A guide to exercise bikes

If you're looking for a simple piece of exercise equipment you can use at any time, an exercise bike makes the perfect choice – and you can do it indoors, without going out on the road. It’ll give your legs a great workout and also improve your cardiovascular fitness and stamina. By using your bike just a few times a week, you can improve the fitness of your heart, lungs and muscles.

Choosing your exercise bike

There are a number of different types of exercise bikes available:

Upright - the most common type keeps the user in a position similar to a normal bike.  You sit in a raised position and tend to sit forward upright
Recumbent - lean-back riding position with a padded backrest, which is more comfortable if you’re pedalling for a long time or recovering from knee/back injuries recumbent
Training cycles - usually the same as gym spinning class machines that are used for vigorous work-outs training cycles

A good riding position

As you’re riding, make sure you’re in a comfortable position – a bike with an adjustable seat height and adjustable handlebars will help.

Finding space for your exercise bike

Exercise bikes take up quite a lot of space. In general, allow at least as much room as you’d need for a single bed, with half a metre on each side so you can get on and off easily.  Some bikes also fold up for handy storage.

Jargon buster

Exercise bike terms explained.

 

Console The controls on the front panel of the exercise bike
Crank The ‘stick’ connecting the pedal to the machine’s frame
Display The digital readout on the front panel of the exercise bike
Elevation The estimated height you’ve reached on a hill-climbing programme
Frame The structure (usually metal tubes) that all the moving parts of the bike are attached to
Heart monitor A sensor that takes your pulse, usually through the handles of the bike, and displays it for you
Magnetic resistance pedalling motion Magnets that create drag as you pedal, giving you a harder workout. Most exercise bikes come with several levels of resistance that you can combine in programmes
Programmes Planned workouts based on total distance you want to reach or total time you want to work out for and include settings such as alpine pass, time trial, and hill climb
Recumbent An exercise bike with a lean-back riding position – you sit quite low down, with your legs out in front of you
Self-presenting pedals Specially weighted pedals that are always the right way up to accept your foot
Speed The speed you’d be moving at if you were putting in the same effort on a real bike
Tension control How you vary the resistance level you’re training at to make it easier or harder. Most exercise bikes have a few levels to choose from
Upright An exercise bike where your riding position is the same as on a normal bicycle

 

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