How to Choose an Exercise Bike

Find out how having your own exercise bike can allow you to reach your fitness goals at home.

Cardiovascular training can be a fun and exciting way to enjoy exercise while putting your body in motion. Sometimes, though, nothing quite tops the great indoors. An exercise bike can satisfy both, allowing for an effective workout from the comfort of your own home.

DICK’s Sporting Goods teammate Matthew Provenzano says training with an exercise bike can be an excellent way to train cardiovascular health with little physical risk.

“It’s not as much of a strain on the body as you would see with an elliptical or treadmill,” he says, “And you can work at your own pace.”

There are three different styles of exercise bikes: upright, recumbent and indoor cycling. Each offers multiple advantages and different training perks to suit your goals. Determining which style is right for you should be your first step to get the most out of your next workout.

UPRIGHT EXERCISE BIKE

This exercise bike style keeps you in a conventional riding position. Since they feature a standard bike seat, there is no back support. Designed for seated cycling only, upright exercise bikes offer handlebars and front displays. These bikes are well-suited for individuals who want a comfortable workout but don’t need a bike for high-intensity training.

If you believe an upright exercise bike fits your goals, look for models with clear and easy-to-use displays. Be sure that your bike can track resistance, speed, time, distance and calories burned. Additionally, some models may include built-in programs to keep your workouts fresh and ever-changing.

Another feature to look for in an upright exercise bike is some form of heart-rate monitoring.

“Cardiovascular training as a whole is set out to improve your heart health,” Provenzano says. “Your heart rate is going up considerably when you’re doing these workouts, so a lot of the models include this technology so you can track your heart rate and make sure it isn’t jumping to a degree that would be dangerous for you.”

One popular option for heart-rate monitoring is contact monitors. Often found in the handlebars, this tech activates via touch. Some upright exercise bikes even offer chest strap heart monitors, which can give a more accurate reading.

RECUMBENT BIKE

Instead of the conventional pedaling style, recumbent bikes seat you in a reclined position in a wider, more comfortable seat. The pedals are out in front, which can help even out your bodyweight distribution. This makes recumbent bikes an optimal choice for people with back problems, joint issues or pre-existing injuries.

Recumbent bikes offer handlebars at both the front display, as well as along the sides of the seat. When choosing a recumbent bike, look for the same features as an upright: a clear display with the desired measurements, built-in workout programs, adjustable seating and some form of heart-rate monitoring. Recumbent bike shoppers should also take the machine’s dimensions into consideration. Because of their reclined position and widened stance, recumbents can take up more floor space than other bike options.

INDOOR CYCLING BIKE

Indoor cycling bikes have less features but offer a closer experience to actual outdoor cycling.

“If you think about the outdoor cycling experience, you’re not going to have all of these added features, which is why it’s mimicked with indoor cycling bikes,” Provenzano says.

Designed for riders to sit and stand, these machines can mimic vertical climbing and other cycling maneuvers. Indoor cycling bikes are good for high-intensity interval training and difficult fat-burning workouts. This bike option is also often found in exercise groups or spinning classes.

Consider indoor cycling models with adjustable seating and handlebars to maximize comfort. Some styles do offer displays that track RPM, Kcal, time, distance and speed, but without built-in workout programs.

Above all, resistance is the most crucial feature to be aware of in an indoor cycle. Make sure the resistance offered is easily adjustable and includes a wide range of levels. Magnetic resistance systems can be highly durable and very quiet. Indoor cycling bikes can also use belt- and chain-drive mechanisms for resistance.

OTHER OPTIONS

Some luxury features exist to make your training as comfortable as possible. Water bottle holders, smartphone docks and tablet holders can keep your belongings close and within reach. Tablet holders can help you to visually follow certain workout programs while you pedal. Some models can also include fan systems to keep you cool during those intense exercises.

Built-in speakers can also provide audio enhancement for a better music listening experience. Lastly, some bikes can track your training via Bluetooth and sync the data to your smartphone.

Whether you’re looking for a simple cardio activity or an intense workout, exercise bikes can make a great addition to your routine. Use these Pro Tips and you can begin enjoying your newfound training regimen in no time.