Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle Review

From $154 Best

Magnetic resistance makes for smooth and nearly silent operation of this lightweight and cheap recumbent bike. With its eight resistance levels, it's a good choice for beginning exercisers and those recovering from injury.

According to Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle reviews, users who are seniors, recovering from injury, or new to exercise are really happy with this model. The step-through frame is easy to get into and out of for those with limited mobility in their legs and the resistance levels aren't too taxing, say Marcy Mag reviews on Walmart and Amazon. Users with arthritis, repaired hearts, aging bones, and muscular challenges attest to its value -- both in terms of price and utility. Marcy Mag reviews also comment on the recumbent bike's ease of assembly, large data display, smooth and quiet operation, and well-positioned armrests that enable users, if there's a need, to push up when finished exercising. On the other hand, some reviews note that the design doesn't accommodate people with short legs and the resistance levels may seem wimpy for people who are already in decent shape.

The Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle (starting at $154, Amazon) is a basic, limited-frills exercise bike with eight preset resistance levels that you can change by turning a knob in the shaft. There are no preprogrammed or programmable workouts -- you set your own pace and rhythm through every session. The Marcy Mag has an electronic console that offers the standard readout information, including the speed at which you're virtually traveling, distance covered, time elapsed, and calories burned. The large seat is well padded and adjustable, but can't be moved close enough to the pedals for some; one user sits a bit forward by placing a pillow at her back. The recommended weight capacity is 250 pounds. This model weighs less than 60 pounds and boasts a fairly small footprint (47 inches long -- it fits easily into a car trunk). Bottom wheels let you move it about with ease. It comes with a two-year warranty.

In short, the Marcy Mag is a comfortable, lightweight, durable, and cheap exercise bike that works well for the casual user. More committed exercisers may want to invest in a heavier, fuller-featured model that offers more strenuous workout options.

Schwinn 240 Recumbent Review

From $399 Best

Sturdy, smooth, comfortable, and quiet as a mouse, this recumbent exercise bike wins rave reviews from experienced and novice riders alike. Numerous preset workout programs and resistance levels and an adjustable seat with lumbar support keep 'em movin'.

Schwinn 240 Recumbent Exercise Bike reviews rate it highly for solid construction, quiet operation, and silky ride. It also wins points for comfort and the range of workout options. In a review, experts at Treadmill Reviews HQ say the adjustable padded seat might be too narrow for those at the higher end of the 300-pound weight limit, but the lumbar support in the seat back more than compensates for this minor flaw. Users posting Schwinn 240 reviews at Walmart like its sturdy build and smooth motion, and several report improvements in their health when used regularly without any stress on their joints. For the most part, assembly is straightforward; a few reviews, however, say it may be necessary to take apart certain components in order to connect others. And while users appreciate the multiple workout programs and resistance levels, a number of stationary bike reviews on Amazon say the directions for the console, which controls these features and displays key metrics, are quite confusing.

For its moderate price, the Schwinn 240 (starting at $399, Amazon) is a fully decked-out recumbent exercise bike. It offers 18 different workouts and eight courses over which you can travel virtually at any of 16 resistance levels. (Of course, you can always do your own thing.) The programs can track your progress over time and can be set for two users. The backlit LCD readout reports metrics such as time elapsed, interval time, distance, speed, and calories burned; a heart rate monitor works through the handlebar grips. The bike has a 20-pound weighted flywheel designed to mimic the feel of a regular bike and the seat can be set to 10 different positions to accommodate longer or shorter legs. Wheels for easy portability, a water bottle holder, reading rack, and basket round out the feature set. There's a five-year warranty on the frame and one year on the mechanicals and electronics.

Overall, the Schwinn 240 delivers on features, performance, and durability. It's about as close to a gym-quality machine as you can get for a modest home-gym price.

Where to buy

NordicTrack Upright GX 2.0 Review

From $294 Good

With lots of preset workouts and 20 resistance levels, heart-rate monitoring and an iPod port, this stationary bike keeps things interesting. It's big and sturdy, and features a seat that adjusts both horizontally and vertically.

The consensus view, as stated in NordicTrack GX 2.0 reviews, is that this upright exercise bike is a solid piece of in-home gym equipment. Users posting reviews on Sears like the quiet operation, challenging workouts, and relatively easy assembly (one buyer, however, says poor fit and finish on the parts sent him to his workshop several times to make necessary adjustments). A few NordicTrack GX reviews mention comparison shopping before settling on this model, which seemed to surpass other low-cost exercise bikes in terms of price, overall quality, and aesthetics. That said, several exercise bike reviews complain about finicky electronics; one consumer says the console failed within eight months of purchase and less than 20 hours of use.

An upright exercise bike, the NordicTrack GX 2.0 (starting at $299) mimics an actual bicycle but with weighted pedals and a magnetic resistance flywheel. There are 20 resistance levels and 18 pre-programmed workouts, including hill-climbing and interval training for a wide range of cardiovascular activity. For an extra $100 or so, you can buy a module with workouts led by Jillian Michaels and route maps provided by Google. The handlebars can be adjusted and the seat moves up and down and backward and forward -- it's wide and well padded, although we did read a couple of NordicTrack GX 2.0 reviews that grumble about the lack of comfort. There are speakers and a port for an iPod, a shelf to hold the player or reading material, and a cardiogrip monitor in the handlebars. The readout reports data such as pulse rate, elapsed time, distance, speed, and calories burned. The pedals have straps to hold your feet in place, and one review on the company's site notes that the pedal stance might seem wide to anyone who's more familiar with road bikes than fitness bikes. The weight limit on this model is 275 pounds.

With an impressive lifetime warranty on the frame and one year for parts and labor, and positive reviews from users, the NordicTrack GX 2.0 seems like a safe buy. Reported problems with the electronics, though, consign this model to second place on our list of best cheap exercise bikes.

Where to buy

ProForm 290 SPX Indoor Cycle Trainer Review

From $297 Good

An upright stationary bike that's a great indoor training alternative, this is really a spinner bike that operates by friction with unlimited resistance. The seat's a bit hard for some, but the bike provides an excellent workout.

The ProForm 290 SPX (starting at $297, Amazon) is technically a spinner bike, albeit a downscale version of the stand-up-and-ride models found at many gyms. If you push yourself hard enough, say most ProForm 290 SPX reviews, you get a terrific workout and generate quite a sweat. In ProForm reviews on Amazon, users comment approvingly on the tight friction-based resistance, which is set with a tension knob, and roundly praise its user-friendly assembly, solidity, and worth for anyone who's into serious training. Two critiques, though, waft through the bulk of stationary bike reviews. On Walmart, users generally rave about the exercise bike but groan about what they consider to be an exceedingly hard seat (one likens it to torture) and a loud, irritating noise while in motion. Similar comments show up in exercise bike reviews on Amazon, where one user even posted a video with audio accompaniment to prove how grating the noise can be; another suggests some Teflon spray on the moving parts might help. We also read a few reports about a bit of wiggle in the handlebars during high intensity spinning and some comments from shorter users who couldn't get the seat low enough for comfortable pedaling, although others say they manage just fine.

There's nothing fancy or electronic about the ProForm 290 SPX. It's completely mechanical, and there's no console to track and display your achievements. The seat adjusts horizontally and vertically, but as noted above, such flexibility doesn't compensate for the hard feel or insufficient accommodation for some shorter users. The weight capacity is 250 pounds. About the only frills on this model are a holder for a water bottle and front wheels that make it easy to move around. It measures 47 inches long and weighs close to 100 pounds. There's a five-year warranty on the frame and 90 days for parts and labor.

This is a low-cost spinning bike for dedicated users that won't disappoint. If you don't plan to ride standing up, though, you might want to invest in a softer seat or a good gel pad cover. And if you're sensitive to noise, ear plugs might come in handy.

Stamina 15-0200 InTone Folding Recumbent Bike Review

From $153 Think Twice

A very low-cost semi-recumbent bike, this model suits average-size people who don't expect to do any hard riding. Its small footprint and folding design have strong appeal, but issues with build quality give us pause.

Although the official name asserts the Stamina 15-0200 InTone (starting at $153, Amazon) to be a recumbent exercise bike, it's more a semi-recline bike; that is, a cross between an upright and a recumbent. Stamina 15-0200 InTone reviews on Amazon and Walmart average a four-star rating, but there are a fair number of negative reviews posted on each site that raise significant issues. What users like about this low-cost exercise bike is its compact size and folding design, ease of assembly, and quiet operation. What they don't like, according to reviews, is the build quality. Some users report that the exercise bike wobbles and shakes, parts don't fit together snugly, springs come loose, and tension in the resistance doesn't hold. A review on Dick's Sporting Goods says the console failed and replacement parts were no help. Others report a burning rubber smell and pedals that fell off. Even positive reviews generally say this model won't provide a heavy-duty workout but is a boon to beginning exercisers who don't intend to use it daily at maximum speed and resistance.

The design mashup of the Stamina 15-0200 InTone, with its seat higher than the wheel like an upright and a backrest for comfort and support like a recumbent, works well for some users. Although the height of the seat is adjustable, some short riders along with those who are quite tall report the range is inadequate for their heights. The electronics on this model are strictly no-frills; the small LCD readout includes elapsed time, speed, distance, and calories burned, but many Stamina 15-0200 InTone reviews insist these metrics are guess work at best, and possibly just flat wrong. The pedals are non-slip (no strap or toe cap to keep your feet in place) and resistance is controlled by a knob. The maximum capacity weight is 250 pounds. The Stamina 15-0200 InTone comes with a three-year warranty on the frame and 90 days for parts.

The low price on the Stamina 15-0200 InTone is attractive enough, but too many durability issues surface in reviews to suggest caution when making a buying decision.

Buying Guide

Choosing an Exercise Bike

Whether you're rehabilitating a sore knee, training for your next triathlon, or just starting out with an exercise or weight-loss regimen, a cheap exercise bike is a valuable addition to your home gym. Medical experts and trainers praise exercise bicycles, aka stationary or workout bikes, for their low-impact workout (gentle on joints) and ease of use. A cheap exercise bike is far less costly than a gym membership, and the convenience factor increases the chances you'll actually use it. An in-home exercise bike lets you fit in a 30-minute workout while watching your favorite TV show, saves you the bother and expense of special clothing or shoes needed for other forms of exercise, and frees you from worries about the weather. Better yet, some experts actually recommend an exercise bike that's cheap, particularly if you're a newbie and not sure whether you'll stick with it. The most important thing, they say, is to get up and get moving.

Staying healthy and keeping motivated doesn't have to mean spending up to $4,000 for a spinner bike with thousands of customized workouts and a built-in high-resolution data/entertainment screen. It's equally possible to get a good workout with a cheap exercise bike that costs less than $400, although suggests springing for a pricier model if you expect to ride more than five miles a day. Major players in the home exercise bikes market include Cybex, Healthrider, Kettler, LifeCycle, Nautilus, NordicTrack, Precor, ProForm, Schwinn, and Stamina.

Types of Exercise Bikes.

There are several types of cheap exercise bikes. Upright exercise bikes mimic the experience of an actual bicycle. Spine specialists say the forward leaning position on an upright exercise bike is particularly good for people with spinal stenosis or osteoarthritis. Spinner bikes are a type of upright bicycle that's acquired a following in recent years, particularly in gym exercise classes and among die-hard cyclists who use it as an indoor training alternative. Recumbent exercise bikes let you sit back while pedaling with your legs out front. Recumbent exercise bikes are recommended for seniors, people with joint problems, and those just starting out, but may provide a less strenuous cardio workout. Dual action exercise bikes have handlebars that move, thus incorporating your upper body and delivering a more complete workout. Most, but not all, dual action models are priced beyond the Cheapism range. And finally, you can always convert a bicycle you already own into an exercise bike with a stand that costs about $50.

Regardless which type of cheap exercise bike suits your fitness level and goals, it should possess several critical qualities. Chief among them is comfort -- because any exercise bike that irritates is one you won't use -- so pay attention to the seat and the bike's size. You should be able to sit for extended periods and be confident that your knees won't hit the handlebars and your feet can reach the pedals. (Consumer Reports found that the specs for some models overstate the maximum user height that can be comfortably accommodated.) Also check the maximum weight a cheap exercise bike can handle. Expensive, gym-quality stationary bikes are good up to 350 pounds but the maximum weight on cheap exercise bikes usually stops at 250 or 300 pounds. If possible, test-ride the equipment before committing.

Also be on the lookout for certain features. A good cheap exercise bike can be adjusted to your improving fitness levels by letting you increase the resistance you feel as you pedal. Many cheap exercise bikes come with a number of preset resistance levels as well as workout programs that can be customized or ignored. Consoles with a workout tracker that keep tabs on your progress are common, and a few cheap exercise bikes even come with heart rate monitors and screens that display calming scenes (like vacation spots), video games, or workouts led by fitness gurus.

Among the many brands and models out there, we found several high-quality, cheap exercise bikes that should suit your frugal budget. Our two favorites are recumbent exercise bikes that give value for the price. The Schwinn 240 Recumbent (starting at $399) stands out for the variety of workout programs, build quality, and the ease of kicking it up (or down) a notch, and the Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle (starting at $154) wins points for its low price and quiet and smooth operation. Our runner-up choices include the ProForm 290 Indoor Cycle Trainer (starting at $297), a bare-bones, mechanical upright spinning cycle that provides an intense workout, and the NordicTrack Upright Exercise Cycle GX 2.0 (starting at $299), which boasts plenty of challenging preset programs and a rich feature set. We also found one exercise bike that isn't all it could be. The Stamina 15-0200 InTone Folding Recumbent Bike (starting at $153) scores with its small footprint, storability, and ease of assembly but is sabotaged by durability issues.

Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table

Exercise Bike Reviews: What We Considered

When purchasing a cheap stationary bike, there are some must-have features, some nice-to-have features, and some forget-about-it features unless you've got a fatter budget. Your priorities will determine the type of exercise bike you buy. Ergonomics, workout programs, resistance, pedals, gadgets, and footprint are among the factors you'll be juggling.

A few fitness websites test and review the top exercise bikes each year, but we found the most extensive feedback comes from consumers who buy and use the exercise equipment at home. On the whole, exercise bike reviews indicate that consumers are pretty happy with their purchases. The key is choosing one of the top exercise bikes that suits your workout needs. And that decision, say exercise bike reviews, also involves ease of assembly, comfort, and durability.


The key to successful exercycling is a comfortable fit. For starters, a good cheap stationary bike should be height-adjustable. That is, you should be able to raise and lower the saddle (i.e., seat) so you can pedal smoothly and comfortably. A seat that's too high forces you to overextend knees and ankles; a seat that's too low means your knees collide with the handlebars. The Schwinn 240 Recumbent (starting at $399), Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle (starting at $154), ProForm 290 SPX Indoor Cycle Trainer (starting at $297), and NordicTrack Upright GX 2.0 (starting at $299) all feature adjustable seats; on the latter two, that means both horizontally and vertically.

Still, not every model can accommodate every person. In a review on QVC of the Stamina 15-0200 InTone Recumbent Bike (starting at $153), a 5-foot-8 rider says he's raised the seat as high as possible and doubts it would suit anyone taller. And shorter riders may find the Marcy Mag a bit awkward, according to reviews posted on Amazon.

A comfortable seat is another requirement, regardless whether your exercise sessions are long or short. Recumbent exercise bikes, like the Marcy Mag and semi-reclining Stamina 15-0200 InTone, generally feature a seat back, and some, like the Schwinn 240, add lumbar support. Upright bikes, like the Nordic Track GX 2.0, feature a seat that's much like a standard bike saddle.

Specs for the stationary bikes we researched all say the seats are padded, but some users have their own opinions about just how much padding is present. Several reviews of the ProForm 290 SPX on Sports Authority, for example, complain about the hard feel of the seat and suggest swapping it out for a gel seat or one with more padding. On the other hand, experts say hard seats on spinning bikes like the ProForm 290 SPX encourage riders to do most of their exercising standing up, which is the intended position.

Workout Programs.

Preset exercise bike programs help orient your exercise sessions around specific fitness goals, be they fat burning, cardio, or interval training. The recumbent Schwinn 240 features 18 built-in exercise bike programs and the upright NordicTrack GX 2.0 boasts 18 (a separate iFit Live module that includes workouts provided by Google Maps and fitness trainer Jillian Michaels ups the ante by more than $100). Alternatively, you can customize an exercise bike program with these two stationary bikes or just hop on and improvise. With the recumbent Marcy Mag, the spinner-type ProForm 290 SPX, and the semi-recline Stamina 15-0200 InTone, you're on your own entirely.

We found that exercise bike programs appeal to users, although the sheer number and complexity of the electronic settings can be daunting. Numerous reviews of the Schwinn 240 say the instructions are so confusing that users couldn't figure out how to get the programs going. One review of the NordicTrack GX 2.0 says the ten hill-climbing and eight interval exercise bike programs are as many as you'd ever need.


The intensity of your workout depends in large part on the resistance in the pedaling. As your strength improves, you'll want to up the exercise bike resistance so that you're working at your optimum. If you prefer interval workouts (resistance changes throughout the session to keep things interesting), electronic adjustment is helpful; you'll find this feature on the Schwinn 240 (16 preset resistance levels) and NordicTrack GX2.0 (20 preset levels). Adjusting the resistance on the Marcy Mag (eight preset levels) requires manually turning a knob. With the ProForm 290 SPX, just flip the pedals over. All that's needed to increase resistance in the Schwinn Airdyne (starting at $589) is more oomph in your pedaling; here, wind is the resistance source rather than the usual magnetics found on the best stationary bikes.

For some exercisers, though, the preset exercise bike resistance levels have dubious value. Several reviews of the Marcy Mag question whether the exercise bike's resistance levels are sufficient for serious fitness gains, noting that the difference between levels seems minimal. Several user reviews of the Stamina 15-0200 InTone suggest that people who are in really good shape might max out quickly with this model. Hard-core athletes and generally fit exercisers will probably get the best results from an upright stationary bike, like the ProForm 290 SPX spin bike, or a model with more exercise bike resistance levels, like the Schwinn 240 or NordicTrack GX 2.0.


If you're pedaling like crazy on your workout bike, you don't want to worry about your feet slipping off. Some low-cost models, like the Stamina 15-0200 InTone, have non-slip foot pedals. The best exercise bikes feature more secure confinement methods. The ProForm 290 SPX spinning bike has a toe cage, essential if you're pedaling while standing. Others, such as the Schwinn 240, Marcy Mag, and NordicTrack GX 2.0, have pedal straps that wind around your feet for a snug fit.

Console and Gadgets.

The best exercise bikes typically come with a console that displays a variety of useful information, such as resistance level, workout module, calories burned, speed, time elapsed, and, depending on the model, heart rate. All the workout bikes we researched except the ProForm 290 SPX and Stamina 15-0200 InTone feature data-laden consoles.

But don't necessarily believe what's displayed. We read numerous reports from slightly irritated users who insist that the readouts, especially for metrics like calories burned, pulse rate, and heart rate, aren't particularly accurate. (Among the models on our best exercise bikes list, only the Schwinn 240 and Nordic Track GX 2.0 track heart rate.) Moreover, as with any electronic component, the consoles may be susceptible to malfunctions -- and repairs can be pricey. If an impressive screen with readouts that truly reflect your progress is important to you, be prepared to pay up for a higher-end model.

Extras found on the best exercise bikes, such as an in-console CD player, MP3 port, speakers, fan, and LCD screen or TV, certainly aren't necessary but can add fun and comfort to your workout. They also add to the base cost and are rarely found on lower-end workout bikes. Still, some budget models include a few frills that enhance enjoyment. The ProForm 290 CSR Recumbent Bike (starting at $400) barely qualifies as cheap with a starting price of $400, but it does feature a small monitor that plays, among other things, two interactive games that reward your hard work (i.e., faster pedaling) with easier play. The console on the NordicTrack GX 2.0 breaks out of the cheap pack of best exercise bikes on our list with a sound system and port for an iPod. The Schwinn 240 comes with a reading rack, a basket to store reading materials, and a water bottle holder. The ProForm 290 SPX also provides a holding place for liquid refreshment.


Upright bikes are smaller and lighter than recumbents and take up less floor space. The Stamina 15-0200 InTone folds into a compact unit for easy storage. If your home is small, this may be a particularly important feature, although the inconvenience of setting up and taking down may deter you from sticking with your exercise routine. The larger workout bikes, like the Schwinn 240, Marcy Mag, ProForm 290 SPX, and NordicTrack GX 2.0, have wheels that allow you to move them out of the way.

Ease of Assembly.

The lowest prices for exercise bikes are generally found online, which means do-it-yourself assembly. Exercise bike reviews say the task is usually accomplished without much ado, but many note that two sets of hands are better than one (some instructions say likewise). Two people spent two hours putting together the NordicTrack BX 2.0, according to a post on the company's website, while assembling the Schwinn 240 takes about an hour and a half despite instructions that some exercise bike reviews on Amazon warn aren't particularly clear. Consumers say directions for the Marcy Mag are straightforward and construction requires about an hour. Rounding out and leading the field for user-friendly assembly are the ProForm SPX 290 and Stamina 15-0200 InTone. Exercise bike reviews on Buzzillions say assembling the ProForm 290 SPX is a no-brainer -- 15 minutes and six bolts, according to a couple of posts. Reviews on the Target site also say the Stamina 15-0200 InTone comes together in a snap.


There's no denying it -- if you're not comfortable on your exercise bike, you're less likely to use it regularly. Recumbent bikes earn the highest marks in the comfort zone because they're easier on your back and shoulders than upright models. The dual-lumbar support on the Schwinn 240 and adjustable fit for various heights win praise in exercise bike reviews on the Schwinn site, and the Marcy Mag scores with a rider whose review on Amazon asserts that it's more comfortable than furniture. One hefty reviewer suggests getting up every 20 minutes or so and putting a pillow between the seat and the back rest for added comfort.

The upright NordicTrack GX 2.0 earns stars for comfort, due partly to the horizontal and vertical adjustment options on the padded seat. A few users' exercise bikes review at Sears do gripe about the seat, though, but others high-five the comfort-enhancing adjustable handlebars. One reviewer writes that his legs don't get numb when riding this bike as they did with a different upright model.

Then there's the seat on the ProForm SPX 290. Although some purchasers understand that spinning bikes are used to best advantage in a standing position, rendering the seats superfluous, one customer writes in an exercise bikes review on Buzzillions that sitting felt like being on the short end of a wood plank. Reviews of top exercise bikes on Sports Authority also grouse about discomfort during extended, high-intensity workouts on this ProForm model.

The semi-recline design of the folding Stamina 15-0200 InTone fares less well on the comfort scale. Although many users like its easy-ride feel, taller users complain that the frame is too short In an exercise bikes review on Amazon, one handy purchaser tells of drilling an extra hole in the shaft to accommodate his extra height and another sets a book atop the seat. Other reviewers write of putting a small pillow on the seat for extra padding.

Noise Level.

A well-designed cheap stationary bike provides quiet, smooth operation at all intensity levels and speeds. The noise from pedaling and spinning is purely subjective, but a good test is whether you can easily listen to music, carry on a conversation, or watch TV while riding one of the top exercise bikes. In fact, the majority of stationary bikes reviews say this piece of home exercise equipment is fairly quiet.

Durability and Warranty.

Many consumers review products within the first few months of use, so it's hard to predict how well the top exercise bikes hold up to multiple users or years of wear and tear. Even if you're not spending a fortune on a commercial-grade machine, you don't want to end up with an expensive clothes rack after just a few months. We found at least some reports of breakage, odd noises, and related issues for most of the top stationary bikes we researched. On the whole, though, our picks seem sturdy and relatively durable as long as users don't push the maximum weight limit.

One exception may be the Stamina 15-0200 InTone. Merely looking at the average number of stars awarded this model in stationary bikes reviews suggests it could be a contender, but enough users report concerns about stability and build quality to keep it off our list. A number of stationary bikes reviews on Amazon, for example, say the Stamina 15-0200 InTone started making odd noises after just a few weeks of usage, others say the parts don't fit together snugly and the seat wobbles, and some report that the pedals fell off. The consensus is that this low-cost stationary bike may be okay for light to moderate workouts but not for daily workouts of an hour or more or for very tall or heavy riders.

Warranties vary on the models we researched. The NordicTrack GX 2.0 offers a lifetime warranty on the frame and one year on parts and labor. The Schwinn 240 provides five years on the frame and one year on parts and electronics. The ProForm 290 SPX offers a five-year warranty on the frame and 90 days on parts and labor. The Marcy Mag has a two-year warranty and the Stamina 15-0200 InTone offers 90 days on parts and three years on the frame.

Additional Products We Considered

ProForm 290 CSR Recumbent Bike Review

From $400

If you like to be entertained while exercising, the ProForm 290 CSR Recumbent Bike (starting at $400) is the model for you. ProForm 290 CSR reviews on Walmart and Sports Authority say this recumbent bike is easy to use, affords a good workout, and comes close to gym quality at a budget price. The ability to play interactive games that reward hard work by becoming easier is a big selling point; one user suggests it takes the mental sting out of the exercising grind. A port and audio for an MP3 player only add to the appeal, according to ProForm reviews. For all its virtues, however, a number of reviews grouse about assembly problems, particularly when it comes to the wiring that runs from the stand to the electronic console. A few reviews also note that the seat isn't as comfortable as it could be; two users say it tilts too far forward.

The ProForm 290 CSR is loaded with features. There are 20 preset workout programs and 16 resistance levels, an adjustable oversized seat with lumbar support, and wheels for portability. The weight capacity is 300 pounds. It comes with four interactive games that display on the console, which also provides readouts for speed, time, distance, calories burned, and heart rate (the sensors are in the handlebars). The ProForm 290 CSR is also enabled for iFit live, which includes an eight-week workout card with Jillian Michaels serving as your personal trainer. This recumbent bike comes with a five-year warranty on the frame and 90 days on parts and labor.

Once assembled, the ProForm 290 CSR runs smoothly and quietly. It sits at the very top of our price range but offers a few neat extras that may be worth the cost to some exercisers.