The Best Exercise Bikes for Effective Cardio Workouts at Home

Treadmills may still be the most popular cardio machine in every single commercial gym, but exercise bikes bring certain advantages that might make it better for home workouts. Not only do they make for a satisfying cardiovascular workout that’s easier on the joints, they also tend to be smaller, quieter, and more affordably-priced.

The rise of Peloton, along with the horde of copycats it spawned, has made exercise bikes more popular. As such, there’s a wide selection of choices in the category these days. There are simple, affordable models that focus on the basics, as well as connected bikes with built-in sensors and integrated screens with on-demand video workouts. Then, there are the smart models that simulate outdoor riding, integrating elements such as grade changes, customizable gearing, and simulated shifting.

Which exercise bike should you get? That will depend on your personal goals. If you just want a bike for a regular exercise routine, a basic model with riding adjustments and a dependable resistance mechanism might be all you need. You may also want to upgrade to a connected one if you prefer doing guided workouts. Those who want to be able to simulate actual cycling outdoors will definitely need a smart model with all the upgrades you can throw its way.

These are the best exercise bikes for effective indoor cardio workouts.

Yosuda Indoor Cycling Bike

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Smooth and quiet 35-pound magnetic flywheel
  • Stable

Cons

  • Plenty of plastic parts
  • Isn’t built to last

One of the most popular exercise bikes on Amazon right now, this affordable option keeps things simple by focusing on providing a smooth and quiet cycling experience. Resistance is provided by a 35-pound heavy-duty flywheel that adequately simulates road cycling, which is hooked up to a belt drive that delivers an impressively smooth and quiet ride. An LCD along the top of the handlebars show basic information, such as distance, speed, time, and more, with a cradle below for holding a phone or tablet if you want to watch something while doing your workout. It’s very stable, too, allowing just minimal wobbles even on more intense rides, while details like a four-position saddle, adjustable resistance, and adjustable cage pedals make for an overall pleasant workout. As with any economically-priced item, there are tradeoffs, with build quality being the big one. Simply put, this doesn’t feel like it’s built to last, so you might need to do a bit of maintenance and parts replacements here and there at some point down the line. Still a great value for an exercise bike, though.

YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Bike Stationary - Cycle Bike...
  • 【Smooth Stationery Bike】35lbs flywheel and heavy-duty steel frame of the exercise bike guarantee...

Echelon EX-5 Smart Connect

Pros

  • Affordable way to get on-demand workouts
  • Can be used without a subscription (no online classes)
  • Well-built
  • 32 levels of magnetic resistance

Cons

  • No screen (you need to use your phone or tablet)
  • Flywheel maxes out at 28 pounds

If you want Peloton-style live and on-demand workouts at a slightly more accessible price point, you might want to check out this exercise bike from Echelon. Unlike the Peloton, it doesn’t come with a screen, which is one of the reasons why they’re able to sell it at a much cheaper price. Instead, it has a dock for placing a smartphone or tablet, which you can instead use to launch the app and sync with the bike. It works well enough, without any real downsides, which makes it a really viable alternative to connected bikes with built-in screens. The monthly subscription starts at around $12, which gets you the basic package of unlimited classes for one user. If you want the complete package, though, which include scenic rides, gamified workouts, and Strava integration, you’ll need to upgrade to the $40 tier, which is a little too rich for our liking. If you ever decide to forego the subscription, it can still be used as a regular exercise bike with 32 levels of magnetic resistance, adjustable seat, adjustable handlebars, and a 300-pound weight capacity.

Buy Now – $799.99
 

Echelon Smart Connect Fitness Bike, 30-Day Free...
  • Stationary Bike: This stationary exercise bike is a versatile solution for stationary exercise,...

Diamondback 1260sc Rear Wheel Studio Cycle

Pros

  • Compatible with different cycling apps and services
  • Solid build
  • Supports ANT+ and BLE FTMS
  • No power outlet or batteries needed

Cons

  • No big screen for apps (you need to use your phone or tablet)
  • Only 16 levels of magnetic resistance

Companies that provide on-demand workouts make most of their money not from the sale of exercise bikes, but from the recurring monthly subscriptions people pay to keep enjoying their service. As such, many exercise bike options are exclusively tied to that manufacturer’s app offering. Not the case with this model, which can be connected with Peloton, iFit, Zwift, Strava, and more. making it a great option for people who want to test out different offerings in the space. It’s also compatible with ANT+ and BLE FTMS, so you can use it with all sorts of third-party sensors to really gather as much training data as possible.

There’s a small built-in screen that shows speed, distance, RPM, load, and other information, although there’s no large screen for actually running apps, so you’ll need to use it with your phone or tablet. We love the bike itself, which uses a 31-pound flywheel with 16 levels of magnetic resistance, along with antler-style adjustable handlebars, adjustable seat, and an overall sturdy build. It also doesn’t need a power source (no outlet or batteries needed), since all the electronics run on self-generated power.

Buy Now – $1,199.99

Concept2 BikeErg

Pros

  • Unique resistance system using flywheel and dampers
  • Solid build
  • Quieter than standard air bikes

Cons

  • Seat cannot move forward or backward

Most people know Concept2 for their rowing machines, which have long been regarded by many as the best in the category. The BikeErg is the outfit’s exercise bike, which gets the same thoughtful design and excellent build quality found in their rowers. It uses a flywheel and damper system that relies on wind to generate resistance just like an air bike, albeit with the damper setting allowing you to control how much airflow actually gets into the flywheel. The change in ride dynamics based on the damper setting is dramatic, by the way, compared to the feel you get from magnetic flywheels, making for one impressive workout machine. Unlike traditional air bikes, by the way, the handles don’t move, giving it that traditional exercise bike feel. Other details include a PM5 performance monitor, self-tensioning polygroove belts, and a reasonably light weight of 58 pounds. SInce it uses a PM5, we’re hoping it can work with that third-party on-demand service for RowErgs, too, giving folks a potential option for on-demand workouts.

Concept2 BikeErg 2900 Stationary Exercise Bike |...
  • Your purchase includes One Concept2 BikeErg Stationary Exercise Bike - 2900 model, One PM5...

Peloton Bike

Pros

  • 100 levels of resistance
  • Immersive workouts
  • Unmatched workout experience with live classes

Cons

  • Requires monthly subscription to even use the bike

Peloton is about as mainstream as an exercise bike can get. People know its name and it, pretty much, redefined home fitness in the years after its launch. Is it the best exercise bike? Not really. It’s adjustable enough and durable enough, but other options does beat it in both criteria. What it really does well is integrating the live classes and on-demand workouts in a seamless manner with the machine itself, creating a workout experience that’s still the best in the category. Features include a ridiculous 100 levels of magnetic resistance, a 21.5-inh touchscreen, and a front-facing camera for interactivity. Do note, a subscription membership is required to actually use the bike, so you’re stuck with a hunk of junk if you decide you don’t want to continue with the monthly service.

Original Peloton Bike | Indoor Stationary Exercise...
  • GAME-CHANGING CARDIO – Clip into the Peloton Bike for a workout experience that goes beyond...

NordicTrack S22i Studio Bike

Pros

  • Simulates hill riding by tilting bike up or down
  • iFit system offers extensive classes and workouts
  • Built-in fan cools you down (also feels like wind is blowing on you)

Cons

  • Weighs over 200 pounds
  • Hard to assemble

Our favorite part of this exercise bike is the fact that it can simulate both incline and decline training by automatically moving the front of the bike up or down, depending on your setting. This allows for a really immersive riding experience, especially when paired with the iFit service running on the integrated 22-inch touchscreen, giving those scenic rides just a bit more realism than you’ll get from a regular exercise bike. It offers 24 levels of resistance that can be automatically adjusted by the iFit system (same with the incline) to sync you up with whatever workout you’re doing, although you can turn it off if you want manual control for both. This is one of the most solidly-build bikes we have on the list, so much so that the darn thing actually weighs over 200 pounds, which makes it a bit of a challenge to move around the house. Other features include adjustable seat, adjustable handlebar, dual-sided pedals, a built-in fan (to help cool you down while riding), and a fully rotatable touchscreen, so you can face it anywhere to use the iFit system with non-bike workouts.

Buy Now – $1,999
 

Nordictrack Commercial Studio Cycle
  • 30-Day iFIT Family Membership Included; on-demand workouts on your equipment with Global Workouts &...

Carol Bike

Pros

  • Unique AI-driven dynamic workouts
  • Handles all adjustments, so you just need to pedal
  • Amazing HIIT workouts in 10 minutes or less

Cons

  • Requires $15 monthly subscription to use any bike features
  • Requires wearing a chest strap

It looks like any ordinary exercise bike. However, the Carol Bike offers one of the more unique indoor cycling experiences by using AI to determine your fitness level and find the best resistance settings to keep you challenged yet motivated each time out. A small 11-inch touchscreen allows you to choose what kind of workout you want to do, with options for fat burning, endurance, low-intensity, and others. The most important workout here, though, is REHIT, which is short for Reduced Exertion HIIT. In this mode, the AI creates a punishing HIIT workout tailored to your fitness level that really hits the mark while taking no more than 10 minutes, allowing you to get real, heart-pounding effective cardio in at a fraction of the time. If you get sick of the AI, there’s also a free riding mode that just lets you adjust your resistance and ride like a normal spinner, although activating this mode still requires you to have a monthly membership (you can’t adjust resistance if you don’t).

Buy Now – $2,595

Wahoo Kickr Smart Bike

Pros

  • Unmatched adjustability
  • Real-time grade changes between -15 to 20 percent
  • Immersive riding that feels like a real bike

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • More suited to professional cyclists

Yes, that price sounds ridiculous for an exercise bike. However, if you want a bike that can closely simulate a realistic ride, this is really as good as it gets. For instance, it lets you adjust stack, reach, saddle setback, saddle height and standover height, with the companion app even letting you know how to adjust each one after you input your height and inseam measurements. Suffice to say, it offers adjustability we’ve never seen in any exercise bike. It can simulate grade changes anywhere from -15 percent to 20 percent, with the option for real-time adjustments based on the workout you’re currently doing, while also offering programmable gearing (you can select number of speeds and cassette tooth count) and programmable virtual shifting. Other features include 2500W of motorized resistance, built-in Wi-Fi, multipoint Bluetooth (up to three connections), ANT+, and, of course, access to the outfit’s Wahoo X service.

Buy Now – $3,999.99