We love cycling and we also love spinning. It offers the same range of health benefits as cycling, but indoors in a safe and controlled environment, which makes it ideal for cyclists, would-be cyclists and non-cyclists alike.
Spin bikes compared to cycling
Although cycling and spinning are essentially the same range of actions, in the real world, for most people spinning is going to have more fitness benefits. This is simply because you can control your workout to make it as intense as you want and don’t have to worry about cycle craft and road safety.
In particular, you can ramp up the cardio as much as you want and really burn up those calories, hitting speeds which really would be impractical in cities even for cyclists. Spinning and cycling are both low impact and spinning, in particular, has a very low risk of injury.
When it comes to muscle toning, you may automatically assume that cycling and spinning will both tone your legs – and you’d be right. They also tone your core muscles. You won’t get so much of an arm workout, but you can easily and affordably buy some weights and do separate exercises to tone your arms.
Overall, it has to be said that spinning resolves many of the issues which stop people from cycling on a regular basis. You can do it safely whatever the weather, you don’t need any special clothes (just regular workout clothes) or a helmet or lights and you certainly don’t need to worry about finding a (reasonably) safe space to leave your bike and/or carrying heavy-duty locks.
Spin bikes compared to treadmills
Spin bikes and treadmills offer similar benefits and if you’re looking for a way to keep fit rather than to train for a specific sport, you could feasibly choose either depending on your preference. If space is your main priority, then you might want to go for a treadmill for the simple reason that it’s usually really straightforward just to fold up the running deck after use, whereas folding up a spin bike can be a bit more work. On the other hand, treadmills use motors whereas spin bikes don’t. That means that even the quietest treadmills are going to make significantly more noise than any spin bike.
Why buy a spin bike for home use?
Probably every gym in the world has a whole row of spin bikes, together with a whole row of treadmills. Spin bikes are hugely popular, which is why gyms stock up on them. It’s also why there’s still usually a queue to use them even when a gym is only moderately busy. So the first and most obvious reason for buying a spin bike for home use is that it is yours and yours alone (unless you choose to share it with your nearest and dearest).
An added benefit to having your own spin bike is that you can leave it set up just as you like it or, if you do share it, you can mark it to show how each user has it set up. Literally just take a marker pen to the adjustable parts of your spin cycle to mark where each user wants them. The marks will stay in place until you actively remove them with a cleaner such as nail polish remover.
Another key benefit of having a spin bike for home use is the long-term savings you will make compared to a gym membership. This can add up to more than just the fees, there’s the cost of travel and the time you need to get there and back.
Points to look for when buying a spin bike for home use
Here’s a quick rundown of the key points you need to look for when buying a spin bike for home use.
While it’s true that most spin bikes are going to come in a similar range of dimensions, if space is tight we strongly recommend that you double-check the dimensions to make sure the spin bike you choose will actually fit. There are some folding models out there and if you’re interested in one, make sure you check the open (working) dimensions rather than just the folded ones!
If you’re of a fairly common height and weight then you’re unlikely to have any problems finding a spin bike to suit your needs, but if you’re on the larger, heavier, side then it’s worth double-checking that a spin bike will definitely hold your weigh before you part with your cash.
These days many spin bikes come with some form of LCD screen, however these screens can vary not only in the quality of the actual display, but in the level of functionality it supports.
Let’s be realistic unless your spin bike is comfortable to use, you’re probably not actually going to use it all that much in the real world, no matter how good your intentions are. The key features which determine how comfortable a spin bike is to use are the handlebars, seat and pedals.
All the spin bikes we’ve ever seen use a variation on drop handlebars, which has actually become known as spin bike handlebars. They point away from the body of the bike and either stay parallel to the floor or rise up towards the ceiling rather than dropping towards the ground as drop handlebars do. Spin bike handlebars are intended to be comfortable in any form of use and to provide support for when you get up out of the saddle.
The quality of the handlebars can make a surprisingly big difference to your overall experience of using a spin bike and ideally you want your spin bike handlebars to be adjustable, mostly so you can tailor your spin bike to your body and partly so that it’s easy for someone else to do the same if you want to share your spin bike (or sell it on if you decide to upgrade).
Likewise the saddle also has to be robust and comfortable – and ideally height-adjustable. Do not assume that you’re going to be up on your pedals and over your handlebars all the time, like a racing cyclist. A spin bike is not a racing bike and for most workouts, you’re going to be dividing your time between being on your saddle and being up out of it. Because of this, it’s important to make sure you get a spin bike with a decent saddle.
Pedals are definitely a case of “last but by no means least”. Your going to divide your time between having your weight over your spin bike handlebars and having it over the saddle, but your feet are (hopefully) always going to be on the pedals. It may sound like stating the obvious, but you need the pedals to be easy to access and secure in use. All of the spin bikes we recommend have to clips, which form a cradle around the pedals to help keep your foot in place.
The flywheel is the weighted wheel at the front of the bike. It’s linked to the pedals by some form of drive, which we’ll explain in more detail below. There are two, key aspects to the flywheel itself. The first is the weight and the second is the quality of the movement. In basic terms the heavier a flywheel is, the harder a workout you will get, but we wouldn’t get too hung up on getting a super-heavy flywheel for maximum training impact. We think it’s far more important to have adjustable resistance, which we’ll discuss shortly.
What is very important is that you get a spin bike where the flywheel moves freely (given the level of resistance) and also cleanly. If you think about it, you really wouldn’t want to ride a road bike with a dodgy front wheel so, for much the same reasons, you don’t want to ride a spin bike with a low-quality flywheel.
Spin bikes are essentially fixed-wheel bikes which stay in one place. Depending on the model you choose, they may be driven by a chain (as on a standard road bike) or a belt (which would be highly impractical on a road bike). There’s no “better or worse” here, just different strokes for different folks.
Chain drives tend to be cheaper and last longer, provided that you give them a weekly drop of lubricant and tighten them when necessary. If you’ve never maintained a bike, trust us, this is really easy. A chain driven spin bike will give you a similar riding experience to a road bike, but that includes the “chink, chink, chink” sound you typically get when cycling on standard bike. Basically it’s up to you to decide if that bothers you (or those around you).
Belt drives tend to be more expensive and while they don’t actually require maintenance as such, you should expect to have to replace them about once a year. Again this is pretty easy. The experience of riding a belt-driven spin bike is much smoother than the experience of riding a chain-driven one. It’s also a whole lot quieter, as in silent. This may be a major plus point for some people.
Resistance adjustment on a spin bike works much the same way as gearing on a road bike (or a car). Basically, the higher the resistance the less (theoretical) distance your flywheel covers per turn of the pedals and vice versa. On road bikes, this allows you to adapt to different types of terrain. On spin bikes, it allows you to adjust the intensity of your workout even though your spin bike only has one flywheel.
Access to water
This may seem like a minor point to raise, but it’s important to keep hydrated during exercise, so a water-bottle holder is a distinct plus.
In our experience (and not just with spin bikes) a good warranty is a sign of a manufacturer which has confidence in its products. One year is the minimum we’d expect.
This is the only element of a spin bike we can’t really quantify effectively and yet it’s the most important. Basically, it’s how all the individual elements come together to make a great bike at your given price point. In the real world, either test out a bike and see how it feels to you or look for reliable reviews.
Best Spin Bikes For Home Use In The UK
So here is our list of what, in our opinion, are the four best spin bikes for home use in the UK. Basically the “in the UK” bit means that we’ve checked that they’re actually for sale in this market rather than just being in the U.S.
Best Spin Bike For Under £500
JTX Cyclo 6
Dimensions – 131cm(l) x 65cm(w) x 126cm(h)
Weight limit – 160kgs (25st)
LCD screen – yes, distance, speed, time, pulse, calories and odometer
Ergonomics – Quadri-Set™ adjustment system allows you to adjust handlebars and seat both vertically and horizontally via quick-release bolts. Seat height 90-110 cm. Seat to pedals 60-80 cm. Handlebars adjust 16 cm vertically and 6 cm horizontally. Saddle adjusts 20 cm vertically and 12.5cm horizontally. Pedals are good quality and come with toe clips.
Flywheel – 22Kg
Drive – Belt
Resistance adjustment – infinite
Access to water – holder provided
The flywheel on the JTX Cyclo 6 is a pretty massive 22kg and we’re pleased to say that it’s beautifully balanced, which is absolutely vital at this kind of weight. We’re also happy to report that the overall build quality of the frame seems to be more than up to the task of supporting such a heavy flywheel and the fact that JTX offers a lifetime warranty on the frame reassures us that they do too.
This spin bike can be ridden comfortably by a wide range of people from the small to the tall thanks to its Quadri-Set™ adjustment system, which permits for a high level of customization. The JTX Cyclo 6 is belt driven for a smooth, quiet ride.
If we had to pick one fault with the JTX Cyclo 6 it’s the fact that at current time there is no backlight on the LCD screen, which frankly seems an extraordinary omission given the overall quality of this spin bike. On the plus side, there is a wireless receiver so you can track your pulse using a heart-rate monitor on your chest if you wish.
Likewise, if we had to pick one feature about the JTX Cyclo 6 which we absolutely loved, it would be the fact that the water-bottle holder is conveniently placed to the side of the spin bike and upright, which we find much easier to access than the standard location of the cross bar, plus it prevents any possibility of water dripping down from an improperly-sealed cap. Having said that, as far as we can tell, the holder only mounts on the right-hand side, which may not be ideal for left-handed users.
- GYM QUALITY EXERCISE BIKE: The JTX Cyclo 6 is the style of indoor bike you'll often find at the gym or indoor cycling classes. It's designed for...
- QUADRI-SET ADJUSTMENT SYSTEM: The Quadri-Set adjustment system allows you to create perfect alignment and posture through bespoke configuration. This...
- WHAT ARE SPIN BIKES? Spinner, Spinning and Spin are brand terms that are trademarked by the California based company Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc. You...
- INFINITY RESISTANCE: The resistance control is both intuitive and infinite so you can tweak your ride as you progress towards your goal.
- CLEAR VIEW COMPUTER: The on board computer clearly displays time, speed, distance, calories and pulse. It also monitors total workout distance from...
Best spin bike for under £300
We R Sports RS4000 Indoor Exercise Bike
Dimensions – 104 x 107 x 54 cm
Weight limit – 150kg (23st 8lb)
LCD screen – Yes, calories, distance, speed, time
Ergonomics – Seat height 94 cm to 115 cm, seat depth 115.5 cm to 130 cm, handlebar height 115.5 cm to 130 cm, handlebar spread 115.5 cm to 130 cm
Flywheel – 22 kg
Drive – Chain
Resistance adjustment – variable resistance controlled via easily-accessible knob
Access to water – Yes on crossbar
Warranty – frame – 3 years from the date of purchase for structural failure. Flywheel assembly & crank – 2 years from the date of purchase. Brake assembly – 2 years from the date of purchase. Handlebars and seat – 2 years from the date of purchase. Pedals, chain and brake pad – 1 year from the date of purchase.
If you’re looking to do some indoor training for outdoor cycling, then of all the spin bikes on our list, the RS4000 is the one which is most likely to give you an experience which is reasonably close to riding a bike on the road. Even if you’re not, it’s still a fun spin bike to ride and we do have to admit that while it’s performance which really matters, we do actually like its sporty appearance a lot and think it could look quite stylish in a small space.
The RS4000 also has a hefty 22 kg flywheel and we’re quite happy with the balance and handling. Remember that the chain drive will make the RS4000 feel a bit different to the JTX Cyclo 6, but that’s no reflection on the quality, just a different approach.
We’re very happy with the frame, which strikes us as being more than robust enough to cope with the weight of the flywheel and indeed whatever life in general may put its way. The handlebars and saddle both have a high level of adjustability and the pedals are very secure.
The LCD console may not be the most sophisticated in the world, but it’s nicely readable and, generally in keeping with the “high-quality and no-nonsense” attitude of this spin bike. The water-bottle holder is in the usual place on the crossbar, which means it can be accessed by left- and right-handed users alike. To be honest, we’d have preferred the option to have had it on either side of the spin bike, but it’s a minor issue and it’s also fair to say that this is generally where road bikes have their water-bottle holders.
- 22kg perimeter weighted flywheel
- Multi-functional trip computer
- Ergonomic, non-slip & durable handlebars
- Fully adjustable handlebar & seat + variable resistance levels
- transport wheels, anti-slip pedals & water bottle + comprehensive warranty included
Best spin bike for under £200
2018 MODEL- XS Sports Aerobic Indoor Training Exercise Bike
Dimensions – 112 x 48 x 105 cm
Weight limit – 125kg (19st 9lb)
LCD screen – Yes, speed, time, distance, pulse, calories
Ergonomics – Seat height from floor – 88 cm-105 cm, Handlebar height from floor – 105 cm-111 cm, Distance seat to handlebar – 43 cm-58 cm, Distance seat to pedals – 76 cm-95 cm
Flywheel – 15 kg
Drive – Chain
Resistance adjustment – Yes
Access to water – Yes on crossbar
Warranty – To be honest, we’re a bit disappointed that XS are unclear about just how much support they provide. The most information we were able to get was this: “All new equipment sold by XS Sales is covered by a minimum one year parts and labour cover (excludes parts-only products) for domestic use only, (excluding consumable parts), unless the item states it is suitable for light commercial or commercial use.”.
While the 15 kg flywheel is a big step down from the two previous models, it’s still enough to deliver a decent workout, particularly if you increase the resistance. In fact the lower weight could well be a benefit to beginners. We’re happy with the flywheel’s balance and general handling.
We’re also happy about the overall quality of the frame and the level of customization on offer at this price range. We do have to say that although the 2018 Model XS Sports Aerobic Indoor Training Exercise Bike is described as having a “deep padded seat”, we’re not in love with it. Having said that, swapping it out for something rather more comfortable would be an easy and affordable upgrade. We do think the handlebars and pedals are very reasonable for this price point.
We personally had no issues whatsoever with the LCD, but we have heard that other people have found the display challenging to read and/or have found the console hard to wire up resulting in it cutting out on them. Overall, however, we’d say that the 2018 Model XS Sports Aerobic Indoor Training Exercise Bike was pretty easy to put together, partly because the included instructions were straightforward.
In short, we could point out that the 2018 Model XS Sports Aerobic Indoor Training Exercise Bike isn’t likely to win the crown for the best spin bike for home use in the UK, but to be fair, it does offer excellent value for money and should be more than adequate for beginners to intermediate users.
- STRONG; Our exercise bike is crafted from premium quality materials designed to last; This XS Sports studio bike is designed to hold people up to...
- SAFE; Every XS Sports upright cycle has undergone the most stringent quality inspection and hundreds of hours of development; Each bike trainer is...
- ADVANCED; This aerobic bike is the perfect indoor bike trainer for beginners, right through to advanced athletes; With a 15 kilogram flywheel and...
- COMFORTABLE; Unlike inferior exercise bikes , our indoor bike comes with fully adjustable handlebars and built in arm and elbow rests for an...
- PROFESSIONAL; All our spin bikes have been developed in consultation with home exercise equipment industry professionals; We pride ourselves on...
Best spin bike for those on a really tight budget
JLL Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike
Dimensions – 103 x 51 x 116 cm
Weight limit – 130 kg (20st)
LCD screen – Yes, time, speed, distance, calories and odometer
Ergonomics – Handlebar height 106 cm to 116 cm, distance seat to handlebars 38 cm to 45 cm, seat height 80 cm to 97 cm, distance seat to pedals 69 cm to 86 cm
Flywheel – 10 kg
Drive – chain
Resistance adjustment – yes
Access to water – no
Warranty – 12 months (only for domestic use)
The 10 kg flywheel puts the JLL Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike very definitely in the beginners’/occasional users’ category but that’s not meant to be a criticism, just a statement of fact. The flywheel is nicely balanced and overall handling is good, so we’re happy with it. Also, this spin bike still offers variable resistance if you want to challenge yourself a bit.
We actually rather like the look of the JLL Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike. It’s the sort of spin bike we’d be happy to have in our living room. It’s also decently robust and there’s plenty of room to customize the fitting to individual users. Handlebars, saddle and pedals are all good, in fact, we were quite impressed with the comfort of the saddle.
The LCD isn’t going to win any prizes for style, but it’s perfectly legible and basically “does the job”, which seems to be pretty much the guiding principle behind the JLL Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike.
Our one complaint about this spin bike is the lack of a water-bottle holder, which frankly strikes us as bizarre since they are neither large, nor heavy nor expensive. It’s really important to keep hydrated in any form of exercise, particularly a high-cardio one such as spinning so we’re actually quite disappointed about this, even though it’s easy enough to work around it by using a stool or something of that sort to hold your water bottle.
Overall, however, it’s pretty hard to argue with everything which is on offer at this price point. We do find it a bit amusing that JLL actually specified that their warranty only covered home use because we can’t imagine any serious gym buying this spin bike. Home users on a tight budget, however, could find the JLL Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike a very reasonable buy and should certainly give it at least a look.
- Direct chain driven 10kg flywheel; Adjustable friction resistance
- 3-Piece crank; Seat can be moved both vertically and horizontally
- 5-Function LCD monitor displays time, speed, distance, calories and odometer
- 12 Months home use warranty only
- ROHS CE compliance
Best Spin Bike For Home Use UK – Conclusion
We think that buying a spin bike for home use is one of the best ways to get a great workout in a small space and at a very affordable price. Modern spin bikes have come a long way since the basic exercise bikes of the 1980s and these days even entry-level spin bikes can have a pretty impressive feature set compared to those early bikes. Those with a bit more money to spend can get a gym-level spin bike for home use at a very reasonable cost.