The 10 Best Indoor Cycling Bikes to Buy in 2020

Exercise, Reviews

Everyone understands the importance of physical fitness, but for one reason or another, many of us struggle to find the time to go out to the gym or to run or bike around the neighborhood. Home fitness equipment solves this problem by allowing you to get in shape in the comfort of your home, no matter the weather or the restrictions of your busy schedule. Whether you buy one as a part of a decked-out home gym or as the sole piece of equipment tucked in the corner of your bedroom, an indoor cycling bike is an affordable and effective piece of exercise equipment and an excellent centerpiece to any home fitness regime.

Not only is indoor cycling an excellent way to build up your cardiovascular endurance and lower-body strength, but it’s fun, too. Even if pedaling your heart out and pushing your body to its limits doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, many stationary bikes have built-in phone and tablet holders that let you watch movies and TV while riding, and some even come with high-tech interactive features that turn the experience into something closer to a video game than a workout.

But, like all pieces of exercise equipment, the market for stationary bikes is crowded and confusing. To the untrained eye, there is an almost impossible array of options to choose from, each with a different design, feature set, and build quality. All indoor cycling bikes are not created equal, so we’ve put together this list of the top ten indoor cycling bikes of 2020 to not only separate the good from the bad, but to help you choose an option that meets your own unique needs and preferences.

Features to Consider in Good Indoor Cycling Bikes

To buy the right bike, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind:

What style is the indoor cycling bike?

Exercise bikes can be split into three main categories, but there are plenty of finer details that differentiate between bikes in each. Upright bikes of all styles offer a traditional bike-riding posture and tend to allow for high-intensity workouts, while the relaxed ergonomics of a recumbent bike makes them easier on your knees and back. There’s also a third, less common category, under-desk cycles, which are tiny contraptions that let you work your legs, heart, and lungs while sitting in a desk chair. Read more about the three different types of exercise bike in our full buyer’s guide at the bottom of this article.

What features does the bike have?

All that you really need to get a good workout out of an exercise bike is a seat, pedals, and something to provide resistance—normally magnets, chains, belts, or a fan. But there are many other features in certain models that go a long way towards making the riding experience more effective and enjoyable. Things like LCD monitors, heart-rate measuring grips, electronic device holders, and even built-in interactive games can turn what would otherwise be a grueling workout into an entertaining experience.

How well is the bike built, and how much does it cost?

Some indoor cycling bike manufacturers try to cram in as many features as possible, but fail to make a bike that’s actually durable and fun to ride. While it’s easy to get distracted by these shiny feature-filled bikes, it’s much more important to purchase a product that’s well-built for performance and reliability. On that note, indoor cycling bikes vary considerably in price: with products ranging from just over a hundred to well over a thousand dollars, finding the right ratio of price to quality can be a complicated balancing act.

We’ll go into all of this and everything else you’ll need to know in more detail later, but for now, let’s take a look at our picks for the best indoor cycling bikes of 2020!

Top 10 Best Indoor Cycling Bikes 2020

1. Best Overall Indoor Cycling Bike: XTERRA Fitness FB350

Why we like it: With a full set of features and excellent built-to-last construction, the XTERRA Fitness FB350 should meet the needs of just about anyone looking for a great all-purpose exercise bike.

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Design and Style

The XTERRA Fitness FB350 is a folding x-frame-style stationary bike, but it is much more stable than most folding bikes. This means that while you will have the ability to store the bike when not in use, it will feel just as solid as a bike with a more traditional frame. Its wide legs and strong frame will keep you from swaying from side to side even while pedaling at high speeds. This indoor cycling bike offers eight levels of magnetic resistance via a knob that’s accessible while riding, allowing you to smoothly change the intensity of your workout while you ride.

Interestingly, its seat is angled in a way that allows you to use the bike in multiple positions. If you’re looking for a traditional cycling experience, you can sit upright just like you would on a road bike, or if you need to relax your back and knees you can lean back and ride the XTERRA like a recumbent.

Features and Specifications

This stationary bike includes everything you’ll need to have an effective indoor cycling workout, but keeps its cost reasonable by not going over the top with fancy added features that aren’t really necessary. The most important things are all present: the seat is adjustable, and while the handlebars aren’t, they’re shaped so that you can grip them at any point, so this doesn’t really harm the ergonomics of the bike. The LCD console on the front of the bike displays your speed, distance, time, calories, and, when you grip the included heart rate monitor handles, your pulse.

Build Quality and Value

This is where the XTERRA really shines. It’s not the fanciest bike, and it’s not overloaded with cool features, but it’s absolutely perfect when it comes to build quality. The bike just works—it will serve you well as an effective exercise tool for thousands of rotations and many years to come. It manages to pack all of this excellent quality in at an affordable price, so if you’re looking for an affordable indoor cycling bike that will be a treat to use and won’t break down, this is the bike for you.

Pros
  • Can be used as either an upright bike or a recumbent bike
  • Offers a wide range of smooth magnetic resistance levels
  • LCD display measures time, distance, speed, pulse, and calories burned
  • Somewhat portable due to its foldable construction and integrated wheels
Cons
  • As an all-purpose exercise bike, some more specialized options perform better in certain cases

2. Best Premium Indoor Cycling Bike: NordicTrack S22i

Why we like it: This top-of-the-line stationary bike not only provides you with a best-in-class workout, but keeps things interesting with live and on-demand coaching, stat tracking, and even simulated world-traveling rides through Google Maps.

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Design and Style

NordicTrack’s premium Studio Cycle has an appearance that much more closely resembles a real bicycle than our pick for the best overall indoor cycling bike. This upright bike has a fully-adjustable saddle and handlebars, a powerful flywheel up front, and comfortable caged pedals for your feet. This model does contain wheels so that it can be moved from place to place, but it doesn’t fold down and isn’t recommended for someone who needs to store or regularly move their stationary bike from place to place.

Features and Specifications

A host of technology has gone into the StudioCycle to give its owners one of the most enjoyable indoor cycling experiences around. It has twenty-four magnetic resistance levels that can simulate nearly any ride, and it even has settings that replicate inclines, declines, and the real-world inertia that you would experience when slowing down a real road bike by physically raising and lowering the front end of the bike. On top of all that, it manages to provide this luxurious experience while hardly making a sound—especially important given the interactive features on this bike. It also comes with independently-adjustable feet to ensure that you’re on a stable surface, as well as a few light dumbbells that you can use to give your arms a bit of a workout while you ride.

The biggest draw that NordicTrack offers is the twenty-two-inch display positioned at the front of the bike. Not only will this give you access to more stats and controls than any other indoor cycling bike on the market, but it connects with the company’s advanced iFit training system. This enables you to access on-demand studio workouts, live training sessions, and even Google Maps-powered rides through picturesque roads around the world.

Build Quality and Value

As expected for a premium indoor cycling bike, the Studio Cycle is built flawlessly. Though much more expensive than most stationary bikes, the money you spend is not at all wasted. You can expect a smooth ride and a maintenance-free experience for years and years.

Do note, though, that the bike’s iFit functions do require you to pay a monthly subscription fee. A full year is included in the purchase price, but if you want to use these features past that date you’ll need to pay NordicTrack forty dollars each month thereafter. The bike is still an excellent exercise tool without these fun features, but your costs will continue to grow over time if you plan on using them for long.

Pros
  • The quietest indoor cycling bike on the market
  • Amazing interactive features
  • 24 resistance levels ranging from an easy ride to a grueling uphill battle
  • Simulates inertia, inclines, and declines for the most realistic simulation of outdoor cycling possible
Cons
  • Much more expensive than any other bike we recommend
  • Online features will incur a monthly fee after one year

3. Best Assault Bike: Schwinn Airdyne

Why we like it: Schwinn’s Airdyne has been the gold standard of assault-style indoor cycling bike’s since the first version was released in the 1970s. Its fan-based resistance mechanism offers a realistic and progressively-challenging ride, while the handles provide an additional upper-body workout.

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Design and Style

The classic Schwinn Airdyne is an assault bike, a style popular among workout enthusiasts that features a large fan in the place of a wheel. This not only provides realistic continuous resistance that matches your pedaling effort, but also provides a surprisingly powerful cooling breeze. This works differently than bikes with manually adjustable resistance levels—instead of turning a knob to ratchet up the intensity, this happens automatically the harder you pedal. On one hand, this makes it much more difficult to get up to those high resistances, but it ends up being a better workout for it. The pedals are connected to a belt-driven mechanism that is quiet, reliable, and smooth. More than any non-assault-style bicycle, these design choices replicate the experience and feel of a real road bike.

The other unique feature present in assault bikes are the independently movable arms. By rocking these back and forth while riding, the bike allows you to exercise your upper body in a fashion similar to an elliptical machine, strengthening your back, arms, and abs.

Features and Specifications

Schwinn wasn’t content to just build a fantastic but basic assault bike and leave it at that, though—there are few additional features that really complete the package that is the excellent Airdyne. The full-featured LCD display tracks your RPMs on top of all of the standard stats, which can be an incredibly useful metric to base your workouts around. Though it can’t be folded for storage, the included wheels allow you to easily move it around your workout space, and the bike’s pegs give you the option of eschewing pedaling altogether in favor of a solely upper-body workout.

Build Quality and Value

You can expect the same level of quality and attention to detail from the Airdyne that you can with Schwinn’s road and mountain bikes. Though a bit on the expensive end, these bikes are prized by enthusiasts for the quality of their ride and their extreme durability. As such, the used market for Airdyne’s is quite active, so you should be able to resell your bike for a good portion of the original price should you eventually decide to sell it. The bike may cost a bit more than some of the other choices on this list, but the price is completely reasonable for a high-quality assault bike.

Pros
  • Offers the most realistic simulation of outdoor cycling
  • Movable arms provide a full-body workout
  • Belt-driven for quiet consistent pedaling
  • Fan provides progressive resistance and a cooling breeze
  • Advanced display shows not only speed, distance, time, and calories, but includes a useful RPM measure
Cons
  • You can’t adjust the resistance manually, so you’ll need to pedal harder if you want to increase the intensity of your workout

4. Best Budget Indoor Cycling Bike: Sunny Health and Fitness

Why we like it: This incredibly affordable option from Sunny Health and Fitness cuts no corners when it comes to providing an effective and enjoyable workout.

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Design and Style

This budget option from Sunny Health and Fitness has an x-shaped frame similar to that of the XTERRA, though it’s a little bit more barebones in its appearance. That being said, it does have all of the standard components that any great indoor bike needs: with an eight-level resistance knob, a fully adjustable seat, and a monitor for stats, it has all the basics down. Despite its name suggesting that this is exclusively a recumbent bike, like the XTERRA it can also be used in a recumbent or upright position. The handlebars on the Sunny Health and Fitness stationary bike cannot be adjusted, but they’re shaped in a way that most people should be able to find a comfortable and ergonomic grip position. When not being used, the bike can be folded away to take up less space or moved into storage.

Features and Specifications

Although Sunny’s foldable bike does knock it out of the park when it comes to the basics, as a budget bike it doesn’t really go much beyond them. Its LCD monitor only displays time, distance, and calories burned, while neglecting to show more advanced stats like RPM and heart rate. It does, however, include useful wheels for easy transportation, as well as a self-leveling pedal mechanism that ensures that your feet don’t slip out of the straps while pedaling.

Build Quality and Value

Though by no means poorly-built, this is another category where this bike doesn’t quite match up to the best of the best. That’s not to say that it’s a bad bike—it’s far more durable and reliable than most indoor cycling bikes on the market—but it’s just not as sturdy and as stable as the XTERRA or some other more expensive bikes. But, the price reflects that, and this is the cheapest stationary bike that we recommend purchasing. If you can’t shell out too much money on fitness equipment, you’ll be very well served by the Sunny Health and Fitness Recumbent Exercise Bike.

Pros
  • Can be used in either an upright or recumbent position
  • Adjustable and comfortable seat
  • Whisper quiet
  • Compact and foldable
Cons
  • Lacks added features beyond its barebones display
  • Range of adjustability is fairly small, making the bike unsuitable for very short or very tall riders

5. Best Recumbent Indoor Cycling Bike: Marcy

Why we like it: Marcy’s recumbent indoor cycling bike is perfectly designed for long rides, allowing you to sit back and pedal for hours in a position that doesn’t put undue stress on your back.

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Design and Style

The first truly recumbent indoor cycling bike on our list, the Marcy Recumbent Exercise bike is designed to be solely used in the relaxed recumbent position. This means that you won’t be able to sit upright and pedal it like an outdoor bicycle, but it also means that it’s much more well-suited ergonomically for the laid-back position. If you suffer from back or knee pain and require a bike that won’t strain these problem areas, this bike’s design will suit you perfectly.

Ergonomics aside, the bike uses an eight-level magnetic resistance knob to control the intensity of your workout. It’s highly adjustable, more so than most stationary bikes, making it suitable for even the tallest and shortest of riders. It features an incredibly comfortable and supportive seat, too, and these design choices all combine to make the Marcy Recumbent Exercise bike the perfect choice for anyone whose body starts to rebel after an extended workout on other stationary bikes.

Features and Specifications

On top of its killer design, this bike takes things up a notch with a few convenient features that will make your workouts more effective and enjoyable. The LCD display tracks time, speed, distance, and calories burned, and the padded pedal straps keep your feet locked in place. This bike does have wheels enabling the bike to be moved around from place to place, but due to the large footprint of any recumbent bike, it’s possibly the least portable model that we recommend.

Build Quality and Value

Marcy has been building home fitness equipment for nearly forty years, and their experience in this space is shown in their Recumbent Exercise Bike. Every part of the bike, from the adjustment mechanisms to the pedals, is built to last. The frame itself is made of powder-coated 14-gauge steel, which might seem like overkill were it not for the fact that the bike itself costs about as much as a few months of a gym membership, making the value for your money with this bike about as good as it gets.

Pros
  • Well-designed to put you in an ergonomically correct position
  • Suitable for riders of nearly any size
  • Solid construction that should stand up to years and years of regular use
  • Easy-access resistance knob for changing up your workout on the fly
Cons
  • Designed so that you can’t switch to an upright cycling position
  • Although it does include wheels, it’s quite large and can’t be folded, making it a poor choice for anyone looking for a portable exercise bike

6. Best Budget Assault Bike: Body Rider

Why we like it: Body Rider’s budget homage to the classic Schwinn Airdyne is not quite as flawless as Schwinn’s offerings, but it does an admirable job at emulating that bike’s full-body workout at a fraction of the price.

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Design and Style

Body Rider’s assault bike offering appears nearly identical to the Airdyne at first glance. It might be slightly less aesthetically pleasing, but all the same components are there, from the large fan wheel to the elliptical-style handles. The only major difference in the form of these two indoor cycling bikes is that the Body Rider is slightly less supported at the back end, which might lead to a bit of swaying during high-intensity rides.

Features and Specifications

Again, the Body Rider closely mirrors the features and specs of the Airdyne. The bike packs in a functional digital display (which tracks everything that the Airdyne does aside from RPMs) and an adjustable seat that may even exceed Schwinn’s in how comfortable it is. The Body Rider does set itself apart with its inclusion of a magnetic resistance knob. Though the fan still provides progressive resistance, this magnetic knob enables you to achieve some level of manual control that doesn’t require you to pump your legs harder to ramp things up.

Build Quality and Value

The key difference between the Body Rider Upright Fan Bike and the Schwinn Airdyne is in the quality of materials and construction. Though not at all poorly made, this bike is more suited to occasional use than the commercial-quality Schwinn. It’s not going to break on you any time soon, but don’t expect to use it for hours a day for five or ten years like you could with the Schwinn. Thankfully, this is reflected in the price, making the BodyRider a perfectly adequate alternative to the AirDyne for less serious riders who want to save as much as half off the price of that bike.

Pros
  • Has most of the assault-bike features that made the Airdyne famous
  • Allows you to adjust resistance with a knob, in addition to the progressive resistance that the fan brings
  • Premium seat for long-lasting rides
Cons
  • Not as well-built or reliable as the similar Schwinn Airdyne

7. Best Spin Bike: Sunny Health and Fitness

Why we like it: This indoor cycling bike from Sunny Health and Fitness is designed for high-speed low-resistance workouts, which makes it perfect for emulating high-intensity spin classes from the comfort of your own home.

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Design and Style

The sleek Indoor Cycling Bike by Sunny Health and Fitness is designed to be used for high-RPM low-resistance spin workouts, similar to those that have been growing in popularity in group classes for years. As such, there are several ways in which its form differs from other indoor cycling bikes. It’s designed to be ridden in a more aggressive posture, either while sitting in an upright position or standing up and leaning forward. It’s incredibly stable, and shouldn’t budge an inch even while you’re pumping your legs and dripping sweat. The resistance knob, which offers an unlimited number of continuous choices rather than a limited number of settings, further makes this bike ideal for hitting the exact pace that you need.

Features and Specifications

Two things make this stationary bike perfect for spinning. The main reason it works so well for this type of riding is the small, relatively weak flywheel. For spinning, this is a pro rather than a con, but if you’re looking for a standard bike you may want to look elsewhere, as it will be hard to really push your legs to their limit with this bike. But, if you want to spin nonstop to get your heart working overtime, this is exactly what you need. The pedal cages are excellent, too, and should keep your feet in place no matter how quickly they move.

The other main draw of the Sunny Health and Fitness Indoor Cycling Bike is how adjustable it is. More than any other bike on this list, each of its components can be moved around for a fit that you’ll appreciate after a multiple-hour cardio session. Not only can the seat and handles be moved up and down, but the saddle can shift forwards and backwards too. By getting you into the perfect ergonomic position, this bike is perfect for burning huge numbers of calories without hurting yourself.

Unlike most stationary bikes, Sunny Health and Fitness has included a chain drive on this model. While this will require a bit more upkeep than any alternative drivetrain, it should last for a long time and will make the ride feel very similar to an outdoor bike ride.

Build Quality and Value

The entire bike is constructed from heavy-duty commercial-quality parts, and should be able to stand up to a long period of quick spinning. The price isn’t exactly low, but for a spin bike of this quality, it’s as good as it gets. Riders looking for a high-resistance option might be able to find a better detail on another bike, but if you’re looking for a spin bike, the price and quality are right where they should be.

Pros
  • Chain drive feels very similar to a traditional outdoor bike
  • Caged pedals keep your feet in place during high-RPM spin sessions
  • Seat is adjustable in every direction to ensure a perfect fit
  • Tension knob doesn’t have discreet settings, so you’ll never struggle to find the perfect resistance
  • Low resistance is perfect for spin-style workouts
Cons
  • Relatively low maximum weight rating
  • Maximum resistance is lower than most indoor cycling bikes

8. Most Comfortable Indoor Cycling Bike: PYHIGH

Why we like it: By including a wide, soft adjustable seat, anti-wobble feet, adjustable handlebars, and even an integrated tablet holder, PYHIGH has gone to every effort to make even the longest-lasting indoor cycling sessions as comfortable as possible.

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Design and Style

This upright indoor cycling bike produced by PYHIGH focuses on a comfortable riding experience more than any other bike on this list. It’s similar in form to the Sunny Health and Fitness Spin bike, but it features a larger, higher-resistance flywheel suited for standard stationary bike workouts. On top of that, its wide, rubber-padded feet keep it incredibly stable, no matter how hard you go. They can even be adjusted independently to make up for uneven flooring.

Features and Specifications

This comfort-oriented bike is built from the top down for an ergonomic and comfortable experience. In addition to its frame having been designed to eliminate rocking, the bike is fully adjustable in all directions, just like Sunny’s spin bike. It even includes a premium spring-loaded saddle that would look more at home on a high-end carbon road bike than a stationary bike. To finalize the package, the bike even includes a tablet holder in between the handlebars so that you can make your mind as relaxed as your body while you ride.

One unique feature of the PYHIGH Indoor Cycling Bike is that the included pedals can be swapped out for any standard bike pedals. Though they’re actually better than most stationary bike pedals to begin with, experienced bike riders who already own road or mountain bike pedals can quickly attach them to this bike, as can indoor cyclists who want to upgrade their machine to take it to the next level.

Build Quality and Value

The attention to detail that PYHIGH put into making this indoor cycling bike a joy to ride extends to all aspects of its construction. Though a little bit costly, you won’t regret spending a little bit extra on a bike that will give you a high level of performance and comfort throughout what is sure to be a long lifespan.

Pros
  • Incredibly stable, with no rocking or shaking even at high speeds
  • Fully adjustable for a perfect fit for people of any height
  • The best seat on any exercise bike
  • Caged foot pedals, which can be removed and replaced with any standard bike pedals
Cons
  • Expensive for a stationary bike without high-tech features

9. Best Foldable Indoor Cycling Bike: ATIVAFIT

Why we like it: Though there are many other good indoor cycling bikes that do fold, ATAVAFIT’s stationary bike becomes much more compact than the competition, making it ideal for anyone looking to store their bike in a closet or under their bed while not in use.

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Design and Style

There are many foldable indoor cycling bikes on the market that claim to be portable, but none are as dedicated to that aspect than the ATIVAFIT Indoor Cycling Bike. Like most portable bikes its constructed in an x-frame, but it manages to shrink down into a much tighter package than the competition. When fully folded it measures a scant 52 by 14 inches, making it as much as half the size in height when laid on its side compared to some of the other foldable bikes on this list. This makes it perfect for being stored in small spaces, with it being so small that it could even be hidden underneath a bed when not in use.

Features and Specifications

Despite the bike’s minimalistic form, it manages to include a few nice quality of life features. The seat is large and padded, and can be raised and lower. The arms aren’t adjustable, but they’re shaped so that they can be gripped at multiple angles, which has a similar ergonomic effect. The transport wheels will help you move the bike around without having to lift it, and the pedals include straps to keep your feet in place while cycling.

Surprisingly for such a diminutive piece of equipment, ATIVAFIT has even managed to include some features that aren’t even present in larger, more expensive bikes. The LCD screen not only tracks the basics, but also measures your heart-rate through the sensors on the handles. On top of that, the conveniently located eight-level resistance knob is right below the grips, making it easier than usual to adjust the intensity of your workout on the fly.

Build Quality and Value

This portability and these surprisingly advanced features come at a shockingly low cost, with this model being one of the cheapest on our list. Unfortunately, there is a reason why it didn’t place higher: the build quality isn’t quite as great as it could be, and the thin frame might wear out a bit faster than you might like. Alongside that, the ATIVAFIT’s extreme portability makes it a bit more likely to wobble when you’re pedaling intensely. Still, the price is fair, especially for anyone who might not use their bike for hours each day and needs something that can be put away between uses.

Pros
  • Much more compact when folded than the competition
  • Built-in heart-rate monitor
  • Shelf for using your phone or tablet while riding
Cons
  • Due to its frame being built for portability, the bike gets a bit wobbly at high speeds

10. Best Under-Desk Indoor Cycling Bike: DeskCycle

Why we like it: Though totally different in form from standard exercise bikes, the DeskCycle provides a surprisingly effective workout for a device that can be tucked under your desk and used while working at home or in the office.

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Design and Style

You can tell at a glance that the DeskCycle is unlike anything you would typically picture when thinking about indoor cycling bikes. Instead of a large piece of equipment with a saddle and handlebars, the DeskCycle is unique on our list for being meant to be used at a desk in conjunction with a chair of your own. This is simultaneously its greatest strength and its greatest drawback—while the DeskCycle manages to allow for an incredibly effective workout while at work or your home office, it doesn’t quite match up to a full-sized stationary bike. The DeskCycle can fit under any desk with at least twenty-seven inches of clearance, so make sure you measure the space where you’ll use it to be sure that you won’t be banging your knees against your desktop.

Features and Specifications

With those reservations being said, the DeskCycle is no toy. It manages to pack a thirty-five pound flywheel into its minuscule frame, which will allow you to pedal against quite a bit of resistance—even more than the Sunny Health and Fitness spin bike. The form-factor may take a bit of getting used to, but you’ll be able to work your legs fairly hard with the DeskCycle. Still, like with spin bikes, you’ll be working your cardiovascular system much more than you’ll be building any substantial leg muscle.

Beyond the surprisingly effective pedaling mechanism, you’ll appreciate the full-sized strapped pedals and exceedingly quiet operation. The included corded display, which can be placed on top of your desk so that you’re not required to constantly look between your legs to check your stats, is another nice touch. The LCD screen shows your speed, time, distance, and calories burned, and a handy free app will record your progress in these metrics so that you can track your progress over time.

Build Quality and Value

Don’t be fooled by the myriad of cheaper under-desk cycles that you’ll find—you could find a similar-looking product for about a third of the price, but they’ll be nowhere near adequate when it comes to performance. Most cheap under-desk cycles offer very little resistance and tend to break if you ever pedal all-out, while the DeskCycle is constructed as well as any full-size exercise bike. On top of that, its resistance and features go far beyond all other similar-looking models. While the price is higher than its competitors, it’s completely fair for one of the only excellent under-desk cycling trainers around.

Pros
  • Fits neatly under almost any desk
  • Offers much greater resistance than most minimal exercise bikes
  • Quiet enough to use around your family or coworkers
  • Has a wide range of resistance levels, all of which are impressively smooth
  • Display stand isn’t attached to the device, so you can view your stats from your desk
Cons
  • Doesn’t offer quite as good of a workout as a standard indoor cycling bike

Guide to Buying the Best Indoor Cycling Bike

What Type of Indoor Cycling Bike Should I Buy?

Upright Bikes

The most common style of indoor cycling bike is the upright bike. It most closely resembles a typical outdoor road bike, both in its appearance and its function. High-quality models can be used both sitting and standing, so you can put all your weight on the pedals and get some (imaginary) distance in. Some models of upright indoor cycling bikes are foldable and can be tucked in a closet or under a bed while not in use, while others have fixed frames that provide stability and durability. While these are generally the best choice for high-intensity cycling workouts, there are specific kinds of upright bikes that perform certain functions better, as well as a couple of distinct styles that offer a much different experience.

Assault bikes

Assault bikes are perhaps the most popular subcategory after standard upright indoor cycling bikes. Made with the workout enthusiast in mind, these types of bikes offer the most intense cycling sessions around. They have two defining features: a large fan in the place of a front wheel, which provides continuous resistance that matches the force of your legs and simultaneously cools you off, and elliptical-style arms, which can be moved back and forth while cycling to create a full-body workout. Though these tend to be on the expensive side and might be a bit too much for someone just getting into cycling workouts, they’re perfect for anyone looking to bring their cardio and strength to the next level.

Spin bikes

Spin bikes are also growing increasingly common. Unlike assault bikes, which ramp up the resistance as you put in more effort, spin-style indoor cycling bikes are designed to be pedaled for long periods of time at very high RPMs. While you won’t need to push with quite as much strength, a workout on a spin bike can be just as intense as you struggle to keep your legs moving as quickly as possible. While assault bikes (and even standard upright stationary bikes) are intended to both build muscle and cardiovascular endurance, spin bikes are much more focused on working up a sweat and building up a strong heart and lungs.

Recumbent Bikes

Recumbent exercise bikes, which allow you to lean back and extend your legs to achieve an ergonomic pedaling position, are typically recommended for people who experience pain or discomfort with upright bikes. They allow you to ride for long periods of time without straining your back and legs, and they’re typically equipped with saddles that feel nicer on your butt, too. As a trade-off, they tend to be less suited for intense exercise than upright bikes, so if you want to go all out with your indoor cycling, you may need to look elsewhere.

Under-Desk Bikes

These relatively new products resemble a small set of pedals connected to a small box, often less than a foot high. This low clearance makes them ideal for use while you work at a desk, and good ones are even quiet enough to use at a busy office. While these offer an even less intense workout than recumbent bikes, they can be an excellent way to fit some exercise into a busy schedule, and they work great as a supplementary exercise tool that you can use when you’re unable to make time for a full-size bike.

What Features Should I Look for in an Indoor Cycling Bike?

Resistance

Resistance varies greatly among indoor cycling bikes in several ways. The key thing that you’ll want to look for is the variance of resistance options. Experienced cyclists will want to choose a stationary bike with high maximum resistance, beginners will need an easier pedaling experience, and everyone will want a bike that offers a wide range of resistance settings. There is also the type of resistance to consider: the most common method, magnetic resistance, is quiet, adjustable, and requires fairly little maintenance. Bikes that use fans to provide resistance offer a more natural riding experience, but often rely on your own effort to increase resistance, and can’t be adjusted otherwise. Belt- and chain-driven resistance systems are similar to magnetic resistance, but they tend to be a bit cheaper at the cost of increased volume and a tendency to succumb to wear and tear more quickly.

Comfort

To some extent, comfort is subjective, but there are a number of things that you can look for to increase your chances of a bike feeling great to you. Most important of all is its adjustability—no matter how plush a bike’s seat is and no matter how smooth it pedals, a stationary bike that doesn’t fit will be a pain to ride. None of the bikes on our list are particularly uncomfortable, but if you’re larger or smaller than average or if you have nagging injuries you’ll want to choose a bike that emphasizes comfort and adjustability.

Portability

Whether or not an indoor cycling bike is portable and foldable is a make-or-break factor for some and a non-issue for others. If you’re planning on leaving your bike in place portability can largely be ignored, but for those who want to tuck their exercise equipment away after use, it couldn’t be more important. Foldable bikes tend to wobble a bit more than their in-place counterparts, especially at higher speeds, and may not last as long, either. That being said, each of the portable indoor cycling bikes on this list are well-built enough to serve as stable pieces of equipment for years to come. Do keep in mind that not all foldable bikes are created equal—some shrink down to around a foot high when put away, while others can’t be crowded into a space less than two feet high. If you have a specific storage space in mind, measure it before you make your purchase.

Added Features

On top of these essential considerations, many indoor cycling bikes include other features that either add to the quality of your workout or provide you with entertainment to pass the time while you ride. From heart-rate monitors to compatibility with standard road bike pedals, there are many additional features present in certain indoor cycling bikes that can really bring your training to the next level. Some high-end bikes even have built-in screens showing everything from live instructor-led training sessions to street-level tours of real-world locations.

How Do I Use an Indoor Cycling Bike?

Once you purchase an indoor cycling bike, you might think that the hardest part of your journey towards peak physical condition is done. Unfortunately, buying the right bike is only the beginning. Many, many people have purchased brand new exercise equipment only to get frustrated by their lack of enjoyment and lack of results, causing them to give up within weeks and never touch their equipment again. In order to avoid this all-too-common pitfall, be sure to keep the following factors in mind when you use your bike:

Fit

Aside from purchasing a good stationary bike, the most important thing that you can do is to adjust it to fit your own unique body. This is why adjustability and sizing are so important when shopping: even the best bike won’t be enjoyable if you’re too big or too small for it, and it might cause pain or even more serious injuries. Getting a good fit isn’t as intuitive as you might think, so follow these steps to make sure your rides are as safe and comfortable as possible. Be sure to perform these steps in order, otherwise one adjustment will throw another out of whack:

  1. Adjust the saddle height. Your bike’s saddle should be just high enough (or far back enough on a recumbent bike) so that there is the slightest bend in your knee when fully extended. Your knee shouldn’t completely lock out, and you should be able to pedal at a good pace without any movement in your hips.
  2. Adjust the saddle angle. If your bike allows you to, your saddle should be within a few degrees of parallel to the ground. The exact position is up to your personal preference, but a saddle that points down will cause undue pressure on your hands and feet, while one that points too far up could hurt your back, shoulders, neck, or genitals.
  3. Adjust the saddle’s fore and aft positioning. This adjustment is possible on even fewer bikes, but if you can, moving the seat backwards or forwards will allow you to fine-tune your fit even further. Your saddle should be positioned so that your knee is directly over your ankle when the pedals are at 9 and 3 o’clock. This not only keeps your knees safe, but will maximize the power that you’re able to put into pedaling.
  4. Adjust the handlebars. Proper handlebar position is a bit more subjective than saddle position, but it’s no less important. For the most part, you’ll want to play with handlebar position (after properly fitting your saddle) until you find a safe and comfortable position. As a general rule of thumb, you should set your handlebars to be parallel with your seat height, then raise them as needed only if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort. Improper handlebar positioning can cause unnecessary strain on your arms, neck, shoulders, and back.

Intensity

It’s not enough to merely get your bike set up right then peddle like a madman. As with any other exercise, it’s important to ride indoor cycling bikes at the proper speed and resistance. Especially when you’re just starting out, going too hard can wear you out prematurely—but on the other hand, taking things too easy will minimize all of the benefits provided by exercise bikes in the first place.

To start out, we recommend thirty-minute sessions where you keep your heart rate between 55 and 90 percent of your recommended maximum heart rate for your age, as determined by the American Heart Association. This zone maximizes the cardiovascular benefits of cycling, while also ensuring that you don’t burn yourself out too early.

If your bike comes equipped with a heart rate monitor or if you own another heart-tracking device you’ll have easy access to this information. Even if you don’t, the target zone can be approximated by keeping yourself at a level of exertion where you’re able to carry on a conversation. If you’re so unstrained that you would be able to sing, take things up a notch, and if you’re only able to get out a word or two, slow down.

Programming

Once you’ve mastered your riding pace within each exercise session, you’ll want to put together a long-term workout plan. Riding every single day, even at an appropriate level of exertion, will burn you out before your heart, lungs, and muscles can recover. Riding too infrequently, on the other hand, will slow down your fitness journey (or even stop it altogether).

To start things off, it’s recommended to ride for about half an hour every two or three days. If you’re already in fairly good shape, or after you’ve given your body a chance to get used to your new exercise regime, you can ramp things up a bit—for an intermediate schedule, try staying in the recommended heart-rate zone for an hour every other day. Experienced riders can pedal away for as much as two hours every other day, but make sure that you work yourself up to this frequency gradually. If you jump up too quickly you might end up overtraining yourself, which will not only lead to less than optimal results, but could also cause you to tire yourself out or injure yourself.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, the market for indoor cycling bikes is quite varied and crowded. The plus side of this is that with a little bit of research, there is a stationary bike out there that’s a perfect fit for anyone. Whether you’re a gym-rat looking for a high-intensity workout, someone with joint pain looking for a way to ease into physical activity, or an office working trying to get a little bit of exercise in during the day, one of the indoor cycling bikes on this list will meet your needs perfectly.