Folding exercise bikes have grown massively in popularity over the last few years. With more and more people getting interested in working out and doing it at home, foldable frame designs are in high demand. But, are they as effective or as durable as non-folding exercise bikes?
It’s easy to assume that not even the best folding exercise bike stacks up to a regular upright exercise bike. But such a general assumption wouldn’t be accurate.
Manufacturers are putting a lot of effort these days into giving folding bikes better stability, resistance, and weight capacity.
Some of the best exercise bikes for home cardio workouts are folding bikes. If you’ve never tried one or never really stopped to consider the benefits, you’re about to find out.
Best Folding Exercise Bike Reviews
1. Exerpeutic 500XLS Gold
The Exerpeutic 500XLS came out in 2016. It has enjoyed massive popularity ever since for its superior durability and weight capacity.
The 500XLS is a prime candidate for apartment use. The magnetic resistance system makes it very silent. It also ensures a smooth pedaling experience with very little feedback when changing resistance settings mid-rotation.
One of the most impressive features is obviously the massive weight capacity. With a 400-lb. limit, the 500XLS is one of the best folding bikes for overweight people. It has great stability due to the 26.4” stabilizers. Although there are no levelers, there’s very little sway when pedaling at high speed.
Because this is a big folding bike, it is best suited for users between 5’3” and 6’5” tall. Those under the lower recommended limit may struggle to achieve a full knee extension without sitting on the very edge of the seat.
As you’ll notice from the tension knob, there are only 8 resistance settings. Interestingly enough, levels 7 and 8 can do more than just break a sweat if you keep pedaling for more than 15 minutes. It’s still not enough for real muscle building, but challenging enough for solid conditioning work.
The console looks fancier than others in this price range though it’s inherently basic. It shows one metric at a time but it does have a fast scan time which changes readings every four seconds. The palm sensors aren’t amazing, so don’t expect accurate readings for calories burned or heart rate.
What's to like about the Exerpeutic 500XLS Gold
The seat is very comfortable which comes as a real surprise. It’s not as firm as most models on the market, but it is slightly oversized which provides better bone support for users of different sizes.
What's not to like about the Exerpeutic 500XLS Gold
Perhaps the biggest downside of the bike is the console – not so much because of its lack of presets but more so because you can’t view fresh data on each workout. All your readings are cumulated which may make things confusing if you don’t keep a manual record.
2. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B2710
Although this bike is as cheap as they get, it looks like a legit total-body workout station, at least for those just starting to work out seriously.
The resistance settings of 1 to 8 are standard for this design. However, the higher levels don’t seem on par with those of higher-end folding exercise bikes. In terms of conditioning, the bike provides a good cardio workout nonetheless.
But, there are some attachments that make things interesting. Setting the bike aside for a moment, the SF-B2710 comes with resistance bands for arm and leg exercises. This is what offers a full-body workout experience, though you don’t do everything at the same time.
Due to the stability of the bike, you can perform a good variety of resistance band exercises. But none of them should be for muscle gains. Since the bike only holds about 265 lbs. at maximum capacity, you can’t pull too hard on it.
The console is a lot more sophisticated than others in this price range. It has a multi-function monitor which can track multiple readings at the same time. In terms of accuracy, it’s still somewhat lacking but that’s mostly because of the handlebar grip sensors.
There’s one more aspect of the SF-B2710 that sets it apart. The seat design is reminiscent of a recumbent bike chair. It has a small reclined backrest which can provide some lumbar support when you’re getting tired or if you have back problems.
While not exactly full back support, it may allow taller people to pedal at full extension with ease. It can also allow you to work your arms independently of your legs if you’re in a hurry.
What's to like about the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B2710
Although the console is somewhat impressive, the best feature is the addition of a backrest and resistance bands. It opens up so many more possibilities in terms of conditioning and even muscle gains for beginner users.
What's not to like about the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B2710
The weight capacity is not impressive. It is a bit low and this is a direct result of the lightweight frame design. Because of this, the potential of the resistance bands falls off as the rider gets stronger.
3. FitDesk FDX 3.0 Desk Exercise Bike
The FDX 3.0 is rather new and its predecessor the FDX 2.0 is still a very popular model. The 3.0 does come with some minor quality-of-life improvements.
The compact steel frame design has multiple benefits. For one, it reduces the footprint of the bike and gets around limited storage space since you can fold the bike after each workout. Secondly, it gives the bike very good stability, making it easy to use for workouts or actual work.
Although advertised as a desk bike, the desk isn’t too big; unless you do your work on an iPad or a compact laptop, there’s not a lot you can do. For writers or coders, it may be a nice alternative to a regular home office setup.
The seat is a lot more comfortable than what you get from most folding exercise bikes. It has soft padding, and even though it has the design of a regular bike seat it doesn’t cause you to go numb. There’s also a small backrest attached which provides some much-needed lumbar support if you plan on using the bike for multiple hours.
Because the seat height and back are adjustable, the bike should fit users between 4’10” and 6’ tall equally well. It also helps that the weight limit tops out at 300 lbs. The twin belt system provides pretty good resistance. The FDX 3.0 certainly has the potential to give you a good sweat given the high velocity flywheel. The belt drive also lets you get your workout in total silence.
The bike also comes with resistance band attachments for upper body workouts. However, given that the bike is rather light you should be careful when pulling.
Don’t perform exercises designed for muscle gains without countering the force put on the bike with your free hand.
What's to like about the FitDesk FDX 3.0 Desk Exercise Bike
A very cool feature is found on the handlebars. In order to ease the strain of typing all day long, you can make use of the forearm massage rollers. Not only do they help you relax but they also give you different grip opportunities when pedaling.
What's not to like about the FitDesk FDX 3.0 Desk Exercise Bike
Although the bike comes with a desk and tablet holder it’s surprising that the included console is as basic as it is. The accuracy is not impressive and there are only three readings for distance, time, and calories.
4. Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse
Exerpeutic makes a wide range of exercise bikes and a lot of them come at affordable prices. One good example is the Folding Magnetic Upright Bike model. It’s a high-capacity and comfortable design for people with limited storage space.
The construction is pretty solid, which of course isn’t unexpected of Exerpeutic. The weight limit of 300 lbs. makes it one of the more versatile folding exercise bikes. The stabilizers are wide enough to provide good stability even at maximum weight capacity, as long as the bike is sitting on flat ground.
There are 8 resistance settings to go through but there are some interesting things to note here. Although the bike is just as quiet as any other of its kind, the resistance leaves a lot to be desired. The bike is obviously designed for beginners and beginner-level workouts. While people of many different sizes can use it, even the high tension levels are easy to power through after a while.
But, just because you won’t get your beach body pedaling, it doesn’t mean the bike doesn’t have uses. For moderate cardio conditioning, it works really well. It also does a good job of minimizing the stress on your body thanks to the oversized soft seat.
What's to like about the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse
Who would’ve thought that one of the best features on an exercise bike would be the seat? The oversized soft padding provides good bone support, prevents numbing and becoming sore, and eases stress on the lumbar section during intense workouts.
What's not to like about the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse
The high X-frame may make it difficult to get on and off the bike if you’re short or have short legs. Other than that, it’s hard to put a real negative spin on any aspect of the design, considering how affordable it is.
5. ProGear 190 Compact Recumbent Bike
Folding bikes aren’t always made after the classic upright framework. A great example of how other bikes can be made more compact is the ProGear 190 which is modeled after the classic recumbent exercise bike.
Although the bike’s frame offers superior stability, it is dependent on having a perfectly flat floor since there are no levelers to fall back on. The lightweight design (38 lbs.) looks even more impressive considering how little wobbling is noticed at high resistance levels.
The seat’s adjustability seems to work well with users between 5’2” and 6’2” tall, which means that the bike has value as a family exercise bike. However, you may encounter some difficulty when raising or lowering the seat because the pin doesn’t go in straight but rather at an angle.
The seat is oversized but not soft enough for everybody. Something that compensates for this is the addition of seat-height handlebars. For a recumbent bike, the backrest provides good lumbar support and back support but doesn’t do much for your shoulders. The padding is pretty satisfying nonetheless.
In terms of noise, there’s nothing to worry about. The magnetic resistance system and solid V-belt grip take care of any unwanted noise even when pedaling at high speeds. The pedals are also oversized which makes it a lot easier to wear different shoes when working out.
However, the surface is also textured. This means that you might be able to have a better grip when barefoot. This might make even more sense if you’re worried about the security straps not being long enough.
Another thing worth noting about the pedals is their positioning. Unlike other bike designs, the ProGear 190 has the pedals placed almost halfway between what would be an upright and a full recumbent position. It may take a bit of getting used to.
What's to like about the ProGear 190 Compact Recumbent Bike
Features and adjustability aside, the ProGear 190 is so good probably because of the unique way in which you can exercise. Depending on how you’re feeling, you can either go aggressive by leaning forward or take it slow and lean back on the chair.
What's not to like about the ProGear 190 Compact Recumbent Bike
Changing the seat can be a difficult task. It uses a 4-bolt locking system as opposed to the standard 3-bolt system. This doesn’t make it easy to track down compatible replacement seats.
You can get a folding exercise bike for cheap or pay a ton of money for it. The price varies as much as it does for any other type of indoor or outdoor exercise bikes. What makes the difference between price ranges? It’s generally the durability that makes all the difference.
Most stationary exercise bikes emphasize more on displays, heart rate monitors, and other such technologies. The more you get, the more you pay. Folding bikes, on the other hand, are rather simple when it comes to extras. And, since the folding mechanism is the same across the board, manufacturers compete in terms of durability, stability, and ease of assembly.
For other bikes, noise is a big concern. Some people prefer to pay top dollar in order to reduce the noise level, especially when exercising in a house with more people or in an apartment building. Folding bikes use a magnetic tension system which makes very little noise.
The folding mechanism is as simple as it gets. There are two vertical support bars which are connected to one another near the middle. Once a folding bike is assembled, the top end of the bars can be pushed apart so that the user can get on and pedal or brought together to ‘fold’ the bike and prepare it for storage.
A simple leverage principle and two horizontal support bars ensure that the bike doesn’t sway too much while you’re pedaling. For extra stability, the magnetic resistance system and flywheel are on the lower part of the back support bar. This is what keeps the bike in balance as the user provides counterweight when sitting on the seat.
Folding exercise bikes may vary a lot in weight. Although they’re designed for easy transport and compact storage, they’re not always lightweight. Heavier bikes are still preferred by many users for their superior stability and safety.
The weight capacity also varies but doesn’t come close to the high weight limits of standing or recumbent exercise bikes. Folding bikes rarely reach the 300-lb. weight limit.
Ease of Transport
The portability of folding exercise bikes is dependent on three factors – weight, wheels, folding mechanism. Heavy folding bikes are naturally harder to move around.
The wheels aren’t too high quality so don’t expect to roll them outside. They’re designed for indoor use mostly. Depending on the folding mechanism, you can carry a folding bike vertically or horizontally. Not all bikes have a locking mechanism when they’re not fully extended.
This means that you may need to use some straps to hold the bike together during transport. Some bikes come with security straps and some don’t, so pay attention to the specs if transporting the bike is something you need to do often.
The size of the flywheel is generally not relevant in magnetic resistance bikes such as folding exercise bikes. The bigger it is, the heavier the bike and the more difficult it is to transport. However, unlike in bikes with brake or fan resistance, the size doesn’t impact the resistance level much.
Instead, magnets are attached to the flywheel and an electric current is responsible for increasing or decreasing the tension.
Unlike regular bikes, folding exercise bikes don’t have a suspension system. Implementing such a system would be counterproductive due to how difficult it would be to maintain stability on the bike. Because stationary bikes, in general, don’t come with suspension systems, they may feature softer seats to keep you from going numb.
The only feature that simulates street conditions is the magnetic resistance which gives great feedback at high intensity levels.
Folding Exercise Bikes FAQ
How to fold a folding bike?
Once assembled, most folding bikes just require you to push the two support poles against each other. It’s recommended that you do this when the bike is standing up and not on its side.
How to lock a folding bike?
Not all folding bikes have an additional locking system for when they’re folded or expanded. When the bike is set up for a workout, just the full extension of the support poles is enough to keep it steady and prevent it from folding on itself.
Those that do have such a system either use a pin lock with a knob or straps to keep the support poles together.
How fast can a folding bike go?
Folding bikes allow very fast rotational spins. However, since they’re not as stable as indoor exercise cycles it’s not advised to go overboard as it’s possible to lose balance. After all is said and done, a folding bike goes as fast as your legs can pedal.
How to carry a folding bike?
Some folding bikes may have both a locking mechanism and handles designed for transport. That should let you relocate them from one room to another. It’s important that you don’t carry them just by the seat or the handlebars.
How to travel with folding bike?
Folding exercise bikes rarely come with transport wheels. Therefore, it’s important to fold the bike before transporting it. If you are to take the bike with you on a trip, it’s best to disassemble some components such as the pedals and maybe the handlebars to reduce the footprint and prevent it from wobbling too much in transit.
Any folding bike can be a solid exercise bike, right? No, because this doesn’t apply to everyone. However, it’s not hard to choose the best folding exercise bike if you’re judging by the key metrics. This is why the Exerpeutic 500XLS is our top pick.
It has one of the highest weight capacities in its category without adding too much weight to the bike and affects its portability. The bike is still compact, easy to fold, and offers enough seat adjustments to fit even basketball players. Maybe that’s also the reason why it has an oversized seat. Everything is big with this bike and yet it doesn’t have a big footprint at all when folded.