There are so many exercise bikes available these days it’s hard to know which exercise bike is right for you. This guide is designed to help you identify the various components and compare the quality of various machines. As with all machinery, you get what you pay for so being sure of your usage requirements and matching these with the right machine will save you later in the form of possible breakdowns and repairs.
Bikes come in two main styles. There is the traditional upright style and the recumbent style. Upright bikes replicate the traditional cycling action of a normal bike. Recommended for older users, recumbent bikes place the body in a semi reclining position which offers extra lower back support.
It’s important that the bike fits the user and the only way to find out if it does is to actually get on one. The bigger the bike frame the better, provided there is sufficient adjustments for handlebars, seat height and range for all users.
Remember this machine has many stress points as it is supporting your full body weight so it’s important the frame of the bike is strong both in the steel tube and the welded joints. Check the frame stiffness by sitting on the saddle with your feet on the pedals and gently pull or push on the handle bars. If the frame is flexing when used the bike will wear out quickly and annoying squeaking or scraping noises will appear.
SADDLE OR SEAT
A standard upright bike will have a seat similar to a normal bike but bigger and softer. Comfort is the key here so look for a seat that includes air or gel cushioning.
Recumbent bikes have much larger seats with back supports therefore comfort, support and adjustability are the important considerations.
Spin bikes are not designed with comfort in mind as the user will have their weight further forward over the handlebars. The saddles are smaller and more streamlined.
FLYWHEEL AND DRIVE SYSTEM
Most exercise bikes have plastic covers over moving parts designed for safety to keep objects such as fingers and toes away. This makes it difficult to see the quality of the components so remove covers when buying, and take a look.
Bikes generally have a belt system which runs from the pedal crank to the flywheel. These are the areas of greatest wear. The heavier the flywheel the better as this provides a smoother momentum feeling when it is spinning.
Try turning the crank with your hand on minimum load, feeling how smooth it runs and listening for any scraping or grinding noise, this will give an indication as to the quality of the bearings and drive system. The smoother and quieter the bike runs the better the quality it is.
PEDALS AND CRANKS
Look for a 3-piece crank which means the pedal arms are separate components fixed to a central axle which makes it stronger and easier to repair. Low cost bikes have a 1-piece crank that is more likely to break after high use.
Look for good size pedals that provide solid foot support and adjustable straps that lock the foot in place. Some spin bike models will provide cleats to be worn that clip into the pedal and lock the riders foot in place.
The more resistance applied to the flywheel, the harder it is to turn the pedal crank thereby replicating the feeling of riding up a hill.
Most spin bike models use a brake pad pressed directly onto the flywheel so checking the size and composition of the pad will determine how smooth the resistance is.
Manual magnetic systems use opposing magnets which are positioned either side of the flywheel which are pulled closer increasing the resistance.
Electromagnetic systems use electromagnetic brakes to control how freely the flywheel can spin. Electromagnetic braking systems are the most accurate and sophisticated but are also the most expensive.
CONSOLE CONTROLS AND DISPLAYS
The control panel will have either LCD or LED display available in all sorts of colours, shapes and sizes; depending on what type of information you wish to see.
Various displays will show speed, distance, time, laps, incline, calories burned, heart rate and more. The more programs and electronic gadgets does not mean a better quality product.
Finally the most important consideration when purchasing an exercise bike is the company that supplies the product and the after-sales service and back-up spare parts.
Make sure you deal with an established supplier that has a good history in the industry. Ensure they carry adequate stocks of spare parts and that they employ trained service technicians. This is especially important if you are purchasing online.
Check the warranties and make sure the supplier has the ability to back them up. Warranty promises are only as good as the company making them.
Contact us here at Achieve Fitness. We have a dedicated team of professionals ready to support you.