Exercise Bikes: JLL Buying Guide
Cycling is one of the best forms of exercise, targeting leg and abdominal muscles and providing a low-impact, high-intensity cardio workout. However, road safety in the UK has a long way to go before everyone can safely incorporate outdoor cycling into their routine, not to mention wet, cold and icy weather barring people from biking for much of the year. Exercise bikes, or stationary bikes, are a great solution to this problem, for those who want to cycle at home. They are often smaller than a treadmills or cross-trainer, and here at JLL there are plenty of cost-effective options.
Cardio machines are usually the centrepiece of many home gyms and Exercise bikes are a popular choice with good reason. Exercise bikes can help with building stamina, strengthening muscles and losing weight. Many cyclists use stationary bikes for 20-30 minute sessions of high-intensity interval training every couple of days, see positive results in just a few weeks.
Choosing an Exercise Bike
When choosing an exercise bike for a home gym, you should make sure you’re buying one suited to your needs. This is an opportunity to personalise your workout, so make sure you shop around and think about how it will fit into your life. As a guide, here are a few important factors to consider.
- Usage: How do you plan to use your stationary bike? Will you be sharing it with others in your household? You might want to opt for an adjustable model and consider what type is most appropriate for your fitness goals.
- Cost: How much do you want to spend on an exercise bike? You can weigh this up against gym memberships locally and see what you could save.
- Size: How much space do you have to store your exercise bike? How big does it need to be to be comfortable?
- Extra features: Do you want programmed workout settings, onboard entertainment or pulse sensors?
What kind of Exercise Bike Should I Buy?
This depends on what your fitness goals are, and what kind of exercise experience you are hoping for. All types of exercise bikes have the option to adjust the resistance so that you can control how much you challenge your leg muscles at each stage.
Strengthen Leg Muscles with an Upright Exercise Bike
Upright Exercise bikes have higher handles and wider seats. They are usually more comfortable than other types of exercise bikes. They are designed similarly to regular outdoor bikes, where you can either sit up straight or lean forward holding the handles. Different postures focus on different muscle groups.
You can adjust the resistance to push yourself harder. These bikes work your entire lower body as they only focus on pedalling and leg power. This can be particularly beneficial for those with back injuries as there is no strain on the upper body.
Improve Stamina and Strengthen your Core with an Indoor Cycle Bike
Indoor Cycle bikes, also known as studio bikes or road training bikes, are usually the same as the machines used in cardio classes. They are designed like a fixed-gear bike (used for track cycling in a velodrome) and the seat position and posture reflect that.
You can stand up to simulate hill climbing, or lean forward to work the muscles in your lower body. The upright position also engages your abdominal muscles as they work to stabilise your body. This kind of bike is designed to give you a realistic and intense cycling experience. With adjustable resistance, either by friction or a moveable magnetic brake, many indoor bikes enable you to simulate climbs and sprints.
Supported Cardio Exercise with a Recumbent Bike
Recumbent bikes have a more comfortable cycling position than upright or studio bikes, with a low, wide seat and backrest. Recumbent bikes are highly stable, easy to mount and dismount and put very little stress on joints.
They might not allow for high-intensity, full-body extremes, but with adjustable resistance and a two-way flywheel, many models can challenge various muscle groups in your legs and lower body.
While this type of indoor bike tends to take up more room than the alternatives, the recumbent bike is an excellent option for those recovering from all types of injuries, long-distance cyclists and older athletes.
Who will you use your stationary bike?
You should also consider the number of people who will be using the bike, their weight, and how often they will exercise on the machine. This will help you choose a bike which meets all of your requirements and expectations. Our range of exercise bikes at JLL Fitness can support a range of maximum weights:
If you are buying for multiple users, you should choose a model with adjustable heights and a comfortable seat. This allows riders of all sizes to use the machine easily, which is essential to encourage regular usage. If you and the other people using the bike want to use it five days a week, then you will need to purchase a durable, sturdy model with plenty of different programs.
How much does an Exercise Bike Cost?
The amount you pay for an exercise bike depends on your budget, and will generally impact how versatile and durable your bike is. Exercise bikes for home gyms generally start at £100-£200, although these options may not be sturdy enough to withstand a high-intensity workout. A mid-range stationary bike of around £400 will be stronger, with more options for workout programmes and multiple users.
If you’re looking for a really high-grade indoor bike, which is sturdy, durable and can support heavier users, you’ll likely spend around £600-£1000. A premium exercise bike will offer maximum comfort and power control, and be more versatile and adjustable to suit your height and the muscle groups you want to challenge.
How much space do I need for an Exercise Bike?
The space you need available for an exercise bike in your home gym or living room will depend on the kind of bike you are looking for (Upright, Cycling or Recumbent).
We recommend measuring the space you want your bike to be placed, and the space you plan to store it in, to help you choose the right machine for your home.
In addition to the size of the machine itself, it is also important to leave some space around the machine while it is in use so that you can get on and off easily. We’ve pulled together some average sizes from the JLL range of Exercise bikes, to help you gauge which option is right for you:
Average Indoor Cycling Bike: 122cm (L) x 53cm (W) x 126cm (H)
Average Upright Exercise Bike: 113cm (L) x 51cm (W) x 126cm (H)
Average Recumbent Bike: 142cm (L) x 61cm (W) x 108cm (H)
Remember that the wider the base, the more stable the bike will be during your ride.
What are the features of an Exercise Bike?
It’s likely that your exercise bike will come with some extra features, such as workout programmes, adjustable resistance, connectors for your iPhones and more. But before we get into those details, you need to be certain the bike you choose has some basic features included for a safe workout.
Pedals: Pedals should provide a smooth experience. They should be wide enough for all foot sizes and easy to use. Many models of exercise bikes provide easy ways for users to strap their feet into the pedals. There are three different types:
Toe cage: These can be used with any type of training shoe. Your feet fit into the cage on the pedal, which can be tightened for a more secure fit.
Pedals with straps: These can be used with any type of training shoes. Your feet fit into the straps on the pedal and tighten up to make it more secure.
Cycling shoe clips: These can be used with specialist cycling shoes. The cycling shoe clips into the pedal to stop your feet from slipping when you are cycling. This type of pedal is generally safer than toe cages or straps.
Seat: The seat on an exercise bike should always be comfortable. Some users choose to purchase seat covers filled with padding or gel, or padded bike shorts in order to add cushioning.
Exercise bike seats should also be easy and quick to adjust in order to accommodate different users.
Flywheel: The flywheel is the wheel at the front of the bike that moves when you pedal. It controls the bike’s resistance and determines how smooth and consistent your ride will be. There are a number of factors to consider:
Weight: This is often measured in kilograms. The general rule for exercise bikes is the higher the flywheel weight, the smoother the action will feel. Here at JLL or bike’s flywheels range from 4kg to 22kg giving you a great range to select from. It is also worth noting that our lighter flywheel options have an advanced momentum mechanism built in. This give even our lighter options a more sturdy and smooth feel.
Quality: The bearing that allows the flywheel to spin needs to be high quality. Bearing failure in indoor bikes is quite common, which results in a lot of noise when the wheel spins. This reinforces the need to buy from reputable brands. JLL Fitness provide quality after sales support for all customers in addition to their warranty.
Resistance: Resistance dictates how hard you need to pedal. This is usually controlled by a dial on the frame of the bike, and some models have automated changes in resistance built into their workout programmes. There are two types of resistance and breaking mechanisms on indoor bikes:
Friction Resistance + Brakes: A friction pad comes into contact with the flywheel. The harder the pad presses against the flywheel, the harder it is to pedal. The resistance level is controlled by a dial on the frame of the bike that you can move when cycling. Generally, friction-resistance bikes are less expensive than their equivalent magnetic counterparts.
Magnetic Resistance + Brakes: Magnetic resistance uses magnets to slow the flywheel down when pedalling. The closer the magnet is to the flywheel, the more difficult it is to pedal. The main advantage of magnetic or electromagnetic resistance is that there are no friction pads to wear out and the bike runs quietly even on the highest resistance setting.
Driving System: The pedals on an exercise bike are connected to the flywheel with either a belt or a chain. With entry-level and mid-range indoor cycles, it is best to go for a belt drive because they can be adjusted easily when necessary, and they are quieter than chain-driven bikes.
However, chain-driven bikes work on the same principle as road bikes. They can give you a more authentic feel and are more popular with outdoor cyclists who want to train indoors. You will need to keep the chain lubricated, just like with an outdoor bike, but this is the only required regular maintenance.
Safety: It is important to make sure that all the moving parts of an exercise bike, such as the chain, have safety covers in order to minimise risk.
Now that you’re sure your indoor exercise bike is safe and up to standards, you can consider more technical features. These are the bells and whistles that make it worth the extra pounds, keeping you engaged and committed to your workout regimen.
Heart Rate Monitor: Monitoring your heart rate is a good way to track your level of fitness. You will notice progress and the intensity of your workouts using a heart rate monitor because your heart will not reach high pulse rates so quickly as your stamina increases.
Workout Programs: Most exercise bikes have some form of electronic feedback console. This displays your workout data, such as your speed, time, distance, heart rate and calories burned. This console can also display programs which help to vary your workouts.
Heart rate training programs are ideal for those who want to lose weight and improve physical performance, as well as those who wish to keep the level of effort in the safe zone for those under medical supervision.
If you are the type of person who becomes bored easily when exercising, we recommend that you look for an exercise bike which features a wide range of programs, as they may help to keep you motivated.
Important Things to Note
Warranty and Maintenance
Before purchasing an exercise bike, you should ensure that you check the warranty. Here at JLL Fitness, we offer a year’s warranty on all of our exercise bikes, provided they are used within a home environment.
Q. Are exercise bikes good for weight loss?
Yes. Exercise bikes help you burn calories and improve your overall health. An average person can burn around 250 calories in a moderate 30-minute session on an exercise bike. This can help you maintain a calorie deficit needed for losing weight.
Q. What is the warranty on my exercise bike?
JLL Fitness offers a 12-month warranty on all of our exercise bikes, for home usage only. If you have an issue with your machine, you should get in touch with our after sales support team and we will do our best to help you.
Q. Who can use exercise bikes?
Anyone above the age of 12 is eligible to use these machines and those aged between 12- 18 must be supervised at all times. They are especially good for people who are suffering from conditions such as diabetes or heart problems, as they help to improve both overall and cardiovascular health. They can provide excellent benefits, with low impact on knees and joints. This makes exercise bike workouts perfect for those recovering from injuries.
Q. What is the best position to ride an exercise bike?
A comfortable position is important when riding an exercise bike. You should make sure that the seat is at the right height and that you are not sitting too close or too far away from the handlebars. When you are sitting on the bike with a pedal at the lowest point, your leg should point almost straight down with a slight bend at the knee.
The handlebars should be within easy reach without having to strain forward and your shoulders should be relaxed, letting your abdominal muscles support your back. Sitting lightly on the seat will help you with this. When pedalling, you should try to pedal in smooth circles rather than pushing with alternating feet. This is the best way to tone your muscles without injury. Most importantly, you should start out slow and then gradually work your way up to more intense sessions.