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Stationary Bikes Guide: 5 Things To Consider Before Shopping For Stationary Bikes

Updated on January 11, 2011

You've done some research on different types of home fitness equipment and you've decided you are most interested in stationary bikes. That's good, you are on your way to making your final purchase, but there are some things you should think about before putting down your hard-earned cash. After all this is a piece of equipment you expect to use regularly and to own for a long time. You want to make sure you get the right one -- one that will fit your needs both now and hopefully into the future.

So here are some tips that should help give you a good start and get you thinking about what you really need and what you want in a stationary bike. You don't want to make your purchase then down the road come to the realization that you made a poor decision.

Recumbent Stationary Bike
Recumbent Stationary Bike

Consider the features you want and expect from a stationary bike. Basic features like resistance levels and a console that shows your speed, distance, the amount of time you've been riding and even how many calories burned should be easy to find on any exercise bikes you consider. But you'll want to consider other features as well.

Things like a heart rate monitor can help you keep track of your heart rate during your workout so you can make sure you're getting the cardio workout you want. You may also want to use it to make sure you are working out in the optimum way to burn fat. Some basic stationary bike models offer a hand-grip heart rate monitor, but more expensive models may come with a more accurate cordless chest strap.

If multiple people will be using the bike you will want to make sure the seat is easily adjustable and that the model you buy is comfortable for everyone on the household. You want a seat that can quickly be adjusted to the next users height, whether it's upright or recumbent stationary bike. Little difficulties like this can be a reason for some to start skipping their exercise routines. In general the features and bike itself should be easy and comfortable to use.

Speaking of comfortable when you're looking at stationary bikes you should try both upright and recumbent models. Many people are choosing recumbent stationary bikes for greater comfort.

This is a big purchase so be sure the one you ultimately choose includes the features that are important or necessary to you. Other things to consider are the noise of the stationary bike, an easier to read back lit LCD console, and little extras like a book rest or bottle holder.

Upright Stationary Bike
Upright Stationary Bike

What Kind Of Space Do You Have

Some people can't even be bothered to ask, "does P90X work?"  Such rigorous exercise routines take plenty of space and equipment.  So what do you do if you need your workout routine to squeeze into a tight space?  Often times you'll find a low footprint stationary bike is the ideal solution.

But be careful.  You want to look at stationary bikes that fit your needs as far as size and weight of the equipment. A heavier model will be more stable, but a lighter one will be easier to move. If you have a home gym and you know the exercise bike will stay put, a heavier model would be better.

Still, if you live in an apartment or if you move a lot you may want to consider a smaller, lighter model. Also if you are tight on extra space you'll probably want to look at a smaller model.

Young Children & Stationary Bikes

If you have young children it's important to consider safety. Thousands of children are injured every year by exercise equipment, and some of those injuries are more serious than you might expect for example fractured bones or amputations. It's best to get a stationary bike that has enclosed mechanical parts if you have small children or pets. This prevents little fingers from getting caught in these potentially dangerous moving parts. This also helps keep dust of the mechanics and helps cut down on noise.

Stationary Bikes Warranty

While stationary bikes typically aren't as likely to need repair as other home exercise equipment it's still important to look at the warranty. Since a technician will have to come to your home to do repairs it's good to look for a one year labor warranty. Many will offer a longer warranty on the frame and parts which is good, but pay special attention to the labor warranty.

Your Goals & Needs

Finally, before you actually make a purchase be honest with yourself and be honest about your fitness equipment needs.  Many people have good intentions and they think having an expensive piece of fitness equipment at home will help them stick with an exercise routine, but it takes more than a nice piece of equipment to keep you working out.  You need to be committed.  Be realistic about how much you will really use the stationary bike.  Maybe it would be best to start with something less expensive to see how much you really will use it.  But if you truly are committed it's worth spending a little more on a model that is more comfortable and has all the features you want


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