Best Spin Bike Review – Top 5 Fittest List for Feb. 2018
Indoor bikes have been around for nearly 100 years. In fact, the “Exercycle” was a state-of-the-art piece of equipment in the mid 1900s, even though comparing it to today’s spin bikes is like comparing a smart phone to two tin cans connected by a piece of string.
The top 5 best spin bikes? The exercycle wouldn’t make a modern top 5000 of any type of indoor bicycle.
Keep reading just below to find out which spin bikes make it onto Groom+Styles’s top 5 list.
Best Spin Bike in the Comfort of Your Home
Today, indoor bikes and spinning classes dominate gyms and fitness centers. The allure of a quick workout in the comfort of your home on a stationary bike, though, is just as great now as it was back then. However, now we have more advanced equipment to do it with, making it simpler than ever to get in a terrific cardio workout without having to waste an hour or more getting to and from the gym.
One important note: when you go to the drugstore, you don’t say “I need some facial tissue.” You say “I want to buy some Kleenex,” even if you plan on buying the cheapest tissue in the store. That’s because the brand name “Kleenex” has become synonymous with facial tissue. It’s the same thing with spin bikes. Most people now use that term, or simply the word “spinning,” to refer to indoor bikes and biking. However, those are actually copyrighted terms owned by the company, Mad Dogg Athletics, whose Spinning bikes have made indoor cycling so popular that everyone simply uses their name instead of the more generic phrase “indoor bike.” We’ll try to use the term “Spin” for that company’s products wherever possible.
Here is the best spin bike (indoor) list as reviewed by Groom+Style – let’s go for a spin.
1. Keiser M3/M3 Plus/M3i/M3iX Plus Indoor Cycle
Mad Dogg may own the brand name in spin bikes, but the Keiser M3i Plus is the Rolls-Royce of indoor cycling. It’s sturdy, it’s high-end gym quality, it has a beautifully minimalist look – and it gives you a workout, unlike any spin bike you’ve ever tried.
The real key to this machine’s excellence is its groundbreaking Eddy Current magnetic resistance system, which the company spent ten years developing. Without getting into boring detail, the design gives you 24 full gears of eerily-quiet, realistic biking ranging from easygoing to grueling, in the comfort of your bedroom or basement.
And the bike almost never needs maintenance, because the moving parts in the drive system never touch each other; when you change gears, the flywheel simply moves closer to (or further from) the magnetic field. The flywheel is also positioned at the back of the bike which ensures that sweat does not fall in causing damage.
The Keiser M3i Plus is exceptional for any type of indoor work but is at its best during a full-blown workout, as the ability to cycle with maximum resistance is great for cardio health and optimal for fat burning and muscle strength. The 24 gears also let you gradually increase or decrease the intensity of your session, and make cool-down a breeze.
There are also more fully adjustable features on the M3i Plus, including the seat, fore and aft handlebars and Shimano Combo pedals than any other indoor spin bike. The onboard LCD display shows most of the data you’d expect; the only thing it’s missing is the type of pre-programmed options you find on upright stationary bikes (and the Diamondback Fitness 510Ic, which we’ll get to shortly).
The Keiser spin bikes do have one of the lightest flywheels on the market at about 8 lbs. There are some people who suggest that having a lighter flywheel can be a disadvantage. Groom+Style discuss the reason why we believe this is not an issue when it comes to the Keiser range of bikes, in the following article – Spin Bike Flywheel Weight – Is a Heavier Flywheel Better On an Exercise Bike?
If however, you are still interested in a bike with a heavier flywheel then you should consider an alternative like the Diamondback fitness (32 lbs flywheel), the Spinner NXT (41 lbs flywheel) or the Schwinn AC Performance Plus (37 lbs flywheel).
If you’re on a budget, then this is not the bike for you because it is one of the most expensive spin bikes on the market. However, if you have the coin, it is a brilliant indoor spin bike for home use.
Please note – If you want to save some money you could buy the M3 Plus. The key difference is that the M3i has:
A look at the specs of the Keiser M3i Plus Indoor Cycle:
You can also investigate Keiser’s latest model the Keiser M3iX which comes equipped with X-bars. X-bars are effectively handlebars that move from side to side (7 levels of resistance).
The independent lower body and upper body movement offer an additional core and upper body workout. The Groom+Style team did enjoy the feel of the X-bars, and if you can afford it, think the added variety you get from the X-bars is well worth it.
In the same price range as the Keiser, this Schwinn has a substantially heavier, perimeter-weighted flywheel (37 pounds vs. the 8-pound flywheel on the Keiser). As we’ve mentioned, the Groom+Style team prefers a lighter flywheel because it provides a more comfortable ride without being overly-aggressive or putting too much strain on the knees. Many serious cyclists disagree, however, preferring the high resistance of a heavy flywheel – and for those folks, the Schwinn Fitness AC Performance Plus is a perfect choice.
The flywheel may be heavy but the bike is lighter than you’d expect because the frame is made from aluminum rather than steel, making it rustproof as well.
A terrific six-magnet braking system distributes this spin bike’s braking power, and a new Carbon Blue belt drive with soft nylon teeth (which has superseded the old Schwinn chain drive, although chain drive models are still available) makes the ride smoother and quieter than we expected. The belt is virtually maintenance-free and should last for years, due to its polyurethane construction and carbon fiber core.
ErgoLoop performance handlebars, aero bars, and double-link pedals (compatible with Shimano SPD clips) add to the great performance of this high-end Schwinn spin bike, and it is built exceptionally well (not surprising, considering the company’s heritage).
The only downside is that the AC Performance Plus doesn’t come with an onboard monitor/computer; you’ll have to spend another two hundred dollars for the MPower Echelon console (or even more for the Echelon 2 with power upgrade).
Groom+Style prefers spin bikes with lighter flywheels, but if you’re on the other side of that argument this Schwinn AC bike is about as good as it gets.
Looking deeper at the Schwinn Fitness AC Performance Plus:
2. Diamondback Fitness 510Ic Indoor Cycle
With almost all of the features of the Keiser except for its very smooth belt drive system, the Diamondback Fitness 510Ic is a terrific spin bike for less than half the price.
This is a heavy indoor cycle with durability to match; the belt-driven/flywheel system works extremely well to give you the different varieties of workouts most people want from a spinner since you can select between 16 levels of computer-controlled resistance. The ride is even quieter than you’d normally expect with a chain drive, and there are full fore/aft handlebar and seat adjustments possible for riding comfort.
One of the standout features of the 510Ic is the computerized integration between its operation and the monitor mounted on the bike. It gives you a ton of real-time information about your ride and fitness (including four heart rate functions) and also has 14 different automated workouts programmed into the system, much like you’d find on an upright model but unusual on spinners.
On top of Groom+Style’s recommendation, Consumer Reports has given the Diamondback Fitness 510IC a “Best Buy” designation, and it’s easy to see why. It may not be quite the bike that the Keiser is but for the price, but it might be exactly what you are after.
If you want to spend a bit more you could opt for the Diamondback Fitness 910IC which has:
Key specifications for the Diamondback Fitness 510Ic Indoor Cycle:
3. Spinner NXT (Manufactured by Star Trac) Commercial Spin Bike
Ah, here it is – a true spin bike, made by the company which popularized the term. The commercial-style Spinner NXT has a modern steel look (with a zinc coating to prevent rust) and the durable design to match. It operates with a traditional chain drive system powering the bicycle – and resistance is created not by magnets but by a pad which grips the flywheel tighter as you turn the tension knob.
It’s perhaps the “most authentic” biking experience of any of our list of top 5 best spin bikes. Resistance is adjusted with an easy-to-reach knob.
This machine is also quite user-friendly in terms of customization, with fore and aft handlebars and seat that are micro-adjustable as well as SPD compatible pedals. A little dicier for most users, though, are adjustments to the chain and flywheel, if needed.
There are conveniently-placed elbow rests for the times you want to let go of the handlebars for a bit, plus two water bottle holders if you’re the type who gets really thirsty while riding. The one real drawback: the NXT’s touchscreen display isn’t computerized, so you can’t see things like distance or calories as you bike. It will show you simulated courses, however, and you can always buy a separate computerized monitor.
The Spinner Sprint and Spinner Blade are also very popular and proven models in this range – links provided below.
The Spinner NXT is a very nice spin bike, at a price significantly lower than the Keiser although a bit higher than its closest competitors. If you’re not looking for the ultimate in an indoor cycling machine, it’s a solid choice which should last pretty close to a lifetime.
More details on the Spinner NXT Commercial Spin Bike:
4. Phoenix 98623 Revolution Cycle Pro II Exercise Bike
The key to a good spinner is the workout, not the bells and whistles. That’s why the Phoenix 98623 makes our list; it doesn’t have some of the features you’ll find on higher-priced exercise bikes, but it’s a small, heavy and strong machine which will let you get your cardio and calorie-burning exercise with the same realistic feel as a road bike.
The Revolution features a quiet chain-and-flywheel system, with the amount of resistance regulated by a braking system operated by a knob on the frame. One downside is that the system uses two brake pads, instead of just one as is common with most chain-style spin bikes, so it’s possible for the pads to get out of alignment and require adjustment or replacement.
Two unusual positive twists, though, are that the 98623 has an “emergency brake” lever which stops the flywheel immediately if necessary, and it also allows you to pedal both backward and forward.
This unit has an adjustable seat and handlebars, although the handlebars only move up and down and not horizontally, unlike fully-adjustable competitors. You’d probably expect that at this lower price point the bike would not have a monitor console, and you’d be right.
Bells and whistles cost more – and this spinner costs less. For most people, that’s a tradeoff worth making.
Looking a little more closely at the Phoenix 98623 Revolution Cycle Pro II Exercise Bike:
5. Sunny SF-B1001 Indoor Cycling Bike
Extremely affordable and functional, the Sunny SF-B1001 is a great choice as an entry spin bike. This small unit (best suited to riders under 6-2) is quite study thanks to its steel skeleton, and provides a good range of resistance because of its chain drive system; as with most of these types of spinners, the resistance is controlled with an adjustable knob on the frame.
The Sunny is a bit noisier than the other bikes on our list, but it’s not really loud enough to be intrusive as you’re riding.
There aren’t as many comfort adjustments as you’ll find on more expensive competitors, with the handlebars only moving up and down, the pedals (which can, of course, be changed out for standard ones) only featuring toe straps, and the seat (which is not very comfortable, so you may want to replace or pad it) only adjustable over a relatively short range. There is also no console providing feedback on distance, speed or heart rate.
The cost overrides any negatives you might find on this bike. If you’re looking for your first indoor exercise bike to be strong and provide a good workout – the Sunny is a very strong contender.
Specs for the Sunny SF-B1001 Indoor Cycling Bike:
Still haven’t exactly found what you are looking for, maybe a Recumbent Exercise Bike is more your style? Also, don’t forget that even if your goal is just to increase your fitness and not just lose weight, an increase in the amount of fruit and vegetables in your diet is going to help you achieve your goals faster!
If you are looking for some options to add some excitement to your indoor cycling workouts then check out our article – Peloton Spin Bike Alternatives.