Last updated: 28th February, 2017.
- 1 Best Spin Bikes 2017 – Our Top Picks!
- 2 Why choose spin bikes?
- 3 How to choose a spin bike?
Spin bikes are some of the most effective cardio machines in existence. Not only do they give you all the cardio benefits of cycling, they also help to effectively engage your core and push your workouts to the next level.
Best Spin Bikes 2017 – Our Top Picks!
Spinning on these bikes effectively prepares you to perform on the road and no other type of indoor cycle can lay claim to this unique advantage. As huge cycling fans, we’ve spent a great deal of time and effort to prepare a list of the very best spin bikes available today: –
1. Keiser M3i/M3iX/M3
Despite its price, the Keiser M bikes are consistently at the top of our recommendation lists. You only need to ride these bikes once to know exactly what the fuss is about, although simply looking at one might convince you in itself;
These futuristic bikes were featured in the excellent sci-fi series; Black Mirror, and were the only part of the dystopian future that we cared for. The bikes look super cool and will compliment any room.
There’s more to them than just looks though, every M3 bike features a class leading eddy current system that uses several magnets to provide smooth, quiet and effective resistance. This is complemented by the fact that the bikes are belt-driven as opposed to chain-driven. No wear parts mean that the bikes are virtually maintenance-free.
We could easily fill half a page with all of the Keiser’s M bike features but it should hopefully suffice to say that they’ve got ‘em all. Anything you could wish for in an indoor spin bike is here, expressed at the highest level of quality and reliability. So instead, we’re going to talk about the features the differentiate the 3 variants we’ve tested: –
M3i: This is the bike in the middle of the line-up and the one we recommend for packing the most bang for the buck. There aren’t inexpensive bikes by any means but we believe the M3i is the best deal of the 3. It features everything that makes the M bikes great and adds in the excellent wireless Bluetooth computer. This really helps with tracking workout data and exporting it to your phone/tablet.
M3iX: The latest M bike and the current Keiser flagship. It builds on the lineage of the M bikes and adds on a handlebar pivot system that allow the bars-and your hands- to move in a side to side motion. This simulates taking corners and movements of a real bike when pedaling out of the saddle. Most importantly, it engages your core and lets your burn more calories than you normally would. If you value a real-world, interactive indoor cycling experience, it is definitely worth stepping up to the M3iX.
M3: If you like the idea of saving a couple hundred bucks off the price of an M3i, the M3 is the same great bike but without the wireless computer and a less-than-ideal seat adjustment system. Basically, the old bike has fewer pre-drilled holes to lock the seat height but you can still tighten the seat in between the two presets.
These bikes are built to last and have virtually no competition.
Sunny health & fitness continue their tradition of building workout machines of incredible value that cover all of the important bases. The bulk of gimmicks and miscellaneous features is avoided, which helps to slim down the price tag. The fact that you don’t need a big budget to get super fit and healthy is embodied by this bike.
This heavy-duty bike features a 40-pound chromed flywheel that provides a stable platform for the adjustable resistance. There are no jerks or sudden movements and momentum is maintained for a road-like feel.
The resistance knob allows you to change your effort easily and provides enough of a challenge for any user level. Adjustable handlebars can move up or down, provide multiple grip options and are ergonomically designed. You can even prop up a book or tablet in the middle for some entertainment while you spin away. Last but definitely not the least, the leather saddle is padded and comfortable. It is fully adjustable, i.e. it offers fore and aft adjustments apart from the usual up and down.
With a 275-pound maximum user weight limit, the build quality of this bike belies its modest price tag. This is as good a deal on a spin bike as one can get.
This is a bike that’s loved by both the die-hard roadies as well as the spinning aficionados. We fall into the former category and therefore really appreciate the fact that the Q-factor of the pedals is optimized to match that of most road bikes. Now, if you’re not sure what that means, don’t worry, you can still take advantage of the Spinner Sprint’s capabilities. Basically, it’s easy on your knees on account of the angle your leg sits on when pedaling.
The term ‘Spin bikes’ and ‘spinner’ are often used interchangeably. This is testament to the fact that most spin classes/studios will feature some variant of this bike. They’re all very good but the Sprint is extra special. Here’s why: –
Even though this bike is intended for home use, its designed with commercial-grade durability. An extra heavy flywheel maintains inertia for a road-going feel and doesn’t feel sedate like some other bikes. While multi-adjustable handlebars are generally a good thing to have, the Sprint’s fixed handlebars are raised at a 5-degree angle for supreme stability and great ergonomics.
Overall, we can confidently say that this feels exactly the same to ride as most commercial grade bikes while costing a lot less and that makes it very easy to recommend.
Yes, this thing is pricy but just like the Keiser bikes, it is absolutely worth the money. The A.C. stands for ‘Authentic Cycling’ and really, we could end our review there.
If you’re like us, you get excited at the thought of a stationary cycle that mimics the feel of the real thing. If not, we can assure you that the Schwinn A.C. Performance Plus is still a very, very capable indoor spin bike.
The bike’s frame is all-aluminum and has been constructed by Giant. Giant bicycles are one of the largest bike manufacturers in the world and that fact is really reflected in how the frame fits you like a road bike would. Aluminum is of course rust-free and significantly lighter than steel.
The braking system uses 6 magnets to provide smooth and consistent resistance. Apart from making very little noise, this eliminates wear. Coupled with the belt drive system, this unit requires very little in the way of maintenance.
Speaking of which, the bike uses a Carbon Blue belt drive that is not only smooth and quiet, but also provides an authentic outdoor ride feel.
The excellent ErgoLoop handlebars with aero extensions are our favorite feature on this bike. Very few bikes offer this level of variation when it comes to hand positions. The 12-degree incline enables many different riding positions and offer superior comfort. The aero bars are extremely useful for triathletes and time-trail competitors.
Whether you’re a weekend warrior roadie that wants to stay in shape over the winter or just someone looking for a top-flight indoor bike, The A.C. Performance Plus will not let you down.
5. Spinner S1
The Spinner S1 is a toned-down, compact version of the Sprint we reviewed earlier. If you like the idea of owning an authentic Spinning product but don’t want to spend the Sprint’s asking price, the S1 could just be the ticket.
The S1 features easily adjustable non-slip handlebars, a wide padded saddle (also adjustable) and a water bottle holder. That covers all the basics. Moving on the drivetrain, the S1 uses a weighted flywheel that creates momentum and keeps the pedals spinning. The best way to describe this is that it feels somewhat like a fixie feels to ride. This ensures a fluid pedal stroke and reduces impact on the joints.
This is a very nice bike for the money and like all Spinners, it comes with 4 workout DVDs.
This best-selling spin bike symbolizes a meeting of two worlds. It is designed to feel equally at home to an outdoor cyclist training to complement their riding, as well as the indoor cyclist who just wants a great workout.
At the heart of the bike is an extra heavy 48-pound flywheel that helps provide smooth and predictable resistance. Multiple seat and handlebar adjustments, adjustable resistance, integrated backlit LCD computer with support for heart rate chest straps… The Sole Fitness SB700 has it all. The saddle and ride position is particularly good for long, endurance-type training that requires spending a lot of time on the bike.
If you want an extremely well made bike that’s built to last, you could do a lot worse than getting yourself one of these.
This bike folds to fit in a small footprint, has 8 levels of adjustable resistance, an easy to read screen that offers basic workout information and is constructed reasonably well considering the price. We pride ourselves on only recommending high-quality equipment and have to admit that this Marcy barely makes that grade. The price however is proportional to what it offers and makes the benefits of cardio training accessible to just about anyone.
With some reservation, we can recommend the Marcy Foldable Exercise bike for someone who intends to use it occasionally. There’s no other bike at this price range that doesn’t completely suck.
Why choose spin bikes?
Before we get to the how, let’s look at the why. Why should you choose spin bikes over other types of exercise bikes? Namely, the traditional upright indoor cycles and recumbent bikes:
Upright bikes versus Spin bikes
As the name suggests, upright bicycles offer a, well, upright position. This means that the position is relatively similar to sitting on a chair with your head facing forwards. While this position reduces the pressure on your neck and hands, it increases pressure on the groin area as that is where most of the weight is being supported. As you can imagine, while this may be comfortable for a short period of time, longer or more intense sessions will see that comfort diminish.
Yes, spin bikes may not feel as natural at first but over time, they can actually rival the comfort of upright bikes. All that’s needed is a bike that’s set up to the rider’s measurements and the willingness to get used to the new position. The fact that your weight is distributed over the hands as well as your sit bones (the groin area that actually makes contact with the seat) means that the workload is shared. This prevents any long-term discomfort or numbness once the rider is accustomed. The weak link in the chain for most people is their abdomen and the muscles surrounding it. Just like your hands share the load with your seat, the abdomen shares the load of holding and anchoring your body up with the back. Use your abdomen while riding and suddenly the pressure on the back eases up! This means that spin bikes force you to engage your core, which in turn means that you get a superior workout. If you are someone that rides a road bike outdoors, go the spin bike route with eyes closed, they offer the same fit and feel.
Recumbent bikes versus Spin bikes
While recumbents are clearly the most comfortable bikes out there (the cycling position is like that of a recliner chair), the big question is, is that what you really want? I mean, sure, if you’re trying to rehabilitate an injury or if you’re seriously out of shape, but otherwise, we think that most people are served better with a spin bike. This is especially true if you’re in this for the long haul as people that stick to cycling workouts shed the extra pounds really quickly. Might as well invest in a high-performance product that actually improves your road worthiness should you consider riding a bike outdoors at some point.
There are other considerations as well. While pedaling in the reclined position can be good for those with back problems, one may find that they’re having to pedal with greater effort than they would on a standard bike. This is because it is possible for the glutes (some of the largest muscles available to the legs) to not be engaged sufficiently. As mentioned above, the core is also left out of the equation.
How to choose a spin bike?
Depending on personal preferences, some things may be more important than others. Here’s a list of things we look for when rating a bike. We think they go across the boundaries of preference and are essential to a good riding experience:
Fit and adjustability
It doesn’t matter what the bike is; if it doesn’t fit you, neither you nor the bike will be able to perform anywhere close to the optimal level. What you want to look for is as many ways as possible to alter the fit and feel of the bike. At a minimum, the bike must have extensive provision for adjustment of the seat height and the seat fore-aft position. This is the cornerstone of a comfortable ride and essential for avoiding injury via long-term use.
The next thing to look out for are handlebar positions. Modern road bikes offer a minimum of 3 hand positions for comfort and different riding situations. The more options there are, the better. If you are a triathlete or time trial enthusiast, it’s obviously a good idea to have a center bar position that simulates tri bars/skis that will let you train in an aerodynamic position.
Understanding the type of resistance, the bike has to offer is critical to getting a good workout experience.
Older and low-cost bikes tend to use frictional resistance which is essentially a set of brake pads that rub against the flywheel when you dial it in. This offers a pre-set, constant resistance that has its own advantages; the (frictional) resistance is usually hard, felt instantly and the simplicity of the design keeps costs low. The cons however, outweigh the pros in our opinion. The first con is that that the brakes must eventually be replaced as they wear out. Secondly, friction resistance usually creates a lot of noise.
This is where magnetic resistance comes in. Magnets enable smooth, progressive resistance with minimal noise. This is further complimented by a belt-drive system in high-end bikes, which replaces chain-drive and reduces noise and maintenance even more. You usually also get more levels of resistance to choose from. It is for these reasons that we recommend selecting a bike with magnetic resistance when possible.
Size/Dimensions and overall package
It goes without saying that you must make sure you have enough room before you order a bike! Sometimes we miss the most obvious of things though and so it’s worth reiterating this point. Decide on a spot for your new exercise bike and compare the dimensions with those of the bike. You don’t really want to have to move these around once you’ve picked a spot. This is particularly true for higher end bikes that have descended from commercial-grade equipment and can often be very heavy.
Now, when we talk about the overall package, we mean the little things that add up to complete your experience. These are the things that make the difference between a good and a great product.
Connectivity is a big one for cycling products these days and having some sort of smart functionality, with the ability to transfer workout data is a big plus when it comes to tracking your progress and identifying the areas you need to work on. A large, easy to read display scores extra points, as does the ability to track things like heart-rate.
Another thing to look out for are pedals. At the minimum, the bike should have provision for toe straps so that all of your leg muscles are correctly engaged throughout the pedal stroke. For those of you that use cycling shoes/cleats/automatic pedals, you should look for bikes that come with compatible pedals or at least ones support them.
We also really appreciate simple essentials like water bottle holders and high quality contact points (things like the saddle, handlebar grips etc.).
We prefer bikes that feel like real/outdoor bikes. This means that bikes with chain drivetrains, progressive resistance and coasting ability score higher than those without.
There you have it, these are the best spin bikes we would buy for ourselves. Go ahead and pick any of them, we’re confident that you won’t be disappointed.