A clothes (or garment) steamer is a manually operated machine which uses the intensity of steam to remove crumples and creases from clothes and a variety of fabric products. Unlike a traditional iron’s surface, the wand or nozzle of a steamer does not make contact with fabric, reducing wear and tear on more delicate items and reducing the dexterity of hand and time required to deal with fiddly seams, buttons and pleats. That reduction of wear and tear directly impacts clothes’ longevity.
Once more likely to be the province of professional cleaners and stylists - by virtue of high price tags and cumbersome builds - there is now an excellent range of clothes steamers available to buy for home use. Designs do vary but the core idea remains the same: water, stored in a well or reserve, is superheated until it converts to steam. That steam builds and is then concentrated through a tube up which it travels and is released via a broader outlet head: the wand or nozzle.
While ironing often requires differing techniques for different fabrics or styles of clothing and thought to be given to temperature setting changes between garments, steaming is a far more user friendly process. That concentrated steam when directed towards crumples and wrinkles quickly acts to smooth them. The ease and efficiency of steaming means that many people opt to ditch their iron altogether and solely rely upon a clothes steamer to despatch that ironing pile.
Beyond their efficiency as an iron alternative, clothes steamers can also help to refresh or revive clothes between dry cleans. Particularly for delicate or specialist garments which cannot simply be washed but may not need a full chemical clean to simply remove a lingering smell or crease. That scent removing ability makes steamers popular for use on upholstery, mattresses and bedding too. The super high temperatures are an efficient way to kill dust mites and therefore can be beneficial for allergy sufferers.
Steamers offering the option of vertical hanging allow quick and easy whole garment steaming while the addition of a longer hose tube and cord meant that curtains may be steamed in situ. A huge time saver for users with window treatments in need of a refresh which also saves both money and the fading which can occur with repeated deep chemical cleans. In fact, a clothes steamer keeps offering those financial savings - every single time a trip to the dry cleaners is avoided!
Here we’ll look at a cross section of the best options available right now:
The BestSteam Clothes Steamer is a really nice example of how well a professional machine can be emulated for home use. Compact, easily moved, super fast heating and built to a very high standard, the copper core lasts 5 times longer than its aluminium equivalent making this a solid investment for your household. The wheels mean the steamer may be used across the home allowing tablecloths to be steamed is place, sofa and armchair upholstery to be freshened and those aforementioned dust mite busting powers to be fully utilised.
That 3 litre tank makes this a machine best suited for regular, heavy use. It is ideal for busy family life or a larger home and would be a viable iron alternative thanks to those 6 settings. Precision decreasing around buttons, on cuffs, flies and seams massively reduce that wear and tear and take away the risk of manmade fabrics becoming shiny or your delicates scorching.
Features: 3l water tank - 6 adjustable power settings across variety of fabrics - 85 minute continuous usage - Ready to use in 45 seconds
Pricing: High end
6 adjustable steam levels, an 11 hole steamer head and generous capacity water tank give the Blusmart 1450 watt vertical clothes steamer many of the virtues of a pro steam cleaner. A foot operated switch, casters for easy transfer across floors and a retractable pole make this a very flexible and user friendly machine across the home. And that 70 minutes of continuous usage mean battling with the leaning tower of ironing that has built up across the week need no longer require multiple refills of that tiny reservoir in your steam iron and hours of precious downtime.
The Blusmart 1450W is a best of both worlds clothes steamer, with those high end virtues we’ve catalogued to help it earn its keep and a realistic price tag to prevent you feeling compelled to chuck out your trusty iron and use the Blusmart 24/7 instead. Although it is so effective that you ought perhaps to start seeking out a safe place to permanently retire the iron. Just in case...
Features: 2.2l water tank - 6 steam levels - 70 minute continuous usage - Ready in 45 secs - 1 year warranty included
Pricing: Mid range
Coming in at the lowest price point, the Salav 1500 watt Clothes Steamer is a sensible starter machine. Its attractive silver and black finish, smooth transfer action and handy accessory storage prevent it looking like the budget option and the 98 degrees of heat it achieves in just 45 seconds still represents sufficient steam power for most household pressing and freshening needs.
If you have a smaller household or intend to buy a steamer as a companion to your regular iron the Salav 1500W Clothes Steamer would be a pragmatic choice. Quick heating and reliable - with a 1 year warranty for additional peace of mind - it will cope well with light to moderate household use. And, most crucially, that 98 degrees of steam heat will still allow you to treat bed linens and upholstery, go longer between dry cleanings and protect your favourite clothes from iron damage.
Features: 1.8l water tank - 4 steam settings - 50 minutes continuous usage - Ready in 45 secs - Built in accessory storage
There are 3 strong steamer choices here covering a range of household needs and demands across different price thresholds and all are very good, versatile, home use machines. Ultimately, though, our number one won us over by straddling the middle ground between good value for money and a checklist of pro features so well.
The Bluesmart 1450W Vertical Clothes Steamer, in a distinctive and contemporary purple and white finish, impressed us by having the capacity and temperature output of a much pricier machine. The auto shut off feature and ability to achieve that key 100 degree - dust mite decimating - heat suit it well to family life. While 6 adjustable steam settings filtered through the 11 holes of the clever steamer head guarantee a crisp, smart, finish.
Prolonged bathing in deep hot water baths is a social. medical and cultural tradition harking back to the days of the Roman Empire. Latterly we tend towards treating our contemporary equivalent - the hot tub - as something more of an indulgence. An object to wallow in at a spa between treatments or a place to sit and sip lurid cocktails on a summer evening. Yet these modern day ‘hot water baths’ provide many of the same health benefits our ancestors attributed to them all those centuries ago.
We are living in stressful times. Overworked, underpaid, juggling to make ends meet and feeling there are simply not enough hours in the day. Stress manifests in a series of physical, as well as emotional, symptoms: headaches, muscle tension and fatigue. While feelings of depression and bouts of insomnia can manifest from a worried and distracted mind. Soaking in a hot tub stimulates natural endorphin release triggering a completely natural relaxation response and increasing both positivity and blood flow.
For those recovering from injury, battling the symptoms of arthritis, or suffering ongoing back or joint pain, a hot tub’s buoyancy and warmth together with the gentle massaging action of the water can be of great use. That buoyancy, from the depth of water, supporting the body, lessening joint stress and allowing freer range of movement. One thing people who live with chronic pain will understand is the huge benefit of sleep for recovery. And how hard a good night's sleep can be to achieve. Studies have shown that a soak in 102 degree water, a few hours prior to bedtime, can reset the body’s thermostat as it relaxes you. Making that elusive rest a more realistic proposition.
So far so good...but realistically not everyone who could benefit from owning a hot tub will actually possesses the budget, or the floor space, to accommodate one. But all is not lost. Innovations in moveable hot tub options may prove just the solution potential users have been seeking. Inflatable hot tubs are no longer simply glorified paddling pools, they are a viable alternative to fixed tubs with many of the same health and lifestyle attributes. A good way to bring the luxury of a home spa bath to your home at an affordable price point.
Here are 3 of our favourite examples on the market right now:
From the mosaic print interior floor to the reassuringly sturdy quad horizontal ring construction, the Lay-Z-Spa Vegas reassures that a low budget spa bath option need not look or feel cheap. Its easy use digital control panel presides over up to 40 degrees of relaxing heat, and 87 rejuvenating air jets, while the leatheroid finish is a luxe touch commensurate with the luxury experience.
With a water filtration system to keep the tub clear, two filter cartridges and a filter housing unit, the Lay-Z-Spa Vegas has everything you need to get started on that life (or daily half hour) of luxury you so richly deserve! And an included set up/maintenance DVD further takes the stress out of the purchase for first time owners. This is an excellent example of a well designed temporary tub with the potential for long term use.
Features: 4-6 person capacity - Jet massage - Heats to 40C - Free set up DVD - Auto timer
Pricing: Mid range
With sturdy construction from 48 vertical I-Beam and rayon coated walls, this is another temporary hot tub which feels anything but. Mirroring the mosaic interior and encircling air jets but with a reduced footprint and price tag this is a very nice entry level tub for a couple or for users with limited space. A comprehensive set and and maintenance DVD is provided, in addition to access to a free UK support team, but an uncomplicated 10 minute setup time promises potential problems to be few and far between. An inflatable locking lid will keep the spa safe, the water warm and debris free.
The Lay-Z-Spa Miami is a classic inflatable hot tub. Easily set up, easily moved, simple to maintain and foolproof to operate. It perhaps lacks the aesthetic jazz hands of its pricier peer, the Vegas, but the strong construction and clean utilitarian appearance will make it just as appealing to those with simpler tastes. And the Lay-Z-Spa Miami retains those all-important relaxing, health-giving, lifestyle enhancing benefits once you sink beneath the water and let the jets work their magic.
Features: 2-4 person capacity - Air jet massage - 40C max heat - Digital control panel
Our final option is also from Lay-Z-Spa and this time they have really pushed the boat out. From the elegant appearance (a word one would not immediately associate with inflatable hot tubs) through the smart integration of technology to the decadent user experience, this is a real grown ups’ product with a very high end finish. The digital control panel allows easy operation of the temperature control and the Lay-Z-Spa massage air jet system. And that air jet system is another thing to have taken a step up. Leaping from the 80-something jets of our first two options to a stimulating 120 jets here. Additional depth further enhances that high end feel without impacting the price tag too drastically.
Sharing the same water filtration system to grant peace of mind across the Lay-Z-Spa range and the same setup/maintenance DVD and ongoing support, the Palm Springs model has all the basics covered. Plus that market proven brand name. Then it kicks things up a notch. The finish is classy, the safety features reassuring and the additional jets and depth a valuable upgrade.
Features: 4-6 person capacity - Jet massage - Heats to 40C - Free set up DVD - Auto timer
Pricing: Mid range
If you are going to pamper yourself it would seem churlish not to do it in style. We heartily commend the Lay-Z-Spa Palm Springs Hot Tub as the number one spa bath option. From its additional jets to its additional depth this is high end indulgence at a surprisingly affordable price point.
The sandy beige colouring is neutral enough to fit into any garden setting and the clever TriTech technology reinforcing the 3 ply walls makes them strong enough to safely sit on. An unexpected bonus for an inflatable and portable tub. With the same speedy 10 minute setup as its competitors this quality spa bath presents exceptional value for money and a good number of the attributes of a fixed tub at a fraction of the cost.
People across the world have been steaming their food for thousands of years and when you consider the advantages of this simple cooking method - and how well they align with our increasing fixation on eating ‘clean’ - it becomes hard to argue with our ancestors’ choice. Steaming is a quick, effective and nutritionally beneficial way to cook. When fruits and vegetables are steamed they far better retain their flavour, colour and texture. They do not sit directly in water so nutritional value is maximised and, given correct cooking time, they will rarely be broken apart.
The possibility of cooking meats, fish and vegetables without the need for oil or of allowing the food to sit in fat immediately increases the health attributes. Flavour may be added by seasoning the steaming water or stock or by directly seasoning the food you cook. Wine or juice may be added to savoury dishes and sweet, retaining the indulgence in a more moderate way. Making steaming an invaluable method for users looking to lower their cholesterol or to make a lifestyle change for weight loss, diabetes or the like without impacting the taste, affecting their enjoyment in or materially altering the character of the food they are eating.
Electric steamers are space efficient by virtue of the way in which multiple layers or compartments (for a horizontal machine) may be stacked or timed. This allows more than one type of food to be steamed in the same machine and all to be cooked to perfection simply by arranging the layers or boxes accordingly. The need for straining is also removed allowing you to produce perfectly fluffy rice, using minimal water, and serve it within seconds of the cook time running out. Clean up time is also pleasingly reduced as soon as you remove the needs for multiple pots and pans.
Less washing up, more vitamins, AND an end to soggy cabbage? Let’s look at our contenders:
A perfectly cooked and well balanced meal for 4 can be produced entirely within Morphy Richards’ extremely swish 48781 food steamer. The flexibility of multiple compartments and a clever memory function mean the Intellisteam will not only individually time each component to finish in unison, it will also do the thinking for you with its variety of presets AND (should you like a little more bite to your beans) remember your personal preferences for the next time you cook.
Separate times can be set for each compartment and a sauce tray, rice tray and food plinth are all included with purchase allowing a genuinely full meal to be laid out inside. Containers, accessories and drip tray are all fully dishwasher safe, taking all the hassle out of cleaning up. While that boil dry alert and safety cut out are a reassuring option for those newcomers to cooking with steam.
Features: 8.2 litre capacity - Boil dry safety cut out - Dishwasher safe - Horizontal layout
Pricing: High end
The Tefal Simply Invents VC101616 looks like a steamer. Where the Intellisteam above was a veritable celebration of innovation and high tech, this is a far humbler machine. But it does the job. Extremely efficiently. Compact, simple to use and coming from a brand whose name is synonymous with reliability at reasonable prices, this stacking silver steamer combines a manual timer with an automatic keep warm function. Making it a fine choice for those with a little more knowledge of steam cooking or for users who prefer their gadgets with fewer bells and whistles.
This is very much a back to basics machine. With a presupposition that you are either familiar with steam cuisine or willing to learn. The manual timing function does allow users to control the cooking process but again requires an understanding of timing and which foods to place where. Perfect rice can easily be cooked in the Tefal Simply Invents using the rice basket provided and, after a period of trial and error you will find this to be a jolly competent machine.
Features: 3 bowls - Automatic warming - Mechanical timer - 9l capacity - Compact storage
Pricing: Mid Range
The VonShef Electric Food Steamer is a lovely illustration of how, with some careful prioritising, a simple idea may be replicated at a low cost without sacrificing function or style. This appealing machine has a contemporary chrome finish, a blue back-lit LCD display and 7 digital steam programmes. Once you grow in confidence as a user you may also like to utilise the pre-setting function. A built in bell will alert you to cooking completion and auto shut off safeguards against the water reserve running dry so you can trust the machine to keep your food (and itself) safe even while you’re experimenting with something new.
The one key function that has been lost is the keep warm option. Your own priorities as a user will determine how much of a deal breaker this is but as one of the great advantages of steaming lies in the retention of vitamins and minerals within the food (and as half the pleasure of eating steam cuisine comes from the freshness of the end product) we’re not marking this down as a massive negative. Residual heat will slow the cooling process and the combination of plain old hunger and your own anticipation ought to ensure that nothing will ever sit inside long enough to grow cold!
Features: Extended 2 year warranty - Dishwasher safe - 7 digital programmes - 8l capacity
The intrinsic beauty of steamed food lies in its simplicity. And we rather think that the device you use to steam your food ought to be simple, to match. Echoing the stacked cypress and bamboo steamers from which this undeniably modern digital device has evolved, the VonShef Electric Food Steamer is a simple and effective update to an age old idea. We were impressed by the generous cooking capacity, the flexibility of use, the easily understood LCD display and the exceptional pricing.
This is a one step ‘plug in and cook’ style machine which would be an excellent purchase for a first time user while still retaining the functionality an experienced steam cook would seek. It would also be a pragmatic, cheap and healthy alternative to a mini oven for someone with limited cooking facilities. The compact design further reduces for ease of storage and registering the free warranty brings you 2+ years of problem proof experimentation. Let the VonShef chef for you and you may never put cabbage to pan again!
We live in confusing times. The internet has granted us unprecedented access to a wealth of information, opinion and advice concerned with becoming the best you you can be. We are bombarded with messages about how to prioritise good health through increasingly convoluted means: embracing superfoods, taking supplements, going back to caveman basics, drinking your meals, cutting out carbs or eating everything raw.
It is lovely to have so much knowledge at our fingertips, unfortunately much of it is a contradictory tug of war between trend and tradition, leaving us more confused than ever. Here’s what we do know: eating good food makes you feel good. By using fresh, healthy, ingredients and preparing them simply you can make the good food you enjoy while preserving the health giving properties. And there is no more comforting way to eat simply and healthily than soup!
Forget the new superfoods, soup one of the world’s most enduring food superstars. And it is enjoying a huge resurgence in popularity thanks to new technologies and a growing movement towards one bowl eating. We are all growing more conscious of the issue of food wastage - for budgetary reasons on a personal level and of the broader national problem - soup is the perfect, nutritious, way to utilise leftovers and make a limited budget stretch.
While it may seem like a gadget too far, a soup maker can become an excellent and timesaving addition to your kitchen. Because, despite our best intentions, it sometimes feels like a huge faff to painstakingly slice, saute, and supervise the components that will eventually become a saucepan of warming soup. Not to mention the clean up operation after. Psychologically (as well as logically) there is something pleasing in the act of chopping veg into rough chunks, tossing them into a magic pot, closing the lid and returning to piping hot soup within half an hour.
Soup makers are, essentially, faff reducing devices. A compact and convenient home solution to save you time and effort with almost the same rinse and go clean up effort you might exert after buying and heating a carton of ‘fresh’ soup from your local supermarket. With many machines sauteing, in addition to cooking, ingredients and texture settings to suit every taste, the acquisition of a soup maker frees you up to ponder new flavour combinations while it does the hard work for you. Or simply curl up with a cuppa and wait for the ping!
Here are 3 of our current favourite options from across the pricing spectrum:
A name you can trust meets a soup maker you can rely upon! Beneath the attractive brushed steel jug of the Morphy Richards 501014 Saute and Soup Maker is a rather marvellous machine, which will saute, simmer and blend a soup that perfectly suits your palette while you do little more than throw in the components and twiddle your thumbs. A well considered series of options make this a nice multipurpose choice delivering soups in a range of textures from hearty to smooth as silk and juices and smoothies to boot. If you have a kitchen with limited storage or counter space and have been weighing up the benefits of smoothie making this would be a very good maker to opt for. The rinse and wipe clean up offers another huge selling point at the end of a busy day.
This is a quick and efficient machine which enables you to extract maximum nutrition and taste advantage from your ingredients. With its precise timing to safeguard against mush and pause function allowing users to add seasoning and spice, or simply to taste test and anticipate the meal to come. A recipe booklet helps get things started but with a machine this simple to use, you’ll be improvising delicious soup before you know it.
Features: 1.6l capacity - Juice and smoothie options - Top down motor - 4 texture settings
Pricing: Mid range
Users can easily play with a variety of texture and flavour combinations in Tefal’s Easy Soup soup maker. Combining simple operation with a clear display, 4 texture options and a manual mode to keep your soup bespoke. Baby food, batters and smoothies are also a doddle thanks to a blend programme without heat. Family life would also benefit from the 40 minute warming function which automatically kicks in if you are ever distracted away from the triple beep completion alert.
Lacking the saute function of its competitor, the Tefal Easy Soup is nevertheless a strong contender in terms of time saving. Cutting out the need to stand over a pan with spoon in hand and producing smooth, delicious soups every time. However, at this price point it is a pity that one is unable to pause and season mid process and that oversight may be off putting for those who like their meals a little more flavoursome. That being said, the inclusion of a cold blend programme does allow one the option of all those future smoothies, compotes and batters to compensate!
Features: Audible alert - Keep warm function - 1.2l capacity - 4 functions - Recipe book
Pricing: Mid range
You may quickly recreate your favourite soups and smoothies in the sleek and simple to use VonShef soup maker. The thoughtful safety features - an overflow alert and an anti dry function - make this another strong choice for families 9or the absent minded) and further enhance the ease of use. With its 1.6 litre capacity, this has the same generous jug as our first soup maker but at a lower price point. Smart, restrained, design make it the aesthetic winner too.
The VonShef soup maker is a sturdy and attractive machine with consistent enough performance to reassure users that they haven’t chosen style over function. That ice crusher extends those functions ensuring it would make a handy and versatile choice for your home cooking needs.
Features: 1.6l capacity - Ice crusher - Safety features - Extended 2 year warranty
With three solid and well respected contenders to consider the final verdict wasn’t easy. But for a truly great soup you need true depth of flavour. This takes the ability to stop and season and, more often than not, the kind of base notes that can only be achieved by saute. It would seem a pity to have access to the speed and ease of a soup maker yet to still find yourself scrubbing down a frying pan once the final spoonful has been enjoyed.
The Morphy Richards 501014 Saute and Soup Maker wins by virtue of that essential saute function and the flavour-friendly pause option. Its 1.6 litre jug size also impressed us and allows the potential to gain back the step up in price with the money you could potentially save by forgoing expensive lunches or insipid supermarket sandwiches and taking soup to work instead!
This best-selling grinder does exactly what it says on the tin. And competently too. With comparatively little noise, when one considers how intrusive grinders can be, automatic shutoff and transparent storage for powder and beans it is a good solid choice for a coffee loving family.
The De’Longhi name has a certain cachet and a reputation as a brand one can trust. The De’Longhi KG79’s modern aesthetic, user friendly appeal and professional burr grinder reaffirm that notion. This is a well priced well thought out machine.
Features: Wheel grinding system - 120g capacity - Fineness selector - Safety device
Pricing: Mid range
This attractive brushed steel grinder is lovely inside as well as out. VonShef have really understood the priorities of a true coffee lover and conceived this machine accordingly. The conical burr grinder action takes its time to crush that flavour free, allowing you to savour the aroma of the crumbling beans and anticipate the delicious cup of joe they will soon become.
Features: Brushed steel body - 18 setting grind adjuster - Cup selection - 150 watt motor
Pricing: Mid range
The Bodium Bistro electric coffee grinder relies upon blades to cut the beans up into coarse chunks and then pulverise those chunks into a grind texture of your choosing. A transparent lid allows users to supervise this process and the push button operation meant that they literally have the grind at their fingertips. Two styles of pulse settings allow for a tailormade coffee grain.
The aforementioned reliance on blades raises a big red flag for this machine. As discussed, the abrasive cutting action and effect of heat upon the beans make for really bad coffee. Which is a pity because this is a funky little gadget. Still...back to the drawing board you go, Bodium!
Features: 60g capacity - Push button grind control - User defined grind - Stainless steel cutting blade - Pulse or continuous grind settings
The De’Longhi KG79 justifiably turned our heads for a moment but ultimately, when it comes to coffee grind, it’s all about that cone! The VonShef Premium Burr Coffee Grinder is the machine which will treat your favourite beans with the reverence they deserve.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that if you want good coffee you need good beans. But when you’re trying to reproduce the bespoke barista coffee experience in your own kitchen things can become a bit more complicated. For there’s little use in sourcing the world’s best beans if you end up wondering how in the world you’re going to grind them!
If you have previously bought coffee pre-ground you will have noticed that the ground coffee - no matter the quality of the whole bean - begins to diminish on flavour after a few days. This is where the first advantage of a grinder comes into play: you may grind small, fresh, quantities every day.
The next advantage is in the funding of your purchase. It may feel like extravagance to pay out for a machine to crunch your coffee beans but (unlike the element of personal indulgence inherent in buying a high end milk frother or specialist coffee machine) quantity discounts on coffee beans mean that over time the cost would likely be recouped.
In truth, going for a more modest grinder can actually be a false economy. If, for instance, you are an espresso drinker, only the refined engineering of a higher end machine will give you the fine, uniform result required. Many bargain options use grind methods which wreak havoc on beans.
The lowest budget options you will see for sale rely on a blade for its ‘grind’. A blade grinder smashes and cuts up beans as it moves, for an uneven finish. The intensity of the grinding process heats up the blades which , in turn, scorch and spoil the coffee. Burr grinders are a far better choice, working by crushing rather than cutting the coffee beans. The beans are not heated up with this method so flavour is retained and the grind more uniformly sized.
Conical burrs are preferable because they work by gently crushing the beans, moving slowly and evenly to retain flavour in the grinds. Wheel burrs make more noise as they move faster to achieve a grind. They do not treat the coffee beans as tenderly as a conical burr but they will make the grinder cheaper so do weigh up your priorities before purchase. Ideally burrs will be stainless steel or ceramic for a good result and reliable machine.
Let’s be honest, we’ve all heard of NutriBullet. Everyone knows, or has overheard, someone who has raved about the advantages of this mysterious machine or peppered their social media accounts with shots of the mysterious potions the NutriBullet has helped them create. It is famous for its bullet shaped jar top and for the recipes enthusiasts share. An entire subculture has sprung up around this little machine. Let’s have a look at why:
The key to NutriBullet’s phenomenal success is in the way it breaks down and emulsifies the foods put inside it. Bursting through seeds, nuts, stalks and pulp to access every iota of nutrition and smooth them to a palatable consistency. The drinking cup and the mixing jar - or in this case the bullet - are one and the same so this really is the blend and go option. Even cutting out the need for a spigot with its unique design. It does, however, lack the freezing advantages of other models.
Features: 900w motor - High torque power base - 3 cups - 3 lids - Extract and drink cup
Pricing: Mid range
The Nutri Ninja is an ingenious machine. Unabashedly taking advantage of its blender heritage but adding up to date technology and blade innovation into the mix for a superior smoothie experience. Its Auto-iQ technology guarantees that using the machine really will be a one button process. Like our previous contender it also comes with cup add ons for nutrition on the go. But unlike the NutriBullet, this has the feel of two separate machine and it is easier to differentiate between the pile up and blitz smoothie making mentality and the more considered act of creating dips, sauces, soups and cocktails.
Though lacking the sports car looks of its competitor, the Nutri Ninja has a good deal more going on under the hood. This powerfully efficient machine has precision processing down to a fine art. It is more of a financial stress but has the frozen drink advantage and that clever one touch operation to compensate. This is a smashing machine for users transitioning from blender use too as they won’t have to give up making the sauces, soups and purees if they choose to save counter space by ditching the blender altogether when they upgrade to this impressive machine.
Features: 1500 watt motor - 3 cups included - Ice pulverising blades - Dishwasher safe
Pricing: High end
The Salter EK2002 is by far the cheapest of our contemporary smoothie making duo yet you would never know it from the results it gets. It combines a powerful motor with highly efficient blade action for a pulverised and smooth end product. This machine has already beaten both the NutriBullet and Nutri Ninja as the best buy option on BBC2’s What to Buy and Why so we know it presents good value for money but how does it stack up in terms of features?
Perhaps the cheapest looking of our choices - or at least the most divisive by virtue of its distinctive red and black colouring - this is nevertheless a real contender. Making light work of most foods you can throw at it (which will please fans of seeds, nuts and ice) the 1000 watt motor ensures an impressively smooth smoothie result every time. The BPA-free cups come with flip top lids so you can enjoy your smoothies on the move. Just as your gym bunny predecessors intended!
Features: 1000 watt motor - 3 cups - 50 recipes - Premium quality - Durable blades
It would be tempting to designate the (also impressive) Nutri Ninja our winner simply because every homeowner ought to be able to boast that they have their very own ninja indoors. But the Salter EK2002 is so much cheaper and of such high quality that we had to award it first place. This sturdy little machine manages to fulfill all the demands and needs of the most discerning smoothie enthusiast while barely impacting their pocket at all.
These days we are all more conscientious about the way we eat. Though not everyone has the willpower to fully commit to following a body-as-temple philosophy, public health initiatives like the 5 a Day programme have us all doing our best to crowbar more fruits and vegetables into our daily diet. But peeling, chopping, steaming and seasoning a huge pile of vegetables or steadily chomping through a bowl of fruit isn’t always compatible with the busy, lives we lead and the instant gratification mindset modern society encourages us to adopt.
Until we began to sit up and take notice of the way the fitness world was doing things. Hardened gym dwellers had long since evolved from simply sipping protein shakes and pecking at chicken breasts, now they were creating entire health-giving, vitamin-heavy, raw food enriched meals to drink before hitting the cross trainer again. Smoothies are, essentially, raw fruit and/or vegetables, which are combined with a liquid base (milk or milk alternatives, yoghurt, juice etc.) and often some ice before being blitzing the mix together into a (hopefully) tasty drink.
Variations on this concoction were limitless, smoothies’ wholesome goodness could be enhanced with protein powders, nuts, spirulina, seeds...anything your heart desired. So smoothies gradually entered the mainstream, making their way onto menus and headlining at dedicated chains. Yet how could such bounty be recreated at home?? Enter the smoothie maker: the trendy cousin of the humble blender, distinguishable by its blitz and go cup attachments and contemporary looks. But is there really such a huge difference between the two? Could we not just dig out the blenders we last used when everyone was going mad for soup and make do without the special cup?
The short answer is no. Or, at least, not really. There are marked variations between the two and you would be making your new groovy smoothie habit unnecessarily difficult by trying to compromise. Aside from that handy click, mix and remove cup option (which keeps cleanup to a minimum), another key difference is many smoothie makers’ ability to make and keep frozen drinks. The blade action on a smoothie maker processes ice smooth and incorporates it. Yes, you could put ice into a blender but a blender’s action crushes ice, lending a grittier texture to the finished product. As it melts the drink will begin to separate, making that lovely recipe you just whipped up ever so slightly less appealing.
More traditional smoothie maker features a stirring stick in the lid - so you may stir ingredients together ensuring a lump free blend - and a spigot for ease of pouring. Of course you could simply switch off and stir your blender. You could also easily upend it to cut out the need for that pouring tap or swishy drinking cup. And either strain or tolerate the chunks which remain. But a smoothie’s USP is ease. And the latest models have taken that to heart by incorporating the drinking cup and mixing jar into one. The super efficient motors on newer models pulverising seeds and pulp into oblivion. Getting the maximum hit of health giving foodstuffs into your body in a quick and efficient way. One might as well keep the creation process easy too!
Classy looks, excellent capacity and a milk heating function, in addition to its frothing capabilities, make The Dualit Frother a fabulous purchase for a real coffee lover. A non-stick coating stops the irritation of burnt milk collecting at the base of the jug and the end product is velvety smooth.
The Dualit milk frother really is a coffee connoisseur's dream gadget. Sitting at the higher priced end of mid range models this matte black beauty shares many attributes with the audaciously expensive models at the top, making it a fairly sensible investment if justified by everyday use.
Features: 2 drink capacity - Non-stick coating - Sylish looks - Easy clean - Triple function
Pricing: Mid range
Protected by an automatic two year warranty, this milk frother is a good all rounder ideal for family use by virtue of its milk heating function but equally suited to frothing your daily cappuccino fix.
Features: 2 year warranty - 450 watt motor - 300ml capacity - User alert - Pre-set functions
Lashings of hot frothy milk will be delivered in seconds to the lucky owner of a VonShef Premium milk frother. With two attachments - a wire accessory for frothing and a plastic vessel for heating - quick action and a cordless power supply this super efficient machine is a delight.
Silicone feet, a heat resistant lid and handle, and automatic switch-off function make this a reassuring choice for a family home. While good looks and speedy action reassure that efficient need no longer equate to dull!
Features: Quick heating - Non-stick - Stainless steel - Indicator light - Cordless
Anyone seriously considering buying an automatic milk frother for their own home use is clearly particular about their coffee. Though all three of the options we’ve considered today have their attributes (and each its individual advantages over another depending on the order you prioritise style, safety, speed or ease of use) the VonShef Premium is our cappuccino champion on this occasion. Great design and fast functionality combine with its dual functions and excellent price to make it the machine we would most highly recommend.
How quickly many of us have fallen into the role of coffee connoisseur. It wasn’t so long ago that the humble high street cafe was the best place to grab a caffeine fix on the move. Real coffee was a post dinner treat in restaurants fancy enough to present you a chocolate mint on a doily to soften the blow of the bill. Something the cast of Friends drank from oversized cups as they gossiped on sofas, flicking their iconic hair. Or an affectation of the well travelled: once you’ve had genuine Italian coffee it is unthinkable to go back, darling!
These days we’re all fluent in barista burble. Even if we’re not very keen on the bean. And fortunately quality coffee has never been more accessible or abundant. With a plethora of machines on the market to dispense it in the comfort of our own homes, we need never be more than a room or two away from a proper cup of coffee. The milk issue is a little more tricky…
Unless you are blessed with a full blown professional coffee machine in your kitchen, you will not have access to the wizardry of the steam wand: that magical device which conjures silky froth from milk and air. But all is not lost. Whether your froth budget will only eke to a manual handheld or stretch to an automatic jug which will do everything but pour itself, a cloudy dairy crown can be atop your homemade coffee with a simple click on the purchase bar.
Today it is automatic milk frothers we turn our attention to and, if you are able to fund that reach, it is probably the better domestic option. An automatic milk frother, as you might expect, does all the work for you. Pour in your milk (or milk alternative) push a button or two and leave it to make milky magic. In moments you’ll have that cloud topping your cup. Though, unfortunately, the lack of barista means you’ll be left with a jug to wash up!
The Xterra Free Style 5.8e is a serious bit of kit. Offering an electronically controlled choice of 20 incline and 20 resistance levels to guarantee challenging workout sessions which will rise to meet you as your endurance improves. The blue backlit 7.5” display is a user friendly and slick way to stat-track and provides a 13 programme selection. The heavy flywheel keeps resistance constant while the robust construction safeguards even the most powerfully built user.
Heart rate can be measured via either pulse grip sensors or a supplied chest strap combined with the machine’s wireless receiver. The expansive 20” stride length will comfortably accommodate users of any height as will the generously sized, padded pedals. Exemplary attention to detail in both look and user experience elevate this cross trainer to a professional standard. Making this an excellent investment for anyone with long term fitness goals and a commitment to their regime.
Length: 82” (209cm)
Height: 67” (171cm)
Width: 22” (55cm)
If you are new to cross trainers, or not confident of putting a machine to regular use, the Xterra Free Style 5.8e is unlikely to be the machine for you. If, however, you are ready to make a long term investment in your workouts you could do a lot worse than make the choice to buy this impressive machine. The aesthetic is discreet and contemporary, with its black bodywork and blue LCD screen. It doesn't scream fitness freak but it does promise to evolve and keep stride with you.
With the variety of resistance and incline levels on offer and the choice of programmes, users with the tendency to bore of routine will have no excuse to lose focus. The great advantage of cross trainers, over other home exercise equipment options, is the ease of use. Jump aboard and go! But at home there is also the notion of intrusiveness to consider. Fortunately the flywheel on this model is as smooth as silk so you can make the most of the inbuilt speakers and crank your tunes!
Features: 20” stride length - Multiple incline/resistance options - Audio jack
Price: Mid range
At the higher end of the cross trainer market, pre-installed workout programmes and wider ranges of resistance levels deliver training diversity and ensure you obtain maximum results from every workout. In addition to lower muscle groups, cross trainers engage your upper body for overall weight loss achievement and whole body toning. With similar calorie burning results to full running, the low impact design of the movements imposes little strain on your joints as feet are never lifted off the ground.
The JTX Tri-Fit, with its variable stride length system and electro-magnetic resistance and incline control delivers those results with panache. The incline training allowing you to engage core and glutes for a complete and dynamic body workout. That adjustable stride length (16-20”) allows for multiple users. So too does the ability to store up to five individual user’s stats. The large colour display offers both bang for your buck and utility - in addition to the 19 workout programmes you may design and store your own personal routine. It is compatible with Apple and Android devices.
This is an exemplary cross trainer with all the advantages of buying a high end machine - the high technical specifications, the robust build and the breadth of body types accommodated. But it also manages to avoid one of the few pitfalls of buying exercise equipment at this level...it is actually compact. 30% smaller than the competition, in fact! JTX Fitness have patented their space saving design. And for good reason. Rather than the widely, attention grabbing, bulk you would expect upon reading the state of the art features, the JTX Tri-Fit Extendable is a modestly sized, matt black and brushed aluminium, marvel.
Features: 5 adjustable stride options - Free app - Design your own workout
Price: High end
If you are an intermediate user mid range cross trainers will always make an excellent choice. Demanding a less dramatic investment than top of the range models, they nevertheless give a varied and enjoyable selection of fitness options to those seeking to expand and refresh their exercise regime. The JTX Strider-X7 is a fine example of the leap in features you will enjoy by taking a step up from more basic models. Its on board computer can adjust and tailor programmes to suit you by monitoring and tracking your heart rate. This is a great way to ensure you’re building stamina and burning fat without needing to scrutinise every individual stat for personal growth!
The ergonomic footplates on this model ensure correct alignment, while smooth and easy movements deliver a joint-safe and virtually silent exercise experience. Quick start buttons and a large colour console (with the ability to store up to 4 workouts of your own design) make this a very user friendly option. However, the budgetary constraints do show in the lighter weight flywheel and limited stride length. At 12.5kg and 16” respectively. In appearance the Strider-X7 is also a little more lairy or loud than its higher priced contemporaries.
As previously stated, this is a perfect example of a mid range cross trainer and a more than adequate equipment choice for the average home user looking for an increase in fitness yet not necessarily ‘hard core’ about getting their endurance up into the stratosphere. Its limitations aren’t insurmountable but they are worth taking note of. For starters. The 16” stride length means that this machine may not be well suited to anyone over 6 feet tall. Or in search of a machine to evolve alongside them. The lighter flywheel also precludes users looking for really heavy resistance. If this is a family purchase do carefully consider everyone’s needs before choosing it.
The same measurements that would make this a poor choice for a tall, powerful, user become attributes to those with a different body type though. If you are of slighter build or advancing years this is a great buy for your household. The low impact nature of cross training really comes to the fore on a machine like this which has the option to start you off gently and up the ante as you grow in strength and endurance. That large touch screen is also of benefit to more mature or less experienced users as the display is clear and the variety of programmes well explained.
Features: Colour touch screen - Easy storage - Competitive pricing - Stat tracking
Price: Mid range
This machine sits at the lower end of the mid range and it does show. We lost the flywheel in favour of a belt driven system and many of the teccy options rely upon you attaching a device of your own to enhance the exercise experience. The Sportstech CX610 does compensate you for these compromises though, with around £100 shaved off the price tag of its competitors and a fun and vibrant design which won’t take over your home.
This is undeniably HOME exercise equipment. There is somewhere to put your water bottle and tablet on the frame and a transport wheel to help you whisk it away into a cupboard. And that’s about it. As far as appearance goes, anyway. Fortunately Sportstech saved the bigger guns for usability and here things rapidly improve. With 32 resistance levels, an app compatible (if basic) Bluetooth console and Google Maps/Street View compatibility to lend an original dimension to your training. A pulse belt can be attached but is not included.
Home exercise equipment offers the convenience of indoor training without the expense of joining a gym. Some people want to bring the gym experience into their homes but for others there is joy in being able to stash equipment out of sight and out of mind. This elliptical can be wheeled aside and stored but is unobtrusive enough to be left out on display. The integration of Google Maps and Street View brings the outside in - a fun way to add a new level of motivation for those who like tangible proof of their progress - staving off the tiresomeness of repetition.
The CX610 is unquestionably a more traditional (or old fashioned, depending on your perspective) cross trainer so it won’t be to everyone’s taste. If the simplicity and functionality appeals to you then you will find it a reliable, easy to assemble, machine. The synchronised upright handles and foot plates allow good distribution of effort between upper and lower muscle groups and those 32 computer controlled resistance levels still allow plenty of scope for calorie burning, body toning and improved fitness all around. Its reasonable pricing is another selling point.
Features: Free water bottle - App compatibility - 32 resistance stages - 5 year warranty
Price: Mid range
Buying home exercise equipment need not demand a huge financial outlay. The V-Fit MCCT1 reminds us that there is something impressive on the market to suit budgets big and small. With ingenuity and pragmatic priorities, V-Fit have delivered a dual purpose cross trainer that boosts cardiovascular fitness and improves body conditioning without bumping up the cost to consumers.
The clever combination of cycling and elliptical motion offer both seated and standing work out options. Ideal for those particularly targeting lower body while wishing to keep the choice of full or upper body conditioning available. Balance and coordination are challenged by the reverse motion option while hand pulse readings and speed and time function keep your progress on track.
With the smallest stride length of our five options at only 12”, this is perhaps not the ideal cross trainer for serious athletes or committed gym attendees. What it offers instead is an alternative for users just setting out on their keep fit journey or keen to augment other sporting activities with some general conditioning. As discussed, Cross Training is gentle on joints but the MCCT1’s cycle function take that a stage further by allowing for seated exercise at a variety of resistance points.
The on screen functions are minimal and the stats estimates so this is a poor choice for pedaling pedants but a pocket friendly option for anyone keen to get healthier without drowning in detail. The compact design is space friendly and the tubular steel appearance inoffensive and sleek. Though less robust than pricier models it remains sturdy enough for users to feel at ease onboard. The belt driven mechanism may require more ongoing attention than flywheel options in the longer term.
Features: Dual function - Cast iron flywheel - Adjustable saddle - Beginner friendly
Represented here are a splendid cross section of the best cross training options on the market. There is something in the mix to please every budget and cross training demand. But our best all rounder is the Xterra Free Style 5.8e Elliptical cross trainer. Sitting comfortably at a fair mid range price point it still manages to impress by virtue of a dynamically modern aesthetic, the 20 resistance and incline options and that elusive (for lower price points) 20” stride length.
The incorporation of a cross trainer (also referred to as an elliptical trainer/elliptical machine) into your home exercise regimen can offer a huge boost to the potential levels of fitness you may achieve without setting foot in the gym. Cross trainers - particularly those equipped with moveable handlebars - allow you access to the same full body workout without bank-busting membership fees and the guilt of skipped visits. The reason for their effectiveness is that the range of movement they promote engages you through your core, quads, calves, triceps, biceps, chest and beyond. Bringing the result triumvirate we're all ultimately seeking: fat-burning, muscle toning and increased fitness.
For older users (and those recovering from impact injury) a cross trainer's distinctive pedal movement is gentle on knee and ankle joints and thus limits strain through those areas. Depending on the intensity of your workout, cross trainers can burn a pleasing 8-12 calories per minute. A significant improvement on treadmill stats without taking up much more space in the home. Whether you are looking for gentle cardio, increased endurance or significant weight loss, the ability to alter resistance makes this a flexible and enduring home exercise product.
However, buying a home cross trainer is still a considerable outlay and therefore there are questions to consider before you hit 'checkout':
With your budget in mind, what are the most important features to you? Be objective. While you might be a fan of hi tech when it come to your phone or home entertainment packages, do you really need all the digital bells and whistles on your home gym too? Consider the programmes and features you will actually use. Could an entry level machine suffice or are you someone who is stat driven and responds better to beautifully formatted results they can track?
Will you be the sole user in the home or is there anyone else to consider? It is essential to consider weight, height and workout needs ahead of this investment. A cross trainer with a basic stride length (16") could be adequate for users of average height and build but anyone over 6' will need a longer stride and this will impact the ticket price. At the lower end of the market you'll be limited to machines with a 16" stride and minimal aesthetic appeal. However these cross trainer do have the benefit of being more compact, which is a selling point for those with restricted floor space or more irregular exercise habits.
Leading on from the more compact nature of basic models, have you considered the best spot to put your cross trainer in? It will be necessary not only to consider the machine's dimensions but also the best place for you to experience the full range of motion it offers as you work out. Aesthetics play a big part here. If you have limited storage your cross trainer will remain on full view to you and any visitors to your home. You'll need to be happy to let it take up space in your life. If you are fortunate enough to have a full home gym, take time to think about how well it will sit alongside existing equipment. In terms of both scale and style. Also be sure to check out our reviews of home rowing machines.
[product_list cat="Recumbent bikes"]
Concept2’s Model D indoor rower is the bestselling indoor rower in the world. We’ll just leave that little fact there to resonate. And it consistently sells for a very good reason: this is an exceptional rowing machine. Built to train Olympic standard athletes and to endure same the punishing training regime they follow, efficient engineering give the Concept2 Model D the assured longevity you would expect from the unabashedly high price tag accompanying it.
A prestige product comes at a prestige price but Concept2 have absolutely crammed the Model D with compensations for those who are prepared to make the stretch. Body beneficial tweaks throughout the design allow this machine to feel bespoke, so good is the fit for the user. The integrated technology gives unprecedented access to athlete level programmes and add ons without excluding less experienced users who have made the commitment to get in shape.
Features: Performance Monitor 5 - Huge array of workouts - Adjustable footrests - Olympic level design standards - Bluetooth enabled and USB compatible
Pricing: High end
Following the professional physique of our Olympic option was never going to be an easy feat and, it would be fair to say, the R700 looks a bit average by comparison. But who among us wouldn’t when put beside an Olympian? Though a very different proposition, this mid level machine can stand proud on its own merits. The smooth pulling action action and compact design allow users to row in comfort and focus on the intense workout that prolonged rowing offers.
The York Fitness R700 is a workable alternative to a pricey gym membership. It has sufficient resistance to keep users working hard through the 8 resistance levels and its ease of use allows you to focus on building muscle and elevating your cardiovascular fitness undistracted. We have taken a big step down in terms of quality and this machine does look undeniably cheaper. The aesthetic won’t affect performance but the lower quality materials will impact longevity.
Features: 8 levels of resistance - Smooth rowing action - Pivoting footplates - Padded seat
Pricing: Mid range
With the inclusion of closer footrests for the feel of rowing on water, the imaginative design of the Bodymax Infiniti R90 brings a real world rower’s experience to a home exercise platform. The onboard computer allows multiple user profiles to be set, making this a machine particularly well suited to family use or sharers.The fullness of stroke suits taller users while an extra strong aluminium beam lends welcome stability.
This is mid range done right. An exceptionally smooth rowing action and easy fold action also make it a great choice for users rebuilding strength and endurance after injury. The dual colour LCD console is equipped with 12 programmes, offering new challenges across a range of abilities.
Features: Easy fold system - Dual colour console - Magnetic resistance - 12 programmes
Pricing: Mid range
For general whole body fitness and toning, heart health and endurance, the Skandika SF-1140 is an affordable and reliable choice. Perhaps not a hardcore athletes machine, this rower presents achievable levels of difficulty for newcomers to static rowing machines and users on their way back from injury. The clever addition of interchangeable handles allow users to experience and benefit from a variety of rowing techniques and postures aboard a single machine.
Features: On board computer - Easy to set training goals - Smart receiver - Fold-able design
The second of our Skandika machines - the SF-1150 Regatta Poseidon - again offers that interchangeable handle option. A lovely add on to give longevity of use to a lower priced, lower challenge, machine. It is the cheaper of the pair and has sacrificed a couple of features to the price point drop but retains the Skandika solidity and quality for an effective full body workout.
The running length on the SF-1150 is only 70cm so taller users would have to consider whether this presents an obstacle. This machine offers comparatively light resistance so, once again, is a piece of equipment better suited to home users seeking to achieve gradual health, strength and endurance goals rather than powerful rowers looking to be put through their paces each day.
Features: On board computer - Personal targets - Easily fold-able
The numerous shoppers who combined their buying power to make our top pick a worldwide bestseller certainly chose wisely. The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rower With PM5 Monitor wins first place by a mile. Which is apt, considering its Olympic pedigree. Experience, thought and care has gone into every inch of this beautiful, user friendly machine. From the moveable tilt of the LCD display - with that motivating range of features - through the sympathetic design of the ergonomic handle, adjustable footrests and beyond. The Model D deservedly takes gold.
If your main exercise priorities are bodybuilding and fat burning, stationary rowing is the workout for you. Designed to replicate the action of rowing a boat across water, this is a low impact high-results way to get fit. Minimal stress through knees, hips and ankles ensures those lower body joints are well protected. While the effective pulling movement through arms and upper body really builds strength and engages the core.
The quality and variety of indoor rowing machines, for home use, has never been better. There are now a wide range of seriously impressively machines on the market with professional level gadgetry and sleek, ergonomically impeccable, looks to tempt you into leaping onboard. But we’re going to suggest that you set your awe aside and be realistic about your abilities, budget and end goal. Different sources of resistance will alter the rowing feel and, ultimately, when the lure of good looks has abated, the machine which feels right for you will be the one you persevere with.
The types of resistance you’ll most commonly encounter are: hydraulic (or piston) resistance, magnetic resistance, water resistance and air resistance. Each type has its own attributes so, if you’re new to rowing machines or have experience of only a single model, it would be sensible to take the time to get familiar with which resistance type best suits you and your body type. A good rower will be adjustable, to a greater or lesser extent, but taller users need to consider their stature and reach before committing to a purchase.
Take a realistic look at your home before you buy, too. Rowers are generally narrow but they have a long footprint and will require dedicated floor space that you can comfortably move around and within. Having a rowing machine accessible for you in the home will be a real asset to your health and well being, as long as you use it regularly. The better the fit for you the rower is the more likely you are to enjoy and benefit from it. If budget is a consideration consider your priorities before automatically opting for cheap and cheerful. Often a small financial stretch can pay dividends in terms of the quality of materials and longevity of use a higher end rowing machine brings. Click here to check out our reviews on recumbent exercise bikes.Table could not be displayed.
We begin our list with a super slick, gym standard, bike. The JTX Cyclo-5R features a step-through design, well considered full ergonomic back support and an 8.5kg flywheel offering professional specifications for domestic use. The high spec on board computer, with Bluetooth, combines all the stats you need with iConsole app connectivity to ensure every workout is tailormade to suit your needs.
The stable seating position and potential for intense resistance recommends this as an injury comeback machine or an athlete’s choice. However, there are a range of abilities accommodated making it a good all rounder too.
Features: Customisable programmes - Lifetime frame warranty - Bluetooth enabled - Commercial gym specifications - 8.5kg flywheel
Pricing: High end
A low entry height and frame make the Kettler Premium recumbent exercise bike a fine safeguarding option for older or injured users who may have impaired mobility and balance. A dozen workout programmes and 16 stages of electronic resistance will see you through anything from gentle stamina building to intense bursts of cardiovascular sprint. The seated posture is, of course, the thing which sets recumbent bikes apart. And the seat on the Kettler Premium is comfortable, supportive and able to be adjusted down a sliding slope. The back is fixed.
A long term investment in your heart health, muscle strength and mobility will prove one of the best investments you ever make. The Kettler Premium is a solid investment and a solid machine which brings together the best advantages of technology with a disability friendly design, conscious of the potential physical hurdles older or injured users might face. A chunky build and high back support ensure that taller users are not excluded from enjoying this excellent bike.
Features: LCD display - Polar compatible receiver - 16 resistance levels - 12 programmes
Pricing: High end
For a fairly priced mid range model the Nordic Track R65 certainly doesn’t lack appealing features. This is a smashing bike for an intermediate user or for anyone with long term fitness goals in mind. Creatively stocked with multiple workout apps (and iFit Live compatibility for the option to add over 1,000 more) you need never run out of ways to keep the cardiovascular challenge exciting on this smart looking recumbent exercise bike.
A low bar and careful seat positioning make the Nordic Track R65 another good choice for users who have compromised or limited mobility. However, this is also a nice option as a machine for ongoing use through injury and beyond. Even the ultra fit will find sufficient lures to tempt them into buying. And they would be choosing well. That 9kg of inertia allows plenty of room for personal growth and pretty much guarantees enviable quads, glutes and abs in anyone prepared to put in the hard work!
Features: 32 workout apps - Extra wide pedals - iFit Live compatibility - 9kg flywheel
Pricing: Mid range
Everyone loves a song and dance routine at this time of year. But all singing, all dancing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to home exercise equipment. The reassuring sturdiness and reliability of a more pedestrian machine can bring home users equal benefit simply by cutting out the faff. The V-fit BST-RC is one such machine.
Demanding no advanced computing skills to persuade stats from its monitor and little fiddling to achieve correct posture or find your footing. Reach and height are adjustable with a few straightforward actions while those self-presenting pedals are a pleasingly high end touch.
Features: 5kg flywheel - Simple computer monitor - 8 levels of resistance - Classic look
If a gentler ride on a recumbent bike seems more your speed but you have put off making the decision to buy because space is at a premium in your home you should definitely read on. The Technovita YF93 by BH combines some of the advantages of a recumbent bicycle with the compact convenience of a classic folding exercise bike. Users gain no less benefit from the relaxed posture enabled by that seat position and low impact or cycling movement but they lose the hefty footprint of a static machine.
Unlike the majority of models we’ve explored today, the Technovita YF93 is not an ideal choice for less active senior users or users with impaired mobility. Lacking the reassuring stability of a classic recumbent bike, requiring a higher leg swing to climb aboard and the dexterity to manually adjust resistance and featuring a saddle and backrest combo rather than a seat, this is more a relaxed take on a typical exercise bike than a typical recumbent. It also presents fewer opportunities for long term gain than the machines above. Nevertheless, the exceptional health benefits of cycling do not go away when the gadgetry does and the Technovita YF93 will let you take a stimulating ride at a mild to moderate pace with better back support than a standard folding bike.
Features: Lateral support handles - Good back support - Easy of storage - Functional design - 8kg equivalent flywheel
It is essential to shop for home exercise equipment with your own needs and aims at the forefront of your mind. This Top 5 represents a wide range of recumbent exercise bikes out there on the market today and each holds unique appeal for a particular user demographic. That being said, our winner is a true all rounder. A recumbent bike with sufficiently impressive specs and design to tempt the super fit yet the well considered, tailored guidance a beginner needs to set them on the path to fitness. 32 workout apps (with the potential to add on more) and that realistic ride feel set this bike apart as a stimulating home exercise solution that will repay your investment with results.
Recumbent bikes are becoming a popular and increasingly mainstream cycle choice for recreation and home exercise. The relaxed riding posture is ideally suited for users whose neck, back or shoulder weakness or injury restricts their range of movement. They allow that all important cardiovascular exercise without putting strain on vulnerable areas. The obvious differences between recumbent and traditional bikes is the seat position and that posture. Recumbent bike riders sit back and pedal with their feet before them.
When it comes to stationary bikes, a recumbent, like the majority of cardiovascular exercise equipment, can offer a rewarding workout IF you put the effort in. If that relaxed posture inspires a leisurely pedal along to an engrossing episode of a brand new box set, you are unlikely to see dramatic results. If you commit to increasing the resistance and intensity of your regime and keep to a consistent and challenging pace, a recumbent bike will reward your efforts with better heart health, a toned lower body and significantly improved strength.
Though you will be getting an aerobic workout, those lower body advantages are significant. The muscles engaged by the riding motion include calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes and last but not least your abs. Abdominal muscles stabilise the upper body to help maintain balance as you ride. And a strong core is key as you ratchet up the intensity of your recumbent rides to maximise calorie burn and see your body alter. You will also enjoy reading our reviews on magnetic exercise bikes.