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There are so many exercise bikes on the market it is difficult to pick one. What are the best bikes for home gym?
Some bikes are far better than others. A good bike lasts for a long time and has a robust warranty if anything goes wrong. A bad bike will break quickly and won't have a good warranty.
The best bikes are safe, adjustable, possible to connect to cycling apps, durable, and smooth to ride. The best bike I have tried is the Peloton. The Echelon, NordicTrack, and Proform are also great choices.
Not everyone wants every feature a home gym bike might offer. For example, some people only want a well-made bike and don't care about advanced digital features. Different bikes feel better for different people.
I have been selling indoor bikes for years and I often recommend the Peloton, which is the bike I use at home. You can get in great shape with a convenient home gym, so exercise bikes are worth the price.
Why Have a Home Gym?
Having a home gym can get you in shape fast. If you have a lot of things to do, you might not have the time to go to the gym many times per week. Stressful events can also hurt your motivation and make you skip the gym.
If your gym is at home, it is easy to work out at any time. Even if you are busy, you can still spare 30 minutes for a short, intense workout. Shorter and harder workouts often get you in shape better than longer workouts anyway.
Cycling also isn't something you can do on any day. If there is snow on the ground in the winter, you have to stop cycling outdoors for months. A home exercise bike lets you cycle in the winter, or on a rainy day.
The Best Home Gym Bikes You Can Buy in 2022
There is no bike that is right for everyone. Get a bike with the features you want and without too many things you don't care about. Every feature you don't want raises the bike's price.
Reasons to Buy
- Excellent live classes
- Professional instructors and interaction with classmates
- Compatible with Zwift and other apps
- Very well made and durable
- Higher than the average price
Peloton bikes are digital bikes for people who want to take live online classes. They are fairly expensive and require a monthly fee for the online classes, but they connect you to a whole community of cycling enthusiasts.
The best thing about a Peloton bike is that you can take live classes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No matter where you live or what your schedule is, you can find a live class with a trained instructor and classmates to interact with. This can easily make it worth the initial cost and the monthly fee.
Peloton bikes are great for people who don't have a lot of time. Just because you are raising kids doesn't mean you have to let your physical health decline. If you can't make it to the gym often enough, do your workouts at home.
Peloton Bikes Are Cheap Compared to Live Cycling Classes
While Peloton bikes are sort of expensive, they are cheaper than years worth of live cycling classes. Even if your live cycling classes cost only $30, and you go only weekly, that is $1500 per year or $7500 over five years. A Peloton bike only costs about $4000 for five years.
Are Used Pelotons a Good Idea?
Those who cannot easily afford a new Peloton bike might consider getting a used one for about half the price. Getting a used car, bike, or anything else is hit or miss.
You might get something that is still in very good condition for much less than what it costs new. However, you might also buy something that will have problems soon.
Make sure whoever you are buying from is trustworthy. An online seller with only a few reviews is risky. Also, remember that the monthly fees add up to about $500 per year, which reduces how much you can save by buying used.
Reasons to Buy
- One of the best cheaper alternatives to Peloton bikes
- Great live classes for less than Peloton charges
- Very well made and durable
- Relatively weak warranty
- Displays video on a phone/tablet, not the bike's own screen
Echelon bikes are great if you want a cheaper alternative to Pelotons. You still have to pay a monthly fee, but at least the initial cost is lower. The cheaper models of Echelon bikes currently cost $839, compared to nearly $1500 for cheaper models of Pelotons.
An Echelon bike costs $29.99 per month for regular service and $34.99 per month if you add extra mile service. You can also pay a yearly fee of $349.99 per year, which includes extra mile service. This is cheaper than a Peloton bike, which costs $39 monthly.
Echelon Bikes Also Offer Live Classes
Anyone who pays the monthly fee can use a phone/tablet to access live Echelon classes. Arguably, Echelon is a better deal than Peloton. Echelon offers a similar service for a lower price.
Anyone who has tried an exercise bike with live online classes knows how motivational these classes can be. You won't feel tempted to stop halfway through a workout if there is an instructor and classmates there. You can make friends in these online classes.
Echelons Are Very Well-Made Bikes
All of the parts that go into Echelon bikes are high-quality. The steel frames are very long-lasting even if you use the bike heavily. The magnetic flywheel is heavier than average (more than 30 pounds) which makes the bike smooth to ride.
The seat is adjustable and can move back and forth as well as up and down. The handlebars are also adjustable. The pedals work with either regular shoes or clip-in cycling shoes.
Do Echelons Have Any Disadvantages?
With an Echelon bike, you see the live classes on a phone or tablet, not on a screen the bike supplies. This isn't fine with everyone, some people prefer the bike to have its own screen. You also have to change the resistance manually instead of changing it using the app.
The warranty is also poor for a relatively expensive bike like the Echelon. If you want a better warranty, you have to pay extra.
Certainly, Echelon bikes are still a good product. You can expect the well-made mechanical parts to last for a long time. However, if anything fails, the warranty won't protect you for long.
NordicTrack Commercial S22i Bike
Reasons to Buy
- Works with google maps so you can ride any route on the planet
- Bike inclines/declines for going up and down hills
- Superior to a Peloton in many small ways
- Hundreds of built-in outdoor routes to explore
- Large, high-quality screen
- No live classes in the true sense
The NordicTrack is another high-end digital/connected bike that compares to a Peloton. It has its own screen, and it is as large as a Peloton's screen. The bike is very smooth to ride and offers lots of digital content.
One advantage of the NordicTrack over the Peloton is that your instructor can adjust the incline or the resistance for you. With the Peloton, your instructor will tell you to adjust the resistance for a lighter or more difficult part of the exercise. With a NordicTrack, this will happen automatically.
The NordicTrack has hundreds of outdoor routes for you to explore. It replicates the feeling of riding outside better than at least most other bikes. The bike automatically adjusts the incline when you go up hills, adding to the realism.
The NordicTrack Integrates With Google Maps
Even more impressive than the hundreds of outdoor routes is that the NordicTrack integrates with google maps. This more or less lets you ride your bike anywhere in the world virtually. You can choose a city you have never been to before and ride around exploring it.
The NordicTrack also has a fan, which the Peloton doesn't. The bike comes with weights, so you can train your arms while you train your legs.
The screen displays high-quality images. You can control the bike's digital content either by using the touchscreen or by using buttons on the handlebars.
More than anything else, the ability to ride any route in the world is impressive. You can open up google maps, enter whatever two locations you want, and ride the route. You can virtually ride your bike down streets all over the world.
Are There Any Drawbacks?
The main problem is that there are no live classes, like the Peloton and Echelon offer. In some ways, the NordicTrack is so impressive that it is worth it even without the live classes. However, the bike is not one-sidedly better than the Peloton as it lacks what many people consider the Peloton's best feature.
Price and Warranty
The NordicTrack is not good if you are looking for a cheaper alternative to a Peloton. It is arguably a better alternative to a Peloton, but it is not cheaper.
The bike costs as much as a higher-end type of Peloton and the monthly fee is the same. On the plus side, the NordicTrack comes with a one-year membership included.
Proform Smart Power Exercise Bike
Reasons to Buy
- Adjustable seat
- Very quiet
- Excellent screen
- Comes with a 1-year subscription
- Good warranty
- Magnetic and not electromagnetic resistance system
The Proform Smart Power Exercise bike is a relatively cheap bike that still offers advanced digital features. The bike comes with a one-year subscription to iFit - the same program the NordicTrack offers, even though the Proform is less than half the price.
The Proform is also impressively quiet. The magnetic flywheel the bike uses generates very little noise even if you are riding fast. The bike has 22 levels of resistance, so you can get the resistance level exactly right.
The Proform also has an excellent 10-inch HD touchscreen. The screen is better than what you can usually expect from a cheaper bike. The Proform also has an adjustable seat, also somewhat impressive for a cheaper bike.
Is the Proform Durable?
Yes, the Proform Smart Power Exercise Bike is well-made and protected by a good warranty. The frame is guaranteed to last for 10 years, and the parts for two years. For labor, the warranty lasts one year.
Magnetic vs Electromagnetic Resistance
The Proform increases resistance by moving the flywheel closer to the magnet. This does work but is not ideal. A better system increases resistance by putting more electricity into the magnet.
Usually, electromagnetic systems that work by increasing electricity last longer than magnetic systems that change the location of the magnet. However, the Proform is still long-lasting and quiet despite using a cheaper magnetic system.
Reasons to Buy
- Can connect to the Zwift app and Peloton app (if you supply your own screen)
- Light and easy to move around
- Smooth and quiet
- Basic display and no screen
- No built-in workouts
The Schwinn IC4 is also great for its price. I highly recommend the Schwinn IC4 over the Bowflex C6, which costs significantly more and has no real advantage over the Schwinn.
The Schwinn is great if you want a simple exercise bike without fancy digital features. If you want to use it as a digital bike, there is a shelf for a tablet, but there is no built-in screen. The Schwinn is solidly put together and about as cheap as you can get for a well-made bike.
The Schwinn is particularly affordable if you pay in installments. You can get the bike for as little as $60 per month. The bike is also light, so it's relatively easy to move it around in your home.
Unlike many higher-end bikes, the Schwinn IC4 does not have its own screen. However, it still tracks information such as your speed and cadence and uses Bluetooth to send this info to a tablet or phone.
You can use this data for various subscription services, including the Peloton app (not as good as the service people with Peloton bikes get, but still a good service), Zwift, and a Schwinn workout subscription service.
You can set the resistance to 100 different levels, so you can move it up or down a tiny bit and get it exactly right. It also comes with a heart rate monitor and light dumbbells.
Schwinn IC4 vs Schwinn IC3
If you don't want to connect your bike to cycling apps and want something affordable, try the Schwinn IC3. The IC3 does not have a Bluetooth connection and is not compatible with Zwift and other cycling apps. However, the bike still works well and still tracks things like your speed and heart rate.
Smart Bikes vs Regular Bikes
Smart bikes have screens and let you run cycling apps on them. You don't need a phone or a tablet to run a cycling app with a smart bike. Instead, it comes with everything you need to run cycling apps.
Smart bikes also offer live classes that you can access if you pay a monthly subscription. You can interact with an instructor and classmates and you can ask questions. These live classes will make you feel competitive and boost your motivation.
Regular bikes usually also have some digital components, but they are much more limited. There are no live classes. Instead, a display will show basic things like your speed and cadence.
Regular Bikes Are Cheaper
Not everyone cares about the live classes or other digital components. While I recommend getting a bike with live classes and instructors that are good motivators, not everyone wants them.
If you don't want live classes, a conventional exercise bike is cheaper. They cost around $500 to $1000, compared to $1500 or $2000 for digital/connected bikes. Digital bikes also charge monthly fees for the live classes, and they aren't worth it without these classes.
Your Exercise Bike Should Fit You
One of the most important things to look for in an exercise bike is one of the most overlooked. The exercise bike has to fit you. If it is too big or too small, you won't like using it.
You could have the best exercise bike in the world but still not like it because it doesn't fit you. If you have a chance, you should try the exercise bike before you buy it.
Exercise Bikes Should Be Adjustable
You should be able to adjust the handlebars and the seat to make the bike fit you perfectly. Adjustability is particularly important if more than one person will use the bike.
A very adjustable bike should let you make tiny changes to get the position exactly right. If it only has a few settings for seat height, that is not as good as letting you adjust the seat height by as little as you want.
Even if the minimum difference between two settings is only an inch, that is not as good as letting you adjust the height smoothly. You also need to be able to adjust the bike within a wide range. Otherwise, the bike might be too short for some people even if you adjust the seat as high as possible.
You should also not buy a brand of exercise bike that has a bad reputation for safety. Purchasing a bike from a trusted and respected brand is better than purchasing one from a hardly known company. A barely known company might produce a genuinely bad product that may break quickly or be unsafe.
If your exercise bike does not offer a generous warranty, there is a good chance it is a shoddy product. If a bike has an exceptionally strong warranty, you can expect the following:
- Lifetime coverage for the frame (there is no reason for a good bike frame to break)
- Three years for all other parts of the bike (even well-made parts might break eventually, so they cannot guarantee all parts for many years or forever)
- One year for labor (even with only one year for labor, it is still an excellent warranty)
Most bikes will not offer nearly that good of a warranty. You do not have to insist on a warranty that is that good, as the best bike for you probably won't offer it. A good but not exceptional warranty is:
- Two or three years for moving parts
- One year for labor
Don't get a bike that only insures the frame for a single year. Certainly, a bike frame should last longer than one year, even if it is used often. Anyone offering only months for labor and for moving parts is offering a below-average warranty and likely a below-average product.
Digital Display and Ease of Use
Your bike should be easy to use, and the digital display should show as much information as possible. Sometimes, the digital display doesn't show some important information.
For example, it might not show what the resistance currently is. If it doesn't show a number for the resistance, you can only look at a knob that you turn to change the resistance. This makes it hard to repeat a workout - you won't know exactly where to set the knob.
Other important information includes:
- Cadence (revolutions per minute)
- Heart rate
- Calories burned
Your bike should also be easy to understand. There is no reason for you to have to look through instructions to get your bike to work. A good interface should be possible to understand the first time you try it.
While overall quality is the most important thing, you should also look for a bike with the features you want. Some of the things you might look for are:
- A heart rate monitor
- Compatibility with Zwift and other cycling apps
- A water bottle holder
- A stand for a book, phone, or tablet
- A bike that does or does not use clip-in shoes
- Dumbbells (so you can exercise your arms while you exercise your legs) and dumbbell holders