The fitness world is saturated with a haze of advice and options. Unfortunately, finding the best bikes for cardio is no different; until now.
Finding a bike for cardio is like finding a personal trainer with which you have synergy. You have to consider the price, components, capabilities, and much more.
The best bikes for cardio are:
- Ride High On The Trek FX 3
- Cannondale Quick 4
- Priority Continuum Onyx
- 2021 Specialized Sirrus 2.0
- 2021 Ridgeback Speed
- Kinesis Range Adventure
- Marin Fairfax 3
- Cannondale Treadwell 3
The greatest prank I could pull is to throw these suggestions at you without elaborating. But I try to be at least cordial. That’s why I’ve laid out all the relevant musing points to consider before making this life-enriching plunge.
I’m such a nerd for cycling that I know I’m a cycling geek, not a nerd. So, you know that I’ve strenuously done all the research and cross-referencing to arrive at these eight bikes. I used the help of experts, customer feedback, and first-hand reviewers like bike radar and cycling weekly-dot-com.
8 Best Fitness Bikes To Help Burn Those Pesky Calories
Let us fulfill our promise from earlier. Fitness bikes are another name for hybrid bikes, a performer's name per se. These machines are great for cardio because they perfectly blend road and mountain bikes.
Although hybrid bikes are inherently heavier, they are sturdier, more comfortable, and less daunting for new or heavier riders. They often aren’t as fussy as specialized time-trial or road bikes. Moving from road to offroad riding dramatically increases the exercise scope.
The comfort of the bikes is not only from the, sometimes slightly more giving, saddle but also from their quicker adjustability. You can modify some of the bikes for a handlebar orientation that supports a more upright riding position, which is ideal for people new to the sport or those who aren’t as flexible.
1. Trek FX 3
We asked for a fitness bike that performs exceptionally at an affordable price, and Trek delivered. Trek maintains its versatility and high-quality manufacturing standards with the FX 3. A beautiful symbiosis of specs, aesthetics, affordability, and a straightforward fitness machine.
We know there are too many things for symbiosis, and we aren’t sure if we’ve symbiosis correctly. But, unlike us, Trek has managed to do everything just right. The lightweight, flexible, high-caliber Alpha Gold aluminum frame is loaded with high-quality shenanigans.
The frame gives the bike compatibility with Dup Trap S technology which is ANT+ wireless technology that allows connectivity with fitness apps. The internal cabling also makes it beautifully unique and minimalistic.
The 25.88-pounds of aluminum engineering and the FX carbon fork help dampen some of those annoying vibrations that are such a bother on bumpy terrains. The stainless steel spokes add flare to the 700x32c Bontrager H2 Comp wire bead tires.
We also love the Shimano Acera\ Alivio groupset. Although Acera and Alivio are only entry-level, they are towards the top-end of the beginner kit category. They are also much better than the Tourney groupset in the same category.
The bike’s 9-speed shifter system isn’t a beginner 8-speed, so the 18-speed gear spread should suffice for climbing moderately to daftly-inclined hills.
Trek has released three versions of the Trek 3, the only significant change being the hydraulic disc brakes. The newest model also has 10-speed shifters.
2. Cannondale Quick 4
Cannondale didn’t change much from their Quick three and opted not to change their winning formula. The Quick 4 sits happy and cheaper because of Cannondale’s decision to use a Microshift Advent groupset.
Although this beginner-level Microshift groupset is cheaper than the Shimano Altus\ Acera on the Quick 3, the performance is comparable. The company made the bike to be fitness orientated with all of its slick and manicured design and easy-to-adapt-to geometry.
We haven’t gone wrong with a Cannondale product in the past, and this bike is no exception. The 25.5-pound exercise companion is built using the more affordable SmartForm C3 alloy, which is a lovely way of saying it’s a 6061 aluminum alloy frame.
The frame compliments the durable steel fork but would fail to reduce significant road vibrations if it wasn’t for Cannondale’s ingenious SAVE technology for micro-suspension. Don’t ask us too much about it, but it boils down to intelligent production techniques and material makeup to glean flexibility and comfort without shooting sturdiness.
The bike also comes equipped with Cannondale’s wheel sensor (basically a fitness tracker) that sends all the fitness details such as calories burned, speed, and distance to connect to the Cannondale app.
The 9-speed shifters are a bit limiting but having 22 gears to choose from is welcomed. Also, they still put the Tektro HD-R280 hydraulic disc brakes to the test.
3. Priority Continuum Onyx
Although this bike very much leans on the cruising commuter category, the Continuum Onyx stands as an exceptional tool for setting your quads on fire.
The 6061 aluminum frame does everything that I’ve come to expect from a wallet-friendly frame material: it’s lightweight enough not to feel like you are riding a piece of stationary metal while being appropriately stiff to cut through the urban wind.
The fork is similarly made and durable while upholding a commuter's spirit. The spirit is a snappy response to steering because of the million things happening in front of you.
The welding on the entire frameset is pristine and doesn’t much steal away from the minimalism pursued. In line with the simple motto is cabling. There’s well-utilized internal cabling that's only let down by the cluttered show in front of the bike’s headset.
The 700x32c puncture-resistant WTB Tires aren’t the fastest rolling tires on the road, but they are comfortable and welcome most riding conditions. Unlike a typical road bike you must keep on the asphalt for your cardio, the Continuum Onyx can be taken off-road for a fun and unique exercise session.
One of the things that set this bike apart is its adaptability to most of the riding activities you’d expect to be able to partake in on your bike. The marrying of the Nuvinci CVT rear hub with the rust and maintenance-free Gates Carbon Belt Drive produces a 7-speed equivalent drivetrain.
The smooth belt drive system allows the shifting of gears using the twisting shifter grips, which you can even do while the bike is stationary and about to ascend a particularly hilly pilgrimage.
Because of the rear hub and sturdiness of the bike, it is not the most lightweight complete piece. Weighing around 30 pounds, people that are used to fast riding won’t be impressed.
However, riding comfortably for longer is a big plus for burning those calories. The bike also has an integrated dynamo light and fenders and all the extra attachment points you’ll need for lengthy rides.
The hydraulic brakes are robust and reliable, which makes the $1,299 price tag of the Continuum Onyx quite a bargain.
4. 2021 Specialized Sirrus 2.0
The Specialized A1 aluminum frame on the Sirrus 2.0 is still premium stuff from the company. It’s adequately lightweight not to encumber long commutes while being tactile enough not to make you feel disconnected from the road beneath you.
The Sirrus series from Specialized hasn’t let me down yet, so I fully trust the reviewers and testers that agree with the company that the geometry is fitness-focused and equally efficient for daily grinding.
Although I heard some complaints about the flat bars, I have no qualm with them. I do not doubt that these taped and backswept handlebars will provide the quick responsiveness you need on urban streets and through fast turns while not breaking your back.
I also find that riding for cardio on the small mountainous paths gives me a better workout while getting me to unplug and unwind better. With this practical build, you can’t take a road bike off-road as you can. The 700x32c wire bead, RoadSport Reflect tires roll as a testament to that rugged claim.
They aren’t so thin that you feel like you are riding fast on wind blades on the tarmac, but they are also not so stocky as to feel like riding some gravel rollers off-road. They have just about the right amount of everything to be “good enough” for variety and most of your fitness needs.
The lesser-known Promax F1 flat-mount hydraulic disc brakes don’t add too much extra weight to the build that’s much lighter than the Continuum Onyx. They are also incredibly responsive, and a single digit from your hand is enough half your speed in most weather conditions.
The Shimano Acera/Tourney/Altus groupset is pretty much one base-level Shimano groupset. It’s reliable but noticeably not as good as Shimano Deore. I won’t even pretend to have expected anything higher than Tourney for a bargain fitness bike if only $775.
The 44/36t Tourney crankset and 8-speed 11-32t Altus cassette are alright. I would have simplified the crankset and a higher cassette to cut some weight and slim the build down, but the combo does the job and doesn’t leave you lacking too many options.
5. 2021 Ridgeback Speed
The Ridgeback Speed is among the cheapest entries on this list. This simple fitness bike has some reliable but humble components. If you want a cycling machine that you’ll rely heavily on for cardio sessions and an occasional grocery run, this is your bike.
Priced comfortably around the $500 to $690 range, the Speed rivals those mass-produced placeholders in general chain stores.
The Shimano Tourney groupset is nothing to journal about. But, combining the Shimano CS-HG200-7 12-32t cassette with the triple crankset provides you with all the gears you'll ever need, plus some. The 21-speed utility bike comes with a chain guard and other accessories to help you cross-off multiple things on your to-do list.
The Promax V-brakes take you back a couple of years, but they work. V-brakes aren't the most reliable in wet conditions, even though the fenders tempt year-round exercising.
The chain lands true when shifting, but those jumps on the crankset aren't the smoothest nor most quiet. The alloy frame has a lifetime warranty, and the Chromoly fork can tank a bullet. Unfortunately, the bike’s weight suffers from outdated tech, with its 33-pounds adding strength training to your cardio session.
The contact points are all well-padded, and the geometry is dateable. I also didn't hear too many complaints concerning the wheels.
6. Kinesis Range Adventure
There isn’t much going against the Range Adventure e-bike. The 6061 hydroformed aluminum frame has a glossy and uniform finish to it. The welds are snuggly sitting and aren’t intrusive to the finished design.
The 55 Nm Fazua motor might fall short of the 85 Nm torque of the Bosch Performance Line CX motors or the lower Shimano E700’s 60 Nm. But, the 450 W of assistance that the Fazua motor can provide is more than enough to help you when you need a hand during your cardio session.
The 700x45c WTB Riddler tires are great companions for a dabbling off-road, and the bike has a tire clearance of up to 50c, so you can upgrade the tires to take your fitness sessions to gravel fully.
The 250 Wh battery is removable to allow easy charging, but the bike is still functional if the battery drains entirely on your ride. The range on the bike is also commendable, with around 35 miles on mixed modes through an elevation of around 3,280 feet.
The integrated remote on the top tube provides accessible mode changing during rides. The carbon fork is also relatively light and responsive, while its robustness provides a sense of security.
Although it is pretty aggressive, its drop bars don’t offer the comfort level you’d like for extended cardio sessions.
Another minor inconvenience is that the bike only comes in its galactic iridescent color, which is lovely, but options are almost a must on a machine that costs around $4,000.
The SRAM Apex and Rival components are of fantastic quality, but using such relatively entry-level SRAM components knocked some wind out of my puffed-up chest. The 11-speed shifter on the double-butted handlebars is easy to access and shifts smoothly.
The SRAM Apex hydraulic brakes are excellent mid-range stoppers with exceptional performance and are more-than-enough for the 33-pound bike (medium-sized version.)
7. Marin Fairfax 3
Just like the success of Marin’s first two Fairfax in their fitness line, the Fairfax 3 has proven itself a noteworthy fitness bike.
The 6061 aluminum tubing on the bike’s Series 3 frame is not only strong but is lightweight and beautiful. The flat bars sit right on the carbon for and are designed for fast maneuvering on extended road rides and commuting.
The Fairfax 3 also makes a great commuting bike because of its mounting points for fenders, racks, and even a kickstand. I also enjoyed the covert look of the internal cabling, even though the welding isn’t the most discreet.
The MicroShift and Shimano combination for groupset components isn’t a premium gathering but performs like one. The 700cx35 mm G-Sport Vee tires provide traction and performance you can rely on even during super tight cornering on the tarmac.
I was also not disappointed by the affordable Tektro HDM275 hydraulic disc brakes, even though they lack the superior braking power you find on higher-rated hydraulic disc brakes.
The 9-speed 11-34t Shimano cassette also makes climbs easier even if you have to contend with the bit of extra weight. Although this bike might not be a knockout, it goes far.
8. Cannondale Treadwell 3
Cannondale’s Treadwell 3 is the ultimate cycling companion. The Treadwell 3 has frame geometry and handlebar orientation that's just right.
Your sitting position isn't too forward or too laid back, which makes this semi-upright position perfect for moving from a relatively fast-paced cardio session to a fun cruising-like ride around the neighborhood.
The integrated wheel sensor connects to the Cannondale app and gives you the necessary workout data. You can accurately assess everything from speed, cadence, distance, and estimated calories burned to decide better how to adjust your sessions for the best glute and belly burn.
I've also been a massive fan of Cannondale’s wheel sensor since its Synapse inception, and it has only continued to evolve. Once you connect your Treadwell 3 to the Cannondale app, you won't have to think about remembering your bike’s service because that’s all taken care of with the reminder on the app.
The Treadwell 3 also comes with Cannondale’s intellimount on the stem, which lets you comfortably place your phone or fitness tracking computing within easy view for the best workout possible.
You shouldn't be in want of options with the 7-speed Sunrace 11-34t rear cog combined with the clean and adaptable Prowheel 38t crank. I loved the simplicity and dependability of this drivetrain.
It's not only great for people new to exercise cycling but i's also excellent for veteran cyclists looking for a more comfortable bike to take to the market while quickly squeezing out an aerobic exercise.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the MicroShift’s M-series, with the M26 rear derailleur providing quality shifting at such a humble price tag.
The 7-speed gearing is also not bad on the thumb-shifters even though the triggers don’t have the best setup; they are smooth enough for some quick action. The construction in this neighborhood also has way too much plastic to let you imagine luxury.
The SmartForm C3 alloy frame is light and adds the Cannondale plushness to some of the plastic in the shifter takes away. Internal cabling is also smartly used even though it would hike up repairs more than such an affordable ride deserves.
The steel blades aren't the lightest things out there, but that doesn't steal away from their reaction to your steering input. The 650b x 47c Maxxis DTR-1 tires are another cost-effective but clever addition to the bike and provide long-lasting quality on gravel and road riding.
The ProMax mechanical discs were the only thing that waned my enthusiasm for this entry. The brakes were still better than V-brakes, but that doesn't mean these days very much.
They perform adequately on dry pavement but quickly unravel when the conditions differ. The braking power and longevity don't quite hold up even to the basic Shimano Deore M6100 series hydraulic brakes.
About THE AUTHOR
Mountain biking is more than just a hobby for me - it's a way of life. I love the challenge and excitement that comes with it, and I'm always pushing myself to go faster and ride harder. Some people might think that mountain biking is dangerous, but I see it as the only way to live.Read More About Danny Lawson