Exercise bikes can help you achieve your health and fitness goals, and increase your leg strength, without you having to leave your living room. But picking the wrong bike could see you wasting your money on a bulky piece of equipment you never end up using.
Below, we reveal the results of our survey of exercise bike users, which highlights the brands that will give you a great experience – and those that don't. We also explain the benefits of using an exercise bike at home, explore average costs and highlight popular models.
When shopping for the perfect exercise bike for home use, consider price, features and space.
You'll need to settle on a budget. A bigger budget generally equals a more feature-packed exercise bike, but this might not be essential if you're just starting out on your fitness journey. Even if you're trying to save money, you can still find an exercise bike with varying levels of resistance to put you through your paces.
Floor space is crucial in determining which exercise bike you end up with. Trying to squeeze a large exercise bike into a small room will risk it becoming more of a hindrance than a help, especially if it's a shared space.
If you're particularly tall or short, check the seat and handle can be adjusted to suit your height. And check the maximum user weight; some models, particularly cheaper ones, have a comparatively low maximum weight limit.
Our expert advice guide focuses on the best exercise bikes for home use. While you might not get the same features you would on a bulkier machine at the gym, you can still stay fit and burn calories with our list of alternatives.
In October 2020, we asked exercise bike owners about the equipment they'd bought within the past five years, to help us uncover which brands impressed customers and which brands disappointed.
Our full survey results, which are only available to Which? members, give every brand a customer score as well as star ratings for ease of use, build quality, and value for money.
|Brand||Customer score||Ease of use||Build quality||Value for money|
Buying an exercise bike obviously means you won't need to worry about cycling on busy roads and uneven paths, but there are plenty of other advantages.
How deep you'll be digging into your wallet will vary depending on the features you're shopping for.
You can buy an exercise bike for as little as £60, but don't expect many features. Most cheap exercise bikes, such as the Opti Manual Exercise Bike (from ), are powered manually rather than electronically (see for the differences).
A cheap exercise bike could be a good option if you're a fitness newbie looking to test the waters with a basic model.
If you're already a fan of stationary cycling in the gym, or are confident you'll make regular use of an exercise bike, consider investing a few hundred pounds on something such as the Reebok GB40s One Electronic Exercise Bike, (available from ).
Spending this much will get you an electronically powered bike with more resistance levels and a range of features, such as calorie and pulse tracking.
If money is no object, premium exercise bikes can cost more than £1,000. Many pricier exercise bikes can pair up with your smartphone via Bluetooth to provide detailed workout tracking.
Then there's the Peloton exercise bike, which costs well over £1,000 and requires a monthly subscription. It comes with a large colour display and lets you join real-time fitness classes with other fitness fanatics. Read more about Peloton below.
This will depend entirely on the type of exercise bike you're using and whether or not it's foldable.
An upright exercise bike doesn't require much floor space, as you'll be sitting vertically or standing up on the pedals most of the time you're working out. These usually measure around a metre in length and are roughly 0.5 metres wide. Aim for 0.5 metres of free space around all sides of the bike so you don't knock into anything. Check information on the manufacturer's website if you're unsure.
On the other hand, a recumbent exercise bike will have you in a reclined position, so you'll need to factor in more space when it comes to buying. These usually measure around 1.6-2 metres in length.
When buying an exercise bike for home use, make sure you're handing your money over to a reputable seller.
Popular retailers that stock a wide variety of exercise bikes include:
When trying to decide between a couple of different exercise bikes, pay attention to the following key features:
A folding exercise bike will appeal if you like the idea of using your bike in the living room, then moving it out of the way when you're finished.
Even if you're on a budget, you won't have much trouble finding a folding exercise bike. They're good for beginners and don't take up much space.
Being safe while you cycle is obviously very important. Make sure you're buying an exercise bike that has a secure base. Non-slip feet will prevent your exercise bike moving around even if you're pedalling at high speeds.
You can keep track of how hard you're working your body by using an exercise bike with a heart rate monitor.
Many exercise bikes work a pulse sensor into the handlebars. Grip them firmly, wait a couple of seconds and then glance at the console for your reading.
Not every exercise bike uses the same system to generate different levels of resistance.
There are two main types of resistance system on exercise bikes – brake-based (also known as friction-based) or magnetic. A brake-based system uses a flywheel (covered by protective casing) to store rotational energy. If you pedal fast and stop pedalling right away, the flywheel will rotate for a short while.
With bikes that use magnetic resistance systems, changing the 'difficulty' mode affects the position of the magnets inside the flywheel. When the magnets are closer to the flywheel there is more force slowing the wheel down, and therefore more resistance.
Exercise bikes that use a brake-based design are usually cheaper than magnetic resistance bikes. Magnetic exercise bikes require less maintenance and make less noise.
A manual exercise bike is powered by your movements alone, while an electric exercise bike plugs into the wall and offers digital monitoring of your workout.
Manual exercise bikes tend to have a dial you twist to change resistance levels. It's a common feature found on cheaper exercise bikes, but it isn't as convenient as an electric switch and might break the flow of your workout.
Hop on an upright exercise bike and you can either sit up straight or lean forward as you challenge your leg muscles. Most use electromagnetic induction to create the resistance you'll be battling against. Pre-set workout modes can simulate the feel of a hilly bike ride.
One key benefit of an upright exercise bike is that most are foldable. They usually cost less than recumbent exercise bikes too.
It's important to note that upright exercise bikes have a higher centre of gravity, so you may find that some – especially cheaper, less solidly built models – feel slightly unstable at very high speeds.
The rise in the popularity of 'spin classes' means you can now grab your own spin bike for home use. These use flywheels heavier than those found on most upright bikes.
Your stance will be similar to if you were riding a normal road bike. It's easier to lean forward on a spin bike than on an upright exercise bike.
On an upright bike, your feet will be planted beneath you. On a recumbent bike, your feet will be ahead of you while you're sitting in a reclined seating position.
Having a back rest makes a recumbent bike quite comfortable to sit on. This cycling position can also help reduce the risk of back soreness on longer workouts, so a recumbent bike could be a good option for those with back problems.
These have a seat and pedals, but no neck or handlebars, so they're small enough to fit under a table. They're best used for gentle toning and to keep stiff joints mobile.
We don't currently test exercise bikes, but Argos, Ultrasport, Roger Black, Reebok and Peloton are some of the most popular exercise bike brands. Below is a selection of different types and styles from these brands.
Which? members can find out how these brands performed in our exclusive exercise bike brand survey, above.
A basic exercise bike suited to buyers on a budget. The Opti Manual Exercise Bike uses a manual resistance system, with a mini display between the handlebars reporting back on exercise time, speed, distance covered and calories burned.
Both the seat and handlebars on this affordable bike can be adjusted to suit your height.
This indoor exercise bike from Ultrasport has a collapsible design that almost halves its length when folded, so you can more easily store it in a cupboard when you're done cycling.
The Ultrasport F-Bike has eight resistance levels to test you, and anti-slip pedals that help you pedal as fast as you like without losing your footing. The battery-powered display measures calories burned, time, distance and speed. If you grasp the handlebars, you'll get an up-to-date pulse reading.
You get more features from this exercise bike than you do from the budget alternatives we've listed above. For starters, the Reebok GB40s One Electronic Exercise Bike runs off an electronic resistance system.
There are an impressive 32 levels of resistance to choose from. You can track your progress on the 5-inch LCD console, which has information on speed, time, distance, calories, pulse, watts and RPM. The seat and handlebars are both fully adjustable.
This premium exercise bike has been turning heads recently, in part thanks to its TV ad campaign, and may catch your eye if you're willing to spend big. Arriving with a 22-inch HD display, you can use it to join live weekly classes where instructors will guide you through your workout in real time on-screen.
Peloton offers a range of live fitness classes, with the list including a low-impact Beginner session, a strength-building Climb course and a musical Live DJ class. The bike has an adjustable seat, handlebar and screen, along with a 'near-silent' belt drive.
It takes up more room than some upright exercise bikes, so check the dimensions of the space you have for a bike before you invest.
Once you've bought the perfect exercise bike for home use, try these top tips to get the most enjoyment and maximum results from your workout.
It's important you adjust both the seat height and the handlebars of your exercise bike so that you're comfortable when riding.
Don't set the resistance too high initially; it's better to start off on a low setting and increase it if you find it too easy. You should always warm up on a lower resistance setting to avoid muscle strain.
If you're cycling at a slow speed, and your environment allows, reading a book or watching the TV could help the time pass and make sure you stay motivated.
Consult the manual that comes with your exercise bike so you know what the control panel is capable of. In most cases, you can use it to track speed, distance and calories burned.
Retailers and gym equipment chosen based on popular UK search terms and availability; we've only selected models from brands that achieved decent scores in our survey. Prices correct as of December 2021 and obtained from manufacturer's own website where possible; otherwise, obtained from third-party retailers listed on Google Shopping.