At-home workouts have always been a trend, but thanks to the pandemic and the constant lockdowns we’ve had to go through in the past two years.
The shift to working out indoors has led to a significant increase in demand for indoor exercise and cycling in particular.
Whoever thought exercising at apartment home gym would become the answer to both people’s boredom at home and to have a better chance at surviving a deadly viral infection?
While combining rowing and cycling can make your home gym setup the best it can be.
Hyper bikes can be a great alternative to outdoor cycling – you still get the same healthy benefits without having to worry about the weather or road bumps since you’re cycling at the comfort of your home.
And if you’re on the lookout for a smart exercise bike today, you’re in luck because I’ve done the research so you don’t have to!
I’ve narrowed down your choices down to three of the best brands with topnotch smart exercise bikes available in the market today.
However… if you’re still on the fence on whether you SHOULD be getting a smart exercise bike or not, let me convince you with three big reasons on you should invest in one:
3 Reasons Why You Should Own A Smart Exercise Bike
Smart exercise bikes are not just stationary machines that let you pedal in place. Here’s why:
Today, indoor cycling is considered one of the best home exercises to reduce belly fat for females. While you likely won't feel the burn cycling at an average pace, you can incorporate intense interval training to increase your metabolism. (1)
Having an exercise bike at home provides you with a training setup that’s just waiting for you to put on your runners and hop on it to workout.
This helps you to develop discipline and have a regular exercise routine. (2)
Ease on the joints
Impactful activities like running, jogging, and playing team sports can be tough on your joints.
For one, having a smart exercise bike gives you the advantage of working out whenever you can! Rain or shine, you can use it at the comfort of your home, you can even stream shows while riding a smart exercise bike.
Smart exercise bikes with virtual courses can also give you outdoor biking feels by letting you adjust the resistance level and some even offer an incline/decline feature.
Two, smart exercise bikes have features that help you track your progress while having fun. Depending on the smart bike you get, you can choose from an abundance of pre-made workouts or hook it up to a third-party training app such as apptiv or peloton. (2)
Those are just one of the many advantages of having a smart exercise bike. As a matter of fact, BetterHealth Channel states that cycling is mainly an aerobic activity–which means that you will breathe more deeply, sweat more, and experience increased body temperature, which will improve your overall fitness level. (5)
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s jump right in and take a look at this year’s frontrunners: Nordictrack, Bowflex, and Peloton.
Nordictrack is a company renowned to be a crafter of the best cardio equipment to lose weight and build toned body in the fitness industry. They’ve since expanded from making incredible treadmills to providing users with best commercial ellipticals, budget rowing machines, and exercise bikes. (6)
During my first round of researching about the best exercise bikes, Nordictrack’s indoor cycling bikes quickly caught my eye thanks to their big display screens that’s touch-enabled (goodbye, clunky buttons!) and being able to connect to the internet.
We’ll be covering their two best selling studio cycle bikes, the S221i and the s15i.
Both have a 30-day iFit trial subscription that elevates your interactive training; your iFit personal trainer will automatically adjust the resistance level and incline.
The S15i and S22i also have internet connectivity and can access google maps, letting you cycle all over the world without having to leave home.
The real major differences you’ll find between the two are the number of resistance levels and the size of the screen. (7)
Another difference which may or may not be a dealbreaker (it really depends on your preference) is that the S15i doesn’t have a USB and HDMI port unlike the S22i. (8)
If you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind a smaller touchscreen, you might want to check out Nordictrack’s S15i. But if budget is not a question and you prefer to challenge yourself with stronger resistance training then S22i may be the way to go.
Since 1986, Bowflex has been a pioneer in providing innovative at-home workout equipment that caters to a wide audience – from professional athletes to the stay-at-home parents with the same goal: to be fit for life. (9)
We’ll be looking at two of their exercise bikes, the C6 and the Velocore.
While both models offer users interactive training, there are significant differences between the two models in terms of their mode, display, connectivity, resistance, and heart rate monitoring feature.
A few of these that definitely stand out:
Stationary Mode only
Stationary and Leaning Mode
Backlit LCD Metric Console
Has Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity
No JRNY App Connectivity
Has Access to JRNY App
Bluetooth-enabled HR Armband
Integrated Contact Grips Together With Bluetooth-enabled HR Armbands
Velocore’s leaning mode is a huge game changer as it lets users tilt from side to side to give them an immersive experience. It may not be much of a tilt like in outdoor cycling but the leaning mode feature is effective in developing core strength.
Your progress stats show on the backlit LCD for the C6 and you’d have to connect to your tablet or phone through bluetooth to use a training app.
On the other hand, Velocore offers users a high-definition display touchscreen and can connect directly to Bowflex’s JRNY app or to your preferred training app through wifi.
You could say the C6 is a much more traditional and basic type of exercise bike compared to the innovative Velocore, and their prices reflect that, too.
The C6 would cost you only $999 whereas you’d have to pay around $1,699 to $2,199 for the Velocore. The Velocore gives you two options: a the 16-inch model and the 22-inch model. This means, comparing the Bowflex C6 with either the Keiser M3i or Schwinn IC4 is a better comparison than comparing it to the Velocore.
The Velocore would be a great choice for riders who want to get more core twists in their workout with lean mode and if they’re looking for a more convenient way to connect directly to online training apps. (10)
Peloton Interactive (Peloton for brevity) may be the youngest and newest company compared to its alternatives to enter the indoor cycling industry, but thanks to its die-hard “Peloton Community” and multi-functional Peloton App, it looks like everyone’s got a Peloton.
Peloton’s mission is to bring immersive and challenging workouts that’re more accessible, affordable and efficient into everyone’s lives, most especially to those who can’t get to workout classes because of their demanding jobs and busy families.
Peloton offers two exercise bikes: the original Peloton Bike and their newest addition, the Peloton Bike+.
Frankly speaking, both peloton bike and bike plus look and feel similar, and offer a lot of high-quality features despite the wide price difference between the two.
Both bikes are stable, have pretty much the same parameters and accessories, and have Wifi connectivity.
However, the Bike+ has a lot of upgrades that justifies the huge price difference. A few of these are the clip-on pedal cages that help secure and keep your feet in place, a wider HD touchscreen with a front soundbar, and a flatter top bar for wider span. (12)
Check out this quick comparison for both Peloton bikes so you’ll have a better idea:
Screen tilts to accommodate different heights
Rotating screen with 360 degree of movement to seamlessly adjust from cycling to strength, yoga and more
21.5” HD touchscreen
23.8” HD, anti-reflective touchscreen
Resistance knob for manual control
Resistance knob with auto-resistance option
Apple GymKit™ integration
Dimensions: 59"L x 53"H x 23"W
Dimensions: 59"L x 59"H x 22"W
Power: 100V to 240V, 50Hz to 60Hz, 1.2 A Max
Power: 100V to 240V, 50Hz to 60Hz, 3.25 A Max
Resistance: Magnetic with mechanical adjustment
Resistance: Magnetic with digital adjustment
10-point Multitouch Touchscreen
10-point Multitouch Touchscreen
Reduced-reflective and anti-smudge coating
2.0GHz Mediatek MT8173 quad core processor
2.5GHz Qualcomm QCS605 processor
16GB internal flash storage
16GB internal flash storage
2 Channel back-facing stereo speaker system with 16 watts of total power
2.2-Channel front-facing stereo speakers with 26 watts of total power and 2.2 rear-facing woofers
USB-C charging port for devices
5 megapixel front-facing camera
8 megapixel front-facing camera with privacy cover
While both models have a resistance knob for manual control, the Bike+ has an added auto-resistance option which automatically changes your resistance to match instructors’ cues.
The change in the Bike+’s top handlebars makes them more comfortable for users as it gives them the option to widen or narrow down their grips. The flat top handlebar also provides more space for the screen to rotate.
While both models have all-access to Peloton classes and workouts, the upgrades on the Bike+ make your indoor cycling experience more comfortable and appealing.
Although whichever Peloton bike you do choose, I guarantee that both enhance your engagement in cycling thanks to a ton of motivating instructors and varied workouts you can choose from no matter your level of fitness. (13)
If budget is an issue and you don’t mind missing out on the new upgrades, settling for the original Bike would be a good option.
Conclusion - Making the Perfect Choice!
I’m not afraid to admit that I personally had a difficult time choosing the right one for me since Peloton, Bowflex C6 and Nordictrack offer high-end and hard-to-beat features.
All three are proud to claim that they provide excellent value and that their equipment provides users with a more comfortable and engaging experience than the other brands.
However, the best exercise bike for you would highly depend on budget aside from personal preference.
If you’re not too concerned about budget then the key is to look for the one that will give you the kind of experience that’ll satisfy you to the core – are you looking to connect with a community while working out?
Do you want more of an outdoor cycling feel? Or are you just looking to make cycling a habit?
From a personal standpoint, price may not be an important factor to consider altogether since all three brands have a similar price range (except for Bowflex’s C6), so it all boils down to what features you would want to give more priority.
Whether it’s the rotating screen, the ability to stream other apps while working out, a lean feature to get more extra core work in, or even small upgrades like USB charging ports.
Have you had any riding experience with exercise bikes from these brands? Which do you think would fit you and your workout style?
I’d love to know your thoughts.
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Hi there! I'm Ben, main author and chief editor at Fitlifefanatics.com. I have been obsessed with Strength Training and Fitness for 16 years now.
My passion for living a happy fit lifestyle is what made me realize that fitness is what I wanted for my future.
I went on to earn my Masters in Sports Training & Biomechanics.
My passion for Strength training & fitness and my love of helping others is what made me start Fitlifefanatics.
Here, myself, and a team of specialist aim to provide the most accurate, and actionable information possible in hopes to help foster the fitness community forward.
You can learn more about Fitlifefanatics on our About Page