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Best exercise bikes 2021: Keep fit this winter

Cyclist magazine
12 Jan 2021

These exercise bikes are versatile pieces of fitness equipment that can keep you healthy from home

Winter is approaching rapidly and chances are you will be looking to ride indoors more. After all, who really wants to go out in the howling wind and rain?

While most of us will opt for the humble turbo trainer, the indoor exercise bike actually offer a great alternative for road cyclists looking to maximise their training from home or even to just keep fit. 

There are some benefits to an exercise bike as opposed to a turbo trainer, too. Firstly, an exercise bike is constantly assembled. This saves you the faff of grabbing your road bike, taking out the rear wheel and fixing it to the turbo - a time-consuming process that can sometimes put you off riding at all.

Secondly, it's a more stable base to ride from. Turbo trainers can be quite delicate and sometimes move around when you are putting down a lot of power whereas exercise bikes are often heavier with more contact to the ground.

Thirdly, it also avoids you using your best bike on a turbo trainer, something that can potentially affect the bike's seat and chainstay - if direct drive - or wear away your rear tyre, and keep your top tube from being drenched in sweat. Plus some brands will void the warranty of a bike if it's used on a turbo.

Below are some of the best exercise bikes on the market ranging from £39.99 to £2,499.

Best indoor exercise bikes 

Domyos e-fold bike: Best for those on a budget

Buy the Doymos e-fold bike from Decathlon for £199.99

At just £199.99, the Domyos e-fold exercise bike from Decathlon offers plenty bang for your buck.

Firstly, it folds, making it terribly handy for those living in small studio flats or in busy houses, pressed for space. Secondly, the bike can connect to an external app to monitor your progress and offer bespoke training plans to make you fitter.

You also receive a heart rate belt to provide better training insight while adjusting the angle of the handlebars can make for a sportier or more comfortable position.

If you are on a strict budget, this is a really good option especially considering Decathlon’s two-years labour and 10-year spare parts guarantee.

Buy the Doymos e-fold bike from Decathlon for £199.99

Wahoo Kickr Bike: best all-round package

An incredibly advance piece of kit, the Wahoo Kickr bike is the best indoor option for those who want to have their cake and also eat it.

We found the Kickr bike to be incredibly realistic, jumping between a gradient range of +20% to -15% just like a real bike on a real road. It is very easy to use, has excellent adjustability for those wanting a dialled set up and remains quiet and smooth thanks to its 5.8kg flywheel.

The only issue could be size. With a footprint of121cm x 76cm, you will need to find dedicated space for this beast.

Domyos mini bike: best cheap mini bike

Buy the Domyos mini bike from Decathlon for £39.99

Working from for the foreseeable? Worried you'll not be able to get out on the bike in the near future. Fear not, as the Domyos Mini Bike can be just the thing you need. 

Pop it under your desk, slot your feet in, and pedal away for hours while getting on with that 'working from home'.

Buy the Domyos mini bike from Decathlon for £39.99

Keep occupied while riding, here are the best sports headphones for cyclists.

JTX Cyclo 6: Best mid-range indoor bike

Buy the JTX Cyclo 6 from JTX for £529

Very similar to the spin bikes you may see in the local gym, the JTX Cyclo 6 provides a similar experience from the comfort of your own home, just without the price of attending a class.

The 22kg flywheel with its infinity resistance means it will provide everything from the easiest of soft pedalling to the heaviest of grinding within seconds.

There’s no connectivity available here, unfortunately, but there is something quite appealing by the basic nature of this bike, especially when it retails for less than £500.

Buy the JTX Cyclo 6 from JTX for £529

Tacx Neo Smart indoor bike: Best for road cyclists

Like its direct-drive sibling,Tacx's indoor smart bike can simulate a gradient up to 25% and maximum power of 2,200 watts while remaining accurate to 1%.

Road and gear feel options imitate the bumps of the road and shifting of a cassette while gear changing is all done by makeshift leavers on the bike hoods.

The 4.5in display relays all your data and can also broadcast popular training apps such as TrainerRoad and Zwift while little fans either side of the screen give you the realistic feeling of wind flowing through your hair, too.

For the best indoor workouts, see our guide here.

NordicTrack GX 8.0 studio bike: Best for home spin class

Buy now from John Lewis for £699

From indoor exercise experts NordicTrack, the GX 8.0 indoor studio bike is the perfect option for those looking to get that spin class workout from the comfort of their own home.

At 22kg, the flywheel offers a smooth and natural feel regardless of the resistance, all of which is controlled by an adjustable knob on the 'bike's toptube. The LCD screen makes it easy to keep tabs on your workout while we also like the front wheels as it makes the thing easier to move about.

Buy now from John Lewis for £699

Peloton: Best for online spin class experience

Buy now from Peloton for £1,990 (Classes extra)

Beyond the really strange Christmas ad campaigns and multi-million pound lawsuits with Taylor Swift, Peloton is offering the most realistic spin experience from home on the market.

It’s very expensive - £1,990 for the bike and £39 per month for the classes - but very advanced with its HD screen allowing you to follow 14 daily live classes or thousands of on-demand training sessions at the click of a button.

You activities are tracked and your performances are even compared to others in the community, providing an added competitive edge.

The actual performance is also sound with a silent flywheel, comfortable set up and efficient resistance while also being fully adjustable for multiple users.

Buy now from Peloton for £1,990  

Read our full review: Peloton indoor bike and workout subscription review

WattBike Atom: Best for indoor training

Buy the WattBike Atom from WattBike for £1,599

Competing price-wise with top-end turbo trainers, its ultra-quiet and fluid pedal feel provides a perfect platform for intense power training with gradients up to 25%, a power range to 2000w and +/- 2% accuracy.

Within the head unit is a wealth of training programmes and intricate data to maximise performance to a tee while it also connects to third-party apps. It can also be personalised easily with bar, seat height and saddle adjustments done in a matter of minutes.

When Cyclist reviewed the Watt Bike Atom, we called it ‘an ideal trainer for households of more than one cyclist’ but did warn that its bulky size and weight would mean you need a dedicated space to store it.

This is the gold standard for indoor bikes currently so if you’re after the best, then this is your best bet.

Read our in-depth review of the WattBike Atom here

Buy the WattBike Atom from WattBike for £1,599

Apex Rides exercise bike: Best for multiple users

Buy the Apex Rides exercise bike from John Lewis for £1,200

The UK's more-affordable answer to Peloton, Apex brings the studio to you with all the trimmings – sweat, pain and community.

It's a stylish, ergonomic and comfortable bike that connects to bluetooth so you can join live and on-demand classes through your phone or tablet.

The subscription will set you back a further £30 per month so it's handy that you can set up six profiles per household to get the most for your money. It's also a great way to get the whole family exercising in lockdown.

Buy the Apex Rides exercise bike from John Lewis for £1,200

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