Fitness

Best Folding Stationary Exercise Bikes – Recumbent Or Upright

Most of us know that exercise is a good thing but struggle to find a way to fit it in. We tend to live in large cities with a minimal appeal for going outdoors. We all have a well-meaning desire to grow our careers and keep our families afloat. It’s easier to stay inside and be sedentary (i.e., being lazy) than to go outside and burn off calories. Here is the solution.

The modern day solution has been to create gyms and health clubs that merge with our urban lifestyle and help us schedule workouts into our busy lives. However, these venues are not universally appealing to all of us and in some cases they aren’t convenient either.

So now the home exercise machines have come to the rescue allowing us to stay inside and workout in the comfort of our own personal space.

Sometimes that personal space isn’t very big, and so a folding exercise bike might be the right thing for you. Especially for apartment dwellers who don’t have any spare bedrooms a foldable can be handy. Most of these bikes collapse small enough to fit into a closet and have features that make them easy to move around. Here’s a short video that includes sections showing how easy it is to fold and move one of these bikes.

But how do you know which one to choose? If you’re going to invest in your health it’s reasonable to want to make the right choice. Spending more money isn’t necessarily the answer to this problem. Expensive bikes may have features that you don’t care about, or may even be annoying to some people.

Are Folding Exercise Bikes Any Good?

This is a legitimate question because a fold-able joint would naturally seem like a weak link. You may be surprised to learn that folding bicycles are not all that new. Patents were filed in the late 1800’s for folding bikes that were strong enough to be ridden on the rough roads of that era.Even today there continues to be a passionate fellowship of folding bike riders.

Although only distantly related, the history of folding bicycles lends an air of reliability to the folding exercise bike category. With the benefit of modern manufacturing and technology, it’s surprising how good some of these bikes are.

A simple indicator of a bikes quality is its stated weight capacity. There is quite a range, anywhere from 200 to 400+ pounds. This rating has a bearing in at least two areas. One is the strength of the materials and manufacturing process, which is mainly what companies base their stated weight limit on. The other is the design features that keep the bike stable.

It’s hard to look at a bike and know that it will support you better than another one. This is where customer reviews can be very helpful.

A word of caution though. These comments are from real people, not professionals, and there is no way of knowing how they actually use the bike. A very large person doing a light workout may overrate the stability compared to a medium sized person wanting to do strenuous efforts.

In writing this article I’ve gleaned information from a variety of sources to try and balance out these variations.

How Hard Can I Workout on a Folding Bike?

We’ve already established that the top rated folding exercise bikes are good quality and plenty stable. However, they’re primarily designed to fit into the busy life of someone living in small quarters. These are not bikes that will take you to the Olympics or mimic the popular spinning classes that you may have heard about in health clubs.

Spinning bikes are designed for fast-paced workouts and frequent standing on the pedals. That’s why they are much heavier, more stable, and cost a lot more. If you’re looking for a bike to accommodate a spinning style you will probably be disappointed in a foldable model.

If you want a moderate or low-intensity ride, folding bikes can be entirely adequate. Bikes like the FitDesk reviewed below are specifically built for slow, comfortable riding while typing, gaming, or working on your computer. Since it’s pretty hard to pound out a sprint while composing an email, there’s no need for higher cost features or materials.

The fact that these bikes are easy to use means that you might ride them more frequently than other models. Even moderate pedaling on a regular basis is better than no exercise at all. In that regard, maybe a folding bike can give a “harder” workout than others can.

Resistance levels are another area to look out when assessing an exercise bike. Most foldables have fewer settings and don’t go quite as difficult as a higher end stationary bike. All the bikes in this article use a manual adjustment dial with eight levels to choose from. For the vast majority of us, level 7 and 8 will be plenty of load. A bike with 15-20 levels has a smaller increment between each one and often has computer programs that will change the resistance periodically for a specialized workout.

Pre-programmed rides can be great to help put more effort into your regimen, but they aren’t a necessity. None of the computers in this review offer this feature, so it’s up to you to vary the load and intensity. One way to do that is to bump up the resistance during commercials as you watch TV. When listening to music you can ride easy for one song and hard on the next. These are just a couple of ideas to get a hard enough workout by using interval type training. If you’re not familiar with that term, here’s an overview.

Lets Get Started – Grab A Green Tea 🙂

Below are five folding exercise bikes that I think deserve your consideration. They are listed in order from lowest to highest price. There’s not a huge price difference in this group, so read closely to see which bike best matches what you’re looking for.

Folding Exercise Bike #1 :- Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Recumbent Bike

I Want Sunny Folding Recumbent Bike

The Sunny Health is the lightest and lowest priced member of the folding exercise bike review.

Lightweight is definitely a legitimate factor when looking at a folding bike. You want it to be easy to move and store. Affordability is great as long as important features aren’t sacrificed. I think the Sunny Health found a good balance at a lower price point.

Sunny Health calls it a recumbent, but I’m not sure it truly qualifies. The position is more laid back than most uprights, and it includes a backrest. There are handles beside the seat, but you are not close to the floor, and it’s not a walk through design. At best, I’d call it a semi-recumbent.

For the price, they didn’t put a rock bottom saddle on it. It’s not over-sized but does have some padding and decent shape. There is a backrest included, but the seat and back are more like an upright version than a recumbent.

The computer is small and simple to use. At this price I don’t expect many functions, but a larger screen would be nice. For getting started without computer overload, this bike is a good match.

The magnetic resistance system is quiet and adjusts easily with a dial. It doesn’t have a very challenging load level so stronger users may not be satisfied. This could be a great budget bike for folks who don’t need as much resistance.

One last fashion note… this bike has pink trim. That could be a deal breaker for you jocks, but maybe it’s ok since its lighter resistance may be aimed at women who aren’t as concerned about a heavy load.

Pros:

  • Low price.
  • Lightweight and easy to move.
  • More relaxed position than an upright.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have very high resistance levels.
  • Not stout enough for large users.
  • Pretty tall for a recumbent.
  • Pink highlights may not be your first choice.

Following are three Exerpeutic exercise bikes chosen for this folding bike review.

The features they offer aren’t necessarily better or worse, you just need to select one that best matches your needs. In each one’s section I’ll share the differences in what they bring to the table, but the list below points out the things that all of them share:

  • Eight levels of tension control.
  • A belt drive system that is very quiet.
  • Three-piece crank, which is higher quality than a one-piece design.
  • Heart rate sensors in the handgrips.

Folding Exercise Bike #2 :- Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike

Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike

The 400XL is a semi-recumbent design much like the Sunny King. Because it’s a foldable bike you still have to step over the center section, but it’s lower to the ground and laid back like most recumbents. This allows it to have the biggest seat and backrest combination of the whole group. People who like the benefits of recumbents may prefer this choice.

The weight capacity is 300 lbs. and it advertises fitting people from 5’2″ to 6’2″. This range is an inch longer than the Exerpeutic Upright, so it might be a good choice for households with both tall and short users.

Pros:

  • Semi-recumbent design and position.
  • Well-designed seat and backrest.
  • Sturdy and stable.

Cons:

  • Minimal computer functions for tracking workouts.
  • Pretty tall for a recumbent.

Folding Exercise Bike #3 :- Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse

Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike

The Exerpeutic Upright offers the same features as their recumbent but in an upright position. When I compare both bikes I mainly default to the decision between either a recumbent or an upright. There are very few differences between these bikes that can’t be explained by those two design categories.

One notable exception is the seat. Although similar in size, the upright saddle is basically a flat piece of cushion with no contouring. This surprises me since we all know that comfort is high on everyone’s checklist of what to look for in an exercise bike. You can always get a padded gel cover if you like everything else about the bike, but it would be nice if you didn’t need it.

The weight capacity is 300 lbs. and it advertises fitting people from 5’3 inches to 6’1 inches.

Pros:

  • Affordable compact exercise bike.
  • Sturdy and stable.

Cons:

  • Seat doesn’t seem well thought-out.
  • Minimal computer functions for tracking workouts.
  • May fit a smaller range of users.

Folding Exercise Bike #4 :- Exerpeutic GOLD 500 XLS Foldable Magnetic Upright Bike

Exerpeutic GOLD 500 XLS

The Gold 500 is the beefiest bike in the review, but it accomplishes this without getting bulky or expensive. Its 400-pound weight capacity is notable for any exercise bike. The fact that it’s foldable and can probably fit into your closet is even more impressive.

The advertised fit range is also bigger and easily adjusts for users from 5’1″ to 6’5″.

If you scan the customer Q & A section in Amazon you’ll notice a variety of responses regarding this. Tall people seem pretty happy. If you are 5’2” and under I recommend having a knowledgeable person help to set the seat height. Here are the mixed answers from shorter users.

The computer on the Gold 500 is still quite simple and shouldn’t intimidate most riders. It does add a scan feature and odometer so you can brag about how many miles you’ve ridden since you bought it.

Pros:

  • High weight capacity for larger users.
  • Sturdy and stable, but still folds up small.
  • Should fit a bigger range of tall and short riders.

Cons:

  • Seat doesn’t seem well thought-out.
  • Slightly heavier, but still very compact and moveable.

Folding Exercise Bike #5 :- FitDesk v2.0 Desk Exercise Bike with Massage Bar

FitDesk v2.0 Desk

FitDesk v2.0 – Just reading the title of this bike made me skeptical, but the more I looked into it the more it impressed me. Do I really need a massage bar on my exercise bike? Probably not, but the first intent of the FitDesk is to help you multi-task. With its well thought-out design you can do a variety of work or play while getting in a bit of exercise.

These comments show how one person integrated it into her lifestyle.

Wisely, they put as much effort into the desk as they did the bike. The massage bar is mainly to provide stabilization and support so that you can still type and use a computer while pedaling. Having a drawer is a great addition for small items. The non-slip desk surface makes sense to keep your device steady.

You can also move the desk closer to you which allows more variety in your posture and position. It’s not a particularly wide workspace, and if you need to use a mouse you may want to purchase the after-market extender to add more room.

If a desk on a bike still seems crazy to you, check out this video to see it in action.  Admittedly the user isn’t putting much effort into the pedals, but it demonstrates how the two components work together.

The bike portion is also good quality. In spite of being belt driven it gets good marks for being quiet. It’s the only bike that includes “resistance bands” for a mild arm workout. A backrest is also included, which makes it more comfortable to sit up and pump your arms if you’re watching a webcast instead of typing.

The integrated computer is simple but does provide feedback on the common topics. It can be interesting to see how far you ride while typing emails and getting your other work done. When your laptop is open it hides the console, but if you’re typing you probably don’t need up to the moment feedback on your mileage.

Pros:

  • Functional desk. More likely to use it and multi-task.
  • Has an option for arm exercise.
  • Fits short riders fairly well.

Cons:

  • Lower weight limit than the other bikes.
  • Display is hidden when using a laptop.
  • Highest price in this group.

My Conclusion and Recommended Bike

I’m pleasantly surprised by all the bikes I looked at. I was skeptical of the folding design, and they’ve exceeded my expectations. For the price, the Sunny Health runs well and is a good choice for a starter.

The Exerpeutic Upright is remarkably solid and stable and won’t break the bank.

The GOLD 500 has an amazing weight capacity for any exercise bike, including those much more expensive.

The FitDesk was the biggest revelation for me. The bike and desk both work very well, and the resistance bands for your arms are a real bonus.

The bike I would recommend the most is the Exerpeutic 400XL.

Someone was a genius to design a folding recumbent that works this well. I’ve seen non-folding versions at over twice the price, and I think this can hold its own with them. Yes, it’s slightly harder to get on and off than some recumbents because you can’t walk through the middle. If you don’t have restricted mobility this isn’t a large issue and buying the 400XL can save you some money.

The recumbent design means that it should be attractive to a much greater number of users than an upright. Sharing some of the weight load on your back goes a long way to improving comfort for most people. It’s not the largest seat and backrest on the market, but it’s an improvement over the other folding bikes.

In general, recumbents take a bit more space than an upright. The 400XL may be slightly longer when in use, but it folds just as small as the others do when you want to store it.

The computer is simple, which often is a good feature for a more casual rider who wants an easy access exercise machine. The numbers display quite large and aren’t cluttered with other data. Heart rate sensors in the handgrips are convenient and provide feedback on how hard you’re really riding.

Another great feature for those in apartments is how quiet it runs. Your TV is more likely to bother the neighbors than the sounds of the belts and flywheel spinning.

All of the bikes in this review are well priced, which means you aren’t taking too big of a gamble on any of them. I think the 400XL offers the most balanced package. Now it’s up to you to go out and ride it.

So what do you think about my recommendation, here are the next steps

Next Steps

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