By Katie Pierson, Certified Spinning® Instructor & Personal Trainer.
As more individuals create their ideal home fitness space, many are perplexed about what type of equipment to purchase. Space is often limited, so it is crucial to find the right quality piece of exercise equipment. An exercise bike is an ideal choice of equipment to have as it offers a challenging low-impact cardio workout, and it does not require much square footage.
Why Choose a Commercial Over a Standard Exercise Bike for Your Home?
Not all bikes are created equal. There is a distinct difference between a quality bike and one that is not. When riding a standard exercise bike, you might feel that the pedal stroke is jerky or the set-up doesn’t feel right for your height. Traditional exercise bikes often lack the quality of construction and features associated with a commercial exercise bike. It is understandable to use a lower quality piece of equipment like this in a hotel when traveling, but that is not what you want in your home. A commercial-grade exercise bike offers a more enjoyable experience than that of a standard exercise bike.
Commercial grade bikes are quality designed bikes that are created to last. They are crafted with commercial-grade steel and durable components. Commercial grade bikes are the type of exercise bikes you can find in most fitness facilities. However, many manufacturers are making the process more convenient than ever to have one of these incredible pieces of equipment in your home.
This bike offers an 8-pound rear flywheel and has a V-shape frame that accommodates riders up to 7′ tall. It has a 24-level magnetic resistance system and includes a Poly V-belt drive.
The Keiser M3i design is functional in both the commercial and home market. It is on the higher end of the price spectrum, but we like that the Keiser M3i revolutionizes the cycle industry with its design and features. The pedal stroke to flywheel speed ratio offers a smooth ride that is not typically associated with lightweight flywheel bikes. Reviewers rated this bike 4.8 out of 5 and described the ride as “smooth as silk” and “the best bike I have ever been on.” Due to the rear flywheel placement, the flywheel is out of the “sweat zone,” which reduces the possibility of sweat erosion that leads to increased maintenance.
This bike is whisper quiet due to the high-grade materials used in its construction. One reviewer stated, “Awesome quality. The bike is virtually silent – so my family hears nothing except heavy breathing.” Since this bike is easy to assemble, it is ideal for the at-home fitness enthusiast to build this bike independently. This bike also boasts a Bluetooth® wireless signal for open API for smartphones and tablets.
We love that both the Bowflex C6 and Schwinn IC4 are exceptionally built and affordably priced. If you are an outdoor rider, these bikes might be more appealing as they offer a smooth ride with their 40lb flywheel. Both cycles rated high with consumers. One Bowflex C6 customer said, “I love my Bowflex C6 bike. As a cycling instructor, I am picky about the quality of my bikes. This bike delivers!”
These cycles are almost silent when ridden and exceptionally crafted. The sturdy frame helps to keep the bike from swaying from side to side when climbing out of the saddle. Another purchaser commented, “Very solid exercise bike with excellent range of gearing and adjustments for height.” Both bikes include four-way handlebars, which allow each rider the flexibility to ride comfortably.
Best with Built-in Screen: NordicTrack Commercial S15i iFit Studio Cycle
The NordicTrack Commercial S15i iFit Studio Cycle includes a 14" HD Touch Screen and a one-year subscription to iFit. This bike is equipped with an inertial-enhanced flywheel and offers 22 digital resistance levels.
This bike is all about the experience. Rather than just a solid steel frame, this bike was meant to raise and lower the incline in addition to the 22 digital resistance levels that it offers. A plethora of instructor lead workouts are available where the instructor digitally controls your cycle’s pitch and resistance. This bike earned a 4.7 out of 5 consumer rating. Customers rave about the smooth ride and classes that are offered. “It’s so cool to be riding in different states or countries alongside someone, and the bike adjusts for hills,” one customer commented. In addition to the fantastic class experience, one other unique feature is the AutoBreeze™ Workout Fan, which helps keep the riders cool during their grueling workouts.
At first glance, this cycling bike‘s price might look a little higher than competitors, but since it includes a mount and the rotatable 14″ HD Touch Screen, the price is comparable to other bikes after adding these features to the original price.
The P1 Connected SPINNER® Bike includes a 40lb. perimeter-weighted flywheel that is protected by "Sweat-Resistant, Powder-Coated Steel and Open Frame Design." It also offers a real-time cadence sensor.
SPIN® Bikes from Mad Dogg Athletics have been the epitome of quality for years, and the P1 Connected SPINNER® bike is no exception. It is no surprise that consumers gave this bike a 5 out of 5 rating boasting about the smooth ride that this bike provides. A recent purchaser said, “The bike glides as you pedal and will give us years and years of fun and goal-reaching.” The rider is genuinely connected to their workout through the various sensors included or available for purchase. We love the opportunity that this bike offers to track our progress in real-time. The cadence sensor included with purchase easily links to the SPINNING App to monitor RPM in real-time. It also has a three-month subscription to SPINNING® Digital with first-class instructors to get you motivated.
The frame design of the P1 Connected SPINNER® solves the issue that many front flywheel designs face. That issue pertains to the potential sweat erosion caused by having the flywheel located in the “sweat zone.” The sweat-resistant, powder-coated steel frame not only gives this bike a sleek design but will also decrease maintenance due to the protection of the mechanical components it provides. SPIN® Bikes take in a lot of consideration to the manufacturing and quality of their bikes. Another rider mentioned, “Super quiet and built like a tank! Very nice attention to detail in the manufacturing.”
The Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike offers an inertia drive system combined with 25 levels of computer-controlled resistance.
The Schwinn 270 Recumbent bike offers riders comfort while reaching their fitness goals. It scored a 4.3 out of 5 with its reviewers. One of the main features of this bike that reviewers raved about was the contoured seat, which offers both ventilation and lumbar support.
We like that the Schwinn 270 offers stability during the ride due to the frame’s exceptional construction. Riders can easily adjust the seat due to the easy glide aluminum seat rail. Reviews were thrilled at the assembly process. One reviewer said, “Super easy to assemble, took a little over an hour.”
It is an excellent option for those riders who lack mobility to ride on a traditional indoor cycling bike, prefer a more comfortable seat, or would like a bike that is a fantastic option well into their Golden Years. One rider mentioned, “I bought this machine to replace an old-style exercise bike that was getting more difficult to get on and off of. It’s very comfortable and does the trick!” Schwinn is known for excellent service and terrific equipment.
Whether you are just starting, are a CrossFit enthusiast, or want an excellent workout, the Assault Airbike Classic is a fantastic option. Since you use both your arms and your legs when riding, this bike provides a total-body training. The resistance increases with the more significant effort you provide to the workout and, therefore, suitable for all fitness levels. It has a 4.8 out of 5 by its reviewers. One reviewer shared, “This bike was exactly what we were looking for to increase the intensity of our workouts!” Others described how it was a great cardio option for those rehabilitating after an injury.
The difference with this specific bike compared to other fan bikes is the quality of its design. The Assault AirBike has 1-2 sealed cartridge bearings in every pivot of the cycle. The added bearings eliminate side-to-side movement during even the most intense workout. Its LCD console helps to track your progress and see your success accurately.
What to Look for When Buying A Commercial Grade Exercise Bike
When looking to purchase a commercial-grade exercise bike, you first need to identify which style of bike you are interested in purchasing, may it be indoor cycling, SPIN®, recumbent, or an air resistance bike. Once you have established which type of bike you are interested in, you need also decide your budget and the key features you want. It is essential to understand the least or most expensive bikes are not always what should drive your decision. Below are a few tips on what to look for when buying a commercial-grade exercise bike.
Flywheel for an Indoor Cycling Bike
Front: This type should be 25lbs or greater for a smooth ride.
Rear: Make sure that the flywheel turns at a much faster rate than pedal stroke.
Friction: Friction is applied to the flywheel to increase or decrease resistance by cloth or leather pads. This type of resistance system provides a smooth transition as resistance increases.
Magnetic: Magnets either move closer or farther away from the flywheel, adjusting resistance. This option can feel abnormal for regular road bikers but easily allows heavier resistance to be added.
SPD: This type of pedal requires a particular kind of shoe that holds your foot in place; therefore, it is easier on your knees.
Toe Cages: This type secures your foot in place, making your workout more productive, and is a better option than just a standard pedal.
Chain: This drive system fosters the same feeling as an outdoor bike and is often a more affordable option when purchasing a commercial bike.
Belt: Usually are a more expensive option but provides a quieter and smoother ride.
Competitive: Usually, this is the more common type associated with an indoor cycling bike. It has a smaller silhouette, which allows for increased motion while riding.
Contoured Seat with Ventilation: This type of seat is affiliated with recumbent bikes and are comfortable. Ventilation is an essential feature as it keeps the rider cooler, especially in the low back area.
Once you decide what features you would prefer, you can begin to focus on which commercial bike is right for you.
Quality is essential when making this type of investment. Quality is the difference between a standard and a commercial bike. In the words of William A. Foster, “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” A quality bike should make you crave to ride it. Isn’t that the whole point? Good luck!
Spin®, Spinner®, Spinning®, Spin Fitness® are trademarks of Mad Dogg Athletics. When referring to Spin Bikes or Spin Classes, we mean the official Spinner Bikes/ Classes of Mad Dogg Athletics.
Katie is the creator of MT Girl Fitness and has been a certified fitness professional for almost twenty years. She currently holds ten different fitness certifications, including Group Fitness, Spinning Elite, Rockstar Spinning, and Personal Training. Fitness is her passion, and she loves seeing her clients reach goals they never imagined.