Best bikes for exercise

There are few better ways to get in shape or maintain your fitness than riding a bicycle—and you don’t need a high-end road-racing model to do it. Fitness bikes—also known as hybrid bikes—offer a balance of lightweight speed and a comfortable, confidence-inspiring upright riding position. Other features you’ll typically find are wider tires for smoothing out choppy pavement and (if you so choose) gravel, simple and sometimes maintenance-free drivetrains, and disc brakes for more control, especially on slick surfaces. Check out quick info on the five top-performing fitness bikes below, then scroll deeper for more buying advice and longer reviews of these and other quality rides.

Best Components Spot Acme $1,999.00

A subtle, high-quality components package.

Best for the Suburbs Raleigh Redux 2 $750.00

At home on dirt or pavement.

Best for Trails Redline Monocog $700.00

Ready to get rowdy—or get coffee.

Best Step-Through Specialized Crossroads 2.0 Step-Through $550.00

Relaxed position with a wide gear range.

BEST VALUE Marin Presidio 1 $679.99

A great components package and a snappy feel.


Flat Bar vs. Drop Bar

A fitness bike starts with a traditional road bike platform: fast-rolling 700c wheels and a swooping lightweight frame. But while a road bike typically comes outfitted with a drop bar, a fitness bike’s signature feature is a flat handlebar. This provides a wide stance for better control and a more upright position that’s both comfortable and more conducive to looking over a shoulder in traffic.

From left: a road bike is typically outfitted with a drop bar; a flat bar is often an identifying feature on a fitness bike. Courtesy of Marin

But a proper fitness bike is more than just a road bike with a flat bar: It’s specifically designed around it. Chad Price, core research and development director at Specialized, told us that a fitness bike typically has a longer reach than that of a road bike, resulting in better handling from a flat bar and shorter stem.

Disc Brakes

One of the best new technologies to come to fitness bikes is disc brakes. Though a little more expensive than rim-style brakes, they offer more control and precision, especially in wet conditions. And because discs don’t require as much hand strength to operate, your fingers won’t ache as much after a long downhill.

Disc brakes offer better control in more conditions than rim brakes. Trevor Raab

Some lower-cost bikes may come with cable-actuated disc brakes, a cheaper alternative that’s not quite as powerful or as low maintenance as a full-hydraulic disc brake system but that delivers similar all-weather performance and reliability.

The Right Gearing

Most fitness bikes come with two chainrings in the front and between nine and 11 cogs in the rear. Having more gears in the back allows you to fine-tune your shifting so you can keep a steady cadence no matter the terrain. Try to avoid bikes with three front chainrings. They cost less, but the third ring can make shifting less precise. A single-ring option simplifies shifting and cuts down on maintenance but may not have the range you need for hillier terrain.

Belt Drives and Internally Geared Hubs

Left: A belt drive with internally geared hub. Right: A chain drive with derailleur. Courtesy of Spot and Raleigh

A belt drive (which takes the place of a chain) with an internally geared hub (where all the gearing is packaged inside the rear hub’s shell and sealed from the elements) requires less maintenance than a traditional chain-and-derailleur drivetrain. A belt-drive system is incredibly reliable and very clean, says Andrew Lumpkin, CEO of Spot Bikes. It’s also easy to use (one shifter controls everything) and, perhaps best of all, lets you change gears while sitting still at a stop light. It’s a great option if you can afford it, and low maintenance is often more important that low weight.

How We Tested

Every bike on this list was evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers, and use our own experience riding these products to determine the best options. Our team of experienced bike testers spent weeks on each model to tease out the best (and least desirable) qualities. We commuted on them, took them out on long bike paths, and mounted them for fun group rides. Of the more than 25 fitness bikes we rode, we chose these 10 based on their value, performance, comfort, ride quality, and how the overall package meets the needs of the intended buyer.


Spot Acme

Spot Acme $1,999.00

  • High-quality parts pick
  • Understated excellence
  • Expensive!

The Acme is fast like a road bike, sturdy like a mountain bike, and smooth like a luxury car. It’s as capable for slow, people-watching cruises as it is for fast, get-to-work commutes. The geometry favors a more upright position, which is great for keeping your head up while wending through urban traffic, and the belt-drive system with an internally geared 11-speed hub is far cleaner—no lubing required—and quieter than a normal chain and gears. From top to bottom, front to back, every part on this modest city bike is handpicked for quality: Alex rims, Cane Creek headset, Gates belt drive, Kenda tires, Shimano shifters, SRAM brakes, and Spot-brand leather saddle and grips.

Full Review


Raleigh Redux 2

Courtesy of Raleigh Raleigh Redux 2, $750

  • Nine-speed drivetrain
  • Wide tires are good for city streets
  • Some assembly required

The Redux is compact and laid out for a head-on-a-swivel position. It’s quick and smooth-riding, with well-balanced steering. It’s pleasant to ride in many situations but doesn’t have the caffeinated feel that some riders may want for fighting traffic in a dense urban core. The smooth-shifting Shimano Acera 1×9 drivetrain is geared on the low side–a welcome change from urban bikes seemingly tuned for land-speed record attempts. The TRP disc brakes modulate well but are a bit weak. WTB Horizons tires are excellent across a variety of surfaceand fast rolling with predictable grip. The neon chartreuse paint and reflective logos stand out, but the Redux’s true strengths are excellent performance and value.

Full Review


Redline Monocog

Courtesy Redline Redline Monocog $700.00

  • Simple drivetrain equals less maintenance
  • Rolls over obstacles easily
  • Heavy steel construction

This bike felt perfectly suited for rolling, mostly flat, and gentle downhill trails (with some very short uphill sections). Though some see singlespeed as an added challenge, one novice rider who tested the Monocog remarked, “I appreciated its simplicity and not having to think about shifting while riding.” Even in a steady rain, the Tektro MD-M300 mechanical disc brakes provided split-second stopping power on the gentler slopes when testers lost their line. The Vee Rail tires helped here, too, proving very grippy on the wet leaves, mud, and slick rocks. The 29er’s steel frame is relatively compliant and good at smoothing out smaller bumps and obstacles. Unfortunately, the double-walled tires weren’t as durable as we’d hoped, and the rear one flatted on a particularly choppy and rocky section. The 740mm handlebar afforded predictable control, though it did require testers to be a bit careful going through some sections where the trees tightened up. For 700 bucks and this kind of jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none versatility, the Monocog is a great value.


Raleigh Cadent 3

Raleigh Cadent 3 $800.00

  • Seat adjusts easily and quickly
  • 35c tires provide awesome traction and grip
  • The pedal teeth are grippy but also sharp enough to cut you
  • Only comes in two colorways

Raleigh’s Cadent 3 is an excellent choice for the commuter who wants the option to use the bike as a weekend trailblazer. You don’t have to worry about switching the saddle out—the one that comes with the Cadent is comfy enough for your daily back-and-forth as well as longer, off-road jaunts. This bike offers an incredibly smooth ride, partially thanks to the lightweight carbon fork. The Tektro T275 hydraulic brake system responds quickly but isn’t jerky, while the flat handlebar makes it easy to maintain a comfortable posture and provide stability for easy maneuvering. Raleigh touts the Cadent 3 as a bike that’ll go fast, help you get fit, and let you have fun. It’s right about all three.


Specialized Crossroads 2.0 Step-Through

Specialized Crossroads 2.0 Step-Through $550.00

  • Upright, comfortable position
  • Wide tires for road or gravel
  • Not very fast

Cruising down rail trails makes for great exercise with a great view, and the Crossroads 2.0 is what we want to be riding along the way. Of course, this bike is just as capable on roads, but the wide tires and comfortable saddle are ideal for smoothing out long, flat gravel paths. Those 45mm tires are built with flat protection and maintained grip on crushed gravel, letting test editor Adrienne Donica roll over small road debris without issue. And the foam saddle was comfortable on hour-and-a-half-long rides, thanks to its gel inserts and a pressure-dispersing divet in the middle. The relaxed, upright geometry kept Donica riding tall without straining her lower back, though she felt that, on hilly outings, the bike hindered her from really getting on top of the pedals. The seven-speed Shimano Altus cassette and triple chainring offers a wide gear range, and the gears shift smoothly. The flat bars provided comfortable, responsive steering control that allows riders to enjoy the cruise.


Felt Verza Speed 10

Courtesy Felt Felt Verza Speed 10 $1,349.00

  • Carbon fork
  • Quick-reacting hydraulic disc brakes
  • Runs a bit small

This feathery-yet-stiff commuter bike is one of the more aggressive rides on this list. Its narrow handlebar, 30mm wheels, and aluminum frame are meant for quick handling on city streets and suited more for speed than comfort. It’s incredibly light and accelerates quickly. The Shimano 105 drivetrain was a bit slow, but accurate, and provided a good range of gearing for lightly hilly city streets. Felt chose to splurge on the carbon fork, for dampening rough roads, while the narrow handlebar made for nimble but somewhat touchy steering. Associate test director Will Egensteiner was a big fan of the grips, which were comfortably padded. But he usually sits between sizes large and XL in a bike and, after riding the large Versa, remarked that a longer reach would have been nice.


Scott Contessa Active 50

Courtesy Scott Scott Contessa Active 50 $499.99

  • Grippy tires and suspension fork great for trail riding
  • Great value
  • Kind of heavy

This hardtail from Scott is the perfect gateway bike for those just beginning to venture off-road. Tester Daisy Hernandez noted that the wide tires provided superb stability. Though the 100mm Suntour fork has enough travel to keep you riding comfortably on most smooth trails, the suspension does have its innate downsides; the cost of a cushioned ride is the loss of energy you’ll experience when pedaling up an incline. The saddle on this bike is decent, but if you plan on spending more time sitting than standing, consider upgrading to something more adept at supporting your sit bones against bumpy terrain. The Shimano Tourney drivetrain offered enough gears for spinning gently uphill, and the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes bring you to a full stop without any jerky movements. The rubber grips on the handlebar are super cushy and impressively tacky—even when your hands are sweaty. Hernandez also loved that the wide handlebar afforded her a greater feeling of control over the entire bike. It’ll be hard to find so much quality—and fun—in another ride at this price point.


Marin Terra Linda

Marin Terra Linda 3, $899.99

  • Slightly aggressive positioning
  • Ergonomic grips
  • A bit heavy going uphill

This comfortable, flat-bar fitness bike is great for exercise and transportation. While somewhat heavy, it offered a comfortable ride. Microshift paddles on the handlebar operate the smooth Shimano Sora derailleurs. Tester Gabrielle Hondorp really appreciated the ergonomic grips, which providing a larger and more comfortable space to rest her palms on—the bigger surface area seemed to displace some of the pressure and alleviate the discomfort she sometimes get in her wrists while riding. The seat is pretty hard and narrow, so Hondorp preferred riding with padded shorts for more comfort.


Giant Escape 2 Disc City

Giant Escape 2 Disc City $665.00

  • Wide gear range
  • Comes with rack and fenders
  • Efficient hydraulic disc brakes

The Escape 2 Disc City comes ready for adventure. Fenders are standard, as is the rear rack that’s ready to be loaded up with a commuter bag or camping essentials. The upright riding position helps you keep an eye on traffic or take in the surroundings, and the Escape’s dampened ride won’t beat you up on longer adventures. The triple-chainring drivetrain offers a wide range of gearing that can handle most situations and terrain. And since inner-city roads are fraught with potholes, glass, and other debris that can wreak havoc on tires, the Escape 2 has puncture-resistant rubber.


Jamis Allegro Sport

Jamis Allegro Sport $529.00

  • Sprightly aluminum frame
  • Mechanical disc brakes have less modulation than rim brakes

An aluminum frame, disc brakes, and rack and fender mounts help make the Jamis Allegro Sport a solid value. Its sharp handling and long reach lend it responsiveness during quick shifts in weight and changes in direction. The triple chainring and 11-32 cassette give you the gears to spin up nearly any climb, and the brakes work well enough to keep you under control in all weather conditions. The quality is high and Jamis gave it nice parts for the money making it a great, lower-cost option for riding around town or getting fitter on the road.

Full Review


Marin Presidio 1

Marin Presidio 1 $679.99

  • Excellent parts package for this price
  • Sizes available for riders 4’11” to 6’1”
  • Not suited for super hilly areas

This bike is Marin’s gift to cyclists who want to get rolling on a quality bike without spending a lot of cash. But you still get parts that perform well, like Shimano’s Nexus three-speed internally geared hub—it’s smooth and likely more reliable than a similarly priced external drivetrain. The Vee Tire Co. tires are puncture-resistant and have reflective sidewalls, and the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes mete out real stopping power. As you hop between bike lanes, the Presidio feels zippy while pedaling, and the three-speed drivetrain shifts fast and suits all but the hilliest routes. If you think prioritizing value and reliability makes a boring bike, the Presidio 1 just might change your mind.

Full Review

Riley Missel Test Editor Test editor Riley Missel is an experienced road racer, mountain biker, and a national champion on the track who has been at Bicycling since 2017.

Best bike: our buyer’s guide to which bicycle type you should buy in 2020

If you need to bridge the gap between urban performance and confident handling, then our guide to the best hybrid bikes will give you all the information you need to know.

Pros: Fairly quick, versatile, upright

Cons: Typically heavier than road bikes, and not as fast

  • Best hybrid bikes for 2019: 10 of the top recommendations that we’ve tested

Touring bike: best for carrying luggage and travelling far

Touring bikes are built for the road less travelled, and also make excellent commuters for rough city roads. Russell Burton

While a hybrid bike is best suited to the city, a touring bike is designed to take on everything from a commute to a continent-crossing adventure.

They tend to have the same fast-rolling 700c wheels as road and hybrid bikes, but with fatter tyres that allow you to take on a mixture of terrain in comfort. ‘Hardcore’ touring bikes designed for super-heavy loads will sometimes opt for 26in wheels because spares availability is often better when in far-flung regions.

The more relaxed riding position and more stable geometry of a touring bike mean that you can take on almost anything, whether it be a mountain pass when fully loaded with supplies or a quick spin to work.

If you need a highly versatile all-rounder then you should take a look at our guide to the best touring bikes, whether you’re going to familiar places or off the beaten track.

Pros: Tough, lots of load-carrying capacity, still fairly quick

Cons: Not quite race-bike quick

  • Best touring bike: how to choose the right one for you

Cyclocross / gravel / adventure / all-road / bikepacking bikes: best if you’re in a hurry on bad roads

Gravel bikes are increasingly popular, and with good reason. Cannondale

Overlapping with the touring category, gravel bikes — also known as adventure bikes, all-road bikes or bikepacking bikes — are becoming very popular and fashionable, and it’s easy to see why.

Gravel bikes combine road bike looks and speed with loads of frame clearance for fitting fat, knobbly tyres of 35mm-wide or more that can get you across almost any terrain, including terrible tarmac, gloopy mud, bridleways, gravel paths and more.

You can find adventure bikes made from steel, aluminium, carbon and titanium, and at a range of prices from the affordable to the aspirational. Many will include eyelets for fitting mudguards and pannier racks, disc brakes (hydraulic if you’re lucky) for better braking, and more relaxed geometry than a road bike to deliver better handling on a range of surfaces.

They’re also a great bet for road riding in winter, just fit some puncture-resistant tyres and you’re good to go.

Adventure bikes that take luggage (typically frame bags, saddle bags and bar bags) are used for bikepacking, which is essentially touring, but with better fashion sense and hashtags.

Full-on cyclocross bikes are similar in concept (fatter tyres, drop bars, discs in many cases), but they may not have fittings for mudguards or panniers and the geometry is typically more aggressive because they’re designed purely for racing.

Pros: Fast, comfortable, practical

Cons: Sometimes on the heavier side, attractive to thieves

  • Best gravel and adventure road bikes
  • The best cyclocross bikes of 2019 | 7 top-rated CX bikes

Fixed gear / singlespeed bike: best if you want a simple bike

Fixed gear bikes, or ‘fixies’, are a great low-maintenance option. Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Popular in the city, and the only option if you’re riding on a velodrome, the fixie (or ‘fixed wheel’, if you’re being traditional) is the ultimate in simplicity.

A true fixie has no freewheel, so you always have to pedal if you’re moving. That brings a particular degree of connection and control once you get used to it, but fixies aren’t the most beginner-friendly.

They’re lightning-fast in the hands of an accomplished rider and the lack of complexity means they require minimal maintenance. They’re great for confident commuters that don’t mind suffering if they live in a hilly location and want total control at all times, but it’s a high level of commitment for the casual cyclist.

Once you’ve got the hang of riding a fixie, they’re among the best bikes for commuting. This is what makes them popular with cycle couriers, who also like their reliability — a legal-minimum fixie with just a front brake has almost nothing on it to go wrong.

Pros: Light, simple, quick

Cons: Some skill required, hard when it’s hilly

City bike: best for hassle-free riding

Traditional Dutch-style city bikes in their natural habitat. Kaveh Kazemi / Contributor Getty Images

A Dutch-style city or town bike (or a ‘sit-up-and-beg’) does a sterling job of providing short-range transportation in flat towns. What’s appealing about this style of bike is its simplicity, practicality and robustness.

There’s very little to go wrong if you’ve just got one gear, and hub gear versions with up to 11 gears are still pretty tough.

Typical town bikes have chainguards and flat pedals, so you can hop aboard in your regular clothes. Self powered dynamo lighting and a lock are often built in, so you won’t need many extras.

They shrug off potholed streets, while an upright riding position gives you a commanding view of traffic. The main downside is that they tend to be quite heavy, and while the riding position is comfortable, it’s not particularly efficient and you won’t want to take on any big hills.

Pros: Great looks, relaxed riding position, practical, ideal for wearing normal clothes, normally very durable

Cons: Heavy and slow

  • The Elephant bike is £250 of ex-Royal Mail Pashley, and we love it

Electric bike: best if you want a hand up the hills

The Gtech is a top pick for an electric bike under £1,000. Oliver Woodman / Immediate Media

With assistance from a powerful motor, electric bikes or e-bikes are great if you’re a commuter who needs to arrive at work in a less sweaty state, or if you’re less confident about your fitness.

Laws vary from country to country and, in the US, can vary from state to state. However, in the UK (apart from Northern Ireland) electric bikes limited to 25km/h / 15.5mph can be used on the road without a helmet or licence — they are bikes as far as the law is concerned because you still need to pedal to activate the electric assistance (hence the term ‘pedelec’).

More powerful e-bikes (some with motorcycle-style throttles) are also available, but in some countries, including the UK, these are classed as mopeds or motorbikes and therefore need to conform to the same rules (insurance, helmets and so forth).

Most e-bikes are designed to be comfortable and easy to live with thanks to flat bars, mudguards and luggage capacity. There’s a significant price and weight premium over an equivalent regular bike for the battery, motor and control electronics. However, as the technology develops, both prices and weights are coming down.

Electric mountain bikes can be a total hoot in the hills. Russell Burton

The world of electric mountain bikes — also known as e-MTBs — is also a rapidly expanding one, allowing riders who might have needed to swear off their dirt riding activities to keep enjoying the countryside for longer than they might have imagined.

There are also a handful of drop-bar e-road bikes on the market, such as the Giant Road-E+, but this remains a fairly small niche.

Pros: Easy to ride, comfortable, fun

Cons: Regular recharging, heavier and significantly more expensive than an equivalent standard bike

  • Best electric bike 2019: 12 e-bikes you should be considering

Folding bikes: best if you’re short on space / best for public transport

Folding bikes are a strong choice for those short on space, at home or work. Matthew Lloyd

If you need to combine a bit of riding with urban portability, then there’s nothing better than a folding bike. They’re best suited to short rides – especially where storage space at either end is scarce – and their portability means they’re ideal when you might have to hop onto a train or a bus to get where you’re going.

That means that folding bikes are phenomenally popular among big-city commuters. The most compact ones will fit under your desk and they’re easy to carry as well.

A folder won’t ride like a conventional bike because of the necessary compromises, but the best modern folders are surprisingly capable.

Pros: Massively convenient to store, can be taken onto public transport, small wheels are quick to accelerate

Cons: Heavier and slower than a big-wheeled bike and not as stable or pothole-proof

  • Best folding bike 2019: five of our favourite folders

Kids’ bikes: best for… kids!

Kids’ bikes come in all shapes and sizes to suit all ages and abilities. Black Mountain

The first thing to keep in mind is that children’s needs vary wildly depending on their age and ability. Balance bikes are where it’s at for the pre-school crowd, then by the time they progress to 16-inch wheels, they’ll (hopefully) be pedalling away without stabilisers before very long.

  • How to teach a child to cycle in 30 minutes

Move up a notch to 20-inch wheels and gears start to make an appearance, then by the time they’re nine and riding 24-inch wheels they’ll basically be riding smaller versions of adult bikes – disc brakes, suspension and all.


  • Best kids’ bike: a buyer’s guide

How to Choose the Best Bike for You

With the warm weather just around the corner, the urge to hop on a bike and go for a long ride can be pretty strong. “Riding a bike is fun because you can see the scenery go by,” says Alice Burron, MS, an exercise physiologist in Cheyenne, Wyo., spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise, and author of Four Weeks to Fabulous. “You can do it with friends. You can do it alone. You can ride in the mountains. You can ride in the city. It’s very versatile and it’s a great exercise for a change of pace.”

Biking is great for calorie burn. You can burn roughly 200 calories an hour on a leisurely bike ride; 450 to 600 calories if you’re biking at a good clip. “The harder you pedal, the steeper the hills, the more calories you’ll burn,” Burron says. “I love biking because not only is it a great aerobic exercise, it’s very easy on the joints. It’s one of my favorite activities for people with knee injuries.”

But wait! Before you can go, you need to invest in a good bike. Here’s how.

The Right Type of Bike

Good bikes can be pricey — running anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. You can get bikes at places like Wal-Mart for less than $200 or at garage sales for even less, but it’s oftentimes worth the extra money to shop at the local bike store where the owner and his employees can help you with your selection, Burron says. “If you defer to your local bike shop, the salespeople can help you find the right bike for your needs and make sure that the bike you want fits you, too,” she explains. Besides, cheap bikes have to be replaced more often, and if you maintain your good bike, you can keep it for years, saving money in the long run. (Some bike shops offer trade-ins that can be good deals.)

When choosing a bike, start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Where do I want to ride it? (Mostly on roads or trails?)
  • Why do I want to ride? (For fun? For fitness? To do errands and save gas?)
  • What’s the most comfortable position to ride? (Fully upright? Leisurely and leaning forward? Or racing mode?)

Your answers to these questions can help you determine which type of bike you need, Burron says.

Your choices include:

  • Mountain bikes. Mountain bikes are okay for pavements, but work best on dirt roads. “I think they’re really good if you want to climb some hills,” Burron says. “They don’t go too fast because their wheels are smaller.”
  • Road bikes. These have narrower wheels than mountain bikes and are good if you ride mostly on roads. “They’re great for touring and going long distances on streets,” Burron says. “Proper fit is most important with this one, especially if you’re going to be riding it long distances.”
  • Hybrids. A hybrid is a cross between a mountain bike and road bike. “They’re good for pavement and can go off road, too,” Burron notes. “Generally, they’re mid-weight and they’re fun. They come in all kinds of colors now and a variety of prices. For the most part, a hybrid is a good starting bike for people who want to get into biking.”
  • Recreational bikes. “Recreational bikes put a smile on your face,” Burron says. “Stick a basket on them and go shopping. They’re not only great fun for leisurely rides but they also get you from point A to point B, and you can even stop for coffee along the way. They’re coming out with some really nice recreational bikes now.”
  • Racing bikes. Racing bikes are the lightest in weight and are designed for speed. To make them light, they are made out of high-tech materials and can be the priciest.

Many Web sites offer exercise bike reviews. You can check them out for the best bikes in the category you choose.

Finding the Proper Fit

A knowledgeable bike seller is your best bet for making sure you get the proper fit, whatever bike you choose. If the bike doesn’t fit you properly, “you can get a lot of muscle pain and it can discourage you from riding,” Burron warns. You’re also more prone to falling. Most bikes have some room for adjustment. “But you can only adjust it to a point. You might want to go up or down a size,” Burron adds.

Some rules-of-thumb for sizing your bike:

  • Make sure your leg is at a slight bend when the pedal is at its lowest point in the rotation. “You can vary that by adjusting the seat,” Burron says.
  • Your arms should have a slight bend in the elbow, so you’re not too far or too close to the handlebars.
  • When you stand straddling the bike, you want 1 inch of clearance between your crotch and the bar (if it’s a man’s bike), maybe 2 inches if you’re looking at a mountain bike. If it’s a woman’s bike and has no bar, this advice doesn’t apply, Burron notes.

How to Outfit Your Bike

  • Helmets. Get a good helmet. This is not an option. A helmet is critical for protecting yourself from serious head injuries. You should wear a helmet no matter whether you’re riding for fun or for exercise — and whether you’re 6 or 60 years old. “The helmet should fit properly just like your bike,” Burron says. “It should rest on your head about an inch above your eyebrows. It shouldn’t be too loose or too snug.” If you’re riding in the hot weather, you might want a helmet that has air holes for ventilation. “You can get caps that cover the holes in colder weather,” Burron adds. The lighter the helmet, the more expensive it tends to be, but a good helmet is a very worthwhile investment, she says.
  • Hard or soft seats. Some people prefer hard seats, some prefer soft. “I have a boney butt so I like padded seats,” Burron says. “But I would suggest whatever you’re most comfortable with. It’s a matter of personal preference. There is no right or wrong.” You can even buy a seat and swap it with the one that comes with the bike.
  • Gloves. “I would recommend padded bike gloves,” Burron says. “They make riding very nice and comfortable.” They also protect your hands in the event of a fall.
  • Baskets or packs. If you plan to ride to the store to pick up a few items, a basket or bike pack can come in handy. Don’t use a backpack because you could hurt your back. A waist or fanny pack may be okay, but won’t give you a lot of room.
  • Locks. If you’re planning on using your bike as a mode of transportation, you need a good lock so you can secure your bike when you reach your destination.

What Dr. Michael Smith Says:

Biking is about as ideal as a cardio exercise gets. It provides a low-impact workout that also builds strong legs and improves heart health.

Practically anyone can do it. It’s great for beginners. And you can pump up the intensity as your fitness level improves, making it a challenging workout even for advanced exercisers. Because you have the option of outdoor biking or indoor cycling, you can bike year round.

If you want to bike outdoors but feel a bit unsteady, start with indoor cycling to help build some muscle strength to help stabilize you on a bike. Once you’re ready, take it outside but go slow at first.

Always wear a helmet when you bike outdoors. Head injuries are one of the most common biking injuries when people skip protection.

Is It Good for Me If I Have a Health Condition?

Because biking is a low-impact exercise, it’s ideal if you have arthritis in your hips, knees, and ankles or you’re recovering from a joint injury. Plus, it helps build stronger leg muscles, providing more support for your joints, which lessens pain.

If you have back problems, it’s fine to include biking in your routine, but you need to find another form of working out that strengthens your core and makes you more flexible.

Looking to drop some pounds to help manage diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or even heart disease? Biking is a great addition to your cardio routine that will also make your heart stronger.

When you’re pregnant, focus on indoor cycling. A stationary bike provides stability so you don’t fall. If you were an intense cyclist before getting pregnant, you should be able to continue that during your pregnancy. Check with your doctor to be sure.

Best Bike For City Riding | And Losing Weight While You Ride

No Body is the Same. Find Your Perfect Fit. Get Started › ride ideas January 05, 2017 Best Bike For City Riding And Losing Weight While You Ride

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Losing weight takes devotion and focus, since it usually means increasing the number of calories you burn and reducing the number – or type – you consume, which can become tedious. The good news is that bicycling can offer a great cardio workout while keeping you engaged and having fun, and there are a variety of options for finding the best bike for city riding. Here is a look at some of the best types of weight-loss bikes for the city.

Road Bikes

Road bicycles are lightweight, fast, and designed for use on roads primarily, and some well-maintained trails. Their thin, high-pressure tires and aerodynamic design mean you can travel long distances with great speed, making them perfect for commuting or even traveling, and can help you burn 200 calories or more per hour. Naturally, they are at the top of the list of the best bikes for city riding. Check out the sixthreezero collection .

Mountain Bikes

Mountain bikes are bigger and heavier and come equipped with thick, durable tires to handle the demands of off-road challenges. Depending on how aggressively you take on the mountain trails, you certainly can burn a substantial number of calories on this type of bike. However, keep in mind that that same weight and durability could make road biking much more challenging, and if that causes you to leave your bike behind and drive in the city instead then it could backfire as a calorie-burning vehicle. Have a look at sixthreezero’s off-road bikes.

Hybrid City Bikes

These best-of-both-worlds bikes combine the durability of mountain bikes with the speed and nearly as lightweight design of road bikes, making them a great choice for nearly any terrain. On the road, you will find them light enough and fast enough to move you through traffic without burning you out. Their powerful design will keep you on the trails longer instead of encouraging you to quit halfway through because your delicate bike couldn’t handle it, allowing the rough terrain to beat you to a pulp. It’s that versatility that gives them the most upside since one of the greatest challenges of any weight-loss regimen is consistency. Take a tour of sixthreezero’s lineup of hybrids.

Best Bike for City Riding

Ultimately, only you can choose the best bike for city riding that will meet your particular goals and needs best. However, with all things being equal, a hybrid city bike gives you the greatest chance of any of the bicycle types listed above to bike on all terrains. For many, that means more time on their bike, and more calories burned.

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Q: What type of bike is best for exercise?

Is biking good for exercise? Of course it is, there’s more than enough evidence to promote cycling as a pretty awesome form of exercise! Maybe you’ve seen bikes on your travels or maybe images of cyclists in the media and thought, I could do that too? Maybe you’ve been imagining the sense of freedom and liberty in the outdoors riding? Can you picture yourself riding a bike and feeling healthy and invigorated? Great! You definitely will if you use a bike – your bike – for exercise. I’m glad you’re here, Dear Reader and happy you’re asking the question. You want to know what bike is best for exercise. Okay let’s get into this while you’re enthusiasm is high!

A: Without going big on the perfunctory answers, honestly, any bike is beneficial for exercise. So could it be the question that yields a neater answer might be: what type of bike is best for me if I want to exercise? Good question, I was hoping you’d ask that! To get to the answer, I’m going to circumvent some of the conventional wisdom in bike choice and just ask you a simple question that we can expand out from. Q#1: Rough terrain or smooth terrain? That’s it. Simple! But of course there’s more to it. Don’t worry though if it’s not entirely clear, it will be!

I’m an advocate of cycling in any form. I’m all about encouraging you to just get out on your bike. To exercise? Sure, but mostly to just have fun! So, in my experience at least, when choosing a bike, it doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you’re setting out to do on that bike. Why? Because all bikes can provide all kinds of exercise when utilized specifically for that purpose. Are some types more appropriate to getting certain kinds of exercise than other types? I really don’t believe so. Just crack open any top road or off-road cyclist. While the shape of their fitness diagrams may differ, they both have high base levels of cardio fitness, stamina, endurance, strength and balance. So what does that tell us? Well, just that any kind of exercise can be had on any kind of bike.

Q: So bike choice isn’t even important then?

A: It’s a factor, of course. But what I’m saying is I don’t want you to worry needlessly over a wrong type of bike. There aren’t really wrong decisions here. That’s all. But there’s still a best type out there for you. That’s what we’re after here. And we’ll get there before the end of this article!

I’m guessing though by asking this question that it’s general fitness you’re after rather than anatomically or physiologically specific enhancement, right? 🙂 So while I believe any kind of bike can offer cardio fitness, endurance, stamina and strength when used with those goals in mind, we want to know what’s best for you in your circumstances.

Oh come on now, don’t be so fussy, just any ol’ bike will do for exercise riding! #justkidding 😀

First, some article assumptions!

I’ve thought about who you are likely to be, Dear Reader to be asking this question. I’ve made a few assumptions based on where you might be on the scale of attributes relevant to answering out question. Not meant as a pigeonholing exercise. We’re all far too unique for that. Just to reduce a huge range of possible bike types into a simpler, more manageable list. That then gives you a better start point to your own research. So… I guess the upshot of that is, if you’re not in any of these assumed categories, damn, my crystal ball needs a polishin’ and this article may go wide of the mark! 😮

So the assumptions… Ooh I’m sensing your name begins with a J, no, an M? Haha, no, I’m going to assume:

  1. You’re a cycling beginner. If not, and you already ride a bike, you’re probably not currently riding it for exercise in particular. That’s relevant because it means that bikes specified as upgrade or next-step bikes can be ruled out and we can stick to bikes that are specified with you, a beginner cycling exerciser in mind 🙂
  2. You have a modest level of fitness. And why’s that relevant to this question? It means you’re possibly more likely to want to gain fitness or build base fitness as opposed to being currently one step from being picked for the olympic squad. And that translates into certain bikes and not others. For example, we don’t need super lightweight machines because we’re not trying to compete against the best or win any trophies. At least at the time of making our choice of bike.
  3. Your budget for a bike is commensurate with a potential cyclist satisfying the above two criteria.

All good? Or have I completely alienated you? Yikes! I truly hope not. I’m convinced at the very least you understand there’s a methodology here rather than clutching at straws 🙂 Okay, well fair enough, so where from here?

First, a visualisation exercise…

Oh no! I’m gonna have to close my eyes and feel what it’s like to be part of whatever constitutes oneness. No! I’ll leave that for your guru 😛 Just a simple visualization this. Why? Because if all types of bike are ruled in, we want to know that whatever type of bike decided upon feels like the kind of bike you want to be riding; that you look forward to riding. I’m sure that makes sense, right?

My guess is that if you’re considering this question, you’ve pictured yourself already riding a bike. I’d be surprised if you hadn’t since we think in pictures and you’ve at least thought about this enough to come here and ask. But either way, picture that now for me will you? Picture the you that’s asking this question having fun riding the bike that we’re going to help you choose, getting your exercise. Picture riding all the places you’d like to ride, feeling healthy and fitter than ever as you do so. Picture a you confident in your riding and in yourself, a you that just feels happy about cycling all the places you’d love to cycle. Just take a moment and freely and clearly picture it. Think in particular about where you’re riding that’s making you happy, and leaving you feeling energized and alive.

Is it working? Cool 🙂 Hey maybe by envisioning that scene you’ve already discovered what bike you’re riding. If so, yay, I can go have a coffee now 🙂

But otherwise, in relation to that image in your imagination, wherebouts are you in that picture when you’re riding for exercise? In particular what terrain have you been cycling in that visual? If you’ve conjured a clear image in your mind then you can answer the question that we posed above…

Q#1: Rough terrain or smooth terrain?

This doesn’t need be an either-or answer. Since most bikes lend themselves to riding different terrain – usually with a simple swapout of tires, it’s more of a sliding scale of preferences for where you’d be riding. So in that image of you riding your bicycle, what was the terrain like? Hint: it might have been one of these or more than one.

  1. Bike trails and cross country, forest paths with rough ruts and roots, or through mucky grass and undergrowth
  2. Kinds of hardpacked dirt, hardpacked gravel or hardpacked forest paths, rolling over loose gravel and small stones, maybe across leafy or rough cycleways and cycle paths, maybe along a river path
  3. Maintained or unmaintained cycleways and park paths designed for bikes, possibly shared with pedestrians, joggers, also beach paths or neighborhood streets.
  4. Purely out on the open roads and smooth asphalt (or smooth-ish if you live near me!), likely out of town, possibly in the hills or over rolling terrain.

So, where did you picture yourself on your rides? Anywhere like these four options?

Have you got a sense from your imagined picture of cycling-for-exercise you and where you’ve been riding? Keep your preferred or envisioned option from the above in mind.

Eliminating a few things for expediency

I’m going to rule out riding on sand, snow, thick sticky mud, hard rocks and high roots, and fast downhill mountain biking. Why? Because bikes needed for those conditions are fatbikes and/or full suspension mountain bikes. If our three assumptions above are true for you, I wouldn’t recommend fatbikes and full-sus MTBs as a place to start your cycling for exercise. Decent versions are generally higher up the price ranges and the bikes themselves are designed for specific kinds of riding. That doesn’t mean you can’t. As I’ve said, I’m an advocate for doing whatever makes you happy on a bike. But objectively speaking, I think these options are best reserved for the future, when you’ve matured into your cycling exercise 🙂

I’m also ruling out cruiser bikes. As I’ve said, exercise on a bike is somewhat independent of the type of bike. Cruisers though, tend to be heavy and designed for a relaxed, spread out position. Doesn’t mean you can’t exercise on them. Just means they’re not the most conducive bikes to exercising given the choice – which I assume we have here 🙂

And Now Ladies and Gentlemen…

The Great Oracle that is the <<< CyclingQuestions Decision Matrix >>> will now read your mind and help you decide! 😛

Aha, well, not really, just relate your preferred option(s) that you pictured in the little exercise from the four above. how did the terrain you pictured yourself riding correspond to the options above? If you pictured yourself riding…

  • #1 on its own, or mostly #1 with a little bit of #2,#3 or #4 – your personal best bike for exercising is behind door A
  • Mostly #1 with up to fifty percent #2, #3 and/or #4 – your personal best bike for exercise is behind door A
  • #2 on its own, or mostly #2 with a little bit of the #3 or #4 – your personal best bike for exercise is behind door B
  • Mostly #2 with up to fifty percent #1 – your personal best bike for exercise is behind door A
  • Mostly #2 with up to fifty percent #3 and/or #4 – your personal best bike for exercise is behind door B
  • #3 on its own, or mostly #3 with a little bit of #4 – your personal best bike for exercise is behind door C
  • Mostly #3 with up to fifty percent #1 – your personal best bike for exercise is behind door A
  • Mostly #3 with up to fifty percent #2 – your personal best bike for exercise is behind door B
  • Mostly #3 with up to fifty percent #4 – your personal best bike for exercise is behind door C
  • #4 on its own – your personal best bike for exercise is behind door D
  • Mostly #1 with up to fifty percent #4 – your personal best bike for exercise is behind door A
  • Mostly #4 with up to fifty percent #2 – your personal best bike for exercise is behind door B
  • Mostly #4 with up to fifty percent #3 – your personal best bike for exercise is behind door C

Your personal choice of bike for exercising awaits…

What’s behind Door A? It’s a Hardtail, Front Suspension Mountain Bike

Yay! Now, what’s the deal with this? Hardtail, front suspension mountain bikes (MTB) are probably the most versatile bikes around. While they’re designed to take you off-road, they can go anywhere (see my article on riding MTB on asphalt). In terms of exercise, the drawback – and it could be a benefit depending on your mindset – is the bike’s weight. Much of that weight comes from those factors giving the hardtail, front suspension mountain bike it’s versatility, ie. the fat tires and the front suspension forks.

But it’s not about ultimate speed here, it’s about what you pictured when you saw yourself in your mind’s eye having fun on the off-road trails, getting out there in among the rocks and ruts exercising on the bike. This bike will take you anywhere, stand up to the bumps and be your faithful steed for more!

The “hardtail” refers to the bike having a frame without rear spring/damper suspension, those being termed full-suspension bikes. As a novice cyclist for exercise, I think we can agree it’d be unlikely we’d want to be riding extreme rocky trails and jumps that put full-sus bikes to the test. At least for now! But the hardtail, front-sus MTB with its ability to cover almost all offroad trails promises a full-body muscle and cardio workout when pushed. Even taking things easy gives great outdoor exercising laughs.

The good news too is that these variant mountain bikes are generally the most common and usually the most affordable in a brand’s lineup.

Just fyi: if you’re not au fait with good bike brands, you might be interested in checking my Road Bike Brands for Beginners article (websites listed). While it concerns road bikes, most if not all the brands listed produce hardtail, front suspension mountain bikes, sometimes known as trail bikes.

Having a quick browse around what’s currently available at time of writing, I’d be thinking along the lines of a Trek Roscoe6 to give you an idea, or for something a bit different maybe, Orbea MX30 I9 available in men’s and women’s versions. But there are myriad options out there depending on your budget and taste. See my article above for brand websites and info, and take your research from there 🙂

Hardtail MTB for exercise examples: Trek Roscoe6 Men’s and Women’s variants (pics for illustration purposes, see for further)

Hardtail MTB for exercise, examples: Orbea MX30 I9 in Men’s and Women’s variants (pics for illustration purposes, see for further)

What’s behind Door B? It’s a Gravel / Adventure Bike

Yay! Now, what’s the deal with this? These drop-handlebar bikes look like traditional road bikes but have more clearance for beefier tires, usually have disc brakes and are geared for mechanical simplicity often with 1-by drivetrains. If you’re unfamiliar with gearing systems, you might be interested in my bicycle gearing 101 article. While gravel/Adventure bikes might not have the hardcore off-road credentials of a hardtail MTB, they have the ability to tackle stony, grassy or gravelly terrain with ease and in comfort. All guaranteeing a balance-sharpening, high-intensity way to exercise on the bike. If you pictured yourself on reasonably well surfaced off-road tracks and paths, the gravel/adventure bike could well be right for you!

Prices do tend to be on the higher end of the budget from the hardtail MTB. But there ought still to be plenty to suit.

Just fyi: if you’re not au fait with good bike brands, you might be interested in checking my Road Bike Brands for Beginners article (websites listed). While it concerns road bikes, most if not all the brands listed produce gravel/adventure bikes as it’s a currently popular cycling fashion at time of writing.

Having a quick browse around to see what’s available, I’d be thinking along the lines of Specialized Diverge E5, available in men’s or women’s, or for something a bit different, Mango Bikes Point AR (

Gravel bikes for exercise, examples: Specialized Diverge E5 men’s and women’s variants. (Pics for illustration purposes, see for further)

Gravel bikes for exercise, examples: Mango Bikes Point AR. (pics for illustration purposes, see for further)

What’s behind Door C? It’s a Flat-handlebar Road / City / Fitness Bike

Yay! Now, what’s the deal with this? Flatbar road bikes are basically rigid road bikes (rigid having no suspension either front or rear). Frame designs afford you a more upright position than a drop-handlebar road bike. As the name suggests, the handlebars are single-hand-position, grips at the ends. This gives easy access to gear shifters – usually underbar thumb shifters and makes grabbing brakes straightforward too. These bikes won’t have quite the beefy tires that the gravel/adventure bikes, limiting the terrain we can ride on them somewhat – though remember I said at the start that any bike can swap tires to increase its abilities! Although similar in appearance, these do differ from what are known as hybrid bikes because those tend to have front suspension, a less sporty aspect and are usually heavier and slower, or should I say more leisurely!

What the flatbar road/city/fitness bike loses in terrain-covering ability, it can make up for in lighter weight and therefore, speed and stealth. All of which can give a fast, high energy workout. With a bunch of gears you can take it up over rolling terrain too, or just go easy and cruise the beach paths effortlessly.

Prices are generally more reasonable than equivalent gravel/adventure bikes.

Just fyi: if you’re not au fait with good bike brands, you might be interested in checking my Road Bike Brands for Beginners article (websites listed). While it concerns road bikes, most if not all the brands listed produce flatbar road / fitness / urban / city bikes – they go by many names depending on manufacturer.

Having a quick browse around to see what’s available, I’d be thinking along the lines of the Kona Dew Plus or Cannondale Quick 5, available in men’s or women’s variants.

City or Urban bikes for exercise examples: Kona Dew Plus. (pics for illustration purposes, see for further)

City and Urban bikes for exercise examples: Cannondale Quick 5 available in men’s and women’s variants. (pics for illustration purposes, see for further)

What’s behind Door D? It’s an Endurance Road Bike

Yay! Now, what’s the deal with this? Endurance road bikes are meant to cover distance and to do it as fast, light and efficiently as possible. While they’re not purebred racing machines, they’re all but that bar the high price. Endurance road bikes with drop handlebars, 20-24 gears are made for asphalt with tires for all weathers and conditions on tarmac. They’re light but not necessarily flimsy. Most will cope with anything rough roads have to offer. No other bike can cover the distance like the road bike. One with frames designed for endurance will be more comfortable for longer than those designed purely for racing and events. With these bikes you can climb as long and high as your lungs allow. If you pictured really getting away, like far away on your exercising rides, then you probably put yourself on a road bike. Nothing can touch the speed and efficiency of an endurance road bike.

Prices do vary, but even the lowliest models will be anything up to 5kg (11lbs) lighter than the equivalent hardtail MTB.

Just fyi: if you’re not au fait with good bike brands, you might be interested in checking my Road Bike Brands for Beginners article (websites listed). Have a quick browse around that article to see what’s available, I’d be pointing out to you bikes along the lines of Specialized Allez (men’s) or Dolce (women’s) or for something different, Boardman SLR 8.6 available in men’s and women’s also.

Endurance road bikes for exercise examples: Specialized Allez E5 (men’s) and Dolce (women’s). Pics for illustration purposes, see for further) Endurance road bikes for exercise examples: Boardman SLR 8.6 (pics for illustration purposes, see for further)

So as ever, none of this is meant to be prescriptive. It’s not about the right or wrong choice, it’s just about you getting out there and getting some wonderful exercise and having a hoot while you’re doing it! I’m hopeful this will at least have given you a place to start your own research. I’d love to hear your experiences. Meantime, all the very best, ride safe and have fun, David.

Updated for 2020 with current models!

Looking for a fast and light hybrid bike with flat bars instead of a road bike with drop bars? Some people prefer a flat bar set up that’s more upright and that feels more like a mountain bike, but still want the speed of a road bike. That’s where hybrids come in.

Here are some of the top hybrid bikes for 2019. These bikes are sleek and fast like a road bike, but with flat bars. We picked from the higher end models, to maximize speed and minimize weight. These hybrids go fast on the road. Which one would you ride?

BMC Alpenchallenge 01 Three Hybrid Bike


What’s not to like about BMC’s sleek, aluminum hybrid with a carbon fork? We love the 2 x 10 Shimano GRX drivetrain, which comes over from the gravel category and gives you a terrific range of gears.

The 01 Three hybrid bike is even set up to accept fenders and kickstands if you plan to use it for commuting or riding around town.

Learn more about it.

Canyon Roadlite 7.0 Hybrid Bike

Canyon went all out for speed on this hybrid. An aluminum frame with a carbon fork, featuring Shimano 105 components and disc brakes makes this bike as fast as any similarly equipped road bike, but with flat bars.

Learn more about this bike.

Trek FX Sport 5 Hybrid Bike


FX Sport 5 is a carbon fiber framed hybrid bike for riders who want the speed of a road bike with the comfort and control of standard flat handlebars. The OCLV Carbon frame has a road-smoothing IsoSpeed decoupler to smooth out rough roads, a carbon fork, a Shimano Tiagra 2×10 drivetrain, and hydraulic disc brakes make it perfect for everything from solo workouts to speedy group rides. Like the BMC, it also has hidden fender mounts if you are looking for a speedy commuter.

Learn more about this bike.

Giant FastRoad Advanced 1 Hybrid Bike


Giant’s fastest hybrid bike is a full carbon bike, like the Trek, with both the frame and fork. It also features disc brakes and a Shimano 2 x 11 speed drivetrain with 105 derailleurs and 12mm through axles instead of quick release. Innovative D-Fuse composite seatpost absorbs road vibrations. smart-mount rack and fender system lets you customized the bike for fitness riding, commuting or long-range adventures.

Learn more about this bike.

Specialized Sirrus Pro Carbon Hybrid Bike


This is the fastest hybrid that Specialized makes, and it comes with a higher end Shimano Ultegra rear 11 speed derailleur to prove it. It has a full carbon frame and fork, and a seat post designed to dampen shocks and stay comfortable over rougher roads. Thu-axle wheels, fender mounts, and a really nice Specialized Phenom saddle with titanium rails.

Cannondale Quick Carbon 1 Hybrid Bike


Cannondale’s Quick Carbon 1 hybrid bike has road bike level Shimano 105 derailleurs and 11 speed shifting. You’ll get a full carbon fiber frame and fork, and hydraulic disc brakes. Road bike speed with a more upright, hybrid position. Rack and fender mounts.

Learn more about this bike.

Felt Verza Speed 6 Hybrid Bike


The Felt Versa Speed 6 is a full carbon hybrid bike with both a carbon frame and fork. It comes with disc brakes, thru-axle wheels, and Shimano Tiagra 2 x 10 speed derailleurs. If you want Felt’s fastest and lightest weight 2019 model hybrid bike, this is it.

Learn more about this bike.

Bianchi C-Sport-3 Hybrid Bike

This full aluminum frame and fork hybrid bicycle from Bianchi features the brand’s iconic color so that everyone will know that you’re riding an Italian champion. Disc brakes. Shimano Alvio and Acero shifting with 2 x 9 gearing.

See More Bikes

Are these flat bar hybrids out of your price range, and you’d like to get something a little cheaper?

If so, then check out our Best Fitness Bikes for under $1,000.

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