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4 Different Types of Stationary Bikes

Empty stationary bikes in a fitness gym.

Work out even when you don't feel like going out. Find out which type of stationary bike will suit your activity best and help you with your fitness goal.

The first stationary bike was invented in 1796 by Francis Lowndes and was called Gymnasticon. It was constructed from wood with metal parts, the bike was positioned vertically and there was a seat so that one would be comfortable while exercising. It was invented for medical purposes such as treating debility, rheumatism, palsy, etc.

Iterations of the stationary bike were introduced over the years. In the 1960s, it became commonplace in the U.S. and in the 1980s, the stationary bike can be found nearly everywhere. This also led to the American fitness craze and the popularity of spin classes.

Upright Stationary Bike

Schwinn 170 Upright Bike (MY17)

Design Elements

The design of the upright stationary bicycle is the first thing many people think of when they hear the term “stationary bike.” The upright bikes have smaller seats than the recumbent bicycles and you often have to lean slightly forward in order to utilize the handles while riding. Over the past decade or so, upright stationary bikes have become quite sleek and sophisticated, with newer and better amenities being added all the time. With handlebars that are nearly parallel to the seat, these bikes resemble regular outdoor bicycles and are easy to operate, comfortable, and give you a great workout every time.

Features/Styles

The features vary depending on the model you buy and where you purchase the bike from, but most upright stationary bikes include padded seats, displays that measure things such as speed and heart-rate, the ability to ride as fast as you like, comfortable handlebars, and the ability to adjust the seat as high or as low as you need it to be. In addition, much like a regular bike, these upright stationary bicycles allow you to sit or stand while you are riding them, enabling you to gain speeds that are quite high and allowing you to get an excellent workout every time. Researching what to look for in an upright stationary bike is important, and the various styles and features of an upright stationary bike allow advantages that include:

  • Convenience: the bike can be placed anywhere and because they are used mostly indoors, you can exercise even if it’s raining outside
  • Versatile: the bike allows you to get a very efficient workout whether you’re sitting or standing
  • Affordable: most upright stationary bikes cost no more than $250, and many are much cheaper
  • Great workout: stationary bikes are good for both cardio workouts and strength-training, building up your leg muscles and strength easily
  • Low-impact exercise: upright stationary bikes do not cause shin splints or sore muscles nearly as often as high-impact exercises do

Many companies also make upright stationary bikes that are lightweight and easy to fold and store away when they’re not in use. Most have seats whose heights can be adjusted to accommodate people both tall and short, and most have at least a heart-rate monitor that helps you keep your heart going at the goal you’ve set for yourself. They are also made much quieter than they were in the past, making it easier for you to enjoy a television show or your favorite music while you exercise. In addition, each model allows for different weight levels of the riders, so whether you weigh 150 pounds or 300 pounds, they are manufactured to accommodate you comfortably.

One of the most popular features of an upright stationary bike is its various resistance levels, which go from very simple to more challenging levels and thereby enable you to both vary your workout and make it more of a challenge as your cardiovascular health improves. If you intend to work out for a lifetime, this feature is very beneficial. In addition, because stationary bikes are made to suit everyone’s preferences and tastes, you can also get upright bikes that come in colors besides black, including red, yellow, and teal.

Purpose

Naturally, a stationary bike’s number-one purpose is to provide a great workout for every individual, but there are other benefits as well to having one of these bikes in your home. With an upright stationary bike, you can improve endurance, gain muscle tone, train for a sporting event, exercise during inclement weather, and even speed up recovery when you’ve been injured or find yourself sore from over-exerting yourself. Training, exercising, and recovery is three of the main purposes for purchasing one of these great exercise bicycles.

Sizes

One of the main characteristics of an upright stationary bike is the fact that these bicycles take up very little space. Most are no bigger than 40 inches long and 20 inches wide, and most are a little more than four feet in height. Since they are made for convenience and to take up a small amount of space, they almost always fit neatly in your bedroom or spare room, enabling you to enjoy a great workout regardless of which room you put them in.

Materials

With stainless steel frames that are slow to rust, cushioned seats, and high-quality wheels, upright stationary bikes are made to last and to look good for a very long time. All manufacturers of these bikes offer great warranties, so on the rare occasion when something does go wrong, you can rest assured it will be taken care of quickly. Their hard-plastic handlebars and other parts are high-quality and comfortable, and many of them are also made with flexible materials that enable you to easily collapse and store it away when it’s not being used.

Recumbent Stationary Bikes

Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike with Resistance ME-709

Design Elements

The main difference between an upright and recumbent stationary bike is that a recumbent bike is not meant to look or work like a regular outdoor bicycle. It has a more laid-back design and a seat that is set back from the pedals. There are no handlebars necessary because of the special way it is designed and shaped, and even its seat is a little unique, resembling a cushion more than a bicycle seat. This is not to say that you cannot get a good workout when you use a recumbent bike, because it is still designed to provide great exercise regardless of your current level of fitness. It is also designed for the ultimate in comfort and a user-friendly way to ride and exercise, as well as giving you a great low-impact way to improve your cardiovascular health.

Features/Styles

The main feature of a recumbent bike is its shape, its large and comfortable seat, and its ease of use. Regardless of your fitness level or your current exercise regimen – or lack thereof – you can learn to ride a recumbent bike in minutes. They are extremely comfortable, take up very little space, and are very stable and safe. Even with its reclined position, the style of a recumbent stationary bike allows you to get a great lower-body workout every time you exercise. This style is also accommodating to people who are overweight or those who are elderly or inexperienced in exercise programs. In other words, recumbent bikes are great for people old and young, in shape or out of shape, overweight or thin, because they have a style all their own that accommodates everyone.

Depending on where you purchase your bike, their features can also include:

  • Measurements for heart-rate, speed, distance, RPMs, and calories burned
  • Seats that are adjustable both horizontally and vertically
  • A convenient holder for your tablet
  • A ride that is both comfortable and quiet
  • Excellent warranties on parts and labor

Purpose

Although you always get a great workout when you use a recumbent stationary bicycle, there are other reasons to use one of these bikes. You can recover from injuries by utilizing slow speeds and building up over time, strengthen your entire lower body, lose weight, and improve your cardiovascular health. In addition, since riding a stationary bike is a low-impact activity, the bike is easy to use and causes little to no stress on your joints and muscles. You can increase your flexibility and your mobility by using a recumbent bike, and if you wish to train for a particular sporting event, this is the perfect tool to do so.

Sizes

The sizes of these recumbent bikes are just as varied as the manufacturers themselves, but recumbent stationary bikes can be as large as 75 inches long, 30 inches wide, and over 50 inches in height. Although made to leave a small footprint, you can find them in nearly every size, so whether the room you plan to put your bike in is small or large, you can easily find one that can be accommodated there. If you research these bikes on online stores, you can get exact measurements that make it easier to decide which one to purchase, and the good news is that you are likely to be pleasantly surprised once you find out how much variety there is regarding this type of stationary exercise bike.

Materials

The materials used in most recumbent bikes include textured pedals for extra comfort, grips that are padded with foam, stainless-steel frames, backseats and seats that are thick and cushioned, and magnetic resistance that is quiet and smooth. Even though these bikes tend to be very reasonably priced, they are built to last and therefore contain high-quality parts and materials, meaning you don’t have to worry about them falling apart or working improperly.

Dual Action Stationary Bikes

Body Champ New & Improved 3-in-1 Trio-Trainer/Elliptical, Upright Stationary, and Recumbent Exercise Bike ALL IN ONE Space Saving Machine

Design Elements

A dual-action stationary bike is designed for the purpose of receiving two different ways to get a good workout. A stationary bike can be combined with an elliptical, a stair-climber, or just about any other type of exercise equipment to make for a combination of ways to receive a good workout. It is also designed to switch from a bike to the other machine simply and quickly, meaning it won’t take you long to transform the machine from one type of equipment to the other.

These bikes are user-friendly, comfortable, high in quality, low-maintenance, and designed to give you the best workout possible whether you exercise for 15 minutes or over an hour a day. Dual-action stationary bikes are designed for users to exercise both upper and lower body, enabling you to get a complete workout and making them especially good for those who desire top-notch cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility.

Features/Styles

The features of a dual-action bike vary with each manufacturer but usually include assets such as:

  • Up to eight resistance levels
  • Thick, cushioned seats
  • Padded grips that won’t let your hands slip off of them
  • Large pedals and safety straps
  • Can accommodate users both short and tall
  • Very easy to get on and off of the bike
  • LCD displays that are easy to read and include measurements for heart-rate, speed, and many others
  • An operation that is smooth and quiet, not to mention efficient

Of course, if you choose not to use the handlebars but wish to utilize the foot pedals only, it is easy to do so because the handlebars never get in your way. The way the bikes are styled and manufactured means that you can use them any way you wish and for whatever purpose you want them for, making them a truly invaluable piece of exercise equipment indeed.

Dual-action stationary bikes can also come portable, foldable, and adjustable, not to mention in various sizes and shapes, so not being able to find the perfect bike to accommodate you is highly unlikely.

Purpose

In addition to increased strength and flexibility, a dual-action stationary bike is good for improving your cardiovascular health, losing weight, getting a full-body workout, and providing you with a low-impact way to improve your overall condition. It is made both for convenience and to allow you to get a great workout in the comfort of your own home, and you can do this without extra stress on your joints and muscles because of its low-impact capability.

Sizes

Dual-action stationary bikes can be found up to 39 inches in length, 27 inches in width, and 48 inches in height, although many can be either smaller or bigger in size. If you’re unsure which size you need, think of comfort first. If you are a tall or large person, you may need a bigger, more comfortable bike, and if you’re shorter or smaller you can likely get away with purchasing a smaller bicycle. In addition, other considerations include the size of the seat, the size of the space you have available for placing the bike, and of course, your budget. Just as sizes of dual-action bikes vary greatly, so do their prices, which means all of these things should be taken into consideration when deciding on the right size bike for your needs.

Materials

Dual-action stationary bikes need to be well-made since both the pedals and the handlebars have to be high-quality and reliable, which is why most of them boast stainless-steel frames, thick and cushioned seats, grips that fit comfortably and work efficiently, and heavy-duty tread cushioning. Since stationary bike manufacturers offer excellent warranties, the bikes have to be well-made and sturdy, so each part is manufactured with this in mind. This is why you can count on these bikes being efficient, comfortable, long-lasting, and dependable every time.

Interactive Stationary Bikes

Expresso Interactive Upright Exercise Bike - S3U

Design Elements/Features

The main design feature of these bikes is the fact that they have interactive screens that you can view while you’re working out, and the screens contain live shots of the outdoors, mock spinning classes that allow you to feel like you’re in a real class, and even personalized workouts in some instances.

These bikes can be upright or recumbent, and they are fairly new on the market; however, the videos on the screens change with each manufacturer or model, so whether you wish to view the countryside as you cycle quietly, get challenged by your own personal trainer, or feel like you’re a part of a class that can easily motivate you to keep going, these bikes are the perfect complement to your workout regimen. Some of the bikes even allow you to play video games as you exercise, but regardless of which background you choose for the screen on your interactive bicycle, you are guaranteed to enjoy your workout more and find it more challenging and efficient in the end.

Other design features include screens of all sizes that have crisp, clear pictures on them; the ability to enjoy both cardio workouts and strength-training exercises; a fun and easy way to get a good workout; and a safe, comfortable, and stable ride that anyone can participate in. Many of the videos available on these screens include views of various countries, so whether you want to ride through the streets and hillsides of France, England, Germany, or right here in the United States, it is possible to find the perfect accompaniment for your great workout.

Much to many people’s surprise, interactive stationary bikes are a lot less expensive than you might think, usually starting at under $200. They also come in a variety of colors – including blue, yellow, and red – which means you can easily choose a design that complements your current décor.

Their features can include the ability to hook the screen up to your television set to give you a larger picture to enjoy while working out, the ability to interact with games on your computer or tablet, swivel handlebars to make your ride more accommodating and comfortable, dozens of preset workouts that offer the variety you need and deserve, an easy way to program all of your options, and wireless receivers for convenience. Not only are these features made to increase the productivity of your workout, but also to increase the enjoyment and commitment you get out of exercising, enabling you to stick with your regimen for a very long time.

Purpose

In addition to offering a great workout, these interactive stationary bikes provide a way to make your workout a lot more exciting. Boredom with your exercise regimen is not only unpleasant, but it can also cause you to stop working out altogether, which no exerciser with a consistent goal wants. Since you can easily change up what is on your screen with each and every workout, it is likely you will never see the same thing twice, making each workout both more exciting and more challenging. With the tap of an icon, you can change what you’re looking at while you exercise, and if you choose the personal trainer option, each workout will be personalized to your needs and therefore will always be something that you can look forward to every time you exercise.

Of course, there are other reasons to purchase this type of stationary bike, because this is one piece of exercise equipment that provides a great total body workout, enabling you to improve your flexibility and strength, lose weight, and improve your overall cardiovascular health. You can do all this and more and have fun at the same time. Interactive stationary bikes decrease the possibility that you will one day get tired of working out and the process of getting in shape. Furthermore, since you can change and even program the individual backgrounds for your screen, there is little to no chance that you’ll ever get bored with your routine, allowing you to enjoy a great workout every time you hop on your bike.

Prices

Most interactive stationary bikes are very reasonably priced, and even though they can cost over $2,000, you can easily find one at a price that is closer to $150 as well. Because of this aspect, interactive bikes are affordable for nearly everyone, and because many stores – both brick-and-mortar and online – offer monthly payment plans, it is easier than ever before to pay for the bike you’ve chosen. In addition, because all of these bikes are high in quality and built to last, you are truly getting a lot of value for the money you’re spending. If you’re even considering purchasing an interactive exercise bike, therefore, it is good to keep in mind that the price is not likely to be the reason you choose not to buy one in the end. For both price and fun, these bikes are simply full of options.

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