Thoughts of indoor cycling bikes (maybe you know them as Spin bikes) conjure up images of sweaty health club studios, enthusiastic instructors, and blaring music. Indoor cycling is seeing a bump in participation thanks to the popularity of programs like SoulCycle and Equinox. But that doesn’t mean you have to find a studio and commit to classes to get your fix—nor should you right now as that runs contrary to social distancing guidelines. There are plenty of indoor cycling bike options that don’t require you to leave your living room. Before you start shopping for the newest addition to your home gym, here are some things to consider.
See quick info on the top performers from our testing below, then scroll deeper for more in-depth reviews of these bikes and other great options, as well as helpful buying tips and advice.
Just like with a regular bicycle, if you want the best experience on your indoor bike, it’s important to get the proper fit. In fact, Spinning global brand ambassador Josh Taylor recommends finding an indoor cycling bike that puts you in the same position as the regular one you’re accustomed to riding outside. If your daily rig is a road bike, for example, look for an indoor bike with a handlebar option that both incorporates a traditional bullhorn bar and mimics the hand-position options of drops and brake hoods. However, if you’re already used to taking studio classes, one with just the traditional bullhorn-style bar will work great, says Ben Sharp, power education specialist at Stages.
All of the bikes we tested have adjustable saddle heights and setbacks, as well as handlebar heights. Some indoor bikes allow you to adjust the handlebar reach, as well. They also have graduated markings, making it easier to get back to your preferred position after someone else uses the bike. And don’t be afraid to change saddles. Essentially, the more adjustability, the better the chance you’ll get the fit you need.
The two most common methods for regulating an indoor bike’s resistance are friction and magnets. Friction-based systems that utilize leather or synthetic pads to apply pressure to the flywheel are simple and effective ways to add precise resistance in a linear fashion, according to Taylor. These resistance systems don’t require outside power to operate. Magnetic resistance is quieter than friction systems, and Mark Swaby, president of Diamondback Fitness, claims it produces a smoother ride.
While most indoor cycling bikes are very similar in terms of general function, it’s the accessories that set them apart. The most basic models are as simple as it gets, just an ergometer with a weighted flywheel and a pad to set resistance. On the other end of the spectrum are bikes like the Peloton, with elaborate software that allows the user to join recorded and live classes.
The convenience of joining classes from the comfort of your own home is undeniable, and Swaby believes it’s a trend that is here to stay. Some bikes, like the Spinner A1, for example, have an optional tablet holder and ANT+ so you can join classes from third party programs like Peloton, as well as the live classes offered by Spin. Others, like the Wattbike Atom, feature Bluetooth connectivity and are designed to be used exclusively on third party virtual platforms. If you want the ability to join virtual classes but aren’t sure of which you’ll like, or you have several that you enjoy, look for a bike with the connectivity and media compatibility that allows you to join the most platforms.
How We Tested
Every bike on this list has been thoroughly evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers, and use our own experience riding these products to determine the best. Our team of expert testers spent weeks with each bike to tease out the best, and least desirable, qualities. We used them for solo workouts三九电影网 and rode on virtual platforms like Zwift in order to learn the ins and outs of each and how well they work for the intended user. These eight indoor cycling bikes stood out.
―BEST FOR SIMULATING OUTDOOR RIDING―
Wahoo Kickr Bike
三九电影网Wahoo released the Kickr, its first indoor bike, last fall and immediately reset the standard for models designed for use on virtual platforms. It connects with most of the major online training apps (Zwift, The Sufferfest, TrainerRoad, Strava Summit, etc.) on your laptop or TV screen and provides unmatched real-feel feedback to the rider based on the terrain in the game. It has integrated sensors that measure your cadence and power output (with +/-1 percent accuracy up to 2,200 watts) and five adjustment points: standover height, saddle height, setback, reach, and stack height. Use the Wahoo Fitness app to guide you through setting up your position, where you can upload fit results from Guru, Retul, or Trek Fit and the app will translate those numbers into the adjustments you need for the bike. Or you can put your height, inseam, and riding style into the app and it will give you rough measurements as a starting point. The Kickr Bike also lets you set the style of drivetrain you prefer, whether SRAM, Shimano, or Campagnolo, as well as the gear ratios. Its heavy flywheel adds resistance and an internal motor controls the flywheel to simulate momentum and coasting, as well as the sensations of braking and shifting. Make no mistake about it, this is a premium bike with all the bells and whistles, and it comes at a premium price.
―BEST FOR LIVE CLASSES―
Take everything you love about spin class, make it more convenient, and subtract any sort of self-consciousness: That’s the Peloton bike. With it and an accompanying subscription, you can join a live-streaming class led by one of Peloton's 15 high-energy instructors that will inspire you to put in the effort. Follow their cues, and you will most definitely get a good workout, whether you choose a 30- or 90-minute ride. You also have access to over 5,000 recorded classes. These vary in difficulty, music choice, and style (think tabata, intervals, hill climb, or easy ride), so you can select from the library based on how you’re feeling. The software displays your resistance, cadence, and wattage to keep you in sync with the instructor, as well as mileage and ride achievements so you can track you progress over time.
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NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle
三九电影网NordicTrack combines the simplicity of a traditional indoor bike with modern connectivity, giving you the option to join live studio-style classes led by professional instructors, or select from a library of recorded workouts through its iFit app (free with purchase of the bike). Recorded guided workouts follow professional instructors as they ride courses that exist in the real world and lead you through the workout. As terrain changes, the bike moves up and down to simulate the incline or decline. Manual controls on the handlebar let you override the automatic settings within a guided workout as well as let you make adjustments when doing an unguided ride. The library of recorded workouts is very extensive, and despite getting lost at times within the iFit app, our tester commented that this was the simplest stationary bike she’d ever ridden, both in terms of setup and ease of use.
―BEST FOR HIIT WORKOUTS―
For the rider who wants an indoor bike that’s an extension of their “outdoor” bike, behold the SC2. The frame geometry and fit will accommodate riders from 4-feet-10 up to 6-feet-10, and saddle height, setback, handlebar height, and reach is easy to adjust and replicate, which is important if you share the bike with several people in your household. The handlebar—which mimics a standard road handlebar as well as a studio-style bullhorn bar—gives roadies and studio-junkies alike their preferred hand position. A dial on the frame let us control the magnetic resistance, and the belt-drive system makes the bike so quiet that the only sound you’ll hear is your own labored breathing as you do a self-guided workout or ride on a virtual platform.
三九电影网The A1 is a simple, no-frills indoor bike—no computer consoles or electric controls. The heavy-duty steel frame resembles those on Spinner’s commercial-grade bikes, and the base offers more stability than bikes in the lighter and cheaper L series. You also get a more durable crank system and a heavier flywheel, which eliminate the inconsistent resistance you can feel near the top end on lighter flywheels. The saddle height adjustment uses preset stops, but the setback has a wedge system that allows you to place the saddle in the precise spot you prefer. The traditional bullhorn bar is comfortable for a wide range of reaches, and the height adjustment accommodates both short and tall riders.
―BEST FOR VIRTUAL PLATFORMS―
The Atom has a built-in power meter and electromagnetic resistance, plus simulated shifting to alter the resistance. It’s equipped with Bluetooth and ANT+ FE-C, and works with apps like Wattbike’s—which offers workout programs and fitness testing—and Zwift. A built-in holder on the aero bar secures a tablet or smartphone, and buttons on the hoods control workout functions, like adjusting target watts. In Zwift, the right-hand hood’s buttons simulate gear shifts, but the firmware has been updated since we tested and now includes an 11-speed gear option. The Atom is great for at home—quiet and very stable. And we love the small footprint.
Bowflex C6 Bike
This is one of our favorite stationary bikes because it has the most capability for its (very reasonable) price. The bike itself is high-quality and very adjustable, but what makes it stand out is the Bluetooth connectivity. With the C6, you can connect to apps like Peloton, Zwift, or Schwinn Trainer to join community rides and track progress. The monitor displays time ridden, speed, mileage, heart rate, and resistance level. It doesn’t show wattage, nor precise RPMs, only displaying them on a scale. However, it does measure them—you can see that data when connected to third-party training apps. The flywheel is smooth and heavy, and you can crank the resistance up very high through 100 incremental levels via a knob. The C6 has toe cages so you can ride it in regular running shoes, or flip the pedals over and clip in with Shimano SPD cleats. Sneak in your workout any time of the day or night because this thing is silent. It comes with a heart rate monitor you wear on your forearm and a pair of three-pound dumbbells so you can get a light upper body workout in, too.
Body Rider Stationary Exercise Bike
三九电影网This is the most affordable bike on our list and offers a proportionate amount of features for the investment. For riders looking for a simple, in-home cardio workout, the Body Rider might be a great solution, but according to some consumer reviews, it’s best for shorter people since the seat only adjusts up to about 71cm from the extended pedal. The no-frills display shows time ridden, speed, distance, and estimates calories burned. A knob just below the monitor adjust resistance. As you pedal, the handlebars swing forward and back, offering upper-body engagement as well. Pedaling also spins the fan, which helps keep you cool as you exercise.