Exercise bikes for the heavyweight user...
July 14, 2007 4:35 PM   Subscribe

So then... I'm a chunky bastard and I want to buy an exercise bike...

Put simply, I'm over weight. I'm six foot five tall and one more fun size mars bar will put me at the 150kg / 330lbs mark.

I'm looking for an exercise bike and I need some suggestions. The requirements are...
* weight limit of at least 150kg/330lbs
* home spec not gym spec
* MUST be a recumbent type bike.
* It's got to be below the £500 mark.

Now, the only thing I've seen that meets these is this effort from a comapny called Schwinn - who I've never heard of.

So... does anyone have any helpful comments on Schwinn stuff or suggestions on alteratives?
posted by twine42 to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: To head off the inevitable... No, I don't want to join a gym - this is cheaper. No, I can't use a normal bike because my back and knees won't handle it. Yes, I know it's low impact. No, it doesn't need a 200kg limit - I've been this weight for the last five years. My full appologies is this sounds snippy, but I've heard it all too many times. Cheers guys.
posted by twine42 at 4:38 PM on July 14, 2007

No specific advice, only to say that Schwinn is probably the oldest and most respected bicycle manufacturer in the US.
posted by Ugh at 4:47 PM on July 14, 2007

I'm no expert on stationary bikes but Schwinn is a good company. The products will differ -- whether it's the super fancy one or the super cheap one.

I think what you're looking at will go a long way towards helping you. If your ride it till it dies then you can look towards fancier stuff.

Do you guys have a craigslist on that side of the pond (I'm in the US)? You might look for something used.
posted by powpow at 4:52 PM on July 14, 2007

Best answer: Schwinn is a major U.S. bike and related equipment manufacturer. The Schwinn name is probably the best known bike manufacturer in the U.S. Although bike snobs look at Schwinn with disdain, they make good products for the mass market. As a kid in the 70s, Schwinn the THE ONLY bike to have among my friends.

I don't have a specific recommendation, and I don't want to be bone-headed or try to change your mind about not getting a "regular bike," but have you considered a recumbent bike for the street? Here's why you may want to consider it, just based on my personal experience. I've had treadmills, exercise bikes, and I currently have a good stair-stepper in my apartment. I have needed to lose about 30 - 40 pounds for years. I could never consistently keep up with an exercise schedule, no matter how convenient the equipment. I am lazy. But, once I bought a decent bike, and started riding, it was just FUN. It doesn't feel like work or exercise, I just like it. So now I bike to work, bike on all my errands, and bike just for fun. I don't go very fast, I just cruise comfortably. With no change in eating habits, and no other exercise, I have lost about 10 pounds over the last couple months. People are constantly commenting, because the weight loss is noticeable.

Think about it. Whatever you do: good luck!!!!
posted by The Deej at 4:59 PM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't know anything about the recumbent Schwinn you linked to, but my parents have had a Schwinn exercise bike (that has been relatively well used) without any problems for decades. And, yeah, Schwinn is very well known in the States.
posted by fieldtrip at 5:00 PM on July 14, 2007

Response by poster: Deej - the idea of a proper recumbent is very appealing. It's only really the high cost and low availability over here that's put me off.

Well, that and making me look like even more of a geek. :)
posted by twine42 at 5:07 PM on July 14, 2007

I've owned a Schwinn recumbent bike for ten years (and used it for ten years) and it still works. It's a little creaky, but still: ten years!

I hate gyms, but I love riding my bike while watching DVDs. Works for me. (I watch DVDs of TV-series while I ride. I try to get compelling series that are ongoing and have cliffhangers, and my rule is that I'm only allowed to watch them while riding the bike. Makes me want to ride just to see the next episode.)
posted by grumblebee at 5:47 PM on July 14, 2007

Best answer: I have a very similar (perhaps a couple years older model) Schwinn exer-bike that I've been very happy with. I picked it up at CostCo probably 4 years ago, I (250 lbs) have used it relatively regularly with no issues whatsoever.
posted by jferg at 5:49 PM on July 14, 2007

Have you considered buying a piece of secondhand gym-grade equipment? The price might be comparable to a new consumer one (guessing--I haven't priced 'em lately), and the durability and resale value will almost certainly be much better.
posted by box at 5:58 PM on July 14, 2007

Schwinn is no longer an American company, they were sold to a large foreign manufacturer, Pacific Cycles.

Their quality has decreased substantially from what it was a few years ago.

Schwinn are not sold in bicycle shops anymore, they are sold in big box type stores and are often have assembly errors from untrained people assembling them.
posted by whoda at 6:25 PM on July 14, 2007

I'm no bike connoisseur, but: Lifecycle? I briefly lived with somebody who'd make you look trim; he had one, I liked, despite not being much into exercise.

I found it simple to operate, and it felt very smooth and stable. It was also smooth and stable for the guy who'd eaten the Mars bars.

Definitely get one with a calories-burned readout -- I don't know how accurate they are, but I thought it was an extremely fun feature. Eat the Mars bar; go on the bike for exactly that amount of calories, repeat, if you so please...

You might have to go used or low-end for your price range; not too sure on that part. But if I was going to buy a piece of exercise equipment, it'd be a Lifecycle bike, cost be damned.
posted by kmennie at 6:42 PM on July 14, 2007

Just to clarify: Pacific Cycle's headquarters are located approximately three blocks from where I sit right now in beautiful Madison, Wisconsin. They were purchased by Montreal-based Dorel in 2004, but Pacific itself is an American company.

That said, Schwinn stuff may be mass-market, but for what you're going for, it will probably work very well. All you need is something to get started with, and it should be just fine.

The other option I would suggest for non-biking stuff (which I know you didn't ask for) is swimming and/or water aerobics or deep water running. Non-weight-bearing, suitable for folks of all sizes. My 350 lb.+ friend loves it.
posted by Madamina at 6:43 PM on July 14, 2007

Best answer: twine42 - Consumer Reports rated the Schwinn 213 as one of their best buys. The only recumbent bike that they rated better was the Lifecycle, which is a bit better made and has a higher user weight capacity.

However, the Lifecycle R3-5 is approximated 4x as expensive as the Schwinn. Something like $1800 to $450.

If it were me, I'd buy the $450 bike and save the extra $1300 to go on vacation to show off my new bod once I hit my weight goal.
posted by Justinian at 7:25 PM on July 14, 2007

Best answer: Oh, if you're wondering, the Schwinn 213 is very similar to the 203 but has a bit better electronics. Backlit LCD, 16 resistence levels instead of 8, more exercise programs, that kind of thing. Theoretically it's an extra hundred bucks but you can almost always find it on sale (ie Amazon.com) for the same price as the 203. If it's the same price or even just a tad more, I would get the 213 instead of the 203.
posted by Justinian at 7:28 PM on July 14, 2007

Best answer: We have a Schwinn 213 and my husband is 330lbs. We both love it and would recommend it to anyone.
posted by disaster77 at 9:13 PM on July 14, 2007

LifeCycles are great, but a new one may be out of your budget.
posted by ilsa at 11:27 PM on July 14, 2007

Response by poster: FOLLOW UP TIME!

I bought the Schwinn 223 in the end (the 213 may have been discontinued in the UK).

It's a superb machine, no creaks rattles or wobbles and was piss-easy to put together. I'd now recommend them to anyone. Thanks for your input guys.
posted by twine42 at 9:15 AM on August 20, 2007

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