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How to choose the best indoor cycling bike, according to experts

TODAY logo TODAY 1/12/2021 Julie Loffredi and Gideon Grudo, Shop TODAY

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Over the last year, we've seen significant reader interest in all things indoor exercise bikes, and it's with good reason. Echelon, a Shopping reader-favorite brand, launched two affordable exercise bikes on Amazon and Walmart while Peloton introduced the Bike+ last fall. In December, Apple launched Fitness+, an app offering various on-demand fitness classes, focused on spinning, treadmills and rowing, among others. The monthly Apple service costs $10 per month compared to Peloton's $13 monthly digital app membership. Now that it's officially January 2021, you may be feeling motivated to work up a healthy sweat and hit your personal fitness goals, or perhaps are just looking for a way to beat some boredom this winter. Whatever your reasoning, one piece of gym equipment that can help you burn hundreds of calories without taking up significant space in your home is an indoor exercise bike. You can find cycling bikes at popular retailers such as Walmart, Amazon, Target, Best Buy and Dick's Sporting Goods, among others.

SKIP AHEAD Best affordable exercise bikes | Best investment-worthy exercise bikes

Before you get ready to pedal your way to your goal of better health in 2021, here are a few things to consider:

  • A basic indoor bike will easily run you a few hundred dollars or more.
  • Smart bikes might require monthly subscriptions, especially when it comes to on-demand training and cycling classes.
  • Design features can make a difference when it comes to comfort and performance, and they subsequently affect the price tag.

If you’re on the hunt for your own at-home bike, we put together a list of 16 in-stock options worth hitting add to cart this new year. If you’re on the fence, consider that several manufacturers offer 30-day return policies. We also share a few alternatives to stationary bikes to consider adding to your at-home gym — some of which are entire gyms onto themselves.

Related: Shop in stock and highly-rated stationary bikes that cost under $500.

(Relatively) budget-friendly stationary bikes for at-home cycling

Be sure to prioritize what your basic needs are — many of which might be met by relatively affordable options. Maybe you want to easily adjust the bike’s resistance, move its handlebars or just need something quiet for nighttime sweats. And don’t overlook spinning accessories like a padded, adjustable seat and easy-to-grip support handles.

“It might seem like these are added luxuries, but an uncomfortable bike has the potential to affect your performance and form while you bike,” Caleb Backe, a certified personal trainer, told NBC News. “In the long run, this could lead to unnecessary muscle strain and sustained injury.”

An uncomfortable bike has the potential to affect your performance and form while you bike.

Related: Treadmills are starting to sell out, but these eight highly-rated options are still available (for now) to shop.

1. Sunny Health Fitness Indoor Exercise Cycle Bike

This relatively budget-friendly option offers an adjustable resistance knob — and doesn't require a membership fee. With that, it lacks some of the bells and whistles we'll see below. Whether you require those is a personal preference, of course: There's no screen. And the chain drive may make it slightly noisy, although you have the option to upgrade to the belt drive option instead.

Sunny Health Fitness Indoor Exercise Cycle Bike

a person riding on the back of a bicycle: The best Sunny health and fitness indoor cycling exercise bike (Walmart / Walmart) © Walmart The best Sunny health and fitness indoor cycling exercise bike (Walmart / Walmart)
  • Sunny Health Fitness Indoor Exercise Cycle Bike $334.99 at Amazon
  • Sunny Health Fitness Indoor Exercise Cycle Bike $369.99 at Walmart
  • Sunny Health Fitness Indoor Exercise Cycle Bike $357.76 at QVC

2. Schwinn 170 Upright Bike Series

An adjustable seat and ergonomic handlebars — with integrated heart monitors — and wheels for portability make for a feature-heavy and relatively affordable at-home fitness solution from a leading brand like Schwinn. The LCD screen comes with 29 included exercise routines — no trainers here for smart workout but the bike can react with resistance to your heart rate, allowing for up to four different user profiles.

Schwinn Fitness 170 Upright Bike

a close up of a woman: About the Schwinn stationary bike 170 upright bike series (Amazon / Amazon) © Amazon About the Schwinn stationary bike 170 upright bike series (Amazon / Amazon)
  • Schwinn Fitness 170 Upright Bike $549.00 at Schwinn
  • Schwinn Fitness 170 Upright Bike $549.00 at Amazon
  • Schwinn Fitness 170 Upright Bike $549.00 at Best Buy

3. YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Stationary Bike

Hop on Yosuda’s stationary bike while your carefully curated playlist is blasting through your Bluetooth portable speakers. This model features an adjustable non-slip handlebar, four-way padded seat and adjustable resistance levels for customization. The LCD monitor shows your speed, distance, calories burned, odometer and, of course, time spent on your new machine. If you want to spin while watching your favorite show or listen to a virtual meeting (with your camera off, of course), rest your iPad on the dedicated holder.

YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Bike with Ipad Mount

The best exercise bike the YOSUDA indoor cycling bike with Ipad mount (Amazon / Amazon) © Amazon The best exercise bike the YOSUDA indoor cycling bike with Ipad mount (Amazon / Amazon)
  • YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Bike with Ipad Mount $349.99 at Amazon
  • YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Bike with Ipad Mount $339.99 at Walmart

Related: The best wireless earbuds include everyday use, fitness-forward and budget-friendly options from Apple, Sony, Jaybird and more.

4. Cyclace Exercise Stationary Bike

Cyclace’s released an upgraded version of their stationary bike earlier this year. The new model offers extended seating adjustment for anyone between 5-foot-1-inch to 6-foot-5-inches tall and weighs up to 330 pounds. Riders of all levels can keep track of their fitness journey on the LCD monitor, which displays your speed, distance, calories burned and odometer. You can also rest your unlocked smartphone on the holder if you prefer. Plus, the brand offers a 12-month parts warranty, just in case.

Cyclace Exercise Bike Stationary

The best exercise stationary bike with LCD monitor the Cyclace exercise bike (Amazon / Amazon) © Amazon The best exercise stationary bike with LCD monitor the Cyclace exercise bike (Amazon / Amazon)
  • Cyclace Exercise Bike Stationary $379.99 at Amazon
  • Cyclace Exercise Bike Stationary $362.88 at Walmart

5. Schwinn IC3 Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike (expect shipping delays)

Schwinn's take on the stationary bike is equipped with pedals that allow for different types of footwear — you can wear regular sneakers or utilize higher-end clip-in shoes. It's the product of a renowned cycling brand, which might matter to some. And it comes equipped with padded handlebars. Like the more affordable option above, there's no built-in screen, although there’s a spot for your own tablet if you wanted to rely on its offerings.

Schwinn IC3 Indoor Cycling Bike

The best Schwinn stationary bike IC3 for indoor cycling and exercise (Amazon / Amazon) © Amazon The best Schwinn stationary bike IC3 for indoor cycling and exercise (Amazon / Amazon)
  • Schwinn IC3 Indoor Cycling Bike $599.00 at Best Buy
  • Schwinn IC3 Indoor Cycling Bike $899.99 at Amazon
  • Schwinn IC3 Indoor Cycling Bike $679.99 at Newegg

6. Horizon Fitness IC7.9 Indoor Cycle

The IC7.9 is designed to work with multiple streaming fitness apps — like Peloton's — without the cost of a Peloton exercise bike. It relies on magnetic resistance and while it doesn't come with a tablet, a holder designed for it will allow you to equip yours without blocking the bike's performance feedback. Dual-sided pedals let you use any pair of sneakers or clip-in cycling shoes. Finally, both the seat and handlebar are adjustable.

Horizon Fitness IC7.9 Indoor Cycle

a person holding a bicycle: The best Horizon exercise bike the fitness IC7.9 indoor cycle The best Horizon exercise bike the fitness IC7.9 indoor cycle

Horizon Fitness IC7.9 Indoor Cycle $699.00 at Horizon Fitness

Related: Take advantage of deals on bedroom products and after-Christmas deals on exercise bikes, bedding, winter clothing and more.

7. Echelon Connect Sport Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike

Echelon’s Connect Sport indoor cycling exercise bike runs just under $500 (while on sale) and sports 32 levels of resistance for varied intensity. There’s also slip-resistant handlebars, which are helpful when you work up a sweat, along with cushioned seats for a comfier at-home workout. Avoid getting bored during your spinning session by participating in live classes or more than 500 on-demand videos on the Echelon Fit app.

Echelon Connect Sport Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike

a close up of a motorcycle: The best Echelon connect sport indoor cycling exercise bike (Walmart / Walmart) © Walmart The best Echelon connect sport indoor cycling exercise bike (Walmart / Walmart)

Echelon Connect Sport Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike $497.00 at Walmart

8. Sunny Health & Fitness Evolution Pro Cycling Bike

The high-end of low-end bikes, this Sunny Health & Fitness exercise bike equips adjustable handlebars, manually adjustable resistance and an adjustable seat. Its pedals are caged and wheels on its front legs will make it slightly easier to maneuver for the perfect spot in your home.

Sunny Health & Fitness Evolution Pro Cycling Bike

Sunny Health & Fitness Evolution Pro Cycling Bike (Amazon / Amazon) © Amazon Sunny Health & Fitness Evolution Pro Cycling Bike (Amazon / Amazon)
  • Sunny Health & Fitness Evolution Pro Cycling Bike $629.99 at Amazon
  • Sunny Health & Fitness Evolution Pro Cycling Bike $629.97 at Walmart
  • Sunny Health & Fitness Evolution Pro Cycling Bike $699.00 at Sunny Health & Fitness

9. Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Exercise Bike

Spend less than $200 on this top-rated indoor exercise bike from Exerpeutic that supports riders up to 300 pounds. It comes with adjustable foot straps, an LCD monitor displaying your metrics, eight magnetic tension levels and hand pulse sensors to keep tabs on your heart rate. According to the brand, their exercise bike also folds up to half the assembled size, making it convenient for those living in small spaces and for easy storage.

Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Exercise Bike

Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Exercise Bike (Amazon / Amazon) © Amazon Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Exercise Bike (Amazon / Amazon)
  • Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Exercise Bike $185.00 at Amazon
  • Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Exercise Bike $299.00 at Walmart

10. Assault Fitness Classic Bike

If you follow Instagram models or celebrity personal trainers, then perhaps you've seen the Assault Bike while scrolling through your social media feeds. It's a heavy-duty bike designed with athletes and those who train (or would like to train) like them in mind. The bike's resistance automatically adjusts based on the rider's output, meaning the harder you pedal, the more resistance you're challenged with and vice versa. It also comes equipped with built-in programs along with a monitor that displays your mph, calories, time and watts.

Assault AirBike Classic

a close up of a bicycle: Assault AirBike Classic (Amazon / Amazon) © Amazon Assault AirBike Classic (Amazon / Amazon)

Related: With Black Friday a week away, it's an opportune time to start shopping for holiday gifts this season. Here are five smart home gym essentials available right now.

Elevated stationary bikes for at-home cycling

Lindsay Goldman, the director of membership for USA Cycling, a nonprofit group focused on cycling as a sport, advises serious riders to prepare for a hefty price tag if they’re looking for quality equipment. “Generally, the more money that you spend on cycling equipment and gear, the better it will be,” Goldman said. Adding that it's important to get fresh air and take in nature once you've "had enough indoor training." "You have to have both — good quality training, but also time where your soul connects and gets fresh air. Balance is critical," he said.

As you saw in the options above, more basic stationary bikes don't have to hit $1,000 — and allow for a similar physical experience as more expensive brands. It's when you introduce screens, monitors and trackers — as well as features allowing for social connectedness — that prices climb significantly.

11. NordicTrack Commercial Studio Cycle

The NordicTrack stationary bike includes a one-year membership to its iFit service, an interactive personal training program. Its 14-inch HD touchscreen allow for 360-degree rotation and streams iFit content directly. It also shows up with two three-pound dumbbells for cross training exercises and its seat and handlebars are fully adjustable.

NordicTrack S15i Studio Cycle

About the NordicTrack commercial studio cycle bike with training program (Amazon / Amazon) © Amazon About the NordicTrack commercial studio cycle bike with training program (Amazon / Amazon)
  • NordicTrack S15i Studio Cycle $1,599.00 at NordicTrack
  • NordicTrack S15i Studio Cycle $1,799.00 at Amazon

12. Echelon EX5S Smart Connect Bike

The latest EX5S Bike model comes with a 21.5-inch HD touchscreen that flips 180 degrees for live streaming workouts. It's equipped with adjustable handlebars and has been outfitted with a new motor for more precise resistance levels. If incline and decline cycling are important to you, note the Echelon won't let you adjust either.

Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX5S

a person standing in a room: Echelon smart connect stationary bike EX5S with live streaming workouts Echelon smart connect stationary bike EX5S with live streaming workouts
  • Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX5S $1,639.98 at Echelon
  • Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX5S $1,599.00 at Best Buy
  • Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX5S $1,899.00 at Amazon

13. Keiser M3i Indoor Cycle

The Keiser allows you to adjust its handlebars and the seat to accommodate your specific preference and the pre-tensioned resistance belt is designed to stay durable. It's also Bluetooth-enabled so you can stream directly from it or connect your smart devices to it. As you're setting the bike up yourself, note that it might be difficult to assemble. It doesn't offer a screen but you can use the tablet holder to follow virtual classes with your own smart device.

Keiser M3i Indoor Cycle Holiday Bundle

Keiser M3i indoor stationary bike and cycle with bluetooth (Amazon / Amazon) © Amazon Keiser M3i indoor stationary bike and cycle with bluetooth (Amazon / Amazon)

Keiser M3i Indoor Cycle Holiday Bundle $1,995.00 at Amazon

Related: These special tights keep me running outside for most of winter — and their design allows me to wear them elsewhere.

14. Bowflex VeloCore 16-Inch Bike

The new Bowflex VeloCore, which you can also grab with a 22-inch console, allow for both a leaning mode by which is what it sounds like: You can lean to the side while exercising to better simulate real-world bike riding (or dancing). You can also set the bike to stationary mode, keeping you straightforward throughout. Aside from tapping into various workout plans and classes, from virtual coaching to trainer-led rides, you can also use the display to access apps for streaming media, from Netflix to Hulu. The bike is also designed to keep track of various metrics, including intervals, calories burned, cadence, heart rate and more.

Bowflex VeloCore 16-Inch Bike

Bowflex VeloCore 16-Inch Bike ('Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home / 'Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home) © 'Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home Bowflex VeloCore 16-Inch Bike ('Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home / 'Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home)

Bowflex VeloCore 16-Inch Bike $1,699.00 at Bowflex

15. Bowflex C6 Bike

The more affordable C6 Bike from Bowflex comes equipped with a screen — or a backlit LCD for tracking metrics — magnetic resistance that allows you up to 100 levels of resistance (with miniscule differences between each one, but still notable) and pedals built with toe cages. The bike also arrives with two 3-pound dumbbells and a Bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor.

Bowflex C6 Bike

a woman with a bicycle in front of a curtain: Bowflex C6 Bike ('Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home / 'Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home) © 'Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home Bowflex C6 Bike ('Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home / 'Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home)

Bowflex C6 Bike $999.00 at Bowflex

16. The MYX

The MYX fitness bike is equipped with a touchscreen tablet and shows up with a Polar OH1 Heart Rate Monitor. The $29-per-month membership will get you on-demand coaching and you can otherwise access pre-built workouts with hundreds of options. The brand promises to add new workout routines to its library each week and the bike will help you keep track of what you've done and how you're doing. You can see MYX coach profiles to get an idea of who'll be around to help you reach your fitness goals, to boot. The upgraded MYX Plus arrives with some additional accessories, like a foam roller and exercise mat.

The MYX

The MYX ('Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home / 'Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home) © 'Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home The MYX ('Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home / 'Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home)

The MYX $1,199.00 at MYXfitness

Related: Google rounded up 100 in demand and highly rated gift ideas for everyone on your holiday list, including foodies, techies, wellness enthusiasts and more.

Exercise bike alternatives

You can still cycle without a bike — in a sense — with these top-rated workout essentials. Here are other indoor exercise bike alternatives worth considering adding to your home gym in 2021.

1. Cubii Pro Under-Desk Elliptical

The Cubii under-desk elliptical is exactly what it sounds like: It allows you to cycle while you work or are sitting with other tasks. Bluetooth tech connects with your smartphone to track your stats and track your steps and calories burned. Designed to be especially quiet, it should be less distracting to fellow remote workers than other options. A more affordable option, the Cubii Jr. cuts out the smart connection and replaces it with a small display to track stats instead.

Cubii Pro Under-Desk Elliptical

a bag of luggage sitting on top of a suitcase: Cubii Pro elliptical bike for working out under your desk or table (Amazon / Amazon) © Amazon Cubii Pro elliptical bike for working out under your desk or table (Amazon / Amazon)
  • Cubii Pro Under-Desk Elliptical $349.00 at The Grommet
  • Cubii Pro Under-Desk Elliptical $349.00 at Amazon

2. Hydrow Rower + Free Polar HRM

A rowing machine is considered a low-impact cardio machine that’s gentle on your joints and builds endurance. NBC News Better previously spoke with fitness experts on the most effective cardio machines and Caley Crawford, director of education for Row House, called the rowing machine “an all-encompassing machine” and “the most effective machine in the gym” because rowing helps build stamina without hurting your joints. Hydrow’s model includes a 22-inch touchscreen display that shows a calming river, speakers and an ergonomic seat. According to Hydrow, their patented drag mechanism allows each pull to feel as if you’re rowing in a body of water rather than using a machine. If you live in a small space, store your machine in an upright position using the Hydrow Upright Storage Kit. As a bonus, Hydrow is throwing in a complementary Polar OH1 Optical Heart Rate Monitor for keeping track of your vitals.

Hydrow Starter Package

text: Best all in one cardio machine for home the Hydrow Rower Best all in one cardio machine for home the Hydrow Rower

Hydrow Starter Package $2,520.00 at Hydrow

3. Mirror

If you’re the type of person who needs to switch up their workout to avoid getting bored (or burned out), opt for Mirror, a smart workout device offering on-demand access to boxing, kettlebell, barre, yoga, meditation and other fitness classes. The Bluetooth-enabled gadget also allows you to work out virtually with personal trainers and track your heart rate, and it offers playlists to help you power through your exercise when you sign up through the app. You can also order a wall mount if you rather your piece of workout equipment isn’t resting on the floor. Each Mirror purchase includes a one-year warranty, white glove service and a 30-day risk-free trial so you can be sure the device fits into your lifestyle before fully committing.

Mirror

a woman standing in a room: The best smart mirror workout program with personal trainer The best smart mirror workout program with personal trainer

Mirror $1,495.00 at Mirror

Related: Honeywell, Toshiba, Blueair: Readers preferred compact, quiet and HEPA filter-equipped air purifiers this year.

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