mini exercise bikes

The Best Mini Exercise Bikes for Seniors or Those in Physical Therapy

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The mini exercise bike is a cute piece of equipment that can provide its user with some cardio and help stave off the dread “sedentary lifestyle” tag. 

Regarding the name, it’s not actually a bike, and it does not provide the same level of exercise you’d get from getting on an actual bike and riding a few miles. 

However, because these machines have pedals like a bike, and you do pedal them. However, they are closer to step machines in that they get you to go through the same motions as you would when walking.

My Expertise

kara mcmahon

After reading and comparing several reviews and data points, these are my recommendations for users who don't have space for an exercise bike, but also might need a mini exercise bike for physical therapy applications.

Who Is This For?

Mini exercise bikes can easily fit under your desk at work, allowing you to pedal to your heart’s content, meaning you can get some exercise even as you work on those dreaded TPS reports. You can also use them as table top arm bikes to work your upper body while watching TV. 

Other users who benefit are older and may not be able to go for a long walk or a bike ride due to physical limitations but are not content to suffer atrophy along the way. 

How We Chose

Considering that many users of these pedalers may have physical limitations, the weight of the units was a significant factor in determining solid options. Also, more compact units got more attention in general than their larger counterparts since, as mentioned above, many users want these bikes to fit under their desks. We chose the best units we could find with those requirements.

How We Tested

We looked at all the features offered by different companies. Ease of use was high on our list of things that made one better than another. Price came into it, as well. Although everybody knows you get what you pay for, sometimes the less expensive option is better for you. We also looked at customer reviews—usually a much more revealing metric than the companies’ websites. 

8 Best Mini Exercise Bikes Review 

Sunny Health and Fitness Desk Cycle Mini SF-B0418

sunny health and fitness b0418
  • One of the cool things about many of these mini bikes is the digital monitor they offer. Sunny Health and Fitness’ model allows users to track calories burned, time spent, and miles traveled.
  • Another nice feature is its dual-use construction. You can pedal with your legs or keep some action in your arms by pedaling with your hands. After all, if you’re trying to get exercise while recovering from a broken leg, maybe pedaling with your feet is not going to be your first choice.

Most of the magnetic mini exercise bikes in this guide offer eight levels of resistance, so it’s difficult to rate one over another based on that alone, but its most significant plus is its LCD. 


Bigger than nearly every other display on this list, it’s easier to read than most others. This ends up being a good thing due to one of the product’s features some might consider a negative, especially compared to units offering similar features. 


This Sunny Health Fitness model is one of the heaviest units we evaluated. If moving this around is something you plan on doing much of, you should consider unit weight. And if you have a heavier mini exercise bike like this one, the easier-to-read display means less likelihood of you having to pick the whole thing up to see the readout. 

PROS

  • It’s quiet when in use
  • Its weight makes it sturdy

CONS

  • Cost—one of the more expensive units on the list

Stamina Exercise Bike with Smooth Pedal System

Stamina Exercise Bike with Smooth Pedal System
  • Since many units offer a display to track your time exercising and other stats, its adjustability sets this display apart. Pedaling with your hands puts you in a different position than if you’re using your feet. Adjust the display angle so you can see it no matter how you’re using the bike.
  • This mini exercise bike comes with müüv, a coaching app. Users have access to 500 minutes per month of müüv’s personalized coaching—nice for getting feedback on exercises you want to use to focus on various aspects of your fitness.

This unit offered what felt like more and better stability than the others. Nothing seemed rickety, but some units felt a little less grounded than others. 

We got minimal rocking out of the unit and never noticed the bike scooting away or toward us as we used it. It is also a lighter unit, making it more portable than others. It is also a multi-use unit, meaning it works for hand-pedaling, as well. Among the under-$100 products, this is a solid option.


PROS

  • No need to turn it on; just start pedaling.
  • Smooth Pedal System uses gears instead of cranks, making for smooth operation at all resistance levels
  • The müüv app provides a real gee-whiz factor

CONS

  • While we had no issues, customers have reported issues with the unit not lasting very long before developing loose or squeaking pedals
  • Some users voiced issues with customer service

Product Specifications

TODO Stationary Medical Peddler

TODO Stationary Medical Pedaler
  • This unit is one of the stronger ones, sporting an enforced steel frame construction that the company claims can support up to 400 pounds, nearly double what most other units support.
  • One of the lighter units is easily portable, although it admittedly has a taller profile than many others. Under a low desk, this could be an issue. On the plus side, it does look a little like your own Star Wars droid.

Despite being so light, this is a solidly built exercise peddler. The benefit of the steel frame is readily apparent when pedaling or even just setting it down on the ground before you get to your exercise. 


The non-slip pedals are nice, too, and while non-slip seems like a reasonably binary condition (either your feet slip off the pedals or they don’t) these felt a little more secure when compared to many of our other options. 


Many differences in these bikes are small when it comes down to it, so something as seemingly insignificant as how well the non-slip surfaces work can make a difference in making your choice. 


PROS

  • This is a bike for rehabilitation, making its relatively low resistance a pro. However, if you’re attempting to get serious exercise, this is not the unit for you.
  • No batteries and no power cord needed, meaning you just start pedaling, which is a nice feature.

CONS

  • Some users had trouble with initial assembly, and the pedals are on the small side, meaning longer legs or bigger feet may face some issues with this mini bike.

Product Specifications

MagneTrainer-ER Mini Exercise Bike

MagneTrainer-ER Mini Exercise Bike
  • Designated as a physical therapy unit, this magnetic resistance mini bike is tall enough that under-the-desk use is impractical. This is also the heaviest unit on our list, even though it boasts an alloy steel construction. It is a solid unit and is not likely to feel flimsy under even the burliest of users.
  • Bi-directional movement means pedalers can pedal forward or backward, a definite benefit when you’re going for regaining range of motion.
  • A misconception of this unit (and of its appearance in this guide) might be that this is an under-the-desk unit. It is not. The manufacturer specifies that this is for use in a physical training setting and makes a different unit for use under an office desk.

Compared with other units, this one does not fare well simply because of factors already mentioned—it’s tall, heavy, and not meant for use in an office. It does offer one of the quieter motions on this list, which is nice. 


When in a physical therapy setting, this mini exercise bike is ideal, as it’s sturdy and offers the bi-directional motion mentioned earlier that can be beneficial to those recovering from injury. Comparisons with this one are somewhat apples-to-oranges, but our findings showed us that it works well for what this unit is, though it is on the pricier end of things.


PROS

  • It has bi-directional motion.
  • Its magnetic resistance offers a huge variety of adjustable resistance options.
  • It has an electronic display.

CONS

  • Its height and weight make it bulky.
  • It’s not designed for office use.
  • The unit rocks back and forth a bit during use.

Product Specifications

Vive Pedal Exerciser

Vive Pedal Exerciser
  • With a 220-pound weight limit, this is a solid unit for just about any user. Its rotary knob for resistance control provides for many different settings—an excellent option especially considering that this one comes in on the lower end of the cost spectrum.
  • The LCD screen that tracks distance, time, and calories burned is a touchscreen, which is a nice feature for ease of use, especially mid-pedal. One major drawback compared to other units is that most pedalers work double duty, allowing for pedaling by hand or foot. This one works for your feet only.

With a 220-pound weight limit, this is a solid unit for just about any user. Its rotary knob for resistance control provides for many different settings—an excellent option especially considering that this one comes in on the lower end of the cost spectrum.


The LCD screen that tracks distance, time, and calories burned is a touchscreen, which is a nice feature for ease of use, especially mid-pedal. One major drawback compared to other units is that most pedalers work double duty, allowing for pedaling by hand or foot. This one works for your feet only.

 

PROS

  • Weighing less than 13 pounds, it is much more portable than comparable items.
  • It stays in place during use better than similar units.

CONS

  • It has uneven resistance through the pedal stroke.
  • A few users complained of pedals working themselves off of the unit.
  • The noise this mini bike makes can be distracting and is noticeable.

Product Specifications

AGM Mini Exercise Bike

AGM Mini Exercise Bike
  • Multi-function LCD readout tracks calories burned, time pedaled, and distance traveled.
  • The tension knob offers access to eight levels of resistance for a variety of challenges during exercise.
  • A lightweight frame makes the unit easily portable.

As with most of these units, the actual use is pretty straightforward: put your feet in them and pedal. The straps on the pedals are designed to keep your feet moored to the product as you exercise are comfortable and secure. This compares favorably with other units, some of which do not feel secure at all. 


Worrying that your feet might slip off the pedals complicates things, especially if you’re doing the under-the-desk thing, as this might make it difficult to concentrate on the work you’re trying to do on your desk while pedaling under your desk. 


However, it is a tall unit and lightweight. This combination leads to the unit tending to tip over if you pedal one leg harder than the other—something that can quickly happen if you’re mindlessly pedaling while doing other work.


PROS

  • This unit is highly portable.
  • It has a range of resistance from lots to not very much.
  • It has comfortable pedals.

CONS

  • It has a tendency to tip over.
  • There has been difficulty with assembling for some customers.
  • Its light weight that makes portability good means the unit doesn’t always stay in place during use.
  • It’s not designed for hand pedaling.

Vaunn Medical Folding Pedal Exerciser

Vaunn Medical Folding Pedal Exerciser
  • A bare-bones unit that gets done what it’s intended for.
  • In terms of price point, this is the unit to beat all others on this list.
  • Its extreme lightweight means excellent portability, and a broad base gives the unit stability while it’s in use.

In the case of “Your Greatest Strength is Also Your Greatest Weakness,” the Vaunn unit’s real claim to fame is its weight—or lack thereof. Almost three times lighter than the next most lightweight unit on our list, this mini bike can go just about anywhere and be taken there by just about anyone. 


However, many of these exercise units lose points for moving around during use, which is no exception. The Vaunn bike does come with a strap to anchor it to your chair, but that only prevents it from moving away from you as you pedal and does nothing to dissuade the mini bike from sliding side to side. 


The resistance settings for this one go from one to eight like nearly every other one, the only thing here being that some users report that the knob slips after a brief time pedaling, although we did not encounter anything like that. 


It also does not have an LCD to track your calories burned or whatever, which may be a dealbreaker. However, sometimes more straightforward is better. Depending on your needs or what you do or do not care about knowing, this may be just right.

PROS

  • Price—the least expensive unit we compared is more than $100 less than some units.
  • No assembly of any kind required: buy it, unbox it, pedal it.

CONS

  • Extreme lightweight means the unit tends to move around during use.
  • No tracking device of any kind, so no calorie counting or distance measuring.
  • A reasonably tall unit, making under-the-desk use possibly problematic.

Product Specifications

FlexCycle Exercise Bike

FlexCycle Exercise Bike Black
  • A quiet unit and right about average in terms of the weights of all the bikes on this list, the FlexCycle occupies a kind of Goldilocks zone for us.
  • It’s good-looking and portable. The handle’s design helps with this and makes the whole thing look like a handheld vacuum and offers the digital readout most users would consider standard.
  • Also, like most units, eight resistance levels are available.
  • The unit feels solid and well-built, too.

Maybe the best thing about this one is that it is compatible with Zwift, an indoor cycling app. Measure your time speed distance. It won’t turn your mini bike into a fancy virtual reality rig, but it can certainly help with motivation while exercising. 


Other than that, most of this unit’s features are de rigueur for mini exercise bikes—eight resistance levels that offer a wide range, a strap to hold it in place while you pedal, and easy to move from place to place. It isn’t the lightest unit we compared, but it wasn’t the heaviest, either. 


Our tests revealed a tendency to squeak occasionally, but that is not unusual with these units, as every single one of them makes some kind of sound. 

This is a pricier option, and it is one of the taller units, but the pedals sit a bit lower in the body than in some of the other tall mini bikes, so under-desk use shouldn’t be a problem unless you have exceptionally long legs.


PROS

  • It has solid construction.
  • Compatible with third-party cycling apps.
  • Versatile and portable, but not so light as to feel flimsy or cheap.

CONS

  • Assembly is more minor than simple; some will have trouble with it.
  • Some users voiced concerns with customer service.

Preview + Rating

Product Name

Product

Dimensions + Resistance

Weight

Price Check

Sunny Health Fitness Desk Cycle Mini SF-B0418

20.5 x 16.5 x 10.5 inches -eight resistance levels

19.1 Pounds

Stamina Exercise Smooth Pedal System

Stamina Mini Exercise Bike with Smooth Pedal System

15 x 13.5 x 12 inches - friction resistance, adjustable tension

14.5 lbs

TODO Pedal Exerciser Stationary Medical Peddler with Digital LCD Monitor

16 x 13.8 x 12.6 inches - eight magnetic resistance levels

11.8 lbs.

MagneTrainer Mini Exercise Bike

MagneTrainer-ER Mini Exercise Bike Arm and Leg Exerciser

16 x 9 x 16 inches -  eight magnetic resistance levels

 23 lbs.

Vive Pedal Exerciser - Stationary Exercise Leg Peddler

16 x 13.75 x 12.5 inches - rotary knob resistance

12.72 lbs.

Exercise AGM Digital Peddler

Mini Exercise Bike, AGM Digital Under Desk Bike Foot Cycle Arm & Leg Pedal Exerciser

6 x 13 4/5 x 12 ⅗ inches - eight magnetic resistance levels

12.13 lbs.

Vaunn Exerciser

Medical Folding Pedal Exerciser with Electronic Display for Legs and Arms Workout

5.75 x 21x 11.75 inches, 8 levels of magnetic resistance

4.4 lbs

FlexCycle Exercise Bike

FlexCycle Exercise Bike

20.9 x 17.5 x 13.2 inches - eight resistance levels

18.1 lbs.

Alternatives

Products that serve the same purposes, work for the same muscle groups, and provide similar cardio exercise are recumbent exercise bikes (like a rowing machine that you pedal) or more traditional exercise bikes, even something like Peloton’s exercise bike and accompanying cycling apps. However, none of those products compete with a mini exercise bike in terms of price.

Does a Mini Exercise Bike Help You Lose Weight?

A mini exercise bike might help you shed votes, but only if paired with an appropriate calorie-controlled diet.

Can Mini Exercise Bikes Burn Calories? 

Though many people use for this kind of exercise equipment is physical therapy, you might be wondering how effective they are for burning calories. The answer is yes. As with any other stationary or outside bike, the pedal movement is very similar. Not only are portable mini bikes affordable, but they also can fit under standard desks, making them suitable for use while working or enjoying entertainment. 

You probably aren't going to burn as many calories as you would with stationary or recumbent bikes, as those bikes engage several upper-body muscle systems. But if access to a stationary bike is impractical for you, then a mini exercise bike is definitely a better way to go.

How many Calories do you Burn using a Bike Pedal Exerciser?

One study found that a user burned 10.3 calories per minute using a mini exercise bike. At this level of exertion, they would burn 309 calories on a mini bike.

Can you Develop Muscles with a Mini Exercise Bike?

The impact on the muscles with these bikes is not very serious. As previously stated, the primary purpose of these bikes is physical therapy. So no, you're not going to develop much muscle with these models. If you're looking for a stationary bike that will promote muscle development, I recommend a traditional exercise bike. 

What’s the Best Mini Exercise Bike for the Elderly?

I would recommend the Sunny Health and Fitness as it has had some of the most enthusiastic recommendations for mini exercise bikes. Check my review above for details on this great Sunny Health and Fitness product.

How to Fix Tension on a Mini Exercise Bike?

This video should give you all the details you need to know to fix the tension on a mini exercise bike: 

Conclusion

This concludes my recommendations for the best mini exercise bikes currently available. Most of these items have been designed for physical therapy or working out while at a desk. You’ll have to decide from this list which one will be best for your needs. 

Questions and Answers:

Do mini exercise bikes really work?

A. They do, but like any other exercise gadget, only if you use them. These mini bikes offer the possibility of stealing time from work or watching television and applying it to calorie-burning and getting a little cardio in. You will not do well in the Tour de France training on one of these, but they do what they say they will, and that gets you a little exercise here and there. 

What muscles do mini exercise bikes work?

A. Your quads and glutes will get the most work. If you use the hand pedaling option, you’re going to work your shoulders and back mostly, with a bit of forearm action in there, too.

What are the benefits of a mini exercise bike?

Probably the most significant selling point is the low profile, as these are primarily marketed as something to put under your desk to burn extra calories. At the same time, you handle paperwork or deal with that teleconference you’ve been dreading.