Best Exercise Bike of 2020
Best Overall Exercise Bike
Schwinn 130 Upright Bike
Impressing our testers, the Schwinn 130 Upright was the best affordable exercise bike we tested. This upright-style bike provides a near gym-quality workout for all fitness abilities with 20 levels of resistance that provide a vast range of difficulty. It comes with 22 programs that include profile courses, heart rate control, fitness tests, and custom workouts. 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. Also, 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 moderately priced, but we feel the expense is justified considering its excellent exercise quality, features, comfort, and user interface.
Read review: Schwinn 130 Upright Bike
Best Connected Spin Bike
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 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 that is 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 to be quite comfortable, with ample fit adjustments and a performance-oriented race style seat. It also comes with 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. If you seek the connected workout experience, however, 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 reading on the display seemed a bit off, 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
Best Bang for Your Buck Spin Bike
Yosuda Indoor Cycling Bike
The Yosuda Indoor Cycling Bike is an affordable upright spin-style model. It features a belt-driven 35 lb weighted flywheel with an infinite range of resistance adjustment. 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 level of comfort with a quality seat and adjustments for seatpost and handlebar height. The assembly process was 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 come with any programmed workouts, so controlling your workout is entirely up to you. That said, we still feel this is a quality spin bike option at a reasonable price.
Read review: Yosuda Indoor Cycling Bike
Best Bang For Your Buck Recumbent Bike
Marcy Recumbent ME-709
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 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 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. For anyone on a budget who doesn't require fancy features or super high resistance levels, we feel this inexpensive model is perfect.
Read review: Marcy Recumbent ME-709
Best for Bang for Your 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 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
Best Under Desk Exerciser
DeskCycle Under Desk Exerciser
For the Desk Cycle, convenience is the name of the game. 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 provided. 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
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, 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, while the interval workout served as a baseline to determine the upper limit of each model's workout potential. Several hours spent testing each machine's exercise quality 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
In this review, each exercise bike was tested head to head over several weeks to determine their strengths, weaknesses, and performance differences. We rated each model on 5 predetermined metrics weighted by importance based on the bikes' performance and functionality. 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 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 Exerpeutic Folding Upright provides a quality workout, albeit with a somewhat limited range of intensity in 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 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 wider range of workout; from easy to super high-intensity. The number of resistance levels, the range and quality of the resistance, along with 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, and 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). 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 EchelonFit app. The EchelonFit app is great, and you can participate in live streaming classes or choose from thousands of on-demand workouts(subscription required), although we found the EX-3's compatibility and functionality to be somewhat limited compared to the Schwinn.
The Schwinn 130 Upright is an upright model with a body position similar to riding a regular bike. With 20 magnetic resistance levels, it has a considerable resistance range suitable for all fitness levels and capable of a strenuous 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, in terms of its exercise quality, was nearly identical to the Schwinn 130. 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.
With its gym-like exercise quality, the Yosuda Indoor Cycling Bike also impressed us. This upright model's 35 lb weighted flywheel and infinite resistance adjustment give it the look and feel of a regular spin bike. The resistance range is huge, and you can workout as easy or hard as you like on this sturdy competitor. It doesn't feature program workouts or courses like our top-rated models in this metric, but you can certainly get as good of a workout on the Yosuda.
The DeskCycle is a small and portable under-desk exerciser that can't compete with the aforementioned competition's exercise quality. 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 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 interested in a less intense workout who 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.
The Schwinn 130 Upright was among the most comfortable models we tested. As an upright model, it 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 contoured seat and comfort adjustments like seat height, handlebar tilt, 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. We also found the Yosuda to be a comfortable ride. This upright bike felt similar to the Schwinn, with performance-oriented seat shape, ample seat and handlebar height adjustments, and cage pedals to keep your feet in place.
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 vast range of seat adjustability, a contoured seat and supportive backrest. Still, it 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. It 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. 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 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.
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, while the lower screen has customizable data fields and shows important values like time, speed, distance, RPM, resistance level, and heart rate.
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. These models also have eight levels of magnetic resistance that are controlled by turning a resistance knob. Like the above-mentioned models, the Yosuda also has a super basic display and controls. A knob controls resistance, but instead of preset levels, it has infinite resistance adjustment.
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. An outlier in this metric, the Echelon EX-3 doesn't come with a display. Instead, it relies on its Bluetooth connection and the device of your choosing to function as the display. It has a large adjustable device holder that secures your device in place for easy viewing while riding.
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 not only on how many features it had, but also how useful those features were.
The Nautilus R614 and the Schwinn 130 Upright have a nearly identical set of features that helped 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, their consoles have 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 arm's reach and round out the extensive list of features.
The Echelon EX-3 also comes loaded with features. Its connectivity is one of its best attributes, and it can be used 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 sued 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, dula-function pedals, a device holder, USB charging port, and a Bluetooth armband. The DeskCycle 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. However, the ease of setup and the time needed to complete the process varied 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 completed, 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 Yosuda also around 45 minutes to assemble. Unlike the Exerpeutic Folding model, however, it weighs nearly 69 lbs. It is still relatively easy to move around on its transport wheels, but it takes up a fair amount more space. 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 definitely a task for two people.
The Marcy Recumbent ME-709 and the Schwinn 130 Upright 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 incredibly difficult, it took an hour and 15 minutes to complete and was made slightly more challenging due to the machine's weight and shape. It was also one of the heaviest models we tested at 84.4 lbs, with the largest footprint. Moving it short distances wasn't too difficult thanks to its transport wheels, but this sizeable recumbent bike takes up a fair amount of 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, 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