image of the l now pro indoor cycle trainer exercise bike

The Best Exercise Bikes For Under $1000: Which One Is Right For You?

by Cole Matthews - Last Updated February 8, 2018

Without question, the best exercise bike in the sub 1000 dollar range is the L Now Pro Indoor Cycle Trainer. It may just barely fit into the category of exercises bikes under 1000 dollars, but it’s for a good reason. The bike was incredibly well-made, comfortable and was geared toward both the average spin enthusiast, as well as the hardcore cyclist who is looking for a great machine to use in the home. We tested it against other models like the Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike, the Nordic Track Commercial Vr21 Recumbent Bike and the Schwinn Airdyne Pro Exercise Bike, and found that it yielded the best overall workout and was also the least complicated to use. Combined with its sturdy build, these features make the L Now Pro Indoor Cycle Trainer an excellent choice for someone looking to take their home cardio workouts to the next level.

L Now Pro Indoor Cycle Trainer: Our First Choice

Overview

The L Now Pro Indoor Cycle Trainer is a spin bike—no question there. It’s designed for long periods of high intensity interval training just like you’d find at a spin class at your local gym. However, it is adjustable and easy enough to use for those who may just want an alternative to running. It’s actually designed for commercial use, but you can still purchase one for your home. In fact, its design is so sturdy that it can be used a few times a day for long periods of time, without the worry of damaging it.

The spin bike also won’t take up much space. It measures in at 21x46x52 inches, and weighs a total of 134.5 pounds. The handlebars and seat are also fully adjustable, and we found that the shape of the bike fit people of varying body types. In fact it will support weights of up to 551 pounds. In general we found the design to be very natural and ergonomic.

Features And Usability

In addition to its basic design parameters, the L Now Pro Indoor Cycle Trainer also comes with a variety of features that truly make it a professional piece of spin gear that you can use right in your home.

First and foremost, it comes fitted with a resistance knob that you easily adjust, even while riding. The knob also doubles as a brake. All you have to do is push down on it to stop the flywheel. The flywheel is also easy to mount, despite being 44 pounds. As a result of the drop-in mounting assembly, you won’t have to worry about regular maintenance on the bike. Once you assemble it, the bike will be ready for several rides a day, and withstand long periods of use.

We found that after installing the flywheel and using the bike that the overall riding experience was smooth and steady. Other less stable flywheels can sometimes wobble and knock the knees out of alignment while riding. For someone who may be using a piece of equipment like this for rehabilitation, an off-center flywheel can be incredibly counterproductive.

You’ll also find a built-in LCD monitor that indicates your pulse, RPMS, time, distance and speed. In addition to the LCD monitor, you’ll also find two pule sensors located on the handlebars. You won’t be able to use all of the different grips on the handlebars while using the pulse sensors, but we did find that the monitor gave us accurate readings on heart rate.

Drawbacks

The one major drawback of the L Now Pro Indoor Cycle Trainer was the setup of the LCD monitor. It felt noticeably cheaper than the rest of the bike, and took a very long time to figure out how to turn on. Most spin bikes will turn on their LCD monitors as soon as you start pedaling. With L Now Pro Indoor Cycle Trainer. You’ll have to first insert a battery in order to get the monitor up and running.

Schwinn Airdyne Pro Exercise Bike: The Runner Up  

Overview

Priced slightly lower than the L No Pro Indoor Cycle Trainer, the Schwinn Airdyne Exercise Bike fills a slightly different niche, but is still an excellent runner up. For those that don’t know, aerodyne bikes are designed to give the user more of a full body workout, and they get their resistance from a fan than is attached to the pedals. This model is on the bigger side, but is still easy to set up. It weighs 135 pounds, and measures in at 55 x 26 x 53 inches, but only requires one person to put it together.

The bike has a single-stage belt drive that eliminates lagging between the pedals, handlebars and the fan. What this means is that once you start pedaling all of the components will begin working in unison. Unlike some recumbent bikes or stationary bikes, your pedaling will be perfectly in synch with the machine for a locked-in feel while pedaling.

It also has a 26 blade fan that allows for greater levels of resistance at higher RPMs. This doesn’t mean that your workouts are going to be impossibly hard when you use this bike, but you’ll have the option to ramp things up if you want to.

Features and Usability

The Schwinn Airdyne Exercise Bike has some impressive features, but nothing that made it truly revolutionary. It had a pretty basic adjustable seat, as well as free-moving handlebars that offered the user two different types of grips.

One thing we liked was the smoother belt drive. Airdyne bikes like this can be extremely loud due to the motion of the fan and the use of chains to keep everything together, but the Schwinn Airdyne Exercise Bike was quiet. It still made some minor noise, but overall was quieter than some other aerodyne bikes on the market.

The bike also had a moisture-resistant frame. It didn’t really add much as far as overall performance was concerned. However a moisture-resistant frame means that this bike will last you quite some time.

You’ll also find a built-in console with a tachometer that indicates your level of intensity. You’ll get information on calories burned, wattage, RPMs and speed. The console is also clearly labeled, and each data field is accessible through the push of a button.

Drawbacks

The biggest drawback to the Schwinn Aerodyne Exercise Bike was its size. You may want to reconsider it if you’re looking for something that will fit in your home. It also doesn’t have wheels built into the base, which made it a little bit difficult to move from room to room.

Lastly, given the nearly 1000 dollar price tag, we would have liked to see a few more accessories. Specifically we found ourselves wanting a shelf or a mount for a tablet, as well as an included air diverter to prevent the strong breeze from blowing upward during pedaling.

Nordic Track Commercial Vr21 Recumbent Bike: Third Place

Overview

The Nordic Track Commercial Vr21 Recumbent Bike wasn’t as well-made or impressive as the others on our list, but it was still an impressive bike overall.

Like the other two bikes we reviewed it’s also designed for commercial use, but we found its overall build to be lacking sturdiness. It still weighed in at 149 pounds with a 23lb flywheel, but a lot of the components were made of plastic rather than steel like the other two bikes. It made us think that it wouldn’t last as long or be able to withstand as much heavy use.

That being said it was comfortable and did have a 350lb user capacity. The seat placed extra emphasis on supporting the lumbar spine, and the extra-wide pedals didn’t constrict the feet or feel like they were a poor fit. Not only were they wide, but they also came with easily adjustable straps.

You’ll also find a water-bottle holder, handlebars as well as a control panel with indicators of various data markers like RPMs and heart rate.

Features and Usability

While we weren’t impressed with the design of the Nordic Track recumbent bike, its built in features were still convenient and added a little extra to the overall usability of the machine. Firstly, it had 25 different resistance levels, which made it easy to customize for a variety of people. Considering that recumbent bikes are often used in recovery or to avoid injury, being able to choose specific resistance levels was a big upside to the bike.

In addition to the different resistance levels, you’ll also find 32 workout apps to choose from. Each one of the iFit coach apps was designed by a personal trainer, and contains a different workout that focuses on a specific fitness goal.

You’ll also find an integrated tablet holder, a 5 inch backlit display as well as a heart rate monitor that can be used either by gripping the handlebars or by using a telemetry strap. In addition to the backlit display, there is also an auxiliary music port and two speakers built into the console.

Drawbacks

A lot of our issues with the Nordic Track recumbent bike had to do with the quality of the build, as well as some inaccuracies in the backlit display.

Even though we followed the assembly instructions, we found that the flywheel didn’t quite fit in the machine as well as we would have liked. Even after the bike was assembled, we still noticed that there was some creaking coming from the flywheel. We removed the cover to check for any obstructions, but the wheel appeared to be moving freely despite the sounds it was making.

We also noticed that the heart rate monitor had a tendency to fluctuate pretty drastically, even while our hands were on the pulse measuring grips. We found that sometimes we’d experience a nearly 100bpm change in a second or two.

Schwinn MY17 Recumbent Bike

Overview

The Schwinn MY17 Recumbent Bike had a lot more going on in its computer than it did in its build. In general the bike felt a little flimsy, poorly balanced, and didn’t quite have the same ergonomic feel as the other three we reviewed.

The seat was well-cushioned and did have a contoured leg area, but we felt it to be a little too large and a bit oddly shaped. It didn’t take long before the seat got uncomfortable and disturbed the flow of the workout. We also didn’t love the way in which the seat moved.

It’s attached to a metal rail that is angled upwards away from the pedals. You can adjust the seat, but trying to do so while sitting is a very difficult process. You’ll have to actually get out of the seat, adjust it and then sit back down.

During a workout, the bike felt wobbly despite there being two stabilizers attached to the back and wheels on the front. It didn’t matter if we set it up on carpet or on a hard floor, the bike seemed top-heavy and seemed like it might be prone to tipping if the user moved a certain way.

This was especially concerning considering the dimensions of the bike; it only weighed 101 pounds, and measured in at 66.5 x 12×5 x 27.5 inches. The light weight frame makes it easy to move, but not so safe to ride.

Features and Usability

What the Schwinn MY17 lacks in its design it makes up for in features. First and foremost you’ll find a back-lit LCD screen that was just as bright and clear as the other three on our list. The console was also very easy to navigate. The pause button, quick start button and goal tracker were all clearly labeled, as were the resistance and incline buttons.

In the console itself you’ll find 25 different levels of resistance that you can program yourself. Just like the Nordic Track recumbent bike, you’ll be able to customize your workout intensity as a result of these built-in resistance settings.

In addition to the 25 different resistance settings, the Schwinn MY17 also has 29 programs, 4 custom user settings as well as a goal tracking system. While the bike wasn’t the most sturdy or well-constructed, features like these did make it a more attractive choice. Being able to customize workouts made the Schwinn MY17 a lot more user-friendly, and in a way, a little less intimidating than the others we reviewed.

Drawbacks

The biggest drawback to the Schwinn MY17 was the lack of comfort. The angle of the seat made it feel like we could fall forward during a workout, especially when it was pushed all the way back. For larger individuals, the forward leaning effect can be a little hard to get used to, and we aren’t so sure that it’s the best position for the spine to be locked into either.

Also the width between the right and left pedals is a little wide. This causes the user’s legs to sit far apart during cycling, which made for an awkward, unnatural rhythm with each rotation. In addition to the width being a bit strange, the distance from the topmost pedal to the bottommost pedal is pretty substantial. It felt as though it was putting the ankles in a compromising position.

It was an impressive bike, but had some major design flaws that had us questioning its safety as well as its overall efficacy.

Recumbent Bikes Vs. Spin Bikes

You choice to purchase a recumbent bike or a spin bike will ultimately depend on your needs. In most cases, athletes or cyclists who need an indoor bike to train with, won’t likely be shopping for a recumbent bike. On the other hand, elderly people, or those who may be going through physical therapy may find themselves more comfortable on a recumbent bike due to the reduced strain it places on the knees.

A spin bike is designed to simulate the feeling of real cycling, while a recumbent bike typically emphasized comfort for those who may not be able to exercise at their highest possible intensity. However, a more comfortable way to exercise, does not necessarily mean a less effective way to exercise. Both spin bikes as well as recumbent bikes both have their place for the average fitness enthusiast. When it comes to most types of exercise gear, you’ll simply have to identify your goals and choose your equipment accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Whichever of the above fitness bikes you choose will ultimately depend on your own preferences and abilities. That being said, we still felt that the L Now Pro Indoor Cycle Trainer was the highest performing, most well-constructed bike on the list. It didn’t have a ton of bells and whistles or pre-programmed workouts, but it did make it easy to hop on comfortably and start a safe, effective workout.

However, an upright bike the L Now Pro might not be for everyone. While we didn’t find them to be of the highest quality or best comfort, we did find a lot to be admired in both the Nordic Track and Schwinn bikes on our list. These bikes had enough built-in features to get just about anyone started, and while they were easy to use, our priority was safety and durability, making the L Now Pro Indoor Cycle Trainer our number one.

 

 

 

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