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Exercise equipment can be fun at first, but what does it take to keep you happy, hooked and healthy?
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  • Updated:5 Sep 2005

04.Exercise bikes

Exercise bikeThese provide a good cardiovascular workout as well as lower body conditioning. You can get the traditional upright type, or a recumbent cycle (you lie back in it) that’s lower to the ground, with pedals out in front rather than straight down.

Advantages: Exercise bikes are good for unfit or overweight people as they’re weight-supporting. Recumbent cycles have a bucket seat with back rest, giving even more support and putting less strain on back and knees (and making it easier to read while you cycle). Some even have arm rests.

Disadvantages: Exercise bikes can be quite dull, especially cheaper models with fewer bells and whistles to entertain you, and may become uncomfortable after a while. Recumbent bikes can take up a lot of space.

Member quotes

“My bike has a lovely smooth, quiet operation and I enjoy setting myself distance goals and achieving them. I’m so motivated when I finish my ride, I usually throw in a few stomach crunches as well!”

“The bike was great and I lost weight initially and firmed up my legs. But I stopped using it because my husband complained about the noise it made, and the seat was extremely uncomfortable after half an hour of pedalling.”

What to look for

  • Quite a few survey respondents complained the seat was uncomfortable, especially after 20 minutes or so. You could try replacing the seat, or buying a gel seat cover from a bike shop.
  • If more than one household member is using it, check you can easily adjust the seat height (or the distance of the seat from the pedals for recumbent bikes).
  • Magnetic resistance (to make cycling easier or harder) was considered quieter and smoother than air resistance or a tension band or belt.
  • If necessary, check it’s easily moved from place to place — look for wheels on the base, especially if it’s a heavy model, and check it can fit through doorways.
  • Straps on the pedals help keep your feet in place and assist on the ‘up’ pedal.

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