Exercise bike advice
January 13, 2022 1:32 PM   Subscribe

I’d like to buy an inexpensive ($150 max), probably used, exercise bike as a way to do some cardio when it’s too icy or cold out to go running. Looking for some advice since I’ve only used one a handful of times at a gym.

Anything in particular I should look for, pay attention to, or avoid?

I’m not especially concerned with specifics of fitness conditioning, just getting the mental health benefits of vigorous exercise without needing to think a lot about what I’m doing. I run sometimes but I don’t bike outside. Will most exercise bikes have enough resistance for me?

Ideally I’d like to be able to read (on a kindle) while using the bike. Does that mean I should look for a recumbent style one or are some uprights OK for that?

I’m 5’4, so presumably (?) most bikes will be adjustable to fit me.

I hate like treadmills (even though I like walking and running on actual ground) so those are out.
posted by needs more cowbell to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Whoops, typo - that last sentence should just say “I hate treadmills” not “I hate like treadmills.”
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:38 PM on January 13

I bought this exercise bike on Amazon. We love it, very worth the $150 I think. I don't read while using it but my wife does and that seems to work very well for her.
posted by dorothy hawk at 1:53 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

My dad got a recumbent exercise bike (his back doesn't allow an upright one) and is reading paper books like crazy.
posted by little onion at 1:58 PM on January 13

I would guess a regular fitness bike would meet your needs but it's really important to adjust things for your best seat position (up down but also front-back distance) and handlebar position.

My friend has a bike that came with a clip-on tablet holder that fits over the handlebars, and that aspect is really convenient. I personally think reading would probably be easier on a recumbent, but that's just an intuitive guess based on my own experiences.

I would also guess that resistance should be fine. My friend is well over 6 feet and medium build and a budget bike seems to easily get them huffing and puffing.
posted by circular at 4:05 PM on January 13

I have this folding stationary bike and love it! I got it two years ago and use it almost every day. I think a very fit person may wish this had harder settings but it does the trick to work up a sweat for me.

It was easy to put together and was light enough that I was able to carry the bike up several flights of stairs by myself. I often read on my phone while riding it and it would be easy to secure a tablet to it.

posted by forkisbetter at 4:22 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

Check out used Schwinn AirDynes. The old ones still do the job, and usually can be had for under $200. You can work your arms and legs together or separately.
posted by lobstah at 5:19 PM on January 13

Response by poster: I’m looking at a used exerpeutic folding bike (as recommended by forkisbetter & dorothy hawk above) tomorrow. I think if that doesn’t feel comfortable to read on when I try it out I’ll move on to look for a recumbent.

I think an AirDyne isn’t a good fit for my needs—I know they’re great for an intense cardio workout but I need something a bit more compact and stable (so I can read on it) and don’t need the bike I buy to work my upper body.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:25 PM on January 13

I love the Marcy foldable bike I bought a few months ago. I work up a sweat on the highest setting. I bought an attachment to hold my Kindle and prop up magazines on it as well. It's now $164, so over your budget. (I paid $129 back in October, 2021). It's easy to move and has a small footprint open or folded up. I assembled it in about 20 minutes. The recumbent costs more, but my non-recumbent is so stable I'm able to sit up straight and read without holding onto the handlebars. I ride for about 45 minutes. I wear padded bike underpants since the seat is harder than my regular bike.
posted by Elsie at 10:59 PM on January 13

I have the same bike that dorothy hawk recommends. It definitely cranks up the resistance enough for me, even when I was at my strongest.
I did have to rig a book holder to the top of it to hold my laptop while I was riding but there are an assortment of those available that would work.
posted by newpotato at 2:49 AM on January 14

I've purchased and used the exerputic. it's a good basic bike. Recumbent version would be better for reading....
posted by lalochezia at 5:03 AM on January 14

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