Exercise bikes became mainstream in the mid-1980s when they were championed by famous cyclist Johnny Goldberg.
They have remained consistently popular ever since and for much the same reasons. They are an affordable, effective and safe way of getting a great workout.
It’s therefore little surprise that the search term “best folding exercise bike” is a very popular one.
In this article we’ll tell you everything you need to know to make an informed choice about whether or not a folding exercise bike is right for you in the first place and, if it is, what to look for when picking a folding exercise bike for your particular needs, wants and budget.
Our aim is to make sure you only buy a folding exercise bike if it’s actually right for you and to ensure that if it is, you get the best possible value for your money when you make your purchase.
We’ll do this by covering the basics of folding exercise bikes so you understand the why and how as well as the what.
Then we’ll give you a list of six folding exercise bikes we’re happy to recommend.
These will cover a range of price points to ensure there’s something for you, whatever your budget.
The Best Folding Exercise Bikes UK
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Understanding Folding Exercise Bikes
Folding exercise bikes are basically all about bringing the benefits of cycling indoors, even when you have little space. Therefore the benefits of using a folding exercise bike are, essentially, much the same as the benefits of cycling.
The benefits of cycling
In fitness terms, the main benefit of cycling is that it is an all-round aerobic workout, which, not to put too fine a point on it, is what many people need given the sedentary lifestyles a lot of us lead these days. Cycling also tones the lower body, which is useful for both genders but particularly women who tend to accumulate fat over the waist, hips and thighs.
Understanding targeted weight loss
Your genetics will determine the order in which the fat deposits in your body are used up and basically there is nothing you can do to influence that. You can, however, target specific muscle groups during workouts to improve their condition, which can result in you looking like you’ve lost fat in that area even though you actually haven’t (yet).
The social aspect
Up until relatively recently, some people were put off indoor cycling because they felt it lacked the sociability of outdoor cycling. The internet, however, has changed that. There are now all kinds of ways you can interact with other like-minded people from forums and Facebook groups to online exercise classes either in real-time or to take when you wish.
The practicalities of folding exercise bikes
Possibly the single, biggest reason why folding exercise bikes have become so hugely popular is that they are ideal for modern lifestyles and modern living spaces. It’s not just that they are compact, light, easy to set up and easy to store out of use. It’s that they’re also quiet, there are no machine-driven parts as there are with treadmills, so you can exercise away at any time of day or night without disturbing anyone. As an added bonus, their simplicity helps to keep prices relatively low, even at the premium end of the market.
Indoor cycling versus spinning
Basically indoor cycling and spinning are the same idea. In practical terms, however, the term indoor cycling tends to be used when you are just working by yourself, whereas the term spinning tends to be used in the context of indoor cycling classes, or, at least, following a set programme on your own.
Key points to look for in a folding exercise bike
Here are the basic points to check before buying any folding exercise bike.
Dimensions (open and closed) and weight
While the vast majority of folding exercise bikes will come within a similar range of sizes and weights, it’s always worth double-checking the exact specifications before purchase.
Height and weight supported
Similar comments apply here. If you’re of average height and weight, you’ll probably be fine with any folding exercise bike available at a mainstream retailer, but if you’re particularly tall or short or heavy, it’s strongly recommended to double-check that any specific folding exercise bike can meet your needs.
Ease of assembly
This is a bit subjective, but we think it’s fair to say that some folding exercise bikes are easier to assemble than others.
By definition, all folding exercise bikes can be folded, but again, some are easier to fold away than others.
Overall build quality
Most folding exercise bikes use the upright cycling position, however there are now a fair number of recumbent folding exercise bikes on the market, so if you have back problems, these could be well worth a look.
Resistance levels are one way to vary the intensity of your workout. For some people they are very important and for others less so. In either case, we recommend being clear about what any given folding exercise bike can do.
What is the best folding exercise bike available in the UK?
Here’s our pick of the best folding exercise bikes we would check out first.
Olympic 2000 Compact Exercise Bike
This folding exercise bike is a no-frills, budget-level option for people who want light-to-moderate cardio workouts with minimum price and maximum convenience. The manufacturer doesn’t give a recommended user height range for his folding exercise bike (that we’ve been able to find) so we’ve based the specs on saddle adjustability and user reviews. We’d also add that users towards the upper end of this range might want to try one out for themselves as experiences vary.
We’d also like to point out that this folding exercise bike takes less weight than the other ones we’ve mentioned and while we suspect 100Kg will be (more than) adequate for most people, again, if you’re at the upper end of this range, you might want to test one out in the real world before parting with your cash.
In general, the Olympic 2000 Compact Exercise Bike offers excellent value for money and while it’s mainly targeted at those who are interested in stationary cycling for rehabilitation or light exercise, particularly older people, it might also be of interest to students and renters, who simply want something light, compact and affordable.
Exerpeutic 525XLR Folding Recumbent Exercise Bike
This folding exercise bike is really a semi-recumbent (in our opinion), but we doubt that will matter to many people, in fact some people may even prefer it. It certainly has a comfortable saddle and the 8 resistance levels offer plenty of flexibility for different workouts.
We’re going to have to say up front that this folding exercise bike isn’t the easiest to assemble, although if we’re honest, it probably needs patience more than great skill, but once you have it together you’ll be able to appreciate the build quality plus it folds easily to about half its open size.
- 181 kg extended weight capacity utilizing heavy duty and high durability steel frame. 27% more steel than the Exerpeutic 400XL folding recumbent bike...
- 8 level magnetic tension control System. An easy to read large LCD computer display indicates distance, calories burned, time, speed, Pulse, odometer...
- Large seat cushion and back rest for users of any size. Seat adjustable to fit 5'2" to 6'5" (1,55m bis 1,98m) user height, ideal for taller people.
- Semi-recumbent design allows you easily to get on and off the bike. Dual transmission flywheel allows for higher resistance workout
- Folds to almost 1/2 the size. Larger pedal design with safety strap prevents any foot slippage when exercising. Extended leg stabilizers to prevent...
Exerpeutic (EXER6) Unisex’s Folding Magnetic Upright Bike
This folding exercise bike is massively popular and massively reviewed so it would have been strange if we’d ignored it. Instead of covering old ground, we’ll cut to the chase. If you’re interested in light to moderate stationary cycling then this model could be a great choice. It’s affordable, easy to assemble, comfortable and at least as robust as you can reasonably expect at this price point.
You may have deduced from this that we don’t really think that this model has what it takes for serious, high-intensity work-outs over a long period. In particular, the pedals and flywheel are likely to be weak spots if you put them to a serious challenge and, oddly, the odometer resets at 999.9 miles rather than running into five figures.
In fairness to Exerpeutic, our impression is that this folding exercise bike is pretty openly targeted at lighter users, which is why, for example, there is a large, comfortable seat, rather than a standard saddle, which, in our opinion, is likely to be a, if not the, major selling point for its target user group.
- WEIGHT CAPACITY: Up to 136 kg. Intended to be used on the hard flat floor.
- SEATING COMFORT: Large seat cushion for people of any size, easily adjustable to fit anywhere from 5'3 inch to 6'1 inch (1,61m bis 1,86m) users. HEART...
- COMPACT DESIGN: Folds for storage and can moved with the included transportation wheels
- TENSION RESISTANCE: An 8 level Magnetic Tension control system, allows the user to adjust the tension level for an easier or more difficult workout.
- FOLDING CAPABILITY: The bike will fold to at least 1/2 the size as when fully assembled, so it is uniquely compact.
Marcy Foldable Upright Bike
The Marcy is a folding exercise bike which is pitched fairly and squarely at people looking for light-to-moderately intense cardio workouts. As such its design is fairly minimalist, which has the bonus of making it really easy to assemble. Overall, the build quality is very reasonable and while we do have to say that the saddle is definitely not the most comfortable we’ve ever used, we also have to point out that at this price, you could invest in a seat cover and still leave your wallet feeling good about life.
- Unique cardio bike, designed to quickly fold and store away in the most space-restrictive rooms. Ride when you're ready to cycle, and hide when you're...
- Includes a computer monitor that displays your speed, distance, time, and calories burned so you can start setting those daily goals to complete
- Challenge yourself by changing resistance levels to simulate different terrains just like an outdoor bike ride. 14 gauge steel with a durable gloss...
- Manual adjustment continuous resistance - High density foam padded seat and height adjustment for different body types
- Innovative frame design folds up for easy storage - Counterweighted pedals with adjustable foot straps
The Exerpeutic 525XLR Folding Recumbent Exercise Bike and the FitDesk FDX 3.0 Foldable Exercise Bike are both niche products which means you’re probably either going to love them or hate them.
The Olympic 2000 Compact Exercise Bike is, in our opinion, one of best budget-level bikes around and the Ultrasport F-Bike Foldable Exercise Bike is also very affordable and gives you a bit more functionality.
The Marcy Foldable Upright Bike and the Exerpeutic (EXER6) Unisex’s Folding Magnetic Upright Bike both take comfort and functionality up a notch, while remaining very affordable, especially when compared to gym membership.