- Riding an exercise bike is a low-impact workout that boosts your cardio fitness and is a great alternative to running on a treadmill.
- Though the most popular exercise bikes feature built-in screens, there are plenty of non-connected models that also deliver effective workouts.
- Our top pick, NordicTrack's S22i Studio Cycle, replicates the spin studio experience, offering a deep library of instructor-led classes and digital rides across the world.
Exercise bicycles, also known as stationary bikes or spinning bikes, have a long history that dates back to when Francis Lowndes invented a device approximating the function of an exercise bike in the late 1790s. His creation, the Gymnasticon, predated even the earliest riding bicycles by several decades. By the end of the 19th century, as bicycles took their modern form, stationary bikes used for exercise became a more common sight in homes and gymnasiums.
For much of the 20th century, exercise bikes and treadmills were essentially the only stationary devices suitable for cardiovascular exercise. In the 1990s, equipment such as the NordicTrack, the elliptical trainer, and the stair machine gained in popularity. Exercise bikes seemed almost passé, used more for hanging laundry than for fitness in the home.
Then the spin class craze hit and exercise bikes surged into style once again. Led by familiar faces in NordicTrack and an instantly popular newcomer like Peloton, the current wave of exercise bikes have become an incredibly popular part of anyone's at-home fitness setup.
And what's not to like? Instead of pounding away on a treadmill, an exercise bike is a much more low-impact cardio exercise that's perfect for those who don't enjoy running. Some of today's bikes even bring studio-quality spin classes into your living room or take you on digital tours of places like Mallorca or Japan.
To help narrow down the best currently available, we've tested a number of exercise bikes from a who's who in the industry like Peloton, NordicTrack, and Exerpeutic, as well as start-ups like Stryde. With months of testing and miles of digital ground covered, we've compiled the following guide on our favorites cross a number of categories.
At the bottom of this guide, we've included some additional tips on how to shop for an exercise bike, as well as the other models we're currently testing for a future update. You'll also find insight into the testing methodology we used to decide which bikes ultimately made the cut.
Here are the best exercise bikes:
- Best overall: NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle
- Best for high-intensity workouts: Peloton Bike
- Best budget connected bike: Stryde Bike
- Best pedal exerciser: Vive Pedal Exerciser
- Best on a budget: Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle
- Best folding exercise bike: XTERRA FB150 Folding Exercise Bike
- Best for comfort: Exerpeutic 5000 Magnetic Recumbent Bike
NordicTrack's S22i Studio Cycle offers a high-quality ride experience and some of the best streamable workout content via its iFit program.
Pros: Deep well of content to support a high-quality at-home ride experience, can choose between trainer-led classes or free rides in places across the world
Cons: Expensive, iFit requires a monthly subscription fee
Exercise bikes outfit with a large color touchscreen that streams on-demand workouts is a growing trend in the at-home fitness industry. Though Peloton's name tends to come up first in any conversation about them, the NordicTrack brand has been delivering a high-quality at-home cycling experience for far longer.
With its S22i Studio Cycle, NordicTrack continues that trend by offering a feature-heavy at-home bike with a deep offering of on-demand fitness content. There are the instructor-led courses but also a library of rides capable of digitally taking you around the world — think biking through Australia one minute then across Moab, Utah the next. This mode features Google Map integration, so it's not just some randomly generated scenery but instead, the real thing.
The bike also features incline and decline control, and up to 24 different levels of resistance. Each class is designed to make use of these and they'll automatically adjust as an instructor changes them during a routine.
If you're not an all-bike-all-the-time kind of person, the iFit platform even offers cross-training routines like yoga or free weight workouts, adding to the bike's versatility. You'll have a hard time finding an at-home bike that offers more. -- Rick Stella, health & fitness editor for Insider Reviews$1,999.00 from NordicTrack
Best for high-intensity workouts
Peloton's name is synonymous with at-home stationary bikes, and for good reason — its high-quality bike offers a library of immersive and intense workouts led by motivating trainers.
Pros: Peloton's bike is an incredibly interactive home cycling experience, the bike runs quietly, it offers a variety of on-demand and live classes, and its large touchscreen isn't obnoxious
Cons: Expensive, recurring monthly charge for access to the video library
You don't even need to be a fitness fanatic to recognize the Peloton name when you see it — the company's done an incredible job making its at-home exercise bike an absolute star ever since it burst on the scene years ago. The attention is deserved, too, as the Peloton bike offers users an interactive workout experience that replicates the feeling of a spin class from the comfort of their home.
Like NordicTrack's S22i, the Peloton bike features a huge built-in screen that displays each of its workouts, as well as a rider's progress and stats. The workouts themselves are high-energy, trainer-led courses that are either streamed via Peloton's on-demand library or taken live.
Each Peloton class offers a bit of variety, too. Instead of just wailing away on the pedals for 30 minutes, there are classes for varying skill levels and themes, as well as those set to specific types of music. What they all have in common is delivering a sweat-heavy workout anyone can enjoy from the comfort of their home.
The bike itself is a compact stationary bike that doesn't require a ton of room to setup and use. Its seat is adjustable to accommodate for a range of riders, and it runs quiet enough to not bother anyone else nearby.
Though it is expensive at $2,245 for its basic package, it's well worth the investment.$1,895.00 from Peloton
Best budget connected bike
The Stryde bike not only costs hundreds of dollars less than its connected bike kin like Peloton and NordicTrack, but it lets you stream workouts from other fitness apps, as well as services like Netflix and Hulu.
Pros: Ergonomic design, comfortable seat, perfect size for small apartments, 22-inch touchscreen tablet can stream a variety of apps or streaming services, great value
Cons: Production quality of its classes can be lacking, Stryde app only offers on-bike workouts
The industry of connected bikes is far from at a loss for variety, but a relative newcomer by the name of Stryde released one of our favorite reviewed bikes to date. With a design reminiscent of premium competitors like Peloton and NordicTrack, Stryde offers a few unique features that let it stand out on its own — including the fact it costs some hundreds of dollars cheaper at just $1,550.
First is its content strategy. Like almost any connected bike, Stryde comes with an 22-inch on-board touchscreen tablet that's able to stream workouts via a companion smartphone application. After signing up for a $30 per month membership, you're able to stream any of its hundreds of on-demand classes filmed at spin studios across the country. Though the production value may not be on par with what Peloton offers, the classes are still impressive and deliver tough workouts.
But the Stryde app and its workouts aren't the only thing you're able to access on the tablet — it also allows for complete internet access. This means you're able to check your email, listen to music, and (perhaps most enticing) stream video services like Netflix or Hulu. Need to catch up on season 3 of Ozark? Do it while pedaling your way to your daily cardio. Put plainly, the tablet's internet access is a game changer.
If you're a fan of the more highly-produced content from Peloton or the globe-spanning workouts native to NordicTrack's iFit, then Stryde may not be the best fit. However, with its ability to stream other workout apps and services like Netflix or Hulu, as well as the fact it comes with a wallet-friendly price (for connected fitness equipment, that is), it's worth considering for anyone in the market for an at-home exercise bike.$1,595.00 from Stryde
Best pedal exerciser
The VIVE Pedal Exerciser is small enough to tuck away under a desk or table, letting you pedal away and burn calories and tone your legs and core at any time.
Pros: Compact and portable, works legs or arms, low cost, low impact exercise
Cons: Not as effective a workout as a standard stationary bike
No, the VIVE Pedal Exerciser is not a stationary bike, exactly. But the type of exercise it fosters and the benefits therein gained are quite similar to those achieved with a standard exercise bike, and this from a unit that costs a fraction of the price and stows away in any home, office, dorm room, or that can be loaded into the trunk of a car and brought along on the road.
At just 12.5-inches in height, the VIVE Pedal Cruiser slips under a desk or table with ease, allowing you to exercise while you work, watch TV, read, surf the web, or any of the other countless activities we do while seated in the course of our modern lives. An LCD screen set into the compact unit tracks metrics including RPMs, speed, distance, and approximate calories burned.
But perhaps the best thing about this unique pedal machine is that it doesn't have to be used only as an under-desk leg exerciser; the VIVE Pedal Exerciser can also be set up on your desk or table for an arm workout. Just grab the pedals with your hands, set the right resistance level, and spin away to build arm muscles and burn calories as part of a complete body workout.$68.98 from Amazon
Best on a budget
The Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle exercise bike costs less than half the price of many similar bikes without notable loss of quality.
Pros: Great low price, easy to mount and dismount, quiet operation
Cons: Computer is basic and limited
Let's be clear here: the Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle is a pretty basic stationary bike. The onboard "computer" tracks time, speed, distance, and approximates likely calories burned, but it's not going to offer you customizable workout programs as you get with many more advanced, expensive exercise bikes. But what this low-cost bike will do is help you burn calories, lose weight, and tone your muscles, which is all those other bikes do anyway, just with fancier features.
The Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycles offers eight different intensities of magnetic resistance, so it suits people of varying fitness levels. Using these eight settings, you can create your own workout program by switching up the difficulty during the session. While in operation, the Marcy Recumbent bike is quiet and stable, suitable for use while you watch TV or with kids sleeping in the room next door.
While this is a more basic option than many exercise bikes, its low cost makes it a great choice for those on a budget or who aren't sure they'll use it much and thus hesitant to make a large investment.$171.93 from Amazon
Best folding bike
The XTERRA FB150 Folding Exercise Bike provides a fine cardio workout when it's set up for use, then folds away into a compact package.
Pros: Compact bike folds away for storage, low price tag, easy assembly
Cons: Too small for many users
Ironically, the best thing about the XTERRA FB150 Folding Exercise Bike is how little you'll see of it most of the time. When folded up, this bike occupies just 17-inches by 18-inches of floor space, so it can be stuffed in a closet, tucked behind a door, or even laid flat and slid beneath a bed that sits well above the ground.
Not only can you stash this folding stationary bike just about anywhere, but you can use it almost anywhere, too. Even when deployed for use, the bike measures only 18-inches wide and 32-inches in length, so it will fit even in a smaller room.
The XTERRA FB150 Folding Exercise Bike has an adjustable padded seat so it can accommodate riders of varied height, and its curved, multi-grip handlebars allow you to grasp on wherever is most comfortable. When you take hold of the pulse grips set at the sides of the handlebars, you can keep track of your heart rate, helping you achieve ideal cardio intensity.
The bike's small onboard computer also tracks time, speed, distance, and calories burned. A simple dial adjusts the resistance difficulty, which is spread across eight settings.$115.80 from Amazon
Best for comfort
From its padded armrests and seat cushion to an ergonomic backrest and customizable workouts, the Exerpeutic 5000 Magnetic Recumbent Bike proves you can burn calories in comfort.
Pros: Comfortable seat design, multiple fitness programs, large weight capacity
Cons: Poor manual makes initial setup frustrating
Who said a fat-blasting cardio workout session had to be unpleasant? No one who's ever eased themselves into the plush seat of the Exerpeutic 5000 Magnetic Recumbent Bike, certainly.
This superlative home exercise stationary bike has a generously padded seat that cradles your core while promoting airflow, a mesh backrest that offers plenty of support while keeping you cool, and padded armrests to keep your elbows and forearms comfortable as you churn away at the bike's magnetic tension system.
The Exerpeutic 5000 offers 24 different levels of tension, so whether you're just starting to exercise for the first time in years or you're looking for a way to stay fit between century rides, this bike will offer just the right level of challenge for you.
It also comes with 12 workout programs, so you can tailor your exercise sessions to suit your fitness goals and your personal preferences. While you're using the bike, an onboard computer will track metrics including distance, RPMs, your heart rate, and even the watts of power generated.
And while this is a larger bike that will take up some room in the home, it's lightweight enough to be rolled into the corner (or the garage) after each use.$428.63 from Amazon
What we're currently testing
The SoulCycle name says it all; when Variis announced it'd make the popular in-studio class' bikes available for home use, it became an instant competitor to the likes of NordicTrack's S22i and, of course, the Peloton Bike. At $2,500, it is the most expensive of the three, so whether it succeeds in actually replicating the same kind of high-intensity, high-energy environment of its classes could be a huge selling point.
We're currently riding this and will have an update on what it's like to use soon.
The Bowflex Velocore brings something entirely new to the industry of exercise bikes: The ability to lean side-to-side while riding. Like those MotoGP games at the arcade, the Velocore shifts left and right that's supposed to simulate a more natural-feeling ride. It will likely feel a little wonky at first, though there is something to be said about being able to lean into a digital corner. We'll soon see if that's enough to give it a spot in our guide.
How to shop for an exercise bike
It makes sense why exercise bikes are so popular. On those days when it's too cold for a run or when there's no time for a trip to the gym, a home exercise bike is a great way to get your heart rate up and your leg muscles pumping. When you utilize its various seated and standing positions, as well as the interval training approach of a spin class, you can even get what amounts to a total body workout.
Compared to larger cardio machines like an elliptical trainer or treadmill, many exercise bikes are relatively affordable and compact. Some even fold away to stash in a closet or under the bed.
When shopping for an exercise bike, you'll want to keep in mind a few important features. First, consider the bike's size. Whether you have a dedicated workout room or want to slide the bike into your living room/kitchen (i.e. you live in a studio apartment), size matters. Thankfully, most exercise bikes are much smaller than treadmills, so there likely won't be as much of a logistics headache with these.
You'll also want to decide whether you want a connected bike outfit with a suite of on-demand, streamable classes, or something a little more basic that's just a seat, some handlebars, and a pair of pedals attached to a resistance wheel. Connected bikes do tend to run quite a bit more in terms of price, but offer a deep library of workout classes and fitness tracking.
Finally, don't forget about budget. The connected bikes mentioned above often come with price tags in the thousands of dollars while the more basic, non-digital options may run you a few hundred (and still do well to deliver a worthy session of cardio exercise).
How we test exercise bikes
Each exercise bike featured in this guide went through a series of tests to determine how well it compared across these four categories: Ride experience, versatility, comfort, and value. Here's how each category specifically factored into our testing:
Ride experience: Today's exercise bikes typically fall into two categories: Those that have an included screen for streaming classes and those that don't. Of course, there are a wider range of more specific categories, like those that fit under your desk, those that fold up for easy storage, and those that feature a recumbent seat, but it's worth starting your purchasing journey by deciding if you want a connected bike or not. We understand that this creates a limitation, too. NordicTrack's S22i is far different than the Vive Pedal Exerciser, so to compare the two as equals is a little unfair. Still, we made notes where we could on why each model made the list and judged their ride experience relative to what they offer (and why they're unique for their category).
Versatility: Similar to the difference in ride experience between connected bikes and standard analog bikes, versatility can mean two different things depending on the model. For the connected bikes, we looked at the versatility of classes offered, if the day-to-day workouts felt varied and not tedious, and if they offered more than just spin classes. With the non-connected models, versatility meant more about accessibility and when and where they allowed you to work out.
Comfort: If an exercise bike consistently makes you feel uncomfortable, it's highly likely you'll start to lose the motivation to jump on and work out. Some bikes do allow you to change out the seat, but how the stock, delivered model feels after several weeks of riding is an important consideration.
Value: The value of an exercise bike ultimately comes down to your budget and the experience you seek. We often say that spending more for a premium product is better than spending less, more often, but for exercise bikes, this is more about your intended use case (or connected vs. non-connected). We recommend each of the connected bikes featured in this guide for those both looking for that specific experience and that have the budget (and we've even included a budget connected model, too). The non-connected bikes each have their own advantages that make them viable choices in their sub-category.
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