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How to choose the best exercise bike for a cardio workout at home

Different types of stationary exercise bikes are suited for different fitness levels and workout goals. This article helps you navigate the variety of models in the cycling market to pick the best option.

An exercise bike is a great addition to your home gym that enables you to get a regular cardio workout at home. You will save time on commuting and will be able to train regardless of the weather conditions. If you are trying to choose the best exercise bike, you can be overwhelmed by a variety of models in the market. Different types of exercise bikes offer different training perks and are suited for different workout styles. You will need to consider your fitness level, workout goals, home space, health conditions, and personal preferences. 

Indoor cycling bike

Indoor cycling bikes most accurately recreate the experience of outdoor cycling. These bikes are good both for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and endurance cardio exercises, and they are the most commonly found bikes in cycling studios.

 

An indoor cycling bike allows you to sit or stand during the ride. The handlebars of this type of bike are usually at the same level as a bike seat or slightly higher, and you cycle with your back tilted between 45 to 15 degrees depending on your fitness level and the power output that you want to achieve.

 

The flywheel is the main mechanism of the indoor cycling exercise bike, storing the rotational energy that is generated as you pedal. It is also the heaviest element that weighs at least 30 pounds and contributes to the bike’s stability.

 

Bike resistance imitates the hill climbing experience, allowing for a more diverse and intense workout. Exercise bikes can use friction or magnetic types of resistance. Friction resistance uses felt or rubber pads friction along the flywheel to adjust the intensity of your ride. Magnetic resistance is a more advanced technology that creates a smoother experience with endless resistance options. Magnets, in combination with a flywheel, resist your bike’s turning mechanism. Adjusting the resistance settings on the bike results in a change in the level of electric current passing through the magnets, inducing a stronger or weaker magnetic force. This allows more precise and incremental control of resistance levels and a smooth ride.

 

Here are the key factors to pay attention to when you are choosing an indoor cycling bike:

 

Adjustability

 

Fully adjustable seats and handlebars can be adjusted both vertically and horizontally. Some exercise bike models may have limitations on how much they can tilt.

 
Resistance

 

The wider range of resistance levels you have, the more diverse and close to outdoor cycling your experience will be. Magnetic resistance is the quietest, but is generally more expensive than mechanical flywheels with friction resistance.

 

Screen or device holder

 

A built-in screen or a spot to place your phone or tablet will allow you to connect to online indoor cycling classes, fitness apps, and TV shows or podcasts for entertainment during workouts.

 
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity

 

The latest exercise bikes allow you to stream programs and connect cycling apps and devices such as a heart monitor.

 
Membership or subscription

 

Some bikes, like CAROL Bike or Peloton Bike, grant you access to additional features with paid subscription. With Peloton membership you get access to their library of on-demand and live workouts while CAROL Bike provides AI-personalization, your detailed performance dashboard and a library of science-backed workouts.

 

Warranty

 

The cost of an indoor bike can vary greatly from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on its functionality and equipment quality. The standard warranty usually lasts 2 years but some manufacturers may extend it up to 5 years. This is one of the factors to consider before choosing which model suits you the best.

Indoor bikes, such as CAROL Bike, are excellent for both high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and endurance cardio exercises.

Upright bikes

Upright bikes are designed for seated workouts only and allow you to cycle with a straight back. This is a perfect choice for beginners and individuals who want comfortable training without engaging in high-intensity exercise.

 

Keeping your back straight prevents potential lower back pain. However, such a position produces less power output than a tilted forward one, allowing for a more relaxed pace.

 

This type of stationary bike comes with a screen and allows tracking parameters similar to indoor cycling bikes, including resistance, time, speed, and calories burned. Some upright bikes also offer a built-in heart rate monitor so that you can stay in the right zone during your cardio workout. Contact heart rate monitors are usually found in handlebars.

Recumbent bike

Recumbent exercise bikes allow cycling in a semi-reclined position for even lower-impact training. They come with a larger seat and a comfortable backrest to give you better back support and take pressure off your neck and knees. Recumbent bikes offer 2 sets of handlebars—1 at the front display and another along the sides of the seat. This makes them optimal for people with back problems, joint issues, or pre-existing injuries. Recumbent bikes provide a great cardio workout for older adults, people with disabilities, or those recovering from injuries.

 

Compared to an upright bike, recumbent bike training focuses more on the glutes (bottom) and the lower stomach muscles. Some recumbent exercise bikes even have a built-in elliptical so you can diversify your workouts.

 

Recumbent bikes usually take up more space than other types of exercise equipment.

Air bike

If you are ready to take your cardio fitness and muscle strength to the next level with a resistance-driven workout, you might choose to go for an air bike. This type of exercise bike offers a full-body workout, engaging your core, lower and upper body. It is perfect for HIIT sessions and is popular in the CrossFit community. Air bike workouts are quite intense so they are more suitable for serious cyclists.

 

The flywheel of an air bike is connected to a large fan at the front (that’s why they are also known as fan bikes). The harder you pedal, the more resistance the fan creates, making your workout more challenging. Keep in mind that this bike is quite loud. The harder you exercise, the louder the fan is.

Foldable bike

If you don’t have much space for a home gym, you can still make the most of it with a foldable bike. A foldable bike is a simplified version of an exercise bike, so it may not have a variety of resistance levels and different workout modes. However, it still allows having a solid stationary cycling workout and can be stored away after training.

Remember, different types of exercise bikes offer different training perks and are suited for different workout styles.

Minibike

A mini exercise bike is another type of space-saving exercise bike. Usually, minibikes don’t have a seat and a set of handlebars consisting only of a flywheel with 2 pedals. They make it easier to integrate a cycling workout into your daily routine as you can pedal while sitting at your work desk or watching TV on your couch. Your workout intensity will be adjusted based on how hard you’re pedaling—the faster you pedal, the more resistance you’ll feel.

Of course, minibikes don’t allow performing a full cardio workout but they can still contribute to losing weight and improving your fitness.

 

Whether you are a professional athlete looking for advanced exercise or a beginner who wants to get started with low-intensity stationary cycling, you can select the most suitable option among the best exercise bikes. Regardless of your fitness level, you will lose weight and improve your cardiovascular system after a few weeks of regular training. For the shortest, most effective workouts, that are AI-personalized to your fitness level, check out CAROL Bike

CAROL Bike

CAROL is the smartest, most effective exercise bike that offers workouts backed by science. Its signature 5-minute Reduced Exertion HIIT (REHIT) workout gives you superior health and fitness benefits of regular exercise—in 90% less time.

 

REHIT is the next generation of HIIT. It is based on research that has shown that 2×20-second all-out sprints are enough to deplete up to 30% of the body’s glycogen stores and trigger metabolic changes that increase calorie afterburn and significantly improve aerobic fitness.

 

According to research, in just 8 weeks you can achieve a 12% increase in cardiorespiratory fitness and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by 62%. You will also burn more calories on a 15-minute CAROL ride compared to a 30-minute run

 

CAROL is the only exercise bike that accurately replicates REHIT outside of the labs. Its AI tailors resistance levels to a supra-maximal level depending on the individual physiology and current cardio fitness level. As you become fitter in the course of the training, it will make your workout harder to ensure the appropriate amount of challenge.

 

CAROL Bike learns to push you to your limit, taking resistance guesswork out of cycling. With each short, AI-personalized workout your optimal resistance is applied instantly, so every second matters. It is scientifically proven to give you the most effective workout.

 

 

Feel the benefits of CAROL Bike for yourself risk-free for 100 days. And if it’s not for you, return it and get a full refund.

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All our experts have MSCs in Exercise Science, and they’re here to answer your questions. Whether it’s about the science behind CAROL Bike, or general fitness advice, whatever’s on your mind—we’re here for you.

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