Need a good bike
April 2, 2012 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Can/Should I buy a stationary bike off E-bay?

I would like to add some cross-training (specifically biking) to my running as a I ramp up my mileage for my second marathon. The problem with buying a real bicycle is that I have no depth perception, and frequently crash into things. I don’t want to spend $100 a month on a gym, because I just don’t go.

So, looking at different stationary bicycles online, is it okay to buy through E-bay? Some seemingly reputable sellers have bikes for $125. Can that possibly not end in tears?

Also, what should I be looking for in a bike? I am particularly injury prone.
posted by roomthreeseventeen to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
Been there, done that. You know what the kicker is? SHIPPING. The bike was cheap, the shipping was INSANE. In hindsight, I would not have done it; I didn't end up liking the bike I got.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:06 AM on April 2, 2012

I would never buy any sort of exercise equipment without trying it out in person because if it didn't work for me (or fit my body type), I'd be stuck with a thing I can't use taking up space. Also, as TPS points out, shipping would probably be pretty darn expensive.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:18 AM on April 2, 2012

Shipping something that size is extremely expensive.

You'd be better off hitting Craigslist locally. Used indoor exercise equipment is going to start coming up a lot more frequently with summer coming.
posted by mhoye at 9:20 AM on April 2, 2012

Yes, Craiglslist, not eBay! You will still need a van to transport it, or will pay to pay the seller a little more to transport it, but this will still be cheaper than shipping.

Thinking sideways, consider getting a real bike from CL, but also a bike trainer to attach it too. The bike can be ridden back from the purchaser (by you or a more stable friend) and the trainer can be brought back on the subway. The components might be easier to re-sell later, too.

This trainer is pretty pricey, but if you're willing to go to Forest Hills there's a mountain bike and trainer for $150. This $40 trainer is a bargain, especially as it comes with an extra block to raise your front wheel. Here's another for $50.
posted by maudlin at 9:37 AM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you live an an apartment (which I am guessing from the manhattan tag), make sure whatever you buy is relatively quiet, and in particular, that it doesn't vibrate much. I once got a stationary trainer for my bike, and when I got it back to my apartment I found it made so much noise for the downstairs and next door neighbors that I couldn't use it very often. I still have it, but now I live in a house with a basement.

Otherwise, there are three basic questions:

1. Do you want a bike that resembles a road bike, in that it exercises only your legs (even if it doesn't much look like a road bike otherwise), or do you want one that also exercises your arms? The latter will be bigger but will give you a more all-around workout if the arm movements actually work against resistance.

2. What kind of resistance does the bike offer? Cheap exercise bikes often use simple friction belts for resistance, which can be effective but is noisy. Others use magnetic resistance, which is quieter but can be difficult to adjust or change. Some use a turbine inside a dense liquid; these tend to be quiet but more expensive. Still others, like the Schwinn Airdyne, use fans and air resistance; these have the advantage that the wind they generate can be aimed at your body, to cool you off. Finally, there are units that use variable, electronically controlled magnetic resistance. These can be programmed to give you variety. However, they are the most expensive.

3. How does the bike fit? Is the saddle comfortable? Can you adjust the height and reach of the handlebars, to get the most comfortable position, or are they fixed in place? (Doesn't apply to moving handlebar bikes in quite the same way.) Many exercise bikes have saddles that are way too wide, at least if you're going to use them for more than 15 minutes at a time. See if the saddle can be changed.

I guess a 4th question is size, if your apartment is small.

If you have $100/month to spend on a gym, and it's a matter of motivation and convenience, you might consider visiting a shop that sells a few different kinds of exercise bike, and trying them out. A more expensive bike that gets frequent use is a better deal than a cheap one that gathers dust.

Good luck!
posted by brianogilvie at 9:48 AM on April 2, 2012

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