An exercise bike can be an excellent, fun (the most fun in my opinion), and engaging way to get a solid cardio workout in while in the comfort of your own home.
It’s one of the few workouts that can get your heart pumping, your muscles toning, and your weight dropping all without making your joints feel like total crap afterwards.
However, a lot depends on the exercise bike you choose. Just like with pretty much every other piece of fitness equipment, exercise bikes come in wide range of options.
But the only indoor cycling bike that I ever recommend to get, is one with a screen. The reason for this is because stationary bikes with screens provide you with quite a substantial difference in the features that they provide.
- being able to choose from 25+ preset workout programs as well as live and on demand workouts tailored to your body comp and training style and led by knowledgeable instructors.
- Digital monitor for your heart rate, caloric burn, distance traveled and other key metrics.
- and allowing you to change speeds, difficulty levels, inclines etc..
It can give you far more realistic workouts and make a much bigger difference to the overall quality of your workout and fitness goals than you may think.
And the best part is that they really do not cost all that much more than an indoor bike that does not come with a screen…. so why would you buy anything else other than a bike with a screen – could be a smaller screen than most standard sizes, but if it has a rotating screen, or even one with hd touchscreen display would make for a better fit.
At least I know I wouldn’t. I want one that will last and give me the best bang for my buck.
The exercise bike that I got was the Schwinn 170 and I since I have had it I really do not know how I could ever workout on a regular indoor spinning bike that didn’t come with a screen…
With that said, I’ll walk you through the best of both categories of exercise bikes with screens.
The upright bikes and the recumbent (laid back) exercise bikes, while also answering your common buyer questions to helping you choose the perfect option for your needs at the end.
Keep in mind I was just in the same boat as you recently and this is from my own personal research that I spent about a week doing. I tend to spend hours on making sure I get the best purchase for my money. (i’m quite frugal)
Let’s get started!
Best Upright Stationary Bikes with Screens
An upright exercise bike is a great choice when you’re after more demanding cycling workouts with a great focus trying to tone your physique and get into shape.
If you want to get the same quality of workout when riding a real bike outside, but without leaving the comfort of your home, then an upright exercise bike will be the type you want.
Let me go ahead and walk you through the 5 best upright exercise bikes on the market.
1. Schwinn 170 Upright Bike – My Personal Pick
Cheap & Offers Best Bang For Buck
- The most functional, sturdiest exercise bike with a screen in this price range
- Excellent option for beginners
- This bike comes with a high resolution LCD screen is very functional and comes with backlit functionality as well
- Can support a heck of maximum weight, which makes it safe to use for heavy users, which is again very impressive at this price point
- Extremely quiet operation
- Helps you track your activity easy with its advanced tracking features
- Very functional with 29 workout programs, USD port, large and comfortable seat, well-designed handles, fan with adjustable speeds and more
Schwinn 170 Upright Bike Review
This is not the best bike… know that, it is one of the cheapest but it’s the one I went with because it offers enough and does everything well.
The Schwinn 170 is easily one of the most functional upright stationary bikes you will find in its price range. There are a lot of features with an excellent display system, and that’s without compromising on the quality, reliability, or comfort at all.
The sturdiness is indeed quite impressive and the bike has some solid weight to it. Even heavy users wouldn’t have a problem using the bike without having to worry about the safety aspect.
Despite the durability and sturdiness, the assembly is surprisingly easy. Half an hour to an hour is all you need to do it yourself without any help. It took me about 20 minutes.
As for the features, there are quite a few. The screen display in particular is an excellent plus side at this price point.
It’s a high resolution LCD display and comes with backlit as well, allowing easy and convenient access to as many as 29 different workout programs. You won’t have a problem watching the screen in the dark either, thanks to the backlit screen being pretty good.
Noise – Extremely Quiet
It’s also as quiet as an exercise bike can get. You will be able to stream classes, watch netflix or other streaming services on your smartphone or tablet – or even your TV for that matter while working out on this bike.
The seat is large and comfortable, there’s a USB port for plugging in your devices, the footprint is on the smaller side, there’s a built in fan with 3 different speed levels to keep you cool with a breeze of fresh air while working out, well-designed ergonomic handles, and a lot more.
2. Nautilus U618 Upright Bike – Best Overall
Most Popular Option & Highly Rated
- A high-end, advanced exercise bike with pretty much everything you could ever need
- Excellent durability and stability, perfect for heavy users and serious cyclists with little to no vibration
- Amazingly functional backlit display
- You can see the world while you ride and have your friends join you for virtual rides in real time as well
Nautilus U618 Upright Bike Review
If you’re after something much more advanced than what a budget exercise bike like the Schwinn 170 offers the Nautilus U618 is your best bet.
It has pretty much everything you can ask for, but without charging your an arm and a leg.
If you’re an experienced user, you will particularly notice the excellent range in resistance levels. If you start your workout even in the middle of the difficulty range, you will still have a good bit of room to increase on through the workout before you can get it up to the highest level.
I’m sure I don’t need to say that it’s perfect for heavy users as well, as I’ve already said it’s easily comparable to what you would find in a high-end commercial gym.
The large LCD screen display is large enough to display a wide variety of information easily.
The entire display comes with a blue backlit. And you can use it to enjoy scenic rides in different parts of the world, with even your friends riding alongside you in real time.
All you need is the Ride Social app which is available for free.
There are 29 pre-set workout programs, and they are all customizable. Adjustable handlebars that are customizable as well.
Despite its advanced functionality, it manages to offer a whisper quiet operation allowing you to not only train indoors, but also stream netflix shows or other entertainment options while at it. The stability is excellent with little to no vibration even at the highest speeds.
The assembly is pretty easy as well.
A few users like to nitpick a couple things here and there but I’d say those are trivial things and overall you’re getting a solid bang for your moolah with the Nautilus U618.
3. Schwinn 130
Most Simple & Cheapest Exercise Bike With Screen
- Great value for money with a lot of features at a very affordable price
- Dual LCD display system that allows you to keep a track of 13 important real time metrics
- Some advanced features offer great versatility and convenience
- A lot of impressive program choices and the ability to up the difficulty level in the middle of a workout
- Solid build quality
Schwinn 130 Upright Bike Review
The Schwinn 130 is one of the best exercise bikes with a screen that packs a lot of value in a fairly compact body. You would be pleasantly surprised at how little space it takes up, this is a true space save exercise bike especially for those who love pulling off some off bike workouts.
It is extremely compact making it a perfect exercise bike for apartment home gym setups or people with limited workout space.
However, that doesn’t translate to a compromised functionality. In fact, the Schwinn 130 is one of the most functional exercise bikes in this price range.
It comes with a dual LCD monitor screen that lets you keep a track of as many as 13 different workout stats. There’s a pretty good range of program choices as well, with the ability to add your own one too.
In addition, it lets you bump up the difficulty level in the middle of your workout without having to stop, which is great to ensure a more consistent, demanding, and effective workout.
It also allows 2 user profiles, which is great if you have another person in the house using the bike along with you. There are 20 different levels of the resistance, which really add to the overall versatility.
The durability is generally never a problem with Schwinn bikes, and this one’s no different. The build quality is solid.
The onboard fan comes in very handy during demanding workouts. So does the USB port.
There are other cool features as well, but let me also mention that this great feature-to-price ratio comes with a couple minor trade-offs.
First, this bike doesn’t allow you to push the seat forward, which can cause some level of inconvenience in some cases. For tall users this bike will not pose an issue but if you are under 5’5″ I would suggest getting the 270.
Another minor issue is that people with larger feet could have a bit of a trouble avoiding hitting the cranks during the workout. However, if you don’t mind a little DIY stuff, you can fix it yourself in case you end up having this issue.
Lightest Weight Indoor Exercise Bike with Screen
- Great choice for non-heavy users looking for a functional upright bike at a very budget price
- Impressive dual display system showing a wide range of real time metrics
- Easy and quick assembly
- Silent magnetic resistance design for quiet operation
- Useful additional features like a water bottle holder and phone shelf that can also double as a built in tablet holder.
Sunny SF-B2883 Review
If you’re on a really tight budget and still want to get a fully functional upright exercise bike, then the Sunny SF-B2883 is right up your alley.
It comes with pretty much everything that many exercise bikes twice its price do! However, let me also tell you that it isn’t the sturdiest exercise bike you can get.
But at this price point, it could turn out to be an ideal option, a top choice even, for users who aren’t heavy and are looking for a fully functional machine at a very budget price.
There’s a solid 6-pound flywheel that makes your workouts demanding yet smooth, advanced pulse sensors to stay on top of your heart rate, dual display screens that shows all the information you need to track during your workouts, and as many as 24 different pre-installed workout programs.
The assembly is easy, the operation is extremely quiet, it’s easier to move around, and has a fair few additional features such as a water bottle holder and phone shelf.
Best Recumbent Exercise Bikes with a Screen
A recumbent exercise bike is designed for users who are looking for a more comfortable, easier workout experience. In fact, an upright bike is not even an option for people with serious joint or back issues, and a recumbent bike is an excellent alternative for them.
With its reclined position, larger seat and a more comfortable positioning of the pedals, a recumbent bike offers a very balanced workout that is not overly demanding on your joints
Best Bang for Your Buck
- Amazing set of features at an incredible price
- Lots of advanced features like Bluetooth connectivity, large variety of workout programs, custom workout programs, 12 profiles, 25 resistance levels and more
- As sturdy and durable as some of the recumbent bikes priced twice as much or even more
- Dual backlit LCD display system is very functional and works great
- Seat is extremely comfortable, even for heavy users
- Other useful extra features like the fully adjustable fan, in-console speakers, USB port and more
- Quiet operation
- Fairly easy to assemble, especially when compared to many other recumbent bikes
Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike Review
The Schwinn 270 offers so much value at this price point that I’m honestly surprised how Schwinn even manages to continue selling this bike for a profit.
There’s Bluetooth connectivity, ability to enjoy scenic rides alongside your friends in real time, 29 different workout programs that offer a great variety to your workouts, custom workout programs, as many as 12 users profiles and so much more.
I really wouldn’t expect so much in extra features at this price point, especially without a compromise on the durability but this seems to be anomaly.
Talking of durability, the Schwinn 270 is rated for users weighing up to 300 pounds.
However, a user mention in their review that they weigh over 350 pounds and do just fine without any vibration or loss of stability. Not that I recommend going above the rated weight limit but it does reflect the build quality and stability.
There are 25 levels of resistance to offer exactly the type and intensity of workout that you need according to your specific condition and requirements.
This makes it perfect for both low impact weight loss workouts and high intensity interval training sessions alike.
It comes with a dual backlit LCD display screen just like many of the other Schwinn bikes, and the display functionality is just as good too for tracking your progress or following trainer led live classes.
The seat on this exercise bike is extremely comfortable, and even heavy users, including the gentleman I just mentioned above, agree with it.
Some other additional features include an upgraded sound system, adjustable fan, USB port, and media shelf.
- An amazingly advanced, commercial grade recumbent bike available at a great value price
- The seat adjustment mechanism is incredible and even allows moving the seat backwards which turns out to be very useful
- The mesh seat in itself is extremely comfortable and makes the workout very easy on your back
- Heavy duty construction with lifetime warranty on the sturdy steel frame
- One of the smallest footprints you will ever see on a recumbent bike
- Impressive variety of workout programs
- Extremely quiet operation and easy assembly
Cardio Elite RB Recumbent Exercise Bike Review
If you want a commercial grade home workout recumbent exercise bike at a not-so-commercial price, then this is the machine for you!
This is going to be the best option for heavy users with a big butt, who are tall, or who are overweight.
It comes with a plethora of features, some pretty cool advanced functionalities, great durability and sturdiness, a great level of comfort and convenient with respect to the seat and overall operation, but at a price that feels like a steal.
The 3G Cardio Elite comes in a small and compact body to take up less space in your home but it’s packed with great features and functionalities.
Related Reading: Best Home Gym Equipment For Small Workout Spaces
The adjustment mechanism is excellent, and the mesh seat itself is incredibly comfortable. However, it’s the ability to adjust the angle of the seat backwards that adds greatly to its overall comfort.
The display screen is simple and easy to read but is highly programmable and allows convenient access to its 12 advanced pre-programmed workout programs.
The compact design doesn’t make the 3G Cardio Elite any less durable. It’s very substantial and can handle heavy users just fine with no noticeable vibration at all.
The lifetime warranty on the frame and 7 years on the parts is an indicator of its quality and durability.
It’s extremely quiet, boasts a small footprint and offers a great variety of workout programs.
It’s easy to assemble as well, and unlike some other recumbent bikes, takes only about an hour to put together yourself without any help.
Most Popular & Highest Rated
- Great balanced machine – perfect for your home gym
- Incredibly sturdy and durable –great for heavy users as well
- Dual backlit display – lots of detailed workout information
- Comfortable seat, back rest adjustability and handlebars are adjustable too
- Quiet operation
- Pretty neat heart rate monitor
Nautilus R618 Recumbent Bike Review
It’s a perfect option if you’re looking to set up your home gym.
As for the durability, I’ll just tell you that I read one customer mention in their review that they weighted over 475 pounds when they bought this machine and it’s been a year and it’s holding up just fine.
However, you must note it’s rated for only up to 325 pounds. But I’m sure that gives you an idea of the sturdiness and durability you’re getting with this machine.
Despite the rock-solid build quality the comfort is great. The seat is very comfortable, and the back rest is adjustable.
The handlebars offer different levels of adjustment too. It comes with Bluetooth capability, which comes in very handy if you want to play your own music or hook this exercise bike up with Zwift.
The operation is pretty quiet, and the digital monitor works incredibly well. There’s quite a good set of other features as well.
4. NordicTrack NTEX76016 Commercial Vr21
- Advanced recumbent exercise bike at a great price –a lot of bells and whistles
- Large and extremely functional 5” backlit display
- Comfortable seat, ventilated lumbar support and great adjustability
- Large dual sided pedals for comfortable workouts
- Rated for users weighing up to 350 pounds
- Quiet operation
NordicTrack NTEX76016 Commercial Vr21 Review
NordicTrack machines are typically known for their advanced functionalities and expensive price tags. However, the Commercial Vr21 manages to stand out with a much lower price tag without compromising much on the functionality front.
The 5” backlit built in screen is large and impressively advanced. There’s a lot of information there and it lets you see your calories burn and your workout progress in real time.
There are some pretty cool controls and settings as well that experienced users may want to play around with.
Ranging from the heart rate monitor to the workout fan to the resistance range, there’s a lot that NordicTrack offers in this exercise bike without breaking the bank.
The mesh seat is cushioned, comfortable and adjustable. It’s complemented rather well by the ventilated lumbar support – great for people with back pain.
There are in-built speakers and the dual pedals are wide enough to let users with large feet feel comfortable and easy to use with clip in cycling shoes as well, something that’s a problem with a lot of exercise bikes out there.
That all said, something I found really disappointing about this machine is that it makes it appear you can’t use it without activating the iFit membership, which they say is free for a month.
But what they don’t say is you’re charged $15 per month for a minimum of 1 year once the trial ends, which is quite costly in the long run. There seems to be nothing in the manual to activate the machine’s functionality without the iFit subscription.
However, you’re lucky if you’re reading this, as I’ll tell you what you need to do here. Just press the iFit button for 20 seconds and boom! You got the machine activated without being forced to pay for the hefty iFit membership required.
Not that iFit membership is a bad purchase to reap the benefits of the iFit platform (the workout classes and all), but you must not be forced to pay the monthly membership fee if you don’t need it.
- One of the most complete recumbent bikes in the budget price range
- Seat adjustability is very impressive and helps you find the perfect, most comfortable sitting position according to your height and other requirements
- Low back support is pretty good, making it a great choice for people with back issues as well
- 18 levels of auto resistance control translates to some impressive versatility in your workouts
- Despite the budget price tag the machine is very sturdy and rated for users weighing up to 275 pounds
- 7 years warranty on the frame
ProForm 235 CSX Review
ProForm offers great budget exercise bikes, and this recumbent bike from ProForm is easily one of the best budget exercise bikes on the market.
Despite being priced very cheap, it’s very functional and comes with all the important features.
The ProForm 235 CSX is as good a recumbent bike as it can get at this price point. It comes with a lot of features, adjustability, and great comfortability.
The large LCD display shows important workout progress and is easy to read, except in low light as there’s no backlit for the display screen
The digital resistance has 18 levels, and the oversized and adjustable seat is well-cushioned, comfortable and spacious enough for heavy users as well.
A particular user mentioned in their review how the adjustability comes in very handy as they and their wife need different seat positioning, and this bike allows them to adjust the seat according to their height and needs.
The low back support is great and the versatility of the machine allows for different levels of workout difficulty.
There’s an iPad shelf and water bottle holder as well. The operation is quiet, and the build quality is excellent for the price.
Putting it together on your own is quite a task though. And if you order the installation too it will cost you quite a bit in extra costs.
My suggestion would be to watch a couple YouTube videos and set aside a few hours (more than 5 hours at the least) for the installation.
Best Exercise Bike Brands
So if you do decide to choose an exercise bike that is not on my list it is important that you only get one from a trusted brand that has proven it’s reliability over the years.
So let me help you a bit there as well by giving you a quick overview about some of the most popular exercise bike brands. Of course, these aren’t the only brands worth a hoot, other exercise bikes like peloton have hit the market, too.
Their peloton bike, especially when combined with the peloton fitness app and instructor led classes, is hands down outstanding. But there are cool peloton alternatives out there (the likes of Nordictack s22i, which is a top peloton competitor) that are offering an almost identical peloton like experience with live workouts.
And then there are more affordable alternatives – other bikes costing a fraction of the price, like the bowflex velocore indoor cycling bike from Velocore, which is also worth a mention though not very popular, which is also the case for MYX bike.
Schwinn has always put a lot of focus on innovation, and that’s the reason its products come with a lot of interesting and advanced features.
It offers some of the best value for money beginner exercise bikes on the market. Schwinn is one of the few brands that manages to offer high-end exercise bike features and functionalities in the budget to mid price range.
Nautilus is one of the best brands too when it comes to fitness equipment, exercise bikes and smaller sized treadmills in particular.
Nautilus exercise bikes come with a great focus on performance and versatility, while being very sturdy and durable.
They are a particularly good option when you’re looking for an exercise bike with large screen, as they often come with a dual LCD display system that’s very functional with a lot of tracking metrics.
Sunny Health and Fitness
When you’re looking for more budget options, it’s hard to beat Sunny Health and Fitness. They offer a wide variety of fitness equipment, treadmills & stationary bikes, even some smart bikes, ellipticals and more, most of which is priced to appeal to users looking to buy quality fitness equipment on a rather tight budget.
Sunny Health and Fitness exercise bikes are fairly durable for their price point, although you don’t get a lot of bells and whistles with them. However, they are very user-friendly and offer all the basic and important features you need for an effective workout.
Which Exercise Bike to Buy?
Well, I wanted to make this guide very comprehensive so I reviewed all types of exercise bikes at different price points.
But this may have led to some readers ending up confused between a couple options or so and may need some more guidance choosing the right one.
We have already discussed about how to decide between an upright bike and a recumbent bike. So let us discuss some other aspects of choosing the perfect stationary bike for your needs.
Best Option for Heavy Users
Heavy users definitely need to put some thought into the durability, build quality and sturdiness of the stationary bike they are looking to buy, as that’s going to be the most important factor for them.
And let me tell you here. The weight limit isn’t going to be the only thing to consider here. Even if a stationary bike is rated for your weight limit, it may not necessarily be ideal for your workouts if it vibrates too much because of your weight.
That all said, I’d say the Nautilus U618 exercise bike would be your best bet if you’re a heavy user looking for an upright bike. It would not only handle your weight easily with a great level of stability, but it would lose go a long way in helping you shed those extra pounds.
Similarly, the 3G Cardio Elite would be an excellent recumbent machine for heavy users with its weight limit of 350 pounds and extremely heavy duty construction.
If you’re on a tight budget, the Schwinn 270 won’t disappoint either. Officially it’s only rated for 300 pounds, but users mention how they are 350 or 400 pounds and manage to workout just fine on it without any stability or vibration issues whatsoever.
Looking for the Most Advanced Features?
If you have been using a stationary bike at your gym for years and would want the same level of functionality at your home as well, then you would probably want to look for an advanced operation and functionalities.
I’ve reviewed these type of exercise bikes above as well. The Nautilus U618 is the most advanced upright bike you can go for, while the 3G Cardio Elite and the NordicTrack NTEX76016 offer some extraordinary functionalities as recumbent bikes.
What’s more, some Nordictrack bikes work pretty well with third party apps like apple health. And the apple watch integration is quite easy and straightforward with the simple use of Bluetooth connectivity. It’s all down to the specific bike you have and what works for you.
Variation and Workout Programs
Not many users give much thought to the versatility or variation and the type and number of workout programs they get with a stationary bike. But it’s a beginner mistake to overlook this factor as it can make quite a bit of difference to the quality of your workouts too.
A huge variety in the resistance levels and workout programs would allow you to increase the scope of your workouts, have multiple workout goals, get full body workout to train different parts of your body, as well as find something that’s more suitable for your needs and condition.
The Nautilus U618 again manages to be a great choice here for an upright bike, thanks to its 29 different workout programs and the ability to customize them as well. However, if you want to go for something cheaper, then the Schwinn 170 would make a good option too.
We compared in detail the Schwinn 170 to the Nautilus U616, the U618 closest model from Nautilus and it fared pretty well.
FAQ Most Buyers Have About Exercise Bike
Your Questions Answered!
In addition to understanding what factors to consider when choosing your perfect stationary bike, there are also some common questions users have before they go ahead with their purchase.
So let me try to answer them below.
Can an Exercise Bike Help Me Lose Weight?
A stationary bike can definitely help you lose weight, but you have to be consistent with your workouts and put enough effort into them to get some desirable results.
However, if you’re serious about losing weight, then you would need to choose an upright bike over a recumbent one. An upright exercise bike offers the kind of demanding workouts you need to lose some serious amount of weight.
A recumbent bike is more suitable for light workouts or people with health conditions or issues like back pain.
Can an Exercise Bike Replace Gym Workouts?
Frankly speaking it’s not possible to say anything for sure here as a lot depends on the machine you would be using at your home and the amount of effort you’re willing to put in.
That said, if you go with one of the advanced, heavy duty exercise bikes like some of the ones I reviewed above, you may definitely have a gym-like workout experience. Of course, you will need to be as motivated and consistent with your workouts as you’re at the gym.
On that note, having a stationary bike in your home actually makes it easier for you to be consistent with your workouts instead of going to the gym every day.
After all, the spinning classes aren’t the only option your have, most bikes in the list above allow you to stream workouts like light weight training classes, yoga classes, fitness classes, and even floor based workouts to tone your legs, core and upper body sections.
Should You Take Any Precautions?
Most people may not need to worry about any injury issues, especially if they are healthy or young. In fact, even those with knee pain may be just fine, as an exercise bike can be great for your knees. You can read my latest article on the best exercise bikes for knee rehab here.
However, if you do have any condition that demands a little care during workouts, including knee or back pain, then taking a few precautions wouldn’t hurt.
Simply having a short warm-up session can set you up for a safe and effective workout. It can include just a few minutes of stretching different parts of your body, followed by some very slow cycling on the machine.
This will make your muscles feel ready for the workout, and won’t put any strain on them when you bump up the speed and the resistance level.
Does the Seat Adjustability Matter in Recumbent Bikes?
Yes, the seat adjustability and overall adjustability mechanism is one of the most important features in a recumbent bike. It could make the difference between a comfortable workout and one that you will struggle to get through.
In addition to the seat adjustability though, the quality and comfort of the seat itself matters a lot too. It’s something to consider as well when choosing a recumbent bike. Seriously, a comfortable seat cushion will make your workouts more enjoyable and last longer.
Does the Assembly Require Professional Help?
In most cases, it doesn’t. However, some exercise bikes, and recumbent bikes in particular, can be really difficult to put together.
But even in that case all you may need to do is watch a few YouTube videos for the assembly, go through the instructions carefully, and set aside a few hours for the assembly.
Many of the upright bikes, however, are much easier to assemble and take only around an hour or even less.
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