What’s the Best Upright Exercise Bike?
Upright Bikes comparison
Assuming that you’ve decided to buy an upright exercise bike, either because that’s what you already knew what you wanted, or having read Which type of exercise bike should I buy?, the next question is – what’s the best upright exercise bike for you?
Here we look at the most popular and highly regarded models within different price ranges. We will concentrate mainly on the less expensive end of the market, where competition is most. We may look in more detail at the most exclusive machines in the future, but in the meantime , we will include some links to popular higher end upright bikes for you to peruse.
[N.B. One common complaint about many bikes, no matter how good the reviews are, is that the seats are uncomfortable. The solution is to add a gel seat cover but, as they are often different from one model to another, I have added links to the appropriate one (according to suggestions on Amazon).
Budget Upright Exercise Bikes – Under £200
The number of machines in this price bracket seems to have exploded recently, which should mean you can get a good machine without taking out another mortgage, even if they’re relatively basic, which is what you’d expect.
The JF100 has been near the top of the popularity and ratings in the Budget range for some time.
- There are 7 levels of seat adjustment, which should make it suitable for most people
- It has 10 adjustable levels of magnetic resistance, though some users have said that the stiffest setting is not terribly hard
- It also has a pulse monitor built into the handlebars, and an LCD monitor with Time, Speed, Distance, Calories, Odometer and Pulse
- The handles rotate 360º
- The quoted maximum user weight is the same as the F-Bike, 100Kg.
- Weight: 18.1KG. (Boxed: 20 Kg)
The 3-piece detachable crank system together with 4Kg flywheel, more than twice as heavy as the F-Bike, should make for a smooth ride.
- It is compact and also folds up, which is what many of those on a tight budget and a tight space will require
- It Is considered by users to be stable for its size and weight
- The maximum user weight is a reasonable 100Kg
- It is also quiet enough to be used while watching TV
- There are pulse sensors on the handlebars, and a pulse readout on the LCD display, which also shows time, calories, speed, and distance
It’s not easy to retain a nearly 5 star rating when there are over 100 reviews, but this machine has. The reason is that it does what it is supposed to do – and does it well – for not too much money.
Dimensions: 32 x 17 x 44 in (80.5 x 43.5 x 112 cm)
Folded: 18 x 19 x 52 in (45 x 47 x 132.5 cm)
Weight: approx. 40 lbs (18 kg)
There is also a version of the F-bike which doesn’t have a backrest on the seat – here
A popular addition to the F-bike:
As far as the bike itself goes, it has an 8 step Tension controller to vary the magnetic resistance with a 1.2Kg cast iron flywheel.
The bike is available in red, white or light blue.
The seat is adjustable and it has non-skid foot pedals with safety straps.
The frame is chip-resistant Epoxy powder coated tubular steel.
As mentioned above, one particular benefit – a necessity for some – is that It folds for easy storage when you’re not using it and is not too heavy to move.
The monitor screen shows calories burned (theoretical calculation), distance (in miles), hand pulse beats per minute, scan speed (in mph) and time of workout (in minutes and seconds), plus resistance level.
An instruction manual is supplied for home assembly.
- Assembled Size CM: (L) 81 x (W) 42 x (H) 107.
- Size when folded: 1m 35cm (H) x 50cm(W)
- Boxed Size CM: (L) 98 x (W) 25 x (H) 32.
- Product Weight: 16.5kg.
- Boxed Weight: 18kg.
- Maximum User Weight: 100kg / 222lbs / 15.7 stones
At the time of this review it had an average rating of 4.5* with a fair number of reviews. Users considered it easy to assemble, light weight, with good customer service, and good value for money.
Mid-Price Upright Exercise Bikes – £110 – £230
The Reebok ZR8 Exercise bike (not to be confused with the Reebok ZR8 treadmill) is arguably the top contender in this price range. The manufacturer needs no introduction, even if they are better known for their training shoes.
The bike is well-equipped, with 32 levels of resistance and 12 pre-set programmes for quick selection of workout, and a total number of 19 programmes, which also include 4 target programmes, one user-defined, one ‘recovery’ and one ‘watts-controlled’ programme into the bargain.
The seat is adjustable up and down and forward and back and the handlebars are also adjustable as are the pedal straps.
The flywheel is a good 9Kg which, the makers say is “engineered to feel like 12kg of resistance when inertia is applied”. The resistance is computer-controlled electronic braking.
The bike includes a large, backlit LCD display with the usual 4 modes (Time, Speed, Distance, Calories) plus RPM, Hand pulse, and Watts.
Users report this bike as being solid, well made and exceptionally quiet.
Unlike some bikes, which suit either shorter or taller people, the ZR8 appears to satisfy users of all sizes.
- Dimensions: 102.3 x 48 x 132 cm ; 32 Kg
- Weight: 32 Kg (35Kg boxed)
- Maximum user weight: 120Kg
The only slight quibble concerns a few complaints about the (lack of) seat comfort, in spite of Reebok’s claim to have added more padding. The solution is to add this:
It has a substantial 8Kg flywheel, making it very smooth to ride, and a plentiful 32 levels of computer-controlled resistance.
There are numerous pre-set programmes to gear your workout, including a manual setting. You can check your heart rate either directly from the hand pulse sensors or via a chest strap (if you have one) and a wireless receiver.
The Max. User Weight is 140kg / 308.6lbs /22 stones.
The console is large and detailed, and has an attractive blue LCD readout.
Programmes: Manual, 12 Pre-Set Programmes User Mode, Target Heart Rate Mode and Watt Mode (measures the amount of power you are generating, regardless of resistance level.)
DKN is a respected manufacturer and you will be getting a well-made, good value product should you choose this bike.
Recommended gel saddle:
A bike that has been one of the best-selling exercise bikes on Amazon.co.uk for some time is the good-looking Active 110 from York Fitness. It’s a bit dearer than the Budget models above, but is still very reasonably priced and within the budget of most people.
I have a York Fitness machine, though not this one, and highly recommend them as a company who make solid, good quality equipment. (I actually have a 2-in-1 combination bike. If you haven’t already read it, see my top recommendation.)
So what do you get for your extra bit of hard-earned cash?
- Well, the maximum user weight is 120Kg, a fifth more than the cheaper models. This isn’t just useful if you happen to weigh between 100 and 120 Kg; it implies more solidity generally and should feel more stable whoever is using it.
- The seat is adjustable and will suit a wide range of heights. There was one small complaint from one user (in a 5-star review) that the seat was not as comfortable as it could be, but rectified that with a replacement. (Check out Gel Seat Covers here).
- It has 8 levels of magnetic resistance, 2 fewer than the JF100 but they are better spaced and actually offer more variation.
- Both handlebars have pulse sensors and the large easy-to read display (even if you’re not wearing your specs) shows the usual array of functions. The Scan setting shows all the readouts in turn.
- York machines also have a useful ‘fitness test’ button, which monitors how long it takes for your pulse to slow down when you’ve stopped pedalling.
Be prepared to find out just how unfit you are! And to pat yourself on the back when the number improves!
Higher-Price Upright Exercise Bikes – £230 – £300
It has 19 workout programs, including various hill climbs, heart-rate mode, wattage mode (which relates the resistance to speed – the faster you go, the harder it gets).
Recommended gel saddle cover
Upper Price Upright Exercise Bikes - over £300
Smooth and quiet due to belt drive, non-touch magnetic resistance.
The LCD Display will track and record your exercise time, speed, distance, calories, and pulse (via hand sensors on the handles) so that you can know your progress and adjust your exercise plan in time.
- Anti-Slip aluminium alloy pedals are have adjustable toe cages
- Emergency Stop brake
- 6-way adjustable seat
- Soft, Adjustable handlebars
- Transport rollers
- Supports up to 330lbs,
- Front foot tube
- Trustworthy Warranty
This exercise bike comes with installation tools. Please pay attention to the pedal assembling, the left pedal needs to be screwed in counter-clockwise.
Net weight: 21Kg
Dimensions: H 110cm x L 85cm x W 45cm
There is no such thing as ‘the best exercise bike’ in absolute terms, of course, so there is no outright winner.
What is right for YOU is what counts. If you have plenty of space, a folding machine might not be necessary. If you don’t, it might be at the top of your facilities list.
But at least you have a good short-list from which to start your decision-making.
Inevitably, there are always a few disgruntled buyers for almost any machine. My policy is to ignore the best and worst reviews and see what most people think. Amongst those, all of the machines listed above have been bought and used and have a plethora of happy users. Good luck!
And don’t forget to help your friends and acquaintances by sharing this on your favourite social platform.