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Best Budget Exercise Bikes of 2022

We tested models from Schwinn, Exerpeutic, Marcy, Yosuda, and more to find the best exercise bikes
Best Budget Exercise Bikes of 2022
Credit: Jeremy Benson
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Tuesday January 11, 2022
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Are you searching for the best new exercise bike? After exhaustively researching all of the top-rated models on the market, we purchased nine for side-by-side testing. Our selection includes a diverse assortment of reasonably priced home exercise bikes with upright, recumbent, semi-recumbent, and under-desk models. Over the course of several weeks, we tested each model during at-home workouts of varying lengths and intensities. During these workouts, we closely scrutinized each exercise bike's exercise quality, comfort, features, and user interface. No matter your fitness or health goals, we found great options to suit your needs and budget.

An exercise bike is an excellent start to a fully equipped home gym and is a low-impact alternative to treadmill cardio. To round out your training routine and up your fitness level, there are many additions you can make. A good set of hand weights, resistance bands, or a weighted vest can all help you achieve your fitness goals without having to ever step into a commercial gym.

Editor's Note: This review was updated on January 11th, 2022, to share more detail on our testing and rating process for exercise bikes, and detailed updates were made to each individual gear review.

Top 9 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 9
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Awards Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $999 List
$699.00 at Amazon
$1,200 List
$679.99 at Amazon
$600 List
$499.99 at Amazon
$499 List
$449.00 at Amazon
$399 List
$383.35 at Amazon
Overall Score
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71
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Pros Smart/connected features, excellent warranty, 100 levels of magnetic resistance, comes with hand weightsQuality feel and finish, 32 levels of smooth magnetic resistance, smart/connected features, excellent workout qualityReasonable price, connected features, free AI Gym App, works with popular training apps, easy assemblyGood exercise quality, Bluetooth connectivity for use with Zwift and Explore the World apps, program workouts, reasonable priceVersatile, bike and desk in one, feature packed, folds for storage
Cons More expensive, inaccurate speed and distance readings, doesn't work perfectly with Peloton or ZwiftRequires a Bluetooth connection and device to operate, only works with the EchelonFit app, more expensiveNeeds a phone or tablet to serve as a display, limited seat height adjustmentNo handlebar height adjustment, more basic display than previous versionHeavy, sub-par display and controls, may not fit taller users
Bottom Line A reasonably priced, high-quality spin bike with connected featuresA high-end bike with a quality exercise experience and connected featuresAn affordable FTMS Bluetooth-enabled upright exercise bike that comes with its own free app and works with popular training appsAn upright exercise bike with connected features at a reasonable priceThis desk bike hybrid is a convenient and versatile option for exercising and/or working at home
Rating Categories Schwinn IC4 Echelon EX-3 Renpho AI Smart Exe... Schwinn 130 Upright... Exerpeutic Exerwork...
Exercise Quality (30%) Sort Icon
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Comfort (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
User Interface (20%)
7.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Features (20%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Setup/Portability (10%)
5.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Schwinn IC4 Echelon EX-3 Renpho AI Smart Exe... Schwinn 130 Upright... Exerpeutic Exerwork...
Style Upright Upright Upright Upright Desk Bike, Semi-Recumbent
Resistance Settings 100 levels 32 levels 80 levels 16 levels 24 levels
Measured Weight 106 lbs 105 lbs 79.9 lbs 61 lbs 67 lbs
Measured Dimensions 48.75" L x 21.25" W x 52" H 54.5" L x 20" W x 55" H 40" L x 20" W x 49" H 42" L x 21.25" W x 51.5" H 43" L x 25" W x 50.5" H
Foldable No No No No Yes
Folded Dimensions n/a n/a n/a n/a 30" L x 25" W x 61.5" H
Max. Weight Capacity 330 lbs 300 lbs 265 lbs 300 lbs 400 lbs
Recommended Height Range not specified 4'11" to 6'4" 4'11" to 6'5" not specified, 13 inches of seat height adjustment 5'1" to 6'3"
Resistance type Weighted flywheel with adjustable magnetic resistance Weighted flywheel with adjustable magnetic resistance Magnetic with Smart Motor Damping Magnetic Magnetic
Resistance Adjustment type Knob Knob Knob, automatic or manual Buttons Buttons
Preprogrammed Workouts No No Through Renpho AI Gym App (iOS and Android) 13, 1 HIIT Interval, Profile, Heart rate Control 24 courses
User Profiles No No No No No
Heart Rate Sensor Yes No No Yes No
Digital Display LCD (measure) No (the Echelon app and a device are required) No (Device required) LCD display: 5" W x 3" H LCD display: 2.25" W x 1.125" H
Display Information distance, time, speed, calories, RPM, heart rate n/a n/a Resistance level, course for the program, speed, distance, elapsed time, rpm, calories, and heart rate distance, calories burned, time, speed, odometer, resistance elevels, and scan
Other Features Bluetooth, works with Zwift and Peloton apps, USB charging port, device shelf, 2 water bottle holders, 3 lb weights, weight cradles, Bluetooth Heart rate armband, dual sided pedals with cleats Bluetooth, works with Echelon Fit app, 2 bottle cages, rack for handweights (weights not included), transport wheels, dual sided pedals, adjustable device holder, Transport wheels, Bluetooth, works with popular training apps, device holder, adjustable handlebar height, USB charging port Bluetooth, works with Zwift and Explore the World, bottle cage, pedals with adjustable straps, heart rate sensors, adjustable handlebars, transport wheels, device shelf
Warranty Frame: 10 years, Parts: 3 years, Labor: 1 year 1 year limited parts and labor 1 year Frame: 10 years, Parts: 2 years, Electronics: 1 year, Labor: 90 days 3 year limited


Best Overall Exercise Bike


Schwinn IC4


80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Exercise Quality 9.0
  • Comfort 8.0
  • User Interface 7.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Setup/Portability 5.0
Style: Upright | Resistance Settings: 100
Studio exercise quality
100 levels of smooth, quiet magnetic resistance
Connected features
High-quality look and feel
Feature-packed
Doesn't work perfectly with Zwift or Peloton
Inaccurate speed and distance readings
More expensive

The Schwinn IC4 is a fantastic exercise bike that can compete with the biggest names in home fitness. It looks and feels a lot like a spin bike you'd find in a commercial gym or spin studio, with an exercise quality to match. This sturdy bike has a 40 lb weighted flywheel and 100 micro-adjustable levels of smooth, quiet magnetic resistance. The 100 levels of resistance offer a huge range of difficulty levels suitable for all fitness levels and rider goals. This smart bike has its own display for manual workouts, and it can also connect to your device through Bluetooth to work with apps like Peloton, Zwift, and Explore the World for at-home studio and virtual workouts. There is a monthly fee involved to use any of these apps, which will likely be worth it for users who want the in-home studio or virtual training experience. We found the IC4 quite comfortable, with ample fit adjustments and a performance-oriented race style seat. It also has user-friendly features like bottle cages, hand weights, a USB charging port, a Bluetooth heart rate armband, and dual-function SPD/cage pedals.

The IC4 is among the most expensive exercise bikes we've ever tested, but it costs less than half the price of its primary big-name competition. However, if you seek the connected workout experience, you'll also need to consider the cost of a monthly or annual subscription to Peloton, Zwift, or Explore the World. It is also worth noting that the speed and distance readings on display are not accurate, and because it is a spin bike, it doesn't provide an accurate power output reading when using Zwift. It works; it's just far from perfect. It comes with a device holder, but you will also need your own tablet or smartphone to serve as the display when using the apps. All that said, we feel the IC4 is an impressive bike and an excellent choice for the rider who seeks the studio cycling experience.

Read review: Schwinn IC4

budget exercise bike - best overall exercise bike
The IC4 is an excellent, high-quality spin bike with connected features.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Best Bang for Your Buck Spin Bike


Yosuda Indoor Cycling Bike


68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Exercise Quality 7.0
  • Comfort 8.0
  • User Interface 5.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Setup/Portability 7.0
Style: Upright | Resistance Settings: Infinite
Reasonable price
Huge resistance range
Stable and sturdy
Smooth and quiet weighted flywheel
Basic display
No workout programs

The Yosuda Indoor Cycling Bike is an affordable upright spin-style model. It features a belt-driven 35 lb weighted flywheel with an infinite resistance adjustment range. It looks and feels like a spin bike you might ride at the gym, offered at a reasonable price. The considerable resistance range makes it suitable for riders of all fitness levels or workout intensities. It boasts a high comfort level with a quality seat and seat post and handlebar height adjustments. The assembly process is straightforward, and it is easy enough to move around on its transport wheels. The steel frame is sturdy, and this bike is stable, no matter how hard you jam on the pedals. It also comes with features like cage pedals, a device shelf, and a bottle cage to enhance your experience.

While we liked most things about the Yosuda, it lost a little ground to the competition for its basic display. Sure, it is functional, but it only shows one data field at a time. It also doesn't have any programmed workouts, so it is entirely up to you to control your training. That said, we still feel this is a quality spin bike option at a reasonable price.

Read review: Yosuda Indoor Cycling Bike

budget exercise bike - best bang for your buck spin bike
The Yosuda exercise bike is sturdy and stable with a resistance range to suit any fitness level or exercise intensity.
Credit: Heather Benson

Best Bang for Your Buck Recumbent Bike


Marcy Recumbent ME-709


55
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Exercise Quality 6.0
  • Comfort 8.0
  • User Interface 4.0
  • Features 4.0
  • Setup/Portability 5.0
Style: Recumbent | Resistance Settings: 8
Reasonable price
Comfortable seated position
Lightweight for a recumbent
Limited features
Large footprint
Limited resistance range/workout intensity

For a simple and effective recumbent exercise bike offered at a very reasonable price, look no further than the Marcy ME-709. This affordable model boasts a high comfort level with an easy step-through design, a large padded seat and backrest, and a padded handlebar. It has eight magnetic resistance levels and is best suited for exercise in the light 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 broad user height range, plus it has transport wheels, a smaller footprint, and a 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 fitness level or who seek a more intense workout may want to look elsewhere. It is also a relatively basic, no-frills model that lacks the more expensive competition's bells and whistles. While it may not be feature-packed, it is easy to use and provides a consistent, quality workout. We feel this inexpensive model is perfect for anyone on a budget who doesn't require fancy features or super high resistance levels.

Read review: Marcy Recumbent ME-709

budget exercise bike - best bang for your buck recumbent bike
The Marcy Recumbent is one of the most comfortable exercise bikes we tested.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Best Bang for Your Buck


Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse


55
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Exercise Quality 6.0
  • Comfort 5.0
  • User Interface 5.0
  • Features 5.0
  • Setup/Portability 7.0
Style: Semi-Recumbent | Resistance Settings: 8
Reasonable price
Folds for storage
Simple no-frills design
Heart rate sensor
Limited resistance range
Basic display

The Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright is an affordable semi-recumbent exercise bike with a convenient folding design. This bike provides a quality workout experience at nearly half the cost of the competition, with a simple and no-frills design that gets the job done. It has eight smooth and quiet magnetic resistance levels for workouts ranging from easy to moderate in difficulty. The simple console has an LCD display and a single button to control your workout information. The large padded seat was 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.

The Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic seems a lot more like a semi-recumbent than a proper upright style bike despite having "Upright" in its name. It has a somewhat relaxed seated position, and you can't get off the seat and stand while pedaling the way you can on an upright model. Testers also found its resistance range somewhat limited, making this bike generally unsuitable for a high-intensity workout. Beyond that, we feel this is a very reasonably priced and convenient option to consider if you're limited on space.

Read review: Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright

budget exercise bike - best bang for your buck
The Folding Magnetic Upright is a great affordable folding model that is best for users with limited space.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Best for FTMS Bluetooth Connectivity at a Reasonable Price


Renpho AI Smart Exercise Bike


76
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Exercise Quality 8.0
  • Comfort 8.0
  • User Interface 6.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Setup/Portability 8.0
Style: Upright | Resistance Settings: 80
Reasonable price
Connected features
Free AI Gym App
Works with several other popular training apps
Easy Assembly
Needs a phone or tablet to serve as a display
Limited seat height adjustment

Renpho is a relative newcomer to the home exercise market, but we were impressed by the AI Smart Exercise Bike. This upright model has 80 levels of magnetic resistance, making it suitable for users of all fitness levels. It can be controlled manually using the resistance adjustment knob. It is also FTMS Bluetooth enabled, and it works with Renpho's free AI Gym App and several other popular training apps like Zwift and Peloton. The AI Gym App is somewhat basic, but it has many fitness tests and training programs to choose from, plus the bike automatically changes resistance levels when using it and certain other apps. We found the bike relatively comfortable, with a nice seat and lots of handlebar and seat height adjustment. Assembly is straightforward, and moving the bike is relatively easy using the integrated transport wheels.

Renpho claims a massive recommended user height range of 4'11" to 6'5". While that claim is impressive, we feel it might be a little exaggerated. Our six-foot-tall tester with long legs had the seat adjustments maxed out and could have used a little more height. The bike's display is also somewhat basic, and it shows just one metric at a time. We feel the bike is best used with either the AI Gym App or another app with a phone or tablet to serve as the display. We think this is an excellent connected exercise bike despite these gripes and a pretty good value to boot.

Read review: Renpho AI Smart Exercise Bike

budget exercise bike - best for ftms bluetooth connectivity at a reasonable price
Resistance is changed by turning the dial that surrounds the small display. The display shows one piece of info at a time. When connected to the bike through an app, your device serves as the display.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Best for the Home Office


Exerpeutic Exerwork 2000i Folding Exercise Desk Bike


71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Exercise Quality 7.0
  • Comfort 8.0
  • User Interface 6.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Setup/Portability 6.0
Style: Semi-Recumbent | Resistance Settings: 24
Versatile
Bike and desk hybrid
Feature-packed
Folds for storage
Heavy
Sub-par display and controls
Limited seat height adjustment

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, a desk, a bike and desk at the same time, or a standing desk. With 24 levels of magnetic resistance, it has a vast 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 into their workout.

Read review: Exerpeutic Exerwork 2000i Folding Desk Bike

budget exercise bike - best for the home office
If you've ever wanted to combine your time spent working and working out, we feel the Exerwork desk bike is a great way to do it.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Best Under Desk Exerciser


DeskCycle Under Desk Exerciser


49
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Exercise Quality 4.0
  • Comfort 7.0
  • User Interface 4.0
  • Features 3.0
  • Setup/Portability 9.0
Style: Under Desk | Resistance Settings: 8
Lightweight and portable
Can be used anywhere, including your desk
Good for easy to moderate-intensity exercise
Limited workout intensity
Short crank arms

For the Desk Cycle, convenience is the name of the game. This tiny pedal exerciser is made to fit under a desk at work to help sedentary office workers burn calories while improving their fitness and overall well-being. However, it isn't just for use under a desk, as you can easily use this compact and lightweight machine 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. Testers were pleasantly surprised by the challenge and quality of exercise provided, given its diminutive stature. 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 lightweight.

While we loved the under-desk style's convenience, its exercise quality is somewhat limited by the nature of its design. We found it best suited for the light to moderate intensity exercise it was intended for; instead of any type of high-intensity training. As it may require an adjustable height desk or chair for some users, the fit must also be factored in when considering using the DeskCycle under a desk. 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

budget exercise bike - the deskcycle is a compact exerciser that is great for use under a...
The DeskCycle is a compact exerciser that is great for use under a desk or anywhere else for that matter.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price Our Take
80
$999
Editors' Choice Award
A high-quality spin bike with connected features at a reasonable price
76
$600
Top Pick Award
An affordable upright exercise bike with connected features that works with popular training apps
75
$1,200
A quality exercise bike that rivals the biggest names in the business
74
$499
A reasonably priced upright model with connected features
71
$399
Top Pick Award
Our favorite combination of a bike and work desk
68
$340
Best Buy Award
This affordable spin bike has a weighted flywheel and a gym-like workout feel but lacks any connectivity
55
$203
Best Buy Award
This folding model is affordable, convenient, and best for light to moderate intensity exercise
55
$210
Best Buy Award
This simple and affordable recumbent bike is best suited for light to moderate intensity exercise
49
$199
Top Pick Award
A unique and compact design you can use anywhere

budget exercise bike - we tested exercise quality by using each model for several workouts...
We tested exercise quality by using each model for several workouts of varying intensities.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Why You Should Trust Us


Our exercise bike test was led by Jeremy Benson. Benson is the Senior Mountain Bike Review Editor at OutdoorGearLab 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 nine 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, attempting similar high-intensity workouts to see what we could get from each model. We also included more casual light-moderate intensity spinning up to get a complete picture of the range of each bike. These training sessions allowed us to examine the quality of each model's resistance. At the same time, the interval workout served as a baseline to determine the upper limit of each model's workout potential.

Our testing of exercise bikes is divided across five rating metrics:
  • Exercise Quality (30% of overall score weighting)
  • Comfort (20% of overall score weighting)
  • User Interface (20% of overall score weighting)
  • Features (20% of overall score weighting)
  • Setup and Portability (10% of overall score weighting)

Keeping these categories in mind while using and evaluating each bike allows us to deliver unbiased results to help you decide. Several hours spent testing each machine's exercise quality allowed us to thoroughly examine each model's user interface, comfort, and features. We timed the length of setup for each bike, experimented with settings, downloaded compatible apps, and explored the full range of options on each machine. We weigh 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 weighted less. The combined scores from all metrics helped us determine our top-rated models.

Our testing process began with assembling each exercise bike after...
Our testing process began with assembling each exercise bike after removing it from its original packaging.
All of the bikes we tested can be moved relatively easily, but they...
All of the bikes we tested can be moved relatively easily, but they all have different sizes that take up more or less space in your home.
We also took the time to use each of the models we test during...
We also took the time to use each of the models we test during workouts ranging from casual spinning to intense interval training.

Analysis and Test Results


This review tested each exercise bike head to head over several weeks to determine their strengths, weaknesses, and performance differences. Based on the bikes' performance and functionality, we rated each model on five predetermined metrics weighted by importance.

Value


We don't rate the products we test based on their price, but we consider the price of a product in relation to its performance. Top of the line exercise bikes can cost a fortune, but all of the models we chose for this review qualify as 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 cost and performance of the bikes we tested, with the more expensive options providing a higher level of exercise quality, comfort, and features. A more expensive model, like the Schwinn IC4, is a good example. The IC4 provides a gym or spin studio-quality exercise experience, plus it has connected features to follow along to on-demand studio or virtual workouts on popular training apps. A less expensive model like the Yosuda has a similar exercise quality, just without the connectivity that many users enjoy. Likewise, the Exerpeutic Folding Upright provides a decent quality workout, albeit with a somewhat limited range of intensity in a convenient folding design at a fraction of the price of the top-rated models we tested.

budget exercise bike - the most important performance attribute of an exercise bike is the...
The most important performance attribute of an exercise bike is the quality of the workout it provides. The models we tested vary dramatically.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Exercise Quality


The whole point of having an exercise bike is to get exercise, so we feel that the quality of the workout a bike provides is the most critical aspect of its performance. We weighted this metric as 30% of the overall score. 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 broader range of workouts, from easy to super high-intensity. The number of resistance levels, the range and quality of the resistance, and features like programmed workouts and heart rate sensors, played a role in the quality of exercise of each model.


The Schwinn IC4 and the Echelon EX-3 were head and shoulders above the competition in this metric, with exercise quality as good as you'll find in a commercial gym or spin studio. Both bikes are sturdy, high-quality machines with weighted flywheels and smooth, super quiet magnetic resistance. The Schwinn IC4 has 100 levels of micro-adjustable resistance. In addition to manual workouts, it can connect to your device to work with popular training apps like Peloton, Zwift, and Explore the World (subscriptions required). As a bonus, it comes with a set of hand weights that hang on the bike's frame. We loved the versatility of the Schwinn. The Echelon EX-3 has 32 levels of magnetic resistance, and it is also a connected bike. Unlike the Schwinn, the EX-3 only works with the Echelon app. The Echelon app is great, and you can participate in live streaming classes or choose from thousands of on-demand workouts(subscription required). However, we found the EX-3's compatibility and functionality somewhat limited compared to the Schwinn.

budget exercise bike - the echelon ex-3 has connected features that allow you to have a...
The Echelon EX-3 has connected features that allow you to have a studio workout experience from the comfort of your own home.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

The Schwinn 130 Upright is an upright model with a body position similar to riding a regular bike. With 16 magnetic resistance levels, it has a considerable range suitable for all fitness levels and capable of providing a strenuous workout. Plus, the recent updates to the 130 include Bluetooth connectivity and functionality with popular training apps like Zwift and Explore the World. Similarly, the Renpho AI Smart Bike is an upright model with 80 levels of magnetic resistance, enough to satisfy any fitness level, and FTMS Bluetooth connectivity that works with the AI Gym App and several other popular training apps. The AI Gym App is free to use with the Renpho bike, and while it isn't the most exciting, it features a number of fitness tests, training programs, and videos, plus the bike makes automatic resistance changes based on the program you're following. The ability to use the bike with other apps should also be appealing to a broad range of user preferences.

budget exercise bike - the models with 8 levels of resistance, like the exerpeutic folding...
The models with 8 levels of resistance, like the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic, tend to have less resistance range and limited workout intensity.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

The DeskCycle is a small and portable under-desk exerciser that can't compete with the exercise quality of the competition mentioned above. 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 it was limited to easy to moderate-intensity workouts. The Exerpeutic Folding Upright and the Marcy Recumbent ME-709 are 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 interested in a less intense workout who don't require the bells and whistles of the more expensive competition.

budget exercise bike - comfort is the most subjective metric. what works best for you will...
Comfort is the most subjective metric. What works best for you will vary depending on your goals, needs, and preferences.
Credit: Heather Benson

Comfort


Comfort is the most subjective metric that we analyzed, but we feel it is an essential aspect of a quality exercise bike and give it a 20% influence on the overall score of the bikes. The more comfortable your bike is, the more likely you will 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 each model's comfort. Things like the seat, backrest and fit adjustments all play a role in how comfortable a bike is, especially for prolonged periods of exercise.


Most of the bikes we tested are comfortable, but the Renpho AI Smart Bike was among the best models we tested. An upright model promotes an athletic and 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 padded seat and comfort adjustments like seat height, handlebar height, and pedal straps. Likewise, the Echelon EX-3 impressed us with its comfort. This bike has loads of seat and handlebar height adjustment and a slimmer, performance-oriented seat that mimics a regular road or studio spin bike saddle. It also comes with dual-function pedals with cages on one side and SPDs on the other, so you can choose the style that suits you best. Similarly, the Schwinn IC4 offers both vertical and horizontal adjustment in the seat and handlebar, allowing the rider to customize the fit to their preferences.

budget exercise bike - recumbent style bikes generally have a relaxed seated position and...
Recumbent style bikes generally have a relaxed seated position and are easy to get in and out of.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Recumbent models are inherently comfortable with their fully seated body position, and some users may prefer it. The Marcy ME-709 scored well, 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. It earned one of the lowest scores of the group; however, it still offers a reasonable comfort level 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 padded handles around the console.

budget exercise bike - the user interface consists of the display and controls and they...
The user interface consists of the display and controls and they vary wildly from super simple, like the one pictured here, to relatively advanced.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

User Interface


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 bikes we tested have a computer console of some kind that includes a digital display and buttons to control the functions, modes, and information displayed. This metric accounts for 20% of the overall score for each product.


The Schwinn IC4 is a smart bike with connected features. It comes with a digital display that shows typical metrics like time, speed, distance, RPM, and heart rate, plus it also has a Bluetooth connection to sync with your device when used with apps like Peloton, Zwift, and Explore the World. The Renpho AI Smart Bike has a relatively basic resistance adjustment knob with a small circular screen that displays one metric at a time. When connected to the AI Gym App or another app via Bluetooth, your device serves as the display while you follow along. The Renpho bike also makes resistance changes automatically based on the program you are following with certain apps.

budget exercise bike - the schwinn ic4 has a regular digital display, plus it syncs to your...
The Schwinn IC4 has a regular digital display, plus it syncs to your device to use popular training apps.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

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 users to choose the data on display, set workout goals, and reset workout values. These models also have eight levels of magnetic resistance that are controlled by turning a resistance knob.

budget exercise bike - the exercise bikes we tested come with a variety of different...
The exercise bikes we tested come with a variety of different features. The Exerpeutic Exerwork 2000i, for example, comes with an integrated desk that is highly adjustable.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Features


The features found on a cycle can make it more or less engaging and useable during your workout, and we weigh this test category at 20% of the overall score. All of the exercise bikes in this test have at least a few basics, but we found 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 how many features it had and how beneficial those features were.


The Schwinn 130 Upright was among the highest scorers in this metric, and it comes equipped with transport wheels, a water bottle holder, angle adjustable padded handlebar, contact heart rate sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, a device shelf, and pedal straps. The Renpho AI Smart Bike doesn't have a water bottle holder, but otherwise, it has nearly the same feature set as the Schwinn 130. Renpho ups the ante in the connectivity department with its FTMS Bluetooth and compatibility with more apps. Plus, it comes with the free AI Gym App, so you can use it without having to pay a subscription fee if you choose.

budget exercise bike - the dual function pedals on the echelon ex-3 are a nice feature that...
The dual function pedals on the Echelon EX-3 are a nice feature that allows you to use regular shoes and cages or cycling shoes with SPD cleats.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

The Exerwork 2000i desk bike comes loaded with many 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 simultaneously, 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 Echelon EX-3 also comes loaded with features. Its connectivity is one of its best attributes, and you can use it with the EchelonFit app for an at-home studio cycling experience. It also comes with bottle cages, a device holder, a rack for hand weights, and dual-function pedals. Likewise, the Schwinn IC4 is a connected bike that can be used with apps like Peloton, Zwift, and Explore the world for in-home studio or virtual training. The IC4 also comes loaded with a digital display, hand weights with cradles, bottle holders, dual-function pedals, a device holder, a USB charging port, and a Bluetooth armband.

budget exercise bike - the schwinn 130 upright removed from the box before assembly.
The Schwinn 130 Upright removed from the box before assembly.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

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. All parts, hardware, tools, and instructions are included with each model. However, the ease of setup and the time needed to complete the process varies 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 we completed each cycle assembly, we measured and weighed them to determine how much space they occupied and compared with the manufacturer's specifications. We also moved them from our garage to our workout space to gauge 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 Renpho AI. It took us much longer to assemble than the DeskCycle, but it required fewer steps and was more straightforward than the rest of the competition.

The Echelon EX-3 and the Schwinn IC4 were both a bit more time-consuming to assemble, plus they weigh a whopping 105 and 106 lbs, respectively. It's easy enough to move them around on their transport wheels, but lifting either of them up or down a flight of stairs is a task for two people.

budget exercise bike - folding models like the exerpeutic folding magnetic upright are...
Folding models like the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright are great when space is limited. This bike can easily be stored in a closet when not in use.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

The Marcy Recumbent ME-709 and the Schwinn 130 Upright took about a full hour to assemble. The Schwinn tips the scales at 61 lbs, yet it is easy to move around on most floor surfaces by rolling it on its wheels. It doesn't collapse or fold for storage. However, the upright model 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.

budget exercise bike - whatever your health and fitness goals, there&#039;s an affordable...
Whatever your health and fitness goals, there's an affordable exercise bike for you.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Conclusion


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, 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


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