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Pedal exercisers are compact machines that allow you to perform a low-impact exercise from the comfort of your chair. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the best pedal exercisers on the market.
Do Pedal Exercisers Really Work?
Can you improve your fitness and lose weight while sitting down? Put simply, yes. Increasing our movement causes our hearts to work harder and our metabolism to increase. In turn, we can strengthen our muscles, joints, and cardiovascular system. Due to their low-intensity nature, pedal exercisers aren’t suited to specific fitness goals. But, for their intended purpose of increasing movement whilst sitting – they work.
Pedal Exerciser Types: What Is the Difference?
There are three types of pedal exerciser; under desk cycle, under desk elliptical, and desk bike. They’re all pretty similar, but there are a couple of differences. For a more detailed comparison, check out this article.
Under desk/cycle pedal exercisers fit under your desk. You place your feet on the pedals and cycle in a circular motion, just like you would on a regular bike. The key features of an under desk/cycle pedal exerciser are:
Under Desk Elliptical
Under desk elliptical pedal exercisers also fit under your desk. You’ll pedal in a backward and forward motion, just like you would on an elliptical machine. The key features of an under-desk elliptical pedal exerciser are:
Desk bike pedal exercisers are similar to upright bikes you’d find in the gym. But, instead of handlebars, there’s a desk. The key features of desk bike pedal exerciser are:
Before we go into more detail, you can see our list of top picks:
Reviews of Our 5 Best Pedal Exercisers
1. Best Under Desk Cycle: DeskCycle 2
- Dimensions: 24” x 20” x 10”
- Weight: 23lbs
- Levels of Resistance: 8
The DeskCycle 2 is our favorite overall under desk cycle pedal exerciser. The DeskCycle 2 is one of the lowest under desk cycle pedal exercisers available. You can set the pedal height at a maximum height of 10 inches or a minimum height of 9 inches. It is compatible with desks as low as 27 inches – no more knocking your knees with every pedal. The DeskCycle 2 patented magnetic resistance mechanism is super quiet and smooth. You’ll experience a smooth cycle without disturbing your coworkers in the process.
The DeskCycle 2 has 8 calibrated resistance settings, more than double of other under desk cycle pedal exercisers on the market. A large range of settings gives you more intensity options during your workout. Its precision flywheel also ensures each resistance level is distinct. The pedals move backward and forward, allowing you to recruit a wider range of muscles.
The DeskCycle 2 displays real-time results via its LCD 6-function display. The LCD shows metrics for speed, time, distance, and calories burned. One feature we particularly love about the DeskCycle 2 is it tracks up to 160 hours of activity. This feature is a great way to see your statistics and progress over time. The DeskCycle 2 has had impressive feedback from its customers. With people saying “it’s addictive”, “highly recommend this silent but deadly beast”.
2. Best Under Desk Elliptical: Cubii JR
- Dimensions: 23” x 17.5” x 10”
- Weight: 28lbs
- Levels of Resistance: 8
The Cubii JR is our favorite overall under desk elliptical pedal exerciser. The Cubii JR is ergonomically designed for a smooth and comfortable ride. The purpose of Cubii JR is to provide unconscious movement while sitting. It achieves this goal in several ways:
- Its smooth movement places slight pressure on your knees.
- It’s designed to move forward and backward, so you don’t knock your knees on the desk.
- It makes very little noise, so you can bring it into the office without disturbing your colleagues.
Overall, it will allow you to exercise without distracting you from your work. Customers love how low-impact it really is; “easy on the joints” and “operates smoothly without jarring the joints”.
The Cubii JR comes with a built-in LCD monitor, which displays calories, strides, miles, minutes, and RPM in real-time. It also comes with 8 levels of resistance. Playing around with the resistance and real-time feedback allows you to work at a range of intensities that suit your goals. The Cubii range also includes a Bluetooth-enabled under desk elliptical, the Cubii Pro. The Cubii Pro connects to an app that allows you to personalize your goals, compete with others worldwide, and track your progress over time. This is an excellent feature, but it will set you back another $100. You can read more about the differences between JR and Pro here.
3. Best Desk Bike: FlexiSpot V9 Desk Bike (TikTok Viral)
- Dimensions: 37.6” x 23.2” x 47.2”
- Weight: 28lbs
- Levels of Resistance: 8
Popularised by TikTok, the FlexiSpot V9 desk bike is our favorite desk bike pedal exerciser. The FlexiSpot V9 is part exercise bike, part standing bike, part desk. There’s even enough room for your laptop, books, and phone. Unlike other pedal exercisers, the desk bike places your torso in an upright position. This is due to the addition of an exercise bike rather than just pedals. Putting your body in an upright position can help improve your posture.
The FlexiSpot V9 includes “whisper quiet” pedaling via its smooth and silent 5.5lb flywheel. When you’re working, you won’t be distracted by the sound of your bike. Some bikes can be pretty loud and off-putting – tolerable while exercising but not working. The FlexiSpot V9 can be easily adjusted to suit a range of users. Anyone between 5’ 1” and 6’ 2” can comfortably enjoy the FlexiSpot V9. Additionally, the FlexiSpot V9 includes a wide, thick cushion to suit a range of body shapes and sizes.
Just because you’re at your desk, it doesn’t mean you can’t get in a good workout. The FlexiSpot V9 includes 8 levels of resistance, and a digital LCD to track your exercise. If working out isn’t an option around work, bring the workout to work. The FlexiSpot V9 is “the health answer for all sitting jobs”.
4. Best Budget Pedal Exerciser: Vaunn Medical Folding Pedal Exerciser
- Dimensions: 14.9” x 11.8” x 6.7”
- Weight: 5.9lbs
- Levels of Resistance: Tension Adjustable Knob
At-home workout equipment is a great idea but often comes with a hefty price tag. But, there are high-quality budget pedal exercisers available if you don’t want to spend a lot of money. Our favorite budget pedal exerciser is the Vaunn medical folding pedal exerciser. The Vaunn pedal exerciser comes with a quick-release folding mechanism that allows you to convert your pedal exerciser into a compact, easy-to-store unit. If portability is essential, this is the perfect product. The Vaunn pedal exerciser also includes non-skid ribbed rubber feet to prevent the unit from wobbling around. You can even place it on a table and use it as an arm exerciser for a full-body workout.
The Vaunn pedal exerciser comes with a multi-functional LCD display that allows you to track your workouts and view how many calories you have burned. If you have a specific goal you want to hit with each workout, this is a great feature. The Vaunn pedal exerciser was designed for at-home physical therapy exercise. But, it’s turned into a machine that can be used by anyone trying to add a bit more activity into their day. Users say it’s “great for stationary exercise” and “good for the less active elderly”.
5. Best Pedal Exerciser with Arm Bands: FlexCycle Exercise Bike
- Dimensions: 20.9” x 17.5” x 13.2”
- Weight: 18.1lbs
- Levels of Resistance: 8
Many pedal exercisers are limited to lower-body training. But, some can be used as arm exercisers. Yet, it isn’t easy to work the full body simultaneously. The FlexCycle comes with armbands so you can train your legs and arms at the same time. Within the FlexCycle is a soundless motor. So, you can perform a full-body workout from the comfort of your chair while watching television.
The FlexCycle is compatible with an app where you can track your workout and view relevant stats. Viewing your stats over time is a great way to view your progression. The FlexCycle also shows your stats in real-time on its display monitor. You can mix up the intensity of your workouts by choosing from 1 of 8 resistance levels. Users have commented, “this piece of equipment is really built well and easy to use”.
Benefits of a Pedal Exerciser & Muscles Worked
Pedal exercisers are an excellent option for those who spend long hours sitting at a desk. We get it, finding time to exercise is difficult when working long hours. Thankfully, pedal exercisers allow you to exercise while sitting down. It’s a win-win situation. That’s not the only benefit of pedal exercisers:
Increases Blood Flow
Moving our legs increases blood flow to the leg muscles. Good blood flow to the muscles means there’s a good distribution of nutrients – particularly oxygen. This helps with any swelling, or pain you may have in the legs. Working your muscles in this way also makes them less resistant to fatigue, thus helping you get fitter.
Strengthens the Leg Muscles
Pedal exercisers target your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, calves, and hips. Targeting these muscles with exercise stimulates muscle growth and muscle strength. With regular use, you’ll find everyday tasks such as climbing stairs a lot easier. Some pedal exercisers can also be used to exercise your arms. For example, using your pedal exerciser on a desk or table with your arms will target your shoulders, biceps, and triceps.
Promotes Weight Loss
Movement requires energy. Increasing your activity via the pedal exerciser will cause your metabolism to increase. Thus, your body will be burning more calories. Alongside a good diet, pedal exercisers can be used as a weight-loss tool.
Pedal exercisers also provide low-impact activity. If you have joint pains, this is a great way to increase your daily activity without aggravating your joints.
Increases Energy, Mood, and Productivity
Exercise causes the body to release feel-good hormones. These hormones help us feel better within ourselves and helps improve our productivity.
Compared to many exercise machines, pedal exercisers are relatively small. If you’re on the road a lot, you can easily pack it into your car and workout at your destination.
What You Should Consider Before Buying a Pedal Exerciser
Now we’ve talked about our top pedal exercisers, let’s discuss which one is best for you. Your buying criteria aren’t going to be the same as everyone else. Here are a few things you should consider before buying a pedal exerciser.
Top-of-the-range pedal exercisers have many features but come with a hefty price tag. If a lot of features don’t particularly bother you, there are high-quality, cheaper pedal exercisers available. If you’re on a tight budget, you may have to compromise some features for the price. Before buying cheaper models, check out the product reviews. You can often distinguish a good product from a bad product by reading its customer reviews. We really like the Vaunn Medical Folding Pedal Exerciser as a good pedal exerciser with a good price tag.
Upper Body Compatibility
Pedal exercisers are a great way to add more physical activity into your day. But, most are limited to lower-body training. Some pedal exercisers can be placed on a table so you can also train your arms. But, this means training your legs and arms separately.
However, some pedal exercisers come with resistance armbands so you can train your arms and legs simultaneously. The FlexCycle Exercise Bike is great for getting a full-body workout into your day.
Under desk cycles require a circular pedaling motion. Under desk ellipticals require a forward and backward motion. They both target the muscles in the legs but emphasize different muscles. Ellipticals place more focus on the quadriceps and hamstrings, whereas cycles focus more on the glutes, hips, and core.
Under Desk Bike vs Elliptical Motion
If you’re going to use your pedal exerciser at your desk, you’ll have to consider your desk height. You’ll need enough room to pedal without knocking your knees on your desk. Most pedal exercisers will say what height desks they’re compatible with. However, you’ll have to consider your anatomy too. Those with longer limbs will need to be extra cautious. Ellipticals typically work best under lower desks, as your knees don’t have to travel very far up.
If you have a desk, you’ll be fine with an under-desk pedal exerciser. But, if you’re looking to buy a desk and pedal exerciser, you could buy a 2-in-1 like the FlexiSpot V9 Desk Bike (TikTok Viral). Buying both gives you the option to use your bike for stand-alone exercise, or a pedal exerciser while working.
Some pedal exercisers, such as the FlexCycle Exercise Bike, are compatible with apps. Recording your workouts via an app is a great way to keep track of your progress over time. It’s also a great way to stay motivated. Comparing your workouts over time helps you gain a bit of friendly competition with your past self.
Pedal Exercisers Alternatives
Under Desk Treadmills
Under desk treadmills are similar to the treadmills you’d find in a commercial gym, but they don’t have handrails. They’re designed to fit under your desk so you can walk while you work. Compared to pedal exercisers, they are higher impact as you’re standing up rather than sitting down. Thus, better suited to fitter, healthy individuals without joint problems.
Recumbent bikes are stationary bikes that have a large seat and backrest. Unlike regular bikes, they put your body in a laid-back position. Recumbent bikes are low-impact. They’re suitable for people with neurological conditions and provide increased lumbar support. Pedal exercisers are great, but pedaling for long periods of time becomes less appealing if your seat isn’t very comfortable. Recumbent bikes come as a whole unit; therefore, they are usually more suited to your anatomy. But, because they’re an entire unit, they’re also more expensive than most pedal exercisers.
Pedal exercisers are a great way to add more physical activity into your day. You can work, watch television, or read a book while exercising. They’re perfect for people who can’t find the time to exercise. When buying a pedal exerciser, consider your budget, goals, and needs. There are a variety of pedal exercises available, all with really cool features. All you need to do now is decide which one’s best for you.