Enjoy a studio-style experience at home with your very own spin bike
Offering an excellent cardiovascular workout, and one that’s easier on the joints than running or jumping, spin classes are all the rage right now. And while having a motivational teacher can bring out your best bike-riding self, you have to pay a pretty penny for the pleasure, as well as share the room with other gurning, sweaty folk. Fortunately, the popularity of spin classes has spawned a wide range of excellent home exercise bikes specifically designed for high-intensity activity that you can do from the comfort of your own living room, garage or even bedroom.
Peloton is often credited with spearheading the rise in online home spin bikes, often linked to apps that come packed with either live or on-demand classes, and where Peloton has led, many others have followed and there are now options that cater to all budgets and preferences.
Before we dive into our pick of the best spin bikes, here’s what you need to know before you buy one.
How to choose the best spin bike for you
What is a spinning bike?
Unlike the standard, upright exercise bikes that you might find in your local gym, spin bikes are specifically designed for short, sharp HIIT workouts. They pack a heavy flywheel, driven by cranks and pedals, that provides an adjustable level of resistance that can be altered quickly and easily.
Although the seats and handlebars are usually adjustable, spin bikes tend to feature a more aggressive riding position – similar to that found on a racy road bike – and one that allows the user to grip in a variety of positions. This is because a spin class instructor, or class leader, will often use cadence (the speed your legs spin), rhythm, body position and, sometimes, additional dumbbell weights to eke out the most effort from a session.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed cycling experience then it might be better to opt for a more traditional exercise bike, while those who are looking to realistically mimic outdoor cycling, or train for an upcoming ride, might be better served by a turbo trainer.
How much do I need to spend?
Spinning cycles tend to be pricier than upright bikes, but you can still pick up great bikes for under £300, while top-end options will set you back over £1,000. One thing to bear in mind is that with services such as Peloton or Echelon, where you’re using the app for instructor-led spinning classes, you will also have to pay an ongoing subscription for the content, which is usually over £30 a month.
What are the key features to look out for?
Start by checking the weight of the flywheel. Heavier wheels tend to allow for a smoother, more stable ride and also offer a wider variety of resistance levels to choose from, especially when you start to crank up the cadence.
When it comes to resistance, friction resistance is usually best, where you simply turn a knob to rapidly increase, or decrease, the resistance in line with the demands of your class.
That said, many connected bikes require the user to adjust the bike to match the resistance level stated by the instructor – whether live or in a pre-recorded class – so these tend to favour magnetic resistance as this makes it possible to crank things up from, say, a suggested effort level of 5 to 35 with greater accuracy.
If you plan to use your spin bike with online classes then the ability to measure the resistance will make the experience slicker, so it’s a good idea to make sure your bike can deliver this data output.
How do I get spinning classes?
You can simply create your own interval workout and go at it solo on a spinning bike, but it’s much easier to summon and maintain the motivation to push through a HIIT class when you have an instructor leading you through it, whether that’s through a prerecorded or live session.
There are third-party apps and classes on YouTube you can use for this without a connected spinning bike, while the best experience comes from bikes with partner apps such as Peloton and Echelon.
Make sure that the bike you’re getting has a tablet or phone mount on the console. You will need this to follow spinning classes on apps, although some options like Peloton will actually have a built-in screen for this.
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The best spin bikes you can buy in 2023
1. JTX Cyclo-6: Best spinning bike under £650
Price when reviewed: £625 | Check price at JTX
The Cyclo-6 is a gym-standard spinning bike at a very friendly price for home users and, unless you want a connected experience where your bike links to an app with classes, there’s no real need to spend more. The Cyclo-6 has a heavy 22kg flywheel, so it will run smoothly no matter how much power you’re putting through the pedals, and the friction resistance is controlled by a knob on the frame, which means you can ramp up the difficulty to challenge any level of rider.
Even if you’re planning on following spinning classes, you can always prop up your tablet within view and use the Cyclo-6 with apps such as Apple Fitness+ or Peloton – you just won’t see your stats onscreen as you do with connected bikes.
Key specs – Size: 124 x 54 x 122cm (LWH); Resistance: Friction; Max user weight: 160kg
2. Echelon Smart Connect Sport Bike: Best budget Peloton alternative
Price when reviewed: £799 | Check price at EchelonThis is not a budget bike by any means, since the Connect Sport costs £800 and you need to spend £40 a month for access to the partner Echelon app and the classes it contains. Compared to the price you pay for Peloton, however, it’s a veritable bargain, since you’re getting live and on-demand spinning classes on a connected bike.
There’s no built-in screen like on the Peloton Bike, but there’s a tablet/phone holder on the handlebars so you can follow the classes easily. The Connect Sport is also aimed mainly at beginner spinners, with a lightweight 7kg flywheel and pedals that have cages rather than clips. Echelon used to have the EX3 bike for £949. The EX3 was a more robust bike that would be better for experienced spinners and also linked to a tablet rather than having its own screen.
Key specs – Size: 125 x 51.5 x 111cm (LWH); Resistance: Magnetic; Max user weight: 136kg
3. Peloton Bike+: Best home spinning bike
Price when reviewed: From £1,995 | Check price at PelotonPeloton is the biggest name in home spinning – and with good reason. The bike and linked Peloton app offer the best experience you will find, with a range of engaging classes suitable for all abilities shown on the built-in HD screen.
The Bike+ is the new top dog in Peloton’s range, but you can get the original Peloton Bike for £1,345 if you prefer. The upgrades on the Bike+ include a bigger screen (23.8in to 21.5in), better sound quality and auto-follow resistance that will change in line with the instructions during classes, whereas on the original bike you have to adjust it yourself. You can also adjust the resistance yourself in the Bike+, though, in case you want to work harder or ease off compared to the instructions given.
As well as spinning classes, the Peloton app, which costs £39 a month, also includes all manner of other workouts, including strength, HIIT and yoga sessions, and on the Bike+ the screen can be rotated 360° to make it easier to see when not cycling.
Key specs – Size: 149 x 58 x 135cm (LWH); Resistance: Magnetic; Max user weight: 135kg
4. Apex Bike: Another great Peloton alternative
Price when reviewed: £699 | Check at Apex BikeApex is another great option for home spinning, with the bike linking to its partner app to show live and on-demand classes. The Apex undercuts the Peloton in two ways. First, the bike is cheaper at £749, as it doesn’t have a built-in screen, but does have a tablet holder, which means you can view the classes easily on the handlebars. Second, the app subscription is £30 a month, rather than £39.
The bike itself has some nifty features, including a phone holder that also charges your phone wirelessly if your phone is suitably equipped (although we found large phones such as the iPhone 12 Pro Max don’t work), and by USB if it isn’t. The flywheel is only 4kg, but it still runs smoothly and, in our experience, provides a good challenge for even fit users, with 30 levels of magnetic resistance.
It’s worth noting that the Apex bike will only work on iOS at the moment, making the Peloton or Echelon bikes better options for Android users.
Read our full Apex Bike review
Key specs – Size: 122 x 61 x 122cm (LWH); Resistance: Magnetic; Max user weight: 140kg
5. JLL IC200 Pro Indoor Bike: Best budget spin bike
Price when reviewed: £300 | Check price at Amazon
The JLL IC200 PRO is a smooth cycling spinning machine. With a belt-driven flywheel and magnetic resistance, the difficulty can be quickly increased or decreased up to eight levels using the dial on the frame. The handlebar and seat height are adjustable to suit your needs, and there’s a 3-piece crank system on the pedals to help generate the sensation of cycling a real bike.
The 5-readout monitor between the handlebars displays time, speed, distance, calories and pulse – the latter being tracked by silver pads on the handles. After use, it can be easily moved out of the way due to the wheels on the front, making the IC200 PRO a practical option on a budget.
Key specs – Size: 119.5 x 55.5 x 122.5cm (LWH); Resistance: Magnetic; Max user weight: 100kg
6. JTX Studio V5: Best value smart spin bike
Price when reviewed: £759 | Check price at JTX
JTX offers “semi-commercial” quality at a great price with its latest smart spin bike. The Studio V5 uses frictionless magnetic resistance, making it quieter in use than a friction-based system, while the simple-to-use resistance dial will output data to a variety of apps.
The built-in computer on this smart exercise bike tracks cadence, speed, pulse (thanks to sensors on the handlebars), time and distance. This allows for solo spin sessions, or intense app-based workouts, using your favoured third-party app via a Bluetooth connection to your phone or tablet. And there’s a holder for your phone or tablet too.
JTX also offers its dual-sided pedals as standard, which feature an SPD clip-in cleat on one side for attaching cycling shoes, and toe clips on the other for use with normal training shoes.
Key specs – Size: 129 x 50.5 x 113cm (LWH); Resistance: Magnetic; Max user weight: 135kg
7. NordicTrack S27i Studio Bike: Best premium option
Price when reviewed: £2,499 | Check price at NordicTrack
If money is no object, then the NordicTrack S27i Studio Bike is not only one of the best-looking home spin bikes you can buy, but it’s also one of the most feature-rich.
The huge 27-inch HD display, complete with a 30W premium sound array, gives you a ridiculously immersive workout experience. Plus, it can also pivot for off-bike workouts. The bike itself can mimic climbs and descents – thanks to the 20% incline and 10% decline options – making those “real-world” classes more realistic, while the resistance can auto-adjust in line with your class. NordicTrack even includes a pair of 3lb (1.4kg) dumbbells for use in those classes that also work the upper body.
The S27i is designed to work with NordicTrack’s own iFIT series of global workouts – recorded in the real world, like Hydrow – studio classes, yoga and strength classes, and a 30-day free trial is included with your purchase, though it will cost you £34 per month if you want to continue the subscription.
Key specs – Size: 145 x 571 x 165cm (LWH); Resistance: Magnetic; Max user weight: 160kg