Curious about different exercise bike styles?
How are they different? And which bike style is best for you?
If you’re just starting on your journey to find the best home exercise bike, this guide will help you.
The main thing you need to decide when buying an exercise bike is which style of bike you want.
There are generally 3 styles of exercise bikes: Upright, Studio (or Cycling) and Recumbent.
Each one has their own benefits and drawbacks.
This post will give you rundown of each one to help you decide which would fit you best.
Then you’ll be better positioned to find a bike you love – and will use for years to come.
So let’s dive in:
Exercise Bike Styles – 3 Options to Choose
#1 Upright Bikes
Upright bikes are also called “stationary bikes” or just “exercise bikes”.
These are the most common type of exercise bike – where you sit upright, in a similar position to riding a road bike.
Your legs hang down to touch the pedals below you. And you can even “stand up” on the pedals (lifting yourself off the seat) for particularly challenging rides.
The upright bike was the first style of exercise bike to come out in the 80s and 90s. And it was the only option you had for a long time.
These bikes used to only give you manual resistance (a knob you had to turn every time you wanted to change the resistance). However the newer, higher-end upright bikes are now coming out with power resistance (which you control with a button on the console).
Upright bikes tend to be simpler in design than the other 2 bikes here – and subsequently a bit more affordable. However, on the other hand, they don’t have as many bells and whistles or training options as the other 2 options either.
Still, if you just want a simple, affordable exercise bike you can use for occasional riding and good health, you’ll probably be very happy with a standard upright bike.
If you want to see the latest upright exercise bikes and what they can offer you, check out our Upright Bike Reviews here.
#2 Studio or Indoor Cycling Bikes
These are technically upright bikes. However they’ve grown so popular that they deserve to be in a category of their own at this point.
You might also see them called by different names like training bikes, indoor cycling bikes or even spin bikes.
These bikes are built to give you a much more effective cycling workout.
Many are built to mimic more of a outdoor riding experience with a slimmer frame, adjustable handlbars, toe clips and even incline/decline or lean features.
The seats on these bikes tend to be a bit more sleek and comfortable – vs traditional upright bikes – as well. And in many cases you can also change them out to a seat of your choice.
Another bonus? These bikes give you more sophisticated (and fun) training options.
For example, the Nordictrack S27i Studio bike (seen above) has a massive HD, touch-screen where you can stream studio cycling workouts directly to your bike. You can take a new cycling class every day and the trainer can even control the bike’s resistance or incline for you.
Other bikes like the Sole SB900 bike includes adjustable handlebars, toe clips and even a tablet holder. So you can stream different programs to your bike as you ride.
Prices do vary on these bikes. However in general, they can run you a bit more than a standard upright bike. This makes sense since they offer you more training features and a more ergonomic, comfortable design.
If you want to see the latest studio exercise bikes and what they can offer you, check out our Studio Bike Reviews here.
You can also read more about choosing an indoor cycling bike with our Studio Bike Buying Guide here
#3 Recumbent Bike
This is the last exercise bike style on the list. These bikes are very different in style than the other two bikes listed above.
Recumbent bikes are known for their recumbent or bucket-style seats. Instead of hanging down below you, your legs angle out in front of you on a downward angle to reach the pedals.
The obvious benefits to a recumbent bike are that they get around the main problem with traditional upright bikes: uncomfortable seats. Most people find a bucket seat to be much more comfortable than the older upright bike seats.
This means you can exercise for longer – even with back issues – than you might on a regular upright bike.
Recumbent bikes have come a long way in the last few years. While they used to be fairly standard, some now offer you sophisticated tracking programs, built-in tablet holders and speakers.
For example the Sole LCR Recumbent gives you a tablet holder, console speakers and the option to add in classes.
The Nordictrack R35 (below) gives you an easily adjustable seat and a full-color, HD screen where you can ride famous trails all over the world.
While recumbent exercise bikes can be more comfortable, many experts feel they don’t give you as good of a workout as an upright bike.
They engage less muscles – especially at your core. So you may have to spend longer (or work harder with extra resistance) to burn the same amount of calories as an upright bike.
These bikes also tend to take up a bit more space in your home than a traditional upright or a studio bike. They can also be heavier and harder to move around.
But if you’re looking for a more comfortable, gentle ride that you really enjoy, then a recumbent bike may be ideal for you.
If you want to see the latest recumbent exercise bikes and what they can offer you, check out our Recumbent Bike Reviews here.
Or for some tips on what to look for when shopping, visit our Recumbent Bike Buying Guide here.
So those are your 3 different styles of exercise bike for your home.
Which is the Best Exercise Bike Style for You?
It really depends on your goals, budget and preferences.
The upright bike is generally more affordable and can be a great option for occasional workouts. However the frequent or experienced athlete may find it doesn’t offer enough training or workout options.
The studio bike is best for frequent cyclers, outdoor cyclers or those who just want a more comfortable, ergonomic upright style of bike.
The recumbent bike would be ideal if you have hip, back or knee issues – but still want a bike to exercise on your own time and schedule.
Once you know which style of bike you’d like to buy, you’re ready to go shopping for that particular kind of bike.
Want to learn more about what to look for with each kind of exercise bike?
Check out our Buying Guides below. Or visit our Best Buys page for a range of exercise bikes that have ranked highly with experts – and give you good value for the money.