We use different mixtures of words to call these wonderfully useful pieces of equipment: exercise bikes, stationary bikes, and even indoor cycles. They are a permanent staple in gyms and fitness centers everywhere, and are a featured furniture in an increasing amount of home gyms, especially because more and more people are learning of its efficiency. Exercise bikes were a marvel even at the time of its invention (the primary designs included the trusty Gymnasticon). They didn’t catch popularity until the recent decades. It was almost easy to miss the boom taking place—suddenly they were just everywhere. One day, I realized that large numbers of people were suddenly going to cycling classes at the gym by the dozen, inspired by the magic of the machinery. And now, so many of us turn to them for our workout needs, and celebrities and fitness magazines and experts alike praise the wonder of the exercise bike—for good reason.
A general exercise bike features the pedals, the seats and the handlebars. Most exercise bikes designed in recent years have been included with sets of handles for support and to measure heart rate. Upright exercise bikes have only a single set of handlebars, while recumbent exercise bikes often have two sets to separate function.
The heart rate monitor is necessary for the machine to display your progress, usually on an LCD monitor. Shown on the display are also the distance, calories burn and time. More complex systems will show a greater array of features such as cadence and other options. This machine also lets you choose and begin different types of workouts; whether you choose the manual route, fat burn, cardio, or hill intervals. Choosing one of these workouts will prompt for you to input weight, age and time of workout, factors that are useful in finding your target heart rate. Once the machine has calculated this number for you, your only job is to crank the pedals and once in a while input your heart rate (easily, by placing your hands around the handlebars with the pulse sensors).
I realized a few years ago that I needed my own exercise bike for when I would be stuck at home doing the laundry or working long hours home without interruption. And I wasn’t quite committed enough to make the constant trips to the local gym. With these in mind, I went online and began my search for the perfect exercise bike. It was astonishing to find so many choices in the market. Despite the intricacy of certain features of the bike, they are offered in a range of prices. Those bad boys can cost up to $2000, like the LifeCore Fitness 1050RBS. Its price is almost understandable, given the number of features and the quality of the product. Machinery like this are oftentimes seen in gyms. (Sporting good stores do sometimes sell these bikes for half the price as well.) The range of price for most exercise bikes is somewhere between $30-$2000. Most cost around the $200 mark, like the ProForm 210 CSX. Generally, the more costly the product is, the more features it will have.
The cheapest exercise bike seemed not to be a bike at all to me. Called mini exercise bikes or simply just peddlers, they feature only the pedals and, in some cases, a small machine to measure time and calories lost. I’ve heard that these are just as useful as the normal exercise bike. The perk of these mini bikes is that they can be easily stored. Oftentimes we find the visibility of exercise equipment and their bulky appearance to be an eyesore. I certainly had this problem during my buying process. It took lots of contemplating and staring at the spaces in my home before I could choose where to put my exercise bike. (In the end, I opted for the basement, behind the couch and facing the television. It’s perfect for when I want to watch a show or a movie while exercising.)
Of course, others know of the convenience exercise bikes with wheels have. It can be tilted and wheeled from its spot and carried to that one rom in the house where the guests wouldn’t think to go to. But since those living in tighter spaces don’t have as much freedom moving furniture around, the perfect choice for them is clearly the mini exercise bike. Many brands have designed exercise bikes like this, with models including the Drive Medical Exercise Peddler and the Marcy Cardio Mini Cycle. A friend of mind who lives in a small studio apartment owned one for years. She uses it often, and she’s told me that it can be transformed by using any household chair as a seat and she easily stores the mini machine inside her closet. Someone else, a colleague of mine, recently introduced me to a different kind of exercise bike useful for small spaces. He owns a Stamina InTone Folding Cycle Pro, available around $200. The best part is right n the name—it.
Because I’m the type of person to think deeply about buying decisions before going out to purchase anything, I gave buying an exercise bike a lot of thought. I knew I wanted one. What I couldn’t figure out was what exercise bike to buy. Investing in one means knowing how much you are willing to pay. I would choose a more expensive bike if I knew I would spend a lot of time using it, if I were more committed to using it. The most expensive bikes have the most features, and usually are the most carefully manufactured. You’ll know that there’s a low chance of them breaking while you use one. The cheaper exercise bikes are for less serious buyers. Whichever you prefer, just make sure that it has a at least a one-year guarantee. You can’t be too safe when a sudden problem with the equipment comes up.
Make sure that you also know what you’re getting. I recommend visiting stores that sell them and reading product reviews online. Doing the research will help in the long-run. It wasn’t until well into me researching bikes that I found that there are a few main types of bikes. Upright exercise bikes are more like the bicycles that we ride on the road, with high seats and handles. Recumbent exercise bikes, on the other hand, have seats that lean back at a little more than a ninety-degree angle. These are more suited for people with back and neck problems. There’s also the indoor cycle trainer that are most often seen in gyms and health clubs that offer spinning classes. All three are great endurance workout equipment. Keeping conscious about which one suits you best is a big factor in purchasing one.
The first exercise bike I had was a simple $150 brand that I bought right from my local department store. It lasted for a year and a half, and would have survived a bit longer had I not decided to get rid of it. That decision was mainly due to the fact that it was beginning to show wear and tear. It gave a small squeak whenever I moved the right pedal, and the machinery was much too simple for me. I wanted more features for something I used regularly. I went through more research before buying my Schwinn 250 Recumbent Exercise Bike. It had all the components I wanted and more, including a super comfortable seat and lumbar support. So far, it’s still like brand new.
I picked the Schwinn because it fit my needs. We won’t all have the same necessities when it comes to exercise bikes. There are different brands and models floating around out there. Aside from the Schwinn, other quality brands are Proform, Nautilus, LifeGear and LifeCycle. I recommend the Life Fitness C3 Go Upright Lifecycle, which has 10 pre-programmed workouts and has a resistance level of up to 20. For all of this, of course it’s a pricey piece of equipment at $1700, but well worth the bucks spent. If you’re conscious about your budget, pick the Sunny SF-B1001 Indoor Cycling Bike. At $200, it provides you with customizable workouts, pulse sensors and an LCD monitor—features that higher-end exercise bikes also have. But if you’re feeling like splurging with all the perks, choose the Star Trac E-UBe Upright Bike. It has an above average number of workouts and resistance levels, a fan, and connection capabilities with iPods.
You can find more information and recommendations on exercise bikes anywhere. The best place to go is the sporting goods store nearest you if you want to personally check them out yourself and discuss prices and brands with employees. (For cheaper options, the department store works just as well.) But if you’ve already got an exercise bike in mind, Amazon.com still proves to be the best place to browse and choose.