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What’s the Best 2 in 1 Exercise Bike and Cross Trainer?
Your guide to finding the best 2 in 1 cross trainer / exercise bike for you
More and more people are realising the importance to their health of keeping fit and active and deciding to do something about. But if you’re not already familiar with the various types of equipment, deciding which one to get can be a bit daunting. A combination 2-in-1 exercise bike and cross trainer is a good place to start for a number of reasons.
When I first decided to improve my fitness, I joined various gyms but eventually I made the decision to buy some kind of fitness machine that I could use at home.
I knew by then which kinds of machine I liked. Initially, I was more interested in aerobic machines to help my fitness, than in strength training, and it came down to treadmills, rowing machines, exercise bikes and elliptical cross trainers.
I’ve always liked using rowing machines at the gym and I like was the fact that it’s not just an aerobic exercise machine – it also trains your arms and legs and back. So I borrowed a rowing machine for a while. I liked it a lot but takes up quite a lot of space in use and, although it could be folded to stand up while not in use, it can be a bit of a hassle.
Treadmills are useful for general fitness and the nearest thing to jogging, but, as my first or only machine, I personally find them a bit boring. I’ll consider adding one at a later date (if I can find the space!)
It therefore came down to bikes and cross trainers. I like cross trainers and, like rowers, they also help train arms and legs and most of the rest of the body as well as aerobic exercise. But I also like bikes and find them the easiest to force myself onto if I’m feeling a bit lazy, or a bit stiff.
So I plumped for both – an exercise bike/elliptical cross trainer combination machine. I did worry that doing so might mean compromising on both. Would I get a not-very-good bike and a not-very-good cross trainer, instead of a really good one-or-the-other? After all, the gyms I’d been to had both machines, not a combination one, so I hadn’t actually tried one.
I had therefore to rely on reviews, and read them and watched videos from all the sources I could find. The machines in my short list had good reviews, however, and didn’t seem to imply that they were lacking in either department. So in the end, I took the plunge and bought one. The one I went for is no longer available but here is an updated look at the options.
UPDATE - September 2020
It seems, for now at least, that Amazon are focussing more on the separate machines – elliptical cross trainers, exercise bikes etc. – rather than combination units, as most of the 2 in 1 machines are not currently available on Amazon.
Nonetheless, for the time being, I have left my original review in place below and not deleted the items on it from the review for two reasons.
- They may come back; and
- At the time of writing, there are only a limited number of models currently available, few of which of which have any reviews or user questions.
A few combination items in the higher price range – more expensive than the others I had covered previously but they don’t have any reviews.
If the cheaper machines don’t appeal, and you want both a bike and a cross trainer but don’t have space for both, you can can still buy a machine which does both jobs, but you may have to pay a little more for it than buying 2 separate, low to medium quality machines.
However, you can expect the dearer machine to be better quality.
For those on a budget, the good news is that some of the cheaper ones have become available again.
Combination 2 in 1 Exercise Bike and Cross Trainer Shortlist
Sturdily made to high European safety standards.
Bidirectional pedal movement (i.e. you can pedal backwards to work on hamstrings etc.)
110Kg max user weight
12 month warranty
The assembled size has a footprint of 91cm x 51cm (vs. 112 x 64cm).
Other available models in this range to consider
The first, and less expensive, model looks sturdy enough, with a max user weight of 110Kg / 242 lbs / 17st 4lbs.
Sustainable Scale Magnetic resistance with adjustability
The skid-proof pedals rotate in both directions.
Includes the almost mandatory pulse-rate sensors on the fixed handles.
So. Nothing amazing in terms of features but supposedly “built to last a lifetime”.
One noticeable thing about this particular item is that, if you do a search, you’ll find a number of pages listing the apparently identical item but all at well over £1000 – which makes this one something of a bargain!
Other available models in this range to consider
The original article continues below (but the models shown are currently unavailable).
The prices of bike/cross trainers varies quite a bit and I looked at models in the different ranges. I didn’t want to have to spend more than I needed to, but I didn’t want something where a lack of quality put me off using it. After all, this was supposed to save me paying the price of at least one year’s gym membership.
CHEAPEST OPTION - BUDGET PRICE
While 2 in-1 cross trainers start from little more than £50, the CT100 from JLL isn’t too much more and my instinct would be not to get the absolute cheapest, as for something like this, quality does matter.
The price of this machine has come down and is now even better value. Originally, it was a little cheaper than the Mid-price V-Fit MCC1 below, but is now significantly cheaper than that.
For the CT100, user reviews are generally very good, for the price. One complains that the range of resistance is too small but that isn’t mentioned by anyone else and I suspect it was a one-off problem, There’s a 4 function computer showing Time, Speed, Distance and Calories, and a dial to vary the resistance.
Looking at it, it’s only got the cross trainer handles and, personally, I decided that, when I use it as a bike, I wanted fixed bike handles as well but, again, none of the user-reviewers mentioned that they missed them.
The handlebars are height-adjustable (4 settings – 18cm / 7in range, from 1.45m / 57in to 1.68m / 66in), as is the seat (5 settings – 16 cm / 6.3in range from 82cm / 32in to 98cm / 38.5in), so it should suit people over a wide range of height difference. The maximum user weight is 100Kg, so if you’re under 15.75 stones, you’re ok.
The overall assembled length is 1.12m (44in) and the width is 64cm (25in). The height is dependent on whether you measure to the top of the seat or the handlebars and where they’re adjusted to. See adjustment range above.
The boxed weight is 25Kg.
For a bit more money, you get the separate bike handlebars, with an 8 step adjustable Resistance dial.
There are two extra modes on the computer: Handgrip Pulse (Beats / Minute), and Scan. Although the maximum user weight is the same as the Confidence machine (at 110Kg), it looks a more substantial machine – boxed weight is more than double, at 36Kg. It has a 4.5Kg cast iron flywheel.
There are 8 levels of resistance and the computer LCD exercise monitor displays theoretical calorie burn, distance, hand pulse readings, odometer, scan, speed and time functions.
BEST QUALITY OPTION
The model I personally bought (the XC530) was by York Fitness and is no longer available. However, the good news is that the current equivalent of that machine – the York Active 120 2-in-1 Cycle Cross Trainer – is even better!
Like the XC530,, the Active 120 has pulse grip sensors for monitoring heart-rate and a substantial monitor, displaying pulse (obviously!), time, distance calories etc.
The upgrade has double the levels (16) of computer controlled magnetic resistance and 17 workout programmes.
Plus, of course, the quality expected from York Fitness equipment. The Active 120 is obviously a good bit dearer than the V-Fit but it was the solidity, stability and quietness which persuaded me to pay the extra for the XC530 and why I would go for the Active 120 if I was buying one today.
If you think (as I did) in terms of what you could get for a year’s gym membership it’s still a good deal, with enough change to buy some more equipment!