This review article features several highly-rated and popular upright & recumbent exercise bikes that have moving arms.
I chose what I believe are the top 3 in each category after evaluating over 15 models during my retail store product-testing recon & research mission.
Advantages of using more muscles when you ride
For one, you can increase the calorie burn of a regular stationary bike workout by using one with moving arms instead.
And involving your upper body muscles while you’re pedaling will boost the intensity of your workout and thus increase the benefits your exercise time will provide you.
Here are the 6 bikes I’ll be reviewing…
Upright Stationary Bikes with Moving Arms
Assault AirBike Classic – 4.7⭐ 900+ online reviews
Schwinn Airdyne AD7 Bike – 4.7⭐ 1,400+ online reviews
Marcy Exercise Upright Fan Bike AIR-1 – 4.4⭐ 700+ reviews
Recumbent Bikes with Arm Exerciser
Teeter FreeStep Recumbent – 4.7⭐ 800+ online reviews
Stamina Elite Total Body Recumbent Bike – 4.4⭐ 300+ online reviews
Stamina Recumbent Bike w/ Upper Body Exerciser – 4.2⭐ 100+ online reviews
Science resources included
As is my custom here on heydayDo, I will provide links to all of the relevant sports science & medical resources, clinical studies, and nutritional data used in this article.
Quick peek: exercise bikes with moving arms
“Very good quality build & sturdy. The assembly was very easy. The work out on this thing is EXCELLENT – works legs, arms, back & core.” – AR
“Very heavy duty stationary bike which also gives you an upper body workout. Excellent way to get an aerobic workout! Assembly was easy.” – SJR
“I like this bike. It is definitely a beginner level machine, but it is plenty for me at this stage of life (66 years old). It was easy to assemble and is light enough to move around easily. ” – MAS
“My husband and I had knee replacements and this cross trainer works very well to strengthen our muscles. The machine is very well built and well worth the cost.” -GP
“I purchased this recumbent bike in February of 2008 – and it’s still going strong today in January 2017. It is a good workout for someone who is not an athlete nor is interested in getting an expensive gym membership.”
“Purchased for my elderly father to exercise at home. Arm and leg motion. Excellent choice. Not a lot of electronics and programming to deal with. Easy on. Easy off. ” -BJ52
Product testing: going from 17 bikes to 6
I excluded from this review any products that had poor ergonomics or felt cheaply-made** and unlikely to last.
Then I eliminated any remaining candidates who had too many owner complaints for my liking.
** Exceptions for the people whose money is tight
I know this much about me: I am heavily biased towards high quality products with outstanding warranties, and am no fan of cheap imported fitness equipment.
However, I will include low-budget products in my fitness equipment reviews if & only if they are:
- well-rated by a high number of verified purchasers, AND
- have what I believe are legitimate owner reviews.
I do this for the readers who are on a tight budget and simply can’t afford to purchase the top-quality products.
For example, this review of exercise bikes with moving arms has 2 inexpensive models – one upright & one recumbent – that are both well-regarded by the majority of their owners.
But keep in mind that I’m really picky about what I buy.
So just because a piece of exercise equipment made it onto one of my review articles doesn’t mean I think it’s worth me spending money on it.
Protect Your Investment
Do you need an exercise equipment mat to protect your floor from your home cardio machine?
A good mat also keeps floor dust or carpet fibers from getting into your equipment’s moving parts and causing problems.
I wrote a buyer’s guide & article on the better equipment mats available for both carpet & hardwood floors here.
Benefits of owning an exercise bike
There are several advantages to adding an exercise bike to your home, and here are a few of them.
When you have a gym membership you need to:
- spend time getting ready to go there
- spend time going there
- maybe spend time waiting to use a cardio machine
- spend time coming back
And that’s just for one workout.
Multiply that by how many times per week you want to work out.
That likely comes out to several hours per week.
With your own exercise bike, you’ll have all that time to do something better for yourself than spending it dealing with the gym.
Work out whenever you want
An exercise bike in your home means that your gym is open 24/7/365.
You can work out whenever the mood suits you, and whenever a pocket of time opens up for you during your day.
You’re able to fit little workouts into your routine because of the convenience of having your exercise bike nearby, ready & waiting.
No dress code
Work out in your PJs if you want.
No primping required
You’re not going out in public, so there’s no need to make yourself look good, or even smell good. 😄
Nobody else’s germs
That’s a gross one I know…sorry ‘bout that.
But it’s true.
Gyms & their fitness equipment are hosts to more unwanted bacteria than you probably want to know about.
YOUR entertainment choices, not theirs
You can ride your bike listening to your music or watching your shows.
Or if you like it quiet, you can do that too.
All of those options are a lot better than having to endure whatever noise the gym’s sound system is blasting at you.
Exercise Bikes with Moving Arms Review
This is one of my 2 favorite bikes among the 6 featured in this review (the other being the Schwinn AD7).
It is built to commercial-grade standards and also has the best warranty.
It is specifically designed to easily handle any high-intensity training program you want to do.
Similar to air resistance rowing machines, you supply the resistance through your effort.
The big 25” fan pulls in as much air as your legs & arms can give it.
The more air, the more resistance you’ll encounter, the more intense your workout becomes.
Simple. Powerful. Effective.
Built for heavy duty workout use
There’s a good reason (a few good reasons) the Assault AirBike is the go-to exercise bike in CrossFit© boxes and high-intensity athlete gyms throughout the country.
It can handle heavy usage without breaking down, and it provides a grade-A cardiovascular workout.
In case you didn’t know, be aware that bikes with air resistance aren’t silent by any means. You’re drawing air through the giant fan in front of you.
What I like:
Excellent owner satisfaction rating – 90% 4&5-star ratings, with 4.5 stars from more than 900 reviews across the internet
High user weight capacity – of 350 lb.
Lots of heavy gauge steel – a very sturdy, stable, & durable bike. Assault uses sealed bearings instead of bushings to increase the structural integrity of this bike
Can easily connect with your heart monitor – doesn’t come with one but they recommend this Polar chest strap. The AirBike easily pairs with your monitor and displays your heart rate on its console screen
Easy to see, easy to use console – another simple & effective design choice without unneeded complexity
Nice workout presets – the bike has 8 programs to choose from based on calories, time, distance,& heart rate. Styles include Tabata, Intervals, Watts, & HR. You can set your own target goals within these parameters too
Best warranty – 5 years frame, 2 years parts
An excellent air bike model from Schwinn with a very nice warranty, the AD7 Airdyne is an easy top choice of mine.
Important note to Amazon shoppers:
If you scour through verified owner reviews on Amazon like I do, here’s something to look out for with this Schwinn AD7.
1. The AD7 is grouped on the same page as its cheaper siblings, the AD6 & AD2.
2. The owner reviews of ALL 3 models are lumped together too, meaning the ⭐ ratings you see on the AD7 page are an AVERAGE of all 3 bikes.
3. The AD6 & AD2 bikes are noticeably inferior to the AD7 and have much higher owner complaints, which drags down the ⭐ ratings you see.
Also — don’t get sucked into overpaying one of those resellers on Amazon’s “Available From These Sellers” pages, charging ripoff prices since the shutdown caused equipment inventories to tank.
Wait until it (or better yet, the Airdyne Pro) is in stock and you can see that it’s Schwinn or Amazon selling it, not some importer scam person.
Schwinn AD7 vs. the Assault AirBike
It inevitably draws comparisons to the Assault AirBike I review next, and in my subjective world the AD7 Airdyne holds its own.
This bike is capable of any intensity of workout you want, since it is your leg & arm effort that supplies the resistance you encounter.
Your work draws the air into the AD7’s humungous fan and the more you draw in, the more intense your workout becomes.
The Schwinn AD7 actually weighs more than the Assault AirBike even though it uses more plastic, like in its fan (the Assault AirBike fan is steel).
The AD7’s a quieter bike
I found the Schwinn AD7 to be a little quieter than the AirBike. This is likely due to a couple of things:
- a chain drive on the Assault vs. the belt drive on the Schwinn
- the aforementioned “more metal” on the AirBike makes it a bit noisier than the AD7’s use of aluminum & plastic in addition to steel framing.
The AD7’s a little smoother ride
The belt drive on the Schwinn makes it a smoother ride as well, and easier to stop & go.
The AD7’s more expensive
At this time, I’m seeing this Schwinn AD7 costing a hair under 900 bucks on Amazon, while the Assault AirBike is a hair under 700 bucks over on Rogue Fitness (the popular CrossFit® equipment store).
Both offer free shipping.
Both have 5 year warranties on their frames.
The Assault AirBike has a longer warranty for parts (2 years vs. 1), while the AD7 provides 90 days of free labor and the Assault AirBike does not.
What I like:
High owner satisfaction – 91% 4&5-star ratings; 4.6 stars across the internet with nearly 1,500 owner reviews
Belt drive – makes this quieter & smoother than its air bike competitors
Great warranty – 5 years frame, 1 year parts, 90 days labor
Heart monitoring capable – the console will read & display your heart rate, but you need to buy your own uncoded Polar chest strap
High user weight capacity – 350 lb.
Multiple preset programs – intervals or target-based
Multi-position handlebars – to target different arm & shoulder muscles
Best Cheap Upright Exercise Bike with Arm Workout
Here’s my very wallet-friendly selection for the upright exercise bikes with moving arms section.
This Marcy air bike is certainly a lower-quality junior sibling to the two heavy-duty models I just reviewed, but it’s not a total piece of junk.
It is quite capable of providing a very good light-to-moderate cardio workout for someone who isn’t looking to use it for a hardcore HIIT routine.
Keeping one’s long-term performance expectations reasonable – since it’s so inexpensive for an air bike – I think it could work out well for a wide range of people.
(Just not the super fit folks, who’d likely wear it down & out in a hurry.)
Marcy’s AIR-1 seems best for seniors, easy riders, and perhaps those who really want an air bike but just can’t afford to buy one of the high-quality models.
Things to consider with the Marcy air bike
Do note however…that though it looks like a smaller version of those tough & durable commercial-grade air bikes I just reviewed, this Stamina AIR-1 is not in the same league.
It’s warranty isn’t as good and it isn’t as well-made or as durable.
It’s shorter warranty tells me this bike is better-suited for casual exercisers, or someone who isn’t real fit or strong.
What I like:
Good owner satisfaction ratings across the internet – 83%, 4.4 stars with 700+ online owner reviews
2-year warranty – not as great as the other air bike warranties we saw, but good for a low-priced exercise bike. (Many similarly priced models elsewhere only offer 90 days for parts)
Lasts awhile? I tracked down a few owners who’ve gotten a few (3-6) years’ worth of trouble-free use out of their Stamina Air-1; that’s encouraging for sure
Recumbent Exercise Bikes with Moving Arms
This is a very well-designed dual action exercise bike that is both a recumbent bike & an elliptical machine in one.
It’s ideal for anyone who wants a light to moderate no-impact full-body workout, but it won’t cut it if you’ve got muscle and like to bring the intensity when you cardio up.
The step-through bike design makes the Teeter FreeStep a good choice for seniors with arthritis, as well as anyone who’s experiencing issues with their balance.
At 300 lb., the FreeStep has the highest user weight capacity of any of the recumbent bikes with arm exercisers.
Very good company, but…
Teeter’s a great American-made company.
I know their business & product lines well, as I bought their EP-970 LTD. inversion table awhile ago. It’s a great product that’s done me a world of good.
And this Teeter FeeStep of theirs is also another obviously well-built, well-designed piece of fitness equipment too.
Sit in this for a few minutes pedaling, then jump onto one of their competitors’ machines – you’ll see/feel what I mean right away.
…a short warranty on the FreeStep
I just have a little beef with the 1-year warranty they offer.
The Teeter FreeStep costs the same as the Schwinn AD7 and a couple hundred more than the Assault AirBike.
But both provide superior warranties (5 years) compared to what comes with this Teeter FreeStep.
Who this bike is & isn’t designed for
This bike is not built for athletes or other dedicated fitness people looking for a cardio machine to perform HIIT-type workouts.
The Teeter FreeStep Recumbent is well-suited to provide a good full-body workout to exercise beginners and anyone who isn’t in great shape.
What I like:
Very good owner satisfaction rating of 86% with 800+ 4 & 5-star owner reviews
Recumbent elliptical pedaling motion means a no stress, low impact cardio workout. Great idea for anyone with hip joint or knee problems
It’s an elliptical & a stationary bike with moving arms too– which means you can get a full-body cardio workout
Decent range of resistance settings for most users, which are easy to adjust – there’s a dial right in front of you
Quiet ride – Even with the elliptical pedaling and the arms moving, the Teeter FreeStep is still very quiet
This popular recumbent bike with arm workout combo might be the oldest dual action recumbent exercise bike still around.
Like the Teeter FreeStep, the Stamina Elite has a nice & open step-through bike design.
This makes it “very easy on, very easy off”, which is great for older people or others dealing with osteoporosis, arthritis, or problems with their balance.
Made for light exercisers only
There’s very little resistance provided in the arm exerciser on this bike, so it is not the best choice for a fit individual looking for a high level of intensity in their cardio workout.
The Stamina Elite will work very well for someone who’s looking for light to moderate cardio, and wants a recumbent bike with an arm exerciser to burn more calories than a traditional stationary bike would.
It’s not low-priced
Even though it’s not made for anyone who’s got some muscle strength, it’s not a cheap bike.
It’s only a few bucks less than the all-star Assault AirBike I reviewed earlier.
Just my guess: Stamina has to be marketing this towards seniors & those not really into getting into shape.
The 5 year warranty for the frame kind of justifies the price, but Stamina’s always a little short with their parts warranties throughout their product lines.
No exception to that here with the Stamina Elite; its parts get just a year’s worth of coverage. Certainly better than their usual 90-day offering, but again, this bike’s over $600.
What I like:
Decent owner reviews – 81% happy campers, 300+ verified owner reviews online
Nice warranty – 5 years on frame, 1 year on parts
Magnetic resistance – gives it a quiet ride and has 8 adjustment levels
Has heart rate monitor – contact handles on either side of your seat, though I don’t trust the stats much (more on that later)
Sturdy steel frame, decent flywheel – and a comfortable, adjustable seat make exercising on this recumbent bike smooth
Assembly is easy – allow at least an hour or so
Shipping free on Amazon
Best Cheap Recumbent Bike with Arm Exerciser
This is my “tight budget” pick for the recumbent bike category.
It’s pretty bare bones in design but it does what its expected to do, which is provide an easy way to get a light cardio workout in.
Although it’s the cheapest stationary bike with moving arms among the 6 models featured in this article, this Stamina model is not without a few good qualities.
I list them down below in its What I Like section.
Not for dedicated fitness buffs
This bike is made for light exercise only.
It (in my humble opinion) will not handle a consistent workout load with any intensity for very long.
If its price is cheap, it’s built cheaply too.
Made for beginners, seniors, & the out-of-shape
For those that aren’t the most physically fit, this Stamina Recumbent Bike with Arm Exerciser can provide a good no-impact cardio workout.
Like the Teeter FreeStep it too has a nice open step-through design, making it well-suited for seniors and those with balance issues.
A couple of things to be aware of
Note that its maximum user weight capacity is 250 lb.
The other thing I want to point out is that it has a short 90 day warranty on parts.
Not surprising, considering how cheap it is.
However, by simply taking the time to register the bike with Stamina after you buy it, they will extend your warranty out to 180 days for free.
What I like:
Very good owner satisfaction – 86% (4&5-star reviews)
Dual resistance – the bike lets you make resistance adjustments for both legs AND arms too
Multiple resistance settings too – 8 of them
Quiet – magnetic resistance keeps noise to a minimum
Has wheels & folds up nicely – It’s compact & portable exercise equipment
Easy to adjust seat & arm exerciser heights
Cheap cardio machines are notorious for having very inaccurate workout monitors. The Stamina Recumbent Bike with Arm Exerciser is no exception either.
If your heart rate and workout stats are important to you — they ought to be, by the way 😄 — I suggest looking into getting a decent fitness monitor (like the FitBit, Lintelek, or CooSpo, etc.) that you can use for any activity you’re doing.
Need a bike with a higher weight capacity?
I humbly suggest that any piece of cardio exercise equipment you’re considering for home use have a user weight capacity that is at least 50 lb. above your current weight.
For example, if someone weighs 250 lb. then the minimum weight capacity they should be shopping for would be 300 lb.
The goal here is to have whatever fitness equipment you pay for last as long as possible.
Here are the user weight capacities for the bikes I reviewed:
Schwinn AD7 Airdyne – 350 lb.
Assault AirBike Classic – 350 lb.
Marcy Fan Bike – 300 lb.
Teeter FreeStep – 300 lb.
Stamina Elite – 250 lb.
Stamina Recumbent + Arm Exerciser – 250 lb.
If you need more user capacity then is offered with the models I cover here, you can take a peek at my article Best Heavy Duty Exercise Bikes Up To 500 lb. Capacity.
More benefits to indoor biking
Burn more calories
The US Dept. of Health recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week be dedicated to low to moderate physical activity.
That works out to 30 minutes 5 days a week, or 25 minutes 6 times a week.
For a 185 lb. person like me, that amounts to burning 311 calories for each of those 30 minutes on a stationary bike.
By contrast, walking only burns 200 in that period.
And though I don’t know the number, imagine how many more calories will be burnt if you’re using your very own exercise bike with moving arms.
Engaging your upper body muscles in addition to your leg work will increase your calorie use by a good margin.
(Note: I don’t know how many more calories are burned on a stationary bike with arms vs. one without, because I couldn’t find any research that had tested for that kind of comparison.)
Easy on the joints
As I just mentioned, a stationary bike workout burns more (311 vs 200) calories every 30 minutes — and it does it with none of the stress on your joints & bones that walking causes.
This is really good news for any of us older people who are dealing with any kind of arthritis, Osteo this or that, or low back pain & the like.
Conditions like these make the simple act of walking a painful one, and that can make it hard to get your necessary amount of daily physical activity.
Health improvements of all sorts
Speaking of physical activity, the Dept. of Health has also stated that exceeding that 150 minutes per week minimum I wrote about will bring about a number of potentially life-changing benefits.
Here are a few things a good amount of weekly exercise can do for you:
- Help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke
- Control weight & reduce fat
- Make your muscles stronger and build endurance
- Promote strong bone, muscle, and joint development,
- Condition your heart and lungs
- Improve sleep
- Decrease potential of becoming depressed
- Increase your energy and self-esteem
- Relieve stress
- Increase your chances of living longer
One would think that a long list of health benefits like this would inspire us all to seek out a more physically active lifestyle…
The health risks if you’re not active enough
The flip side of an active, energetic life is the sedentary “sitting around a lot” life. There are serious health risks associated with this lifestyle.
A few of them are listed in the US Dept. of Health’s article on the importance of physical activity. They simply state
“When you are not physically active, you are more at risk for:
High blood pressure
High blood cholesterol
Type 2 diabetes
Potentially severe health problems if you don’t exercise on one hand, great quality of life benefits if you do on the other.
It seems to me that that’s a real easy choice to make.
I hope my product research & review information in this article is useful to you, and that the health & lifestyle benefits sections are helpful too.
I wish you well on your fitness journey; let’s go.