Now that you’ve decided to buy an exercise bike, you must delve into the world of brand names, additional features, and considerations like comfort and accessibility.
But beyond the bells and whistles of each model you explore, there’s one essential decision you must make first.
Folding vs non-folding exercise bikes: which one is right for you?
This guide will help you explore the benefits of each type of exercise bike and define the pros and cons. Ultimately, the best exercise bike is one that matches your needs and one which you will use regularly.
Why An Exercise Bike?
Research shows that regular workouts on a stationary bike cover all the bases when it comes to burning calories, going easy on your joints, and getting the most out of cardio fitness. Therefore, choosing to buy a stationary bike is a huge step in the right direction for your existing fitness plan and your long-term health.
If your regular workout takes place in a gym outside your home, consider this: the average exercise bike at your local gym is home to 39 times more bacteria than a cafeteria tray. Therefore, an exercise bike away from other gym-goers is an excellent idea!
Exercise Bike Features
Most exercise bikes offer competitive features, regardless of whether they fold for storage or not. High-tech materials and onboard computers make every stationary bike unique, but commonalities among them mean the market for these bikes stays competitive.
For clarity, we’ll disregard foot pedal-only models of stationary bikes, since these fall into neither the folding nor non-folding category easily. Here’s a breakdown of the most common exercise bike features independent of folding exercise bike vs non-folding.
An exercise bike’s frame holds the rider’s weight and also dictates the fit of the user to the bike. With a variety of materials and designs, choosing the right frame must take your height and other measurements into consideration.
Adjustable resistance, whether via manual modifications or a digital display, enhances your riding experience and lets you customize each workout. Four main types of resistance dictate the resistance of your bike. These include brake-based systems, direct-contact resistance, magnetic resistance, and fan-based resistance.
The size and construction of your seat can make the difference between a long and productive ride versus a short and uncomfortable one. Some models feature backrests for more support, while others offer relatively simple seating accommodations.
Part of the stationary bike experience lies in the fact that your bike isn’t meant to move. If the stabilizers can’t handle your weight, or they’re wobbly on carpet or rug flooring, you won’t have an enjoyable ride.
Today’s technology allows for users to customize their exercise bike experiences via digital screens and push-button consoles. Adjusting resistance on-screen and tracking time, distance, calories burned, and heart rate are just a few of the specs you'll see on many exercise bike screens.
Bringing your laptop or tablet on-board is easier than ever with exercise bikes that incorporate today’s tech into their design setup. Similarly, immersive video experiences like those found in private gyms can also enhance the cycling experience, should you desire that feature.
What is a Folding Exercise Bike?
Folding exercise bikes allow for riders to stow their bikes away when not in use. For some models, this means a quick fold. For others, it might require more effort to collapse the bicycle into a form that’s easy to move.
Best foldable exercise bikes are typically lightweight and easy to move to different areas in addition to your storage space. You might slide the bike underneath a bed, place it in a closet, or prop it against the wall so it’s out of the way.
Top-rated stationary bikes with folding features range from just under $$$ to around $$$ depending on the features they offer.
You can take your stationary bike anywhere when it folds easily. Bring it to the office with you, stow it away for vacation, or take it outside so you can exercise on the deck or patio. A basic foldable cycle with bare-bones features can offer cyclists an affordable alternative to street or trail riding for exercise.
What is a Non-Folding Exercise Bike?
A non folding exercise bike is the kind you’re likely to find at your local gym.
These models often see multiple users per day but hold up well despite regular wear and tear. These types of bikes might feel more stable than a folding model if only because the materials it’s made of are heavier.
These bikes are bulky compared to models that fold, requiring a dedicated space in your home gym or spare bedroom. For users who ride regularly, a non folding exercise bike might serve as the centerpiece of the home gym.
Non folding bikes also tend to have more spacious seating areas, as well as options for adjustability. Since these bikes often serve high-traffic gyms, their settings must allow for customization by multiple users numerous times per day.
Be sure to check out our buying guide to find the best spin bike for your budget.
Top-rated stationary bikes that do not include folding features range in price from around $$$ to upwards of $$$. Commercial models offer competitive features for up to triple the price of standard models.
Your non folding exercise bike will always be ready for a ride when you are. Without the need for complicated set-up or adjustments, you can hop on whenever it’s time for aerobics. The investment on a non folding bike may prove higher than that of a folding bike, but if you want longevity, that’s a reasonable tradeoff.
The Bottom Line?
Which exercise bike you choose will depend on your specific needs and lifestyle, as well as your budget. Plus, since nearly 40 percent of people with home exercise machines use those machines less than they planned, sticking with a machine you enjoy matters the most.
The comparison of folding vs non folding exercise bikes isn’t as straightforward as one would hope. But with this breakdown of features and a discussion of the pros and cons, it’s easier to determine which type of exercise bike will best meet your needs.