Try before you buy. Seniors – like everyone else – should try a bike before they buy it, says Bernie Deitrick, who oversees exercise bike testing at CR. An uncomfortable or ill-fitting bike could reduce motivation and, worse, cause pain or worsen physical problems, says Rogers.
Check out trainers. Individuals who are not experienced cyclists may want to consider a session with a personal trainer, who can help position a new bike, assess fitness levels, and recommend courses at an appropriate starting level.
Study the Adaptability Score. The five spin-style exercise bikes reviewed by CR perform reasonably well in our tests. But seniors in particular should pay special attention to adjustability values, which reflect the ability to adjust handlebar height, seat height, and seat position.
On these bikes, you generally lean forward in a way that can be uncomfortable for people with certain back problems. For that reason, a bike that allows the rider to sit a little more upright may be preferable, Deitrick says. According to Rogers, raising the handlebars higher generally means you don’t have to lean forward as much.
Find the right size seat. Another factor seniors should consider is the size (and comfort level) of the seat or saddle, Deitrick says. A narrow racing seat can be uncomfortable for some. While some bikes come with a wider seat, you can swap out the seat on any of these bikes for one you find more comfortable.
Pay attention to the type of pedals on your bike. On some bikes, like the Peloton, the integrated option requires you to use clip-in cycling shoes. So make sure you can comfortably attach your feet to your bike. Others have toe cages that you slide your regular athletic shoes into. (It’s possible to swap out the pedals, according to Deitrick, but you’ll need the right wrench and know-how to do it.)
Consider riding a recumbent. Although we don’t include them in our reviews, exercise bikes that let you ride in a recumbent position — leaning back instead of leaning forward — may be good for those who have certain back problems or balance issues, say Deitrick and Rogers.
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