Best exercise bikes 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice - Which? (2023)

Exercise bikes can help you achieve your health and fitness goals, and increase your leg strength, without you having to leave your living room.

But picking the wrong bike could see you wasting your money on a bulky piece of equipment you end up never using.

Our rigorous lab tests have uncovered big differences in the performance of different exercise bikes - and it's not just a case of paying more to get a better product. Some cheaper bikes proved impressive compared to pricier rivals.

In our expert buying guide, we round up the best exercise bikes to buy, plus we explain what different types and features are available and how to choose the best fit for you.

Best exercise bikes for 2022

These exercise bikes impressed in our rigorous lab tests, which include in-depth assessments of comfort, ease of use, adjustability and usability.

    • best buy

    • Usability
    • Comfort
    • Convenience
    Sign up to reveal

    Full Access first month £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel at any time

    Already a member?Log in

    • best buy

    • Usability
    • Comfort
    • Convenience
    Sign up to reveal

    Full Access first month £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel at any time

    Already a member?Log in

    • Usability
    • Comfort
    • Convenience
    Sign up to reveal

    Full Access first month £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel at any time

    Already a member?Log in

To see all the exercise bikes we've tested side by side, head to ourexercise bike reviews.

What are the benefits of an exercise bike?

While an exercise bike for home use won't typically have all the bells and whistles you might get on a gym version, it can be a simple way to fit regular exercise into your daily routine (and cheaper than gym fees). Plus, you won't need to worry about cycling on busy roads and uneven paths. Other bonuses include:

  • Improving your cardio fitness – good for your heart, lungs and more. How to buy the best rowing machine and How to buy the best treadmill are popular alternatives.
  • Strengthening your legs – benefit from an aerobic workout without putting strain on your knees.
  • Slower speeds are good for low-impact workouts – adjustable resistance means you can vary how much effort you put into even slow pedalling.
  • Foldable designs are available – good news if you want to save space.

Looking to makeover your health and fitness? See our guide to plant-based meat alternatives, and take a look at our nutrition and supplements advice guides

How to buy the best exercise bike for home use

Best exercise bikes 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice - Which? (1)

When shopping for the perfect exercise bike for home use, you'll need to consider your budget, how much space you have, how you prefer to ride and what features you need.

Spending more usually nets you a more feature-packed exercise bike, but this might not be essential if you're just keen to get moving - we've found decent budget options if you just want a basic exercise bike.

Floor space is a key consideration - trying to squeeze a large exercise bike into a small room or home will risk it becoming more of a hindrance than a help, especially if it's a shared space.

If you're particularly tall or short, check that the seat and handle can be adjusted to suit your height, as this will affect how comfortable the bike is for you to ride.

Check the maximum user weight too, as some models - particularly cheaper ones - have a comparatively low maximum weight limit. With the models we've tested, we found that some budget upright models have a limit of just 100kg, while more premium spinner models have limits of up to 136kg.

How much does an exercise bike cost?

How deep you'll be digging into your wallet will vary depending on the features you're shopping for:

Cheap exercise bikes - under £200

You can buy an exercise bike for as little as £60, but don't expect many features. Most cheap exercise bikes are powered manually rather than electronically (see Popular exercise bike types for the differences).

A cheap exercise bike could be a good option if you're a fitness newbie looking to test the waters with a basic model.

Mid-range exercise bikes - £200-£800

If you're already a fan of stationary cycling in the gym, or are confident you'll make regular use of an exercise bike, consider investing a couple of hundred pounds.

Spending this much will get you an electronically powered bike with more resistance levels and a range of features, such as calorie and pulse tracking.

High-end exercise bikes - Over £800

Premium exercise bikes can cost more than £1,000. Many pricier exercise bikes can pair up with your smartphone via Bluetooth to provide detailed workout tracking, so if you're looking for a more personal trainer style experience, these might suit you. Check our reviews first though, as pricey bikes varied in performance in our tests.

Types of exercise bike explained

Best exercise bikes 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice - Which? (2)

This handy guide explains the main types to choose from, to help you find the right option for you.

Manual vs electric exercise bike

A manual exercise bike is powered by your movements alone, while an electric exercise bike plugs into the wall and offers digital monitoring of your workout. Some manual exercise bikes also have digital displays powered by batteries.

Manual exercise bikes tend to have a dial you twist to change resistance levels. It's a common feature found on cheaper exercise bikes, but it isn't as convenient as an electric buttons, and might break the flow of your workout.

If you enjoy exploring the great outdoors, you may also be interested in our electric bike reviews.

Upright exercise bike

Best exercise bikes 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice - Which? (3)

Hop on an upright exercise bike and you can either sit up straight or lean forward as you challenge your leg muscles. Most use electromagnetic induction to create the resistance you'll be battling against. Pre-set workout modes can simulate the feel of a hilly bike ride.

One key benefit of an upright exercise bike is that a lot of them are foldable. They usually cost less than recumbent exercise bikes too.

It's important to note that upright exercise bikes have a higher centre of gravity, so you may find that some – especially cheaper, less solidly built models – feel slightly unstable at very high speeds.

Spin bike

The rise in the popularity of 'spin classes' means you can now grab your own spin bike for home use. These use flywheels heavier than those found on most upright bikes.

Your stance will be similar to if you were riding a normal road bike. It's easier to lean forward on a spin bike than on an upright exercise bike.

Some high-end bikes, such as the Peloton, take the concept of 'spinning' from home to the next level, by integrating a screen so you can join live online classes.

Recumbent exercise bike

Best exercise bikes 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice - Which? (5)

On an upright bike, your feet will be planted beneath you. On a recumbent bike, your feet will be ahead of you while you're sitting in a reclined seating position.

Having a back rest makes a recumbent bike quite comfortable to sit on. This cycling position can also help reduce the risk of back soreness on longer workouts, so a recumbent bike could be a good option for those with back problems.

Mini exercise bike

Best exercise bikes 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice - Which? (6)

These have a seat and pedals, but no handlebars. They're small enough to fit under a table, so you could pop them under your desk and keep cycling while you work, or in front of the sofa while you watch TV. They're best used for gentle toning and to keep stiff joints mobile.

Want to track your activity and stay motivated? Read our expertfitness tracker reviews

Exercise bike features to consider

Best exercise bikes 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice - Which? (7)

When trying to decide between a couple of different exercise bikes, pay attention to the following key features:

A foldable design

A folding exercise bike will appeal if you like the idea of using your bike in the living room, then moving it out of the way when you're finished.

Even if you're on a budget, you won't have much trouble finding a folding exercise bike. They're good for beginners and don't take up much space.

Pulse monitor

You can keep track of how hard you're working your body by using an exercise bike with a heart rate monitor.

Many exercise bikes work a pulse sensor into the handlebars. Grip them firmly, wait a couple of seconds and then glance at the console for your reading.

If your exercise bike doesn't come with a pulse monitor, you can try wearing a fitness tracker with a built-in heart rate monitor. See our Best Buy fitness trackers.

Magnetic vs brake-based resistance

Not every exercise bike uses the same system to generate different levels of resistance.

There are two main types of resistance system on exercise bikes – brake-based (also known as friction-based) or magnetic. A brake-based system uses a flywheel (covered by protective casing) to store rotational energy. If you pedal fast and stop pedalling right away, the flywheel will rotate for a short while.

With bikes that use magnetic resistance systems, changing the 'difficulty' mode affects the position of the magnets inside the flywheel. When the magnets are closer to the flywheel there is more force slowing the wheel down, and therefore more resistance.

Exercise bikes that use a brake-based design are usually cheaper than magnetic resistance bikes, but magnetic exercise bikes require less maintenance and make less noise.

Exercise apps and display options

Over the past few years, exercise bikes come compatible with apps that can make your workout more fun, effective and varied. Generally speaking, these work by the exercise bike using Bluetooth or wi-fi to connect to an app downloaded onto your smartphone or tablet.

Some manufacturers, such as Peloton and Echelon, have proprietary apps, but many manufactures build smart functionality into their bikes that allows them to connect with a variety of fitness apps.

Most commonly, these exercise apps are designed to measure your exercise bike metrics and take you through a workout class led by an instructor, but there are also options that have you doing things from pedalling a 3D avatar through a digital world to embarking on a video tour of cycling routes up the side of mountains.

Non-slip feet

Being safe while you cycle is obviously very important. Make sure you're buying an exercise bike that has a secure base. Non-slip feet will prevent your exercise bike moving around even if you're pedalling at high speeds.

Find outhow we test exercise bikesto uncover the best models

How much space do you need for an exercise bike at home?

Best exercise bikes 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice - Which? (8)

This will depend entirely on the type of exercise bike you're using and whether or not it's foldable.

An upright exercise bike doesn't require much floor space, as you'll be sitting vertically or standing up on the pedals most of the time you're working out. These usually measure around a metre in length and are roughly 0.5 metres wide. Aim for 0.5 metres of free space around all sides of the bike so you don't knock into anything. Check information on the manufacturer's website if you're unsure.

On the other hand, a recumbent exercise bike will have you in a reclined position, so you'll need to factor in more space when it comes to buying. These usually measure around 1.6-2 metres in length.

Should you buy a Peloton?

Best exercise bikes 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice - Which? (9)

This high-end exercise bike has been turning heads in the past few years, in part thanks to its prominent TV ad campaign. Arriving with a 22-inch HD display, you can use it to join live weekly classes where instructors will guide you through your workout in real time on-screen.

Peloton isn't the only exercise bike to be marketed with a companion exercise app - brands such as Schwinn and Echelon also sell bikes with smart functionality. Peloton is the only bike we've tested with an actual HD display built in, but rivals have space for a tablet or phone that can connect to the bike and act as a screen for workout classes and interactive apps.

It's worth bearing in mind, as well as a high upfront price, you'll need to pay £39 per month for access to the app (once the 100 day free trial expires), so it's quite the investment. If you're a dedicated spinner, it could be worth it, and better value than some gym memberships, but it depends on your lifestyle and exercise aims. Make sure the bike is up to the job by checking out our full Peloton bike review too.

Want a cheaper alternative? Consider placing a standard exercise bike in front of yourBest Buy TVand streaming first-person cycling videos from YouTube.

Where to buy an exercise bike

When buying an exercise bike for home use, make sure you're handing your money over to a reputable seller.

Check the retailer's returns policy and pay attention to customer feedback and reviews. For more details on shopping online safely and arranging refunds for faulty equipment, see our advice on shopping online.

Popular retailers that stock a wide variety of exercise bikes include:

  • Argos – offers a mixture of manual and electronic bikes. Prices start at less than £100 for basic models and go up to around £1,300.
  • Amazon – hundreds of exercise bikes from brands including Ultrasport and Sportstech. Make sure you're buying from a reputable seller.
  • Fitness Superstore – fitness specialist that sells a range of electronically powered bikes, starting from a few hundred pounds.
  • John Lewis – stocks both upright and recumbent bikes. Prices start around £300 and go up to several thousand pounds for very high-end models.

Tips for using your exercise bike

Once you've bought the perfect exercise bike for home use, to get the most enjoyment and maximum results from your workout make sure you follow some basic rules for happy riding:

Prepare your space and the bike

It's important you adjust both the seat height and the handlebars of your exercise bike so that you're comfortable when riding. Read safety instructions carefully, they usually include advice around ensuring the bike is on a flat, stable non-slip surface, and leaving enough space around it to move freely.

Make sure you're wearing appropriate clothing and footwear to minimise any danger of loose clothes getting caught in moving parts or your feet slipping off of the pedals.

Choose the right resistance level

Don't set the resistance too high initially; it's better to start off on a low setting and increase it if you find it too easy. You should always warm up on a lower resistance setting to avoid muscle strain.

Use the control panel

Check the manual that comes with your exercise bike so you know what the control panel is capable of. In most cases, you can use it to track speed, distance and calories burned.

Keep kids clear

If you have children in the house, make sure they're aware of the dangers of an exercise bike. Don't let them access it without supervision, and make sure there's no risk of them interacting with moving parts when you're cycling.

Our safety tests showed that several bikes had minor safety concerns around possible trapped fingers when in use, and one had a more significant issue, so you'll want to ensure they are safely away from little hands.

For more exercise tips and fitness guides, take a look at the free NHS exercise advice and get our

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Geoffrey Lueilwitz

Last Updated: 02/05/2023

Views: 6534

Rating: 5 / 5 (80 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Geoffrey Lueilwitz

Birthday: 1997-03-23

Address: 74183 Thomas Course, Port Micheal, OK 55446-1529

Phone: +13408645881558

Job: Global Representative

Hobby: Sailing, Vehicle restoration, Rowing, Ghost hunting, Scrapbooking, Rugby, Board sports

Introduction: My name is Geoffrey Lueilwitz, I am a zealous, encouraging, sparkling, enchanting, graceful, faithful, nice person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.