How to Buy an Exercise Bike

If you don't have the time or money to go to the gym, buying your own exercise bike lets you do the recommended 75 to 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, every week, at home. An exercise bike will pay for itself quickly in terms of gym dues saved.


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    Decide which type of exercise bike is best for you. In general, go for the most comfortable exercise bike, because you'll more likely to use it. The primary types of bikes you'll need to choose from include:
    • Recumbent or upright. Upright bikes more closely resemble riding a conventional bike, which makes them best if you're training for bike racing. Recumbent bikes have a wider, flatter seat and a backrest, and are the best choice if you feel uncomfortable on an upright exercise bike.
    • Resistance type. Most modern exercise bikes have push-button adjustable magnetic resistance, which is generally smooth and quiet. However you may also encounter air resistance, which has an infinite numbers of levels but can get loud, especially at high speeds; flywheel resistance, which closely resembles pedaling a real bike; and direct tension resistance, with a strap that applies tension to the bike's wheel as you pedal.
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    Decide which exercise bike features are your highest priorities. Keep in mind that no matter what kind of fancy features the bike has, if it breaks it's of no use to you. So a sturdy frame and reliable resistance mechanism should be first on your list. Other common features that will help you narrow down the field of choices include:
    • In-console cooling fans;
    • Preprogrammed workouts;
    • User-customizable workouts;
    • Capacity to add more preprogrammed workouts (for example, the iFit system available from ICON Health & Fitness companies like NordicTrack and ProForm);
    • In-console entertainment options, which might include a built-in television, an MP3-player input jack, built-in speakers, and on a very few exercise bikes, interactive games that get easier the faster you pedal;
    • Handgrip or wireless heart rate monitoring.
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    Try the bike out before you buy it. If you simply can't find a bike--or a good deal--at a brick and mortar store near you, purchase a bike that you can return if it doesn't meet the following criteria:
    • It should fit your body. Most bikes adjust to fit a variety of body types, but if you're very tall or very short, this could be an issue. Your leg should be straight, but not locked, when at the furthest point in the pedaling motion.
    • The bike's mid-range resistance settings should give you a good challenge; this leaves some higher resistance levels for you to "grow into" as you build strength and endurance.
    • You should be able to reach and operate all the controls while pedaling. This includes the resistance up and down buttons, or resistance knob, and handgrip heart rate monitors, if the bike has them.
    • The bike should feel stable and steady beneath you. Poorly built bikes may wobble or even "walk" beneath you.
    • You should weigh less than the bike's maximum weight limit.
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    Consider the bike's warranty. A well-built bike may cost a bit more up front, but high-quality machinery is less likely to break down, and more likely to have a good warranty if it does. The ideal warranty is lifetime coverage on the frame and resistance mechanism, with at least a year of coverage for parts, labor and electronics.


  • Very rarely, you may encounter a recumbent or upright bike with moving handlebars you can push and pull as you pedal, like those you'd find on an elliptical trainer. These are known as dual-action bikes.


  • Always consult your physician before beginning a new exercise program.

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Categories: Calisthenic Exercises | Cardio Exercises