• Fri. Oct 23rd, 2020

Expert shopping: Best exercise bikes besides Peloton

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.

2. 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.

3. NordicTrack GX 4.4 Pro Exercise Upright Bike

While this $799 NordicTrack option is an investment, it’s relatively much more affordable than the $1,000-plus options we’ll be getting into below. A 5-inch display can show you stats like heart rate, distance and intensity. The bike is also equipped with trainer-created routines that adjust your workout as you go — NordicTrack adds at least one workout recommendation for you each day so it’ll take a while to run out of options.

4. Schwinn 170 Upright Bike Series (limited availability)

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.

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.

6. 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.

7. YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Bike Stationary

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.

8. Cyclace Exercise Bike Stationary

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.

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.

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.

9. 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.

10. Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX5S

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.

11. 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.

“When you have had enough indoor training, go outside and look around,” Goldman said. “You have to have both — good quality training, but also time where your soul connects and gets fresh air. Balance is critical.”

Exercise bike alternatives

You can still cycle without a bike — in a sense.

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. It connects to your smartphone to track your stats, as well sync with your steps and burnt calories. 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.

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.

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.

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