A Buyer’s Guide To Purchasing An Exercise Bike
So, are you seriously considering the idea of getting an exercise bike at last? In that case you have joined the ranks of many other people who have decided – quite rightly – that this is a great way to get some much needed exercise.
But as with any type of purchase it pays to do your homework so you know what you are buying. You might think that an exercise bike is a pretty simple thing to buy, but as you are about to find out there are many different things to consider and lots of features you might come across as well.
Luckily you can count on us to steer you in the right direction! If you read through the following step by step guide, you will be able to get a feel for what it is you want – which means you are a lot more likely to end up with the perfect bike for you.
A Selection of the Best Selling Exercise Bikes
So let’s get started shall we? Your ideal exercise bike awaits you.
The benefits of using an exercise bike
If you have ever had a go on an exercise bike before – perhaps at your local gym for example – then you will probably already be aware of the many benefits it can bring you.
For starters it is great for becoming fitter in a cardiovascular sense. Keeping your heart nice and healthy is something we should all be doing, and an exercise bike will certainly help you along in that respect. And of course you can vary your workout too – if you aren’t very fit to begin with then a nice slow cycle will get you started. After a while you can pedal a bit harder and give yourself an even better workout as a result.
This ability to vary the degree that you are exercising is one of the best parts of getting an exercise bike. In addition of course, there is a whole range of other muscles that will get the benefit of this new purchase. Your calf and thigh muscles will all get stronger, which you will notice at other times as well, such as when you are walking somewhere.
And even your arms will become stronger if you have an upright bicycle and you hold onto the hand grips as you pedal.
How much can you spend?
This is a crucial question that is well worth asking yourself before going any further into this guide. You see, there are so many different types and models of bikes that you can buy, you could spend anything between around £60 for a basic entry level model to somewhere in the region of £2,000!
Obviously unless you are obsessively into cycling and you want to replicate the way it feels to cycle out on the road, you won’t want or need to get something that is really top of the range. But you might want to get one that has a decent on board computer with a range of workouts you can try. Luckily many of the cheaper models have an electronic computer attached now anyway.
But you should still consider how much you want to spend, and how much you think you will use the exercise bike once you have it. A lot of people unfortunately buy these bikes and then end up not using them, so do make sure you don’t buy anything too advanced for your needs.
How serious are you about cycling?
It’s pretty obvious to say that you won’t need a £1,500 exercise bike if you have never even sat on one before. We all have that burning desire to get the latest toy, but make sure you don’t end up buying a bike with loads of features that you know you will never use.
Always try and get the best quality bike for the money you have to spend. And of course, reading through the rest of this guide will help you to identify the different things that you can expect to get from a bike.
What should you be looking for?
As we mentioned on the home page, you need to think about the type of bike you want to get first of all – upright, recumbent or foldaway. This depends as much on the space you have available as anything else.
But there are other things you also need to consider. For example, the vast majority of exercise bike nowadays come with an on board computer of sorts. This can perform a whole array of functions – anything from telling you how fast you are cycling, to how much ‘ground’ you have covered, to the time it has taken you do cycle that far.
Most basic machines will also have a pulse function, usually monitored through the actual hand grips. Some more advanced models have chest straps that effectively do the same thing. Depending on the individual model you will get more or less information to work with.
Obviously if you want to have some serious workouts that involve you concentrating on improving your fitness bit by bit, then you might want a more complex on board computer that has more functions. For the average person, a basic computer with basic functions will probably do just fine.
It goes without saying that you want to be as comfortable as possible when you are using your exercise bike. If the saddle is too uncomfortable or you can’t set it at the right height for your needs, then you are never going to fully enjoy your workouts on the machine.
This is why it pays to find out how adjustable the various parts are. The saddle varies a lot in its shape too, which is why you might sit on one exercise bike and find it very comfortable, while another one might be exceedingly painful! This is why it is always a good idea to try before you buy.
The handlebars are also sometimes adjustable to a certain degree, but again, are they going to be good enough for your needs?
The pedals are not as problematic though. You will usually find that they have an adjustable strap that goes over the top of your foot to make it fit more snugly. And they are sometimes weighted as well, so that it is always the right way up. This means you won’t need to spin the pedals with your feet in order to pop your feet in so you are ready to begin. It is a small point, but it can make a big difference.
What is magnetic resistance all about?
Now if you have read through some of our other items on this site, or indeed looked in a catalogue which has exercise bikes for sale, you will often see the phrase ‘magnetic exercise bikes’ used.
So what does this mean?
Well it refers to the way this particular exercise bike works. Think about what happens when you put two relatively weak magnets together. They attract each other of course, but you can move them fairly easy against each other while they are still touching.
Now imagine having two very strong magnets that have attracted each other. In this case you may still be able to move them, but they will be a lot harder to shift. And what does that mean? Quite simply it means that you will have to work your muscles much harder to be able to move the magnets – hence you are getting a much harder workout.
If we compare this analogy to the actual exercise bike, we can see that a magnetic bike enables us to vary the degree of the workout we can get. Sometimes it might be an easy one, but if we adjust that resistance we can get a much tougher workout and work up more of a sweat in the meantime!
Now obviously when you buy your exercise bike you might want to stick to easy workouts to begin with. You won’t want to make life too difficult and indeed you shouldn’t start off making things too hard for yourself as you can end up straining muscles.
But over time, if you make good use of your bike and don’t let it gather dust in the corner of the room, you will find that what used to be a difficult workout now feels like an easy one. And if you have a bike that uses magnetic resistance, then you will certainly feel the benefit over a longer period of time. This is because you will gradually get to the stage where you can make the workout harder, in order to get even stronger muscles all round.
Think of it as going up a hill. To begin with, if you aren’t used to cycling, you would stick to mainly flat ground and enjoy a nice bike ride that way. But once you get used to that you might start looking for gentle hills so that you can test your stamina a bit more.
And then over time you will gradually get to the stage where you can tackle even bigger hills. You can get that same effect from an exercise bike if you learn how to use it in the right way with regard to the resistance it is offering you.
What about that on board computer?
Yes, they can look a little complicated at times, can’t they? Not to worry though, you can find out a lot by visiting some online stores (check out the range we have researched for you in our ‘Shop Now!’ section) and looking at all the information they give you on the computer that comes with each bike.
Some of them offer little more than a digital display that scrolls through the various functions offered by the bike. So you will be able to see how fast you are pedalling, how many calories you have burned and so on. But there is nothing beyond that.
However, the more expensive the bike becomes (generally speaking) the more involved the computer is likely to be. Some of them are pre-programmed with a number of tasks or programmes that you can do to build up your stamina and fitness in various ways. You will find that different manufacturers also have different ways of creating their computers, so each one has a unique look and feel. Make sure you shop around to get something that you personally like the look of, and you think you can understand and work quite easily. It shouldn’t feel overly complicated as you won’t want to fiddle around with it while you are pedalling!
As you can see, when it comes to getting an exercise bike it can feel as if you are walking into a minefield. You almost don’t know which way to turn in order to get the right bike for you.
That’s why it pays to think about what you need from your bike. There is no point getting one that has all the bells and whistles on it if you really aren’t going to use it too often. If you want a serious workout three times a week though, then you might well get your money’s worth from it.
You will of course get to know what each manufacturer tends to make as well – check out our articles which delve into the different brands of exercise bike – so you might get a liking for one in particular and you can look through their range.
All in all though, there is no doubt that an exercise bike can be one of the best pieces of home exercise equipment you can buy. So long as you make regular use of it you will soon find your fitness levels increasing – and it doesn’t take that long to start seeing an improvement either.
So whether you end up sitting on your upright bike and looking out of the window while you pedal, or you are reclining on your recumbent bike, make sure you have chosen the perfect bike for you and your needs.