- 1 Why buy a spinning bike?
- 2 Best spin bikes by price
- 3 Top 10 Spinning Bikes For Home Gyms
- 4 What’s the best bike for your budget?
- 5 Best spinning bike under $200 – Sunny SF-B1001
- 6 Best spinning bike under $500 – Sunny SF-B1002
- 7 Best spinning bike under $1000 – Sole Fitness SB700
- 8 Best spinning bike under $1500 – Schwinn A.C. Sport Carbon Blue
- 9 Best spinning bike over $1500 – Keiser M3 Plus
- 10 Top 5 benefits of spinning
- 11 Top 10 design features to look for
- 12 Brands reviewed by USA Home Gym
- 13 Glossary of indoor cycling bike terminology
Why buy a spinning bike?
Improving your physical fitness and losing weight can be an expensive business, with a recent study revealing Americans spend over $60 billion each year on everything from gym memberships to specialist weight-loss programs.
But with the average cost of a gym membership now costing $58, you have to ask yourself whether it’s really the best way to invest in your health. You also have to remember that many of us who sign up for yearly memberships in January won’t still be making regular visits by July.
If you’re already a member of a gym and maintain an active membership, ask yourself just how many of the gym’s facilities you’re really taking advantage of in exchange for your monthly membership fee.
We’re not saying that having an indoor cycling bike at home should be your only source of exercise, but it can certainly be a more cost effective and convenient option for cardio workouts in many cases.
Even if you don’t have much space at home to dedicate to fitness equipment, this style of exercise bike is one of the most compact pieces of equipment you can buy, taking up far less space than treadmills, ellipticals, and even recumbents.
In this guide we’ll walk you through the 10 most important factors you need to look for on any bike, the top 10 indoor cycling bikes for home workouts, and the benefits that spinning and high intensity interval training (HIIT) can bring.
Best spin bikes by price
PRICE RANGE: $50-$200:
- Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B1203 Indoor Cycle Trainer – 450+ Reviews
- Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B1001 Indoor Cycling Bike – 275+ Reviews
PRICE RANGE: $200-$500:
- Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B901 Pro Indoor Cycling Bike – 1400+ Reviews
- Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B1002 Indoor Cycle Trainer – 300+ Reviews
- Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B1110 Indoor Cycling Bike – 200+ Reviews
PRICE RANGE: $500-$1000:
- Phoenix 98623 Revolution Cycle Pro II Indoor Cycling Trainer – 65+ Reviews
- Diamondback Fitness 510Ic Adjustable Indoor Cycle – 75+ Reviews
PRICE RANGE: $1000-$1500:
- Sole Fitness SB700 Exercise Bike – 125+ Reviews
- Schwinn A.C. Sport Indoor Cycle Trainer – 10+ Reviews
PRICE RANGE: $1500+:
Top 10 Spinning Bikes For Home Gyms
The following 10 indoor cycling bikes have been chosen based on a combination of factors, including cost, flywheel weight, average customer review rating on ecommerce sites, and in many cases due to their unique design features.
We’ve also written in-depth reviews on each of the bikes in the table, complete with full explanations of each feature and comparisons with similarly priced models.
If you would prefer to see our top recommendation for each price range, then feel free to jump ahead in the guide.
|Name||Product Features||Rating||More Info|
|Keiser M3 Plus Indoor Exercise Bike||5|
|Spinner eSpin Commercial Spin Bike||5|
|Keiser M3i Indoor Cycle (2015 Model)||5|
|Diamondback Fitness 510Ic Indoor Cycle||4.5|
|Sole Fitness SB700 Indoor Exercise Bike||4|
|Sunny SF-B1002 Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike||4.5|
|Phoenix 98623 Revolution Cycle Pro 2||4|
|Schwinn AC Performance Plus||4.5|
|Sunny SF-B901 Pro Indoor Cycling Bike||4.5|
|Sunny SF-B1001 Indoor Cycling Bike||4|
What’s the best bike for your budget?
If you’re considering buying an indoor cycling bike or spin bike, it’s important to remember that you won’t have as much choice for the lower price ranges as you would with the upright exercise bikes.
This is because with upright bikes companies can reduce the cost of the frame and materials used by creating a slim profile x-frame style bike that can be folded away. The flywheel on bikes of this size also usually weighs around 5kg, a significant reduction in comparison to the 30 to 50 lb flywheels that feature on the bikes we’re about to recommend.
However, there are still companies out there that produce indoor cycling bikes that are capable of becoming bestsellers due to their overall build quality and customer support, without costing you thousands of dollars.
It’s still important to find the right balance between price and the features you’ll actually use, and there are cases where a simple reduction in flywheel weight or opting for a chain-driven instead of belt-driven bike can save you a significant amount of money.
The following 5 bikes are models that we’ve found to be the best for their respective price categories, with the categories being chosen to prove that there’s a high quality bike for every budget.
Best spinning bike under $200 – Sunny SF-B1001
Even if you’re on a tight budget, finding an upright exercise bike for under $200 isn’t too much of a challenge. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for spin bikes.
That being said, Sunny Health and Fitness are a company that have dominated the budget spin bike market after setting up the headquarters in Los Angeles, California 10 years ago.
Amassing hundreds of highly rated reviews for almost every one of their spin bikes, and specializing in the $100-$500 price range, our decision to choose their SF-B1001 Indoor Cycling Bike as our top model under $200 wasn’t a difficult one.
It’s chain driven so it generates slightly more noise than higher priced belt-driven bikes, but still offers an impressive 30 lb perimeter weighted flywheel to help you maintain a smooth cycling motion.
The 220 lbs weight capacity may come across as a little on the low side, but if you’re looking for anything closer to 300 lbs at this price point then you would have to switch to a recumbent bike.Read the full reviewBuy now
Best spinning bike under $500 – Sunny SF-B1002
If your budget can stretch to $500 then you have a much wider range of indoor cycling bikes to choose from. Although this now includes models from companies such as Schwinn, Bladez Fitness, Marcy, Exerpeutic, and Phoenix to name a few, our top choice for this price category remains with Sunny Health and Fitness.
The SF-B1002 is the top model in their collection, and is one of the few bikes that allows you to choose between a belt-driven and chain-driven (SF-B1002C) version.
The flywheel weighs in at 49 lbs, which is even heavier than for the higher priced SB700 bike from Sole.
Perimeter weighted and with a friction pad resistance system, the only slight drawback is the 275 lb weight capacity, although this is near enough the best you’ll find at this price point.
Despite the fact that the Horizon Fitness M4 is priced much closer to the $500 limit for this category and features a display console, the weight capacity is only 10 lbs higher and the Q factor is almost identical at around 150mm. The M4 is also chain driven, which has led to a number of complaints in the customer review section of its Amazon listing about it being extremely loud to use.Read the full reviewBuy now
Best spinning bike under $1000 – Sole Fitness SB700
Deciding on the best indoor cycle for under $1000 was actually a lot more difficult than the two previous price categories. This was due to the increased amount of competition from popular designs such as the Sole SB700, BodyCraft SPX, and LeMond RevMaster Sport.
For this reason we’re going to cheat slightly and give you two different bikes, although we do show a distinct preference for the first one we’re about to mention.
The Diamondback Fitness 510Ic Indoor Cycle is our top choice of bike for the under $1000 category in terms of its workout variation and quality of console feedback.
Although only the seat can be adjusted through fore and aft positions and not the handlebars, and the flywheel isn’t the heaviest for this category at 32 lbs in weight, the number of preset programs and fact that it has built-in heart rate sensors is certainly impressive.
The maximum user weight of 300 lbs is a considerable improvement over the Sunny SF-B1001 in our $200 category.
YouTube video showing the Diamondback Fitness 510Ic bike in action
However, in terms of its overall combination of features the Sole Fitness SB700 Exercise Bike would be our top choice. This is due to having a console that provides feedback for your RPM, time, speed, and distance, as well as offering full fore and aft adjustment for the seat and handlebars.
The 48 lb chrome plate flywheel isn’t perimeter weighted, but the Kevlar belt breaking system significantly reduces the noise generated from cycling, and helps to provide a smooth cycling motion during high intensity workouts.
The warranty too is impressive, with lifetime coverage on the frame, and 3 years on the parts and electronics. Weight capacity is the same as the Diamondback 510Ic at 300 lbs.
If you’re more used to bikes with a perimeter weight flywheel, then we would recommend the BodyCraft SPX Club, as it features a similar level of warranty coverage, high quality saddle, 300 lb weight capacity, fore and aft seat and handlebar adjustments, and a flywheel weight of 46 lbs.Read the full review of the Sole SB700Buy now
Best spinning bike under $1500 – Schwinn A.C. Sport Carbon Blue
The bike we’ve chosen for the top model under $1500 features some incredibly impressive technical specs and customization options that set it apart from anything else in this price range.
The Schwinn A.C. Sport with Carbon Blue is one of the first indoor cycling bikes from Schwinn to offer a Kevlar belt system in place of a chain or band. This Carbon Blue™ drive train combines the workout benefits of a belt with the durability and curvilinear teeth of a chain, which helps the internal drive system maintain constant tension for a smoother pedalling motion.
Having a maximum weight capacity of 350 lbs is beyond anything that we’ve mentioned so far, with the exception of the Spinner eSpin which costs several thousand dollars more.
Fore and aft handlebar and seat adjustment comes as standard, and it’s even compatible with Schwinn’s MPower™ Console V2, which is capable of providing accurate feedback on your RPM (Cadence), heart rate, watts, speed, distance, and total workout time.
YouTube video showing the Schwinn A.C. Sport with Carbon Blue
Another major benefit of having this console compatibility is that you can upload workout data to a USB while you’re cycling, allowing you to build up a historical picture of your performance.
The resistance system is magnetic rather than friction based, but when you combine this with the durable Carbon Blue™ drive belt what you get is a bike that’s virtually maintenance free, with a 10 year warranty on the frame and 2 years on parts.Read the full reviewBuy now
Best spinning bike over $1500 – Keiser M3 Plus
Compared to upright and recumbent designs, indoor cycling bikes tend to be priced within a much tighter range in terms of price, with fewer models available outside of the $200 to $2500 category.
This is actually a good thing, with the top bikes that commercial gyms use being priced within reach of anyone on a tighter budget that can’t afford to spend $4000+ to buy the equivelant machine for their gym at home.
The Keiser brand in particular has proven to be incredibly popular amongst commercial gyms in the UK, with David Lloyd clubs offering classes on their M3 and M3 Plus bikes.
The popularity of Keiser is also reflected in the customer reviews section of many ecommerce sites, including Amazon. The high quality build design and smooth cycling motion are mentioned throughout these reviews, and are two of the reasons why we’ve chosen the Keiser M3 Plus for our top indoor cycling bike over $1500.
It’s worth mentioning that this decision wasn’t as straightforward as for our under $200 category, where there were comparitively few models to choose from.
Despite being our highest price category, the Keiser M3 Plus faces serious competition from well known brands such as Schwinn (AC Performance Plus with Carbon Blue), Mad Dogg (Spinner eSpin), Kettler (Ergo Race II), and ProForm (320 SPX).
Unlike the bikes in our lower price categories, the Keiser M3 Plus uses magnetic resistance and a 24-gear system in place of more conventional friction pads.
Both the seat and handlebars are fully adjustable through height as well as fore/aft settings, and the console provided allows you to track your RPM (Cadence), elapsed time, heart rate, gear, and distance.
It’s this added fore and aft adjustment that sets it apart from the earlier M3 model, and ensures you can quickly get into the most efficient position for cycling, regardless of your height.
Magnetic resistance makes it incredibly quiet, pedals can be swapped out for ones that closely match your road bike, and from an aesthetics point of view it’s one of the best looking indoor cycling bikes we’ve seen.Read the full reviewBuy now
Top 5 benefits of spinning
Provided you’re using HIIT style interval training and not steady-state cardio, Spinning represents one of the best exercises for calorie burning, improving endurance, and efficient use of your time.
But what about the health benefits, and how does it compare to other exercises such as running and training on an elliptical?
We put together the following 5 benefits of spinning and high intensity interval cycling to help clarify the benefits you can expect to see by making this exercise part of your regular fitness routine.
- 1. Effective calorie burning
The exact amount of calories burned will depend on a number of factors, including your age, height, and weight. But if you’re looking to compare the number of calories burned by different activities and exercises, spinning is just about as good as it gets.
When we used Health Status’ Calorie Burn Calculator to calculate the calories burned for different forms of high-intensity exercise, we found spinning to be just as effective as the elliptical trainer, and much more effective than Zumba, running, cycling, or using the ski machine.
But it’s not just calorie burn calculators like these that prove how useful spinning can be for weight loss, burning calories, and improving muscle definition. There are also a number of scientific studies that back this up.
In August 2006 a study was published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association that attempted to identify the level of energy expenditure caused by four types of fitness class; Bodycombat, Step aerobics, Jogging, and Spinning.
The study found that Spinning was the most efficient, with an average calorie expenditure of 9.9 kcal/min. This was followed by Bodycombat at 9.7 kcal/min, Step aerobics at 9.6 kcal/min, and running at 8.05 kcal/min.
- 2. Increased endurance in other activities
Although there are a number of reasons why people choose to exercise, improving endurance is something that offers the most carryover benefits into other day-to-day activities and exercises.
But if you want to see the greatest improvements, you’re going to need to find an exercise or piece of fitness equipment that allows you to quickly switch between sprints and recovery phases (HIIT).
While treadmills offer this to some degree, the machines that offer the highest belt speeds often come with a hefty price tag, and the motor won’t always be responsive enough to the changes you make at the console.
This is why spinning is such an attractive option.
The resistance for most spin style bikes comes from a friction pad that presses against the flywheel, with a control knob above that can adjust how much pressure the pads are applying.
A report published by Burgomaster et al. in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that sprint interval training on a bicycle ergometer – such as a spin style bike – was “sufficient to double the length of time that intense aerobic exercise could be maintained (i.e.; from 26 to 51 min).”
The study was based around a group that performed six sessions over a 2-week period, with each session comprised of 30 seconds of sprinting, followed by 4 minutes of recovery.
So for only 15-minutes of exercise over 2 weeks, this group of active college students effectively doubled their cardiovascular endurance using sprint training.
- 3. Efficient use of limited time
Another benefit proven by the study we just mentioned is that high intensity cycling can provide incredible results in a very short space of time, making it the perfect option if you prefer shorter workouts.
But if you’ve ever seen a spinning class in a commercial gym environment, you’ll notice that the rooms where they take place often feature loud music and motivational instruction. This is because while the overall duration may be shorter than a jog on a treadmill, the intensity is considerably higher.
Although you’re probably not able to have an instructor motivating you at home each workout, you can certainly enjoy the same fast-paced motivational music.
The workout itself won’t usually last more than 20 to 30 minutes due to the intensity, or in the case of Tabata intervals, won’t exceed 8 minutes. This makes it the ideal choice for home workouts, where you don’t have the time to schedule in a spin class and travel to and from the gym.
- 4. Low impact workouts
You may think that prioritizing low-impact over high-impact exercises is something you only need to worry about once you get older. But the fact is that many of the injuries that surface in later life are the result of many years of high-impact movements like running.
While we’re not about to recommend you stop running, if you want to supplement your current running routine with a lower impact form of cardio, spinning can actually be a more effective option.
The journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise recently published a study that found older people have to exercise more than younger people to maintain muscle mass.
This two-phase exercise trial, led by Marcas Bamman, Ph.D., a professor of physiology and biophysics at University of Alabama at Birmingham, sought to determine how little exercise you need to maintain strength levels.
Two age groups were used in the comparisons, with one group aged between 60 and 75, and the other between 20 and 35. The study found that a workout once per week was enough to maintain strength levels in the 20 to 35 age group, but that following the same frequency led to strength loss in the 60 to 75 age group.
The only real way to do this while minimizing risk of injury to joints and ligaments is to put together a selection of low-impact exercises that allow you to reach or exceed the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week.
While recumbent bikes are usually preferred, there’s nothing to stop you participating in a higher-intensity exercise like spinning. Monitoring your heart rate is something we would recommend regardless of your age, and most workouts don’t advise anything higher than 85% of your maximum heart rate.
- 5. Improved energy levels
For most of the past four points we’ve linked high intensity HIIT style spinning workouts to the biggest endurance, weight loss, and health benefits.
But there are also benefits to cycling at a moderate pace, which were highlighted in a study by researchers at the University of Georgia in Athens (UGA).
In the study, subjects participated in a single 30-minute session of stationary cycling, during which researchers closely monitored the neural circuits in the brain that were showing increased activity.
After 30 minutes, participants reported a boost in energy levels, and positive electrical charges were measured in the brains using a test known as electroencephalogram, also known as an EEG.
Top 10 design features to look for
Whether it’s to buy a new exercise bike, treadmill, or even to get the best deal on insurance, comparisons are a natural part of the buying process. They help you find the best combination of features for the best price, with minimal sacrifices needing to be made due to budget restrictions.
But how do you know what needs comparing, and even when you know what you need to compare, what do you benchmark it against in order to determine if it’s a good model?
To help answer these questions we’ve put together a list of the top 10 features that need comparing if you’re considering buying a new spin bike or indoor cycling bike.
- 1. Adjustability
When you’re buying a new upright or recumbent exercise bike, you’ll usually be offered a variety of seat adjustments to cater for different user heights.
Some of the upright models will even allow you to adjust the angle of the handlebars to help you maintain correct posture during higher intensity workouts.
Due to the fact that spin bikes are usually associated with the highest intensity form of indoor cycling, it’s important that your body is positioned in a way that’s most efficient for the transfer of power through your legs and into the pedals.
But it’s not just the frame design that closely emulates that of a road bike. You also benefit from the wider range of adjustment options, with many spin bikes offering vertical as well as fore and aft adjustment for the saddle and handlebars.
Although the fore and aft settings aren’t something that all spin bikes offer, it is a feature you’ll find on models such as the Sole Fitness SB700, Keiser M3 Plus, Diamondback Fitness 510Ic, and LeMond RevMaster.
- 2. Customization options
Before buying any indoor cycling bike, it can also be worthwhile to check if the particular model you’re interested in allows customization.
Although this doesn’t extend as far as parts like the flywheel or pedal crank system, some models do give you the opportunity to change the pedals and seat.
With comfort being such an important part of an enjoying your workouts, knowing whether the saddle on the bike you’re buying is interchangeable or compatible with gel seat covers can make all the difference.
Manufacturers will often produce their own gel seat covers, which does make it easier to find a design that fits the bike you’re interested in.
If you’re bike is one of the models that allows seat replacements, one of the most popular designs you’ll come across is the Sunlite Cloud-9 Cruiser. If your bike doesn’t have a saddle replacement option and you’re just looking for a high quality gel seat cover, Schwinn and Sunlite are the two companies offering a number of bestselling designs compatible with indoor cycling bikes.
- 3. Flywheel weight
Although there are always going to be exceptions, it’s generally the case that the heavier the flywheel, the higher the price of the bike.
However, this isn’t something that can necessarily be measured and scaled across different manufacturers, but certainly holds true within their respective product lines.
If we take the bestselling range of indoor cycling bikes from Sunny Health and Fitness as an example, their lowest priced SF-B1001 bike has a flywheel weight of just 30 lbs. In contrast, their top-of-the-line SF-B1002 model has a flywheel weight of 49 lbs – one of the heaviest available on any indoor bike.
The list price between the two isn’t excessive (usually around $140 between the entry level bike and their top model), but this does show that flywheel weight is one of the factors that clearly affects the price of an indoor cycle.
Having a heavier flywheel does help improve stability by creating a lower center of gravity, but it also has a big influence on the level of inertia, particularly if it’s perimeter weighted.
Flywheels can be perimeter weighted to create a more aggressive level of inertia
(Left: Keiser M3, Right: Horizon M4)
Inertia is defined as a property by which something continues in its existing state, which in cycling terms refers to the duration that the flywheel would continue to rotate after you stopped pedalling.
A heavier flywheel builds up more momentum, which in-turn creates a higher level of inertia and allows you to maintain a fixed cycling speed for longer periods of time.
As the name suggests, in the case of a perimeter weighted flywheel, the majority of the weight can be found around the perimeter, or outer edge.
This creates an even more aggressive form of inertia, which is what creates that smooth cycling motion that you experience cycling on a road bike, and is one of the reasons why bikes fitted with heavy perimeter weighted flywheels will often cost more than those that aren’t. Exceptions to this would be the Keiser range of indoor cycles.
Not only does this type of weight distribution create a more fluid cycling motion, but it also reduces the impact on your knee and hip joints by preventing the up-down cycling style synonymous with many bikes featuring the lighter, evenly weighted flywheels.
There’s a long list of highly rated bikes with perimeter weighted flywheels, which include the Sunny SF-B1002, Schwinn AC Performance, and Spinner FIT / Spinner S1 Spinning® bikes from Mad Dogg Athletics.
Bestselling bikes that don’t feature this style of flywheel include the Keiser M3, Sole Fitness SB700, and the LeMond RevMaster Pro.
- 4. Resistance control system
Whereas many upright and recumbent bikes now rely on eddy current magnetic resistance systems, almost all indoor cycling bikes rely on friction to affect the resistance. This can either be in the form of a single friction pad, or pair of pads controlled by a calliper.
On most bikes you’ll see this as a red control dial positioned directly in front of the seat, and just before the handlebars. Rotating this dial will affect how much pressure is applied to the perimeter of the flywheel as it rotates.
Having this level of pressure applied to a friction pad will often lead to the friction pads needing to be replaced. How long it will be before you need to do this depends on the frequency and intensity of your cycling workouts, but it can still be worth contacting the manufacturer and enquiring about replacements. In most instances this will be something that’s covered under a parts warranty.
Spin bikes use several different types of resistance, some with an emergency brake lever
It’s also worth mentioning that the number of resistance knob rotations needed to achieve certain levels of cycling intensity varies between bikes, so expect to experience a short learning curve if you’re upgrading from an existing cycle, or looking to match the one in your local gym.
Half a turn of the knob on one bike won’t always produce the same change in resistance as another. The best way to speed up the learning process over how your new bike matches your old model or the one in the gym is to memorize how many turns it takes to reach 60RPM at full intensity on each bike, then work on percentages to find your level.
So if you know this takes 10 rotations on the bike at the gym, but 20 on the bike you just bought, if 5 rotations is what you usually use to reach the ‘feel the road’ level, then 10 rotations should produce the equivalent on your new bike.
Of course this is a general guide and slight modifications will need to be made, but it should provide a fairly accurate conversion to get started with.
Some bikes, like the Phoenix 98623 also position an emergency brake lever close to the resistance control knob, which can be useful for quickly stopping the flywheel and switching to reverse pedalling.
- 5. Display console
If you’ve read some of our reviews for upright and recumbent exercise bikes, you’ll notice we usually designate an entire section to discussing and comparing the merits of their display consoles. This isn’t always the case with indoor cycling bikes.
But if you think about the higher level of intensity associated with the workouts, and fact that you will most likely make adjustments to resistance based on your energy level and stage within an interval workout, then there really isn’t much call for one.
This means you will rarely have access to preset workout programs or user profiles, cooling fans, speakers, viewing screens or tablet holders. If these are features that you really would like to see included on your spin bike, then the Spinner eSpin from Mad Dogg is one of the only bikes we’ve seen to offer a built-in entertainment console with 15″ touch screen and iPod / USB connectivity.
However, if you do want to monitor basic feedback such as distance, time, RPM, pace, and even heart rate, then you still have a number of options available.
Firstly, you could choose one of the bikes that comes fitted with a console already. These include the Sole Fitness SB700, Schwinn IC2, Bladez Fusion GS, Horizon M4, Keiser M3i, Keiser M3 Plus, Kettler Ergo Race II, and Diamondback Fitness 510Ic.
These are bikes that suit a variety of budgets and fitness levels, so having a console fitted to the bike isn’t something that’s exclusive to the top models.
Far fewer spin bikes offer display consoles as a feature compared to upright bikes
(Left: Diamondback 510 Ic, Mid: Spinner eSpin, Right: NordicTack GX 5.5)
The 510Ic from Diamondback Fitness is also one of the only indoor cycling bikes we’ve come across that features a variety of preset workout programs, including heart rate controlled thanks to its built-in touch sensors.
If the bike you’re interested in doesn’t have a console fitted by default, it’s worth checking to see if it would be compatible with one of the multi-function bike computers sold by Schwinn or CatEye.
These work by having a console that attaches to your handlebars and having a cable run down the front fork of the bike (best for designs like the Phoenix 98623 rather than frames similar to the Keiser M3 Plus).
The end of the cable then attaches to the fork and points at the flywheel, where a small magnet is attached. The cable then records how frequently the magnet passes the cable sensor, providing feedback on distance, workout time, RPM, and pace.
If you want to track your heart rate, this is something that can only be done via a telemetry chest strap, such as the 5GHZ model from Polar.
With the exception of the 510Ic mentioned above, We have seen very few indoor cycling bikes of this style that features heart rate touch sensors built into the handles – a feature we’ve come to expect from recumbent and upright models.
- 6. Belt-Drive vs. Chain Drive
When you’re buying a new spin bike, there are really just two main types of drive system; belt-driven and chain-driven.
While the chain driven models follow a similar design convention to your standard road bike, belt-driven models are actually proving to be more popular. This is most likely due to requiring a lower level of maintenance and providing a smoother, quieter cycle.
There’s only one potential downside which is that the lifespan of the belt probably won’t be as long as the chain, particularly if you don’t cycle for a number of years and go back to the bike for a high intensity workout.
The belt is another of the parts that should fall under the parts warranty supplied with most spin bikes, and replacements are often available directly from the manufacturer.
Left: Spinner eSpin (Chain Drive), Right: Keiser M3 Plus (Belt Drive)
Some of the bikes that feature a belt-drive system are the Bodycraft SPX, Diamondback Fitness 510Ic, Keiser M3 Plus, Stamina CPS 9300, and Kettler Giro GT.
Bikes with a chain-drive system include the Reebok 510, Horizon Fitness M4, Schwinn IC Pro, ProForm 300 SPX, and Spinner eSpin.
Certain bikes are also available in both belt-driven and chain-driven versions, such as the Schwinn AC Performance (standard model is chain driven, but there’s a Carbon Blue version that features a Kevlar belt drive) and SF-B1002 from Sunny Health and Fitness (belt-driven as standard, but a chain driven version is also available with the SF-B1002C).
- 7. Water bottle holder
Staying hydrated during your workout is important for maintaining a high level of intensity, and preventing a decrease in performance.
That’s why having something as simple as a water bottle bolder attached to the bike have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your workouts.
However, this isn’t something that’s available on all indoor cycling bikes, and is one of the main differences between the two top models (SF-B901 and SF-B1002) in the bestselling collection from Sunny Health and Fitness.
Although several types of water bottle holder can be bought separately from the bike itself, these often require a specific type of bike frame or predrilled holes, so won’t be compatible with indoor exercise bikes.
- 8. Weight capacity and dimensions
One of the most important things to check about any bike design is the weight capacity. If the weight capacity isn’t high enough then it may have an effect on the quality of your workouts and your overall cycling performance.
The range of user weight limits is similar to what you might find on recumbent and upright bikes at equivalent price points, with an average capacity of 275 lbs and most falling into the range of 220 lbs (Sunny SF-B1001) to 300 lbs (Sole SB900).
That’s slightly less than the 350 lbs capacity that’s fairly common amongst recumbent bikes, which is partly due to the slimmer profile frame that’s required to create a realistic cycling experience and maintain a shorter Q factor.
However, if you look carefully then you can still find certain commercial designs that are available for home gyms with a weight capacity that exceeds 300 lbs, such as the Spinner Blade by Mad Dogg (350 lbs capacity).
- 9. Q Factor
The Q Factor is the distance between the pedal cranks of a bike, whether that’s an indoor exercise cycle or outdoor road bike, when measured parallel to the bottom bracket axle.
A narrower Q Factor is often more desirable on an indoor cycling bike as it’s said to closely match your natural foot fall placement when walking.
The narrower distance can also help reduce knee shear and help you to transfer power through your legs and lower body into the pedals for a more efficient cycling motion.
It’s this improved application of force during the pedal stroke that became evident during a scientific study carried out by researchers in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences department at the University of Birmingham in the UK.
Studies have shown the Q Factor distance influences cycling efficiency
Published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, this study measured the power output of 24 cyclists pedalling at 60% of peak power across Q Factors of 90, 120, 150, and 180mm.
The most efficient Q factor distances were found to be 90mm and 120mm. The increased efficiency at shorter distances is thought to be attributed to improved muscle activation and application of force, caused by the feet being closer together.
However, a bike’s Q factor isn’t something that’s usually listed as part of the product description on most ecommerce sites, or even on the manufacturer’s own product page. This makes it difficult to make it part of your comparison when deciding between different models.
The Schwinn IC2 claims to provide an outdoor cycling inspired Q factor, while the Spinner Sprint Indoor Cycle and Spinner Aero Premium – both from Mad Dogg Athletics – measures a respectable 155mm.
- 10. Space requirements and ease of transport
Next to weight capacity and product weight, the dimensions are probably the easiest piece of information to find about any indoor cycling bike.
However, in reality we wouldn’t recommend spending too much time make size comparisons between the different models, as for the most part they will all be more or less the same, especially with no folding designs available.
Providing you have enough floor space to accommodate a bike length of 50 inches and width of 25 inches, then you shouldn’t have any problem finding a bike. Something that’s much more varied though is whether or not the base stabilizer is fitted with transport wheels.
Transport wheels are a useful feature on bikes that can weigh in excess of 140 lbs
If you’re going to be moving the bike around between workouts, transport wheels will certainly come in useful. But if the bike you’re interested in meets all of your other requirements, then it’s probably not something you need to care too much about.
The weight of your average indoor cycling bike won’t exceed 140 lbs, making them considerably lighter than most elliptical trainers or treadmills. This also means you benefit from a much simpler assembly process.
Brands reviewed by USA Home Gym
Although the majority of our reviews will be based around current bestsellers, we also try to find bikes with unique design features that could be beneficial to your indoor cycling workouts.
We don’t hold any particular bias towards reviewing bikes from specific manufacturers, and if a bike is highly rated we try to showcase the reasons why.
USA Home Gym is home to spin bike reviews from the likes of Horizon Fitness, Keiser, Star Trac, Diamondback Fitness, Sunny Health and Fitness, Schwinn, and Phoenix to name a few.
Although we don’t currently hold reviews for all the bikes we’ve mentioned in this guide, we do have in-depth reviews for all of the bikes in our top 10 table above, and for each of the bikes in our price categories below.
While we do our best to review the latest spin bikes as soon as they come onto the market, if there’s a model that we’ve missed that you would like to see us cover and make comparisons to, feel free to contact us using the form provided.
Glossary of indoor cycling bike terminology
- Q Factor – The distance between the pedal cranks of a bike when measured parallel to the bottom bracket axle. Narrower Q factors of between 120mm and 155mm are generally the most desirable when looking for an indoor cycling bike.
- ECB Resistance – Eddie Current Braking (ECB) is a form of resistance system that’s quieter to use than conventional fan resistance.
Eddy currents are used to control the speed of the flywheel, where the closer the magnets are to the flywheel, the more drag is created and the more resistance you feel when pedalling.
- Telemetry heart rate monitoring – For any bike that uses a console without built-in touch sensors in the handlebars, a chest belt will need to be worn to transmit your heart rate to the console’s receiver.
- Perimeter weighted – The majority of the flywheel weight is positioned around the perimeter of the flywheel in order to generate more aggressive inertia.
- Inertia – You will often see bikes with a flywheel description of inertia-enhanced. Inertia is the movement of the flywheel that results from the amount of stored mechanical energy, which is what keeps the disc turning even after you stop pedalling.
More aggressive inertia can usually be found on the heavier flywheels, which require more initial effort to get moving, but helps you maintain a smoother and more controlled cycling motion.
- Calliper – Used in place of a single friction pad on some bikes, the calliper connects a pair of friction pads that apply pressure on either side of the perimeter of a flywheel, influencing the level of resistance applied.