Pedal exercisers — also known as mini exercise bikes or under desk bikes — are the perfect solution if you’re tied to a desk all day, have no room for bulky fitness equipment, and find crowded gyms intimidating.
In this review, we cover key considerations and features, and provide in-depth reviews of the best pedal exercisers on the market.Let’s get into it.
Best Pedal Exerciser Overall: DeskCycle
Best Pedal Exerciser Honorable Mention: MagneTrainer-ER
Best Pedal Exerciser for the Money: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B0418
Best Folding Pedal Exerciser: Platinum Fitness Fit Sit Deluxe
Best Single Piece Pedal Exerciser: Vaunn Medical Pedal Exerciser
What is a Pedal Exerciser?
A pedal exerciser is a portable equipment designed with crank pedals that are pedaled in a stationary position for short cardio exercises. When tucked under the table, most people refer to it as an under desk bike or mini exercise bike.
They target your calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes, and help with blood circulation and muscle endurance. They can also be used for your upper body, just place it on top of a desk/table and pedal with your hands/arms.
They also work well for rehabilitation since they’re low impact and low intensity. Knee replacements, shoulder injuries, you name it.
What Makes a Good Pedal Exerciser?
Most pedal exercisers are quiet/smooth, have bidirectional pedaling (pedal forward/backward), are easy to assemble, and come with pedal straps. Here are some things to look for that can really make a difference:
Some pedal exercisers can be folded down flat which makes them extremely easy to travel with. Something to keep in mind if you have multiple desks or intend on using it outside of the office.
Will help with stability and balance when pedaling. The platform should be wide enough so that it can be used comfortably.
To help you monitor workout metrics like calories burned, total distance, speed, and time. Having this information at your fingertips makes goal setting/goal tracking much easier.
The pedals should be low enough so you can easily move your feet when exercising under a desk/table. Also, adjustable foot straps will help keep your feet secure which can make the movements smoother/more comfortable.
Pedal both ways
Some pedal exercisers have a bidirectional pedal motion which means they move forward and backward. This allows for increased mobility and pedaling in both directions will help balance out the stress on your joints.
Pedal exercisers aren’t meant for heavy/intense usage but it’s important that the resistance levels are adequate enough to challenge you. Try before you buy so there are no surprises.
The best resistance types are magnetic because they’re frictionless and help reduce friction and noise. This makes for easy indoor usage and makes multitasking easier. Also, they require less maintenance and you won’t have to worry about replacing or greasing up any brake pads.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Pedal Exerciser
Here’s what else to keep in mind when shopping for a pedal exerciser:
Although compact and light, pedal exercisers are best for portability and storage purposes, you may be sacrificing some usability. Make sure it has rubber fitted on the feet for additional grip and to avoid unnecessary sliding.
Some pedal exercisers require assembly whereas others come pre-assembled which will spare you some initial setup time, and ensure a quick start to your workout.
Most mini desk bikes come with some sort of a warranty, usually 1-year, but is it limited or full? Limited usually means it only covers the frame for 1-year. Full warranties will cover everything: frame, parts, labor, shipping.
Some pedalers come with a 30-day money back guarantee. This is normally found on premium products that are more expensive but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for as it can help alleviate some risk when buying online.
Best Pedal Exerciser Reviews & Recommendations
Best Pedal Exerciser Overall:
- STAY FIT IN THE OFFICE - Our high-quality portable...
- PATENTED MAGNETIC RESISTANCE MECHANISM - Quiet, smooth,...
- EIGHT CALIBRATED RESISTANCE SETTINGS - Choose from very...
- 1000 MINUTE, FIVE FUNCTION LCD DISPLAY - Monitor your...
- GREAT SERVICE - We want you to love your DeskCycle! Our...
The DeskCycle is our number one pick because it has the lowest pedal height on this list at only 10 inches which allows it to fit comfortably under a variety of desks. It’s also really wide giving it more stability so you aren’t rocking and tipping the thing over as you pedal.
It pedals both forward and backward which gives you more mobility and has a frictionless resistance (magnetic) so you don’t have to worry about replacing any brake pads. Plus, it makes for a smooth/quiet ride so you aren’t bothering people around you.
The other differentiator is the mini display that tracks up to 1,000 minutes of exercise time giving you calorie count, speed, time, and overall distance.
It’s a bit on the pricier side but if you’re looking for the best overall product, this is your best bet. It has a full 1-year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee.
Runner-up pedal exerciser with display:
- Compact, lightweight commercial grade arm and leg...
- Patented magnetic resistance; More than twice the...
- Sturdy steel base and wide footprint for excellent...
- Adjustable Velcro straps on pedals to accommodate all...
- Electronic monitor displays Speed, Distance, Time and...
The MagneTrainer could be a top pick. We put it second because it’s 5 inches taller than the DeskCycle (15 inches vs. 10 inches) which isn’t as convenient to transport and is more limiting when it comes to fitting it under a desk.
The MagneTrainer beats out the DeskCycle with resistance levels. It has a much wider range and isn’t limited to 8 like the DeskCycle which gives you more flexibility while exercising. You can do shorter rides at a higher resistance or longer rides at lower resistance. Up to you.
Everything else is virtually the same: price, full 1-year warranty, money-back guarantee, magnetic (frictionless) resistance, and overall weight (23 lbs). If you prefer a taller machine and more resistance levels, this is a great choice.
Best Pedal Exerciser for the Money:
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B0418
- SAFETY STRAPS: Pedals work well with both feet and...
- ADJUSTABLE TENSION: 8 Levels of tension for a versatile...
- EASY TO READ LCD: Displays Time, Speed, Distance, ODM,...
- DURABLE DESIGN: Supports 220 lb maximum user weight...
Comes with a display and is much cheaper than the DeskCycle and MagneTrainer. The other major differences are the handle, warranty, and overall weight.
It comes with a handle for easy transporting which the other 2 models don’t. It’s a couple of pounds lighter (21 pounds) and has a 1-year limited warranty which means it only covers the frame, not parts (only 90 days on parts). Oh, and no 30-day money-back guarantee. Other than that it’s quite similar to the others.
If you want to save some money and aren’t too concerned about a lesser warranty/ money back guarantee, this is a great choice.
Best Portable/Folding Pedal Exerciser:
Platinum Fitness Fit Sit Deluxe
- Fit Sit deluxe pedal exercisers are a perfect companion...
- Five function LCD readout displays exercise time,...
- New Cool Rev technology prevents dangerous overheating,...
- Quick folding frame makes the Fit Sit easy to store and...
- Includes Anchor strap to prevent the bike from sliding...
The Fit Sit by Platinum Fitness is great for a few reasons. One being the price… tough to beat. Another reason is that it’s lightweight (only 5 lbs) with a collapsible/foldable frame which makes it easy to travel with.
The only downside with such a lightweight frame is that it will slide easy. But to solve for that, it comes with an ‘anchor strap’ that secures it in place to your chair/desk so you can pedal securely. The biggest drawback is that the pedal straps aren’t adjustable.
If you’re on a tighter budget, aren’t looking for heavy/intense usage, and need something convenient and light to travel with, this is a great choice.
Best Single Piece / Fully-Assembled Pedal Exerciser:
Vaunn Medical Pedal Exerciser Chrome Frame
- PHYSICAL THERAPY - Provide gentle low impact exercise...
- ARMS & LEGS EXERCISER- Can be used as an arm exerciser...
- TENSION ADJUSTABLE - Adjust the strength of your...
- SAFE & STABLE- Made with single strong chrome frame...
- LIFETIME DURABILITY & RUST RESISTANT FRAME-...
If you want something basic, inexpensive, and have no interest in even the slightest of assembly, then the Vaunn pedal exerciser is your best bet.
It’s one single piece of solid steel tubing (hollow, not solid) and only weighs 4 pounds. It has rubber grips for extra grip and can last you a lifetime.
To sum up, if you’re someone that’s normally tied to a desk in a stationary position and want to increase your mobility and shed a few pounds, a pedal exerciser will help you turn that dream to a reality.
Our top pick is the DeskCycle Desk Exercise Bike because it’s low to the ground (10 inches), has 8 levels of resistance, and an online calorie calculator that will help you get the exact statistics of your workout session.
It’s smooth/quiet so you won’t bother people around you, easy to assemble, and is heavy enough that it won’t slide out under you.
Which pedal exercisers are you considering buying and why? Let us know in the comments below!