If you are a fan of bells and whistles, you’ll love the JLL IC400 Elite. With looks poised somewhere between a Deceptacon, a gimmicky razor and a Meccano kit it is certainly a design statement. And “look at me!” would seem to be the statement it is making. But don’t let the ‘80s aesthetic put you off, this is a fearsome exercise powerhouse with some impressive features to appeal to serious athletes and committed beginners alike.
A clever 3 piece crank system on the pedals replicates a real world bike ride, keeping the fitness challenge here dynamic and entertaining. Users will also benefit from the multiple adjustment options. Allowing height alterations through the seat and handlebars gives the rare opportunity to own a flexible bike to suit multiple users of all body types. The 20kg flywheel further enhances the broad user scope here. Presenting a tough workout for the super fit alongside a smooth, safe user experience for less assured riders.
Though the JLL IC400 Elite’s looks will undoubtedly be polarising, its attributes are impossible to deny. This is a well considered piece of equipment for a serious home user. Flexible enough to suit the entire family, a large display monitor relays key workout information while heart rate sensors on the ergonomic handle bars keep track of how hard you’re pushing yourself each day.
Features: Smart leather seat - LCD screen - Hand pulse sensors - Wheels for transfer
Pricing: High end
By not relying upon direct friction or contact, as so many resistance bikes of its class do, the CrystalTec CT 101M avoids much of the wear and tear those competitors incur. Resistance is provided by electromagnetic induction and the resultant workout is a smooth and pleasurable user experience with the potential to be adjusted to suit the endurance of most riders.
Upkeep can be a major concern when you invest in home exercise equipment. Fearful of the effort and expense a complicated machine might incur, many users opt for simpler machines that require little to no maintenance. CrystalTec have kept this in mind in the conception and design of the CT101M. By dispensing with friction pads and relying on electromagnetic induction they have created a fluid and reliable machine to suit users across the ability spectrum.
Features: Bottle rack and bottle - LCD monitor - No friction pads - 8 levels of resistance
Pricing: Mid range
Beginners’ bikes need not be patronisingly oversimplified. There needs to be an element of complexity for them to evolve alongside the user. York Active have taken this on board and come up with the 110 model. Styled in black with green accents, featuring hand pulse sensors and a large LCD screen, this classic magnetic exercise cycle has everything a novice needs to begin cycling at home. With sturdy legs and rubber pads for stability, users can cut loose and ride for their lives, safe in the knowledge that this neat and appealing bike will not let them down.
This is unashamedly a beginner’s bike. Comfortable, practical and equipped with everything a new adopter needs to begin to get in shape through stationary biking. York Fitness are a well established brand and that experience shines through here. The inclusion of a fitness test in the mix further demonstrates their familiarity with the target demographic.
Features: Large padded seat - 8 resistance levels - Fitness test function - LCD screen
Pricing: Mid range
As the simple, no frills, climb aboard and ride option, the We R Sports Premium magnetic exercise bike ticks all the boxes. Its look is unfussy, its form solid and dependable. It benefits from the same functions as other mid level stationary bikes and presents them in a straightforward way. For a limited time it also comes with an 8 step tension controller as a special offer to purchasers.
Fitted with a 4.5kg cast iron flywheel, this We R Sports Premium magnetic exercise bike is a sensible option for users looking to be moderately challenged aboard a pedestrian machine. Up close the finish isn’t great, the grey colouring highlighting the cheap look of the plastic base and the red accents combining with that grey to lend the machine a curious vintage gloom. On the plus side it is easy to move, pleasing to ride and extremely simple to operate. If its looks trouble you, just be sure to stash it in a cupboard when your workout is done!
Features: Simple LCD display - Tension control special offer - Cast iron flywheel - Monitor
Pricing: Mid range
We go all the way back to basics with our final bike. The XS Sports Magnetic Foldable Exercise Bike has a simple x-frame design, an average function range and a minimalist appearance. Surprisingly, for its slight stature, it also has a 1.6kg flywheel. This presents an excellent opportunity for users with a lower budget and improved fitness or injury recovery goals to purchase an affordable exercise bike with the potential to evolve the intensity of workout as your strength and stamina grow.
If limited room is a factor in your choice of home exercise equipment, an x-frame foldable bike will always be a pragmatic choice. Presenting all the advantages of a good cardiovascular workout vehicle without the disadvantages of a bulky machine taking over your living space. Despite being the cheapest of our Top 5, the XS Sports has the weightier flywheel and comfortable, adjustable seat of a far pricier machine. And its accessible monitor relays those all important stats in a fuss free manner which ought to please technophobes and minimalists alike.
Features: 1.6kg flywheel - Pulse reader + simple computer - Pedal straps - Deep foam seat
We have looked at a diverse cross section of contemporary magnetic exercise bikes through the course of our Top 5. Each model representative of the best in its class. Each with unique attributes to the home user. By virtue of its great price point, comfortable saddle, sympathetic understanding of a new user’s needs and longer term potential, we must most highly commend the York Active 110 Exercise Cycle.
The exercise bike is a deceptively simple piece of kit. The biking motion has multiple benefits to our health and wellbeing. It is low impact and does not place stress on joints making it ideally suited to older users and those looking to gradually build stamina after a lower body injury. It is an easily emulated, repetitive, motion which most of us have practiced from childhood, reducing the need for ‘instruction’ and freeing up our minds to wander. And the cardiovascular benefits are proven.
In just a few weeks of regular stationary biking users can improve their heart, lung and muscle fitness. It offers legs and lower body an exemplary workout too. Toning and strengthening glutes, quads and calves. When handlebars are engaged the upper body is exercised too and additional aerobic advantages gained. On the bikes we are looking at today, magnets create that all important resistance (or drag) for a harder workout with ever more dramatic results.
The majority of exercise bikes come with multiple levels of resistance that users can combine or alternate as part of a programme. As home exercisers have become more gym savvy and knowledgeable the equipment they use has evolved alongside them. It is not unusual to see a magnetic exercise bike in a domestic setting with the same gadgetry and finish as the most impressive bike at a pricey private gym. Here is our review on folding exercise bikes.
This Ultrasport foldable exercise bike is a lovely example of what can happen when design and function are both a priority. It has the sort of approachable, characterful appeal which makes lovers of all things Apple so unshakeable in devotion to their brand. And the curves serve a practical function too, helping the Ultrasport to tuck away even more compactly when folded.
Pulse sensors help promote a successful workout by keeping users apprised of the body’s responses in real time. A simple LCD screen also relays distance, speed, length of workout and those all important expended calories. Magnetic resistance makes transitions smooth and allows users to push themselves further towards their fitness goals by upping ride intensity.
The Ultrasport Foldable Exercise Bike is an unexpectedly stable and solid feeling machine. Not the first two adjectives which spring to mind when you think of a foldable bike. The addition of a back rest to the seat adds comfort and, crucially, support for users with lower stamina, older users and those using the bike to rehabilitate after injury. A workable choice for a cross section of users, making it a fantastic option for a family or mixed ability sharers.
(Folded measurements: 36cm x 45cm x 142cm)
Features: Optional backrest - Appealing design - Efficient computer - Magnetic resistance
Pricing: High end
This is the second Ultrasport product we’re looking at today yet aesthetically a beast of a very different kind. Dropping a bracket down the price list impacts form and function, much of the individuality of our previous model has been lost and the bike pared back to basics. But the basics are good. Users will enjoy the same security from this bike’s solid presence and the same balanced whole-body workout.
Users with vastly differing experience and needs may share and train on this bike because resistance and difficulty on each training programme can be adjusted at the touch of a button. While the 130kg maximum user weight is a generous and inclusive allowance. Training sessions can be completed at your own pace, making this a fine choice for those seeking to rebuild strength and stamina following an injury.
The F-Bike Work is not, however, as well suited to users with longer term fitness goals. Even at the highest resistance setting the challenge is limited. Perfectly adequate for anyone happy merely to hit and maintain it as a target but not appropriate for those of an athletic disposition who aspire to exceed. The bike’s seat also betrays its lower price tag. Becoming uncomfortable and off-putting over longer workout sessions. Compatible gel saddle covers can be retrofitted so be sure to factor in the additional expense if comfort is important to you!
Though less impressive than its high end peer, the Ultrasport F-Bike Work is a solid starter bike. Its heavyweight design (at 18kg) makes it a little trickier to transfer - which may be a consideration for anyone recovering from injury - but it folds up very neatly and when standing is reassuringly solid. The movement of the belt is audible, though not hugely distracting, and assembly straightforward.
Folded measurements: 131cm x 43.5cm x 45cm
Features: 8 levels of resistance - Individually adjustable programmes - LCD display - Compact and simple to fold
Pricing: Mid range
With its simple X-frame, red accents, cast iron flywheel and silent resistance, ther Viavito Onyx folding exercise bike appears to be a sporty little gem. Lightweight and easily folded it is a convenient and practical exercise solution for those who prefer not to display their workout equipment 24/7. Appearances can be deceptive for, belying its facade, this is far from a sportsperson’s machine. Though the magnetic resistance is smooth, and staggered across 8 levels, at only 1.2kg the flywheel does not create much of a challenge and experienced cyclists or users with intermediate to high fitness ought to look elsewhere for a bike to match their abilities.
Retaining some features of higher end models but without the range of difficulty, the Viavito Onyx folding exercise bike is a reliable and smart looking piece of kit for a first bike purchase or to replace an existing low-resistance bike. For a beginner or a user keen to gently increase their stamina, the great advantage of home exercising on a stationary bike is the ability to entirely personalise your workout. To play the songs which motivate you, catch up with the television shows backed up on your box, set the resistance to your own comfort level and pedal away at any pace you please. The attractive Viavito Onyx is a smashing bike to choose for these modest goals.
Folded measurements: 33cm x 41cm x 136cm
Features: Adjustable seat - LCD console - Self-presenting pedals - Lightweight frame
Pricing: Mid range
With another step down in price, we are now moving into the realm of the more traditional folding exercise cycle. Yet traditional needn’t equate with dull and the Folding Magnetic X-Frame Fitness Cycle reminds us of that fact in style. With a simple x-shaped tubular steel frame in jet black, red accents to the handlebars and belt cover and a multi-function exercise monitor mounted in clear sight users have everything they need to reap all the cardiovascular benefits of cycling at a very reasonable price.
Here is another example of how user friendly a simple exercise bike can be. Combining the convenience of a fold down with the stability and attractive appearance of pro gym equipment the Folding Magnetic X-Frame is a solid choice for semi regular gentle to moderate cycling at a low resistance rate. Though lacking the back support of our pricier model above, it shares the comfort of ride experience so would be well suited for an older person looking to maintain their mobility and heart health.
Features: Electronic monitor - Easy fold down - Small footprint - Adjustable pedal straps
If there was an exercise bike equivalent of plug in and play it would be get on and go. And this basic black x-frame cycle could be the poster bike for that phrase. Utterly and proudly workaday, The XS Sports is an unpretentious way to get a moderate workout, reap the toning and strengthening rewards of the biking motion, build stamina to a healthy level and get on with your life! It probably won’t wow visitors if they stumble across it in your home but that x-frame offers such quick storage that they really needn’t stumble at all.
The very epitome of an affordable exercise solution, the XS Sports Magnetic Foldable Exercise Bike is at the top of its class. The 1.6kg flywheel is a real bonus for a bike at the affordable end of the scale when so many competitors - and even machines a bracket above - peak at 1.2. The monitor is bog standard and any other mod cons conspicuous by their absence but not everyone wants to ride their way to fitness on the bike of the future. With better longevity by virtue of that flywheel, this is an intermediate or semi-regular user’s bike and one that will serve them well.
Features: Deep padded seat - Hand pulse sensors - 1.6kg flywheel - Adjustable resistance
It had us at curvy! Despite strong contenders from the lower end of the playing field, it is our high end bike which takes the prize today. The Ultrasport Foldable Exercise Bike with its jaunty colouring, distinctive frame, exemplary back support and 8 level magnetic resistance, wins. The clever folded position allowed by those curves was too cool to ignore. And, for a machine costing only a few notes more than its cheaper peers, it represented a wiser long term fitness investment.
There is a very simple explanation for the enduring popularity of the humble exercise bike: it really works. The cardiovascular activity you engage in when riding on an exercise bike has the potential to burn over 500 calories an hour. That’s not a statistic to be sniffed at. Particularly when you consider that the action of pedaling a stationary bike is so simple. As long as you have chosen the right bike for your body type and needs and are seated on the bike correctly, little to no stress will be put on your joints.
Because a biking movement is a hip and knee friendly motion, that can be taken at the user’s own pace, this is an activity that older or injured users can also safely enjoy. Intensity can be increased by simply pedaling faster. Weight loss and increased muscle toning achieved by adding in resistance and bursts of extra speed. Regular cardiovascular exercise can have an significant impact on cholesterol and blood pressure, in the longer term
Stationary cycling doesn’t solely tone the glutes, quads and lower body. When users utilise handlebars in their biking workout the upper body is engaged too. A stationary bike allows you to cover and gain the benefit of miles of road without moving an inch. You can set your own pace, define your own targets, enjoy your choice of entertainment and forget to check the weather forecast. If you have limited indoor space a folding exercise bike is the logical choice to make. Check the motorised treadmills here.
The JLL S400 Premium is a motorised folding treadmill utilising digital motor and soft fold technology for the ultimate combination of form and utility. This treadmill is an exemplary illustration of home exercise equipment done right. Topping our price chart by a considerable distance, for those who can afford it, the JLL S400 may be worth the stretch.
Two of the major downsides to home exercising are the potential for distraction before your workout begins and the lack of stimulation once it is underway. In a professional gym environment there is always something new to see or experience; music to put a bounce in your step, other patrons to measure your progress by, a choice of machines to keep things fresh…
The JLL S400 might not be able to whip you up a workout buddy but it does its fair share to stimulate in every other way that counts. Users have a choice of ways to pump out the tunes that make them move along the variable inclines and terrain replication which makes running the deck a three dimensional experience. When you’re through it can be easily folded and stashed away.
The JLL S400 Premium is a real runner’s machine. Throwing contemporary technology into the mix with a credible understanding of user demands and needs. Combining ease of use (the LCD display is bright and multiple programmes clear to follow) and a high quality finish with a broad gradient range to replicate the gym experience. While reflecting a home consumer’s needs through the sound absorption, soft close system and wheel transfer to minimise noise and maximise ease of storage.
Belt measurements: 135cm x 40cm
Folded measurements: 110cm x 70cm x 134cm
Features: 16 point cushioning - 20 levels of incline - 3 customisable programmes - 5.5” LCD display - Soft Drop Technology
Pricing: High end
We’ve previously addressed the additional bulk the addition of motorisation to a treadmill can create. The JTX Slimline (as its name might suggest) aspires to be the exception that proves this rule. Is it successful? Happily, yes. Despite its ability to fold flat, neat and compact, it still offers digital incline. Keeping user workouts variable and prolonging the machine’s lifespan as your fitness increases. It arrives preassembled too, so presents a genuinely hassle-free choice.
Belt measurements: 125cm x 41cm
Folded measurements: 157cm x 73cm x 24cm
Features: Genuine flat fold - Inbuilt speakers - Large running belt - 12 month warranty
Pricing: High end
The XM-Pro III has been commended by fitness magazines for its lightweight and compact build. Of our 5 choices today this is perhaps the best of both worlds option for a first treadmill experience or for older/injured users. It has the space saving qualities one looks for in a foldable motorised treadmill and combines them with a few of the higher spec functions we might expect at a loftier price bracket. All at an affordable price. There are some compromises in terms of finish and, under close scrutiny, it doesn’t have the aesthetic of mid range competitors. But a well thought out selection of gifts with purchase go some way towards compensating for this.
The XM-Pro III is unlikely to be the machine of choice for an experienced runner or committed gym bunny. It has limited scope when it comes to exercise programmes, only a single customisable option and three incline settings (good for the price) rather than the multiple settings increased endurance might demand. But no two treadmill users are alike and a multi terrain emulating, heart rate matching beast can be as off putting to some as it is essential for others.
For the home user looking to come back after injury, improve their general fitness or appease the conscience on their wrist by walking additional steps each day, the XM-Pro III is a sensible option. It sits at the lower end of its price bracket, offers several freebies to help you begin and enhance your keep fit regime and stores away simply. The hand controls are easy to operate and the screen clear to read. Reiterating that this is a fine machine for beginners and older users alike.
Features: 1100W motor - Built in speakers - Simple controls - Free eBooks and twist disc
Price: Mid range
It is evident with the X-Lite 2016 that we have taken a step down in price. Though still sitting in the mid range, like the machine above, we are now beginning to lose some significant functions. For starters the X-Lite has a fixed incline and a motor of just 750W. That immediately excludes a number of motorised treadmill users as buyers. Yet, as with the model above, it’s also going to make it just perfect for others.
Foldaway, compact treadmills are designed to fit neatly into our lives and interiors. Rather than taking over in the manner of more complex home exercise solutions. This machine benefits from a smaller footprint, lower running costs and, theoretically at least, fewer things to go wrong! The interval training programmes are pre-set and there is only one manual option. The machine’s smaller motor and deck are best suited to walking or a gentle jog. It is, in many ways, the perfect ‘teaching’ treadmill.
If simplicity and that ‘step on and go’ potential sound appealing then the X-Lite 2016 is the motorised treadmill for you. Considered as an entry level product it enables users to access the wealth of lifestyle benefits which regular walking or jogging bring, from the comfort of home, without any requirement to master overcomplicated digital drop screens or break out tools.
By virtue of the fixed incline this treadmill is best suited to users looking for light to moderate regular exercise rather than those aspiring to peak fitness and a huge body overhaul. It is a well priced, modest, utilitarian machine with everything you need to get started on the road to a positive change. With transfer wheels, a compact design and smaller deck it stores discreetly too.
Features: Towel rail - Water bottle holder - Fixed incline - 8 pre-set programmes/1 custom
Pricing: Mid range
Treadmills aren’t just for running, folks. In the Fitbit gazing age in which we live, we are all increasingly conscious of the connection between movement and better bodily health. With a maximum speed of 10kph, an onboard computer to give your pedometer the night off, and a surprisingly robust build, this little treadmill that could would be ideal for anything from a pleasant evening stroll in front of your favourite soap to a lengthy power walk in time to the speediest songs your iPod can muster. A walk in the countryside is all well and good but on a cold, dark evening there’s no place like home.
This cheerfully straightforward folding treadmill is primarily for those who enjoy a slower pace of life. Whether you are building strength and stamina in the aftermath or an injury, moving more to earn your sofa time or working to maintain mobility as you age, this is a reliable machine to accompany you on the journey. True, it is unlikely to transform you into Usain Bolt but, with free eBooks to offer guidance, it IS an affordable way to take the first step towards a fitter you.
Folded measurements: 54cm x 60cm x 124cm
Features: Water bottle holders - Incline adjustment - 600W motor - Backlit LED screen
Pricing: Mid range
Regular and proper use of a treadmill in the comfort of your own home can be a rewarding and accessible way to keep in shape. The advantages of a healthier lifestyle are multiple and the workout a treadmill offers is considered to be highly beneficial to bone health, stamina and heart health.
Each of the machines we have explored has their individual advantages but our victor is the JLL S400 Premium. This is a case where less isn’t more. The extra features, multiple custom options, smooth, quiet transitions and breadth of incline make it fit for a full spectrum of body types and abilities and more than justify the greater financial commitment.
In an ideal world gym memberships are a wonderful thing. A financial commitment to your health and fitness which will pay dividends with each visit you make. But this is not an ideal world. All too often the reality is that we are time and cash poor. After a long day at work - the working day bookended by darkness through the winter months - or a tiring day in the home, a schlep to the gym for a workout can seem a tiresome prospect.
These days there are other options. Home exercise equipment has enjoyed an evolution over recent years, leaving behind the expense and heft of machines past, to become a realistic and appealing option. One such increasingly popular home exercise alternative is the motorised treadmill. Motorised treadmills are recognisable from their use in commercial gyms. Though technology may have advanced their features, their user friendly appeal endures.
A motorised treadmill as you would expect comes with a built-in motor. What this means, in practical terms, is that the the belt revolves around itself as the individual walks or runs along the treadmill’s deck. As opposed to manual models which require the momentum of the user’s paces to start up and continue to power motion. The primary benefit of this is that one is able to simply step aboard and go.
The intensity of your workout is then dictated by the chosen speed setting. Incline options further enhance the level of challenge - replicating the effort of walking or running on a gentle gradient or hill (depending on the incline percentage). The inclusion of a motor will add additional weight. It is for the user to decide whether this is an advantage to them, based on personal priorities, but in terms of stability for runners or taller users it can definitely be a selling point.
Technology has been a gift to the home exercise market. A large proportion of mechanical treadmills are equipped with dedicated programmes. Allowing novice users the security of guidance through their fitness regime and those more experienced to chart their progress and adjust routines accordingly. Heart Rate Programmes are another innovation. Functions which match the intensity motion to your optimum heart rate.
There are pitfalls to safeguard against before committing to this type of machine. The first, crucially, is the elevated price. Those mod cons don’t come cheap. If you are working with a lower budget for your foldable treadmill it may be worth considering the higher end of the self-powered chart in addition to motorised versions. The next is storage. The 5 machines we are assessing are all foldable BUT they are demonstrably bulkier than their non-motorised peers.
Finally, and crucially, where you will locate your machine is absolutely key. An electronically powered motor will needs mains power to run. Will you be able to put your treadmill close enough to a power point. Or safely run an extension cable beside it? Battery powered motorised treadmills are also available but with either option do be sure to factor those additional running costs into your bottom line.
As with any home exercise equipment do consider the age, height, weight and exercise expectations of all potential users. A taller user will need a larger treadmill deck to workout on. An older or injured user may struggle with too steep a gradient on the deck. A heavier user will need the added security of a heavier machine to safeguard them. Check out the home cross trainers here.