How to Choose a Stationary Bike

A stationary bike is a great investment for your home. It offers a full-body workout that you can complete no matter what the weather is outside. But not all stationary bikes are created equally. It’s important to choose a bike that fits your fitness goals and needs.

Stationary Bike Categories

Upright bike. An upright stationary bike is designed almost like an outdoor bike. It has a narrow seat, and the pedals align below your body. You have to lean forward to hold the handlebars. This style of bike offers a full-body workout and engages all of your muscles.

Recumbent bike. A stationary recumbent bike has a wider seat and back support, so it's more comfortable. The pedals are out in front of your body, so you ride in more of a seated position with your legs stretched out. If you struggle with balance or mobility, this bike can give you a great workout without putting too much stress on your body.‌

Spinning bike. A stationary spinning bike is upright, but the handlebars are lower. It usually has a flywheel that allows you to pedal standing up. This design is best for spinning classes, and many come with a screen so you can stream classes through a service.

Stationary Bike Considerations

Proper fit. Stationary bikes adjust to your height and reach, but some bikes may not feel right to you even after adjusting the settings. This is because some bikes don’t offer fine-tuning. They may adjust by inches instead of by centimeters, meaning that you might not get a perfect fit.‌

If possible, try a bike out in person before making a purchase. See how the height adjustments feel when you ride. Try different inclines and speeds to see if your comfort changes with your workout. Keep in mind that many seats can be changed out if you want to invest in one that’s more comfortable.‌

Warranty. Anything can happen after you get your stationary bike home. Even the best-made products can have issues that need to be fixed. Without a warranty, you’re left spending money out-of-pocket if anything happens to your bike. Look for a stationary bike that offers coverage that lasts at least two to three years for parts and labor. Some of the best stationary bike warranties offer a lifetime guarantee on the frame and several years on parts. Cheaper bikes may offer warranties that last as little as six months. Be aware of what your warranty coverage and return policy are before making a purchase.‌

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Added Features. Consider what you want access to when you ride your stationary bike. Do you want your water bottle within reach? Do you want to connect to Wi-Fi for spinning classes? If you take spin classes, will you use dumbbells during your workout? ‌

Some brands require that you have special shoes that clip into the pedals. If you don’t want to purchase different shoes, consider that when making your choice. Other stationary bikes allow you to connect your workouts to fitness apps and trackers.‌

Video screen. If your bike has a video screen, make sure it offers a clear picture and is easy to work. Bikes that don’t have video screens may require you to make manual setting adjustments when you take a class.‌

Most stationary bikes track your:

  • Distance
  • Speed
  • Resistance
  • Incline
  • Calories burned
  • Heart rate‌
  • Revolutions per minute‌

Safety. Check to see if your bike has a locking feature when it’s not in use to protect children from accidentally turning it on. You should also look for an emergency stop button to use in case you need to stop your ride suddenly.

Why Choose a Stationary Bike?

If you’re shopping for at-home workout equipment, you may be considering more than just a stationary bike. Each type of machine offers its own pros and cons. A stationary bike gives you a great cardio workout, engaging your legs and core. There is less stress on your joints because you don’t put your full body weight on your legs and feet. If you like to cycle outdoors, a stationary bike is a great way to maintain your activity during bad weather. ‌

Deciding which stationary bike is right for you can feel like a big task, but when you take time to research your options and understand stationary bike features, it’s easy to make a smart decision.‌

Remember to mix up your fitness routine by incorporating other activities like walking, running, and strength training. This helps keep your workouts interesting and prevents your body from reaching a plateau when you get used to doing the same workout all the time. Track your progress over time to see how you can increase your speed, intensity, and incline with your stationary bike.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 26, 2021

Sources

Sources 

Arthritis Foundation: “The Benefits of Stationary Biking.”

Consumer Reports: “Exercise Bike Buying Guide.”

Mayo Clinic: “Cycle your way to better health.”

© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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