Best Cheap Exercise Bikes for Home Use
Get spinning for less with Cheapism's picks for the best cheap exercise bikes. We've reviewed the best exercise bikes under $400, from recumbent bikes to upright bikes and spin bikes. Bonus picks include an air bike, an elliptical exercise bike, and an exercise bike for under desk use.
What We Considered
Fitness and consumer product review sites such as Top Fitness Mag, Consumer Reports, TopTenReviews, BestReviews, and Reviews.com regularly test and review the top exercise bikes, but the most extensive feedback comes from consumers who buy and use the exercise equipment at home. Most exercise bike reviews and recommendations from consumers appear on the websites of large retailers such as Amazon and Walmart. Reviews most frequently address assembly, as well as ease of use and comfort. Most indicate that riders are satisfied with our top picks despite occasional operational and mechanical flaws.
We Looked At
A comfortable and satisfying fit is paramount; without that, you're unlikely to be consistent with your workout. To ensure a good fit and allow for peak performance, a good cheap stationary bike should be height-adjustable. That is, you should be able to raise and lower the seat in order to pedal smoothly and comfortably. A seat that's too high will force you to overextend your knees and ankles; with a seat that's too low, your knees will hit the handlebars -- particularly if the seat cannot be adjusted horizontally. Ideally, the handlebars should be adjustable as well; vertical adjustment is common, but some handlebars can be adjusted in four directions, which is important for those with shorter arms.
Recumbent and upright bikes offer different benefits that consumers may want to keep in mind too. For instance, the back support on a recumbent bike reduces pressure on the hands and wrists. A low center of gravity allows these bikes to pick up speed more easily. Consumers who choose recumbents often do so because of common problems including pain or numbness in the rear end or crotch when riding upright bikes; wrist and hand problems such as pain, nerve trauma, or carpal tunnel syndrome; and neck, shoulder, and back pain. For some men, issues of impotence and/or prostate enlargement may be a consideration.
An upright bike provides a workout more consistent with outdoor riding, as it positions the rider similarly and targets more muscle groups. Recumbent bikes work primarily glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles. Spin bikes may prove the most uncomfortable for some users, due to the more hunched position. Spin workouts are probably not the best for those suffering from knee problems, due to the higher speed of repetitions and because they entail lots of pedaling while standing.
From beginners to experienced pros, most riders appreciate an LCD screen that tracks fitness stats. Some bikes also come with preset exercise programs that help orient workouts around specific fitness goals, such as fat-burning, cardio, or interval training. The best bikes can also pair (preferably wirelessly) with popular fitness apps, such as MyFitnessPal, GoogleFit, Apple Health, and MapMyRun/Ride for added workout options and advanced tracking capabilities. Some even provide users the option to bike through virtual landscapes and share rides with friends in real time.
Even on a cheap exercise bike with a bare-bones console, being able to visually monitor speed, time, distance, and calories burned provides incentive to keep moving. A heart rate monitor in the hand grips, or the ability to pair the bike with a telemetry strap, is a must-have feature for some workout buffs, and a few affordable exercise bikes fill the bill. Just don't believe all the stats that are displayed. We read more than a few 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. Moreover, like any electronic component, the console is 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.
The more compact a bike is, the easier it is to store. Upright bikes are smaller and lighter than recumbents and take up less floor space. A foldable model may be an ideal option for apartment dwellers or users with small homes, although the inconvenience of setting it up and taking it down may deter some people from sticking with their exercise routine. Most of the bikes we researched also include wheels to make them more portable, whether for better positioning in front of a TV or getting the bike out of the room or into a corner when not in use. Just keep in mind that transport may not be as easy in practice as in theory: The longer lines of recumbent bikes can make them more difficult to move around corners and through doorways, and you'll certainly be toting more than 50 pounds. Although spin bikes have a smaller footprint, they tend to be on the heavier side due to their weighted flywheels and additional stability requirements; one of the models we chose weighs a hefty 115 pounds. Mini cycles, prized for their portability, typically weigh about 20 pounds, or even less, and can be stored under a desk or tucked away in a closet.
A well-designed cheap stationary bike -- particularly one with a belt drive and magnetic resistance -- provides quiet, smooth operation at all intensity levels and speeds. The noise from pedaling and spinning is somewhat subjective, but a good test is whether you can easily listen to music, carry on a conversation, or watch TV while riding. A majority of stationary bike reviews say this piece of home exercise equipment is fairly quiet. One notable exception: Air bikes are notoriously loud, with their cranking fans and the resulting wind (but you'll probably be working too hard to be watching a show at the same time anyway!).
Our Top Pick
For consumers looking for an exercise bike loaded with workout programs and extra features, the Schwinn 230 recumbent bike does not disappoint. Users say the multiple levels of resistance lock in quickly and range from light to "downright brutal," as one reviewer put it on Amazon. All of the stats on those worked-up sweats transfer easily to SchwinnConnect and MyFitnessPal accounts. The weight capacity is 300 pounds.
22 preprogrammed workouts.
20 levels of computer-controlled magnetic resistance automatically adjust during workouts.
Large, dual LCD screen offers a wide variety of stats, tracks goal achievement, and stores up to 2 rider profiles.
Hand-grip heart-rate sensors.
Convenience features include slider seat adjustment, 3-speed fan, media shelf, water bottle holder, built-in speakers, USB port for charging and data export, and transport wheels.
Robust warranty: 10 years on the frame, 2 years mechanical, and 1 year electrical.
No cushion on the seat or backrest, although the plastic is contoured and vented for coolness.
May not suit tall people; riders over 6 feet say they barely fit even with seat as far back as possible.
The Schwinn 170 is a loaded upright bike. Consumers rave about its 29 programs, sturdy build, and quiet ride. While there are a few complaints regarding quality issues, the many positive reviews and perks more than compensate, and the bike is solid enough to support riders up to 300 pounds. Experts at Top Fitness Magazine claim that this exercise bike "probably has the best features and warranty that you will find at this price."
29 programmed workouts.
22 levels of computer-controlled magnetic resistance automatically adjust during workouts.
Cushioned seat adjusts both horizontally and vertically; the angle of the handlebars can also be adjusted.
DualTrack console has two backlit LCD screens to display workout information and stores up to 4 rider profiles.
Convenience features include a 3-speed fan, a media shelf, a water bottle holder, built-in speakers, a USB port for charging, and transport wheels.
Bluetooth capability for wireless data transfer to multiple apps and connection to RideSocial for live riding with friends using virtual maps.
Can be paired with a chest strap for heart-rate monitoring.
10-year frame, 2-year mechanical, and 1-year electrical warranty.
A few reports of defective bikes; some riders note that the console positioning is slightly off and readings are not always accurate.
A handful of reviews complain that the seat is uncomfortable.
A no-frills favorite, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B1002 has earned praise from experts and hundreds of positive reviews from frugal consumers who love its sturdy build, smooth ride, and very budget-friendly price. The belt drive is a particularly welcome benefit for under $300. Although the handlebars may be a bit of a reach for some riders, users say they're well-designed and offer a good grip. Despite complaints that components may not be as sturdy as the frame, many satisfied owners, from novices to advanced cyclists, say this home spin bike more than measures up to the ones at the gym.
Smooth pedaling thanks to a 49-pound flywheel; belt drive for a quiet ride.
At 116 pounds, with a heavy steel frame and 275-pound weight capacity, it's more stable than cheaper bikes; users say they feel confident riding out of the saddle.
Horizontal and vertical seat adjustment.
Very easy to put together, according to reviews.
Wheels for transport and built-in water bottle holder.
No display console.
No media shelf (many users have attached their own phone and tablet holders).
Handlebars cannot be adjusted forward and backward.
Seat gets its fair share of complaints regarding comfort, despite its cushioning.
Short 90-day warranty; some complaints of the seat mount breaking and pedals coming off.
The Marcy ME-709 is a no-frills recumbent bike, but that's what many users like about it, according to online reviews. For the price, users say it's sturdy (the manufacturer claims it can hold up to 300 pounds, and heavier users suggest it can handle more) and they appreciate the overall quality. Even better, it's a cinch to set up. With support for the back and a reclined seating position, several seniors and some riders with injuries say the bike is perfect for their needs.
Quiet and comfortable, according to user reviews, with 8 levels of preset magnetic resistance.
Easy to assemble.
LCD screen to monitor stats like time, distance, and calories burned.
Weighted, counterbalanced pedals with adjustable straps for more secure ride.
Small enough for riders with limited space; wheels for easier transport.
Bike stays grounded, even during fast peddling.
Limited seat padding, according to reviews, so long rides may be uncomfortable.
Seat itself does not move forward or back; central rail is used to adjust the distance from the pedals.
No preset workout programs.
No heart-rate monitoring.
Exerpeutic 250XL Review
The Exerpeutic 250XL strikes a great balance of sturdiness and stowability. This simple upright bike is easily folded, rolled, and tucked away, yet it has a 300-pound weight capacity. Considered a "starter" bike, it may disappoint more experienced riders, but by and large, average users with more tempered expectations have been really pleased with this bargain-priced buy, according to online reviews. Shorter people may want to try this one on for size before purchasing, however.
A favorite with many users due to its small footprint and foldable design for easy storage; earns 5 stars from more than 3,500 reviewers -- nearly two-thirds of all reviewers -- on Amazon.
8 levels of magnetic resistance.
High-resistance crank system allows for smooth, and challenging, pedaling.
LCD screen to monitor stats.
Hand-grip heart-rate sensors.
V-belt drive offers a quiet workout; many users say they're amazed at the low noise level.
Weighs just 39 pounds; wheels for easy portability.
Not designed for intense workouts.
Some riders find the seat uncomfortable and too wide.
Pedals are too far forward for some users; others say the seat height doesn't adjust enough for shorter riders.
Some complaints of defective bikes and loud squeaking noises.
Short 1-year limited warranty for defects; 90 days on parts and workmanship.
Although consumer reviews for the Bladez Fitness Echelon GS indoor cycle are fairly scarce and slightly mixed, it impresses with its low-priced, high-quality build (it can support up to 275 pounds) and shows up on many fitness enthusiasts' lists of top exercise bikes. Based on comparative testing, Reviews.com rates it the "Best Basic Spin Bike," lauding its quiet, smooth ride and stability. While it may have some drawbacks, shoppers will be hard-pressed to find a similar exercise bike in this price range with similar features and performance -- certainly not with a comparable warranty.
Consumers appreciate the compact design.
Heavy, 40-pound flywheel for a smooth ride; belt drive keeps the noise level low.
Sturdy steel frame and aluminum pedals (with toe baskets).
Seat and handlebars adjust both vertically and horizontally.
Basic console displays calories, distance, speed, and time.
Wheels for transport and built-in water bottle holder.
Lifetime warranty on the frame; 1 year on the parts and computer.
Resistance levels aren't marked, and some users say the increments are too steep.
Some complaints of an uncomfortable seat; many users recommend buying gel padding.
Nowhere to put a MP3 player or tablet.
A few users complain of defective products and poor customer service.
Although there are relatively few negative reviews about overall quality, the slightly clunkier chain drive and lack of a performance monitor on this Marcy Club Revolution spin bike does not make it competitive with the best cheap indoor cycles. The incredibly hard seat also does little to encourage users to stay in the saddle and stick to exercise goals. Many owners suggest swapping it out.
Heavy, 40-pound flywheel provides a smooth ride.
Sturdy and capable of supporting a maximum weight of 300 pounds.
Seat can adjust both vertically and horizontally; handlebars are also adjustable.
Many reviewers consider this a top-quality bike that's built to last.
Comes mostly assembled; wheels for transport.
Users complain that the seat is extremely uncomfortable.
No computer; can't track workouts.
Nowhere to put an MP3 player, book, or tablet, though there is a water bottle holder.
Chain drive makes it noisier than a belt-drive bike.
Several reports of pedals breaking off.
Other Products We Reviewed
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.
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.
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.
NordicTrack Upright GX 2.0 Review
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.
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.
The signature feature of the dual action Schwinn Airdyne AD6 is the fan: The harder you pedal, and the faster you work those arms, the more resistance is generated. It can deliver a killer workout for users looking to build up their fitness. Just keep in mind that the noise level will build up as well. While it's not the cheapest Airdyne exercise bike Schwinn offers, the mid-range AD6 provides a nice ratio of features to price.
Fan allows for unlimited resistance.
Exercises both upper and lower body at once, or separately.
Pairs with Polar chest straps for heart-rate monitoring.
Console displays stats such as time, distance, RPM, calories burned, power, and pulse.
Generously sized seat with extra padding for comfort.
Compact design and transport wheels for easy storage.
10-year frame, 2-year mechanical, and 2-year electrical warranty.
LCD screen is not backlit, making it difficult to read, according to some reviews.
Riders have complained of trouble tightening the seat, which adjusts only up and down, not horizontally.
In a few instances, parts were broken or missing upon arrival.
Reports of parts breaking after only a couple of weeks.
Consumers looking for a full-body, low-impact exercise regimen at home will be tempted by the ProForm Hybrid Trainer, a recumbent bike and elliptical machine in one. With 16 preprogrammed workouts, this elliptical exercise bike offers plenty of options to get the heart rate up and burn calories. Users who subscribe to iFit have access to an even wider array of workouts and fitness tracking. One caveat: Given the plethora of parts, both mechanical and electrical, there's a lot that can go wrong. But at such a low price, many consumers have been up for the risk -- and pleased with their purchases. (Costco members can pick up this bike for even less (est. price $330).
16 programmed workouts.
Hand-grip heart-rate monitoring.
Adjustable console displays speed, time, distance, calories burned, power, and heart rate.
16 levels of digital magnetic resistance.
Convenience features include slider seat adjustment, a tablet holder above the console, a water bottle holder, built-in speakers, and transport wheels.
iPod-compatible and Bluetooth iFit-enabled.
Padded seat adjusts both vertically and horizontally.
Supports riders up to 350 pounds.
5-year warranty on the frame; 90 days for parts and labor.
Large footprint: nearly 6 feet long and just over 2 feet wide.
Given the size and weight (estimated at more than 130 pounds), some users say this bike is not easy to move.
Seat back is not adjustable.
Challenging to put together; many users recommend professional assembly.
Reports of damaged or defective bikes and squeaky or unstable operation.
For those looking to infuse some exercise into a sedentary lifestyle or recover after an injury, the Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Mini makes a convenient companion, with its light weight, incredibly quiet operation, and a top-mounted handle for easy portability. Our pick for the best mini exercise bike supports up to 220 pounds and has most of the same features for nearly half the price of the popular DeskCycle model (starting around $159). It can be used at home or in an office and does double duty by accommodating arm workouts.
Small and compact; weighs only 21 pounds.
Sturdy and smooth pedaling experience.
Quiet; ideal for office spaces.
Can be used with both feet and hands, for an upper body workout.
8 levels of adjustable resistance.
Small LCD screen displays calories, distance, speed, odometer, and time.
Convenient carrying handle.
Shorter pedal motion than a traditional bike.
Higher than average pedal positioning (to accommodate arm exercises) could be a challenge underneath some desks.
Some complaints that it tends to slide during use, particularly at higher tension levels.
Short 90-day warranty.