The best exercise bikes – or best indoor bikes – can turn an otherwise mundane activity (i.e. indoor cycling) into a genuinely fun experience thanks to their interactive consoles, adjustable saddles/pedals, and the live/on-demand workouts they provide.
Modern stationary bikes will give your quads, hamstrings and glutes a run for their money if that's what you want or help you relax and wind down after a long and stressful day at work. You can get fit with indoor cycling, much like how running on the best treadmills – and best folding treadmills – can help you burn calories and stay healthy indoors. For a total body workout, though, we recommend using the best rowing machines.
Whether you're looking to recreate a stage of the Tour de France or spend 20 minutes in the fat-burn zone to help you lose weight faster and get fit sooner, there's something in this collection of the best home exercise bikes. Haven't got much space or money for a high-spec exercise bike? Have a look at the best folding exercise bikes and find out the difference between folding and non-folding exercise bikes.
Best exercise bikes to buy right now
In our Peloton Bike+ review, we mentioned that there’s a lot to consider when buying a Peloton bike: the initial price, the ongoing subscription costs, if you have space in your home, if you’ll use it regularly enough to justify a purchase, and so on. However, such concerns will likely melt away as soon as that bike lands on your doorstep (and is subsequently carried over the threshold by the delivery guys, of course).
Thanks to its super robust construction, beautiful design with attention to detail, ease of use and comfort, we dare anyone not to become instantly obsessed with the Peloton Bike+. The premium experience it delivers is kind of magical, and as a result, we’ve used it almost daily over the past few months. We can’t get enough.
There’s a reason why Peloton is happy to provide a 30-day free trial with free delivery for newbies: the brand knows that as soon as a Bike+ virgin places their bum on that saddle, there’s no going back. An epic piece of home fitness equipment with an immersive top-notch platform to back it up. Believe the hype: the Bike+ is the best exercise bike you can buy now.
Have you heard? The Peloton Bike+ won the 'Best Home Gym Equipment' award at the T3 Awards 2021!
Our Schwinn IC8 review concludes that for the price, the Schwinn IC8 is a solid stationary bike option. It's built extremely well and feels like it will last many years of sweaty abuse. As a connected fitness tool, it falls some way behind the Peloton Bike, which is not only more technologically advanced (you get a massive screen) but is also an ergonomically excellent piece of design.
Above all else, the Schwinn IC8 feels like an excellent recommendation for a virtual class-based fitness companion rather than a hardcore road cycling training tool. If Schwinn can iron out its massively inflated power/output stats to appease the Zwift/TrainerRoad users, it will be a mighty fine all-rounder worthy of a full five stars.
What can we say? The Domyos Basic Exercise Bike 100 is the ideal choice for people who want to get fit with indoor cycling but aren't planning on spending loads of money on a Wattbike. And although the Wattbike is worth every penny, if you just want to pedal around at home a few times a week, the Domyos Basic Exercise Bike 100 will do just fine.
This indoor cycle is designed for occasional to regular use: the Bike 100 has been tested for average use of five hours a week, which is fair play as you really shouldn't expect a stationary bike for this price to withstand hours of gruelling spinning workouts every day.
That said, the Bike 100 is a reasonably stable bike thanks to its steel frame and stabilising pads for uneven floors. The 12 kg flywheel is plenty heavy enough for lighter workouts, and the leather brake pad will ensure that the flywheel won't make screeching noises when it's being stopped. The seat is adjustable in height and depth, and the handlebar is also height adjustable.
Enjoying virtual spin classes at home has never been so popular as it is now. Many people don't know that you don't necessarily have to buy a Peloton/Echelon bike to enjoy virtual classes. Instead of investing thousands of pounds/dollars into the latest-and-greatest spin bikes, you can get JTX Cyclo Studio Bike and recreate an almost identical experience for way less.
The JTX Cyclo Studio Bike has a hefty 25-kilo flywheel and an 'infinity' resistance dial, similar to those found on bikes manufactured by the brands mentioned above. To make suffering on the bike more comfortable, both the handlebar and the seat adjust vertically and horizontally using the quick-release handles. The JTX Cyclo Studio features the JTX SPD Clip-In Pedals, which can be used with – you guessed it – SPD shoes or, by flipping it over, regular trainers.
This is a rather more serious bit of kit, more like the Terminator of the spin bike world. Wattbike has long been the master of creating professional-grade indoor cycling equipment that offers more feedback than a heavy metal concert in a wardrobe, but now it has turned its attention to the private home market.
On our Wattbike Atom review, we praised the Atom for condensing all of the sensors and technical nous of the standard, gym-dwelling Wattbike into one very stylish package, designed to take on the increasingly popular new breed of smart turbo trainers.
The Atom's lightweight steel construction makes it easy to move around, while the compact frame ensures it doesn't take up too much space at home.
It still feels more like a real, high-performance road bike than most of its rivals. It's got a thin, lightweight racing saddle, authentic drop bars with rubber gear cowling and 'out-front' time trial bar extensions.
The realism doesn't stop there because when plugged in and synced up to a smart device, it shows off its fancy, innovative Climb Mode, which automatically adjusts resistance when connected to virtual training software. So when you hit a hill during a Zwift session, the resistance ramps up to match. Wattbike's own detailed app measures 37 different riding metrics, which can be displayed on a smartphone or tablet (there's a neat holder for that) while training.
The Echelon Connect EX-3 is a decent indoor bike, and it offers a wide variety of on-demand and live spin classes. The magnetic resistance provides a near-silent riding experience, and thanks to the customisation options, most people will find a way to sit on the Echelon Connect EX-3 the way they prefer, as we said in our Echelon Connect EX-3 review
Unfortunately, the bike doesn't come with a built-in screen that chips away from an otherwise superb indoor cycling experience. A class viewed on a comparatively small, 10" tablet will not be the same as it is on a 22" Peloton bike screen.
Of course, you can use your Echelon Fit web login (opens in new tab) (links to Echelon) on any smart TV and watch Echelon classes on a big screen. If you want to see your Smart Connect Bike stats on a smart TV, Echelon recommends using an Apple TV or Screen Mirror for your TV. There are third-party apps you can use as well, like Mirror for Samsung TV and Video and TV Cast.
Considering the sturdiness of the Echelon Connect EX-3, the available classes and the affordable price point, I would recommend the bike to people who are happy to use their own gadgets to view the Echelon App. As they say, a penny saved is a penny earned, and you will be able to save a pretty penny by getting the Echelon Connect EX-3 bike.
Rather than going down the currently fashionable route of virtual spin classes, CAROL has a very different ace up its sleeve. It promises to get you fit in just 26 minutes per week via a programme that pushes the intensity levels up to the absolute maximum. You exercise for 8 minutes per session, of which the vast. The majority is gently warming up and rather exhaustedly warming down. In between are two sprints of 20 seconds each.
This may not sound like much, but as soon as you start to sprint, CAROL pushes the resistance up to what it calculates is the absolute maximum that you can stand. Believe me: those 40 seconds hurt. However, a lot of research suggests very good cardiovascular health results from this brutal workout.
You can also do more standard, longer workouts on CAROL, but it's this super-intense HIIT workout that you're paying for, and CAROL is not cheap. There are 'free ride' workouts, more traditional HIIT-style fat burners and some useful fitness tests to map your progress. The free ride mode can also be used in conjunction with guided cycle workouts from the likes of Apple Fitness+ and Peloton if you have the relevant subscriptions. It's a very impressive bit of kit, although by definition, not for everyone.
Read more about the CAROL Bike here
Our Apex Bike review says, "With a stylish design and good, solid construction, the Apex Bike is a brilliant bit of kit for the price, complemented by some excellent virtual classes and top-notch instructors." It’s not perfect by any means, but if you’re thinking about buying a Peloton but don’t want to drop over $/£2,000 for the privilege, we’re confident the Apex Bike will be a more than worthy alternative.
How to buy the best exercise bike for you
The first thing to know about home exercise bikes is that the cheaper ones are not all that much like riding a real bike. High-end smart indoor trainers like the Wattbike Atom and Proform TdF Pro 5.0 Studio are the exception, not the rule. You may want to consider a smart (turbo) trainer if you require a more 'realistic' experience without spending a pretty penny on a high-spec smart bike.
Most modern exercise bikes use a brake-based system that sees a heavy metal flywheel turned by the pedals and chain rather than a rear wheel. Resistance is added in cheaper models by breaking this flywheel as you would on a moving vehicle. However, in recent years indoor and spin bikes have arrived that use powerful magnets to act as a brake. This does away with the need to apply physical force to the flywheel, preventing wear and tear. It also offers a more natural, realistic feel
As well as considering the cost of the bike, the main decision you will need to make is riding position, be it recumbent (more joint-friendly) or varying levels of upright. The former is great for anyone with back problems who perhaps don't want to be hunched over like Bradley Wiggins attacking a time trial, while the latter does its best to replicate a real outdoor cycling experience.
These things do command a decent amount of space at home. But even if you haven't a clue what cadence means, nor care for Lycra-clad jaunts at the weekend, one of these pedal-powered beauties could be the difference between you smashing your fitness goals or slowing sliding into couch potato land.
For those who can't make up their minds whether to get a stationary bike or a treadmill next, we compared these cardio machines here: treadmill vs exercise bike.
How we test the best exercise bikes
You might think it's not that difficult to test exercise bikes; all you have to do is jump on the saddle and pedal away.
However, when we test indoor bikes, we must test all the features the machine has and that includes meticulously going through all the programs and settings, checking different customisation options, build quality, the mechanical and digital components and more.
There are even more things to observe with bikes like the Peloton Bike+, such as the display, the library of live and on-demand classes, etc. We test these all, so we know which ones are worth the money and which aren't.
To learn more about how we test at T3, click on the link now.
What is the best exercise bike?
The best exercise bike at the moment is the Peloton Bike+. This brilliant connected bike is even more popular in 2022 thanks to its ever-expanding workout library and fabulous design.
Not everyone can afford a Peloton bike, though. If you're on a tight budget, you're better off getting the Schwinn IC8 or its updated version, the Schwinn 800IC. The bike is manufactured by Bowflex's sister company Schwinn and it's robust, quiet, and cheap (at least less expensive than a new Peloton).
Can you lose belly fat by riding a stationary bike?
Following a regular cardio exercise pattern is possibly the most universally accepted way of losing weight and trimming belly fat. Moderate effort cardio exercises, such as running or cycling, can indeed help you lose weight, improve overall health and especially cardiovascular (a.k.a. heart) health.
In theory, considering your current diet is maintaining your weight as in your not putting on or losing weight, without changing your lifestyle in any other way, cycling for just half an hour a day could help you lose weight as you will be using more energy than before.
That said, long-term weight loss is usually not as easy as tweaking your 'calorie in, calorie out' balance and in many cases, fat will 'fight back' in a variety of ways. One possible solution is to combine cardio with resistance training: by increasing your muscle mass, you'll also increase your resting metabolic rate as your body will need more calories to maintain itself.
Most importantly, understanding macros is key to weight loss. Eating the right type of food at the right time can help you lose weight without any exercising, although exercising is beneficial in more ways than just helping you lose weight.
Is 30 minutes on stationary bike enough?
Doing only 30 minutes of stationary biking has a range of benefits: it increases metabolism, improves cardiovascular health, and it can also help you burn more calories. And although some exercise bikes, such as the CAROL Bike, can apparently get you fit in 40 seconds, doing a couple of 30-minute sessions a week on your exercise bike will also do wonders for your body.
Stationary biking might be a better option for those struggling with obesity as it puts less pressure on the joints than running, especially outdoors. There are many different types of bikes, including recumbent bikes, which might even put less stress on the knees than standard stationary bikes, so you can enjoy the benefits of exercising without worrying about your joint health.