Exercise bikes are a great way to get fit indoors. Especially as not all of us are able to get outside and enjoy riding on the open road.
Traditionally, cyclists training indoors will attach their own bike to a turbo trainer or ride on rollers. However, if you’ve got a dedicated space for a bike you can leave consistently set up and ready to go – or have no intention of riding outside – then choosing one of the best exercise bikes is a great choice.
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Exercise bikes vary rather dramatically in price and spec – starting from as low as £100 and travelling well in excess of £3,000. Which is the right one for you depends which functions and features are important to you.
The coronavirus pandemic meant many of the entry-level models sold out on nearly all platforms. Stock levels are slowly returning to normal, and pre-orders are now an option for lots of the units. It’s worth checking selling sites and Ebay for secondhand models.
An entry-level model will allow you to get a spin on and get fit. Spend more, and you’ll enjoy ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity, so you can train using indoor training apps such as Zwift or The Sufferfest.
But for two, the collection of the best exercise bikes all exceed the £1,000 mark. A significant outlay, but worth the extra money.
Our pick of the best exercise bikes for indoor cycling
With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.
Wahoo Kickr Bike
This is as close as you will get to merging the line between virtual riding and reality. The Wahoo Kickr Bike has an amazing set of strings to its bow. Features such as integrated grade changes, customizable gearing, and simulated shifting put it in the running as one of the best exercise bikes.
While riding, you can adjust the gradient all the way up to 20 per cent, or, if you wanted to feel like you were descending, -15 per cent too. This is to make the Kickr Bike feel as realistic as possible. You can also fit the bike to your exact specifications with help from the very detailed and informative Wahoo fitness app.
The Kickr Bike is compatible with any of the big brands, Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo. The virtual shifting technology recognises every detail to make sure that the smart shifting of the bike works with what you want, allowing you to even add your own handlebars, saddle and pedals.
Stages Cycling Smart Bike
Stages Cycling don’t just build crank arm power meters, but also one of the best exercise bikes for commercial gyms, and now a highly-impressive home equivalent. Unique to the Stages entry in this category is a flywheel that dwarfs the weight of anyone else’s. Weight in the flywheel helps it hold momentum for a more realistic road feel. At 50lb/22.7kg the flywheel Stages uses is more than twice the weight of the flywheel on the Wahoo Kickr bike or Wattbike Atom. Stages has not skimped in this regard and it’s just one part of a build that will withstand anything you throw at it.
Power measurement happens at the crank arms using an integrated gen 3 dual-sided power meter. The design is the same as you’ll find on other Stages power meter products with an accuracy of +/- 1.5% and integrated cadence. Electronic resistance goes as high 2,200 watts at 130rpm.
There’s tons of adjustability and changes are easy. Swap in your favourite saddle or handlebars if you like. Large knobs, laser-etched sizing scales, adjustable brake hoods, and adjustable crank arm length make it easy to get your fit right or share the bike.
Tacx Neo smart bike
The Tacx Neo smart trainer has long been a favorite at Cycling Weekly, and the smart bike version is pretty much the same turbo, with a bike pre-attached. The unit uses magnetic resistance, topping out at 2,200 watts whilst mimicking climbs as steep as 25 per cent.
For Tacx, ride feel has taken centre stage. Included are features to replicate cobblestones and even a virtual ‘chain jump’ as you move into a new gear. We reckon those are a couple of elements some of us don’t want to replicate indoors but they are there. You do get a nice speed up as you crest hills which can only be a pleasant bonus.
The bike provides pedal analysis as well as power, cadence and all the other metrics you’d expect – and the air fans attached adjust the level of cooling depending upon your heart rate or power output. What’s more, connect with a smartphone, tablet, or computer via Bluetooth or ANT+ and you can follow structured workouts or ride a route.
Peloton Indoor Training Bike
“Okay Peloton, let’s do this!” You have almost certainly seen the adverts for this on TV, the brand has been popping up everywhere and even non-cyclists now know of the word, peloton. The American brand dominates the US market and is starting to make inroads into the UK one, too. One thing that may hold back the bike is the price, but, at around £1,000 cheaper than the Wahoo above this, you may tempted.
So what do you get? Well, in the basic £1,990 pack, it is just the exercise bike, one year warranty and home delivery. Along with the classes that are broadcast from their studio at allotted times.
- Peloton vs Zwift: which is best for your at-home workouts?
- Is the Peloton indoor exercise biek and app worth it?
It is a perfect bike for the spin-class world, but does pull you away from the normal cycling world. A misgiving, at least for us, is that it only gives you estimated power, so you can never be sure how well you’re actually doing.
Wattbike is one of the leaders in exercise bikes, supplying federations and gyms. The consumer model, the Atom, has just been updated with an improved, faster, electromagnetic resistance which Wattbike says also allows for an extra 500 watts at the top end (2,500w compared to 2,000w) and more accuracy.
In our review of the original Atom we commented that “pedalling fluidity is second to none.” We also found it to be incredibly quiet, too, so a good option if you don’t have a dedicated outbuilding to train in, or live in a flat and don’t want to annoy the neighbours.
Connectivity comes via ANT+ or Bluetooth, and you can use set workouts via the Wattbike Hub, its own training and analysis platform, or you can hook it up to an indoor training app. There is amble adjustability and it has road bike-style geometry including a 160mm Q-Factor. As shipped, you’ll find flat pedals with toe clips. Clipless pedals are an easy swap. All in, it weighs 44kg.
Echelon Smart Connect EX3
Echelon says the sturdy and compact bike provides both comfort and functionality. Customisation is easy with adjustable oversized seat and handlebar console. A silent magnetic flywheel provides 32 levels of resistance and challenging workouts for all levels of rider.
Once you’ve purchased the bike, you then need to decide on a subscription plan. Unlimited personalised workouts and online community options are £39.99 a month, £399.90 for 12 months, or £599.85 for 24 months. Join a variety of live and on-demand classes and special events led by Echelon’s own trained instructors. Access is provided through the Echelon Fit App using your mobile phone, tablet or smart TV.
Sportstech SX400 Speedbike
If you’re checking out sub-£1,000 options, the Sportstech SX400 Speedbike is worth a look. The 22kg belt-driven flywheel is as heavy as those of the more expensive exercise bikes and there’s plenty of adjustability making it possible to achieve a road or TT bike position, for example; the armpads for the tri-bar position are neat addition.
There’s an app-compatible 5.5in console that uses Bluetooth to connect with iBiking+ and Kinomap – though not with third-party apps such as Zwift. What else? There’s a heart-rate monitor built into the bullhorn bars for hand-grip readings but it’s also compatible with a Bluetooth chest strap. All in all, this set up comes in at a reassuringly heavy 44kg.
Reebok ZJET 460 Exercise Bike
The Reebok ZJET 460 Exercise Bike doesn’t have the very heavy flywheel of the high-end exercise bikes – 9kg compared to the 22.7kg of the Stages – and it doesn’t have the adjustability of the more serious ones either: training in your TT position will most likely not be possible.
However, it does have 24 levels of electronic resistance and 19 console programmes and connects via Bluetooth to the Reebok Fitness App so that you can track your workouts and monitor your progress. Note that it isn’t compatible with third-party apps such as Zwift, TrainerRoad, Sufferfest etc.
The Reebok unit has a hand-grip pulse sensor which feeds back to the app too, along with speed, time, distance and calories burnt. While riding, data are displayed on a 5.5in LCD screen. Its overall weight is 35.5kg – so it’s a bit lighter than the more expensive units and with its transportation wheels it’s more manoeuvrable too.