For multi-taskers, an under-desk cycle is an ultimate tool for efficiency and productivity. This smart exercise vehicle/work platform not only saves time but solves guilt dilemmas, too. Yes, you’ve got time to work out. And write a report, also. Manufacturers understand this.
If your company recommends working from home due to the Coronavirus, you can always sneak cycling into your new home office routine.
Let’s dive into the details.
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Best Overall: DeskCycle Under Desk
- Built with a precision flywheel for years of use
- Display tracks data for up to 16 hours
- Use with any desk-like structure and then stow in a small space
- Great value for the price
- Extremely portable; transport and use it anywhere.
- Designed for someone under 5-feet; 8-inches tall
- If you have large feet, the pedals may prove challenging
It’s small but mighty, reasonably priced, and as portable as it gets. This DeskCycle product eliminated the desk part, so you can park this gem under any desk and turn any table or desk into a combo unit.
This well-reviewed product offers a lot of value despite its size. Slide it under the shortest desk (it will fit under a 27-inch) and enjoy what DeskCycle calls the lowest pedal height available, plus a 3.5-inch long arm.
Driven by magnetic resistance technology, this model is quiet and offers a smooth “ride” as you focus on the tightest deadline. In fact, the patented magnetic resistance mechanism is fabricated with the same components as the ones used to craft pricier units.
According to DeskCycle, you’re guaranteed twice the resistance range of competitors (there are eight settings in total), so you can adjust the pedal rate to make it easy, or you can move at a sprint-worthy pace.
There’s more. This little gem offers the user a display that provides the data most cyclists and exercisers want to know: speed, time, calories burned, and there’s a scan feature, too.
Runner-Up: IDeer Life Home Office Standing Desk
- Lots of features with a comparably small price tag
- Tranquil, thanks to quality gears and design
- Compact enough to stow in small spaces
- Opt for the white model, and you’ll save a few bucks
- Highly-rated by owners.
- You may have to install a shim in the desk shaft area to stop wobbling
This bike desk combo looks like it just landed from outer space. The solid square body syncs with a similarly shaped desk and if you’re seeking an all-in-one, give this product a second look.
Available in white and black (the latter at a modest price add-on), users can weigh up to 220 pounds as eight levels of magnetic resistance keeps things quiet at any speed.
Part of the secret is the heavy-duty flywheel that IDeer claims deliver maintenance-free operation.
The multi-functional digital LCD monitor offers an impressively large display, so you won’t be switching glasses as you go from project to readout.
Use the oversized desk for anything you require to stay productive: devices, laptops, snacks, and there’s a cage designed for your water bottle should you start peddling so hard, bottles don’t stay upright for long.
Adjust the unit’s tension to suit your pace, and consult the monitor for stats that include time, speed, distance, and calorie counts. Roll this unit around if you need to relocate it for any reason.
Once re-installed, slide on to the ergonomically-styled, padded seat cushion that can mean the difference between a comfortable work session and one that’s so uncomfortable, you start missing deadlines.
Best budget under-desk cycle: Stamina 15-0120 InStride Cycle XL
- Gets great reviews from 80- and 90-year-old frequent users
- Very affordable
- Light and small, it travels with you
- Easy to assemble
- Max resistance may be inadequate for already-fit users
This bare-bones, under-desk cycle and under $40 product give you all of the features you need without having to switch your cat to an inferior grade of food. Stash it under your desk or table and quietly peddle away when other matters occupy your eyes and your brain.
Weighing in at just 9 pounds and supported by sturdy rubber feet designed to keep the unit stable and prevent it from slipping, the price may be small, but the benefits you get are big if you are looking for a non-welded bike/desk combo.
Use the convenient tension control to suit the type of workout you seek: slow, moderate, or fast. There’s a tiny electronic display on this modest gear, but that doesn’t make it less high-tech than those found in larger under-desk cycle models.
Marketed as “the most portable, easiest way to tone your body” while taking care of business, little features mean a lot to users: Rubber straps to anchor feet to pedals, and you can pedal backward or forward, just as owners of pricier products can do.
Here’s a benefit you won’t find in more substantive models: You can put it on a table or desk, adjust the tension, and give your upper body a workout, too.
At 19-inches(L) x 12.25-inches(W) x 15.25-inches(H), storage is never a problem. Further, you’re not required to own a toolbox to put it together.
Affordable, portable, and lightweight, this InStride Cycle could be the introductory fitness product you need to move up to a full-blown, welded under-desk cycle down the road.
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B0418
- Simple assembly using the wrench provided by the manufacturer
- Solid weight means that it’s less likely to slide or fall over
- Set the tension to suit your level of fitness
- Seniors love the larger LCD display; it’s easier to read
- Won’t fit under some low-slung desks (knees can hit the underside)
At around twice the price of the bare-bones InStride Cycle profiled above, this beefier product also slides under a desk or table rather than being sold as a welded unit, but it’s got a few extras that shoppers find compelling.
The sleek grey cabinet has a larger LCD, which makes time, speed, distance, ODM, and calories burned easier to see, and the belt drive is extremely reliable.
Fabricated to be used by someone who weighs as much as 220-pounds, this Sunny Magnetic Mini offers the same number of tension levels (8) as pricier models, so building leg muscles while exercising brain muscles and doubling down on efficiency makes this a product that benefits your mind and body.
The object of many favorable reviews-both for performance and price-you can also use this Sunny Mini for leg and upper body development, and you can count on the safety straps to keep your extremities secure.
If brand dependability is high on your list, you’ll want to know that Sunny Health and Fitness has been in the business of manufacturing exercise equipment for 15+ years and a lot of thought went into all facets of this unit.
At 22-inches(L) x 18-inches(W) x 14-inches(H), this hefty unit tips the scales at 21 pounds for extra stability while in use, and it is so compact, it’s easily hidden away when not in use.
Daiwa Felicity Compact
- Stylized silhouette makes this unit a great space saver
- Assembly is easy and fast
- Folds down for storage when not in use
- Great customer service response should anything go wrong.
- The seat is slim, small, and can’t be replaced due to its unique design
- If your legs are long, be sure to try before you buy.
Often out-of-stock due to its popularity, you’ll pay twice what you would for the aforementioned Sunny, yet you don’t get a desk with this unit either.
Modular by design, this chunky, black, vertical square looks quirky, likely because it was developed for a specific market: dorm rooms, small digs, and tiny office spaces.
This Daiwa product is a chameleon: One minute, you’ve got a full-fledged exercise product ready to slide under any table or desk, and in the next, the seat and legs disappear into the square, so it makes a tidy relocatable.
As with other products in this review, users enjoy the benefits of 8 tension strengths that are ready to accommodate people of all fitness levels.
The seat adjusts up and down, but you may discover that it’s just too narrow to be comfortable if the cycle is being used for hours on end. On the other hand, there are rolling wheels beneath the unit for quick, easy relocation. Move the unit from one place to another or stick it in a closet when it’s not in use.
You won’t have to borrow the neighbor’s screwdriver since the unit arrives fully assembled, a perk for some that can’t be underestimated. If having an actual cup holder on your under-desk cycle is important to you, this space-saving product is likely to make your shortlist.
A brief history of the under-desk cycle
Talk about innovation: When Pedal Power co-founders came up with the idea of welding a bike to a desktop, the two young inventors were a perfect pair, wrote journalist James Hamblin for “The Atlantic” in 2014.
Andy Wekin is a mechanical engineer; Steve Blood is a computer geek. A crowdfunding effort generated start-up money for the two New Yorkers and the rest, as they say in the cycle business, is history.
When the editorial staff at Buzzfeed decided to see what all the under-desk cycle “buzz” was about, they published a photo essay with text to describe the good, bad, and ugly of using this clever gear that got plenty of attention from readers.
The easiest way to describe these clever contraptions is to say that they’re an amalgam of the stationary bike that, in some cases, is welded to a desktop large enough to host a computer and select stationery items.
Some under-desk cycles don’t have desks and others allow the user to remove the cycling element so the worker can stand; most don’t. They come in myriad materials, colors, styles, and price points. You’ll get what you pay for.
Eager to see how these work? Watch this video, and if you’re not convinced of this gear’s merits, you will be by the time you finish watching it and reading this review.
Benefits of using under-desk cycle
Long before the aforementioned Mr. Wekin and Blood moved forward with their enterprise, the University of Iowa researchers received a grant to tackle the issue of sedentary workers.
Spearheaded by Health and Human Physiology Assistant Professor Lucas Carr, this 16-week trial consisted of putting pedaling devices under the desks of people whose jobs kept them tethered to workstations.
Wading through snags (privacy issues; consistency problems and design), the study appeared in the “American Journal of Preventive Medicine.”
Citing an 83-percent rise in sedentary jobs in concert with the World Health Organization’s estimate that “3.3 million people die annually due to physical inactivity, making it the fourth leading cause of mortality,” the under-desk cycle quickly began to get the respect it deserved.
But workers weren’t the only beneficiaries of this largesse. Employers quickly realized that under-desk cycles could lower the health care costs they shouldered, which is how so many of these products wound up in government offices.
Even a National Institutes of Health research study called “Cycling on a Bike Desk Positively Influences Cognitive Performance” impacted how these products were perceived.
What should you consider when choosing an under-desk cycle?
If you’ve already decided that price will determine your purchase because your budget will only withstand a small hit, you’ll be happy to know that today’s variety of options should satisfy your goal.
On the other hand, if the price is no object, you’re going to be able to snag gear with limitless options.
Your mechanical prowess could be the next element you consider if you’ll be the person who takes the components out of boxes and follows a schematic to put the equipment together.
Plenty of people opt for at-home or in-store assembly that could cost a few bucks, but it’s well worth the expenditure in some cases.
Do you want a cordless unit? You have choices. Evaluate your electronics and the desk surface space you’ll have at your disposal. Cordless desk bikes, say, product reviewers, are the easiest to maintain over the long haul.
How comfortable do you want to be? Just because you’re pedaling, you won’t want to compromise on a seat that offers the most padding and ergonomic design.
A seat adjustment feature that spans just 7-inches could be invaluable. Remember that you will spend hours on your bicycle seat, so keep that in mind. Is design important to you?
At-home workers whose space is so finite, their equipment becomes part of a decorating scheme may seek a specific look, color, or design that complements the interior design.
How versatile should the pedals be? Get the max for your dollar: backward and forward capability. When you consider durability, consider your future plans.
If you’ve picked an inexpensive under-desk cycle, you may not care whether it’s around forever, but if you intend to grow old with your unit, you want the sturdiest product you can find.
What sizes and types of under-desk cycles are currently on the market?
Having said that the numbers and styles of under-desk cycles have exploded, determining specific sizes is best left up to you when you review current models on the market to see which ones fit your space, needs, and physiology. You’re going to find plenty of variety when you browse.
Between recumbent bike desks that are easy on the bones and the familiar bicycle framework you know, you’ll discover that choices range from no-frills combo units where the desk and bike are welded together to detached models that slide under desks.
What’s on the horizon? Bike tables that offer larger flat surfaces and those designed to suit at least two people who are working collaboratively, bike desk designers and engineers say that the sky’s the limit.