Exercise bikes buying guide

If you're just beginning to get yourself fit, an exercise bike is an ideal starting point. It's simple to use and can be adjusted to suit your level of fitness and comfort. These machines will not only give you a cardiovascular workout, they'll also tone up your leg muscles without putting a strain on your joints.Cycling is one of the easiest ways of getting fit: you can hop on and off whenever you like; whether it's just for a few minutes before work or while you're watching television in the evening. You can also keep track of your progress via an LCD screen that displays the speed and equivalent distance travelled.

Types of exercise bike

  • Upright bike

    The most popular type of exercise bike is the upright model. This works in virtually the same way that a normal bike does, so you ride and pedal as you normally would. These bikes are excellent for giving your legs a good workout and improving activity in and around the heart.

  • Recumbent bike

    A recumbent bike allows you to exercise in a reclining position. If you intend to cycle for extended periods of time, this may be the bike for you; the backrest is especially comfortable for people with back problems. Due to the seating position, you may need to apply additional legwork to get the same intensity of workout as an upright bike.

Features to look for

  • Resistance and programmes

    Resistance is created by means of magnets, which create varying amounts of drag; the greater the drag, the more effort will be needed to push the pedals. Most bikes will allow you to set the resistance to the level you prefer, whether it's some gentle exercise or a really tough workout. Alongside this feature, many bikes also feature a number of built-in programmes, which are ideal for matching your workout to your fitness level.

  • LCD display

    All the exercise bikes in our range are fitted with an LCD display, which provides you with real-time information. The display will show your speed, the current programme, how far you've 'travelled' and how long you've been cycling, but some displays can also tell you how many calories you've burned. Built-in workout programmes help to keep things interesting. Some models even go as far as to give you encouraging messages in order to keep you motivated throughout the session.

  • Heart rate monitors

    Some bikes are fitted with a built-in heart monitor, which is perfect if you're using the bike for cardiovascular exercise.

  • Posture

    Your seating position is really important to avoid damage caused by bad posture. Most bikes will allow you to adjust the seat to a height that suits you. For guidance purposes, the right height is achieved when, while sitting up straight on the bike your knee is slightly bent when the pedals reach their lowest point. You may also want to look out for bikes with extendable handlebars, especially if your arms are shorter or longer than average. When exercising, try to balance your weight between the pedals, sat and handlebars.