Cycling is a great way to get fit, but not all of us are able to get outside and enjoy riding on the open road.
Traditionally, cyclists training indoors will attach their own bike to a turbo trainer or ride on rollers. However, if you’ve got a dedicated space for a bike you can leave consistently set up and ready to go – or have no intention or riding outside – then an exercise bike is a great choice.
Exercise bikes vary rather dramatically in price and spec – starting from as low as £100 and travelling well in excess of £2000. Which is the right one for you depends which functions and features are important to you.
An entry level model will allow you to get a spin on, and get fit. Spend more, and you’ll enjoy ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity, so you can train using indoor training apps such as Zwift or The Sufferfest.
On more expensive exercise bikes, the resistance unit will allow you to put out higher wattages, offering more resistance to mimic the hills and the adjustability will usually be greater and more measurable.
We’ve pulled together some of the best models on the market, to explain what you’ll get at each price point.
The first four models are closer to ‘spinning bikes‘, and will suit beginners looking to get fit. The latter four offer connectivity to cycling specific apps, and will more suited to regular bike riders, in training for events and looking to get a pedal fix inside.
With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.
You can find exercise bikes for under £100, but typically they won’t feel very smooth and will be much lighter in weight – which though practical in the home, will mean they feel less stable when you start putting power through the pedals.
This JLL model impresses us with its 18 kilogram flywheel, and multi-level resistance. It can support a rider weight up to 130kg and comes with plenty of adjustability with a set up that can be aggressive and racy, or more upright.
An on-board LCD computer shows you time pedalled, distance, calories and even heart rate, thanks to a built in handlebar sensor.
The bike uses a chain drive system, and has rubberised feet plus pedals with toe straps.
The VS900 from Domyos uses a 20kg flywheel to provide ample resistance, with a belt transmission which keeps the system quiet.
Resistance is increased via a wheel just below the handlebars, and the unit offers a built in console which measures time, distance ridden, speed, cadence (in RPM – revolutions per minute) as well as calories.
Adjustability is important, so you can ensure you find the right fit. The saddle and handlebars can be adjusted horizontally and vertically, and the pedals come with toe clips though can be swapped for clipless pedals if you wish.
Four adjustable feet can be used to steady the bike on uneven floors, and the full weight is 58kg so it’s unlikely you’ll be lifting it off the ground in sprint efforts.
With a 22kg flywheel, you’ll get plenty of resistance from this machine and this can be adjusted via the knob below the handlebar.
It’s belt driven, and has a good degree of adjustability to help you find the right fit. The console at the front measures distance, speed, time, calories and heart rate, via a wireless monitor at the handlebar.
The weight is 66.5kg, and there’s four rubber feet which can be adjusted for uneven floor surfaces.
With 20 years worth of experience creating indoor cycling bikes, Schwinn is a big name in spinning arenas.
The ICPro20 comes with a perimeter weighted 18.6kg flywheel, for a smooth ride, with a chaindrive and steel cranks. It’s designed for home or commercial use and the full bike weighs in at 52kg, with adjustable feet to cater for wonky floors.
You can use the flat pedals provided, or update to Scwinn Triple Link pedals, which accommodate Look Delta and SPD clipless cleats.
The narrow Q-Factor (168mm) won’t upset position for regular road riders, and the separately purchased console shows cadence.
The brand’s smart bike offers the same features as its turbo trainers – in that you can follow structured workouts (including an FTP test) and ride specific courses, creating an experience that is suited to cyclists training for events.
There’s an accompanying app, the bike is Bluetooth and Ant+ compatible and you can hook it up to a computer screen, tablet or smart TV, show your stats or allow you to follow a virtual route.
Resistance is automatically increased to match the incline on a course or required level for a workout and the rider’s output is measured in watts, with a max output of 1500w. You can also manually control resistance on the bike. If you complete the FTP test, your intervals will be set to suit your fitness.
The resistance unit is magnetic, with a flywheel which carries a lot of inertia to simulate real ride conditions. A belt drive system means it’s quiet. The whole thing weighs 45kg, and the Q-Factor is 179 mm – the same as on a road bike so it won’t feel strange to outdoor cyclists.
Wattbike has led the cyclist’s exercise bike market for years, and the Atom is its newest creation.
The resistance unit is magnetic, and in our review we commented that “pedalling fluidity is second to none.”
You can mimic climbs up to 25 per cent and deliver up to 2000 watts, though we didn’t get near that in testing. We found it to be incredibly quiet, too.
Connectivity comes via ANT+ or Bluetooth, and you can use set workouts or hook up to an indoor training app.
There is amble adjustability, with a road bike style geometry including a 160mm Q-Factor. Flat pedals with toe cages are fitted as standard, but can be swapped for clipless pedals. All in, it’s 44kg.
The Tacx Neo smart trainer has long been a favourite at Cycling Weekly, and the smart bike version is pretty much the same turbo, with a bike pre-attached!
The unit uses magnetic resistance, and can handle up to 2,200 watts whilst mimicking climbs as steep as 25 per cent.
You can follow structured workouts, or ride a route, and you can connect with a smartphone, tablet or computer via Bluetooth or Ant+.
Ride feel has been taken to the max, with the likes of cobblestones reflected and even a virtual ‘chain jump’ as you move into a new gear, though we reckon those are a couple of elements some of us don’t necessarily want to replicate indoors.. You do get a nice speed up as you crest hills which can only be a pleasant bonus.
The bike provides pedal analysis as well as power, cadence and all the other metrics you’d expect – and the air fans attached adjust the level of cooling depending upon your heart rate or power output.
The Q-Factor is set to be the same as a road bike, there’s lots of adjustability, and all-in the weight is 50kg.
Before there was the Wattbike Atom, there was the Wattbike Pro and Wattbike Trainer.
Used by coaches and performance centres across the world, the Wattbike Pro and Wattbike Trainer are the ultimate options for top end sprint workouts.
At 55kg, it’s a sturdy base, and unlike the Atom does not need to be plugged into the mains. The resistance unit uses magnets and air, and the pro version allows power output up to 3,760 watts – which would be a stretch for anyone. The Trainer model goes up to 2,000 watts.
Unlike the Atom, the built in screen is provided. Pedal analysis is available, as is ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity, though unlike the Atom the resistance can’t be influenced by an external app and users instead need to use the shifting system supplied.
Adjustability level is high, and the pedals can be swapped for your personal preference though the Q-Factor is 173mm – wider than on the newer Atom.
This content was originally published here.
With stringent measures being brought in across the world to keep people from spreading the Covid-19 disease, some of us find ourselves with a lot more free time on our hands, but with very few options to make the most of it. If you’re a cyclist you may not be able to, or simply may...
Lockdown is becoming more and more familiar to us as the Coronavirus situation worsens worldwide. In times like this, we need to things to keep us going, one such thing is to plan future adventures. So, here is a list of eight places in the UK you should go with your bike after the lockdown...