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5 Best Exercise Bikes to Lose Weight in 2021 + Buying Guide to Help You Choose!
It happens to all of us at one time or another: you take your shirt off, look down, and realize all those hamburgers are beginning to catch up with you.
Putting on a few extra pounds is easy (and fun!), but what’s the best way to get rid of them? Try taking an exercise bike for a spin. Bike workouts burn off fat in a hurry — and the best exercise bikes to lose weight below will keep you riding for years to come.
There are quite a few options out there — we looked at 43 in all — but our favorite was the Concept2 BikeErg 2900.
The bikes on this list might not blow your hair back while you pedal, but they will boost your metabolism without forcing you to venture out in public in Spandex.
1. Concept2 BikeErg 2900 Stationary Exercise Bike — Best Exercise Bike Overall
A quiet home exercise bike with a sturdy aluminum frame and smooth pedalling experience
While it’s expensive, the Concept2 BikeErg 2900 is our favorite exercise bike on the market today, largely due to the way in which it’s able to replicate the real-life bike-riding experience.
While Concept2 is better-known as a rowing machine company, they’ve taken many of the advances they use on rowers and applied them to this stationary bike.
For example, it has a clutched flywheel that will spin even when you stop pedaling, allowing you to take a break and coast for a bit. It provides steady and consistent resistance as well, so your ride won’t be herky-jerky in the least.
The seat and handlebars are both easy to adjust to give you a customized fit, making it comfortable for both short and tall riders alike. It has a sturdy, 68-pound aluminum frame that can withstand all sorts of strain (like those extra cheeseburgers), and there’s no concern that it will collapse beneath you if you really lean into a sprint.
A 68-pound stationary bike might sound like a real monster, but this machine is easy to move around, as the built-in casters allow you to drag it in and out of the center of your room with ease. Assembly is a breeze as well, so you won’t need an advanced engineering degree just to get a workout in.
It’s remarkably quiet while in use; this allows you to watch TV or listen to podcasts without having to turn the volume up to eardrum-splitting levels.
Beyond the price, the biggest issue I found with it is that the seat is on the smaller side. Users with larger posteriors (not me, of course) may want to buy a pad or even replace it with a seat that provides more cushioning.
What I Liked:
- Provides realistic riding experience
- Easy to adjust seat and handlebars
- Sturdy aluminum frame
- Very quiet while in use
- Not difficult to move around
- Assembly is a cinch
What I Didn’t Like:
- One of the most expensive bikes out there
- Seat is very small
2. Echelon Smart Connect EX5 Fitness Bike — Best Bike for Making Exercise Fun
A cardio bike that manages to be entertaining and motivating at the same time
Let’s face it: riding an exercise bike can be dreadfully boring. That’s one of the biggest reasons many people let their bikes start to gather dust (or turn them into coat racks).
That’s not an issue with the Echelon Smart Connect EX5, though. This smart bike has enough computer power to land the space shuttle, but you hopefully won’t need to use it to do that. Instead, you can utilize all that technology to attend virtual spin classes, play music, and provide beautiful scenery to help the miles go by faster.
It doesn’t come with a built-in screen (although they offer more expensive models that do), but it has a holder that’s perfect for just about any tablet. And while they push you to use their proprietary app, you can choose other options (including the Peloton app) from the Google or Apple stores.
That’s good, because their app is more expensive than most, despite not being obviously better. Regardless of which software you choose, you’ll have plenty of outside motivation to push yourself as hard as possible.
This isn’t just a glorified entertainment center, though. It boasts 32 different resistance levels, and it’s incredibly easy to cycle through them. There’s not a lot of rattling and shaking while you pedal, which is impressive given the fact that this bike is on the smaller side.
It’s a very sturdy model, and while there’s not really any reason to abuse it (I know, I know — there’s always a reason to abuse exercise equipment), it can stand up to quite a bit of punishment.
What I Liked:
- Filled with smart technology
- Great for people who lack motivation
- Not pinned down to single app
- Offers 32 different resistance levels
- Very sturdy and durable
What I Didn’t Like:
- Screen not included
- The companion app is pricier than similar options
3. XTERRA Fitness FB150 Folding Exercise Bike — Best Portable Exercise Bike
A nifty little home exercise bike that won’t actually take up a ton of space in your home
The XTERRA Fitness FB150 doesn’t have very many bells and whistles, but what it does offer is a killer workout at a great price. You can burn just as much fat on this thing as you can on the pricier models above — you’ll just have to provide your own entertainment and skimp on a few details.
The LCD monitor on the handlebars is bare-bones, as you might expect, but it will tell you everything you truly need to know, like your speed, distance traveled, and calories burned. It’s very easy to read, even in direct sunlight.
It’s a very quiet machine — not to the same extent as the Concept2, perhaps, but it won’t disturb your neighbors and you can watch TV while riding it. My family couldn’t hear me using it in the other room, so it’s likely safe to use late at night while others are sleeping as well.
There are 8 levels of resistance to choose from, which is significantly fewer than what you’ll find on more expensive machines. However, unless you’re an incredibly dedicated rider, those 8 levels should be plenty (and if you are a dedicated rider, spending more on a better machine is probably worth it).
One of its biggest advantages is just how small and lightweight it is. You can put it pretty much anywhere in the house, as it only takes up a few feet of floor space, and it’s easy to move at just 32 pounds.
Best of all, when you’re done with it, you can fold it up and slide it under a bed or inside a closet.
The small footprint has a built-in downside, however. Larger users (both heavier and taller) may not have as much room as they’d like while using it. While I was using it, I was told I looked like King Kong on a tricycle; in a related story, I’m currently shopping for a new family.
What I Liked:
- One of the most affordable machines on the market
- Quiet while in use
- Doesn’t take up much space
- Can be folded up for storage
- Clear LCD monitor provides all necessary information
What I Didn’t Like:
- May be too small for larger users
- Only 8 levels of resistance
- Not very many bells and whistles
4. DMASUN Indoor Cycling Bike Stationary — Best Spin Bike
A moderately-priced option that mimics real bike riding
The DMASUN Indoor represents a good middle-of-the-road option between the bargain-basement XTERRA and some of the more pricier options on this list. This isn’t just a compromise bike, though, as it’s an excellent machine in its own right.
It has a heavy-duty steel frame that allows it to support a good amount of weight (they claim up to 330 pounds, but it can likely handle more than that) without being too monstrous to move.
You won’t find much in the way of built-in entertainment here, but it does have a tablet mount that allows you to set up your own little media center. The mount is very secure, but the machine doesn’t wobble much anyway, so that shouldn’t be much of a concern. Beyond that, there’s a basic LCD monitor with all the usual stats on tap. Don’t put it near a window, though, because glare can make it nearly impossible to read.
The 42-pound flywheel is heavier than most, and it will reproduce the feel of an actual bike reasonably well. This makes the DMASUN a good choice for regular riders who are having to take the sport indoors for whatever reason.
For whatever it’s worth, this is one of the most attractive bikes out there, as the sleek red-and-black design really helps it stand out from most of the other bland options on the market. That won’t help you lose weight, but at least you won’t feel the need to hide it when company comes over.
Putting it together isn’t too terribly difficult, but you’ll need a little bit of DIY experience, as the instructions aren’t helpful. The biggest design flaw is in the handlebars; you can adjust them up or down but not front or back, and that seems to especially inconvenience shorter people.
What I Liked:
- Can support a good amount of weight
- Sturdy tablet mount
- Heavy flywheel creates realistic biking experience
- Sleek and attractive
What I Didn’t Like:
- LCD monitor difficult to read in direct sunlight
- Assembly instructions are poor
- Can’t move handlebars forward or back
5. SCHWINN IC4 Indoor Cycling Bike — Most Customizable
One of the most comfortable exercise bikes on the market — if you can avoid those water bottle holders
SCHWINN is one of the oldest and most trusted names in stationary bikes, so it’s no surprise that they’d have an entry on this list. The IC4 represents a leap into the future compared to some of their previous offerings.
The resistance is magnetic rather than friction-based, and it has a staggering 100 levels of such resistance. Granted, there’s not much difference between many of the levels, but it’s nice to know you can start off small and gradually increase it until you’re dealing with some serious resistance.
The full-color display allows you to do all sorts of things, including compete in virtual races or explore exotic parts of the world. It also offers all the usual stats, of course, but you can see the entire globe without ever leaving your living room.
The monitor is supposed to be compatible with just about every exercise software out there, but that’s not quite accurate. It struggles with apps like the popular Zwift, as the bike doesn’t give precise enough measurements for the app to work properly.
The power measurements in general seem to be a bit off, which can make it difficult to plan your trips and chart your progress.
The riding experience is smooth and comfortable, though. The pedals have toe cages that don’t get in the way of your stride, and they did a good job of keeping my feet in place (I never slipped off while using it).
There are some other nice features — like dumbbell cradles — that come in handy without being make-or-break details. This doesn’t always work in your favor, though; I kept hitting my knees on the dual water bottle holders, for example.
One thing that’s worth its weight in gold, though, is the ability to move the seat up-and-down as well as forward-and-back, allowing you to put yourself in the most comfortable stance possible.
What I Liked:
- Massive amount of resistance levels
- Impressive full-color display
- Can pair with a variety of exercise apps and softwares
- Toe cages keep feet in place well
- Seat moves up-and-down and back-and-forth
What I Didn’t Like:
- Power measurements are somewhat unreliable
- Buggy when paired with some popular fitness apps
- Water bottle holders get in way of stride
How to Choose the Best Exercise Bikes to Lose Weight
While I believe that the Concept2 BikeErg 2900 is one of the the best exercise bikes to lose weight out there today, it’s not going to be the right fit for everyone. That’s why it’s important to do your own research and decide what you’re looking for in a bike before you buy anything.
Below, I’ll highlight some of the questions you should ask yourself before deciding on any particular bike.
There are several different types of exercise bikes out there, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses.
The most common is the upright bike. These look like regular bicycles, with pedals under your feet, and you sit upright on them. They engage quite a few muscle groups, and they’ll require your core to work hard, helping tone your midsection.
Recumbent bikes, on the other hand, allow users to lean back, with the pedals in front of them rather than underneath. This puts less stress on the joints, but these bikes offer a less-engaging workout. They might be the best exercise bikes to lose weight for seniors, but if you’re really looking to burn calories, you’d be better off with an upright or indoor cycle model.
Indoor cycle bikes (or spin bikes) are becoming increasingly popular, largely due to the influence of companies like Peloton. These mimic competitive bike riding models, and they have an elevated seat, which is designed to force users to really lean into the ride. You can lose weight the fastest on these, but the workouts might be too intense for some.
There are other types, like under-desk models that only have pedals, but the three above are the ones you should care about the most if you’re looking to lose weight.
Different types of exercise bikes have different types of resistance. These are the most common:
- Weighted flywheel: these produce the most realistic bike-riding experience, but they also had quite a bit of heft to the bike.
- Direct contact: these bikes also use flywheels, but instead of weights, they use brakes to make the bike harder to pedal. They offer more resistance than any other type, but they also wear out faster.
- Magnetic: these use powerful magnets to slow down the flywheel. They’re quiet and low-maintenance, but they’re also usually the most expensive.
- Fan-based: many older bikes use giant fans instead of flywheels; the harder you pedal, the more air resistance you experience. It’s hard to get a consistent amount of resistance from these, but hey, they cool you off while you work out.
You can find bikes to fit just about any budget, as they range from a few hundred bucks to several thousand.
Fair warning: the expensive bikes are usually better than the cheap ones, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great workout on a budget bike. It will most likely mean that you’ll have to forgo a lot of accessories, though, some of which can be quite useful.
Also, keep in mind that it’s totally fine to get a cheap bike to start. Then, if you enjoy the workouts and you think you’ll stick with them, it will be easier to justify buying a pricier model (and less likely that you’ll turn that new bike into an expensive doorstop).
Most bikes nowadays are fairly small and lightweight, so you can move them out of the way when you’re done with your workout.
However, some are smaller than others, and you can find some that can be folded up and put away completely. That can be very convenient, but those are usually a bit less sturdy than their non-foldable counterparts. If you’re a bigger person, you might want something more formidable.
If the bike isn’t comfortable to use, you’re not going to use it. It sounds stupidly simple, but you’d be surprised how many people think that they have to suffer to get a good workout.
The seat is the most important factor in terms of comfort. It needs to be big enough to support your rear, and your butt shouldn’t go numb or anything like that after sitting on it for a while.
Beyond that, pay attention to your stride; this will be determined by how far away the handles and pedals are. You can customize this on most bikes, but if you can’t situate it in a way that makes it comfortable for you, you’ll need to find another option.
Bells and Whistles
There are so many accessories to choose from on modern exercise bikes — everything from multimedia screens to water bottle holders.
Most of these aren’t truly necessary, but many of them can make your workout much more tolerable. If that makes you more likely to stick with it, then they’ll be worth every penny.
When shopping for an exercise bike, the most important thing is to find one that you’re comfortable with — you know, so you’ll actually use it.
We feel the Concept2 BikeErg 2900 will be the best, due mainly to the fact that it faithfully replicates the actual bike-riding experience. There are definitely other models out there that are nearly as good, however.
At the end of the day, all that matters is that you put in the time and burn off the calories — then you can reward yourself by getting on your real bike and pedalling down to the ice cream shop.