Cardio machines are mostly intended for working the lower body, with little to no load on arms. So ideally, you would supplement cardio with traditional strength training to keep your entire body in good shape.
What if you don’t have time for strength training or can’t do it because of health issues? Well, in that case, exercise bikes with movable arms could be the right solution for you!
In today’s guide, I am going to help you pick the best exercise bike with moving arms. I will showcase 7 bikes, and on top of that, I’ll give you a few helpful tips on choosing the right exercise bike.
The Top 7 Best Exercise Bikes With Moving Arms
The Assault AirBike, in my opinion, is the best fan exercise bike you can find on the market. It offers a great balance between price, functionality, and quality.
For me, one of the most important features in the AirBike is the seat adjustment in height, depth, and tilt. This should let pretty much anyone use the AirBike comfortably. Besides, the seat adjustments make this exercise bike an excellent choice if several people will be using it.
The functionality of the AirBike is very nice too. You have a bunch of preset programs (intervals, Tabata, and more), can set targets, and have a convenient console to control everything from.
I wish that the display of the AirBike was backlit though – in low light, it can be difficult to read.
The quality of the AirBike is excellent as well – this is a rather high-end exercise bike and should serve you for years even with heavy use.
So all in all, the Assault AirBike is a wonderful choice if you want to get the most for your money. This thing isn’t cheap, but you could expect it to bring your investment back 100%.
If your pockets are deep, then strongly consider Schwinn AD Pro Airdyne. This fan exercise bike is an excellent choice if your demands are high. AD Pro Airdyne is made with commercial applications in mind.
The comfort and versatility of the Schwinn AD Pro Airdyne bike are excellent as well. The seat here can be adjusted both in height and depth, and you also have 4 levelers at the base to stabilize the exercise bike on uneven floors.
The fan is notable too – featuring 26 blades, it creates a lot of resistance and should offer more headroom for progress compared to lower-end exercise bikes.
The console of AD Pro Airdyne is very convenient too – it features a large display along with a tachometer to show how much effort you are putting in. The console also provides access to built-in HIIT (high-intensity interval training) programs and supports metric and imperial units, which is really nice.
In the end, if you have the money and need something tough and functional, Schwinn AD Pro Airdyne may be an excellent option.
By the way, I suggest that you have a look at cheaper Airdyne-series bikes too – they lack some of the features of AD Pro but are more wallet-friendly.
The Marcy AIR-1 offers the best value for the money among fan bikes on this list. If you don’t want to spend too much money and also don’t want a cheap bike, AIR-1 might be the best option.
Needless to say, AIR-1 lacks a lot compared to something like AD Pro Airdyne – perhaps most importantly, the seat depth here isn’t adjustable. However, AIR-1 features pedal straps, which the previous two picks didn’t have.
Notably, the build here is pretty tough as well – the frame is powder-coated steel, so it should be scratch- and corrosion-resistant.
When it comes to adjustability, AIR-1 is fairly nice at its price point – it allows you to adjust the seat height, and there also are levers in the rear foot to compensate for uneven floors.
The console in the bike is fairly rudimentary and offers no programs, but it shows essential info like time, calories, and distance.
In conclusion, Marcy AIR-1 offers a good balance of price and functionality. AIR-1 lacks the super-advanced features of its higher-end alternatives, but for the money, it’s hard to beat.
The FreeStep LT1 bike from Teeter is the best recumbent exercise bike on this top. It’s quite an expensive exercise bike, but it offers excellent quality, functionality, and comfort.
Arguably the most interesting feature of LT1 is the seat – it allows you to adjust not only its height but also the reclination. I’d also like to see depth adjustments – like in AD Pro Airdyne – but what LT1 has should still be fine for most people.
The handlebars can also be adjusted in length, which is very nice and not something you see often in exercise bikes.
The resistance system in LT1 is different as well – it is a magnetic system (more details in the buyer’s guide below). Relying on magnetism to create resistance, this system is very quiet and durable.
When it comes to functionality, LT1 is a little underwhelming for the price – you don’t get any fancy workout programs. This isn’t that big of a deal though, in my opinion, so I don’t consider this a downside.
What is a downside, however, is the positioning of the console – it’s placed quite far away from the rider. The readings are large and easy to read, but reaching for the buttons can be inconvenient.
The resistance adjustment knob doesn’t have any markings as well, so there is no way for you to make precise adjustments.
These aren’t dealbreakers though, and I still think that LT1 is the best recumbent exercise bike on this list. It offers great quality, comfort, and has all the essentials for cardio workouts.
The Stamina Elite Total Body is a rather compact recumbent exercise bike – its footprint is noticeably smaller than in standard recumbent bikes like Teeter LT1. And aside from compactness, the Elite exercise bike offers a unique handle design.
The handles in Elite are separate from the pedals, meaning that you could use the Elite exercise bike to work your upper body. In standard recumbent bikes, the handlebars are tied to the pedals and move with them.
You may use both the handles and pedals during the workout too, but in this case, your arms wouldn’t get much load since when you are pedaling, there is no resistance felt in the handles.
The overall comfort here is great though thanks to the seat – it can be adjusted independently in height and depth. There are pulse sensors on the lower handlebars as well, which is nice if you don’t have a chest strap or another type of heart monitor. The pedals in Elite have straps as well.
As for resistance, it’s based on magnetism – just like in Teeter LT1. Elite has 8 resistance levels, and unlike LT1, the adjustment knob does have markings on it for accurate adjustment.
All in all, Stamina Elite offers an interesting design that lets you work out your entire body. And as I mentioned earlier, it’s very compact for a recumbent bike as well.
If you liked the idea of Stamina Elite but don’t quite have the budget, then consider this recumbent bike instead. It’s very cheap while letting you enjoy the key benefits of the Elite bike. And in some areas, it’s even better than Elite!
Like the Elite recumbent bike, this machine allows you to train your upper body. However, it allows you to adjust the arm and leg resistance independently. The Elite only allows you to adjust total resistance.
Next, although this bike doesn’t let you adjust the depth of the seat, you may adjust the angle of the arm exerciser.
This recumbent bike is very space-efficient as well thanks to its foldable frame. The integrated wheels make transportation very easy as well.
But when it comes to the build, it’s pretty flimsy here. This is expectable given the price Stamina asks for.
In the end, if your budget is tight but you want a recumbent exercise bike, this machine from Stamina might be exactly what you are looking for.
Finally, we have Sunny SF-RB4631 – an excellent option if you want a good upper body workout. This bike also offers great value for the money and is a good choice for many people.
The Sunny exercise bike lets you adjust the magnetic resistance for upper and lower body workouts independently – like in the budget Stamina bike I’ve just reviewed. Aside from that, this recumbent bike allows you to adjust the handles to increase or decrease their radius of rotation.
The seat here adjusts in depth and somewhat in height as well. The lack of height adjustment may be a problem for some people, but it’s not that huge of a deal.
The rear leg in the Sunny recumbent bike also has levelers to let you compensate for uneven floors in your home. In the front, you have wheels as well for added portability.
Lastly, in terms of features, the Sunny bike has heart rate sensors in the lower handlebars, and its digital console displays essentials like calories burned and distance – standard stuff.
In conclusion, the Sunny recumbent bike is a better pick than the budget Stamina exercise bike for upper body workouts and cardio in general. It has better quality, better adjustments, and is priced very attractively.
The Ultimate Buying Guide
In this buyer’s guide, I’ll give you tips and recommendations for shopping. We’ll have a look at some important features and specs to look for in exercise bikes with moving arms, which should help you better understand my reviews.
Exercise bike type
First up, have a look at the type of exercise bike. There are two main exercise bike designs with moving arms you can find:
- Upright bikes.
- Recumbent bikes.
There is also another type of exercise bike that I didn’t mention – indoor cycles. You probably won’t be able to find an indoor cycle with movable arms, so I won’t bother covering them.
Each of these types has its distinct advantages and disadvantages. Let’s have a look at them more in-depth.
Upright bikes are the most popular type of exercise bike with arm workout out there. In upright bikes, the riding position is similar to the position in standard road bicycles.
Upright bikes typically cost the least of the two types, so they are optimal if your budget is limited. Not only that, but upright bikes typically have smaller footprints.
For most people, upright exercise bikes are going to be ideal. If you’re not sure, then read on to find out more about the other bike style – it might suit you better.
If I were to pick the best upright bike from the list, I’d probably go for the Assault AirBike. As I mentioned in the review, this is a great machine in terms of quality, price, and functionality.
In recumbent exercise bikes, the pedals are in the front of the machine. Aside from that, recumbent bikes have comfortable seats instead of saddles.
Recumbent exercise bikes are ideal if you are recovering from injuries or find the regular biking position uncomfortable. However, be mindful that recumbent bikes are more expensive, and they also have far larger footprints than upright bikes.
In most recumbent bikes, the arms are immobile, but there are some models that have movable arms.
As for which of my picks is the best recumbent bike, the answer is obvious – it’s Teeter FreeStep LT1. Like Assault AirBike, it again has a great balance between quality, cost, and functionality, but it comes in a recumbent form factor instead.
Exercise bikes generate resistance to make the workout tougher via a resistance system. Modern exercise bikes employ various types of resistance systems to introduce more challenge to cardio, and it’s important to understand the distinctions between them.
- Direct-contact resistance. In direct-contact systems, resistance is produced via braking pads placed along the bike’s flywheel. As you rotate the pedals, the friction of the pads against the flywheel creates resistance.
The main downside of direct-contact resistance is that the rubber pads eventually wear out, prompting replacements. This system is quite noisy as well.
- Magnetic resistance. Magnetic resistance systems employ magnetic force to impede the rotation of the flywheel. The magnets do not touch the flywheel, making this system noiseless and reducing its wear.
- Fan-based resistance. In these systems, resistance is generated by a fan. As you pedal, an integrated fan starts turning too. Due to the resistance of air, the faster you pedal, the more difficult it becomes to increase speed.
Most modern exercise bikes have magnetic resistance systems, though some very cheap bikes may have rubber pad systems instead. A few exercise bikes also have fan-based resistance.
Next, also pay attention to resistance adjustment. In this sense, there are two things that matter:
- How is the resistance adjusted? In cheaper exercise bikes, you need to turn a knob on the frame of the bike to adjust the resistance. Typically, these are bikes with friction-based resistance. In higher-end bikes, the resistance is adjusted from the console.
- The number of resistance settings. The more settings a bike offers, the more flexibility you will have in resistance adjustment.
If you want added convenience and room for progress, then look for an exercise bike whose resistance can be changed from the console and that has more resistance levels.
Note that these two points apply only to magnetic & direct-contact resistance systems. In fan bikes, the resistance changes on its own as you adjust your pedaling speed.
When it comes to resistance adjustment, Schwinn AD Pro Airdyne is probably the best. The 26-blade fan produces a lot of resistance by itself, and as you become fitter, the pedals will get more difficult to rotate.
Comfort is also extremely important in exercise bikes. An unergonomic exercise bike is going to do more harm than good in the long term. If you size the bike wrong, you won’t be having a good time either.
Here’s what you should consider in terms of comfort:
- Seat & handlebar adjustment. The most advanced exercise bikes allow you to independently adjust the seat in height and depth. Some bikes also let you adjust the handlebars. These bikes are ideal if more than one person will be using the bike.
- Step-through frame. These bikes are easier to get onto because you won’t have to lift your leg high off the ground to get on. A step-through frame is an essential feature for users with limited mobility.
- Pedal straps. Pedal straps allow you to more securely position your feet on the pedals. Aside from security, straps allow you to work out more comfortably since you can focus on the cardio more.
- Large console. Lower-end exercise bikes typically have small consoles that aren’t very convenient. In contrast, expensive machines feature large consoles with built-in displays.
- Water bottle holder. This is also a must-have, in my opinion. Hardly anybody abstains from water during cardio. Fortunately, virtually all exercise bikes do have water bottle holders.
- Levelers. Levelers are situated at the base of the bike and let you compensate for any uneven spots on the floor. This is a great feature for those whose floors aren’t level.
When shopping online, it’s impossible for you to measure the amount of comfort in an exercise bike. In a local store, you may get on the bike and pedal a bit to see how it works for you. Online, there is no such opportunity.
With that, I’d say that seat & handlebar adjustments are a must if you are shopping online. Virtually any exercise bike out there allows for seat height adjustment, which might be enough for many people.
Comfort-wise, the best exercise bike on the list is probably Schwinn AD Pro Airdyne. It has pretty much everything one would want from an exercise bike – an adjustable & comfy seat, a large console, bottle & smartphone holders, and not only.
Alternatively, consider Teeter FreeStep LT1. As a recumbent exercise bike, this machine offers a more relaxed cardio experience, which is especially great for those who are recovering from injuries.
Controls & programs
Controls & programs matter in exercise bikes (and any other cardio machine for that matter) too. Here’s what you may want to consider when shopping for the best exercise bike with moving handles:
- Speed, distance traveled, and riding time. These are key metrics for tracking your progress and training time. All exercise bikes display these on their consoles.
- Counter of burned calories. These are imprecise, but they give you a general idea of how much energy you burned in a session.
- Built-in programs & programmability. Most exercise bikes have built-in programs with preset resistance levels and goals. Higher-end bikes may also allow you to create custom programs for cardio.
- Heart rate monitor. Nearly all exercise bikes have heart rate sensors integrated into the handlebars. These sensors are way less accurate than chest strap monitors, but they are decent if you have no other way to measure heart rate.
Every exercise bike model has its own unique controls and features, so I can’t list them all here. Have a look at the bike specs & product description to decide what you want and what you can afford.
Schwinn AD Pro Airdyne is probably the best on my list in terms of programmability and features. It’s particularly strong in the HIIT area, coming with 2 preset programs and letting you create your own custom HIIT program.
Another important spec is the max user weight. You shouldn’t exceed this rating because the bike will most likely break sooner than you may want.
Your bike should be able to at least support your weight, plus an additional 10%-20% of your bodyweight for safety. If more than one person will be using the bike, then find out who’s the heaviest, add 10%-20%, and choose an exercise bike accordingly.
We’ve had a few machines on the list that support up to 350 pounds – like Assault AirBike and Sunny SF-RB4631. If you are very worried about weight capacity, these two should be more than enough for you.
Portability & space-efficiency
Finally, consider portability and space efficiency.
A portable exercise bike is light and has wheels for easy transportation. As for space efficiency, if you don’t have much space, you may want to look for a compact bike that can be folded.
If you don’t need anything super-durable but do want space efficiency, the Stamina Recumbent Bike + Arm Exerciser is the best choice since it’s compact and foldable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now, let’s have a look at a few frequently asked questions regarding exercise bikes, their potential for weight loss, and how they should be used. The answers should let you set the right expectations for exercise bikes.
Is it OK to use an exercise bike every day?
Yes, it is safe to use an exercise bike every day. But do remember to supplement your routine with other forms of exercise too. Exercise bikes primarily load the lower body, so you should balance your cardio sessions out with upper-body strength training.
Does an exercise bike tone your arms?
The exercise bike works your entire body, though the legs are obviously loaded the most. Cardio on an exercise bike would indeed tone your arms, but the effects certainly wouldn’t be the same as with strength training.
Can you lose belly fat by riding a stationary bike?
Yes, stationary bikes with moving arms can help you burn belly fat. In fact, compared to other forms of cardio – like outdoor or treadmill running – exercise bikes are easier on the joints. If your joints aren’t completely healthy, then an exercise bike would be ideal for you.
To burn fat, you should maintain a fat-burning heart rate. According to Healthline, the fat-burning heart rate is about 70% of one’s maximum heart rate. To find your max pulse, subtract your age from 220.
For example, if you are 30 years old, then your maximum heart rate would be 190 beats per minute. 70% of this would be about 133 beats per minute (190 x 0.7). If you are new to cardio or are coming back after a long break, then you should take it slow at first. 50% of your max heart rate would be fine for starters.
Does biking help lose arm fat?
In practice, you will indeed lose arm fat with proper training. However, biking doesn’t help with spot fat reduction specifically – instead, fat is burned throughout the entire body.
There is not enough evidence for the effectiveness of spot fat reduction. So if you want to burn fat in a specific area of your body, you will need to focus on burning fat in general.
Is 30 minutes on the exercise bike good?
Depends on how often throughout the week you exercise on a stationary bike.
To lose weight, most people need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Alternatively, you may do 75+ minutes of vigorous cardio exercise per week to lose weight.
If your 30-minute sessions accumulate to 150 or 75 minutes in a week – depending on how hard you train – then 30 minutes is enough. But instead of focusing on the length of a single session, make sure that you are having an adequate amount of cardio each week.
How to Make the Right Selection & Final Words
And that is it for my exercise bike buyer’s guide!
All in all, the two key considerations when shopping for an exercise bike are your budget and the bike’s comfort. The bike should be comfortable for your stature and allow you to work out strain-free, and it should also be within your budget.
If you have limited space, then also pay attention to the size of the desired exercise bike.
Now, what do you think? If you have any experience with any of the reviewed exercise bikes, then I would appreciate it if you shared it with us in the comments.
If you have any corrections or more questions, feel free to leave a comment as well – your feedback really helps me make my posts better!