Pedal exercisers are low-impact exercise machines that look similar to stationary bikes but without the bulky spine. They are designed with only two major parts – the pedals and a small frame to support the pedals.
Mini exercise bikes were made specifically for people who need rehabilitation after an injury, surgery or those with bad knees. Pedaling with either the hands or feet can improve heart rate and blood circulation, allowing users to burn calories, boost energy, and reduce stress without putting a strain on the knees or back.
These devices can be placed on top of a table and pedal with your arms to improve upper body strength. They can also be used like a stationary bike, with feet used for the pedals.
If you’re interested in buying one, check out our 5 best pedal exercisers for 2019:
The DeskCycle is a beast when it comes to under-the-table pedal exercisers. It’s a popular name, mostly because it’s super-sturdy and can withstand years of use. The DeskCycle also has the same magnetic resistance mechanism and patented components of the MagneTrainer. Some features we love about this product is its quiet pedal movement thanks to the top-notch magnetic resistance mechanism. We also have to point out that this mini arm and leg exerciser has the lowest pedal-height you can find in a machine of this kind. It is also surprisingly easy to fit under any office table and move comfortably to other places if you need to.
- Pedals forward and backwards smoothly so you can work different muscle groups
- Displays distance, calories, speed, time and scan
- Resistance is highly adjustable (there are 8 calibrated resistance settings) to personalize your workout
- It doesn’t work with your hands
- All DeskCycles come with a Kensington slot on the front of the bike, which is supposed to be an advantage except you have to pay extra for the Kensington lock
When it comes to the DeskCycle, you get what you pay for. It’s the most expensive in this list, at around $150, but you won’t have any structural issues with this pedal exerciser.
If you’re looking for a straightforward machine, the Drive Medical Deluxe exercise pedal bike definitely fits the bill. It can work for both upper and lower body strengthening, which means you can use it for the hands or feet. While this may be a very basic option, Drive Medical has also crammed a few key features that make it built for a modern audience. It features 5 distinct functions (exercise time, calories burned, revolution count, revolutions per minute/rpm, and scan feature).
- Portable, foldable and lightweight (measures 12.5″ x 14.7″ x 6.5″)
- Sets up within seconds (just unfold and you’re good to go)
- Some squeaking
- The anti-slip rubber pads won’t stay for long (so be prepared for the machine to slide a bit when in use)
- Adjusting resistance settings with tension screw sometimes do not work
The Drive Medical deluxe folding exercise peddler works as advertised, but in order for the machine to last long, you should keep it in one place (instead of moving from home to office and back). For an exercise machine under $30, this piece of equipment will definitely go beyond your expectations.
The MagneTrainer has been around for a couple of years now, but it remains one of the most popular arm and leg pedal exercisers in the market…and for good reason. It is designed with rehabilitation in mind, which is why it is the number 1 choice of hospitals, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and physical therapy clinics.
- Unique resistance range (there are 3x more resistance settings from MagneTrainer than any other pedal exercisers in the market)
- Tough construction that can withstand daily use for years
- Super quiet operation
- Highly durable
- Smooth pedal motion, whether you use it with your hands or feet
- Designed with heavy-duty pulleys and flywheels, non-slip steel base, and wide 4V belts
- Setting up will take you more than 10 minutes
- Taller compared to other pedal exercisers (it may cramp desk space)
Aside from being very sturdy, the MagneTrainer also operates very quietly and allow users to pedal forward or backward. It’s available for $160, which you’ll soon discover is worth the investment once you’ve stepped on the pedal for the first time. When compared to other pedal exercisers, this one wins hands-down.
The magnetic mini exercise bike from Sunny Health & Fitness doesn’t look like much (since it’s designed with mostly plastic materials), but it is actually quite the tiny “bike.” This pedal exerciser accommodates both hands and feet use. Featuring a quick-twist knob, this machine allows you to adjust your resistance easily and effectively. Feel the burn by adding more resistance, or cool down by lessening the resistance. This small leg peddler also sports oversized textured non-slip pedals that are friendly for people with larger feet. And even people with normal sized feet, these pedals offer a great anti-slip platform to place your feet during your aerobic exercise.
- Very easy to transport (it has a built-in handle for carrying everywhere)
- LCD display shows speed, time, distance, calories and ODM
- 8-level micro tension controller
- Can only accommodate people weighing 220 pounds or less
- Isn’t the most subtle design-wise
This space-saving pedal exerciser works perfectly well for both upper and lower body strengthening. We like that you can switch from using your feet to your hands without issues. There are even small finger grooves on the pedal grips to make it even more comfortable when in use.
The Vaunn medical pedal exerciser is very straightforward – you can even use it once you get it out of the box since it comes fully-assembled. This machine doesn’t have a lot of parts, but the parts that Vaunn did use will definitely impress. While there isn’t a formal “lifetime warranty” offered, you can feel how well-built it is from the first time you open the box. It’s made of triple-layered, chrome-plated, heavy-duty steel, which is also rust- and break-resistant. It’s one of those peddle exercisers that will stay with you for years to come!
- Strong construction means you can expect high-level stability when in use
- Comes with effective non-skid ribbed rubber platform and rubber feet for extra traction
- Adjustable tension to increase/decrease challenge
- Ideal for low-impact physical therapy and improving blood circulation
- No fancy LCD displays
It may look just like an ordinary bike pedal, but this (almost) unbreakable pedal exerciser is much much more. At only $35, this device can be used in increasing strength and endurance to your arms and legs without adding unnecessary pressure to joints or tendons. Feel confident knowing you have one of the best in class stationary exercise peddlers on the market.
Vive has made itself known as an expert in the health and wellness segment. Their knowledge has now been carried over into an extensive line of products which is sure to impress you. Their pedal exerciser is no exception. This small bike is so compact, you may even forget where you put it. Unfortunately, it does not feature a GPS tracker (but they’re working on it). It will easily fit under most desks and is great to even bring to work due to its light weight. Like most pedal exercisers in this segment, Vive has added nonslip pedal bars to accommodate most shoes. They went one step further and added tow loops for a secure fit.
While it may seem like every other stationary “mini” bike on the market, Vive has gone a step further and made this bike quieter than most. No more yelling from across the room because your wife or husband can’t hear you over the obnoxiously loud whine coming from your exercise bike!
- Compact at only 12.5″ tall
- Sturdy thanks to its low profile design (no wobble)
- Adjustable resistance for a personalized workout
- Large LCD display which shows RPM, time, speed, distance and calories burned
- Does not accommodate wider feet
- Pedal action is said to be a little jerky
- Unit does not stay in place on smooth surfaces
Notably the most expensive trainer on our list, but for good reason. This commercial grade arm and leg exerciser by MagneTrainer has a wide 15 inch steel base. It is sure to stay in place even during your most intense aerobic sessions! The biggest feature that we should point out is the patented magnetic resistance. It offers twice as much resistance versus traditional pedal exercisers, giving you a bigger challenge.
Sit comfortably in your living room, watching your favorite soap opera while also shredding the pounds, improving your heart health and strengthening your legs. It’s perfect for those looking for a passive machine that supports their health goals. Place it on a table top and it transforms into a sturdy upper body trainer. The wide resistance range makes it a recommended bike by doctors and therapists alike.
- Commercial grade frame for sturdiness and longevity
- Magnetic resistance (2x more resistance over traditional pedal exercisers)
- Adjustable velcro straps
- Electronic monitor with Speed, Time, and Calories burned
- Expensive over most competitors
- Hard to move around due to its construction
Confidence Fitness has released a low impact pedal exerciser that is perfect for your aerobic needs. Featuring a variable 12 speed settings, you can be confident this machine will allow you to meet and exceed any fitness goals you have for 2019! The built in computer shows key statistics which will allow you to track your progress. It comes with a cabled remote so that you can adjust your workout on the fly without straining your back. What’s more, this pedal exerciser also feature 6 preset automatic programmes and 1 manual programme.
- 12 speed settings
- Max speed: 80 RPM
- Built-in programmes
- Computer with cabled remote for convenience
- LCD display with key statistics
- Not as sturdy as other models
- Cabled remote is too short
- Foot straps not large enough for running shoes
Wrap Up: The best Pedal Exerciser
You won’t go wrong if you choose any of the pedal exercisers we recommended above. But if you’re looking to improve upper body strength, don’t go with the DeskCycle and Drive Medical since they’re exclusively used for the feet. The last three machines were designed to be accommodate both hands and feet, so you can balance your workout however you wish.
If you’re looking for the most affordable and most subtle, Vaunn Medical’s offering is definitely worth the $40 investment. You can use it without much fanfare under your desk and be able to transport it regularly since it is made with sturdy steel.
Benefits of Using a Pedal Exerciser
While you may not receive as great of an aerobic workout as using a full-sized bike, pedal exercisers have many benefits over larger equipment. Firstly, they are considered a low impact movement which minimizes strain on joints. Secondly, it is a known fact that increasing your heart rate through exercise not only improves blood circulation, but also improves mental health, prevents obesity (as long as your diet is on point), and improves heart health!
Pedal exercisers are a cost-effective alternative that can save space compared to larger pedal bikes commonly found in most commercial gyms. While traditionally these tools have been used to work your lower body, they can also be used to work your upper body.
Similar to when riding a recumbent bike, pedal exercisers work the same muscles (albeit to a lesser degree). Muscles like the hip flexors, calves, glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps will all feel the burn after a session with a pedal exerciser. Increasing the intensity of your workout is also possible depending on the model you purchase. As outlines in our list above, certain models have a resistance feature which allows you to change the difficulty of the pedaling.
Gone are the days of having to purchase multiple devices to get an aerobic exercise! Pedal exercisers give you a hand (literally) with your moderate to high intensity workouts. And the greatest part is that you can use them at home, in the office or even on vacation. But hey, we get it. Everyone needs a break.
Make sure to secure your pedal exerciser to a table or counter top by placing it on a rubber mat. This will ensure that it doesn’t tip over during your pedaling.
While these little machines should not be a replacement for a proper aerobic or weight regimen, they will still allow you to stay active on those days where performing a full workout seems insurmountable. Aim to use the pedal exercisers for about 2 hours per week in conjunction with other forms of exercise you perform.