Whether you’re looking to lose weight, build lower body strength, or just stay mobile, cycling is one of the best forms of exercise. The best upright exercise bikes offer dynamic workouts for users of all fitness levels–without even leaving the house!
In this guide, we’ll introduce you to all our favorite upright exercise bikes on the market today. We’ll explain why we’ve chosen these models over the competition, and help you understand more about how to shop for a stationary workout machine.
|Nautilus U614 Upright Bike||small footprint||$|
|Schwinn 170 Upright Bike||small footprint||$$|
|CYBEX 750C||small footprint||$$$|
Best Upright Exercise Bike Reviews (2019)
This Nautilus model is currently the least expensive upright exercise bike we recommend. It offers a heck of a lot of value for a very reasonable price. Not only does it have a sturdy, smooth pedaling mechanism, but the onboard computer includes a wider range of preprogrammed workouts and settings than other budget options.
It’s quiet. That’s not the main reason we’re recommending the Nautilus, but it’s one of the most noticeable departures this model makes from other inexpensive options. It doesn’t make more than a low whirring and the occasional creak. Most others at this price create an ungodly racket!
Riding the Nautilus is pretty pleasant, too. The resistance levels adjust easily, and it’s not overly jerky. We won’t pretend it’s comparable to high-end models, but it’s remarkably good for a budget model.
It has a lot of amenities for an inexpensive model. There’s a fan with three settings, a set of stereo speakers, and a USB port for connecting your devices. You can charge them while you work out, and play audio through the built-in speakers.
There’s a full (if a bit dated) computer system on board as well! Most options around this price point only offer basic tracking for things like speed, calories burned, and so on. This one has 22 dynamic workout programs built in, so you can let the machine coach you through your session.
Thanks to basic heart monitoring, it does a pretty good job keeping track of your workout stats. While it doesn’t have great connectivity with smart devices, it’s easy to take your results from the computer and plug them into any fitness apps you use to track your workouts.
Another really impressive feature for the price is the fact that the computer system allows for multi-user workout tracking. That’s something you won’t find on many others in this range.
It’s easy to assemble. The instructions aren’t super in-depth, but then again the process isn’t either! Everything fits together the way you’d expect, and there are some helpful walkthrough videos online.
It’s not as reliable as more expensive options. Cheaper construction overall means the Nautilus won’t last nearly as long as premium models, though it does have as good a track record as anything under $500. It doesn’t feel rickety, but it’s definitely not as reassuring as nicer models.
The pedals are narrow on this one, so if your feet are on the wider side you may want to go for the Schwinn instead.
It’s not the best from an ergonomics standpoint. The seat isn’t the most comfortable and you can only adjust the height, not the distance from the handlebars.
There’s an issue with clunky pedals that’s reported by a number of owners online. That’s not something we’ve run into ourselves, but easy solutions are explained in online tutorials.
As you’d expect, pricier models include a lot more difficulty settings and workout programs. This one’s relatively limited, though we think it offers plenty for the casual user.
The Schwinn 170 is our midrange recommendation for an upright exercise bike. It’s more versatile, reliable, and ergonomic than the Nautilus, without costing a great deal more. We suggest it to most buyers who want something that offers a wide range of programs for a reasonable price.
While this machine looks quite similar to the Nautilus at first glance, it’s actually quite a bit more versatile. There are 5 additional levels of resistance on the Schwinn, which means you get both more precise control and more overall resistance. There are also another 9 programmed workout programs.
The drive system is smoother and gives you a better sense of inertia than the one on the Nautilus. That’s not jerky by any stretch, but this one feels as good as anything under $1000. Considering it costs less than half that amount, we’re pretty impressed!
The pedals are much roomier than those on the Nautilus. They’re a lot more comfortable for the average person, not to mention those with feet that are on the larger side.
Like the Nautilus, the Schwinn includes a set of speakers with charging and audio input ports for your devices. One additional extra is Bluetooth connectivity for workout tracking. It works with the company’s app, and you can use it as an input source with most of your third-party apps. That’s a big upgrade for smartphone users compared with cheaper models!
Given that Nautilus and Schwinn are part of the same parent company, it’s no surprise that a lot of the same features carry over to this model. Multi-user support, heart-rate tracking and a multi-speed fan are all the same on the Schwinn as on the Nautilus. That is to say, good but not stellar.
There are a lot of areas where the Schwinn really earns its extra cost compared with the Nautilus. It has a more comfortable seat than the Nautilus, a better display with backlighting, and a sturdier overall build. The whole thing feels less cheap, though it’s certainly not commercial-grade.
It’s nowhere near as reliable as the CYBEX. That’s a commercial-grade model, after all, so this isn’t terribly surprising. If you’re looking to spend less than $1000, this is as good as it gets. If you can afford to spend a premium for the best of the best, you can plan on getting a significantly longer working life from the CYBEX.
It doesn’t get as challenging as the CYBEX, either. You don’t have as many workout programs or as high an overall resistance level on the top settings. If you’re a dedicated user who plans on riding every day and going hard, the CYBEX will be worth the larger investment.
The workout tracking isn’t as good as you get on a CYBEX or other commercial-grade models. However, it’s as good as any other consumer-grade machine.
Schwinn have done a good job putting together a reliable, rugged machine here. The problem is with quality control and shipping. People who get intact units don’t report issues, but some have problems right out of the gate because their machines were damaged in transit or came without all the components. Just make sure you get free returns when you order!
This CYBEX machine is our top quality recommendation for an upright exercise bike. It might be extremely expensive, but it could be the only machine you ever need to buy for your home workouts. This is a commercial-grade piece of equipment in every regard. We suggest it to anyone who wants and can afford the best of the best. If you ride every day and have serious fitness ambitions, it’s worth the money!
It’s the most versatile upright exercise bike we’ve ever reviewed. The CYBEX doesn’t have more settings than the Schwinn from a quantity standpoint, but the range of what it offers is much greater. The programmed workouts are also more dynamic, adapting more seamlessly to each user’s profile and biometrics.
It’s also the most challenging. While there are lots of steps along the way to help users work up to the highest resistance settings, the CYBEX turns into a killer strength-building machine at the top end of its range! We don’t think there’s any athlete who’s going to outgrow this.
In terms of both build quality and reliability, the CYBEX is truly commercial-grade. There’s a reason you see these in so many commercial settings! They last forever and can really take a beating.
For a commercial-grade machine, it hardly takes up any more space than the models above! That’s very impressive. Considering that it’s much sturdier and contains a lot more features, space-efficiency has to be one of the CYBEX’s biggest selling points.
It’s very expensive. The average home user doesn’t need to be spending this much on workout equipment. However, if you or your family members are serious about fitness and will ride every day, it’s a worthy investment.
At the moment, the only readily-available version of the CYBEX for consumers is refurbished. We don’t actually think that’s much of a downside, since the company’s refurb units are impeccably tested. You also get them much more affordably than units coming straight off the factory floor. Still, it’s worth knowing before you buy!
Which of these upright exercise bikes should you buy?
If you’re on a tight budget, the Nautilus is the obvious choice. We think this is the least you can pay for an upright exercise bike that rides smoothly and provides a dynamic range of workout difficulty. However, it’s not as smooth or reliable as pricier options. The onboard workout selections are also more limited.
The Schwinn 170 is our suggestion to the average buyer. It offers more of a range of preprogrammed workouts than the Nautilus without raising the price point too much. However, like many midrange options, it doesn’t have spectacular reliability or build quality. If you’re a daily user who wants to train hard, it’s definitely worth considering shelling out for the CYBEX.
Finally, for folks who want the absolute best of the best, we recommend the CYBEX 750C. It’s extremely expensive, but it’s a commercial-grade system that can keep even the fittest riders challenged and motivated. Plus, these things last forever.
Decide On Your Budget
First, think about how much you can afford to spend on your new fitness equipment. Our recommendations cost anywhere from $250 to more than $2500. So, think about what you can afford before you start looking at specific models. You’ll be able to narrow down your options much faster.
Know Your Needs
It’s also important to consider how much you’ll be using your new upright exercise bike, and to what intensity. The more you’ll ride and the more demanding you’ll be, the more you should expect to pay for a machine that’s reliable and adaptive enough to last for years of training.
Consider Warranty Options
While we’ve taken great pains to make sure that the models we recommend are the most reliable on the market today, you should know that most consumer-grade exercise bikes have mixed records for reliability. That’s why we recommend that buyers tack on extended warranty policies wherever possible. In general, it’s best to go with a third-party plan. That allows you to avoid dealing with frustrating manufacturer representatives and get your concerns addressed more quickly. You can also get much longer coverage from companies like SquareTrade than you can from the manufacturers themselves.
Now that you’ve reached the end of this guide, you ought to have a clear sense of what you’re looking for in your new upright exercise bike. Hopefully, you’ll also have seen one or two models that could suit your own needs! You can find out more about any of the machines we’ve recommended here by clicking on the links in our reviews. That’s your easiest way to see full spec sheets, warranty details, and current prices.
Or, for more expert reviews and recommendations, head over to our homepage at bodytrained.com! We’ve got plenty of other buying guides to help you sort out all your fitness needs.