Review of Best Folding Upright Stationary Exercise Bike, $100-$200

1).The Review Result is:

As usual, we reveal the review result first. Editor’s top 3 choice is Exerpeutic, ProGear and PLENY. If you are searching for A Folding Upright Stationary Exercise Bike at $100 and $200, choose one from our editor’s top 3 choices. We are sure you will satisfy with it. Check the scoreboard below for their scores.

Folding Exercise Bike Review Scoreboard

 ExerpeuticBest Choice ProductsPLENYInnovaLoctekFitLeaderProgearSunnyXspecIvation
Driving System555.154.84.85555
Handle Bars55.
LCD Monitor54.954.
Overall Durable5555555555
Brand Bonus54.84.954.84.9554.94.8
Final Score54.975.034.974.924.94.984.974.954.95
If you still interested in how was this review carried out, continue with your reading below, which have 2800 words and will cost you about 10 minutes. Then you will know the total review matrix and comparison details. This review is really do it in details and also have many basic knowledge for beginners.

2). How we choose reviewed model and how we review?

You may seen a lot of review articles in other sites when you bought other products. Did you aware that most of them just review single product one by one in separate article? For example, when a new Laptop model is launched, they just introduce it’s dimension, product specs, weights, camera, battery, etc, and show some pros and cons or maybe compare to it’s older version to check the upgrade. But it is hard to know which is better if you are interested in two or three of Brands and want to decide from one of them. So we think it is better to put them together and review it at the same time. This is what this post do here and also many other posts in our Best Home Product Review. We put them on a same stage and fight each other.

Go back to this review, there are over twenty models sells in Amazon site. In this review of Folding Upright Stationary Exercise Bike at price between $100 and $200, we carefully pick out 10 models following these rules:

  • The overall review rate by customer in Amazon site should be over 3 stars;
  • The total customer review quantity should be over 50;
  • The product should be still alive, not discontinued. We check the latest review date to judge it if it is live or dead.
  • This is focus on upright exercise bike, exclude the desk workstation model (This was reviewed in our separate post, check here)
  • To give a chance to new brand, one models will be chosen disregard the above 1~3 rules. We want put them together to see if new brand with their new product has some interesting, unnoticed features. Maybe they will bring customer some new experiences.

But we are very surprise to find out there are only 6 brand’s product meets the requirement of Rule No. 1~3.  So we have to lower Rule No.2 and choose two products that customer review quantity is under 50.

Furthermore, There is a brand called “Body Rider”. It was put into the list at the first, but their price goes up and down, once it was under $100, sometimes it is over $100. Since we have already reviewed it in this post under $100, we didn’t do it again here.

Another brand called “Ultega Foldable F-Bike“, which is also meet the rules, but we found out their last review is stopped on December 15, 2016.  It is very likely they have discontinued this product, if not, please leave a comment, we will add it back.

Next, in order to review and grade them, it is necessary to set up a standard references. It will be more clear to see which is better, which is less. According to the searching results, Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse is the best seller. We can’t see their sells quantity directly, but it was launched at late 2011, it has over 4300 customer review so far, far beyond any other brand’s similar product. So it become the perfect reference product here.

As you can see from the score matrix, we set up 10 items to review and grade, Exerpeutic’s model has the standard 5 points. If one product’s item is better, they may have 5+ points such as 5.1, 5.5, etc. But if not, they will have 5- points like 4.8, 4.5, etc.  At last, we can rank them by average points, that comes the result of the top 3 of editor’s choice at the beginning of the article.

3). Review Details:

OK, the pre-condition are set up, here are the one by one review details for you.

3.1) Driving System Performance:

Folding Exercise Bike - Driving System Performance

ExerpeuticBest Choice ProductsIvationInnovaLoctekFitLeaderProgearSunnyXspecPLENY
"+-" resistance adjust16 level resistance
First, At this price section, they all have the same mechanical structure called double drive transmission system. The precision balanced flywheel and V-belt drive provide a smooth and quiet operation. It will not interfere with watching TV or listening to music. It is driving by rubber belt and aluminum flywheel, so it is very smooth and quite. But if the factory is not pay attention to the quality check, assemble these parts misaligned, noises will coming out.

Second, The adjustment of resistance is controlled by several magnets and brake cable insides the plastic core near the flywheel. There are resistances differences between these products, because the flywheel weight may different but not all of them clearly point out what weight did they use. Also the final resistance calibration may differ from each other. It is hard to tell their actual torsion number . Most of them has universal 1-8 levels adjustment.

But, we noticed Fitleader and Loctek still uses the old adjust knob which only shows plus+ and minus-, we called Stepless Adjustment Dial. The cons is sometimes you have to turn the dial knob many many circles to find a suitable level, so we need minus 0.2 points.  And also we noticed Pleny’s exercise bike has a 16 level knob, this is never seen before in the market. As this is a new brand with new products, still need time to test the actual performance. We plus 0.1 points to encourage this new thing.

3.2) Handle Bars Comfort:

Folding Exercise Bike - Handle Bars Comfort

ExerpeuticBest Choice ProductsIvationInnovaLoctekFitLeaderProgearSunnyXspecPLENY
*back handle*no rectangular
*back handle
*no rectangular
*back handle
*no rectangular*no rectangular*back handle
Exerpeutic’s handle is a standard rectangular open circle type with hand pulse sensor and pre-assembled LCD Monitor.

If there is back handrail, plus +0.3 points; If the front handle bar is not rectangular, just a normal handle type, minus 0.2 points. Best Choice Products and PLENY have full type of handle at front and rear. The worst is Sunny’s handle with a not rectangular front handle and without back handle.

3.3) LCD Monitor Functional:

Folding Exercise Bike - LCD Monitor Functional

ExerpeuticBest Choice ProductsIvationInnovaLoctekFitLeaderProgearSunnyXspecPLENY
All of these Monitor can show Time, Speed, Distance and Calorie. Match with Handle Heart Rate Sensor Function, if yes, it can show it, if not, then NO. Some monitor is large, Some is small, it will not affect the function. Because the inside circuit board  are the same, it’s a quite simple electronic products, when comes to some high-end Treadmill, it is more complicated and also more functional available.  Talking about the cost, small monitor is less expensive than large one.

Here we come up with a new review thought that many other review articles was not covered or even mentioned before. Check Exerpeutic’s monitor and Loctek’s monitor, or the image on the left, the former one is pre-assembled with handle, the latter is assembled alone with handle. We put this into the score at this review section.

Why? When comes to the monitor like Exerpeutic’s, From the customer side, they just need put in the battery then start to use, and the monitor is more stable than the stand alone monitor. But from the Seller’s Customer Service side, when the monitor is broken or malfunction, they have to spend more money to ship the whole monitor together with the handle back and forth to the customer. On the contrary, monitor as Loctek’s, customer need one more step to assemble it, but seller’s customer service is easy and cheap to replace new monitor.

Here we prefer the Exerpeutic’s to Loctek’s, because customer wants less trouble, leave the work to customer service.

Second, we have to say, although there are many wearable devices that can detect your heart rate such as Apple iWatch, Fitbit band, Mio, Garmin, etc. But there are still many customer don’t have one or dislike it. It is more easy and readable to show it on the monitor screen. By the way, it is not a big cost increase to add this sensor and show on the screen.  It is very necessary to add on and offer it to customer. Even some folding stationary exercise bike under $100 has heart rate function available. And sadly Sunny’s Folding Exercise Bike is the only one don’t have Hand Pulse function among 10 products reviewed here.

3.4) Pedal Durable:

Folding Exercise Bike - Pedal

ExerpeuticBest Choice ProductsIvationInnovaLoctekFitLeaderProgearSunnyXspecPLENY
*plain pedal
*no bolt
*plain pedal
*no bolt
*no bolt*plain pedal
*no bolt
*plain pedal
*no bolt
*no bolt*no bolt

As we have talked in other review article, there are mainly four types of pedal available in the market. From top grade to last grade, there are 1. Textured anti-slip blocks with safety strap and strengthened bolt; 2. Textured anti-slip blocks with safety strap only; 3. Textured pattern with safety straps; 4. Textured pattern without safety straps.

Exerpeutic uses level 2 pedal, based on this, the other 9 models win it’s points. We are very proud to say our review is do it in details than others.  Here is a tiny but important thing we found out.  Look at left image, which is cut from Instruction Manual, Exerpeutic, ProGear, Pleny has Extra Nylon Nut(86) assembled at the end of the pedal after it is threaded into the crank arm. Cause some customer service is reminder “Please tighten the Screws/Bolts to avoid noise during pedaling.”.  This is an improvement to avoid this issue.

3.5) Saddle Comfortable:

Folding Exercise Bike - Saddle Comfortable

ExerpeuticBest Choice ProductsIvationInnovaLoctekFitLeaderProgearSunnyXspecPLENY
Exerpeutic’s saddle is a large with 2 inch thickness one. Not the best one, but equal with most of the other products. Saddle like FitLeader’s is a normal triangle one just like people saw it on Road Bike. The triangle sharp head will hit your untouched part and make you uncomfortable when sit on it for a long time. Pleny’s saddle is similar like FitDesk that we reviewed before, it’s thickness is up to 3 inches, and full of rebound foam. It is better than others.

Although the Innova’s saddle is a triangle one, but their saddle can move forward and backward. This feature only existed in Stationary Cycling Bike(Spin Bike), it can add more flexible to height adjustment and ergonomics performance. We will plus extra points at Section 3.7) Ergonomics.

3.6) Mobility

Folding Exercise Bike - Mobility

ExerpeuticBest Choice ProductsIvationInnovaLoctekFitLeaderProgearSunnyXspecPLENY
Two methods to review the mobility feature:  1. The folding dimension, more compact more better. They made even at this level.  2. Two small wheels are recommended to equip at the front or rear leg to make moving easily. The average product weight is about 35 lbs to 40 lbs, some petite woman may feel too heavy, and there is a clamp risk to fold and lift the exercise bike.

Sad to find Best Choice Products and Innova has no wheels equipped. Why they didn’t add it? Although, many customer did not move it frequently, but it’s a function they need equal with other brand’s products.

3.7) Ergonomics

Folding Exercise Bike - Ergonomics

ExerpeuticBest Choice ProductsIvationInnovaLoctekFitLeaderProgearSunnyXspecPLENY
*curved crank arm
*S frame
*no c-c-a
*no c-c-a*S frame
*Saddle horizontally
*no c-c-a
*S frame
*no c-c-a
*S frame
*no c-c-a
*S frame
*no c-c-a
First thing is overall comfortable including handle, saddle, pedals, etc. Does customer feels enough comfortable on these exercise bikes for long time exercise? Many people sit for hours on it.  And these parts are already reviewed and scored in above section for your references.

Second, there are 3 more features we will take into consideration which is also not mentioned before by other review organization such as BestReviews or Consumer Reports. Below is the details explanation.

  1. X type, all of them uses the typical X-shape frame structure. Its benefits is obviously. But look at Best Choice Products’ or Fitleader’s frame, the tube that connect handle to the rear leg is curved like “S” than Exerpeutic’s exercise bike. Is this a little better? Yes, it does in a way. Why? When you get on the bike, usually you need to lift one leg and cross the X joint and sit on the saddle, right? If the tube in front of the saddle is curved forward, it gives more spaces for your leg, so your leg don’t have to lift so high to sit on it. This is a little helpful than straight frame and more friendly for petite woman or seniors. This frame worth plus 0.1 points.
  2. We all know there is upright exercise bike and recumbent exercise bike. If you don’t know, you can check this post for their differences. Some products are combined these two features together, called Semi-Recumbent Exercise Bike such as Best Choice Products or Sunny. They added an adjustable support tube under the saddle, this tube can adjust the saddle height vertically. The benefits of this adjustment is it lower the gravity of the exercise bike to better get on and off, and it changes your body posture more horizontal and less stress on your leg joint close to a Recumbent Exercise Bike. This 2-in-1 type worth 0.1 points.
  3. Folding Exercise Bike Straight Crank Arm ExampleNormally the crank arm that connect the pedal and the crankset is straight. So all of the product description isn’t talk about this spare part particularly. But when reviewing the Pleny’s product, we found out they specially mentioned their crank arm is a curved arm. Any benefits? We studied and tested. It does make some different with normal straight one. Why? See illustration here, if your foot is placed parallel with the crank arm, that’s OK. But sometimes your foot is not parallel placed on the pedal, as indicated as the red line, and this situation do happens, Your foot will hit the end of the crank arm when pedaling fast. This is a tiny but user friendly improvement. Exerpeutic, Sunny, and Pleny is curved; the rest of them is the normal straight crank arm. To make the product better and better, hope other brands may aware these small improvements in later update. Anyway, it’s Better than nothing.
3.8) overall durable

Folding Exercise Bike - Overall Durable

ExerpeuticBest Choice ProductsIvationInnovaLoctekFitLeaderProgearSunnyXspecPLENY
First, the main frame is equal to each other. All uses durable steel tube with 3-piece crank system.

Second, some wearing spare parts inside and outside are key to the long term durable, such as saddle, pedal, handle foam, belt inside, bearings inside etc. These parts also causes their product cost diversity, some factory uses good parts, some uses basic parts, some uses cheap parts, although they looks the same, but sadly you can’t tell from the appearance.

3.9) Warranty

Folding Exercise Bike - Warranty

ExerpeuticBest Choice ProductsIvationInnovaLoctekFitLeaderProgearSunnyXspecPLENY
They all provided similar limited warranty. Unless the product is received defected, you can always ask for spare parts replacement from their customer service. Why some brands were minus some points here? We simply judge it by if they have US local customer service call or not. Big brand company may have local call service which is more efficiency for customer to search for service, just make a free call. Right?  Some imported brand company may don’t have it, customer need to send email to their customer service back and forth to describe and solve the problem.

3.10) Brand Bonus

Folding Exercise Bike - Brand Bonus

ExerpeuticBest Choice ProductsIvationInnovaLoctekFitLeaderProgearSunnyXspecPLENY
Besides above 9 criteria, we also set the Brand Bonus as a criterion.
What is Brand Bonus? Simply it is about whether the seller is a Professional Fitness Equipment Brand or not.  
When you look into their product catalog, you will find some of them only sell Fitness Equipment and it is last for years. Some are Groceries seller, they sell many kinds of products that are not related to each other, for example they not only sell Exercise Bike, Office Chair, but also sell Cloths or Running Shoes. This is obviously a groceries OEM seller, we believe their customer service people is not professional enough because they have too many product to cover.

3.11) Additional Information

Besides all these basic parts, some brands have some special features to try to stand out.

  • Innova, they add an universal tablet holder in front of the handle set. So people can place their phone, tablet or books on it when riding.  Ivation, Loctek, and Pleny also have the same function for Phont/Tablet Holder on Exercise Bike by another methods. But if you really need this function, it can easily solved by order a single phone/tablet mount and clip it on the handle.
  • Exerpeutic and Ivation have a small plastic basket to put the remote, but not large enough for a bottle of water.
  • Pleny, they added two resistance bands with the main frame, described as user can do some upper body workout at the same time. Not sure if this is really helps grow your arm strength or chest muscle, anyway it will add some fun at least.
  • According to the brand info, Exerpeutic and ProGear are belong to the same company called PARADIGM HEALTH & WELLNESS INC.
  • Loctek and FitLeader is alike to each other. According to the research, they also belong to the same company. FitLeader is the sub-brand of the Loctek who is focus on Fitness Products.
  • First impression is very important. Exerpeutic’s exercise bike launched Amazon at late 2011 when no other brands were start to sell it. That’s a huge advances.

4).Buying Guide

We will keep update this review content. If they upgrade their product specs, or launch new products, next time we will delete the bottom brand and add the new one in.

Price between $100 and $200 is fairly enough for having a folding stationary exercise bike. This compact design, easy-to-use and low restriction product is a great beginner’s basic home gym equipment for keep daily cardiovascular activity.