In many ways an exercise bike is the best piece of home cardio fitness equipment you can buy. They are relatively compact – compared with a treadmill or elliptical anyway – and you can get a sturdy, high-quality exercise bike for under £500, rather than the £1,500-plus other cardio machines can cost.
Of course you can splurge a huge wad of cash on an exercise bike if you want, as you’ll see from the top-end section of our buyer’s guide, which is full of machines that wouldn’t look out of place on the Team Sky bus. Along with those money-no-object options, we have inexpensive and mid-range bikes that cater for every indoor cyclist’s budget.
There are three main types of home exercise bikes. The first are upright bikes, which are more comfortable and good for beginners (as well as usually being cheaper).
Indoor/spinning cycles mimic the forward-leaning riding position of a racing bike and are great for more intense sessions and getting in shape for outdoor cycling. Indoor cycles, as you’d expect, are the kind of bikes you will be familiar with if you frequent spinning classes.
The third kind of exercise bike you might consider are recumbent cycles, which are the most comfortable of all due to the laid-back riding position, but require a little more space.
We’ve rounded up the best exercise bikes of all types, below. Stop spinning your wheels and take a gander.
The Best Budget Exercise Bikes (Under £300)
If you are looking for an upright bike you can get a great machine for under £200, and there are some decent picks under £100 too. Indoor cycles tend to be pricier but you can still find a good bike for under £200. When buying, consider the size of the flywheel on the bike – the heavier the better, because that makes for a smoother ride and offers more options for increasing the resistance.
Best Bargain Exercise Bike: Ultrasport F-bike Trainer
Exercise bikes that cost less than £100 sometimes fall into the “dangerously cheap” bracket, in that they are so flimsy that they’ll fall over or fold in on themselves the moment you crank up the speed. Not so with the Ultrasport F-bike, which is robust enough to ride without worrying that it will fall apart. It also folds up neatly. There are eight levels of resistance, though don’t expect much of a challenge if you ride regularly. It’s one for beginners (though not beginners who weigh more than 100kg) and the seriously space-starved. £82.99, buy on amazon.co.uk
Best Budget Upright Exercise Bike: York Fitness Active 110 Exercise Cycle
There are several decent upright bikes available for less than £200, but this sturdy option from York Active gets the nod mainly because it has a large and comfortable seat, which is important if you’re going to spend a significant amount of time on it. There are eight resistance levels and four preset workouts to try, and you can monitor your heart rate with the sensors in the handles. £152.04, buy on amazon.co.uk
Best Budget Indoor Exercise Bike: JLL IC300 Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike
For a smidge under £150 you can bag an incredibly full-featured spinning cycle, with a chunky 18kg flywheel that allows you to really ratchet up the resistance. You can adjust the seat and handlebars to fit you precisely and the friction resistance handle allows you to quickly change the challenge of your ride. £149.99, buy on amazon.co.uk
RECOMMENDED: Exercise Bike Workouts
Best Budget Recumbent Exercise Bike: V-fit G-RC Recumbent Magnetic Cycle
If you have back problems, or just really like the idea of lying back while exercising, then a recumbent bike is a great option – the relaxed riding position puts less strain on your ankles, knees and lower back. The V-fit G-RC has eight levels of resistance and supports users who weigh up to 115kg. £184.99, buy on amazon.co.uk
Best Upright Exercise Bike For Under £300: Reebok Z Jet 400 Bike
At £299 the Reebok Z-Jet 400 just slips into the budget bracket – although it’s pricier than most budget machines but cheaper than bulk of mid-range bikes, so it should get its own in-between band. The most appealing feature on the Z Jet 400 is the huge range of resistance, with 32 levels to pick from. There are also 12 preset workouts, which you are guided through on the clear and colourful 5.5in (140mm) LCD screen. £299, buy on powerhouse-fitness.co.uk
The Best Mid-Range Exercise Bikes (£300-£700)
Venture into the £300 to £700 price range of exercise bikes and you can expect more resistance and workout programmes on upright bikes, and a sturdier and smoother ride if you opt for a spinning cycle.
Best Mid-Range Upright Exercise Bike: Kettler Sport Picos Exercise Bike
We promised more resistance and workout programmes at this price point and the Kettler Picos delivers. It has 24 levels of resistance, and 19 preset workout programmes to try. It can also handle users who weigh up to 150kg, which is as good a way as any to demonstrate how sturdy it is. £399, buy on johnlewis.com
Best Mid-Range Indoor Exercise Bike: JTX Cyclo 6
If you have fallen in love with spinning classes and want to bring the intense experience home, this indoor cycle with a massive 22kg flywheel will serve you well. And given the often exorbitant price of spinning classes, you’ll be saving money after a few months too. The manual infinity resistance (you heard us right, INFINITE RESISTANCE) system lets you switch from low to high in seconds, and the max user weight is an impressive 160kg. £474, buy on amazon.co.uk
Best Mid-Range Recumbent Exercise Bike: NordicTrack VR21 Recumbent Bike
If you’re a committed fan of recumbent riding, you’re not as well catered to as devotees of upright bikes and indoor cycles are, but fortunately all your needs are likely to be met by the impressive NordicTrack VR21. It has 25 levels of resistance and 32 preset workouts, and the nifty AutoBreeze workout fan keeps you cool by automatically adjusting its speed to match the intensity of your pedalling. The VR21 also links with iFit’s subscription-based Coach app, which allows you to ride anywhere in the world virtually by using the Google Maps training routes displayed on a tablet in the integrated holder. It sure beats staring at the wall or watching your distance slowly tick over. £599, buy on nordictrack.co.uk
The Best Top-End Exercise Bikes (£1,000 And Up)
Once you move past the £1,000 mark you can expect your exercise bike to start connecting with other devices, or providing more in-depth data on your ride that helps you improve as a cyclist. We’re into the realm of gym-standard or pro cycling team machines here.
Best Exercise Bike Under £1,500: Wattbike Atom
The Wattbike Pro/Trainer (which we’ll come to) is the gold standard of indoor exercise bikes but it comes at a hefty cost, so Wattbike has introduced the Atom. This model competes with top-end turbo trainers like the Wahoo KICKR and also connects to popular virtual training apps like Zwift and TrainerRoad. Head up a mountain in Zwift’s virtual world and the resistance will crank up automatically in line with the gradient. The Atom is also quiet as a mouse, offers a realistic ride feel and keeps tabs on a wealth of stats on your session, which can be viewed on a tablet perched on the handlebar stand. £1,499, buy on wattbike.com
Best Premium Indoor Exercise Bike: Proform Tour De France TdF Pro 5.0 Studio
Are you paying a premium for the bright Tour de France logo on the side of the bike and 24 video workouts that follow stages from Le Tour? Yes you are, but Le Tour is the best thing in bicycle racing so who wouldn’t want to pretend to be Chris Froome or Bradley Wiggins while cycling indoors? If France gets boring you can use the console Android browser to ride any street in the world that’s on Google Streetview and the bike will automatically adjust the incline to simulate both uphill and downhill sections (well, within the gradient range 20% to -20% at least) on routes created to follow on the console. £1,599, buy on amazon.co.uk
Best Premium Upright Exercise Bike: TechnoGym Bike Forma Exercise Bike
This upright bike aims to reproduce the sensation of cycling outdoors, with three different riding positions to mimic standard, city and racing bikes, with the pedals positioned close together as they would be on a real bike. Whatever position you pick, it’s very comfortable and there’s a clip to attach your tablet to the console for in-ride entertainment. You can also connect your tablet to the Bike Forma to keep track of your training and download workouts. £1,955, buy on johnlewis.com
Best Money’s-No-Object Exercise Bike: Wattbike
Simply the best pro-standard trainer available to the everyday consumer, as long as that everyday consumer has a couple of grand handy. The Wattbike measures over 37 cycling metrics while you ride, including providing insight into the efficiency of your riding and how the power of your pedalling is balanced between your left and right leg, so you can work on improving your technique. There are two Wattbikes to pick between – the Pro and the Trainer – which are almost identical except that the Pro is set to a higher resistance level. Frankly, the Wattbike will be overkill for almost all non-pro riders, but it’s an absolutely tremendous machine so if you have the money, why not? £2,250, buy on wattbike.com