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Exercise Bikes Features (continued)

Workout Bikes Pedals.

If you're pedaling like crazy on your workout bike, you don't want to worry about your feet slipping off. Some low-cost models, like the Stamina 15-0200 InTone, have non-slip foot pedals.
The best exercise bikes feature more secure confinement methods. The ProForm 290 SPX spinning bike has a toe cage, essential if you're pedaling while standing. Others, such as the Schwinn 240, Marcy Mag, and NordicTrack GX 2.0, have pedal straps that wind around your feet for a snug fit.

Workout Bikes Console and Gadgets.

The best exercise bikes typically come with a console that displays a variety of useful information, such as resistance level, workout module, calories burned, speed, time elapsed, and, depending on the model, heart rate. All the workout bikes we researched except the ProForm 290 SPX and Stamina 15-0200 InTone feature data-laden consoles.

But don't necessarily believe what's displayed. We read numerous reports from slightly irritated users who insist that the readouts, especially for metrics like calories burned, pulse rate, and heart rate, aren't particularly accurate. (Among the models on our best exercise bikes list, only the Schwinn 240 and Nordic Track GX 2.0 track heart rate.) Moreover, as with any electronic component, the consoles may be susceptible to malfunctions -- and repairs can be pricey. If an impressive screen with readouts that truly reflect your progress is important to you, be prepared to pay up for a higher-end model.

Extras found on the best exercise bikes, such as an in-console CD player, MP3 port, speakers, fan, and LCD screen or TV, certainly aren't necessary but can add fun and comfort to your workout. They also add to the base cost and are rarely found on lower-end workout bikes. Still, some budget models include a few frills that enhance enjoyment. The ProForm 290 CSR Recumbent Bike (starting at $400) barely qualifies as cheap with a starting price of $400, but it does feature a small monitor that plays, among other things, two interactive games that reward your hard work (i.e., faster pedaling) with easier play. The console on the NordicTrack GX 2.0 breaks out of the cheap pack of best exercise bikes on our list with a sound system and port for an iPod. The Schwinn 240 comes with a reading rack, a basket to store reading materials, and a water bottle holder. The ProForm 290 SPX also provides a holding place for liquid refreshment.

Workout Bikes Storage.

Upright bikes are smaller and lighter than recumbents and take up less floor space. The Stamina 15-0200 InTone folds into a compact unit for easy storage. If your home is small, this may be a particularly important feature, although the inconvenience of setting up and taking down may deter you from sticking with your exercise routine. The larger workout bikes, like the Schwinn 240, Marcy Mag, ProForm 290 SPX, and NordicTrack GX 2.0, have wheels that allow you to move them out of the way.

Workout Bikes Warranty.

Warranties vary on the models we researched. The NordicTrack GX 2.0 offers a lifetime warranty on the frame and one year on parts and labor. The Schwinn 240 provides five years on the frame and one year on parts and electronics. The ProForm 290 SPX offers a five-year warranty on the frame and 90 days on parts and labor. The Marcy Mag has a two-year warranty and the Stamina 15-0200 InTone offers 90 days on parts and three years on the frame.

Review continues below

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