Best Upright Bikes Reviews 2018 and Comparison Chart
As opposed to indoor cycling bikes (or spin bikes), upright bikes aren’t made to support heavy spinning routines. Even some of the commercial grade models would probably fall apart after repeated stand-up pedaling routines. They are made to supply a light and medium cardio training, with minimal impact on the joints, promoting an upright position.
These exercise bikes are typically designed for home use. Thus, you’ll find many models that also feature a folding frame. But nonetheless, you’ll also find models intended for 24/7 gym use, with a more solid construction, higher weight capacity etc. There are several distinct differences between commercial uprights and models made for home use. We’ll get to pointing out those aspects in some of the sections below. Also, there are quite a few differences between indoor cycling and upright models which many users fail to consider and end up with the wrong machine. Therefore, those differences will also be clarified here.
But before putting all that information into view, in case you’re looking for a decent piece of fitness equipment, here’s a palette to choose from.
All the models in the table below feature a minimum of a 4-star rating, given by users all over the world on many websites. In other words, the following upright exercise trainers are some of the best that you can find at the moment. Therefore, as a first chapter in this post, here are the top 10 upright exercise bikes for the year 2018.
Top 10 Upright Bikes
|Exerpeutic 500 XLS||L:39"|
|8||No||Frame: 1 year
Parts: 90 days
|Fitness Reality 210||L:33"|
|275 lbs||Belt||Eddy |
|Schwinn MY16 130||L:41.3"|
|20||22||Frame: 10 years
Parts: 2 years
Electrical: 1 year
Labor: 90 days
|Schwinn 170 M717||L:41"|
|Frame: 10 years
Mechanical: 2 years
Electronics: 1 years
Labor: 90 days
|Kettler GIRO P||L:37"|
|16||8||Parts: 3 years
Labor: 3 years
|20||22||Frame: 10 years
Mechanical: 2 years
Electronics: 1 years
Labor: 90 days
|Schwinn Airdyne Pro||L:53"|
|350 lbs||Belt||Air||n/a||4||Frame: 10 years
Parts: 2 years
Electronics: 2 years
Labor: 6 mth
|300 lbs||Chain||Air||n/a||2||Frame: 5 years
Parts: 2 years
|SOLE LCB Light Commercial||L:44"|
Parts: 3 years
Electronics: 3 years
Labor: 1 year
|Life Fitness C1||L:45"|
Parts: 3 years
Labor: 1 year
This selection aims to provide a bike for everyone, beginning with the most basic models, to the most inclusive. Needless to say, all machines pointed out within the above table come with a decent quality/price ratio. Even the most affordable ones have a pretty solid construction and make a good investment.
Evidently, the price is quite an important factor in anyone’s buying decision for just about any product. We’re pretty sure that anyone interested in an upright bike would like to see a few recommendations by price. But before that, you need to make sure that a certain model that caught your eye, is precisely the exercise bike that you need. There are several important aspects regarding an upright bike that you need to consider before choosing one. Therefore, the next sections of this article will make all the required clarifications.
Why Should You Buy an Upright Exercise Bike?
Working out on an exercise bike of this type comes with an array of benefits. To begin with, these fitness machines offer a training setting that focuses on the leg muscles and lower body, but with a diminished impact on the ankles and knees. Running on a treadmill, for example, can put a lot of stress on your joints, in comparison to a cycle. Also, since these machines promote an upright, healthier workout posture, they don’t put as much stress as indoor cycles on your lower back.
This type of exercise cycles is great for beginners. They supply the perfect training setting for users who want to get back in shape. An exercise bike of this type should help you build enough strength and stamina in order to be able to take on an indoor cycling bike or a treadmill. Some of the sturdier models can also support a medium-range training, making a great choice for interval training, or for alternating cardio with lifting weights.
Most upright cycles come with at least a basic performance monitor. These devices help you track your progress, count calories, or set-up goals to achieve, in order to make training more demanding and motivating. Some of the most advanced types also offer performant consoles, which not only include a selection of preloaded workout apps, but also incorporate comfort factors, such as speakers, cooling fans, USB charging ports, or even offer online connectivity, so that you can compare your workout progress with others, or compete.
Last but not least, you will be riding your bike indoors. Therefore, rain or cold weather won’t stop you from undergoing your training. The risk of injuries or accidents is nearly zero. And on top of that, you can watch TV, read your favorite books, browse the web, or watch your favorite online streams as you ride.
Differences Between Indoor Cycling Bikes and Upright Bikes
When it comes to exercise bikes, there are actually 3 types: cycling, upright and recumbent. Each type is specific in its own way. As a general idea, cycling bikes are made for high-intensity training, upright bikes are for light and medium training, and put less stress on the back, and recumbent bikes offer a light training, but supply a lot of comfort. In this part of this post, we’ll focus on the main differences between indoor cycling bikes and upright bikes, as many users may not consider all these differences, and may make the wrong choice.
First of all, when it comes to construction, cycling bikes feature solid, heavy frames, similar to mountain bikes. They also have solid cranksets, which can support the entire weight of the user. Uprights, although there are many durable and solid models out there, are not built for “spin” training. Even the sturdiest models will wear out pretty quickly if you repeatedly workout in a stand-up position. They’re designed for workouts in upright, seated position, and not for full stand-up posture required for climb training.
Indoor cycles feature heavy flywheels, made to supply a smooth, consistent momentum, and put your leg muscles to the test. Upright cycles use much lighter flywheels.
Uprights feature wider, more comfortable seats than the usual slim saddle present in most cycling bikes. Most models only offer up/down adjustability, but there still are models which provide a 4-way adjustable seat. On the other hand, handlebars in most upright bikes are fixed; cannot be adjusted in any way. Most spin bikes offer at least up/down adjustability for the handlebar. Design offer multiple grip possibilities, aero bars incorporated, and even elbow rests. Upright bikes, have simpler handlebars, but can still promote multiple grips. However, in uprights, even the most basic models incorporate pulse sensors in the handlebars.
Almost every upright bike, even the cheapest models, comes with a console. The more expensive models offer a more or less consistent amount of preloaded training programs and goal tracking options. Cycling bikes on the other hand typically include basic consoles, only for RPM, speed, time, distance and calories. And many models don’t include a console at all.
Finally, most upright bikes offer magnetic resistance, which doesn’t involve any wear and tear, or the touching of the brake pad and the flywheel, and thus don’t require maintenance or component replacement. Indoor cycles, even though there are models with magnetic resistance, such as the Keiser M3, most of them feature friction, felt-pad resistance. Felt-pads wear out after a while and call for a replacement. Some types of friction brakes may also require the lubrication of the brake pads.
Manual Magnetic vs. Electronic Magnetic Resistance
As we’ve mentioned above, most exercise cycles in this category feature magnetic resistance. But there are several types of magnetic resistance though. In most affordable models resistance is adjusted manually via a resistance knob, similar to spin bikes with a friction brake. They feature a mobile brake pad attached to a wire and connected to the knob. As you turn the knob, the magnetic pad moves closer of farther away from the bike’s flywheel, modifying resistance.
On the other hand, the more expensive models come with an electronically assisted magnetic brake, resistance being controlled exclusively from the console of the machine. The magnetic brake is connected to a servomotor and may feature either a mobile or a fixed brake pad. As the command for a certain resistance setting is inserted on the console, the servomotor will move the magnetic pad closer to the flywheel. In case the magnetic pad is fixed, the pull of the magnet is adjusted, and braking force or retarding force is induced to the flywheel, adjusting resistance. These machines also require to be connected to a power source, but some of them are self-powered.
In general, bikes with manual resistance only feature 1-8 resistance levels, or 1-12. The ones with an electronically assisted brake can have up to 40 levels of resistance.
Folding vs. Non-Folding
If you’re looking for an upright bike, you’ve probably noticed that there are models which feature a folding design. Evidently, foldability is aimed at users who lack storage space.These models are usually cheaper, as they’re pretty basic, but they can still supply a decent training setting. Resistance on these bikes is in general, manual magnetic. The only downside related to foldable models is that mounting and dismounting may be a bit awkward, or even difficult for elderly, or physically impaired users.
On the other hand, non-foldable models, supply a more compact design. They’re typically more solid, offer superior stability, seats are more comfortable, and the more advanced models also offer 4-way adjustability at least for the seat.
Now, for a bit of a conclusion here, if you have the required usage space and you can afford it, it’s a better choice to go with a non-folding bike. Comfort and ease of use are always important in an upright bike.
Commercial Grade vs. Home-Use
Although these fitness machines are pretty much aimed at the home user, there still are models made for gym use. Evidently, these are more expensive but do offer superior quality. So, the question is, is it worth it to pay the higher price, for a commercial grade bike, or go with a less expensive model?
First of all, let’s look at the differences. To begin with, commercial grade bikes typically feature a larger footprint, and always have a fixed, compact frame. Many of the ones intended for home use have a considerably smaller footprint, and some of them even offer a folding frame. They’re lighter, easier to handle, but also with a lower user capacity, typically up to 250 lbs.
Many of the cheaper models made for home use, feature manual resistance, with a basic, battery powered console. Club quality cycles feature electronically assisted magnetic brakes, with automatic resistance, which typically adjusts from the console.
Needless to say, commercial type models offer a wide array of workout programs. Not only that, but some of the models even feature online connectivity to various sites such as MyFitnessPal, or iFit, where you can download extra workout programs, or upload your workout data and compare your progress with others’.
Club class bikes also offer superior adjustability. Most of them feature a 4-way adjustable seat, and certain models even offer some adjustability for the handlebars.
Our Best Recommendations by Price
After all the clarifications made in the sections above, you should have a pretty good idea what upright exercise bikes can offer, what they cannot, and whether this is the type of exercising machine that you need. Thus, one more aspect remains to be clarified: price.
The most affordable upright exercise bikes begin at prices around $100. However, you can also find models that cost more than $2,000. We can actually put upright cycles in four distinctive categories, according to their price:
- under $300 – basic models (with a few exceptions), with simple resistance and drive mechanism;
- between $300 and $500 – bikes with a more solid build, more options, and superior resistance;
- between $500 and $1,000 – light commercial exercise bikes with a weight capacity starting at 300 lbs, and a wide array of workouts;
- over $1,000 – commercial-grade bikes, the sturdiest models designed to withstand 24/7 wear in the premises of a gym club.
These being said, here are some of the best upright bikes for each one of the price intervals.
Price: Under $300
In terms of affordable and space-saving upright exercise bikes, the Exerpeutic 500 XLS definitely is one model that requires some praise. It’s a model released in 2016, but so far it continues to gather 5-star reviews from all users. Also, you can find an almost identical exercise bike to this one under the Fitness Reality brand name, this being the Fitness Reality U2500.
One of the main reasons this model benefits from a tremendously positive feedback from its users is the extremely wide, padded and comfortable seat. This is also the main feature that tells this model apart from most other upright bike models. On top of that, it features a folding design, making it an excellent choice for users who don’t have the luxury of space.
This upright cycle features a manual magnetic resistance system, but also comes with a fitness meter that serves as an excellent motivation factor, and also helps you keep an eye on your progress… Read Full Review.
This is one of the most affordable upright exercise bikes with a motorized magnetic resistance. It currently costs under $200 and benefits from an average customer rating of 4 stars, which is not bad at all. Although its frame construction is a fairly basic one, and the seat offers only 2-way adjustability (up, down), this exercise bike features an excellent console for this price range.
The Fitness Reality 210 features a console with a backlit LCD display. It can track distance, time, calories, watts, speed, and pulse, also having an odometer function. It has 3 computer goal workout settings for time, distance and calories burned. It has 21 pre-set programs, which cover a wide array of workouts, from light to intense. When using one of the pre-set workouts, the bike will automatically adjust its resistance… Read Full Review.
As its name suggests, the Schwinn MY16 130 was released in 2016, but like most other Schwinn exercise bikes it continues to benefit from a lot of positive feedback. It’s a bike close to the $300 price mark but does offer excellent value for this price.
To begin with, the Schwinn MY16 130 is equipped with an automatic magnetic resistance system, offering 20 levels of resistance. It features a very sturdy construction for a home use bike, being able to withstand riders up to 300 lbs. It doesn’t have the super wide seat as the Exerpeutic GOLD 500, but its seat does offer optimal comfort. The bike’s console not only that has 22 built-in workout programs, it also gives you the possibility to export your workout data to SchwinnConnect, or to various other online workout apps, such as MyFitnessPal, GoogleFit, AppleHealth, Endomondo or MapMyRun/Ride… Read Full Review.
Price: $300 – $500
The Schwinn M717 170, also referred to as Schwinn MY17 170, is a more inclusive version of the Schwinn 130 MY16. It was released at the beginning of 2017, so at this point is only a year old. However, the older (2013) version – Schwinn 170 – is still available at various retailers, and still is an excellent fitness machine.
The Schwinn M717 170 offers 29 workout applications and 25 levels of eddy current resistance. Its multifunction console also offers Bluetooth connectivity, so you can sync it with your smartphone, tablet, or laptop in order to stream your workout directly into your Schwinn Connect account, MyFitnessPal account, GoogleFit, AppleHealth, Endomondo etc.
The seat supplied with the Schwinn 170 MY 17 is quite comfortable, featuring superior cushioning, ergonomic contour, and 4-way adjustability. Also, an important comfort factor that even the commercial-grade models do not include, but this particular bike does, is reflected by the elbow rests incorporated in the handlebar… Read Full Review.
The AFG 7.3AU upright bike is an exercise bike with a construction pretty close to the light commercial models. It has a user weight capacity of 300 lbs and offers 4-way adjustability for the seat. It’s equipped with a motorized-magnetic resistance system with 20 distinctive tension levels, and a smooth and quiet belt drive.
The AFG 7.3AU exercise bike features a multi-function console with a large, backlit display. It integrates a sound system and a tablet holder, while its internal database has 23 workout programs divided into three main categories: climb, distance, and calories… Read Full Review.
If you’re looking for German quality in an upright bike, the KETTLER Advantage GIRO P is definitely one to put on your list. Although it’s a little under the features offered by the Scwhinn 170 MY17 and costs a bit more, it’s a top-quality exercise bike, and that’s why so far it continues to benefit from a lot of positive feedback.
One of the main pluses of this Kettler upright bike is its superior micro-adjustability; its seat is 4-way adjustable, while the angle of the handlebars can also be adjusted. The bike features a sturdy frame which can withstand users up to 285 lbs. It’s equipped with an eddy current resistance system that offers 16 distinctive tension levels. Its console, although it doesn’t have amenities such as a sound system or cooling fan, nor is online capable, it still offers 8 workout programs to keep you motivated… Read Full Review.
Price: Over $500 – $1,000
Not surprisingly, another one of our recommendations is also a Schwinn, simply because there are only top-quality fitness machines under this brand name. However, this exercise bike features an air resistance system. It’s still technically an upright bike, though, as it doesn’t have the backrest seat as a recumbent one, and it’s not exactly made for spinning workouts.
The Airdyne Pro is one of the most inclusive air bikes from Schwinn. It features a 4-way adjustable seat and multi-grips for its mobile arms. The saddle integrates a generous layer of cushioning, being designed for superior comfort. The bike’s resistance system is powered by a large 26-blade fan. It doesn’t have any adjustment system, but as any other air resistance fitness machine, it delivers a dynamic response. In other words, the harder you pedal, the more resistance you’ll get. The console included with this exercise bike has a double display… Read Full Review.
The second recommendation for our $500-$1,000 price interval is also an air resistance exercise bike. The LifeCore Assault bike is actually one of the top air bikes available at the moment. It benefits from almost a clean 5-star rating on most retailer and fitness sites.
As its name suggests, this is a heavy-duty exercise bike. The seat offers 4-way adjustability, up, down, and front to back. Its angle can also be adjusted. The bike can accommodate users between 5’0″ and 6’6″ cm, and up to 300 lbs. Just as the Schwinn Airdyne model, it doesn’t have any magnetic brake for overall resistance adjustment; the resistance is given exclusively by the fan and the pedaling speed of the user. The console supplied with this bike keeps track of time, distance, calories, speed, watts, RPM, and heart rate. The handlebars don’t have any pulse sensors but the console unit is compatible with various non-coded HR transmitters such as the Polar T31 Non-Coded or Polar T34… Read Full Review.
3G Cardio offers several models of fitness machines that so far benefit from an excellent feedback from most users. The 3G Cardio Elite UB upright exercise bike is one of them. It’s is a light-commercial bike, it has quite an impressive weight capacity of 350 lbs and comes with two types of warranties, for home use (which is great) and for gym-use (which is also not bad).
The 3G Cardio Elite UB comes with a comfortable, cushioned and contoured seat, which has a horizontal slider. It can accommodate users up to 6’5″ with no problem, promoting a complete leg extension. Its resistance system is an eddy current type, offering 16 distinctive levels, while the console has 16 pre-set workout programs and 4 user profiles. The console unit also integrates a tablet holder but does not have a sound system as the more affordable Schwinn or Nautilus models… Read Full Review.
Price: Over $1,000
As its name suggests, this bike is indeed a commercial quality model. It’s pretty similar to the Sole B94 model, only this one features a self-powering system. In other words, the energy required for the power-up of the console, and for the resistance mechanism is produced while you pedal. It also has a greater user weight capacity of 350 lbs.
The newer version for 2017 is also Bluetooth enabled. This means that it allows you to directly stream your workout data into the online SOLE Fitness App for a better progress tracking. Despite the fact that this bike is pretty much built like a tank, it doesn’t offer a wide array of workout apps, just the same 10 as the B94. However, it has 40 levels of resistance, and since the console has two custom workout programs, you have plenty of options to create and customize your own workouts… Read Full Review.
Although the Light Fitness C1 upright cycle trainer has the sturdiness and compactness of a commercial grade bike, it lacks the horizontal seat adjustability feature. However, it still is an excellent trainer that can accommodate users up to 6’5″, has a weight capacity of 300 lbs, a large handlebar with multiple grip possibilities.
The newer Life Fitness C1 (C1TC-XX00-0105) comes with the Track Connect console features a custom-etched LCD VA Glass display, with soft-touch controls. The display shows most important workout metrics including distance, time, speed, resistance level, calories burned, the profile matrix of the current workout program, and heart rate. Evidently, the unit is Bluetooth enabled, so you can sync it with your tablet or smartphone in order to directly access your free LFConnect account. LFConnect gives you the possibility to create custom workouts, save them in your workout library and track your progress. It’s also compatible with various other fitness apps, such as Nike+, Garmin, and MyFitnessPal through Wahoo’s RunFit… Read Full Review.
Star Trac is a brand name that also includes several gym-grade indoor cycling bikes and recumbent bikes. The E-UB is the upright bike model. It’s not exactly one of the most affordable trainers of this type, as it costs more than $2,500. But it is a commercial grade bike, with an extremely sturdy construction.
Just like the SOLE LCB, it’s a self-powered exercise bike so it eliminates the need of a power source as the energy required to power up the resistance system and the console is created as you pedal. The bike’s console offers 10 pre-set workout programs to keep you motivated. It tracks distance, speed, time, RPM, METS, calories, calories/hr, WATTS, and heart rate… Read Full Review.
Final Pick: The Best Upright Bike For Home Use
The Schwinn 170 M717 was one of the best upright bikes of the year 2017 and continues to maintain the same super-positive feedback from users in 2018. This exercise bike offers an exceptional price-value ratio. It costs less than $400 but offers superior sturdiness and an impressive range of features. Therefore, it remains our top selection for the year 2018.
Micro-adjustability is also great in this bike. The seat is 4-way adjustable, while the handlebars’ angle can also be adjusted. The handlebar has elbow rests, a feature that most trainers in this price range don’t have. The Q factor is quite narrow, reminding of the Q factor in race or road bikes. This results in much less stress in the knees during pedaling.
With 25 levels of eddy current resistance and 29 workout programs, this bike can sure supply the training setting any user needs. Also, within the 29 training apps, 4 of them are custom, giving you the possibility to create your own training routine. Its console is Bluetooth enabled, so you can sync it with your smartphone, tablet, or laptop in order to stream your workout directly into your Schwinn Connect account, MyFitnessPal account, GoogleFit, AppleHealth, Endomondo etc. Some of the most advanced commercial grade ones actually don’t offer features such as this… Read Full Review.
Whether you want to a fitness machine for a light or medium cardio workout, or you want one to help you get in shape and build enough stamina for more advanced workouts, an upright exercise bike is one of the most practical and convenient types to choose from. Depending on your budget, there are many choices that you can make. The selection of bikes in this post cover the full range of prices, beginning with the most basic, and up to the most inclusive. We hope that the information and bikes presented on this page should be enough to help you make the right choice.