10 Tips: How to Choose the Right Exercise Bike
A squeaking stationary bike, an uncomfortable seat, an exercise bike without resistance... follow our buying tips and advice to avoid bad surprises! Here are the 10 most important criteria to look for when choosing an exercise bike.
1) The flywheel weight: comfort and fluidity
The flywheel weight determines the comfort and fluidity of cycling. The higher is the weight, the more fluid and comfortable will the cycling be on the stationary bike. When the flywheel is too light, you may feel jolts when pedaling. The flywheel weight that you choose will therefore depend on your goals, whether you aim for climbing Mont Ventoux or simply cycling peacefully around the lake, and secondly on your budget, rather 300-600€ or towards 1.000€ or more.
|Flywheel weight||Profile / Usage||Exercise Bikes|
|> 15 kg||Experienced||Kettler Racer S|
|9-14 kg||Sporty / Reeducation||DKN AM-3i, Skandika Cardiobike|
|7-9 kg||Beginner||BH Fitness i.Pixel|
OUR ADVICE : We recommend to choose a stationary bike with a flywheel of at least 7 kg for a comfortable pedaling without bumps. If you plan to exercise 2 to 3 times a week, you should consider a stationary bike with a flywheel above 9 kg.
2) The resistance : mechanical or magnetic?
The mechanical resistance is activated by turning the adjustment wheel on the stationary bike, whereas the magnetic resistance can be directly modified from the bike's console (controlling a magnet that comes into contact with the wheel of the bike). Only the magnetic resistance allows you to have predefined workout programs with dynamic change of the resistance.
3) The Watts
The watts are a unit of measure of your pedaling power and are a good indication of the maximal power a bike can provide. High watts enable you to have a more precise and efficient training exercise. For example the stationary bike Kettler Ergo S has got a maximum of 600 watts. On the other hand the exercise bike Skandika Cardiobike Ulisses has got a maximum of 350 Watts.
4) The console: with or without Bluetooth ?
The stationary bike's console had not been changing for ages... although our phones and screens keep evolving! The Bluetooth connection remedied that awkward (and unacceptable) situation since it allows to connect a smartphone, an iPhone, iPad or tablet to the exercise bike wirelessly and use it as the bike's console.It is then possible to control the bike's resistance directly from one's smartphone, create new training programs and customize them, follow one's training stats and even play a video game which is interactive with the speed and the resistance of the stationary bike (see the Vescape exercise bike app). The Bluetooth is therefore a must!
On the left: 36 buttons, on the right: 3 buttons. More user friendly and intuitive, isn't it?
5) The seat: adjustable?
Make sure the seat can be adjusted vertically to be able to adjust it to the height of your hips as it will prevent you from hurting your back and joints. The horizontal adjustment is a plus but is not necessary.
6) The handlebars: adjustable as well?
Make sure that the height of the handlebars can be adjusted so that you will be able to find your optimal position on the bike.
7) Upright bike or recumbent bike?
The stationary bike that we all know is the upright bike. The recumbent bike has a back support and enables you to seat properly on what looks like a chair. The recumbent bike is less demanding than the upright bike. Moreove, the range of the recumbent bikes is much more limited.
8) Maximum user weight supported
Have a look at the maximum user weight before buying your exercise bike. The stationary bikes from middle and high range usually support up to 130-150 kg whereas the cheapest models only allow up to 90-100 kg.
9) The design
Design both means the "industrial" conception or design but also its appearance (which is also important!). Look carefully at the material before buying your stationary bike: Are the pieces in metal (more durable) or in plastic? And choose an exercise bike that you like since it will probably stay in your bedroom or your living room!
10) Last but not least: the price of the exercise bike!
The price of an exercise bike may vary a lot, unfortunately like its quality! A 150 € bike is obviously much less robust than a 650 € bike, it has usually not the same pedaling fluidity and comfort (see 1. flywheel weight) and may be loud or even squeak after some time (even some days for the lowest quality stationary bikes). It is therefore recommended to think twice before buying a cheap exercise bike that won't last more than a few weeks... and maybe invest a bit more in quality and durability. After all, good health and condition have no price ;) almost! According to these criteria, our favorite at the moment is the DKN AM-3i.
David Anderson is a professional coach with 15 years of experience in the sports and fitness industry. He has been writing about fitness and giving workout tips and advice since 2016.