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After successfully avoiding the Peloton bike craze of the pandemic, I admit that I’m finally intrigued by the idea of having an exercise bike at home. While I already fully employ (and love) my under-desk walking pad that I use during the day while I work, I have big dreams of adding a cycle ride to my daily routine. Not only is it great exercise—which we all should know by now can improve physical and mental health—a 2019 study published in Medicina found that indoor cycling had numerous health benefits on everything from improving oxygen flow, to helping lower blood pressure, and that it may even "be effective in increasing bone mineral density (BMD) in the arms, legs, pelvis, and spine." Weight Barbell
In my mind, I’m the type of person who wakes up early, hops on the bike for an invigorating ride, then heads into my workday refreshed and ready to stay active all day. Fortunately for other indoor cycling curious people like myself, there are plenty of New Year sales on these Peloton bike alternatives that can at least help us attempt to make our health dreams come true affordably.
The Schwinn IC4 comes highly recommended, with over 5,000 positive ratings on Amazon and a steep 33% discount making it worth a closer look. Reviews compare it to the Peloton, with magnetic resistance and the advantage of being able to use your own screen and connect to your favorite exercise app, or to just watch TV if you’re feeling like binging in a health-ish way. You can follow along on scenic routes with auto-adjustment in resistance levels, but for that feature, you will need a JRNY Membership. The top criticism with this bike is that it may not be the best fit for people over 6’3” and the water bottle is placed in an inconvenient location.
To buy: Schwinn IC4 Indoor Cycling Bike $799 (was $1,119); amazon.com
The Echelon EX-15 is $100 off on Amazon right now, bringing it to under $400 and was a top contender in my search. My only hesitation with this bike is that it appears that in order to utilize the auto-resistance on the bike, you have to use the Echelon app, which requires a membership. If you plan on using the app, however, this feature won’t be a big deal, but it’s something to keep in mind. Reviewers also note that you can download a third-party app to work around the Echelon requirement and for the budget-friendly price, it’s worth considering. This bike is a little smaller than the Schwin and uses precision resistance instead of magnetic.
To buy: Echelon EX-15 Smart Connect Bike $399 (was $499); amazon.com
If the Echelon has caught your eye, the EX-3 offers a few additional features from the EX-15, including both manual and motorized resistance, dual-sided pedals with both toe cages and SPD-compatible clips, an adjustable tablet holder, and upgraded handlebars. Like the EX-15, you’ll get the most use out of the app, but there is a freestyle mode that will allow you to set your own repeatable assistance.
To buy: Echelon EX-3 Smart Connect Bike $599 (was $799); amazon.com
For a no-frills option that still utilizes expert technology, the Sportneer offers dual magnetic resistance for a smooth ride. You can get this bike for a whopping 45% off right now and it comes with both an LCD screen and a tablet/phone holder, so you have your choice of scenery.
To buy: Sportneer Exercise Bike $219 (was $399); amazon.com
Funny story about this bike: after visiting my local sporting good store, I finally settled on this one and asked the cashier if I could get help loading it up—only to be told they didn’t actually have the bike in stock. Fortunately, it’s still available online for a deep discount. This bike comes with rave reviews and personal recommendations, thanks to magnetic resistance, the ability to sync with iFIT, adjustable toe clips and straps, included dumbbells, as well as 16 different resistance levels. Some reviews did mention it’s worth it to upgrade your seat for extra comfort and the max recommended user weight is 250 pounds, which is lower than most of the other bikes on the list. You’ll need to bring your own screen to this bike as well, but it comes with a very spacious device holder.
To buy: ProForm Carbon CX Exercise Bike $359 (was $455); walmart.com
The Sunny bike is actually the most steeply discounted bike on our list, and while it doesn’t come with its own screen, it offers an LCD monitor, tablet holder, and some high-quality construction, such as a 40-pound flywheel, onboard magnetic brakes, magnetic resistance, and pulse-sensing grips. Reviews on the Sunny focus on how sturdy and high-quality it is, but there is only a knob to change resistance, so even if you sync with the corresponding Sunny app, you won’t get auto-resistance while cycling along with the trainers. Additionally, if you want to use the LCD monitor, it’s not backlit, so if you plan on riding in the dark while your kids sleep, you’ll need your own light to see your stats.
To buy: Sunny Health & Fitness Synergy Bike $400 (was $650); amazon.com
If you’re looking for a bike with multiple user capacity, this model is a great choice, because it can handle up to 350 pounds of rider weight. It also has adjustable straps in the toe-cage pedals, an adjustable handlebar (it changes 4 ways) and a seat that can accommodate inseam heights from 27-35 inches to fit users with different heights, so it’s truly designed for the whole family. You’ll also get an LCD monitor, device holder, a 40-pound flywheel, and magnetic resistance. Like other bikes, note that the LCD monitor is not backlit; other reviews mention that while this bike is study and well-made, the trade-off is it’s on the heavier side so you might not want to plan on moving it around a lot.
To buy: Osuda Pro Exercise Bike $328 (was $499); amazon.com
When I told my kids I was researching indoor exercise bikes, the first thing my daughter asked me if I was getting one of those “cool leaning bikes.” I had no idea what she was talking about—until I found the Bowflex. The Bowflex VeloCore does indeed offer the option to lean during your workout in Learning Mode, mimicking a ride outdoors on curves and turns, which not only offers a super fun ride, but also gives the bonus of strengthening your arms and core. (You can also choose a stationary mode if you prefer to not have a full-body experience.) Choose from Peloton and Zwift for your ride, or watch Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Hulu on the 16" console. (Note: You will need a JRNY membership to stream through the console.)
To buy: Bowflex VeloCore Leaning Bike $1,499 (was $1,799); target.com
For a budget-friendly option, the Xtremepower bike offers the basics, with handlebars that can be adjusted up and down, a steel frame that can hold up to 440 pounds, magnetic resistance, a water bottle holder, and a digital monitor to keep track of your stats. There isn’t a device holder or LCD monitor on this bike, so keep that in mind if you want a screen up close and center. What you lack in a screen, however, you’ll certainly make up for in price.
To buy: XtremepowerUS Fitness Bike $205 (was $599); target.com
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