Cycling is a great way to get fit, but 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 an exercise bike 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 £3000. Which is the right one for you depends which functions and features are important to you.
The Coronavirus pandemic meant many 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, and as lockdown restrictions ease, 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.
Here are five exercise bikes that all exceed the £1000 mark, but are worth the extra money.
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Wahoo Kickr Bike: £2999.99
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, such as integrated grade changes, customisable gearing, and simulated shifting to create the most powerful, personalised, and realistic indoor training experience.
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 Wahoo fitness app, they can guide you through fitting you bike by using professional bike fit measurements, taking a photo of your bike or simply entering your body measurements to get the it that’s right for you.
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. This means you can add you own handlebars, saddle and pedals too.
Peloton Indoor Training Bike: Starting at £1990
“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 none-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 £1000 cheaper than the Wahoo above this, you may tempted.
So what do you get? Well, in the basic £1990 pack, it is just the exercise bike, one year warranty and home delivery. Along with the classes that are broadcasted from their studio at allotted times.
It is a perfect bike for the spin-class world, but does pull you away from the normal cycling world and also, it only gives you estimated power, so you can never be sure how well you’re doing.
Wattbike Atom – £1599
Wattbike has led the cyclist’s exercise bike market for years, and there are now two Atom’s for home users, the Atom and Atom Next Generation which is £300 more, but uses an electromagnetic reistance which Wattbike say allows for an extra 500watts at the top end (2500w compared to 2000w) and more accuracy.
The resistance on the original Atom unit is magnetic, and in our review we commented that “pedalling fluidity is second to none.”
You can mimic climbs up to 25 per cent and deliver up to 2000 watts, though we didn’t get near that in testing, so worth considering if your weighing up the two models. We also found it to be incredibly quiet, too, so a good option if you aren’t able to dedicated an out building to ride from home.
Connectivity comes via ANT+ or Bluetooth, and you can use set workouts or hook up to an indoor training app.
There is amble adjustability, with a road bike style geometry including a 160mm Q-Factor. Flat pedals with toe cages are fitted as standard, but can be swapped for clipless pedals. All in, it’s 44kg.
Tacx Neo smart bike – £2599
The Tacx Neo smart trainer has long been a favourite at Cycling Weekly, and the smart bike version is pretty much the same turbo, with a bike pre-attached!
The unit uses magnetic resistance, and can handle up to 2,200 watts whilst mimicking climbs as steep as 25 per cent.
You can follow structured workouts, or ride a route, and you can connect with a smartphone, tablet or computer via Bluetooth or Ant+.
Ride feel has been taken to the max, with the likes of cobblestones reflected and even a virtual ‘chain jump’ as you move into a new gear, though we reckon those are a couple of elements some of us don’t necessarily want to replicate indoors.. 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.
The Q-Factor is set to be the same as a road bike, there’s lots of adjustability, and all-in the weight is 50kg.
Wattbike Icon: £2499
Wattbike’s exercise bike may look familiar to some. It was previously only available to pros and gyms. But now, Wattbike has made it available for all.
Normally only found in gyms, Wattbike have added the Icon to their range available to the general public while we deal with some restriction of movement. It’s an excellent gym bike and since it was introduced has, along with the Atom, has been flying off the shelves.
With a saving of £620 over the standard RRP, the exercise bike includes a full colour 11″ performance touchscreen. Wattbike did say that the price and availability was for a limited time, while we endured lockdown, it is currently still cart option, but if you are interested you might want to act sharp purchase wise.
Echelon Smart Connect EX3 £1238.99
The Smart Connect EX3 bike is the first Echelon product to launch in the UK and comes with unlimited options to the Echelon Fit App.
Echelon say the sturdy and compact bike provides both comfort and functionality.and is ergonomically customisable, with an adjustable oversized seat and handlebar console. A silent magnetic flywheel provides 32 levels of resistance, for what they promise to be a challenging workout for all levels of rider.
Once you’ve purchased the bike, you then need to decided on a subscription plan, £39.99 a month, £399.90 for 12 months, or £599.85 for 24 months, for unlimited personalised workouts and online community, accessed via the Echelon Fit App, using your own device, which including mobile phones, tablets or smart TVs, to join a variety of live and on-demand classes and special events led by Echelon’s own trained instructors.