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EXERCISE BIKE BUYING INFORMATION & TIPS
Before buying an exercise bike, you have to figure out what your exercise goals are. Think about how often you are going to use it and how hard you want to push yourself. Once you are able to make realistic estimations regarding the usage of the machine, you will find it easier to choose the one that matches your workout goals.
PART 1: TYPES OF BIKES
Upright - if you are looking for a good way to burn calories, lose weight, or just something to keep in shape, upright bikes are the way to go. Their consoles, large, clear LCD screen, heart rate monitors and pre-programmed workout routines are tailored to fit just about anyone's need. The comfort level of upright bikes is high, and there is less chance of you injuring yourself. Upright exercise bikes are also a great entry level option for anyone who doesn’t regularly exercise. An upright bike is the best option if you are looking for a compact exercise bike. They are an excellent low-impact option that will improve muscle tone and strengthen your legs and also provide a great cardio workout. See our range of Upright bikes.
Studio - indoor cycling bikes have a weighted flywheel which is connected to the pedals through a transmission system that closely resembles that of a real bike. You can adjust the resistance via a knob, like you would change gears. These bikes also allow you to pedal while standing up, which gives you a much more intensive workout and engages different muscle groups. If you are an advanced user or a cycling enthusiast, indoor cycling bikes are a great fit. Not just because they mimic the sensation of real-life cycling, but because their resistance delivery is superior, especially at higher levels of resistance. They are also much smoother and more natural than upright bikes. See our range of Studio bikes.
Recumbent - These bikes provide a similar type of workout to the upright exercise bike but allow you to sit in a position which supports the back. The choice between an upright or recumbent exercise bike normally centres on exercising comfort – recumbent seats resemble a chair rather than a saddle. The focus of the exercise tends to be slightly more on the glutes and has slightly more impact on the lower stomach muscles compared to an upright exercise bike. People who are recovering from knee or back injuries can benefit from a recumbent bike. See our range of Recumbent bikes.
Air – this type of exercise bike is not built around a flywheel. Instead, it uses a huge resistance fan. The fan itself is connected to the pedals via a belt and pulley system. When the fan starts to turn, and your speed increases, so does the air resistance on the blades of the fan. Air bikes do not have preset electronic programs, so it's up to you to make your own workout and choose the resistance level with your pace. An air bike is a low-impact alternative to running that can keep you out of the cold during inclement weather and give you an effective conditioning workout no matter your level of experience. See the Taurus Ergo-X Air Bike.
PART 2: WEIGHT LIMIT AND WEIGHT OF BIKE
Stability is one of the most important aspects of an exercise bike, since the last thing you want is to injure yourself when riding your bike. To determine how stable the bike is, check out how much it weighs - the more the bike weighs, the more stable it will be. For heavy bikes, there have to be transport wheels included, otherwise you will have a tough time moving your machine from one place to another. Lastly, make sure that your weight isn’t above the maximum user weight.
PART 3: PRICE
How much can you spend? This is the most basic and important way to narrow down your search. In the world of fitness equipment, exercise bikes tend to be quite affordable, with recumbent bikes at lower price points and spin bikes at middle to higher price points. At Powerhouse Fitness we have fitness equipment suitable for every budget.
PART 4: SPACE
Where will you use the bike? Do you have a dedicated home gym space or will you need to move the bike around? Size and ease of mobility can be a significant consideration for many buyers. Upright bikes tend to be smaller and more compact, where as recumbent bikes tend to be larger.
PART 5: RESISTANCE
Exercise bikes come with a variety of resistance types. Most exercise bikes will offer a magnetic resistance, which allows for a greater range of resistance levels and more workout options, in addition to quiet operation and less wear-and-tear on the bike itself as it utilises a no-contact brake system. Magnetic resistance also provides greater ease-of-use, as users simply push a button on the console to increase or decrease their resistance level. Some exercise bikes use a direct tension resistance operation, which requires a manual adjustment, usually controlled by a knob near the handlebar. An exercise bike with around 16 difficulty levels is a good starting point. The cardiostrong BX70i Upright Exercise Bike features 32 levels of resistance!
PART 6: FLYWHEEL
The flywheel, in it's essence is a metal weighted disk which is usually located at the front of the bike. It controls the bike’s resistance and determines how smooth and consistent your ride will be, depending on the flywheel weight. As the pedals turn, the weighted flywheel creates momentum which again gives the user a realistic riding experience The heavier the flywheel, the more powerful and steadier the movement. The size of a flywheel is generally measured in either kg or pounds; you should expect a reasonable quality machine to operate from at least a 6kg one. The benefit of a larger flywheel is primarily for a smooth motion and quiet operation. For studio bikes, the flywheel will be much heavier for a movement that more replicates a road feel. The Bodymax B15 Indoor Exercise Bike features an impressive 20kg flywheel.
PART 7: ADJUSTMENTS
It is important to choose a bike whose height is easily adjustable. This adjustability will allow riders of all heights to easily use the equipment, an especially critical factor if more than one user will be riding it. It is of course important that all riders are comfortable on the exercise bike, as exercise equipment that is not comfortable to use will be unlikely to see much use.
The seat pad is the most important part to adjust. Recumbent bikes adjust horizontally because they’re horizontally aligned. Upright cycles are the ones to watch, all adjust vertically but try and pick one out with horizontal adjustment too so that you’re not leaning too far away or too close to prevent back injuries.
Adjustable handlebars are not as common, they are particularly important on indoor bikes because you rely on the handlebars to lean on during high intensity bursts. For other versions you can get by without them adjusting though. Pedal straps must also be adjustable, this is mandatory for most models now, as it’s important to be able to secure your feet firmly into place otherwise you’ll never be able to pick up momentum with your feet slipping off the pedals.
PART 8: FEATURES
Console - Almost every exercise bike now comes with some form of console display, indoor cycles have basic displays that just provide a readout of vital workout feedback such as your time, distance and calories. On recumbent and upright bikes, look for multiple feedback options that track your workout progress and give you key details in an easy-to-read display. More advanced bikes will offer a wider range of information, including heart rate, watt output, workout level and more.
Workout Programs - This useful feature can automatically vary the intensity of your workout by changing the resistance. You also can make adjustments manually. Exercise programs can be an antidote to boredom and may encourage you to stick with your exercise routine. Look for programming that offers options for interval training.
Controls and Console Gadgets - Look for well labelled, intuitive controls: up/down buttons, quick one-touch speed and incline buttons, and large, easy-to-read displays that show multiple functions (time, speed, heart rate, calories) at once.
Seat - It is also important to make sure that the seat fits you properly, and that the seat is large enough to accommodate riders of all sizes. If you purchase the exercise bike from a traditional store, be sure to try it out and make sure the seat is comfortable.
Pedals - The pedals of the bike should be easy to operate and provide smooth operation. In addition, many models of exercise bike provide an easy way for users to strap their feet into place while riding. SPD, or Shimano Pedal Design, is the most widely used clipless pedal system. The system's clips accommodate SPD cleats. Dual-sided pedals provide riders with cycling shoes or gym shoes with a means to properly attach to the pedal.
Extras - A growing number of manufacturers load the treadmill console with gadgets such as speakers, water bottle holders, touch screens, web browsers, tablet holders, and even an LCD TV.
PART 9: APPS
iFit Live is compatible with NordicTrack and ProForm treadmills. Ifit Live allows you to define your fitness goals and a personalized 8-week training program that is downloaded onto your treadmill. It also includes audio coaching. In addition, through Google Maps you can trace a route anywhere in the world and iFit Live will simulate the terrain by adjusting the incline. You can even get a street, satellite or earth view of your progress. There is a library of predetermined routes through famous city landscapes and trails in National Parks. NordicTrack also sponsor races, where you can watch your progress in comparison to the leader and the pack. The races usually draw vbetween 2,000-3,000 participants.
Bit Gym offers “destination tours” in 70 different locations. You can run through the streets of Chicago, jog along the beaches of Sydney, or explore trails in the Swiss Alps. Bit Gym uses the camera on your smart phone or tablet to analyse how fast you’re moving. If you slow to a walk, the video slows to reflect your change in pace.
LFconnect allows Apple and Android devices to interact with compatible Life Fitness equipment. It tracks progress, lets you access personalised workouts, provides motivation and engagement, and serves as an in-workout display on cardio equipment.
SOLE Fitness App works with SOLE Fitness treadmills. The app turns your device into a control centre for your workout that also records your workout data to help track your performance over time. This data can be transferred to other open source fitness applications, such as Fitbit, iHealth, RECORD, and MapMyFitness, to keep all your stats in one place for easy management.
Kettler S-Fit App has three different modes. In the FUN mode you can experience an effective workout, where the focus is very clearly on enjoying the training. Choose a meal or drink and simply work off the calorie. In the CHALLENGE mode, there are realistic training routes with different terrain profiles. The EXPERT mode provides a detailed record of all important training data. As a result, competitive athletes can always keep an eye on their pedal, pulse and heart rate, the distance covered and their exact speed, and they can complete the predefined programme more professionally.
PART 10: RECOGNISED BRANDS
Powerhouse Fitness carries many easily recognised exercise brands with long-standing reputations. You may be familiar with brand names like Life Fitness, ProForm, NordicTrack, Sole Fitness, Matrix and Kettler. Powerhouse Fitness also carries exclusive brands such as, BodyMax,Taurus and cardiostrong. We handpick only the best models.
PART 11: REVIEWS
If testing an exercise bike isn’t feasible, then it’s important to read reviews. Many of our exercise bikes include reviews with honest feedback from customers.
PART 12: WARRANTY
Look for bikes than are ensured to last and cover parts replacements for at least a year. The better the warranty, the more durable your bike will be and less maintenance it will require down the road. It is important to look for an exercise bike whose manufacturer provides a lengthy warranty - at least two to three years of coverage on major moving parts and a year for labour. The warranty period will of course vary from model to model and manufacturer to manufacturer.