Exercise Bike Types: Which One Is Best Suited For You?

When looking for an exercise bike, you notice there are a few different options. This guide will help you understand which exercise bike type is best suited for your fitness plan.

Each type has its advantages and is more suited for some particular activity. You will learn how each type can help you with a specific goal.

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Upright Stationary Bikes

Upright stationary bikes are one of the most popular types of exercise bikes. They are designed in much the same way as free road bicycles. These machines consist of a traditional bicycle seat located almost directly over the pedals.

spin upright exercise bike

Regular bike handlebars are nearly parallel with the seat. Upright stationary exercise bikes require users to bend forward slightly with their hands on the handlebars while pedaling.

Upright Stationary Bike Pros

There are numerous advantages to upright stationary exercise bicycles. These include:

  • Convenient – Upright stationary bikes take up little space and can be used almost anywhere.
  • Easy to Use – They are easy to use by almost anyone, even those new to fitness.
  • Great Workout – Upright bikes provide a great cardio workout as well as a strength training workout for your leg muscles.
  • Versatile – Upright exercise bikes can be used both standing and sitting for more efficient workouts.
  • Affordable – Among the most affordable types of exercise bikes, quality versions of the machine can be found for as little as $100 to $250.

Upright Stationary Bike Cons

Despite their many advantages, upright stationary exercise bicycles also have some cons for certain users. These include:

  • Uncomfortable – Many users find upright exercise bikes uncomfortable. Complaints are directed to the hard, unforgiving seats.
  • Back and Neck Stress – Upright exercise bikes can cause back and neck stress, in particular for those already struggling with pain in these areas. This is due to the hunched over posture that is required.
  • Less Stable – Though perfectly stable for most users, upright stationary bikes can be somewhat unstable for elderly users and those that are very overweight.

Upright Stationary Bike Uses

The uses of upright stationary bikes are nearly endless. People use them for all sorts of different reasons. Chief among these is a great workout.

These exercise bikes provide a low-impact form of cardio exercise as well as a built-in way to build strength and endurance in your leg muscles. This means they are an excellent way to get in shape, build muscle, or lose weight.

Because they are similar to traditional road bikes, stationary bikes are often used by avid cyclists in the off season. When the weather is bad for outdoor cycling, many of these cyclists spend time training on their upright bikes indoors.

In addition to staying in shape, riding a stationary bike also retains cycling muscle memory. For this same reason, many other athletes use upright stationary bikes for training. If you’re involved in a sport, event, or profession where strength or endurance is key, an exercise bike can help keep you in the best shape possible.

How To Buy An Upright Stationary Exercise Bicycle

When it comes to buying a best upright stationary exercise bike, there are a lot of different options. The easiest way to narrow down your search is to read reviews of different models on our site. See what other users think of bicycles in your budget range.

If possible, you should also stop at your local fitness store to try the models that interest you in person. You should do this even if you’re planning to purchase your next exercise bike online. It allows you to test the features and make sure the bicycle fits your individual size.

Buying an exercise bike is easy when you understand the differences between the different types and read reviews written by other users and fitness experts. You might just find that an upright stationary bike is the best choice for you.

Recumbent Stationary Bikes

Recumbent stationary bikes are one of the most popular types of exercise bikes along with upright stationary bikes. Unlike upright stationary bikes, however, they are not designed to mimic your typical outdoor road bike.

recumbent exercise bike workout

Instead, they are constructed in a laidback fashion, the seat nearly horizontal with the pedals. Additionally, the seat isn’t a regular bicycle seat. Instead, it closely resembles a chair. No handlebars are needed when riding a recumbent stationary bike.

Recumbent Stationary Bike Pros

There are numerous advantages to recumbent stationary exercise bikes. These include:

  • Convenient – Recumbent stationary bikes take up a small amount of space and can be used in almost any home.
  • Easy to Use – They are by far the easiest type of exercise bike to learn how to use. Nearly anyone can learn how to use them in minutes.
  • Great Workout – Recumbent bikes provide a great cardio workout despite their reclined position. They also give users an effective lower body strength training workout.
  • Comfortable – Recumbent bikes are far more comfortable than upright bikes. The primary reason for this is their large, comfortable seat.
  • Stable – These machines are very safe and stable. They are perfect for the elderly and the very overweight. They are a great way to go from little to no exercise to daily exercise.

Recumbent Stationary Bike Cons

It’s true that recumbent bikes have a number of advantages. But they also have a handful of disadvantages. These include:

  • Expensive – Unfortunately, recumbent bikes are far more expensive, in general, than upright bikes.
  • Limited – These machines can only be used in the seated position. Unlike upright stationary bikes, they cannot be used standing up.
  • Large – Though still relatively easy to store, recumbent bikes are larger than their upright counterparts. This makes them a poor choice for very small homes and apartments.

Recumbent Stationary Exercise Bike Uses

People use recumbent stationary bicycles for many different reasons. These range from injury recovery to weight loss to training for athletic events.

Some recumbent exercise bikes are great for injury recovery because they are so low-impact. Their sit-back design places very little stress on the knees, ankles, back, neck, or joints. The easy movements allow you to regain mobility and flexibility without fear of becoming reinjured.

Those looking to lose weight at home often opt for recumbent bikes as well. This is especially true of those that need to lose large amounts of weight. Recumbent bicycles provide excellent calorie-burning cardio.

Finally, some people use recumbent exercise bikes to train for athletic events. However, these people generally use them for non-bicycling related events. Most avid outdoor cyclists prefer upright stationary bikes because they more closely mimic the traditional bicycling experience.

How To Buy A Recumbent Stationary Bicycle

There are a lot of different options to sort through when buying a recumbent stationary bike. There are literally hundreds of different models out there, each with its own set of features.

The first way to narrow down your hunt is to set a budget. When it comes to recumbent bicycles, you probably don’t want to spend any less than $250. And, like many things, the more money you spend, the higher quality your stationary cycle will likely be. Setting a budget for your new purchase will narrow down the options considerably.

After you have set a budget, your best bet is to look at online reviews of the models you are interested in. These are written both by users like yourself and by exercise bike experts. You should generally only choose a model with a majority of high reviews.

You’ll find that there are a lot of them. Simply put, finding a great recumbent stationary bike for your home is not hard at all.

Indoor Cycle Bikes

Do you want the absolute best exercise bike workout possible? Then you need to direct your focus to indoor cycles. Though they are very similar in appearance to upright stationary bikes (and somewhat similar to recumbent stationary bikes), the inner workings of indoor cycles are entirely different.

spin exercise bike

In short, best indoor cycles are designed to mimic the traditional outdoor road bicycling experience as accurately as possible. Like upright exercise bikes, they have upright seats almost immediately over the pedals.

Their handlebars are about parallel with the seat. Like an outdoor road bike, the user is required to lean slightly forward to reach the handlebars during use.

Most upright exercise bikes operate with electromagnetic resistance and a motor. Indoor cycles have no motor. Resistance is applied through a weighted flywheel system, which can be adjusted with a knob or a lever to simulate hills or wind resistance.

The similarity between free road bikes and indoor cycles makes them a very popular choice among serious cyclists.

Indoor Cycle Bike Pros

The advantages of using an indoor cycle are numerous. They include:

  • Realistic – An indoor cycle is the most practical type of exercise bike. It mimics the outdoor cycling experience very closely.
  • Versatile – Users can ride these bikes in the seated or standing position, for a varied and efficient workout.
  • Convenient – Indoor cycles are somewhat small and lightweight. Moving them from place to place is easy.
  • Fantastic Workout – The cardio workout provided by an indoor cycle is like no other. This is why they are a favorite in spin classes in gyms around the country.
  • Easy to Use – Indoor cycles are simple and straightforward. There is not a fancy digital display to work with. All you have to do is get on and ride.

Indoor Cycle Bike Cons

Indoor cycles have a few disadvantages depending on your needs and preferences. These include:

  • Uncomfortable – Like upright exercise bikes, the seats on indoor cycles are not known to be comfortable. They are hard and unforgiving.
  • Back and Neck Stress – You must lean slightly forward while using an indoor cycle. This often places stress on the neck and lower back, in particular for those already struggling with pain in these areas.
  • Expensive – Though standard models do exist, they are generally of a lower quality than cheap upright and recumbent exercise bikes. If you want an indoor cycle, you should be willing to work over a few hundred dollars for a quality machine.

Indoor Cycle Bike Uses

The three most popular methods of indoor cycles include weight loss, spin classes, and cycling training. They are very effective in all of these areas.

Indoor cycles provide a highly effective workout that makes them ideal for weight loss. This is also the reason they are so popular in spin classes. Head to any gym in the country, and you are sure to see a fair share of indoor cycles in heavy use.

Serious outdoor cyclists swear by indoor cycles for severe weather training. As is mentioned above, this is because they most closely mimic real outdoor bicycles.

The effectiveness of indoor cycles for a great workout is why they are also commonly used by athletes in non-cycling-related sports.

How To Buy An Indoor Cycle

Finding the right indoor cycle to buy is easy. First, it consists of understanding that an indoor cycle (and not another type of exercise bike) is what you want. The second step is setting a fixed budget to narrow down the hundreds of models available.

After this, you should read online reviews of the models that most interest you to further narrow down your search. We’re confident that you’ll find the perfect indoor cycle for you in little time at all.

Dual-Action Stationary Bikes

Out of the three most popular types of stationary exercise bikes (upright, recumbent, and dual-action), dual-action is the least like a traditional road bicycle. The reason for this is that it is designed not only to provide a killer workout for your legs – it is also intended to provide a solid workout for your upper body.

dual action stationary bike

Dual-action stationary bikes consist of a conventional stationary exercise bike (available in both the upright and recumbent form) with moving handlebars. The handlebars move in much the same way as the pedals. You push and pull with your arms while resistance is applied.

Dual-Action Stationary Bike Pros

Dual-action stationary exercise bicycles have a long list of advantages. These include:

  • Overall Workout – These machines not only provide a lower body workout, but they also provide an upper body workout.
  • Low Impact – Both the lower and upper body exercises are low-impact. This makes them perfect for people such as the elderly that need a low-impact way to exercise their entire body.
  • Convenient – Dual-action stationary bikes take up little space. They can easily be used in the comfort of your home.
  • Versatile – You don’t have to do the arms and the legs together. You can do one at a time. Want only a leg workout? Then lock the arm pedals and start riding.
  • Easy to Use – Nearly anyone can learn how to use a dual-action stationary in a matter of minutes. They are very easy and intuitive to use.

Dual-Action Stationary Bike Cons

Dual-action stationary exercise bicycles also come with some cons, depending on the user. These include:

  • Bulky – Though dual-action bikes don’t take up much space, they are bulky and cumbersome. This can make them hard to move out of the way while not in use.
  • Unlike a Real Bike – Dual-action exercise bikes are the farthest cry from real bikes. This makes them an unpopular choice for users that want to mimic a real biking experience.
  • Expensive – These machines are among the most expensive types of stationary exercise bikes.

Dual-Action Stationary Bike Uses

People use dual-action stationary bikes for all sorts of different things. The most common methods include injury recovery, weight loss, and a full-body workout. They are also the most popular choice among the elderly.

Dual-action stationary bikes are ideal for injury recovery because they stimulate the whole body in a low-impact way. You don’t have to worry about reinjuring yourself while using yours.

They are also an excellent choice for weight loss since they work both your upper and lower body at once. If you want an all-in-one cardio workout, it’s hard to beat a dual-action exercise bike.

Finally, dual-action stationary bicycles are becoming increasingly popular among the elderly. They are an ideal choice for older adults that need to regularly use both their upper and lower body in a low impact way.

How To Buy A Dual-Action Stationary  Bicycle

Buying a dual-action stationary exercise bike is easier than it seems. Now that you have decided this type of bike is right for you, it’s time to start exploring your options. The best way to narrow your search is to set a budget and look at online reviews.

Your budget will help you work within a specific price range while reviews will help you find the best models in this price range possible. Before you know it, you will find the perfect dual-action stationary exercise bike for your individual needs and preferences.

Additional Features For Different Types Of Exercise Bikes

Each stationary bike can have some additional feature that would make it a better option for some types of training, or save you some storage space, or give you some extra workout options. We will discuss the two most important features that modern exercise bike has.

Folding Exercise Bike

As we have said above, a folding exercise bike is not exactly a “type” of an exercise bike. Instead, it is a particular feature that many different types of exercise bikes can have.

folding upright exercise bike

For instance, upright and recumbent bikes can all be folding. As its name suggests, a folding exercise bike is simply a variation on one of these bikes that features the added functionality of a folding frame.

Folding Exercise Bike Pros

The advantages of folding exercise bikes are numerous. They include:

  • Stowable – The biggest benefit of folding exercise bikes is that they can fold down for easy storage. They are the easiest to store of all exercise bikes.
  • Convenient – All you have to do is take your bike out of storage, fold it down, and ride.
  • Lots of Options – Folding Exercise bikes come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. There is a little something for everyone.
  • Great Workout – All exercise bikes provide a killer workout. It’s a unique form of cardio and lower body strength training.
  • For All Budgets – There is a folding exercise bike that fits every budget. They’re available from as little as $100 all the way up to $1,000 and well beyond.

Folding Exercise Bike Cons

Folding exercise bikes have very few disadvantages. Those that they do have include:

  • Unsteady – Because folding exercise bikes come in all forms, their only real problem is that they can be unsteady. This is particularly the case of budget models. While handy, the folding mechanism sometimes means that the bikes are prone to wobbling.

Folding Exercise Bike Uses

The folding exercise bikes are utilized in the same ways that other exercise bikes are – with the added benefit that they are easily stored after use. These standard methods include weight loss, injury recovery, and training.

Weight loss is all about burning calories, and that is exactly what a folding exercise bike helps you do. Hop on and pedal. That’s all there is to it.

Because they are such a low-impact exercise tool, folding exercise bikes are also great for those that need to regain strength, endurance, mobility, and flexibility after injury. They are a low-risk way to get back into shape.

Folding exercise bikes are also used for those training for athletic events for the same reasons. They are a particularly popular choice for avid outdoor cyclists that require an efficient way to train in the offseason.

How To Buy A Folding Exercise Bike

You should go about the purchase of a folding recumbent exercise bike in the same way you would go about buying any exercise bike. In short, set a budget, consider the options, take your time, and read reviews.

Online reviews of exercise bikes are one of the best ways to narrow down the options to a select few models. Even if you’re buying your bike online, it can be a smart idea to visit your local fitness store to try the models that most interest you in person.

Folding exercise bikes are great. They are an awesome way to get into the best shape of your life. They are a particularly good choice for those with small living quarters that need to stow their bike after each use.

Interactive Stationary Bikes

Interactive stationary bikes are the latest craze in the fitness world. They come in both upright and recumbent forms. What sets them apart is not their design or the workout they provide, but rather the fact that they come with built-in screens.

interactive stationary bike

These screens allow users to ride virtual courses or play video games while exercising. The purpose of these interactive stationary bikes is to make exercise less distasteful and more exciting for newcomers to fitness.

Interactive Stationary  Bike Pros

The advantages of interactive stationary bikes are numerous. They include:

  • Fun – Interactive stationary bikes are among the most fun exercise bikes to use. The virtual courses and built-in video games are to thank for this.​​​​
  • Easy to Use – These bikes are also for the most comfortable use. Just hope on and ride.
  • Great Workout – Like all exercise bikes, the interactive stationary variety provides a killer cardio workout in addition to strength training for your legs.
  • Convenient – What is more convenient than hopping on an exercise bike in the comfort of your home?
  • Comfortable – Most interactive stationary bikes are of the recumbent variety. This ensures they are comfortable, safe, and stable. They’re ideal for almost anyone to use.

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Interactive Stationary Bike Cons

Interactive stationary bikes also come with a handful of cons depending on the particular user. These might include:

  • Bulky – Because of their built-in screens, interactive stationary bikes are often bulky and cumbersome. They are not the easiest type of exercise bike to store.
  • Limited – Since most of these machines are recumbent in nature, the exercises that can be performed on them are somewhat limited. You can’t stand up and ride on these types of interactive stationary cycles.
  • Expensive – Interactive stationary cycles are often the most expensive among exercise bike types. Once again, it is the built-in display and computer that accounts for this.

Interactive Stationary Bike Uses

Interactive stationary bikes have a wide variety of applications. Like most exercise bikes, they can be used for weight loss and injury recovery. However, they are not a very popular option for more serious athletes, as their applications are somewhat limited.

Perhaps the most famous use of interactive stationary bicycles is for getting/staying in shape for those that struggle to maintain a regular exercise routine.

They provide an excellent workout while also providing the distraction that many people need to efficiently power through a workout. With that said, they’re an excellent choice for those that don’t actually like working out but know that they need to.

How To Buy An Interactive Stationary Bicycle

The best deals on interactive stationary exercise bikes are most often found online. For this reason, many people do the majority of their shopping on the Internet.

This isn’t to say, however, that you shouldn’t visit your local fitness store. If possible, it is always a smart idea to test the models you are interested in before making a purchase.

The first step to buying an interactive stationary bike is to set a budget. A budget helps you narrow down your models of interest. The next step that we recommend is reading reviews on the models of interest online.

Feedback from other users and fitness experts will help you ensure that your purchase is the right one. Before you know it, you’ll be on your interactive stationary bicycle pumping your legs away while playing an entertaining video game!


Now you know the basic types of exercise bikes and their main characteristics. Each type has different purpose, and is suited for different type of training, workout, recovery, or some other goal.

It is important to know all main features of each type before you decide to make the purchase. We have created a buying guide which should help you further once you decide which type is best suited for your needs.