Exercising at home is becoming increasingly popular. Upright bikes provide a great at-home cardio option for those who don’t want to step into the outdoors. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the best upright exercise bikes on the market.
What Is an Upright Bike & Which Are the 2 Different Types?
Over the years, upright bikes have evolved into high-quality pieces of equipment. Upright bikes operate like regular road bikes. But, they’re stationary and put your body in an upright position while cycling. Manipulating your torso position helps reduce the amount of strain on your lower back. An upright position also places greater emphasis on your quadriceps muscle compared to regular road cycling. Instead of wheels, upright bikes operate via a light flywheel. Resistance can be applied to the flywheel through a fan, magnets, or electromagnetic mechanisms. Adjusting your resistance can mimic the feeling of going up hills, or cycling through a headwind on a regular road bike.
There are two types of upright exercise bikes; folding and regular stationary upright exercise bikes. Foldable upright bikes are perfect for those who have limited space but still want to exercise at home. When you’re not using it, place it in a cupboard or corner of your room out of sight. Foldable exercise bikes can also be stored easily in your car. If you’re on the road a lot, taking your bike with you is a great way to get exercise in.
What Is the Difference Between the Upright and the Recumbent or Indoor (Spin) Bike?
Upright bikes aren’t the only stationary bikes available. You can also get recumbent or Spin bikes. There are a couple of key differences that make each one distinct. Recumbent bikes put your body into a laid-back position. They have a backrest and place their pedals in front of your body. They’re arguably more comfortable than an upright bike, but don’t engage as many muscles.
Spin bikes are like an indoor version of a regular road bike. The handlebars on a Spin bike are lower down compared to an upright bike. This puts your torso in a leaning position while cycling. Spin bikes are best suited to those who want an indoor alternative for their road bike training.
If you compare all three bikes, you’ll notice the main difference is body positioning. Recumbent bikes lean your torso back and Spin bikes lean it forward. Upright bikes fall in the middle by placing your torso in an upright position. Being in the upright position is a great middle-ground of comfort and performance.
Before we go into more detail, you can see our list of top picks:
The Schwinn 170 is part of Schwinns upright bike series. The Schwinn 170 upright bike comes with enhanced Bluetooth connectivity. This allows you to set goals, track, and monitor your progress. Setting goals and following along with your rides is a great way to boost your motivation and adherence. The Schwinn 170 upright bike contains heart rate sensors to help you track your workouts and progress even closer. You can also connect to the Explore the world app where you can cycle along to virtual scenes. No more looking at a dull screen, this feature gives you views of nature from the comfort of your home. The DualTrack blue backlit LCD screen also includes 29 workout programs for you to follow along with. If you’re looking to mix up your rides, this will help you.
The Schwinn series prides itself on making the user feel comfortable. The pedals are oversized with toe straps to suit a range of users and sizes. Its seat is well padded and contours to the shape of your butt. Users report “this unit is an upgrade with a comfortable seat, lots of different positions for your hands”. For an all-around good upright bike, the Schwinn 170 comes out on top.
Next up is the Reebok Zjet 460 upright bike. The Reebok Zjet 460 upright bike comes with 24 levels of resistance to help you vary your sessions. If you’re not sure where to start, no worries. The Reebok Zjet 460 upright bike comes with 19 programs you can follow along with. With so many options, it’s easy to add variety to your fitness journey. The ability to mix things up aids motivation and allows you to easily progress over time. The handlebars also include handgrip pulse sensors to display your heart rate in real-time. Heart rate analysis is a great way to ensure your working toward your specific fitness goals. You’ll also be able to connect to the Reebok fitness app via Bluetooth. On the app, you can tailor and track your workouts whilst virtually cycling through Google street view. This is a cool way to see your area without actually leaving your home.
The Reebok Zjet 460 upright bike comes with some handy little features such as transport wheels and a bottle holder. Its 20lb flywheel provides a really quiet, smooth ride. Users agree it “it’s very comfortable to ride”.
The Schwinn A10 is another upright bike in the Schwinn series. Compared to the Schwinn 170, the A10 is more basic. But, with fewer features comes a lower price. Despite the lower price, the Schwinn A10 doesn’t skimp on quality. Users say the Schwinn A10 is “good value for money”. The Schwinn A10 comes with 7 preset programs and 8 levels of magnetic resistance for versatile workouts. It also contains heart rate sensors and tracks your speed, time, RPM, distance, and calories in real-time. All these options allow you to personalize your workouts and track your progress over time.
Just like the Schwinn 170, the A10 also has a padded contoured seat for a comfortable ride. The A10 also includes neat features such as transport wheels and a bottle holder. If you’re storing the bike away when not in use, the transport wheels come in very handy. Simply glide it into the corner of your room to move it out of the way.
Reviews of Our Best Folding Upright Bikes
1. Best Overall: Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Exercise Bike
The Exerpeutic folding magnetic upright bike is our top pick for folding upright bikes. It has 8 levels of magnetic resistance, allowing users to choose between harder and easier rides. You’ll be able to easily analyze your work-rate via its hand pulse sensors. The hand pulse sensors track your heart-rate in real-time and display it on a large LCD display. The LCD display also shows distance, calories burned, time, and speed. The Exerpeutic folding magnetic upright bike folds to half its size and has transportation wheels. If portability and storage are a high priority, this upright bike will suit you well.
The Exerpeutic folding magnetic upright bike operates via a three-piece crank system. The three-piece high torque cranking system provides a smooth and consistent pedaling motion that’s easy on the joints. The Exerpeutic folding magnetic upright bike accommodates riders from 5 ft 3 inches to 6 ft 1 inch up to 300 lbs. It also has a large seat cushion to provide comfort for a range of users. Users agree the seat suits multiple riders “we both really appreciate the comfortable seat”.
Our runner-up upright bike is the XTERRA Fitness FB350. Folding to 20.5” x 20” when not in use, it’s a great option when space is limited. It also has transportation wheels to make storing it away super easy. The XTERRA Fitness FB350 provides a comfortable ride by providing padded handlebars, backrest, and seat. The seat uses anatomically designed padding to suit a range of users. Customers praise the comfort of the XTERRA Fitness FB350; “seat very comfortable, easy to ride”. The addition of a backrest makes the XTERRA Fitness FB350 a hybrid between an upright and recumbent bike. If you’re looking for something to support your back while in the upright position, this bike is perfect.
The XTERRA Fitness FB350 contains a 3.3 lb precision balanced flywheel that delivers a smooth and quiet ride. It also contains an LCD monitor that displays speed, distance, time, calories, and heart rate. Heart rate is picked up via pulse grips in the handlebars. Monitoring your data while cycling is a great way to switch up the intensity of your workouts. Additionally, the XTERRA Fitness FB350 provides 8 levels of resistance to help you vary your workouts.
3. Best Value: Exerpeutic 675 XLS Bluetooth Smart Upright Bike
The Exerpeutic 675 XLS upright bike suits those looking for a high-quality upright bike for a reasonable price. While it has many features, it doesn’t break the bank. Compared to the Exerpeutic folding magnetic upright bike, the Exerpeutic 675 XLS has 20% more steel. This additional steel enables riders up to 400lbs to use the bike. It also accommodates riders from 5 ft 1 inch to 6 ft 5 inches. You can also save two user profiles to the bikes system.
What’s great about the Exerpeutic 675 XLS is you can connect it to a Bluetooth Smart Technology app that allows you to track your workouts and progress over time. The MyCloudFitness app gives you access to personalized workouts, scenic routes, and more. The Exerpeutic 675 XLS also comes with 21 preset workout programs to help you through your workout journey. Additionally, there are 16 levels of magnetic resistance to make your workouts more, or less, challenging. All of this is displayed on a backlit LCD computer. Customers say “this is a great bike for the money”, especially considering all it has to offer.
What You Should Consider Before Buying an Upright Bike
Now we’ve looked at our top upright bikes and foldable upright bikes, let’s talk about which one is best for you. What’s right for you might not be right for everyone else. It comes down to your individual criteria, and which one suits your goals and circumstances. Here’s what you’ll need to consider before buying an upright bike.
Most upright bikes have multiple levels of resistance. You can adjust the resistance levels from really easy to really hard. Changing up the intensity is a great way to keep your workouts varied and fun. But, some models have more levels of resistance than others. The more levels you have, the more options you have available. The Exerpeutic 675 XLS Bluetooth Smart Upright Bike has 16 levels of magnetic resistance. While 16 is great, 8-10 is more than enough for the average rider.
Throughout this article, we’ve covered upright bikes and foldable upright bikes. If you live in a small apartment or travel a lot, foldable upright bikes become incredibly attractive. A bike in the middle of the room doesn’t exactly fit in with the decor. Foldable upright bikes can be stored in cupboards or the corner of your room. While you’ll still need a bit of room for storage, it’s better than them sitting in your living room. Also, consider buying an upright bike with transportation wheels. This makes it much easier to move in and out of storage. Lastly, if you’re on the road a lot, and don’t have much time to workout, an upright bike could come in very handy. They fit in the back of most cars or trucks and can be transported around with you.
Body Size and Shape
Many upright bikes are designed to suit a range of body shapes and sizes. Most can be adjusted to suit your personal needs. But, some upright bikes aren’t appropriate for smaller or larger populations. Before you buy an upright bike, ensure it meets your height and weight requirement. If the bike isn’t suitable for your body type, it can be dangerous and uncomfortable. Also, consider the seats and pedals. Some upright bikes have designed their seats and pedals to be bigger to suit more users. For larger and smaller users, we really like the Exerpeutic 675 XLS Bluetooth Smart Upright Bike. It accommodates riders up to 400lbs and suits people from 5 ft 1 inch to 6 ft 5 inches.
Top-of-the-range upright bikes typically include the most features and are the best quality. While they might be the best suited, they might not meet your budget. If you’re on a tight budget you might have to sacrifice some of the more advanced features. But, this doesn’t mean you have to settle for a poor quality product. Browse various upright bikes and read their customer reviews. Some very good upright bikes are a very reasonable price. If your upright bike is going to replace a gym membership, remember to consider how much money you’ll be saving over the long-term. This could influence how much you’re willing to spend on an upright bike. The Schwinn A10 Upright Bike is a great example of a good upright bike with a good price.
Heart Rate Analysis
Many upright bikes come with heart rate analysis. While heart rate analysis isn’t essential, it can be a great training tool and progress monitor. But, not all of us are training for performance. Many of us just want to add a bit more activity into our day. If heart rate analysis isn’t a priority, it’s worth considering upright bikes without it. Since it’s an advanced feature, it usually means your bike will cost more than one without it.
Some of the more advanced upright bikes come with preset programs. They can be really useful to mix up your workouts and provide motivation. Sometimes, the thought of sitting on a bike for 30 minutes can seem a bit boring. But, 30 minutes of constantly varied interval training can seem a lot more exciting. If you’re prone to boredom or don’t know where to start with your training, consider an upright bike with preset programs. The Exerpeutic 675 XLS Bluetooth Smart Upright Bike comes with 21 preset workout programs.
Some upright bikes come with Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to connect with a range of apps. Which apps you can connect will depend on the bike. But, some popular options include scenery apps and progress trackers. If you want to enjoy a virtual ride or want to keep track of your progress, Bluetooth connectivity is a handy feature.
Upright bikes are a great addition to any home gym. They allow you to increase your fitness from the comfort of your own home. When buying an upright bike, consider your budget, space, body type, and goals. Take a look around and see what best suits you and your needs. The best upright bike is the one that best fits you.
Michaela Summers is a health and fitness content creator. She holds a Master of Research in Health and Wellbeing and a BSc in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of Exeter. She is on a mission to help people live a more fulfilling, impactful life through fitness and lifestyle. When she's not writing, she can be found in the gym, playing tennis, or exploring the great outdoors.