Are you searching for the best new exercise bike? We exhaustively researched all of the top-rated models on the market before purchasing six for side by side testing. Our selection includes a diverse field of reasonably priced home exercise bikes with upright, recumbent, semi-recumbent, and under-desk models. Over the course of several weeks, we assembled and tested each model during at-home workouts of varying lengths and intensities. During these workouts, we closely scrutinized the exercise quality, comfort, features, and user interface of each competitor. No matter your fitness or health goals, we found there are great options to suit your needs and budget.
The Best Exercise Bikes of 2020
Best Overall Exercise Bike
Schwinn 130 Upright Bike
The Schwinn 130 Upright impressed our testers and took home our Editor's Choice award for being the best affordable exercise bike we tested. This upright style bike provides a near gym-quality workout with 20 levels of resistance that provide a huge range of difficulty for all fitness levels. It also comes with 22 programs that include profile courses, heart rate control, fitness tests, and custom programs. The DualTrack display shows you everything pertaining to your workout at a glance, and the controls are intuitive and user-friendly. The console also has useful features like a 3-speed adjustable fan, a device shelf, USB charging, an auxiliary input, and built-in speakers. The 130 Upright also comes with a comfortable seat with a huge range of height adjustment, adjustable pedal straps, and integrated transport wheels.
We didn't find much we didn't like about the 130 Upright and our gripes are few. It was relatively time-consuming to put together, and it is moderately heavy, which makes moving it anywhere you can't roll it a somewhat awkward task. While it was far from the largest model we tested, it still has a moderately large footprint. We are aware that the upright style may not be for everyone, and those with mobility issues or who prefer a more relaxed seated position may want to look elsewhere. It is also among the most expensive models we tested, but in this case, we feel the expense is justified considering its excellent exercise quality, features, comfort, and user interface.
Read review: Schwinn 130 Upright Bike
Best Recumbent Exercise Bike
Nautilus R614 Recumbent
The Nautilus R614 easily took the award for the best recumbent exercise bike. It is strikingly similar in many ways to our Editor's Choice Award winner, the Schwinn 130 Upright, but in a recumbent style package. The recumbent style is low to the ground and has a relaxed seated body position and a step-through design that make it super easy to get in and out of the seat. Its exercise quality is excellent, with 20 levels of smooth, consistent resistance to make your workout as easy or challenging as you like. It also comes with 22 workout programs and an excellent DualTrack display that allows for simple monitoring of your workout progress. Plus, it comes loaded with additional features like a device shelf, built-in speakers, a 3-speed fan, a USB charging port, and an auxiliary input to help enhance your exercise experience.
The Nautilus R614 was the most involved and time-consuming of all the models to assemble. It is also the heaviest and largest bike we tested, making it more obtrusive than most and somewhat harder to move. Testers found it to be reasonably comfortable, but the lack of padding on the contoured seat and backrest may be uncomfortable for some users. While it is an affordable exercise bike, it is the most expensive model we tested. However, we feel it is still easy to call it a good value considering the quality construction, features, user interface, and excellent workout this machine provides.
Read review: Nautilus R614 Recumbent
Best for Bang for the Buck
Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse
The Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright is an affordable semi-recumbent exercise bike with a convenient folding design. This bike costs half, or less than half, of the competition, yet it provides a quality workout experience with a simple and no-frills design that gets the job done. It has eight levels of smooth and quiet magnetic resistance for workouts ranging from easy to moderate in difficulty. It has a simple console with an LCD display and a single button to control your workout information. The large padded seat is reasonably comfortable, and it has padded handles around the console with integrated heart rate sensors. The simple folding design significantly reduces its footprint when not in use and can easily fit in a closet or the corner of your room. It is also relatively lightweight and has integrated transport wheels, making it easier than most to move around.
Despite having "Upright" in its name, the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic seems a lot more like a semi-recumbent than a true upright style bike. It has a somewhat relaxed seated position, and you can't get off the seat and stand while pedaling the way you can on a real upright model. Testers also found its resistance range to be somewhat limited, making this bike generally unsuitable for a high-intensity workout. Beyond that, if you're limited on space, we feel this is a very reasonably priced and convenient option to consider.
Read review: Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright
Best for the Home Office
Exerpeutic Exerwork 2000i Folding Exercise Desk Bike
Anyone who has ever wanted to combine their workout with actual work should seriously consider the Exerwork 2000i Desk Bike. The desk/bike hybrid combines a semi-recumbent exercise bike with an adjustable desktop to create the best of both worlds. This highly versatile model can be used in several ways, just a stationary bike, just a desk, a bike and desk at the same time, or as a standing desk. With 24 levels of magnetic resistance, it has a huge range of workout intensity from very easy to as strenuous as you want. It also comes with 24 programmed workouts, and it works with the myCloudFitness app so you can control, track, and analyze your progress. The desk itself is highly customizable with tilt, fore/aft, and height adjustments to dial it in for comfort and ergonomics. It also has convenient features like a wrist pad, a drawer, cup/bottle holders, plus it folds for storage and has integrated wheels for transport.
The Exerwork 2000i is not without its quirks. Despite having a wealth of useful features, its display and controls leave a bit to be desired. The small LCD screen displays just basic information one value at a time, making it harder to choose or follow the program workouts. While it does fold for storage, it remains quite large and can be somewhat cumbersome to move around and store due to its 67 lb weight. That said, we feel this would be an excellent addition to anyone's home, office, or both, who is interested in putting a little more work in their workout.
Read review: Exerpeutic Exerwork 2000i Folding Desk Bike
Best Value Recumbent Exercise Bike
Marcy Recumbent ME-709
The Marcy ME-709 is a simple and effective recumbent exercise bike offered at a very reasonable price. This affordable model boasts a high level of comfort with an easy step-through design, a large padded seat and backrest, and a padded handlebar. It has eight levels of magnetic resistance and is best suited for exercise in the easy to moderate-intensity range. The display is nothing fancy, but it shows pertinent workout information with relatively intuitive controls. The ME-709 is adjustable for length to accommodate a large user height range, plus it has transport wheels and a smaller footprint and lower weight than other recumbents we tested.
We found the Marcy ME-709 to have a somewhat limited resistance range. Those with an already high level of fitness or who seek a more intense workout may want to look elsewhere. It is also a relatively basic, no-frills model that lacks the bells and whistles of the more expensive competition. While it may not be feature-packed, it is easy to use and provides a consistent quality workout. We feel this inexpensive model is a great value and perfect for anyone on a budget who doesn't require fancy features or super high resistance levels.
Read review: Marcy Recumbent ME-709
Best Under Desk Exerciser
DeskCycle Under Desk Exerciser
Convenience is the name of the game for the Desk Cycle, and this small pedal exerciser was made to fit under a desk at work to help sedentary office workers burn calories while improving their fitness and overall well-being. It isn't just for use under a desk; however, as this compact and lightweight machine can easily be used anywhere you can sit and have your legs free. Reading a book, watching TV, you name it, this exerciser is a great way to multi-task and improve your time efficiency. It has eight levels of magnetic resistance with a decent range of difficulty that should be more than adequate for users who seek a convenient exerciser like the DeskCycle. Given its diminutive stature, testers were pleasantly surprised by the challenge and quality of exercise it provides. The magnetic resistance is also very quiet, and it creates minimal noise distraction when used in the office or your home. It is also easily portable and storable thanks to its size and impressively light weight.
While we loved the convenience of the under-desk style, its exercise quality is somewhat limited by the nature of its design. We found it to best suited for the light to moderate intensity exercise it was intended for, as opposed to any type of high-intensity training. Fit must also be taken into account when considering using the DeskCycle under a desk, as it may require an adjustable height desk or chair for some users. Beyond that, we feel this exerciser is a convenient and unobtrusive way to help improve your overall health and fitness at your home or office.
Read review: DeskCycle Under Desk Exerciser
Why You Should Trust Us
Our exercise bike test was led by Jeremy Benson. Benson is the Senior Mountain Bike Review Editor at OutddorGearLab and has decades of cycling experience. In addition to testing and reviewing mountain bikes, this Lake Tahoe resident races in the Pro class in endurance gravel and mountain bike races. During the long winter months, Benson maintains his fitness while backcountry skiing and spending long hours spinning away the miles on indoor trainers and stationary bikes. He has ridden indoors for over two decades and has tried every type of trainer and exercise bike imaginable, from commercial spin and training bikes to at-home exercise models. In that time, he has developed a keen sense of the performance, qualities, and features that differentiate the styles and models on the market.
After exhaustively researching the best and most highly regarded affordable exercise bikes on the market, we purchased six models for testing. Our diverse selection includes several different styles of bikes intended for home or office use. Since exercise is the point of an indoor bike, we wanted to get a feel for the quality of exercise each model was capable of. After assembling each bike and moving it into our test space, we did multiple exercise sessions on each model, including more casual light-moderate intensity spinning up to a high-intensity interval workout. This gave us the chance to examine the range and quality of each model's resistance, and the interval workout served as a baseline to determine the upper limit of each model's workout potential. Several hours spent testing the exercise quality of each machine also allowed us to thoroughly examine each model's user interface, comfort, and features.
Related: How We Tested Budget Exercise Bikes
Analysis and Test Results
Each exercise bike in this review was tested head to head over the course of several weeks to determine their strengths, weaknesses, and performance differences. We rated each model on 5 predetermined metrics that are weighted by importance based on the performance and functionality of the bikes. For example, we weight the exercise quality metric at 30% because we feel that it is the most important aspect of an exercise bike. Our other metrics, like comfort, user-interface, features, and ease of setup/portability, are less critical and are therefore weighted less. The combined scores from all of the metrics helped us determine our top-rated models.
We don't rate the products we test based on their price, but we do consider the price of a product in relation to its performance. All of the models we chose for this review qualify as being affordable, yet there are significant differences in price between the least and most expensive models we tested. In this case, we found a pretty direct correlation between the price and performance of the bikes we tested, with the more expensive options providing a higher level of exercise quality, comfort, and features. A less expensive model like the Exerpeutic Folding Upright provides a quality workout, albeit with a somewhat limited range of intensity, with a convenient folding design at less than half the price of the top-rated models we tested.
The whole point of having an exercise bike is to get exercise, so we feel that the quality of the workout that a bike provides is the most important aspect of its performance. We found that the exercise quality varied significantly between the different styles and models of bikes in this test. Some were designed with light to moderate-intensity exercise in mind, while others proved to be capable of a larger range of workout from easy to super high-intensity. The number of levels, range, and quality of the resistance, as well as features like programmed workouts and heart rate sensors, played a role in the quality of exercise of each model.
It didn't come as too much of a surprise that the top-rated models for exercise quality also happened to be the most expensive. Two of the models we tested were head and shoulders above the rest and provided a near gym-quality exercise experience. The Schwinn 130 Upright is an upright model with a body position similar to that of riding a regular bike. With 20 levels, it has a huge resistance range suitable for all fitness levels and capable of a very high-intensity workout. We were also impressed by its best-in-test console with dual displays to monitor your progress while using any of its 22 program workouts. The Nautilus R614 is a quality recumbent model that was nearly identical to the Schwinn 130 in terms of its exercise quality. With the same 20 levels of resistance and 22 program workouts, the primary differences are the fully-seated recumbent style and a slightly different control arrangement on the console. Either model is fantastic; it just depends on which style you prefer.
The Exerpeutic Exerwork 2000i also impressed us with its exercise quality. This desk-bike hybrid has 24 levels of resistance and comes with 24 workout programs. The display and controls leave a bit to be desired, but it can be paired to your phone via Bluetooth and the myCloudFitness app to control your workout and save and analyze your results. Testers found this model to be great for light to moderate intensity exercise while working at the attached desk, or you can push it as hard as you like when using the bike on its own. The DeskCycle is a small and portable under-desk exerciser that can't compete with the exercise quality of the aforementioned competition. Still, it is a great way to burn calories, boost the heart rate, and improve cardiovascular fitness when you might otherwise be sitting still. We found it easy to work up a sweat and feel the burn, but that it was limited to easy to moderate-intensity workouts.
The Exerpeutic Folding Upright and the Marcy Recumbent ME-709 are both relatively simple machines with limited features. Both models have eight levels of magnetic resistance and a somewhat limited resistance range that we found to provide light to medium levels of difficulty. These bikes are not intended for hardcore training; instead, they are well suited to riders who are interested in a less intense workout and don't require the bells and whistles of the more expensive competition.
Comfort is the most subjective metric that we analyzed, but we feel it is an important aspect of a quality exercise bike. The more comfortable your bike is, the more likely you are to ride it. The more you ride, the more calories you burn, and the more your fitness improves. During our test rides, we spent hours using each bike while scrutinizing the comfort of each model. Things like the seat, backrest, and fit adjustments all play a role in how comfortable a bike is, especially for prolonged periods of exercise.
Our Editor's Choice Award winner, the Schwinn 130 Upright, took top honors for its comfort. As an upright model, it promotes an athletic an active body position that may not suit everyone's tastes, but we loved that it was so similar to riding a regular bike. It has a nice contoured seat and comfort adjustments like seat height, handlebar tilt, and pedal straps. Not far behind was the Exerpeutic Exerwork 2000i desk bike. This semi-recumbent model has a more relaxed seated position, a wide cushioned Airsoft seat, and a large adjustable backrest. It has a variety of comfort adjustments, including seat height, seat fore/aft position, pedal straps, as well as a large adjustable desk with a wrist pad.
Recumbent models are inherently comfortable thanks to their fully seated body position and may be preferred by many users. The Nautilus R614 scored relatively well for its comfort with a huge range of seat adjustability, contoured seat, and supportive backrest, but lost a little ground to our highest-rated competitors for the lack of cushioned padding. The Marcy ME-709 scored similarly, with a large cushioned seat and backrest, adequate length adjustability, a padded handlebar, and pedal straps.
The Exerpeutic Folding Upright has more of a semi-recumbent style than its name suggests, and it offers a reasonable level of comfort for such an affordable and no-frills model. It has a wide cushioned seat and loads of seat height adjustability, along with pedal straps and handles around the console. The DeskCycle is an outlier in the comfort metric as this machine only consists of a magnetic resistance unit, cranks, and pedals. Your comfort is left entirely up to you, and DeskCycle provides helpful tips to maximize your comfort and workout with this machine.
The user interface includes the display and controls, and their quality, size, and user-friendliness vary dramatically between the different models we tested. All of the models we tested have a computer console of some kind that includes a digital display and buttons to control the functions, modes, and information displayed.
The Schwinn 130 Upright and the Nautilus R614 Recumbent took top honors for their excellent user interfaces. Both models have nearly identical DualTrack LCD displays and large consoles with intuitive and user-friendly controls. The two screens display a wealth of information and help to enhance the overall exercise experience and quality of the workout. The upper screen shows intensity, heart rate zone, goal progress, and a course profile. The lower screen has customizable data fields and shows important values like time, speed, distance, RPM, resistance level, and heart rate.
The Exerwork 2000i has more going on that the more basic models, but its user interface leaves a little to be desired. It has a small LCD screen with four control buttons that are integrated into the wrist pad on the desk. The controls are relatively intuitive, but the screen is small and displays only one value at a time. Even though this machine has 24 programs, the display can't show a course profile while you workout. This model does have the unique ability to pair with your smartphone through a Bluetooth connection when used with the myCloudFitness app so you can use your phone as the display and controls, track workout results, and lots more.
The three least expensive models we tested share a relatively similar user interface. The DeskCycle, Exerpeutic Folding Upright, and the Marcy Recumbent all have basic computers with small LCD screens that show data like time, speed, distance, calories, and odometer. They have simple but reasonably intuitive controls that allow the user to choose the data on display, set workout goals, and reset workout values. All of these models also have eight levels of magnetic resistance that is controlled by turning a resistance knob.
All of the exercise bikes in this test have at least a few basics, but we found there is a very direct correlation between a bike's price and its features. A simple no-frills bike that gets the job done may be all that many users are after, while others may want all the bells and whistles available to enhance their exercise experience. We rated each model based on not only how many features it had, but also how useful those features actually were.
Not surprisingly, the most expensive models we tested also scored the highest in this metric thanks to their wealth of useful features. The Nautilus R614 and the Schwinn 130 Upright have a nearly identical set of features that helped to make them our two most highly regarded models. Both bikes have excellent exercise features like workout programs, user profiles, a huge resistance range, heart rate sensors, and an excellent user interface. Additionally, the console has a device shelf, USB charging port, a 3-speed adjustable fan, and an auxiliary input to connect your device to the built-in speakers. Water bottle holders also keep liquids at arms reach and round out the extensive list of features.
The Exerwork 2000i desk bike also comes loaded with lots of useful features. Most notably, the large adjustable desk is one of the most useful, giving this bike a very high level of versatility. It can be used as an exercise bike alone, a bike and desk at the same time, a sitting desk, or as a standing desk. The desktop is highly adjustable and can be moved up and down, fore and aft, or set in one of three tilt positions. The desk has two cup/bottle holders, a small drawer, and a comfortable wrist pad. Additionally, it comes with 24 workout programs, is compatible with the myCloudFitness app, and can be folded for storage when not in use.
The DeskCycle's is limited on features, but its size is one of its best attributes. This portable exerciser can be used just about anywhere and is lightweight and small enough to take with you or store anywhere. The remaining models, the Exerpeutic Folding Upright and the Marcy ME-709, both have basics like padded handles, pedal straps, and transport wheels, but that's about it.
Ease of Setup/Portability
After purchasing any of these exercise bikes, you will likely have to assemble it yourself, although some sellers offer professional assembly for an additional fee. The consumer can assemble all of the bikes we tested without too much difficulty, and all of the parts, hardware, tools, and instructions are included with each model. The ease of setup and the time needed to complete the process varied, however, depending on the number of steps and the bike's size, shape, and weight. Our lead tester was able to assemble each bike on his own, though the assistance of another person may be beneficial for the heavier models during this process. Once each bike was assembled, we measured and weighed them to determine how much space they occupy and for comparison with the manufacturer's specifications. We also moved them from our garage to our workout space to get an idea of how easy they are to transport from one place to another.
The DeskCycle was the clear winner in this metric. This simple machine required minimal assembly and was ready to ride in approximately 15 minutes. Once assembled, it takes up less than a quarter of the space of the full-size competition and is easy to move around thanks to its lightweight and portable size. The next highest-rated model in this metric was the Exerpeutic Folding Upright. At 45 minutes, it took us three times longer to assemble than the DeskCycle, but it required fewer steps and was easier than the rest of the competition. At just 41 lbs, it's also one of the lightest models we tested, plus it conveniently folds to reduce its footprint for storage. We feel it is an excellent option for those who may be limited on space.
The Exerpeutic Exerwork 2000i was about average in terms of assembly difficulty and time at 1 hour. Once completed, the Exerwork weighs a fair amount at 67 lbs, but it is relatively easy to move around with its integrated transport wheels, and it takes up less space than most when not in use thanks to its folding design. The Marcy Recumbent ME-709 and the Schwinn 130 Upright both also took a full hour to assemble. The Schwinn tips the scales at 61.5 lbs, yet it is easy enough to move around on most floor surfaces by rolling it on its wheels. It doesn't collapse or fold for storage, but as an upright model, it has a significantly smaller footprint than a recumbent. The Marcy ME-709 is lightweight for a recumbent at just 54.2 lbs, although it has an inherently large footprint as well. That said, it is easier to move around and takes up less space than some other recumbent models when its length adjustment is fully compressed.
The Nautilus R614 Recumbent proved to have the most involved and time-consuming assembly process. While it wasn't particularly difficult, it took an hour and 15 minutes to complete and was made slightly more challenging due to the weight and shape of the machine. It is also by far the heaviest, 84.4 lbs, and the largest exercise bike in the test. Moving it short distances isn't too difficult thanks to its transport wheels, but it is easiest to leave this large model in your dedicated workout space.
An exercise bike can be a great way to improve or maintain your health and fitness in the privacy of your own home or office. Whether you're just starting an exercise program to burn some calories or improve your cardiovascular fitness, or you're looking to do some more intense training, there are many excellent affordable options on the market to choose from. We hope this detailed comparative analysis helps you find the model that best suits your needs and budget.
— Jeremy Benson