Exercise bikes are all the rage these days, with sales skyrocketing by the minute. And this comes as no surprise given its attractive attributes. If you are one of the many people who have caught “bike fever”, you may be considering getting one of these amazing exercise machines. They come in many different shapes and types. From air resistance bikes, magnetic spin bikes, and upright bikes, to recumbent exercise bikes they are all stationary exercise bikes that are designed for indoor cardio workouts.
But before you hit a vendor’s store or place your order, there are certain traits you should look out for. These qualities will help you choose an exercise bike that is well-suited to your workout needs and goals. Thankfully, we’ve done the homework for you, so you don’t have to! So read and go get the best exercise bike!
9 General Tips To Remember When Buying an Exercise Bike
Comfort should be your priority when checking out a bike. Truth be told, you’d hate yourself if you purchase an exercise bike that is more painful than productive. It is no secret that a bike’s comfort mostly depends on its saddle. If the seat is too hard, it can induce pain and numbness in your tailbone, toes, and legs. While most retailers and manufacturers describe the seats as “ergonomic” or “gel-based”, it is hard to gauge its comfort from mere words or a cursory glance. So it is best to feel and try the seat in person, so you are not deceived by fancy words or promises.
And if you can’t sample the seat physically, demand explicit details before making the transaction. Admittedly, there’s only so much you can do about gauging the comfort of an exercise bike’s seat – sometimes, you could ask all the questions and still end up with an uncomfortable seat. In this case, you can maximize its comfort by wearing padded cycling shorts. Alternatively, you can buy a seat cushion.
2. Ease of Use
There’s absolutely no point in buying an exercise bike that takes you endless minutes to start up or figure out. This is especially applicable to ultra-smart exercise bikes with complex features. So if you find that the bike’s settings such as class selection and workout tracking are somewhat like “quantum physics”, you should settle for a less complex cycling bike with a simplistic user interface. Otherwise, each workout session will feel like a chore, and soon your enthusiasm and motivation will sizzle out.
One rule of thumb is to buy a stationary bike with a good backlit screen. This aids readability and visibility so you can work out without stress. You should also opt for bikes that come with phone or tablet holders as they are more convenient. Finally, if the bike has a built-in holder, check to see if it is positioned above the handlebars, so it doesn’t obstruct your view. Adjustable mounts are highly recommended so you can set it to your desired eye level.
A highly-adjustable bike is a plus! And adjustability covers resistance, seat, handlebars, and built-in displays/mounts. The best exercise bikes typically come with adjustable handlebars and seats. The seat should have vertical and horizontal adjustments so it can align with your anatomy. The handlebars on the other hand should adjust upward/downward and forward/backward. Thus, you can attain maximum hand and wrist comfort for optimum workout performance. The same applies to in-built displays and shelves; adjustable displays help you attain a comfortable eye level to avoid strain or damage to your eyes.
It is imperative to purchase a stationary bike with adjustable resistance so you can select your desired intensity level and vary resistance. Bike Resistance adjustability also makes it easier to follow a class or an on-screen instructor. Digital resistance controls are undoubtedly better than manual controls. They provide an effortless, automated experience so you can have a seamless workout session. They also provide a more realistic feel than knobs.
4. Weight and Weight Limit
The weight of a stationary bike and its maximum weight limit are two factors that determine its stability. Stability in turn guarantees safety and prevents injury. Once a bike is too squeaky or wobbly, you should look the other way. However, you may not have the liberty to buy the workout bike at a physical store, so if you are purchasing it online, you can ascertain its stability by checking its weight. And the higher the bike’s weight, the higher its stability. If you feel the bike is too heavy, check if it has transportation wheels. The wheels will lessen its transportation burden and you can move it from one point to another without hassle.
A bike’s maximum weight limit is another criterion you can’t ignore. Though most exercise bikes are built to support users of varying sizes, you should still confirm their weight limit. If your weight surpasses the stated weight limit, you should forget about the cardio bike and find another that is within your range. Else, you’d compromise the bike’s stability and usability which would reflect negatively on your performance results. You may also put yourself in harm’s way.
What makes an exercise bike unique is often the extras they are furnished with. Some state-of-the-art bikes may come with built-in fans for cooling comfort. You can use the fan to combat excessive heat during hot and humid weather. You may also get an acoustic sound system, a water bottle holder, and a USB port. With the sound system, you can listen to music to keep you entertained or other audio like a podcast or an audiobook.
A water bottle holder supports workout hydration without interrupting your course; it can be annoying and bothersome to interrupt your workout each time you want to get water or a drink. A USB port aids connectivity. You can stream or use files on your mobile device by connecting to the port. And speaking of connectivity, a cardio exercise bike with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity is a worthy investment. Other extras include a wireless chest strap device for heart rate tracking and dumbbells or weights for cross-training.
An exercise bike that produces excessive noise is a deal-breaker for most prospective buyers, which is for good reason. For one, if you live in a residential setting or have living companions, you want to avoid complaints and displeasure from your neighbors or living mates. Secondly, excessive noise can affect your concentration or mute the sound of your entertainment channel. Any exercise bike that is loud enough to override your TV or the sound from your headphone, is not the best choice.
As far as exercise bikes are concerned, those that run off air resistance often produce the most noise. The noise typically stems from the bike’s resistance and air can generate unpleasant sounds. The more force you apply to the pedals, the stronger the wind and the louder the noise. However, manufacturers are considering this, and newer exercise bikes are mostly built with magnetic resistance and don’t produce excessive noise. All the same, it is best to confirm a bike’s noise production level when shopping.
This boils down to the bike’s mechanics, which are either covered or uncovered. Exercise bikes with enclosed mechanics are deemed the safest. Uncovered mechanics on the other hand can put little kids in harm’s way. According to statistical reports, thousands of children are injured yearly as a result of using exercise equipment without enclosed mechanics.
Your kids’ aside, you may also get hurt. To guard against this, ensure that the bike’s mechanics such as the chain and flywheel are properly covered. The bike’s stability as earlier mentioned contributes to its safety as well. A shaky exercise bike is an invitation to injuries and accidents. So factor that in too!
Price is one of the biggest factors that guide every purchase, an exercise bike inclusive. You shouldn’t shop for an exercise bike without doing some price research. When you have an idea of the price points, you can shop with a specific budget in mind. Exercise bikes can cost as low as $400 and as high as $3000. The entry-level or low-cost models are often sold cheap, while the more expensive models cost a fortune.
Don’t be dissuaded by the price tags though. An indoor bike that comes cheap isn’t necessarily substandard. It only means you are getting only the basic features and nothing more. High-end bikes on the other hand come with extra fancy features and accessories that optimize performance. Ultimately, you should sew your coat according to your size. In other words, buy what you can afford, if you can splurge on a bike, that’s fine, but if you can’t, then stick to the more affordable options.
High-quality exercise bikes come with solid warranty coverage. Warranty is especially important if you’ve spent a ton of money on the bike. Basic Warranty coverage provides at least three years of coverage on the bike’s parts and a year for labor. However, the best warranties offer lifetime coverage for the frame, three years on moving parts, and a year for labor.
Don’t expect to get the same warranty coverage for all bikes, as each brand and model differs. It is wise to take an extensive look at a bike’s warranty before you purchase it. Note what the warranty covers and the timeframe. You should also check to see if the brand offers extended protection programs, where you pay an additional fee to get repairs and replacements (once the warranty period has expired).
The Bottom Line
While it is easier to buy an exercise bike without prior research, it is unwise. You’d be taking twice the risk as you would if you do your homework. These factors provide all the guidance you need in choosing the bike that conforms to your needs and goals. So you may want to digest this guide as a reference point for your intended or future exercise bike purchase.