Exercise bikes are great tools for training cardio. If you’re a cyclist, there is no better way to train because of the carryover to your sport. Exercise bikes come in a few different varieties. Let’s look at what the best option for each type is.
Best spin bikes
Spin bikes are for hard cardio sessions. They are sturdy bikes for a tough workout.
Spin bike: Schwinn IC3. A sturdy spin bike with all the functions you need and want. It’s from a company that has a ton of experience building bicycles and frames so that’s going to be very strong and well built. It has all the features you could possibly want from a spin bike for a good price. Below you can find why I chose this model or you can buy the IC3 here on Amazon.
Peleton Alternative: Schwinn IC4. This bike is a much cheaper alternative to the Peleton bike and system. You use your own phone or tablet which means you save a lot of money on the bike. The benefit is that with the IC4 you can still use the Peleton app (subscription not included. Check out the features of the IC4 here on Amazon (affiliate link)
However, if you don’t need any of the connectivity, the IC3 is better value for money.
Best recumbent bike
Spin bikes are really good for intense cardio and HIIT. They aren’t particularly comfortable though. Recumbent bikes are much better for steady state cardio. They have a backrest, soft seat and a comfortable seating position. Much better for low impact cardio.
Cheap and effective: Marcy ME-709. A very simple recumbent bike but it does what it has to do. It’s super simple which keeps the price down. All the parts of a recumbent bike are there. It has a simple LCD display to track your workout, 8 levels of resistance and an adjustable seat. Buy the Marcy ME-709 here on Amazon.
Durable and flexible: Schwinn 270. This bike is much closer to what you would see in a commercial gym but without the ‘commercial’ price tag. High quality frame, big information display, digitally controlled resistance, many built in programs and a built in fan. While being considerably more expensive than the Marcy, you get a lot more quality and features for your money.
Why I chose the Schwinn IC3
A spin bike is a relatively simple piece of equipment. It does have to take a lot of abuse though. That’s why you want something with a very sturdy frame.
The Schwinn IC3 is what you want;
- High quality frame
- Reliable brand with a very long history in building bicycles and fitness equipment.
- Heavy 40 lbs. flywheel
- Information display that shows; Time / Distance / Calories / Speed / RPM / Heart Rate BPM
- Tablet/phone holder
- Felt brake pad
- Race style seat with two way adjustability
- 300 lbs. user limit
- 5 years warranty on frame. 2 years warranty on electronics
There are cheaper ones but on most of those, the frame isn’t quite up to the same standards as this Schwinn IC3. Since Schwinn has so much history of building frames, bicycles and fitness equipment, you can be sure it’s solid.
Besides that, they have great after sales which can be absent from the cheaper brands.
Peleton gets all the attention lately. Their main advantage is the online subscription you get with it. The peleton bike is pretty expensive though. There is a much cheaper alternative that actually still works with the Peleton app.
The Schwinn IC4 is a high quality spin bike that has much of the same functionality as the Peleton at a much friendlier price. How they do this? You bring your own screen. Why pay for another screen if you already have a phone or tablet. This saves a pretty significant chunk of money. Just install the app of your choice on your device and you’re good to go. The membership of the app you want to use is not included but between the lower price of the bike and the option for cheaper apps, this is a lot cheaper to run than a Peleton bike.
Check out the all the great features of the Schwinn IC4 here on Amazon (affiliate link)
What to look for in a recumbent bike
What are some important things you should be aware of when shopping for a recumbent bike.
- Size. The bike you pick has to fit your home gym or other room you want to put it in. Of course if you’ve got plenty of space this isn’t an issue. Some recumbent bikes can be folded so they take up much less space when not using them.
- Weight. The weight of the bike is important for a few reasons. Sometimes you want to move it around and if it’s super heavy that isn’t very easy. Another reason is if you’re on a second or higher floor. Combined with other equipment, you have to be careful with the load limit of your floor.
- Weight capacity. The next thing to look out for is how much weight it can handle. For the heavier people under us, that is something to look out for. Check if a certain machine can handle your body weight before buying.
- Features. Some people need/want more features than others. It’s up to you what you get. Some possible features;
- Built in exercise programs
- Comfort seat
- Information display
- Performance tracking
- Water bottle holder
- Heart rate monitor
A comfortable seat and information display are things most people really want/need. Many people also want built in programs. The other features are a bit less important for most.
- Resistance and ease of resistance adjustment. You want to have a wide range of resistance levels and it should be easy to change between resistance levels. When you’re starting out, you want a resistance level that’s easy enough to keep up for a while but at the same time you want the adjustability to keep up with your progression over time.
- Seat adjustment. Not everyone is the same height. You want to be able to adjust the seat distance further or closer away from the pedals so you can use the machine comfortably. On some bikes it’s much easier to adjust than on others. On a few machines it’s even impossible. If you’re the only one that uses the machine a seat that’s difficult to adjust isn’t a big problem. If there are two people in your house that are of different heights that want to use the bike, it’s really helpful to have a seat that adjusts easily.
- Quality. Quality is hard to quantify but you want a piece of equipment you can use without problems for many years. A recumbent bike is a relatively simple piece of equipment that doesn’t have too many parts that can break. But having one that’s built well can save a lot of headaches.