How to Choose an Exercise Bike

This article will show you how to choose an exercise bike that is best for you. Even though there are hundreds of models to choose from, it will be fairly easy to narrow down your search. By answering a few simple but important questions you’ll discover those bikes that will best meet your needs.

What Are Your Exercise Goals?

What you want to accomplish by using a stationary bike will help determine what type of exercise bike you need.

The common reasons for wanting an exercise bike are for

  • physical therapy
  • exercise for fitness and weight loss
  • training

If you need an exercise bicycle for physical therapy to speed your recovery from surgery or an injury, then it could be all you need is a mini exercise bike that has pedals and an electric motor.

By the way, what was probably the first exercise bike was the Gymnasticon invented by Francis Lowndes in 1796. His machine used a system of flywheels and could be operated by foot or by hand.

Also, if a person was too weak to use the gymnasticon on their own, then another person could turn an external crank for them.

An exercise bike used for training will need to be extra sturdy and smooth to make your training sessions as productive and pleasant as possible.

Who Will Use the Exercise Bike?

The important aspect of this question is the height and weight of each family member who plans to use your new stationary bike.

All stationary bicycles will be adjustable within certain limits. However, if you are too tall or too short for a particular exercise bike, then there isn’t much you can do to make it fit you.

Also, if you are overweight, then make sure the exercise bike you are considering and hold your weight. Many popular models can hold a person weighing up to 300 pounds.

Where Will You Use Your Stationary Bike?

Maybe you will be able to leave your bike set up all the time. Then it will not be important for you to be able to easily move it.

However, many people don’t have that luxury. That means you will need an exercise bike that is easy to move and store when it’s not in use. Many exercise bikes have roller wheels to help you move them. Some models fold to allow them to be stored in small spaces.

Be careful to measure your exercise area to make sure your exercise bike will fit into it.

Also, consider the surface you will be using your stationary bike on. If the floor is carpeted or uneven, then you should also purchase a mat for your bike. The mat will protect your carpet from damage and your bike will be protected from lint and dust. The exercise bike mat will make your bike more stable.

When Will You Use Your Exercise Bicycle?

If you like to exercise early in the morning or late at night, then you need an exercise bike that is as quiet as possible. I’m sure you don’t want to be accused of disturbing family members or neighbors.

Another aspect of the “when” question is what do you want to do while you’re on your exercise bike? A quiet bike will make it easy to watch TV, listen to music, or have a normal conversation.

Exercise Bike Features

It’s now time to consider whether the exercise bike you are thinking about has the features you need.

Flywheel

The flywheel is the metal disk that rotates when you pedal your stationary bike. An exercise bike with a heavy flywheel will feel more solid and smooth when you pedal. Look for a flywheel that weighs 40 pounds or more.

Seat or Saddle

bike saddle
The seat or saddle on your exercise bike probably determines how much you will enjoy using your cycle. You must have a comfortable seat.

Unfortunately, there is no good way to tell in advance if a particular seat will work for you.

Your best bet is to make sure that the seat is adjustable. Even better is a bike made so that you can replace the saddle. Be aware, some exercise bike models are built so that only saddles from that company will fit.

Pedals

stationary bike pedals with straps
Your best pedals will be large enough so that even a person with large shoes can use them without slipping off.

A good feature to look for in pedals are straps that will keep your feet in place no matter how fast you are pedaling.

Handle Bars

You want handle bars that are padded and adjustable. It’s best that the handle bars can be adjusted not only up and down, but also toward the front and back.

Resistance Settings and Control

You want an exercise bicycle that allows you to easily and quickly adjust the pedaling resistance. Some bikes will have a number of built-in resistance levels. Others will allow you to set any resistance level you want.

An important aspect of the resistance settings is that the bike maintains the level you have set until you decide to change it.

Chain Drive or Belt Drive

On many stationary bicycles, the pedals are connected to the flywheel by a chain or a belt. You’ll find that belt-drive exercise bikes are quieter.

Safety

If you will be using an exercise bike in an area where there are small children or curious pets, then you should choose a cycle that has as many moving parts as possible covered.

Stability

A well-constructed exercise bike with a heavy flywheel will feel stable even when you are rapidly pedaling. If you are forced to ride the bike on an uneven surface, then using bike mat will help cushion your ride. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00186NOK8/

Control Panel

exercise bike control panel
Your bike’s control panel will be simple or complicated depending on the features included with your machine.

Virtually every exercise bike will give you an estimate of how fast your are pedaling and how many miles you’ve gone.

More advanced models will offer you estimates of your pulse / heart rate and how many calories you’ve burned. Just be aware that these estimates are usually not very reliable.

If your exercise bike offers built-in exercise programs, then these will be accessed via the control panel. The exercise programs can help you get a varied workout by automatically changing the resistance during your workout.

Water Bottle Holder

If you intend to use your exercise bike for long workouts during hot weather then a water bottle holder will be a handy feature.

Book Rest

In my opinion, strenuous exercise and reading are not compatible activities. However, if you want to read while on your exercise bike, then make sure your bike can be fitted with a book rest.

How to Choose an Exercise Bike

There you have it, the questions and features that will help you choose an exercise bike that is best for you.

Now it’s a matter of balancing price, quality, and the features that are most important to you.

Shlomo Skinner
 

I'm the one who writes most of the posts here at Fitnessator. I'm a former US Marine trying to stay in shape. I enjoy using different fitness equipment as well as body weight exercises and eating lots of healthy greens.

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