints: How many days a week can you commit to riding your exercise bike, and for how long? “For shorter time periods, I would suggest interval training to maximize caloric expenditure in a 10- to 20-minute time period,” he says. “For longer time periods, I would suggest 30 minutes to an hour. I would also aim for three to five days per week, if possible.”

As for newbies, “Beginners should aim to complete at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, which is a little over 20 minutes per day.”

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