The more you sweat, the better your workout is. This is particularly true with an upright exercise bike. A true powerhouse in terms of burning calories, this handy machine can save you money on gym memberships and help you shed pounds. Read on to find out more about the best upright exercise bikes for your home gym.
Benefits of an Upright Exercise Bike
- Great for weight loss. Cardio workouts like biking are great for shedding pounds. An upright exercise bike offers unparalleled sweat sessions for maximum results. You can also vary the intensity of the workouts with ease, spicing up a session with a standing workout or slowing the pace down and watching TV.
- Low impact exercise. Stationary bikes are great for protecting the joints. Using one as your primary fitness tool means you’ll be less prone to develop ankle, knee, and hip injuries. Less impact also means you’ll be able to cycle for longer periods, burning more calories.
- Boost cardiovascular health. A healthy heart is important for a healthy life; regular cardiovascular training improves both! An upright bike will make it easy for you to meet the recommendations of the American Heart Association: at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.
- Improve your mental health. Post-exercise endorphins are known to help improve your mood. Regular sweat sessions on your upright bike can help you produce these. You’ll also feel more relaxed and experience improved sleep with consistent workouts.
- Faster physical rehabilitation. Rehabilitation post-injury can be stressful and take time. An upright bike at home can speed up your rehab process through regular low-impact workouts that promote blood flow to the affected area, speeding up the healing process. Always consult your physical therapist or your doctor.
Types of Upright Exercise Bikes
Upright Stationary Bikes
Similar to road bicycles, these machines consist of a traditional bicycle seat located almost directly over the pedals. The bike handlebars are nearly parallel with the seat, forcing the body to bend forward while pedaling. The overall feel is similar to riding a normal bike, minus the need to balance. These bikes are sturdy and stable, allowing you to use both standing and sitting positions to change things up.
Indoor Spin Cycles
Although very similar in appearance to an upright stationary bike, the inner workings of an indoor cycle are completely different. Using a weighted flywheel system to create resistance, these bikes are made to mimic road biking as much as possible for spinning, making them very popular in the pro-cycling community. Simple and straightforward to use, indoor cycles provide one of the best possible cardio workouts out there.
Dual-Action Stationary Bikes
Designed to provide a great workout for both your lower and upper body, a dual-action stationary bike consists of a conventional stationary bike and moving handlebars. These provide resistance for the upper body while the legs are pedaling the bike. You can also lock the handlebars in place and use only the bike portion of the machine. The versatility of this type is unmatched. However, if you’re looking for a semi-realistic biking experience, this isn’t the machine for you.
Top Upright Exercise Bike Brands
Originally founded in 1895 as a bicycle company, Schwinn has been making fitness bikes since the 1990s. Currently headquartered in Vancouver, Washington, some of their most popular exercise bikes are the 270 recumbent bike and the A10 upright bike.
Founded in 1959, the Marcy Gymnasium Equipment Company was established with the mission to make fitness accessible and easy. Headquartered in beautiful Pomona, California, the Marcy brand is still going strong 50 years later. Their most popular products include the ME-708 and the ME-709.
Sunny Health & Fitness
This competitively priced brand has been in business for over 15 years and is headquartered in sunny Los Angeles, California. They make some of the best exercise and health equipment on the market with popular products like the SF-B2721 comfort bike and the SF-B2710 upright bike.
Upright Exercise Bike Pricing
- $150-$300: This is the budget range for upright exercise bikes. You’ll find a couple of models to suit your needs, all of which have basic features like an onboard computer and an adjustable seat.
- $300-$600: In this price range, you’ll find a number of mid-range models. These tend to be sturdier and quieter than budget options with more features. These might also include a more sophisticated onboard computer and Bluetooth connectivity.
- $600 and up: Here, you’ll find several high-end models that have the best frames, the most comfortable seats and handlebars, and a great, ergonomic design that makes your workout comfortable. Typical features include interactive workout programs, Bluetooth connectivity, built-in speakers, and more.
Comfort is key when choosing an upright exercise bike. The pedals need to be wide enough with some straps to keep your feet in place during workouts. Look for foam padding in the seat and overall ergonomic design to maximize the comfort.
Fan-based resistance tends to be noisier than other bikes with magnetic resistance. Take this into consideration if you plan on watching TV or listening to music while you work out. Another type of resistance is direct-contact braking. It provides excellent resistance control, but the friction pads will need replacement over time.
Cheap upright bikes offer the basics: an LCD screen with speed, time, and calorie monitoring. That’s plenty to get you started, but if you’re looking for better features like heart rate monitoring, custom workout settings, water bottle holders, speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, and more, be prepared to shell out a few more bucks.
- Space: Upright exercise bikes come in a variety of frame styles. Some of these are more compact than others, so consider the amount of space you have available to fit your new machine. Bulkier exercise bikes are harder to move around, requiring a more permanent spot. Folding bikes can save space and are usually easier to transport. Desk bikes also let you work on your laptop or read a book/magazine while working out.
- Weight limits: For safety reasons, you don’t want your bike wobbling as you ride. Make sure that the exercise bike you pick will support your weight. As a general rule of thumb, the more the bike weighs, the more stable it’ll be. But keep in mind, heavier bikes are bulkier bikes, and these won’t budge easily if you want to move one around.
- Child safety: If you have kids at home, make sure the model you choose has a frame that covers the bike’s inner parts. As an additional safety precaution, we recommend placing the bike somewhere inaccessible to kids without supervision to avoid unsafe use.
Best Upright Exercise Bikes Reviews & Recommendations
Best Upright Exercise Bike Overall: Schwinn 170 Upright Bike
- - Customizable & Portable - Easily adjust the contoured...
- - Features - A high resolution, backlit DualTrack LCD...
- - Resistance & Heart Rates - Features 25 levels of...
- - Premium Grade - Sturdy frame gives you easy access...
- - Tracking - Keep track of time, distance, and calorie...
With 20+ levels of resistance and many workout options, this bike is a great pick for seasoned pros and beginners alike. The resistance is easy to adjust with the touch of a button. Its sturdy, durable frame keeps the bike stable during even the most intense cardio sessions, and the padded, contoured seat ensures maximum comfort while working out.
The LCD screen keeps track of up to four users and lets you track your progress from the last seven workouts, allowing you to compare your performance over the course of a week. It’s also Bluetooth compatible, making it easy to sync workout stats to your favorite fitness app. Rounding out the feature set are speakers, a fan, and a bottle holder. Transport wheels make the unit easy to move. The oversized pedals and padded handlebars offer support and comfort. The overall weight capacity is 300 pounds.
As an exercise machine with lots of moving parts that can suffer wear and tear, this one has some problems with the pedals loosening up after regular use. That means you’ll need to be on top of maintenance to keep everything running smoothly. Another drawback is the difficulty in assembling the bike, so be prepared to invest a few hours in getting everything set up. It might even be worth calling in an expert to help.
Best Folding Upright Exercise Bike: Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike
- [MEN'S HEALTH EDITOR'S CHOICE]: Supports up to 300 lbs....
- [Large LCD Display]: An easy to read large window...
- [SEATING COMFORT]: Large seat cushion for people of any...
- [SPACE SAVING Design]: The bike can be easily folded to...
- [8 LEVEL TENSION]: An 8 level Magnetic Tension control...
This folding bike is a true space saver. Its compact design lets it fold up to half the size, making it a perfect pick if you happen to be short on space. It’s also well designed, with a large, padded seat cushion for great comfort. You can work long and hard on the bike without getting uncomfortable. The seat is also adjustable to fit heights between 5’3” and 6’1”.
An eight-level magnetic tension system allows you to adjust the resistance to where you want, making it fully customizable. Heart rate sensors in the grips make monitoring your heart easy and convenient. A three-piece, high-torque crank provides a smooth and consistent pedaling motion. A flywheel and v-belt drive make this bike smooth and quiet, so you can listen to music or watch TV while working out.
The large seat and position of the pedals make this more of a recumbent bike than an upright one. If you’re looking for a true cycling workout, then this isn’t the pick for you. Finally, the size of the seat can get a little uncomfortable, as it can rub against the back of your thighs and cause chafing.
Best Upright Exercise Bike for the Money: Marcy ME-708
- PREMIUM STEEL CONSTRUCTION – This stationary upright...
- SMOOTH MAGNETIC RESISTANCE SYSTEM –Designed for...
- ULTRA-FUNCTIONAL CONSOLE – The ME-708 Upright...
- ADJUSTABLE SEAT – The seat can be adjusted to...
- COUNTERBALANCED PEDALS – Pedals are designed to...
This Marcy upright bike offers all the basic features you need, delivered in a compact and durable frame that’s perfect if you’re just starting out. With eight difficulty settings, the magnetic resistance is easy to adjust to customize your workout. This type of resistance has the benefit of being super quiet, so you can watch TV without getting distracted by a noisy bike.
An LCD console acts as an odometer with large, easy-to-read numbers. The seat is fully adjustable, which helps improve exercise performance and lessens the risk of strain or injury. Ergonomically-designed, counterbalanced pedals provide great foot support and easy control without the risk of slipping off. The pedals also come with adjustable foot straps to create the perfect fit. Finally, the contoured handlebars are comfortable and easy to wipe down after use.
The seat is rather hard and uncomfortable compared to other bikes. That means you might want to invest in a padded cover to lessen the impact and improve the usability. Compared to many competitor models, this particular bike is a bit on the loud side, which can be a downside if you happen to live in an apartment.
Best Dual-Action Upright Exercise Bike: Marcy AIR-1
- PREMIUM STEEL FRAMEWORK–This multifunctional...
- DUAL-ACTION EXERCISE ARMS –Designed to give you an...
- UNIQUE RESISTANCE SYSTEM– This bike comes with an...
- HIGH-TECH LCD MONITOR – The Marcy AIR-1 exercise fan...
- ADJUSTABLE SEAT POSITIONING – This stationary bike...
A blend between an elliptical machine and an upright bike, this machine allows you to work out your arms as well. If you’re getting bored with your typical cardio routine, this would be a great pick for you. The resistance system uses a fan that increases the difficulty as you pedal faster. This fan also redirects airflow, keeping you cool and comfortable as you work harder.
If you love intense workouts, this bike will hold up thanks to its strong and sturdy steel frame and adjustable levelers to maximize the stability. This bike also features an adjustable seat that can be positioned to offer a perfect fit. It’s also easy to move around thanks to the built-in transport wheels.
Fan bikes tend to be noisy, so you’ll probably have to turn the volume up on your music while working out. The handlebars can’t be locked, which is a con if you want the capability to train your lower body. We’ve also noticed that this bike has some trouble with its computer. It can randomly freeze up, interfering with tracking accurate stats.
Best 2-in-1 Upright Exercise Bike: Body Rider 2-in-1
- 2-In-1 foldable upright and recumbent bike with...
- Seamless easy adjustable magnetic resistance System and...
- Dual set handlebars for Ergonomic exercise variety and...
- Integrated heart RATE monitoring technology
- Deluxe computer display with modern design elements
As a 2-in-1 bike, you can use this one in an upright or recumbent position. The overall design is ideal for smaller homes or apartments thanks to its foldable and lightweight frame. Magnetic resistance provides a quiet and smooth workout that’s sure to keep you sweating every time. An adjustable seat with two contoured gel-density cushions offers a comfortable workout experience, no matter the length of the session.
The two built-in heart rate sensors can help you stay in the desired zone for weight-losing or muscle-building workouts. The dual handlebars are ergonomically designed to help your performance and keep you comfortable. Overall, this is a uniquely-designed bike with the benefit of offering a couple of different exercise variations.
The lower handles and the backrest aren’t adjustable. This can make it hard to find an ergonomic position. We don’t recommend this model if you suffer from back pain or have any spinal injuries since a recumbent bike offers more back support and a more ergonomic position. Finally, the bike also takes some time to assemble, so be prepared to invest a few hours to get it all set up.
Best Spin Upright Exercise Bike: Schwinn IC Pro
- Designed to withstand countless hours of intense...
- Bicycle components include Shimano sealed cartridge...
- Infinitely variable resistance levels with linear...
- Fully-adjustable seat position to fore and aft, up and...
- 50 by 22.5-Inch footprint, 300-Pound weight capacity
Designed for serious spinners, this bike will withstand countless hours of cycling. The bicycle components include a high-quality, sealed-cartridge bottom bracket and cold forged crank arms. The frame is sturdy and well-built, and the seat is fully adjustable to wherever you need it to go.
Infinitely-variable resistance levels create a challenging workout every time and help you avoid plateaus. Perfect for HIIT training, this spin bike will keep you sweating. Large leveling feet at the bottom of the frame provide protection and stability, and reinforced axles will keep the spin bike going. Toe clips and straps are included as well, so you can go hard without worrying about your feet slipping off the pedals. Finally, the whole system can handle 300 pounds of weight.
The only downside we found was the high price point, but you do get what you pay for in terms of quality and durability. Keep in mind, this bike is really made for spinning workouts. If spinning doesn’t float your boat, you might want to look at other models that have more workout variety to offer.
Tips to Make the Most of Your Upright Bike
- Adjust the saddle height for the best workout outcomes. To do this, stand next to your bike and adjust the height of the seat to come up to your hip bone. Check the adjustment by climbing on your bike and placing your heels on the pedals. You want to have just a bit of a bend to your knee in this position.
- Tilt the saddle forward or backward to suit your needs. Sit in your preferred riding position and adjust the saddle tilt so that your knees come slightly over the center of your foot for best results.
- Pedal position is also important to avoid strain and injury. The ball of your foot should be in the center of the pedal, and your foot stroke should keep your heel level with the ball of your foot.
- Avoid unnecessary tension and strain to your back by adjusting the handlebars to suit your body. The best way to do this is to try out a few different heights and see what works best for you.
- Always warm up before starting a cycling workout. A good way to do this is through five minutes of stretching your leg muscles and five minutes of cycling at a moderate pace.
- To avoid muscle soreness, add a recovery period to your cycling workout. At the end of your session, gently cycle for five minutes and then stretch your leg muscles and back for an extra five minutes.
- Use your bike for HIIT training to get quick fitness results. Combine periods of high intensity with lower intensity intervals for a great workout. Don’t forget to warm up first!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does an upright exercise bike help to lose weight/belly fat?
A: Yes, provided that you regularly get your heart rate into the training zone required to shed weight. You’ll want to aim for a heart rate 50-85% of your maximum heart rate. Regular 30- to 60-minute workouts are key to healthy weight loss. And remember, if you’re new to working out, you’ll want to start off slowly to give your body time to adjust.
Q: How many calories can I burn in one session?
A: The number of calories burned in any one session is proportional to your weight and the intensity of the workout. In general, someone weighing around 150 pounds will burn 260 calories in a 30-minute moderate workout, while someone weighing around 190 will burn around 311 calories for the same workout. A way to increase your calories burned while reducing the session’s length is through HIIT training.
Q: What muscles are targeted with an upright exercise bike?
A: In general, an upright exercise bike will work your hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles. Keeping your core engaged and your back straight will work your abdominals and obliques. You can even target your glutes if you pedal while standing up to get the ultimate lower body workout.
Q: Does an upright exercise bike impact the neck and back?
A: Bad riding posture, a maladjusted seat, and improperly positioned handlebars can add up to strain, discomfort, and pain. That being said, if everything is properly adjusted, you can comfortably and safely use an upright exercise bike. Keep in mind, if you already suffer from neck pain, lower back pain, or sciatica, an upright bike isn’t recommended since it can aggravate the condition.
Q: Can I use an upright bike if I have arthritis?
A: Yes, but you have to take into consideration your affected joints before choosing an upright bike. If you have arthritis in your hands or wrists, you’ll get more benefit from a recumbent bike than an upright model. Check this article from the Arthritis Foundation for more information about arthritis and stationary bikes.
Q: What can I do to make my upright bike seat more comfortable?
A: There are a couple of things you can do to make your seat more comfortable. Try adding a soft gel seat cover to your bike and wear padded cycling shorts as well. If that doesn’t work, you can go to a bike shop and request a custom-made bike seat to perfectly fit you.
Exercise Bikes vs. Treadmills
Exercise bikes and treadmills are both effective options for at-home cardio workouts. There are a couple of major differences between the two. Upright bikes put less stress on your knee joints, give you a killer leg workout, and have a small space footprint. Treadmills burn more calories in the same time, exercise more of your body, but do have an overall bigger footprint.
Exercise Bikes vs. Ellipticals
Ellipticals are great machines for working out the entire body and improving your fitness. That being said, exercise bikes can also work out the majority of your body and give you amazing results. The main difference between the two is that an elliptical workout is a weight-bearing workout. That means your joints will be affected more, and your muscles will work a bit harder. The downside of an elliptical is the larger space footprint it requires.
Exercise Bikes vs. Road Bikes
In terms of weight loss and other benefits of cardio training, both exercise bikes and road bikes will measure up equally well. However, riding a bike outdoors is an entirely different experience; traffic, road conditions, wind, rain, and other climate factors make for a unique ride every time.
Our pick for best overall upright exercise bike is the Schwinn 170 Upright Bike. With 20+ levels of resistance, adjustable pedals and seat, and lots of features, it’s well worth the money.
If you’re looking for a more wallet-friendly option, our budget pick is the Marcy ME-708. It includes all the basic features you need to get started with regular at-home cycling workouts.
As always, we’d love to hear what you think of these picks. What’s your favorite upright bike and why? Let us know in the comments below!