Best Under-desk Cycle of 2018 – Complete Reviews with Comparisons

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Features matter but so does the design. Of course, some may prefer the convenient option but it never hurts to get the full picture on what under-desk cycles can help accomplish in the long run when used in the right way.

Do you really need the best under-desk cycle if you’re just trying to stay awake at work? You actually might.

These exercise bikes or pedal exercisers aren’t known to be super effective at lower price ranges.

To send you on your way toward making a solid choice, here are reviews on the top five under-desk cycles that can satisfy almost any customer.

You may also want to check out the guide following the reviews to see if there are any particular adjustments or features that you may need over others.

Comparison Chart

DeskCycle Desk Exercise Bike Pedal Exerciser

Vive Pedal Exerciser – Stationary Exercise Leg Peddler

AdirMed Digital, Foldable Pedal Exerciser Leg Machine

Vaunn Medical Pedal Exerciser Chrome Frame

Best Under-desk Cycle Reviews

1. DeskCycle Pedal Exerciser

DeskCycle is one of the most popular manufacturers of pedal exercisers. Their designs feature a smooth magnetic resistance system and multiple resistance settings along with sturdy construction for long-term use.

Product Highlights

This DeskCycle pedal exerciser has one of the lowest pedal heights at 10”. It makes the exerciser viable for desks as low as 27”. The pedal arm length is also small at 3.5”. The compact design allows this DeskCycle to be used in almost any workplace.

The cycle features a magnetic brake system which makes for a near-silent pedaling motion. This has multiple advantages; it prevents the user from disturbing coworkers and from getting distracted themselves.

The resistance range is quite impressive too. This DeskCycle design features 8 resistance settings in a wider range than found on the average under-desk cycle. There are also five display readings for speed, distance, time, calories, and scan.

What's to like about the DeskCycle Pedal Exerciser

The calories burned readings are accurate beyond typical under-desk cycle designs. This is because the computer can use an internet connection to perform accurate calculations based on the data gathered from the cycle and the user.

What's not to like about the DeskCycle Pedal Exerciser

It’s not possible to adjust the pedal height which may make the cycle a bit difficult to use for users under 5’5”. This is the only thing that really gives an edge to its successor the DeskCycle2.

PROS

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    Smooth pedal motion
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    Quiet
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    8 resistance levels
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    Compact design

CONS

  • Expensive
  • No height adjustments for the pedals

2. Vive Under-desk Cycle

Although designed as a pedal exerciser, the Vive under-desk cycle works just as well if you want to train your arms. It has a simple assembly and fits easily under most desks. It’s easily one of Vive’s most popular exercise bikes.

Product Highlights

With a pedal height of 12.5”, the Vive pedal exerciser is a good workout machine for small or large offices. It may be placed under almost any desk as long as there aren’t any open shelves underneath.

As with all other under-desk cycles, this Vive model uses a magnetic brake system. The pedals rotate smoothly and quietly which ensures you’re not disturbing anyone.

Although the design is a bit taller than most, the larger support bars and rubber feet ensure good stability on any surface. The pedals also have security straps which should help reduce sway and also allow you to perform full foot extensions for calf workouts.

What's to like about the Vive Under-desk Cycle

The ergonomic pedals are most interesting. Apart from having security loops and a soft padding, they also feature finger grips. This allows you to have a solid grip when you put it on the desk for upper body exercises.

What's not to like about the Vive Under-desk Cycle

The low resistance range limits the usefulness of this pedal exerciser. While still good for conditioning and improving blood flow, it has little to offer in terms of muscle strengthening and weight loss. It also doesn’t do much for upper body workouts if you’re already fit.

PROS

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    Suitable for upper and lower body workouts
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    Sturdy construction
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    Multifunction LCD display

CONS

  • May be too tall for some desks
  • Low range of tension

3. AdirMed Foldable Pedal Exerciser

AdirMed’s foldable pedal exerciser supplies an affordable way to stay busy and focused at work. As an under-desk cycle, it offers all the readings and the silence you would expect. But, it also has a small design twist that you don’t see every day, especially in this price range.

Product Highlights

Although tiny and perhaps hard to read while working at the desk, the display panel features the five basic functions that most under-desk cycles come with. The materials are quite sturdy, and it’s stable despite its compact size.

The pedal exerciser has a foldable frame which is not that common in this category of exercise bikes – they’re already small. There is a continuous resistance range adjustable by using the tension knob. However, pedaling on high settings or very fast is not advised.

The accuracy of the calories burned readings are also somewhat debatable considering that this pedal exerciser doesn’t give you a very intense workout.

What's to like about the AdirMed Foldable Pedal Exerciser

Portability is the key factor in this under-desk cycle. The folding frame allows you to use the pedal exerciser at home and at the office every day.

What's not to like about the AdirMed Foldable Pedal Exerciser

This ultra-thin design, while amazing in terms of space saving, does cause the cycle to overheat easily. Pedaling too fast or for too long will affect the life of the cycle.

PROS

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    Lightweight
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    Easy to transport
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    Affordable
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    Compact construction

CONS

  • Overheats easily
  • Low impact workouts

4. Vaunn Medical Pedal Exerciser

A fully assembled under-desk cycle with a solid chrome-plated steel frame is often a good choice. If the product is also affordable, it might be even better for less pretentious office workout enthusiasts. This Vaunn Medical Pedal Exerciser is designed for comfort and user-friendliness.

Product Highlights

This pedal exerciser has perhaps the most basic design on the market, but its popularity is undeniable. Maybe it’s the price or the fact that it’s fully assembled. Or maybe it’s because it is more durable and less likely to require maintenance than most models.

The tension can be adjusted by a small black knob located between the pedals. The stability is guaranteed by two equally long support bars and four plastic supports with rubber bottoms. The readings are standard and they’re all displayed at the same time.

To further enhance the stability and reduce the sway, the traditional multi-joint system was thrown out the window in favor of a one-piece frame.

To properly use the Vaunn Medical Pedal Exerciser, you have to ensure that you get a minimum of 11” space between your desk and your knees. Failing to do so will put too much stress on the joints and minimize muscular engagement during workouts.

What's to like about the Vaunn Medical Pedal Exerciser

The frame is this pedal exerciser’s best feature, not only because it’s a one-piece design but also because it is multi-coated for rust protection. Even though bulkier models seem more impressive, oftentimes nothing beats a single-piece design in the long-run.

What's not to like about the Vaunn Medical Pedal Exerciser

Adjusting the tension levels may be easy but the actual resistance levels are not impressive. This pedal exerciser may feel like an easy way out for people in good shape. It does very little in terms of burning calories and since it’s noisy you can’t really go hard on the pedaling.

PROS

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    Solid and stable frame
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    Affordable
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    Adjustable tension
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    No maintenance required

CONS

  • A bit noisy
  • Low resistance levels

5. Vive Portable Pedal Exerciser

Vive makes a wide range of under-desk cycles, which is why it should come as no surprise that it includes a folding pedal exerciser.

Product Highlights

This design tops out at a height of 9”, which leaves more clearance under the table than most pedal exercisers. The compact design makes the cycle barely noticeable under the table, which is a nice touch. The teal framework, on the other hand, might attract some attention, though you can easily go with the black.

The frame is foldable which is not something you often find. While it affects the stability, it does allow for easy transportation.

The display panel is simple but it still has the five basic readings. The pedals don’t protrude too much on the sides but they affect the design.

What's to like about the Vive Portable Pedal Exerciser

While many people may consider this low-impact pedal exerciser a questionable deal, it’s important to realize how beneficial it can be for people during physical rehabilitation or for the elderly. The minimal effort required to perform complete rotations is still good enough to promote proper blood circulation and a bit of conditioning.

What's not to like about the Vive Portable Pedal Exerciser

Because the pedals are not ergonomic and the security loops are quite rigid, the Vive Portable Pedal Exerciser is not great for long sessions. There’s also a risk of overheating during intense workouts.

PROS

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    Affordable
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    Foldable frame
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    Multifunction LCD display
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    Easy to use and transport

CONS

  • Overheats quicker than other models
  • Average tension range

BUYER'S GUIDE

​Type

Since most under-desk cycles these days are based on a magnetic resistance system, there isn’t a lot of variation between them. However, there are two available types from a construction standpoint.

Regular

Although pedal exercisers may look very different from one manufacturer to another, most of them are built in the same way on the inside. The assembly process is rather simple and user-intuitive. There’s one solid block which holds the tension mechanism and the electronics, two stands, and two pedals.

These under-desk cycles are rather sturdy. However, they lack a certain characteristic that foldable bikes take advantage of, and that’s portability.

Foldable

Foldable units may not be as durable or stable as regular models but they have a major advantage. The ability to pack up the bike and take it to and from work is very convenient. It turns the average pedal exerciser into a much more effective workout tool.

It will allow you to use it from time to time at work at low intensity levels and to use it at home at high tension settings for high-intensity workouts. That way you get to keep your feet busy at work but also get decent cardio conditioning and fat burning at home.

Pedal Height

Height is a key factor. The taller the bike, the higher the pedals and the taller your desk has to be. Always measure your desk and the position of your feet before making a purchase. It’s also important to know your chair’s adjustment capabilities. In general, if you have a classic chair with no height adjustments, it’s not recommended to get an under-desk cycle.

But, you don’t have to worry just about chair height. Certain pedal exercisers require a reclining chair for you to sit in a comfortable position while pedaling. Under-desk cycles may come with pedal heights as low as 7.6” to well over 14”.

Dimensions

Pedal exercisers vary as much in size as they do in pedal height. This makes measuring a very important prerequisite to buying an under desk bike. A pedal exerciser is only as good as the conditions it creates for you.

If it doesn’t properly fit under the desk, you won’t be able to pedal comfortably and keep your productivity at a high level. If it’s too long, it may interfere with the cables under your desk. If it’s too wide, it may put a lot of strain on your knees.

Although office pedal exercisers are beneficial, they’re a lot harder to shop for than stationary bikes due to the multiple variables and features that you have to account for.

Weight

The weight limit of under-desk bikes varies a lot. However, you will find that most models have at least a guaranteed 220-lb. weight limit. Do take this with a grain of salt. Depending on why you use it and how you’re using it, you may be able to get by with a higher weight limit.

This is because unlike a stationary bike, an under desk bike or pedal exerciser doesn’t support your entire body weight. In fact, most of your body weight is supported by the chair. Still, if you plan on using more leg power and working out on high tension settings then you’ll want enough weight capacity, preferably close to your body weight.

Resistance Level

Most under-desk bikes today have at least 6 tension settings, and some of the adjustments may be continuous. Those that have more tension settings usually seem more popular. But do you really need 8 levels of tension on a pedal exerciser? Not really.

High-intensity workouts on pedal exercisers are generally counterproductive. You will have to focus more on maintaining your posture, lest you put your body through more physical strain and fatigue.

Sure, it’s a good workout but what’s the point if it interferes with your work? Most people use under-desk bikes at a 3 or 4 tension setting. That’s enough to not get distracted by what your legs are doing and get enough blood pumping through your body. As for burning calories, these levels are not enough.

A higher tension setting will go a long way towards helping you lose weight but only if you can sustain the effort for longer sessions.

Console Display

All under-desk cycles come with console displays just like any other exercise bike. Given the purpose of these cycles, should you pay more for advanced consoles? Not really. Out of all the features an exercise bike may have, console displays on under-desk cycles aren’t that important.

For one, checking the readings is really hard; even if the display is backlit you may still have to get under the desk to check the readings. The accuracy of calories burned leaves a lot to be desired. There are no heart rate sensors. And considering that these exercise bikes aren’t designed for hardcore workouts, paying extra for fancy features on a console is not a good idea.

Price

Sometimes certain features really drive up the price of under-desk cycles. The height and the weight limit obviously differ in certain price ranges. The folding mechanism also matters. Not all pedal exercisers have a folding mechanism, and with all things equal, those that do tend to have a higher price tag.

The amount of information displayed on the LCD monitors also has a say when it comes to pricing. The quality of the construction also matters quite a lot. These pedal exercisers are rather small and don’t have the build quality to withstand the abuse heaped on stationary bikes. All things considered, it’s very important to not go for the cheapest model unless you’re really budget constrained.

Under-desk Cycle FAQ

How to exercise at your desk at work?

The best way to exercise at your desk at work or at home is by using an under-desk bike. As opposed to desk bikes which make exercising the top priority, an under-desk bike allows you to focus on your work.

Some adjustments may be needed until you get your chair to a comfortable position to both work on your tasks and pedal with ease. From time to time, try to pedal backwards, which most under-desk bikes allow. This helps reduce the stress on the knees.

Get used to a slightly different position on the knees. And sit up as straight as possible. Focusing on using your legs more also helps reduce the sway. Keeping the abdomen tight while pedaling is also important to minimize sway and to get in a decent workout.

Do under-desk cycles work?

Depending on how much tension you set on the under-desk cycle, you can get quite a decent workout. At a medium tension, you may burn well over 100 calories after pedaling for an hour. However, there are other benefits to using an under-desk cycle.

Since a lot of office spaces are heavily air-conditioned, you can use the cycle to get your blood pumping and your temperature rising. This effect should be felt throughout the body, so you won’t have to worry about typing with cold fingers for one.

How long do you pedal on under desk bike?

Just because under desk bikes are designed to be used by office workers doesn’t mean you should pedal for hours. 10 to 15 minutes at a time at a reasonable tension is more than enough. The goal isn’t to become fatigued so that you lose productivity.

Depending on why you’re using the bike, you may adjust the length of the sessions too. If you just want to pedal to get warm, then 4 to 5 minutes may be enough at medium tension.

How effective are under desk bikes?

Under desk bikes aren’t good enough to replace going to the gym or jogging a couple of times a week. However, if your work is particularly stressful, then these bikes may be a lot more beneficial than you think.

The simple fact that you can replace your constant fidgeting and foot tapping with pedaling is very relaxing. The fact that it also gives you a workout is a side bonus. Although some of these bikes come with 8 levels of tension, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to put in a high-intensity workout without getting distracted from your job.

Still, having one is better than not having one. Even with minimal calories burned, you still lose more calories than simply sitting at your desk for however many hours a day.

How many calories does an under desk bike burn? 

The number of calories burned depends on the pedaling speed, the tension, your eating habits, and length of exercise. People burn calories at different paces which is why it’s hard to determine an average.

The only thing that can be said without a doubt is that under-desk cycles can help you burn calories if you put in enough work. But, no matter how hard you work you can’t expect the same results as jogging or working on a proper stationary bike at the gym.

FINAL VERDICT

It would be hard to award anything but the title of best under-desk cycle to the DeskCycle Pedal Exerciser. It looks utilitarian but what it lacks in visuals it makes up for in performance.

The 8 resistance levels are set at a wider range than anyone will likely need in an office setup. The overall durability and low pedal height are always great features. The price point is also a steal if you’re looking for a long-term investment in office workout equipment.

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