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Have you ever walked into the gym and seen the bike with the big fan for a front wheel and thought, “Hey, that looks easy. I’ll start there”? Hate to break it to you, but you’ve made a big mistake.
These not-so-techy bikes use a combo of wind resistance (thanks to that big fan we mentioned) and arm and leg movements to give you a killer full body workout. So while yes, they have their own built-in cooling system, riding an air bike is not a breeze.
But what makes one air bike better than another (TBH they all kind of look the same)? We talked to experts and researched all the most popular bikes on the market to figure it out — and we rounded up our fave picks below.
Like basically all workout equipment, there are some air bikes out there with some super fancy features — but fancy features are def not a necessity for getting in a great workout on one of these guys. As Melissa Aycock, MS, CPT with Trainaic explains, “There are brands with many ‘bells and whistles.’ However, the simplicity and efficiency of air bikes is part of what makes them a great cardio tool.”
With that in mind, here are the criteria we used to choose the bikes on our list:
- Ease of use. Bikes that you can hop on and instantly start pedaling are easy to figure out and use. These models don’t require you to set time or calorie goals if you don’t want to, and they keep workouts simple. But we also included more complex models for those with more advanced fitness tastes. Models with mobility wheels on the frame are easier to move around, so we also considered that in ease of use.
- Adjustment features. Aycock says that proper form is key when using an air bike, or you could be at risk of firing the wrong muscles and straining your neck or shoulders. An adjustable seat or handles with different positions can help you maintain good form so you get the most out of your workout. We made sure to include bikes with some adjustability so you can focus on that form.
- Frame stability. A wobbly frame doesn’t exactly inspire confidence or let you focus 💯 on your workout. We looked for bikes with heavy-duty frames made of stainless steel that also have adequate frame width for increased stability. That lets you focus on your cadence rather than hoping the bike doesn’t fly apart.
Best overall air bike
The Rogue Echo Bike stands out in the crowd with its smooth and (relatively) quiet ride. (Remember, a giant fan obvi makes noise, so air bikes are never going to be silent.) The quiet ride is thanks to a belt-driven fan blade — most air bikes use a chain, which can add even more noise to a noisy machine. Belt drives also typically don’t require a ton of maintenance when compared to a chain belt model.
The other standout feature is stability. Functional fitness enthusiasts are starting to lean more and more on the Rogue because you can work your guts out without it rocking, wobbling, or shaking. As bonus features, it has a nice display, footpegs so you can isolate your upper body, and mobility wheels to move it around the house. If it included a heart rate monitor, the Rogue might be the perfect air bike.
Best budget air bike
The Marcy Exercise Upright Fan Bike offers excellent stability in a sturdy steel frame at a price that won’t bring tears to your eyes. It’s not the cheapest bike in the world, but it balances durability with dollar signs.
The pedals are a good size and width, making for a comfortable ride for basically anyone. It also offers great resistance, but it takes some power to get the fan going — so be prepared to work your arms and legs from the moment you step onto it.
If you’re trying to save some cash, keep in mind that you’ll have to sacrifice a few things for a bike at a lower price like this. For example, the display isn’t very user-friendly and shows things like room temperature — and TBH, that doesn’t seem all that important for a piece of indoor equipment. 🤷 But overall, reviewers are fans (ha) of this bike, saying it’s pretty easy to put together and well-made.
Best air bike for small spaces
The chain belt works well (but remember, chain belts can be pretty loud) and the frame is sturdy for its size. BUT because it’s smaller, it’s also meant for lighter use. If you’re a functional fitness junkie, this bike might not have the durability for you. If you’re looking to raise your heart rate for 30 minutes a few times a week, then it’s perf.
We found a few downsides in reviews: This bike sometimes arrives without all of the necessary pieces, the seat sometimes leaves leave you walking like a cowboy (ouch), and it’s not designed for harder rides (like standing on the pedals).
Best splurge air bike
Assault’s air bikes are well-known enough that air bikes are sometimes called assault bikes.
The Assault AirBike Classic ticks a whole lot of boxes. First, it offers several seat adjustment options, including forward, backward, up, down, and tilt. The seat fits standard bike seats, so you can change it out for a more comfortable model if you want. (Your buns will thank you 🍑). It also provides resistance from the second you touch the handles and pedals and the advanced computer displays set time, distance, or calorie goals.
It’s hard to beat the Assault’s stability. This bike doesn’t shake or wobble, even when you push it (and yourself) hard. Last on the pro list, the pedals — like the seat — are standard so you can swap them out for a design you like better.
The price is one of the few downsides. But if functional fitness calls your name, this is the bike for you. The chain drive isn’t as quiet as a belt drive, but the quality build means it shouldn’t sound like an airplane taking off either — though a small number of reviewers report that the chain rattles.
Best air bike for athletes
“Assault Air Bikes and Schwinn Airdyne Bikes are the two brands that I have used and would recommend,” says Aycock.
Schwinn’s air bikes have been leaders in the industry since they arrived on the market. The Schwinn Airdyne Pro Exercise Bike doesn’t disappoint with many of the features that Schwinn’s known for. The belt drive activates instantly and provides smooth resistance that responds to the effort you put into each push and pull.
Where this bike stands out for athletes are the built-in HIIT programs and the handle positions. You can do 20/10 intervals, 30/90 intervals, or create a custom interval targeted to you. If that’s not enough, it includes different handle positions, so triathletes and serious cyclists can use this bike to get a workout that more closely matches their competitive positions.
The bad: this bike is an investment. Also, while the console offers some cool programs, reviewers say it’s not the easiest to control.
Air bikes generally cost between $150 to $1,000. At the lower end of that price range, the bikes aren’t as sturdy or durable. The sweet spot tends to be at the $500 to $750 price point — these usually balance performance with price.
They may not have built-in programs or the biggest displays, but the construction will hold up to heavy use better than the less expensive models. If you want durability and professional features, the bikes in the over $750 range offer premium features in their displays or computers as well as extra adjustment features.
Workout goals and style
Casual rider or functional fitness guru? Your fitness goals and style make a big difference in what you need out of an air bike. Heavy interval training, for example, needs a bike that won’t wobble when you’re standing on the pedals with your full body weight behind each push. Less intense workouts don’t need that kind of stability, so you can get away with a less expensive bike.
Wobbly, shaky bikes shake themselves apart over time. Sturdy steel frames hold up the best to the kind of force used on an air bike. Bikes with a 27- to 29-inch base offer better stability than the space savers with bases around 24 inches. But if you’ve got limited space, you can def make a narrow bike work. Just realize that it may start to wobble if you really throw your body weight behind it.
Okay, people. It’s a giant fan on a bike, so it’s not going to be silent. But if you’re trying to keep the noise down, then keep in mind that belt drives tend to be quieter than chain drives, and they tend to require less maintenance. If you do opt for a chain drive, keep it well lubricated to keep squeaks to a minimum.
Exercise equipment with air resistance (like air bikes or rowers) use a fan or flywheel to control resistance. The level of resistance is determined by how fast or hard you work. So it’s totally up to you to intensify your workout — the harder you pedal and pull, the higher the resistance.
This control also makes them amazing for interval training. “Because of the intense effort you can exert on an air bike, HIIT intervals and Tabata style workouts are great options,” says Katelyn Barrons, NASM-CPT and ACE health coach.
But what sets them apart from other bikes is that they have pedals and handles, so you’re getting your lower body and upper body working, says Barrons. So while a Peloton will only get you a lower body burn, air bikes get your whole body pumpin’.
An air bike is a low-tech way to get a serious cardio workout. Our top picks are a great place to start, but make sure you’re looking for air bikes that are easy to use, adjustable, sturdy, and durable enough to last.
With the right air bike, you’ll get a head to toe workout within minutes, build up your stamina, and improve your cardiovascular health. Plus, the harder you work, the bigger the breeze you get as a sweet reward. We’re big fans of that.