Buying a studio bike? Not sure where to start?
Studio bikes – also called indoor cycling bikes, studio cycles and spin bikes – are the next evolution of the upright exercise bike.
They’re built to be much more sophisticated than traditional upright bikes.
They’re slimmer and sleeker – more similar to an outdoor riding bike.
But there’s a huge range to choose from.
You can find everything from cheap, simple options to health-club-style models that are the next best thing to riding outdoors.
So how do you choose?
There are several key things that make up a quality studio exercise bike.
Look for these 6 things when you’re shopping and you’re guaranteed to find a high quality bike that you’ll love!
6 Things To Look For When Buying A Studio Bike
#1 Design and Weight
Indoor cycling bikes tend to be slimmer and sleeker than standard upright bikes. The design is meant to more accurately resemble a road riding bike.
So you’ll notice a sleeker design, egonomic seat, toe cages or SPD clips, drop handlebars, etc.
This is all great. But sometimes, the sleeker, slimmer look also translates to a more lightweight bike that doesn’t give you the stability you need.
How to get around this?
Look for a heavier indoor cycling bike with a bit more substance to it in the flywheel and frame.
For example, here’s the Schwinn IC3 studio bike:
And here’s the Sole SB900 indoor cycling bike:
They look similar.
But the Sole is about $300 more. What’s the difference?
There are several. But one of the key differences is that the Schwinn IC3 is 100 pounds and the Sole SB900 is 160 pounds.
Which one do you think will feel more stable when you ride it?
You’ll also notice that the Sole bike has more substance to the frame and flywheel (which is an impressive 48 pounds). This is another factor making it feel more stable and solid.
So while you’ll get a more road-bike look to your studio bike (that’s normal), always make sure to check the machine weight, the frame and flywheel when comparing bikes.
A heavier bike will feel more stable when you ride it – especially when you pick up the pace.
Most studio bikes come with drop handlebars – similar to road bikes.
You want to make sure these handlebars are adjustable up and down so you can find the most comfortable fit for your frame.
It’s also a nice touch if they’re padded for extra comfort or made with a softer material than standard plastic.
You may be leaning on these handlebars for long periods of time and these types of handlebars will be much more comfortable than hard plastic ones.
While this can be hard to find, some premium indoor cycling bikes like the Nordictrack S22i (see above) have incline and resistance controls built into the arm bars.
So you don’t have to reach up to the console to make changes. You can make fast changes on the fly from your cycling position.
You’ll notice that the seats on these bikes are more streamlined – again similar to road bikes. This can make them more comfortable. But this is still a function of price.
Usually cheaper bikes will have harder seats. It’s really a “you-get-what-you-pay-for” kind of thing.
If you want to buy a cheaper bike – but want to get around this, see if you can change out the seat and add in your own. Some bikes will allow this – some won’t.
Another option is to spend a bit more and go with a quality mid-range or premium bike – as you’re more likely to get a more comfortable, padded seat.
Another thing to make sure of is that the seat is easily adjustable both forward/back and up/down. This is pretty standard on most bikes – but it never hurts to check.
The pedals range on these bikes. But many quality studio bikes will give you toe cages or SPD clips.
Some even give you dual sided pedals with both.
So you have an option depending on what you prefer.
#5 The “Extras”
“Extras” are features that you don’t find on every bike. They’re the fun things that make a bike really popular and give you a more realistic, optimized training experience.
Once of the best examples of extras?
The Nordictrack S27i comes with incline and decline. Yes, you read that right – it can incline and decline as you ride.
This adds a lot of extra crosstraining options and can give you the feel of uphill or downhill road riding.
Another example of extras are handweights.
Some bikes are now giving you handweights with the bike. You can usually store them in a rack behind the seat or on a shelf in front of the console.
That way you can add in some upper body training as you cycle – a very cool “extra” feature.
#6 Console and Entertainment
Again, there are lots of different options here.
You can find simple bikes with, small, non-backlit consoles giving you the bare statistics.
Or you can find full, backlit-consoles with tablet holders.
But perhaps the most popular option are bikes that offer streaming classes and entertainment through the console.
One of the best bikes in this category is the Nordictrack S27i Studio Bike – which has a massive, 27-inch full color, HD, touch-screen console.
You connect with iFit (Nordictrack’s streaming service) through the screen and from there you can ride famous trails all over the world. Enjoy the view as the scenery passes you by and a coach takes you through the cycling trail.
You can also stream cycling classes to your home with this bike – or even take live classes. This is next level training and guaranteed to keep you excited about using your bike.
Other bikes like Sole and Horizon offer their own version of streaming as well. It really depends on what you want and how involved you want to get with your training.
So those are 6 essential areas to consider when buying an indoor cycling bike. With any of these features, usually the higher you go in price (mid level to commercial grade bikes), the better options you’ll get.
Mid to higher-range studio bikes for example, will give you better seats, proper ergonomics, heavier flywheels, more resistance levels, better entertainment options etc.
And if you choose a good brand name, you’re also more likely to find a better studio bike.
Want a few suggestions for quality studio bikes? I’ve listed a couple of options below along with links to more information on each:
Studio Bike Recommendations:
This premium bike boasts a massive 27-inch, full-color, HD, touch-screen.
You can connect with iFit (Nordictrack’s streaming service) and ride trails all over the world- from the shores of Hawaii to the mountains of the Swiss Alps.
The bike will incline and decline to match the terrain of the trail you’re riding – which adds a whole new level of reality to your training.
Need a new challenge?
Stream a new cycling class to your bike – or even take a live class. Your trainer can even control the incline, decline and resistance of your bike for you in real time (if you choose).
It’s not a budget bike. But if you’re looking for the king of indoor training bikes with all the bells and whistles, this is one to consider
This bike is simpler than the Nordictrack model above. It’s a starter bike. But coming in under $1000, it offers great value for the price.
You get Schwinn construction quality along with an easily adjustable seat, 100 resistance levels and even dual-sided pedals (with toe cages and SPD clips options).
While the console is a bit small on this unit and gives you only the bare feedback stats – it does come with a tablet holder.
So you can attach your tablet and stream shows as you ride. Or connect with the Schwinn JRNY streaming app for tracking and a few road trail options.
If you’re on a budget but still want a well-made bike with some fun workout and tracking options, this is a great choice.
This bike is a mid-range option that gives you an impressive 22-inch, full-color console. Like the Nordictrack bike above, you can stream world trail rides – or cycling classes to your home.
You get a comfortable seat that adjusts both horizontally and vertically. Plus the seat is interchangeable – so you can change it out if you prefer.
The pedals are also interchangeable and come with toe cages and straps.
While it’s not a commercial bike, the high-quality welded steel and enhanced corrosion resistance on the frame go a long way to keeping your bike in good shape over time.
So that’s a quick and simple Studio Bike Buying Guide to help you know what to look for when shopping for your exercise bike.
Keep these 6 things in mind and you’re guaranteed to find a quality indoor cycling bike that you’ll be able to enjoy for years to come!