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Exercise Bike Buying Guide

by Charles O'Neill

Copyright 2005

Buying an exercise bike? An exercise bike is an excellent way

to build fitness, lose weight and get fit.

But how do you choose the best one? This buying guide will show

you exactly what to look for when shopping so you can find the

very best exercise bike for your needs!

First, ask yourself which class of exercise bike you would

like. There are 2 general classes of exercise bikes:

1) Recumbent Bikes

Recumbent bikes are the newer exercise bikes on the market with

the chair-like or bucket seats. Your body is placed in a semi

reclining position and your legs angle out in front of you to

reach the pedals instead of hanging down as on an upright bike.

2) Upright Bikes

These are also called "Stationary bikes" although this term is

now becoming a catch all term for both upright and recumbent

bikes. These are the traditional exercise bikes that have been

around for years and are similar in form to traditional outdoor


An offshoot of the standard upright bike is the 'Dual Action'

Stationary bike. These bikes have movable bars or levers on arm

handles to incorporate your upper body into the workout.

Know what you want before you start comparing different

exercise bikes. Personally I've owned both and after a while

upright exercise bike seats just don't feel too comfortable if

you know what I mean. But the choice is yours.

The next thing you need to decide on is your budget. How much

are you willing to pay for your exercise bike?

There are really 3 price categories:

1) Under $500

2) Between $500 - 1000

3) $1000 +

Under 500: While there are some above average exercise bikes

under $500, don't expect to get a top quality machine for this

price. If you don't plan on using your exercise cycle much or

if you're on a budget, this may be a good price point for you.

Between $500 - $1000: Unlike treadmills or elliptical trainers,

you can usually get a very solid, higher quality exercise bike

for your home in this category. Most exercise bikes in this

category offer magnetic resistance and high grade consoles that

give you feedback on your workout. You should also expect

several built-in workout programs, foot straps and heart rate


$1000 +: These exercise bikes are either the cream of the crop

for the advanced home exerciser or they are commercial grade

for the health club. Examples of bikes in this category include

spinners and commercial bikes like Life Cycle and Star Trac.

Always remember that with exercise bikes - in general - you get

what you pay for so try to spend the most that you can and get a

quality machine that will last you.

These are really the 2 most important features to decide on:

the type of bike and the price you can afford. Here are a few

more features you should know about when choosing an exercise



There are several different types of resistance you'll find in

your exercise bike

1) Direct Tension - offers you a manual adjustment of


2) Air - resistance is provided by pedaling against the airflow

of a fan blade

3) Magnetic Resistance - this is the most sophisticated type of

resistance allowing magnetic currents to create and track the

resistance. It generally allows for a greater variety of

workout levels.

Magnetic resistance is generally viewed as the best option

since it tends to be quieter and provides a more even feel when


Workout Options

Most exercise bikes give you information on speed, distance

traveled, and time of the workout. The more sophisticated you

go, you'll also find things like total calories and fat burned,

resistance level, heart rate and program mode.

You can also get exercise bikes with numerous preprogrammed

workouts and information storage as well as iFit compatibilit

and Interactive Disc players.

It really depends on your personal preferences whether you

choose a bike with 10 preset programs and an ultra high tech

computer display or one with just a simple display.

However, keep in mind that in general, the higher priced bikes

have more sophisticated options and are built with higher

quality materials.


Exercise Bikes come with a variety of warranties from 90 days

to lifetime warranties on different parts of the bike. For

example, parts and labor may be covered for 6 months,

electronics for 1 year and the frame for a lifetime. In general

keep in mind that a longer warranty is indicative of a higher

quality machine.

Final Note: It is also important that you decide how much you

are planning to use your exercise bike. For example, if you are

new to exercising and not sure you'll use your exercise bike

much, you might want to save some money and go with a cheaper


If however you plan on using the bike a lot and/or are a

regular exerciser, invest a bit more and get a machine that

will last.

That's it - good luck and have fun!

About The Author: Charles O'Neill is a personal trainer and

contributing writer to For

more buying tips, best buys and recumbent bike reviews, visit:

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