Magnetic Resistance Spin Bike Review – 5 Top Picks in 2021

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In this article I share my my evaluations of five well-built & highly-regarded spin bikes all built with smooth magnetic resistance.

I product-tested four of them in sporting goods and fitness equipment stores, and the other one is only available online. I chose spin bikes that I consider to be the best model for a specific price point, since their prices range from around $400 to almost two thousand dollars.

In addition, this article contains a buying guide and a section highlighting the many benefits of magnetic spin bikes.

 

Magnetic spin bikes are quiet & easy to take care of

An indoor cycling bike is a great piece of low-impact cardio equipment, and if it’s built with magnetic resistance your bike will be whisper-quiet & virtually maintenance-free. All of the exercise bikes in this review employ belt drives not friction pads, another quiet feature.

 

Here are the five magnetic resistance spin bike models we’ll be looking at.

Last update on 2021-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

 

Price ranges of magnetic spin bikes

It’s reasonable to assume we all have different financial situations and therefore different budgets in mind when we’re shopping for a piece of home cardio equipment like an exercise bike.

As I mentioned, during my retail store recon & product research for magnetic spin bikes I looked for the best models within certain prices ranges.

Why?

Because not everyone reading this can afford to buy the top magnetic spin bike of the bunch — the Keiser M3i — which costs just a hair under $2000.

So I picked a “best magnetic resistance spin bike” at different price ranges: unlimited, under $1000, under $700, under $600, and on down to the budget spin bike that goes for right around four hundred bucks.

With a price range that wide, the quality of these bikes will (obviously) vary as well, but I wanted to include a magnetic spin bike for every budget.

 

Do you need a mat for your spin bike?

May I suggest that you protect both your equipment investment & your floor by making sure you have a decent mat under your bike.

A good mat can prevent wear and tear on your floor that can occur over thousands of hours working out. A mat also keeps floor dust or carpet fibers from getting into your spin bike’s moving parts and causing problems down the road.

I wrote a buyer’s guide and article on the better equipment mats available for both carpet and hardwood floors here.

 

A sneak peek at these magnetic resistance spin bikes

What does an owner have to say about the performance of their spin bike?

You can click on their names or the pics if you want to read more owner feedback & reviews on Amazon.

 

Best Overall Magnetic Spin Bike

Keiser M3i

4.9 ⭐

“Fantastic. I have used this spin bike now for 3 months. I do use the Peloton app with it. It works very well and I’m pleased. It is a solid bike and worth the cost.” – D

 

 

Best Magnetic Spin Bike Under $1000

Schwinn IC4

4.6 ⭐

“The Schwinn IC4 is the nicest spin bike we’ve ever used – and we’ve ridden a lot of different spin bikes over the last twenty years. The bike is smooth, quiet, comfortable, and pretty easy to use.” – TS

 

 

Best Magnetic Spin Bike Under $700

Schwinn IC3

4.6 ⭐

“I’m a Spinning instructor and am pleasantly surprised with this bike and the price. The flywheel is super smooth and quiet. And there’s no slippage between the pedals and wheel when standing (like some belt-driven models I’ve tried).” – CS

 

 

Best Magnetic Spin Bike Under $600

Sunny SF-B1805 Indoor Cycling Bike

4.6 ⭐

“Solid as a rock. This quality of this spin bike is amazing for the price point. It is VERY solidly built with no cheap plastic parts. The magnetic resistance is very smooth (spend the extra money on this model with magnetic resistance if you are looking at options that are similar but cheaper than Peloton).” – S

 

 

Best Budget Spin Bike Under $400

Joroto X2 Indoor Cycling Bike

 4.5 ⭐

 

“Great Bargain. High quality. I bought this spin bike to use with the Peloton app and I was not disappointed. It was easy to assemble and it is very quiet. ” – SH

 

 

Interested in a DIY Peloton?

Want a Peloton experience in your home and save over a thousand buck$ at the same time?

I wrote a step-by-step guide on how to create your own Peloton alternative for pretty cheap.

It’s here on heydayDo, & here’s a link to that article: DIY Peloton.

 

 

Reviews of the best magnetic spin bikes (by price)

Top Pick

Keiser M3i

 

Sale
Keiser M3i Indoor Cycle Bundle
  • Black Friday bundle includes: Keiser M3i Indoor Cycle, Media Tray, Stretch Pads, Floor Mat, Gel Seat Cover, Dumbbell Holder, M Series Assembly and...
  • Industry’s First V-Shape Frame: Enables M3i to mimic different road-bike frames by allowing seat and handlebars to be raised in conjunction to...
  • M Connect - The M Series Connected Computer connects seamlessly to your favorite fitness apps!
  • Durability and Beauty: Simple, elegant design makes the M3i extremely durable, virtually maintenance-free, and a stunning showpiece for your home or...
  • Made in the USA: The M3i is the ONLY indoor bike built in the U.S., ensuring the highest quality control standards

Last update on 2021-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

Best-in-class engineering put user performance and comfort front & center with Keiser’s M3i. This bike is on par or better than the commercial spin bikes used in gym classes, and so the M3i is an excellent indoor cycling bike choice for home use.

The fact that Keiser has sold over 300,000 M-Series bikes worldwide is a testament to the reputation their quality has. There are quite a number of thoughtful design choices Keiser made that separate this magnetic spin bike from the pack of home exercise bikes.

 

What I like:

Excellent owner satisfaction rating – 4.9 stars (2,000+ owner reviews online)

Excellent warranty – 3 years

Expertly designed & manufactured – here in the US of A.

Certified accuracy of power data – what a contrast to the vast majority of imported spin bikes whose workout stats have been proven to be inaccurate by dozens of their owners.

Fits everyone – so many adjustment points to fine tune the rider’s optimal position.

Constantly tested – Keiser randomly checks every component of one of their production line bikes every day.

 

Potential issues for some:

*Cost – at a hair under 2 grand, the M3i will be too expensive for some people.

 

Specs:

Pedals: Dual sided, toe cage & SPD compatible

Adjustability: Full 4-way (up/down, forward/aft) adjustability for seat, & 4-way for the handlebars too

Inseam: no limitations due to the bike’s unique design

User Weight Capacity: 350 lb.

Rider height range: 4’10” – 7’ tall

Q factor: 197mm

Console: Yes

Interactive: Yes, BlueTooth-compatible

Media tray: Yes

Other: Calf stretch pads on rear of bike frame, bike mat included, heart rate monitor included, M Series interactive app included

Add-ons available for purchase: dumbbell holder, assembly & maintenance kit, M Converter to connect to top cycling apps like Peloton, Zwift, SufferFest, & others

 

 

Best Magnetic Resistance Spin Bike Under $1000

Schwinn IC4

 

Sale
Schwinn Fitness IC4 Indoor Cycling Bike
  • Includes 1-Year JRNY Membership ($149 value)
  • The JRNY experience assesses your fitness level, creates daily adaptive workouts that automatically adjust as you improve over time, and provides...
  • Use with popular third party cycling apps like Peloton and Zwift on your smartphone, tablet or smart TV, and, with a JRNY account, during your...
  • Explore destinations around the world and discover 50+ global routes that auto-adjust in real time to your speed (JRNY Membership required)
  • Magnetic resistance with 100 micro-adjustable resistance levels

Last update on 2021-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

What I like:

* Excellent owner satisfaction –  92% 5 & 4-star ratings from 5,000+ buyers.

* Excellent warranty – 10 years frame, 3 years parts & electrical, 1 year free labor

* Easy connectivity to all sorts of apps –  including Peloton, Zwift, Explore the World, etc.

 

Potential issues for some:

* A few people commented that the seat was hard. I agree, though every spin bike seat I’ve ever been on hasn’t been real comfortable for me.

* Not a really broad inseam range, so the real short & real tall people may be out of luck.

 

Specs:

  • Type of spin bike pedal: SPD/cage
  • Adjustability of seat & handlebars: Yes
  • Inseam range: Schwinn site said it’s good up to 39″ (but from a couple of owners, sounds like 36″ is tops)
  • User weight capacity: N/A (I looked on Schwinn’s website, but nada)
  • Rider height range (if mentioned): N/A
  • Computer console? Bluetooth interactive? Yes/Yes, + Peloton & Zwift app connectivity, others too
  • Media tray? Yes
  • Anything else? Dumbbell cradles

 

 

Best Magnetic Resistance Spin Bike Under $700

Schwinn IC3

 

Sale
Schwinn Fitness IC3 Indoor Cycling Bike
  • 40 pounds flywheel powered by a smooth and silent belt drive with infinitely variable resistance
  • Dual SPD pedals come standard with toe cages and clips
  • Urethane-dipped handlebars with fore/aft adjustment and integrated multi-media device holder designed to keep you engaged during your workout
  • Fully adjustable ventilated race-style seat
  • Oversized water bottle holder so you can stay hydrated

Last update on 2021-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

What I like:

* Excellent owner satisfaction rating –  90% 5 & 4-star reviews from 1900+ buyers.

* Excellent warranty – 10 years frame, 2 years parts, 1 year free labor.

* Inexpensive peloton alternative with unlimited fine-tuning of resistance levels

 

Potential issues for some:

* A few women 5’4″ & shorter felt the bike was not a good fit for their body type, & men over 6′ 4″ or so (with inseams > 36″) agreed.

* A handful of owners (out of  almost 2,000 reviews) had the bike develop a squeak they couldn’t get rid of after owning it for awhile (My Tip: treadmill silicon lubricant is your friend here, not WD-40).

 

Specs:

  • Type of spin bike pedals: SPD cages or clips
  • Adjustability of seat & handlebars: Yes
  • Inseam range: N/A (35″ & under is my guess)
  • User weight capacity: 300 lb.
  • Computer console? Bluetooth interactive? Yes/Yes, + heart rate telemetry.
  • Media tray? Yes
  • Anything else? Water bottle holder

 

 

Best Magnetic Resistance Bike Under $600

Sunny SF-B1805 Indoor Cycling Bike

 

Sale
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike with 44...
  • HEAVY-DUTY FLYWHEEL: Intensify cardio w/ 44 lb Flywheel. Strengthen your legs with a higher weighted wheel and enjoy an incredibly smooth, nearly...
  • HEAVY-DUTY FLYWHEEL: Intensify cardio w/ 44 pounds Flywheel. Strengthen your legs with a higher weighted wheel and enjoy an incredibly smooth, nearly...
  • FULLY CUSTOMIZABLE: 4-way adjustable seat & handlebar proper form and a perfect fit. Steel toe-cage pedals designed w/ adjustable straps. Inseam: Min:...
  • TABLET HOLDER: Improve your fitness experience by securely placing your phone or tablet in the tablet holder.
  • SAFETY & CONVENIENCE: Transportation wheels for easy portability. Emergency stop brake for safety in case wheel is spinning too fast. Water bottle...

Last update on 2021-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

Sunny makes a lot of bikes (of varying quality too), and this fairly inexpensive SF-B1805 won’t ever be thought of as one of the best magnetic spin bikes out there.

But this model has a few good things going for it, especially considering the low price (for a decent indoor cycling bike anyways).

They skipped adding the plastic doodads and cheapo electronics typical of low-budget spin bikes, and put the money on the bike’s moving parts.

Sunny’s design intent here is clearly on building a good flywheel, belt drivetrain, and magnetic resistance system. With no bells or whistles added to the Sunny bike, this helps to keep the price down.

 

What I like:

Excellent owner satisfaction –  4.6 stars (2,500+ online reviews).

Belt drive & magnetic resistance strike again – virtually noiseless and nearly maintenance free.

Fully adjustable seat & handlebars – nice because many models around this price don’t offer the user the same level of fit customization.

 

Potential issues for some:

*Some might slight this SF-B1805 for being electronic-less.

(But in this price range almost all of the computer consoles on exercise bikes spit out stats of questionable accuracy anyways.)

 

Specs:

Pedals: toe cages (steel)

Adjustability: 4-way for both seat & handlebars

Inseam: 28” – 38”

Capacity: 300 lb

Rider height range: none given, range based on inseam

Q factor: 182mm

Console: No

Interactive: n/a

Media tray: Yes

Other: Emergency flywheel brake

 

 

Best Magnetic Spin Bike Under $400

Joroto X2 Indoor Cycling Bike

 

JOROTO Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike with Magnetic Resistance...
  • 【 Solid Build 】- The AV type frame, 35lbs chromed flywheel, 50mm thickened frame tube and updated 300lbs max user weight give this indoor cycling...
  • 【 Whisper Quiet 】- Magnetic resistance and belt drive system create an unbelievably smooth and nearly silent ride, this bike is very suitable for...
  • 【 Fully Adjustable 】- The wide seat and handlebar are both 4-way adjustable to fit those users with different heights (Suitable inseam: Max 36.2"...
  • 【 Safe & Convenient 】- Emergency stop brake and handlebar-adjust tube bump for safety. Multi-use holder can support the tablet, phones, water...
  • 【 Our Promise 】- This X2 indoor cycling bike's shipping weight is 108 lbs, itself weighs 94 lbs while its flywheel weighs 35 lbs, which is much...

Last update on 2021-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

Here’s a budget spin bike I believe is worth a look, the Joroto X2. For around 400 bucks this Joroto X2 is fairly priced and is a good choice for someone who wants a decent beginner’s magnetic spinning bike.

IMHO, at this price point the buyer’s focus should be on the quality of the critical parts: the drivetrain system, the resistance type, and the frame.

Here, the Joroto X2 delivers.

 

This cheap spin bike comes with a balanced 30 lb. flywheel that’s powered via the always smooth & quiet belt drive, and topped off with maintenance-free silent magnetic resistance.

At this point, who cares if the monitor’s junky? The moving parts on this machine indicate this is a somewhat durable magnetic spin bike.

 

Building fitness products for 35+ years

Joroto – if you haven’t heard of them – originated here in the USA in Colorado. They now have over 2,000 retail stores worldwide, with offices on 4 continents.

 

My point being, they’re not one of the many Amazon sellers of cheap fitness products who aren’t a real fitness company.

Those companies — you’ve seen ‘em — who don’t have a retail presence or even a company website, that just sell their manufactured knockoffs online at Amazon, Walmart, eBay, etc.

 

What I like:

Whisper-quiet thanks to the well-built flywheel & drivetrain with magnetic resistance and a belt drive.

Excellent owner satisfaction rating – 90% 5 & 4-star reviews from 4,500+ online buyers.

9” inseam range: 27” to 36” will allow for shorter riders & somewhat tall (6’4″ – 6’5″-ish) riders alike

4-way fully adjustable handlebars & seat – It’s a nice touch to see on such an inexpensive magnetic cycle.

 

Potential issues for some:

*They have a basic monitor, but it’s not very good. It’s not backlit nor easy to read, and it’s obviously made of cheap electronics (which I obviously am never too fond of).

If they ditched that, they could drop the price by at least 75 bucks or so, right? 😀

 

Specs:

Pedals: Toe Cage, plastic

(also with 9/16” threads, so they’re easy to replace with a quality SPD pedal if you want to wear indoor cycling shoes to improve your pedaling performance)

 

Adjustability: 4-way fully adjustable for both seat & handlebars

Inseam: 27” – 36”

User Weight Capacity:  280 lb.

Rider height range: based on inseam, but I’d roughly guess 5’ – 6’5” or so

Q factor: 180mm

Console: Yes, basic stats without pulse

Interactive: No

Media tray: Yes

Other: 2 water bottle holders

 

Indoor cycling bike buyer’s guide

Woman on exercise bike with a white dog

While you’re shopping for an exercise bike, there are a number of features that may be worth considering when comparing two models to each other.

My list below touches on (what I consider) the more important bike bits to be aware of.

 

Benefits of a magnetic resistance spin bike vs. friction

A magnetic spin bike is superior to an exercise bike made with the traditional friction pad resistance in the following ways:

 

Magnetic spin bikes are a lot quieter than those with friction pads.

Many people do their indoor cycling workouts in their bedroom next to a sleeping partner or baby. Nobody gets disturbed when someone’s pedaling away on a magnetic resistance spin bike, but the same can’t be said for a bike made with direct contact resistance.

When the felt pad presses against the flywheel as resistance is added you will hear it, and it’ll get louder as resistance is increased.

 

A magnetic spin bike requires less repair cost & time.

There are no bike parts constantly coming in contact with each other like you have with a friction pad and its direct contact resistance with the flywheel.

And those friction pads wear out over time.

 

Magnetic resistance needs much less cleaning to maintain it than friction resistance.

As friction pads wear down from constantly being used, tiny particles flake off the pad and into the bike’s mechanics.

If you don’t clean it regularly, bike performance will eventually suffer.

 

All of the bikes featured in this review come with magnetic resistance.

 

Belt drive vs. chain drive on an exercise bike

Belt drives on spin bikes are considered superior to chain drives for the same sort of reasons that magnetic resistance is better than friction pads. Compared to

* belt drives are quieter;

* and belt drives require less cleaning & maintenance.

All of the spin bikes featured in this review come with belt drives.

 

The Q factor on an exercise bike

Musclaman in front of circus tent riding old-fashioned bike in comical pose

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, the q-factor on a bike is a distance measurement between the points where each of the bike’s pedals attach to their respective crank arms.

The number is usually mentioned in millimeters by bike manufacturers in their marketing literature.

 

Random factoid: the ‘Q’ stands for the word ‘quack’, believe it or not.

The phrase was invented at Bridgestone Bicycles by one of their engineers.

The wider the ‘Q factor’ on a bike, the more the rider’s pedaling motion reminded them of a duck waddle…

 

So should you always buy the spin bike with the lowest Q number?

Well even the manufacturers of cheap, low-budget spin bikes are listing their low Q factors in their marketing material, and talking that point up like it’s an important factor.

 

Keiser doesn’t think Q factor is real important for most people shopping for a magnetic spin bike.

Keiser are world-class experts at building world-class indoor cycles. Elite cyclists by the hundreds train on their Keiser M3i’s during their winter offseason, when the weather’s too nasty to go for a ride.

Keiser’s been making high-quality spin bikes for decades too, having sold more than 300,000 of them worldwide. And they think all the Q-factor emphasis is overblown.

Keiser states that narrow Q factors are designed specifically to match the “narrow shoes & pelvises of elite cyclists”.

Keiser’s logic is that since the bikes that Keiser makes are for regular people as well as racing cyclists, they opted instead to use a more forgiving design that can accommodate all of the various body types spin bike riding people have.

Quack Quick question: Anyone here have the same body type & narrow racing shoes of an elite cyclist?

 

Other spin bike features to consider

Here are some more features exercise bikes like these have that may be worth taking note of, plus a few accessories that the bike may or may not have.

I will address all of these qualities for each of the spin bikes in their respective reviews.

  • Type of spin bike pedals
  • Adjustability of seat & handlebars
  • Inseam range
  • User weight capacity
  • Rider height range (if mentioned)
  • Computer console? Bluetooth interactive?
  • Media tray?
  • Anything else?

 

test tubes green - heydayDO icon

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.

 

Benefits of indoor cycling

Best Magnetic Resistance Bike - heydayDo image

 

Here are a few real good reasons to make a spin bike workout a regular part of your lifestyle.

 

Burns calories & builds muscle

An hour of moderate stationary cycling burns 650 calories for a 205 lb. person, and just under 500 if you weigh around 150.

When you bump your intensity up to a vigorous level, those burned calorie numbers jump up to 977 and 740, respectively.

Indoor cycling strengthens & builds muscle in your legs, as shown in these sports science research studies here and here.

The main muscles activated during cycling are your upper leg muscles (the quadriceps & the hamstrings), and your lower leg muscles (the soleus & the gastrocnemius).

You will also engage your butt muscles (AKA glutes), provided your intensity level is sufficient to get you up out of your seat.

 

Low impact cardio

An spin bike is a great piece of low impact exercise equipment.

With it you can get in some excellent exercise that is much kinder to your bones & joints than running or an aerobics class.

 

Good cardio for bad knees

Medical experts at the Cleveland Clinic also recommend cycling for people who are unable to walk for long periods due to arthritis or other bone diseases.

And if you’re healthy, I encourage you to consider use some of your indoor cycling time as a way to get the benefits of high interval intensity training (aka HIIT)

While some popular forms of high intensity training can be rough on your joints’ tendons & small bones, indoor cycling can provide an awesome low impact HIIT workout.

 

Indoor cycling needs your intensity

If you want to boost your indoor cycling performance over time, you’ll need to stay on top of your intensity levels during your workouts.

There’ll be times to really kick it into gear, and times to take it down a notch.

Also, you’ll need to manage your exercise intensity if you want to grab all of those health & quality of life benefits I mentioned earlier too. But don’t forget to stretch beforehand.

 

spin bike icon purple

 

Wrapping Up

I hope my product recon & research on magnetic resistance spin bikes is useful to you, and that the benefits & buying guide sections are helpful too.

I wish you well on your fitness journey; let’s go.

– greg

July 2021

 


About heydayDo

heydayDo author Greg Simon
Hi I’m Greg Simon. Fitness training & nutrition researching since 1982. Organic food & wine grower. Surfer. Congenital heart disease survivor (so far). Read more…
heydayDo is my “fitness after 50” website that’s about embracing the physically active lifestyle as we get older.
 
I write about the fitness and health research I’ve found concerning the quality of life benefits that exercise and good nutrition provide.
 
When I get curious about something, I’ll dig into whatever sports science & medical facts there are on the topic to learn what’s real & what’s only hype. I also post my experiences product-testing & evaluating home gym equipment & fitness supplements.
 
 It’s an information-sharing, personal opinion blog of mine.
 
So if you’re looking for medical or nutritional advice, please consult with your doctor or health professional for that, since heydayDo does not provide medical advice.