Best exercise bike 2021 for home cardio workouts and spin sessions

The best exercise bike for everything from quick home workouts to serious ride training

Included in this guide:

The best exercise bike looks great in front of a concrete wall, next to an arm chair, as this picture illustrates
(Image credit: Carol)

The best exercise bikes – or best indoor bikes, however you like to call them – are capable of turning one of the most mundane types of exercising – indoor cycling – into a genuinely fun activity. The best stationary bikes will give your quads, hamstrings and glutes a run – or cycle – for their money, whether it's bad weather or a global pandemic/lockdown that forces you to move your cycling efforts indoors.

You can get fit with indoor cycling, much like how running on the best treadmills – and best folding treadmills – and pedalling on the best elliptical trainers can help you burn calories and stay healthy indoors. For a total body workout, we recommend using the best rowing machines

What sets indoor cycling apart from the other two is the variety of virtual platforms you can use to recreate the sensation of outdoor cycling indoors. Sure, Zwift offers a similar experience for runners as it does for cyclists, but the cycling features are way more sophisticated (for now). Here is the best Zwift setup for every budget and, most importantly, your ultimate Zwift guide too.

Other apps like SYSTM, TrainingPeaks and the likes can turn a boring indoor cycling session into something more fun and rewarding, especially if you are using a smart exercise bike or the best turbo trainers.

So whether you're looking to recreate a stage of the Tour de France or just 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 for you. Make one the centrepiece of your home gym.

Best exercise bike deals for Black Friday 2021

Echelon Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike | Was £1,199 | Now £949 | Save £250 at Echelon

Echelon Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike | Was £1,199 | Now £949 | Save £250 at Echelon
The Echelon Smart Connect EX3 is a sturdy Peloton alternative for those on a tight budget. It might not have a built-in display but if you're happy to stream workouts on your smart TV, you can save a significant amount of money getting this smart bike. Now even cheaper!

Check out the best Black Friday deals

Check out the best Black Friday deals NOW!
Want to kit out your home gym with a new exercise bike? You'll find plenty of exercise bike deals on Black Friday, admittedly the biggest shopping event of the year. We collected them all for your convenience, just click on the link above and you will be instantly taken to T3's Black Friday Hub where you'll find them.

The best exercise bikes, in order of preference

The Peloton Bike+ is T3's choice for best exercise bikesT3 Awards 2021 winner badge

(Image credit: Peloton)

The best indoor exercise bike overall

Reasons to buy
+Premium experience from start to finish+Extraordinarily well made bit of equipment+Engaging instructors and great range of classes
Reasons to avoid
-Display resolution could be higher

Have you heard? The Peloton Bike+ won the 'Best Home Gym Equipment' award at the T3 Awards 2021!

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 right now.

Schwinn IC8 exercise bikeT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Schwinn)

2. Schwinn IC8

Best cheap Peloton alternative exercise bike

Reasons to buy
+Tank-like build+Smooth pedal stroke+Resistance levels mimic Peloton Bike
Reasons to avoid
-Basic onboard computer-Provided pedals are not great-Zwift compatibility issues

For the price, the Schwinn IC8 is a solid indoor exercise bike that’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 superior piece of design.

Above all else, the Schwinn IC8 feels like a great 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 and appease the Zwift/TrainerRoad users, it will be a mighty fine all-rounder and worthy of a full five stars.

The Domyos Basic Exercise Bike 100 is the best cheap exercise bike

(Image credit: Domyos)

3. Domyos Basic Exercise Bike 100

Best cheap exercise bike

Reasons to buy
+Great value for money+Adjustable seatpost/handlebar height+Decent size flywheel
Reasons to avoid
-Quality of each individual unit can be a bit hit-and-miss

What can we say? The Domyos Basic Exercise Bike 100 is the ideal choice for people who would like to get fit with indoor cycling but aren't planning on spending heap 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 was designed by Decathlon's teams for occasional to regular use and it has been tested for an 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 fairly 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 both height and depth and the handlebar is also height adjustable.

The JTX Cyclo Studio Bike is a gym standard indoor bike for lessT3 Award

(Image credit: JTX Fitness)

4. JTX Cyclo Studio Bike

Gym standard indoor bike for less

Reasons to buy
+Studio-style bike for under a grand+Heavy flywheel+3-year home warranty+Transport wheels
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't come with a display

Enjoying virtual spin classes at home has never been so popular as it is now. What many people don't know is that you don't necessarily have to buy a Peloton/Echelon etc bike to enjoy Peloton/Echelon etc 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 the ones found on the aforementioned brands' bikes. To make suffering on the bike more comfortable, both handlebars and 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.

The Wattbike Atom is the best exercise bike, pound for poundT3 Award

Like a Peloton bike for extremely hardcore cyclists

Reasons to buy
+Feels so realistic+Great virtual training buddy+Compatible with numerous sensors+Relatively affordable
Reasons to avoid
-For some, it will just be too hardcore

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.

The Atom condenses 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 synched 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.

• Buy Wattbike Atom direct from Wattbike

The Echelon Connect EX-3 is an affordable Peloton-rival that packs a punchT3 Award

(Image credit: Echelon)

Affordable Peloton-rival that packs a punch

Reasons to buy
+Decent-sized flywheel+Lighter than Peloton bike+Loads of spin classes available in the app (both live and on-demand)
Reasons to avoid
-Comes without a tablet/screen

The Echelon Connect EX-3 is a decent exercise 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.

Unfortunately, the bike doesn't come with a built-in screen and this takes away from the 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 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 for 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.

Carol Bike on white background

(Image credit: Carol)

7. CAROL exercise bike

A very well built bike with some unique training modes

Reasons to buy
+Very well built+Interesting ultra-short programme
Reasons to avoid
-Pretty damn hardcore

• Buy direct from CAROL

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. 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.

The Apex Bike is the UK’s answer to PelotonT3 Award

(Image credit: Apex Bike)

The UK’s answer to Peloton

Reasons to buy
+Modern and stylish design+Well made and easy to set up+Great range of classes and cool instructors
Reasons to avoid
-Handlebars are a little wobbly-Weights are an additional cost-Only works with iOS devices

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.

• Read our full Apex Bike review

The Technogym Bike Forma is the best exercise bike for those wanting a classic, gym-style rideT3 Award

9. Technogym Bike Forma

Best exercise bike for those wanting a classic, gym-style ride

Reasons to buy
+Robust and hardy+Great built-in monitoring
Reasons to avoid
-A hefty unit

If you prefer the exercise bikes in your local gym to the more modern, stripped down spin bike, then you're going to love the Forma. It's as close to a gym bike as one can get for the home. That means a smooth, adjustable seat that's easy to move with one hand, automatic data tracking via the on-board computer and ergonomically designed handlebars that replicate standard, city and racing bikes.

Technogym's operating system is extremely intuitive and simple to use. Fire up a bespoke app, scan the QR code on a machine and data from previous workouts, favourite settings and training programmes are transferred between devices. 

As usual with Technogym, the fit and finish are excellent and while the price looks high, its proven reliability means it will eventually pay for itself – as long as you keep using it for workouts, rather than to dry underpants on.

athlete pedaling on the Wattbike Atom indoors looking at a TV

(Image credit: Wattbike)

Where to buy exercise bikes right now

The best exercise bikes are in high demand right now, so finding a top model for a reasonable price will be a bit more effort than it usually is. If you can't find a suitable indoor bike in the shops below, you can always try and source a second-hand model: it's not all that unlikely people will give up on their new hobby and try to sell their hardly used cardio machines for cheap online. The best places to look are Ebay US, Ebay UK and Ebay AUS, but who knows, you might find a bargain at Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree/Craigslist.

What is the best exercise bike?

That'll be the Technogym Bike Personal, which is one of the most stylish and approachable exercise bikes around, and certainly less menacing than the Tour de France-spec Wattbike Atom, much as we love that.

This ace piece of designer gym equipment is just as capable in some ways, although not as realistic-feeling, with a very smooth pedal stroke and plenty of connectivity to keep boredom away during those long workout sessions.

The interactive touchscreen is crisp and clear, its compact proportions make it perfect for bouji modern flats and its heart rate-based training modes are among the best ways to work up a sweat in your own personal spin class. 

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 braking this flywheel as you would on a moving vehicle.

However, in recent years home exercise bikes 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 doesn'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 an exercise bike or a treadmill next, we compared these cardio machines here: treadmill vs exercise bike.

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 resting metabolic rate as your body will need more calories to maintain itself.

Most importantly, understanding macros is a key to weight loss. Eating the right type of food in 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 have 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 30-minute sessions a week on your exercise bike will also do wonders to your body.

Stationary biking might actually be a better option for those who are struggling with obesity as it puts less pressure on the joints than running, especially running outdoors. There are a lot of different types of exercise bikes, including recumbent bikes, which might even put less pressure on the knees than standard stationary bikes, so you can enjoy the benefits of exercising without having to worry about your joint health.

Leon Poultney
Leon Poultney

Leon has been writing about automotive and consumer tech for longer than he cares to divulge. If he’s not testing the latest fitness wearable and action camera, he’s out in a shed fawning over his motorcycles or trying not to kill himself on a mountain bike/surfboard/other extreme thing.