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The 7 Top Exercise Bikes for Indoor Cycle Workouts at Home

Most people don’t love waking up in the early hours to travel to the gym, or find it frustrating trying to find a Spin class that has room for them. Enter the at-home indoor cycle bike (colloquially and incorrectly known as the ‘Spin bike’, but we’ll clarify that in a moment). Several big names in the fitness world have gym-quality exercise bikes that can fit perfectly into your spare bedroom, basement, or other workout-friendly room of the house. You can opt for an entry-level model and save a ton of cash, or splurge and get access to streaming workouts and other great features. We break down seven of our favorites in the category below.

Here’s what we chose, for our Top 7 Exercise Bikes of this Year

1. NordicTrack S22i
2. MYX Fitness Bike
3. Echelon EX3
4. Proform Studio Bike Pro
5. Sole SB900
6. Bowflex C6
7. Peloton Bike / Peloton Bike+

An Important Note: The Difference Between Exercise Bikes and Spin Bikes
Many people use the words “Spin bike” and “indoor cycle” interchangeably, but there’s an important distinction that needs to be made between these exercise bike options. All of the following words are actually trademarked terms owned by Mad Dogg Athletics: SPIN®, Spinning®, Spinner®, and Spin Fitness®. So, anything related to Spinning, whether you’re talking about Spin bikes or Spin classes, actually refers to a specific brand of exercise bikes and indoor cycling classes. In other words, not all indoor cycling is “Spinning,” and not all indoor bikes are Spin bikes, even though this is a common mistake.

What is a Spin Bike?

To the uninitiated, it might seem like all home workout bikes are pretty similar. In reality, the Spin bike has some unique qualities that make it stand out from the crowd. Gym Spin classes have caused quite the fitness revolution in recent years, known for their upbeat music and instructors who keep you pumped—Spin bikes are their hallmark. 

Aside from their gym roots, the key difference between the Spin bike and a typical stationary bike is the flywheel. The Spin bike features a large wheel, usually in the front and separated from the pedals, that provides resistance and momentum to mirror the experience of riding a bike outdoors. These flywheels are usually heavier, weighing in at more than 30 pounds. It’s this unique flywheel setup that delivers the intense workout that all Spin bike fanatics love!

 

What to Look For in a Spin or Exercise Bike

Here at FitRated, we’ve tried and tested dozens of exercise bikes to uncover the best value models across the price spectrum. From the feature-rich Schwinn AC Performance Plus to the affordable Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike, we’ve got some great options for breaking a sweat at home. Below you’ll see exercise bikes we’ve reviewed and rated under four key categories:

  • Resistance: The best bikes have a large range of resistances for novice and expert athletes alike.
  • Support: You want a stable bike that holds its own, so you can focus on your workout.
  • Materials: The bike’s longevity is dependent on the quality of its materials.
  • Technology: Technological innovations can make your biking experience better.

 

These are the factors that matter in choosing an exercise bike you’ll love for years to come. Now, let’s get to the bikes!

[Note: All ratings are on a 5-point scale, with 5 being the best]

 

1. NordicTrack S22i

The NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle is at the top of the food chain when it comes to both functionality and features, as it adds a significant 22-inch high definition touchscreen display and access to iFit interactive training, packaged into a very well-executed and sturdy machine.

nordictrack-commercial-s22i

  • Resistance: 5
  • Support: 4
  • Materials: 5
  • Technology: 5

Resistance

The S22i uses magnetic resistance instead of friction resistance. It’s smooth, quiet, and digitally controlled. The high spec bike offers 22 levels of resistance adjustability, which also can be controlled by the live instructors when participating in iFit classes.

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Support

The NordicTrack S22i is well suited to a wide range of riders; its commercial grade frame is good for riders up to 350 lbs, and it can be adjusted in a wide range of directions in order to find the perfect fit. Like much of the competition the seat is a little firm, but this tends to be the way across all indoor cycles out there.

Materials

NordicTrack has always maintained a good reputation for build quality, and the S22i is no exception. Other than its high-tech display, there’s little to nothing on this bike that’s likely to require any kind of maintenance as it ages. Its frame is built to commercial specification, and by using magnetic resistance rather than friction it saves on wearable components as well.

Technology

On top of its touchscreen display and interactive training, the S22i is also a winner on account of another clever feature. It is one of very few indoor cycles to offer a variable incline and decline — +20% and -10% respectively.

Who Should Buy the NordicTrack S22i?

If you’re a fan of cutting edge tech and want something that’s up to par with the highly publicized Peloton Bike, but have more faith in a longstanding fitness brand than a startup, the S22i would be the perfect choice. What’s more, its price of entry is a touch lower than the Peloton—a nice bonus.

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2. MYX Fitness Bike

Of the many competitors looking to propose an affordable alternative to Peloton, the MYX Fitness bike and its interactive training package is one of the only options that truly undercuts in terms of pricing without severely compromising features and quality somewhere along the way. We’re a big fan of this one.

MYX fitness bike white

  • Resistance: 3
  • Support: 5
  • Materials: 3
  • Technology: 5

Resistance

The MYX Fitness bike uses friction resistance applied to a heavy 41-pound flywheel controlled by a traditional style adjustment knob. While we tend to prefer magnetic resistance, the heavier flywheel helps offset some of the issues we’ve seen with other friction bikes. 

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Support

One of the things we first noted with the MYX Fitness Bike is its additional bit of adjustability—a real perk for taller riders. Not only do you have the usual fore and aft seat adjustment and vertical handlebar adjustment, but you can also move the handlebars closer or further from the seat. Good ergonomics make a big difference when getting comfortable on an indoor bike, and it’s nice to see this feature on a bike with a built-in screen.

Materials

The tubular construction of the MYX bike is nothing fancy, but the bike is meant to be a tool and not a decoration. Heavy steel components mated with its aforementioned heavy flywheel ensures great stability when you’re up and out of the saddle.

Technology

This is where the MYX Fitness bike excels. a 21.5 inch touchscreen display streams interactive training sessions of all sorts, providing you with ample motivation for your workouts. Want to follow your ride up with a stretching session? Simply pivot the screen away from the bike and choose from the MYX library. There are also training sessions for strength training, yoga, and cross training, should you want to mix things up a bit. The best part? The monthly subscription is only $29/month, which is a fair bit cheaper than Peloton or even NordicTrack’s iFit.

Who Should Buy the MYX Fitness Bike

Anyone in love with Spin classes, or who has been considering going down the Peloton path should give MYX a closer look. Its only downfall is a short 1-year warranty, but that’s still the same term as what you’d get from its pricey competitor. 

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3. Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX3 

Refreshed extensively for 2019, the Smart Connect Bike EX3 is a solid option for those that want a high-quality exercise bike without the added costs that come with high-tech screens built in.

The Echelon EX3 Max spin bike is great for in-home training, especially if you’re looking for a variety of fun, motivating workouts.

  • Resistance: 5
  • Support: 4
  • Materials: 5
  • Technology: 2

Resistance

Magnetic resistance is the name of the game here, and with the Echelon EX3 you get a broad range of 32 levels of resistance. In training along with programs in the Echelon Fit App (using your tablet in the built-in holder), you’ll see that even a well-seasoned cyclist will have to hustle to fight the higher resistance ranges of this bike (not to worry, you can go low-resistance too).

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Support

The Echelon EX3 is highly adjustable in its bars, seat, etc., allowing it to fit a wide range of users. There have been occasional complaints about saddle soreness, but when it comes to this style of bike, that’s fairly systemic for the category. Its pedals are also compatible with SPD clips, for those using the EX3 for off-season cycling training.

Materials

Sturdy steel construction, a hefty flywheel, and generally well-executed surfaces are all offered by the EX3. A first ride will quickly make you realize that this isn’t an entry-level bike despite its price being just north of $1,000.

Technology

On the bike itself there isn’t much to report; the bulk of the EX3’s tech comes in the form of the Echelon Fit app. The app is packed with functionality, including instructor-led training sessions and scenic rides filmed in stunning locations from around the globe.

Who Should Buy the Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX3?

As noted above, this bike is for everyone from entry-level to experienced rider, though specifically for those who would rather save money and use their own iPad/tablet rather than having a large screen built into their exercise bike.

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4. ProForm Studio Bike Pro

The ProForm Studio Bike Pro is yet another strong competitor in the streaming training space, connected with iFit and offered in a unique way. It’s being sold as ‘free with 3-year iFit subscription, which puts its total cost of ownership after 3 years at $1,403.

Pro-Form Studio Bike Pro

  • Resistance: 4
  • Support: 4
  • Materials: 4
  • Technology: 5

Resistance

While nothing out of the ordinary for the prica and category, the Studio Bike Pro gets the job done with ease. Rather than a 0-100% resistance control, the resistance on the bike is adjusted in 22 electronically controlled steps, which limits variability, but at the same time creates more clear and quantifiable levels to your adjustment.

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Support

Once again simple and straightforward here. You get road bike style ergonomics, and a comfortable yet compact cycling seat. The bike is quite well made, and feels very well planted even when riding out of the saddle.

Materials

ProForm rides along the same lines as NordicTrack in terms of materials quality, as the two are actually sister companies under the Icon Fitness umbrella. Coming in at a more affordable price point means a smaller HD touchscreen, and the use of plastic components in a few less essential places (like the drive guard, for example). It’s also worth noting that the pedals of this bike use toe cages only, and not SPD clips, however changing out the pedals on your own is certainly not out of the question as they are of a standard design.

Technology

The streaming of iFit classes is the name of the game here, and this is an area where the ProForm Studio Bike Pro does not compromise. Classes of all sorts are delivered via a 10-inch HD touchscreen display, and the diversity of class offerings is quite impressive. There are as many options for beginners as there are for veterans, as well as a ton of great road and mountain biking routes. With any selection, the programming will automatically adjust your resistance, keeping you focused on pushing through the class.

Who Should Buy the ProForm Studio Bike Pro

This bike is a prime option for those who like the sounds of the NordicTrack S22i, but who aren’t ready to spend that kind of money. You get a very similar bike with the same tech experience and warranty.

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5. Sole SB900

Getting back to basics here, the Sole SB900 is the perfect answer for someone that just wants to hop on and ride without the distraction of technology and programming. Hop on, set your resistance, and go — that’s the way things roll with this affordably priced unit.sole sb900 indoor cycle

  • Resistance: 5
  • Support: 4
  • Materials: 5
  • Technology: 0

Resistance

Whisper-quiet magnetic resistance is yet again the name of the game here, and with the SB900 you’re getting one of the most affordable bikes out there with this technology.

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Support

Adjustability and overall comfort is once again quite solid with the Sole SB900, once again earning it high marks. Good for riders up to 300 lbs, it’s also one of the bikes in this list with the most comfortable seats for an indoor cycle.

Materials

The SB900 is very well engineered for the money, and is backed by a very respectable warranty too. Its commercial-grade steel frame has a lifetime warranty, whereas other components are covered for 3 years.

Technology

Targeting riders that aren’t after a high-tech bike, there’s really nothing to speak of here.

Who Should Buy the Sole SB900?

This is a killer option for those on a budget who are prioritizing build quality and durability over the inclusion of high-tech gadgetry. It’s not for everyone, but it’s still a smart choice for under $1,000.

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6. Bowflex C6

The Bowflex C6 is an enticing option for those who want the Peloton experience on a budget. Priced at a modest $949, the C6 is a durable indoor cycle capable of connecting to a variety of streaming services including the Peloton app. As well as a sturdy frame which can handle any Spin routine you throw at it, the C6 boasts good ergonomics, ample adjustability, and a variety of performance features.

Bowflex C6 Bike

  • Resistance: 5
  • Support: 4
  • Materials: 4
  • Technology: 4

Resistance

The Bowflex C6 features 100 micro-adjustable levels of magnetic resistance from a 40-pound flywheel. You can adjust the resistance using a knob which is within easy reach underneath the handlebars.

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Support

Ergonomics are key to the Bowflex C6. Although it’s a sturdy-framed bike, comfort isn’t sacrificed. The bike can be set up to fit a wide range of rider sizes with its adjustable race style seat, which is padded for comfort.

 

Materials

The Bowflex C6 is a sturdy indoor cycle. Often in the sub-$1,000 category things start feeling a bit flimsy, especially when you adjust the seat or bars to find a comfortable fit. This isn’t the case with the Bowflex C6. It feels stable even during intense routines and rides like a more expensive Spin bike.

Technology

Interactive training via your own device is the name of the game here, so there isn’t much to report. The C6’s basic LCD backlit console clearly displays all your essential workout data. Your connection to a desired streaming service will take care of the rest. The C6 is designed to work with streaming classes such as Peloton, Zwift, Sufferfest, and more. Just remember that data connectivity varies from app to app; where some apps just show one or two metrics onscreen in real time, others such as Rouvy display basically all your workout data within the app as you ride. This is a sacrifice we’re willing to make for the chance to try a variety of streaming apps with the bike.

Who Should Buy the Bowflex C6?

The Bowflex C6 is a stellar choice for anyone who wants the Peloton experience without breaking the bank. It’s a versatile bike allowing you to choose from a variety of interactive streaming apps. This open-access element is very enticing; the world really is your oyster when it comes to interactive training on the C6.

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7. The Peloton Bike / Peloton Bike+

Lastly comes the mighty Peloton. It’s safe to say the Peloton bike started a fitness revolution of sorts, and we’ve just gotten news of the bike getting a refresh in the form of the Peloton Bike+. The Bike+ will gain a host of new features, whereas the classic Peloton Bike stays as-is, albeit with a more friendly sticker price. Down to $1,895 from $2,245 (still including delivery and assembly), the Peloton bike is now much more competitive price wise when compared to the NordicTrack S22i with only a couple of minor shortcomings that most will overlook for the sake of the Peloton experience.

 

The Peloton Bike

  • Resistance: 4
  • Support: 4
  • Materials: 5
  • Technology: 5

Resistance

The Peloton is a magnet bike, which means its resistance comes in the form of magnets rather than friction. With magnetic resistance, the most noticeable difference is that the bike is much quieter when pedaling. If you haven’t tried it before, you’ll probably marvel at the lack of noise.

As for the resistance itself, we found it to be quite responsive, and you can easily adjust it with a simple knob. Turn right to increase the difficulty or left to make it easier.

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Support

Ergonomics of the Peloton Bike and Peloton Bike+ are on point as you would expect from a class leader. As an added perk that falls into that category, the large HD touchscreen on the Peloton Bike+ has more adjustability that improves overall functionality of the bike.

Materials

The Peloton is sturdy in construction, thanks to a carbon steel and aluminum frame, designed to “deliver super smooth and nearly silent pedaling”. It also has a dumbbell holder and a water bottle holder.

Technology

The technology on the Peloton is what makes it stand out from the majority of the competition; this bike has it all. First, it comes with a sweat-proof 22″ HD touchscreen mounted in the front. The screen has built-in speakers, a microphone, and a camera for you to ride with friends. It’s also WiFi connected and supports Bluetooth audio and wireless ANT+ heart rate straps, allowing you to connect your WiFi or Bluetooth enabled device including a heart rate monitor or smartwatch. It’s this configuration that led NordicTrack to update the S15i the way they did, as well as to push into more interactive training options. 

The Peloton Bike+ adds an additional layer to this by delivering new content that focuses on total body workouts—an area where NordicTrack’s iFit had the upper hand until now. Its screen now swivels, allowing users to work out off the bike and follow along with cross training, stretching, yoga, Bootcamp, and other types of live and streaming programming. It can also seamlessly sync up with your Apple Watch for increased tracking capability.

The Peloton has all of these features so you can connect to the Peloton online platform. This allows you to watch live classes, view recorded classes, or even host your own! You can see your teacher, other students, and even their current metrics. There are tons of other features too, like prerecorded celebrity-hosted classes and following others. Of course, this online platform comes at a price of $39 per month.

Who Should Buy the Peloton?

With recent price adjustments the Peloton Bike is much more competitive that it once was, but it remains the choice for those enamored with the more hardcore indoor cycling class world.

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Our Final Verdict

As with anything, when you’re shopping for a new exercise or Spin bike, you’re trying to find the features you need at the best possible price. Every bike has its pros and cons, and all seven of these bikes occupy and dominate their own niche. However, if we divide the bikes by price range (low, medium, and high), three bikes rise to the top:

 

Low Price Range: Diamondback 510lc

If you’re strapped for cash, or just want an introduction to indoor cycling, the Diamondback will help you enjoy getting into working out at home, without the worry that your bike is going to fall apart on you.

Mid Price Range: Sole SB900

A step up in build quality, a heavy-duty flywheel, and a rock-solid warranty give the Sole SB900 an upper hand in the mid-range. The best part being you’ll still keep your price of entry below $1,000.

High Price Range: NordicTrack S22i

The S22i is a high-quality bike with enough functionality and features to rival the Peloton, though at a much more reasonable cost overall. This is why we’re leaning towards the S22i as our favorite premium exercise bike right now.

 

Whatever you decide, we hope you get a lot of miles out of your new exercise bike!

 
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