The Ultimate Gym Cycle Buying Guide Part 3: Overview (and Comfort)


If you have read parts 1 and 2, you now know the type of exercise cycle best suited to you and the flywheel-resistance combination that best suited to your workout intensity. For the final installment in our series of articles dedicated to the average exercise bike buyer, we have gone into a more detailed overview of what each type of cycle offers you in terms of capability and what parts of the body it can help target. Lastly, we share a laundry list of features that can help make you more comfortable and make the workout more accessible, a part of exercising that is often overlooked by overenthusiastic exercisers.

Workout Requirements

Now that you have a grasp on the basic features of the different types of bikes, it is important to figure out which is the best fit for your workout preferences and comfort levels.

For avid cyclists or those who prefer the feel of riding a bike out on the road, a spin bike should be the preferred option. A more comfortable alternative to this is the upright bike. However, for those with back issues and joint pains, the ordinary exercise bike might further exacerbate the problems. So, a recumbent bike would be advisable.

 

Low Impact

Upper Body

Lower Body

Core

Full Range of Motion*

Sprint Capabilities

Upright Bike

✔ ✔ ✔

✔ ✔ ✔

✔ ✔✔

✔✔

Recumbent Bike

✔ ✔ ✔

 

✔ ✔ ✔

 

Spin Bike

✔ ✔ ✔

✔ ✔ ✔

✔ ✔ ✔

✔ ✔ ✔

✔✔✔

Air Bike

✔ ✔

✔ ✔ ✔

✔ ✔ ✔

✔ ✔

✔✔

✔✔✔

 *Range of motion: The maximum required extent of movement of a joint.

User Weight

Regardless of what type of bike you choose to buy, the first feature to look out for is the maximum user weight allowed by the product. The more weight the machine can bear, the sturdier it is. The general weight limit for most standard home equipment is 100 kgs. It is recommended that you look for a higher weight category if you’re 5 kilograms or fewer away from the prescribed limit. Additionally, note the weight of the bike itself. A heavier machine is a more stable machine.

Seat

Most (if not all) seats on exercise bikes these days provide cushioned seats with ergonomic design to minimize discomfort for the user. However, there still are features that you can look for on seats for maximum comfort that might be available on some models. To know what seat would be the right fit for you, you can check the table below.

Choosing the Right Seat

 

Upright/Air Bike Seat

Recumbent Bike Seat

Spin Bike Seat

Normal seats with foam or gel padding are quite useful in maintaining maximum comfort while exercising.

This seat comes with a back support and is a great fit for those with back or knee issues.

Spin bike seats should always be narrow and slender, so your thighs don’t chafe on the seat edges.

The go-to option unless there is a medical condition involved.

Keep an eye out for armrests alongside the seat to provide additional support.

Some bike seats have deep centre cut-outs for effective air circulation and dispersal of heat.

The seat should be adjustable vertically. You can even go for the four-way adjustable seat for more variation in workouts.

For more convenience, you can look for models that have a lever which allows you to adjust the seat while staying seated.

The seat should be adjustable vertically and horizontally to experience more variation in workouts while

 

As a rule, the seat should be set up so that your legs are at the same level or higher than your hips.

 

 

No matter how well-padded or ergonomically designed your seat is, it will only matter if you can use it effectively by positioning it to your preferences, which brings us to seat adjustability.

Any exercise bike should have adjustable seats for several reasons. If there are multiple users, changing the seat position is usually required to get the most out of it.

The seat should be adjusted keeping the following tips in mind: As a rule of thumb, your knees should be vertically aligned with your feet, otherwise you’re are going to strain your joints fast. Your legs should never extend fully while you are pedalling. Your knees should always be slightly bent during the workout, roughly around 10 to 15 degrees. This way, you are least likely to risk straining or overextending your joints.

Handles

Changing the position of handles can allow you to do several different types of workouts that target different muscle groups. There are multiple types of handles and each adjusts in a different way, also impacting the ways you can work out. 

 

Vertically Adjustable

Vertically & Horizontally Adjustable

Movable

360-degree

The handle height can be adjusted.

The handles can be pulled forward and backward. It can also be raised and lowered.

The handles are connected to the pedals and move while you exercise, giving your upper body a workout as well.

The handles can be rotated at practically any angle.

Found in spin bikes.

Found in spin bikes.

Found in air bikes.

Found in upright bikes.

Mainly useful in assuming a single comfortable workout position.

A more flexible style, it allows users of variable sizes to perform several different workouts.

These handles move in tandem with your pedalling speed, allowing you to exercise your whole body in a consistent rhythm.

Allow the greatest flexibility in posture for exercising your core and lower body.

 

It also allows more flexibility in posture. Ex: You can hunch over the handlebars once you lower them, thus concentrating your workout on the core as well.

 

It allows you to decide to exactly what degree you want to concentrate on different muscle groups.

 

Other Features

There are additional handy features that make exercising easier.

Display: The basic setup of displays shows the measurement of speed (in RPM), distance (in km), calories burnt and time exercised. In upper end models of upright bikes, you’ll also find pre-set programs for workouts. By choosing any one program, the resistance oscillates up and down on its own without you having to adjust it constantly. An additional feature available is that of a tablet holder. You can set your device down on the support and use with minimal disruption in your workout.

Heart rate monitoring: Depending on whether there’s a pulse reader on the handles or console of the bike, the display shows heart rate too. For getting trim in the most effective manner, you can use this feature to target a certain heart rate and have a consistent calorie burn.

Wheels for portability: A feature that is practically a necessity in heavier machines, these wheels are set on of the base of the cycle so that it is easier to shift from one area to another, decreasing the risk of possible injury by lifting the machine.

Pedals: Among the last few things to consider are the pedals in exercise bikes. The main differences in pedals lie in the way they keep your foot attached on them. A simple strap on a pedal will be found more commonly in recumbent bikes, air bikes and other models that work well on low intensity. A cage mesh on a pedal is more suitable for spin bikes, keeping the foot strapped in during more intense workouts.

Base: The final feature to look out is an extra that you may not find in most models. A stable base in bikes is very important. It lessens the chance of injuries and does not dilute the quality of your workouts. A small number of bikes have an anti-shake resistibility ensured by dials on each end of both their bases which allows the user to change the height on each corner of the bike. It’s certainly a helpful tool but keep in mind that it is designed to make small changes. So, it is still recommended that the user find as even a surface to place the bike on as possible.

 

Conclusion

Consider yourself fully armed and ready to set out on your fitness journey of buying an exercise cycle. There is much to consider, whether it is workout options, resistance type or comfort levels. And there is much more to choose from. All that's left is to start shopping now.


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