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It's winter here and there's lots of snow which makes the streets narrow, and all the sidewalks are super slippery, and actual cycling is all but off the table. Me and my wife miss it. :)

So we're considering getting a stationary bike. But our condo is pretty small, so we want something really compact that can be put out of the way. We recently got rid of our old one which was falling apart and taking up waaay too much space, so it's already a bit ironic, but here we are.

Looking at current options, most leave a lot to be desired in the "compactness" department. One possible option is an X-shaped stationary bike. They come from many different manufacturers, but all look something like this (first picture off google):

X-shaped stationary bike

That might be an option for us, since they usually can be folded pretty flat, but the first thing that immediately seems suspicious is the seat-vs-pedals alignment. At least in the pictures the pedals seem to be a lot further ahead than on a real bike. This is dictated by the X-shape so it's the same for all of them. But... is that comfortable? Can you really exercise effectively on this?

We're no professional cyclists nor even very fit people, so our requirements are low, but this looks just shady.

Does anyone have any experience with this or some words of wisdom in general about compact stationary bikes?

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    rower is the way to go for at home endurance/cardio machine that you can fold up into a closet.
    – Affe
    Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 18:30
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    "Rowing machine" may be the universal term for what @Affe is mentioning. I think native English speakers would generally understand "rower", but that's not a guarantee
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 20:20
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    Since it sounds like you already have bikes, consider getting a trainer for your existing bike so that you can turn it into a stationary bike. This will work assuming you aren't storing your bike offsite or somewhere in your garage that make it hard to take in and out. That link is a random product and not a specific one that I recommend.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 20:29
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    @Vilx- Fan-based trainers can be loud, but fluid or magnetic trainers aren't. A direct-drive trainer is nice if you don't want (or have) a trainer-capable rear wheel, but they do tend to be more expensive than the combination of a good-but-not-top-of-the-line roller-based trainer, a cheap rear wheel, extra cassette, a tube, and a trainer tire. Of course, your local pricing may vary somewhat. (Note, though, that the energy you put into your wheel has to go somewhere - trainer bodies can get HOT - beware pets and children!) Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 21:12
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    @Vilx- putting a bike onto a direct drive trainer isn't any more hassle than switching a wheel. And if you are bringing the bike in for the winter, then it's not like you have to do it very often. The more expensive smart trainers also work great with snazzy apps like Zwift, BKool and Rouvy which make the experience far more enjoyable than spinning into the void. Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 22:58

3 Answers 3

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Presumably you already have a bike. It may be better to look at a set of rollers (which fold up), or a trainer that replaces your bike's rear wheel.

Both options require you to use your bike, so other fitment issues are resolved already. But there will be drivetrain wear, and some rollers are hard on rear tyres, which can also be dirty so more suitable for garages or similar.

This could be a good opportunity to join a Gym instead, and leverage their equipment. This takes no space in your existing home.


Another option is to buy studded tyres, and simply ride. It can be hard on the bike, but riding in the snow is like extra resistance. You might choose to drive somewhere like a park, or alter your road riding route to somewhere that feels more appropriate for the conditions.


Your area might have an indoor velodrome - if so, enquire what's available for new riders and whether they offer hire bikes. Track bikes are not the same as road bikes, and you generally can't ride your outside bike on an indoor track.


Finally consider cross-training - do something other than riding in the snow-times. Perhaps skiing, or yoga if you want to stay inside.

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    My local public gym has Watt bikes, the brand leader! ( I should go sometime)
    – Swifty
    Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 21:50
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Unfortunately, it is difficult to answer this question precisely.

As I pointed out in comments, bicycles have a seat tube angle (STA), depicted below. The image below is from Bike Insights. You are basically contending that the effective STA on this bike, when set up, looks like it's very slack (i.e. very low, 73 degrees is typical for many road bikes).

enter image description here

The article states that average STAs vary, with comfort-oriented bikes often having lower STAs than performance-oriented ones. Compared to standard road bikes, MTBs have pretty steep STAs, and triathlon bikes have even steeper STAs.

You then mentioned that at least some articles you saw in a quick Google search say that steeper is better. If you were glancing at the same one I glanced at, a lot of them probably say that in the context of mountain biking, a very dynamic activity, steeper is better because of how it affects the bike's weight distribution when climbing something very steep. For tri bikes, I believe the theory is that riding in this position recruits the muscles used in running less.

Given your requirements of just getting some exercise, the position may be fine for you. It would be disastrous for me, but my current use case is doing indoor training rides, some intense and some very long, on my regular bike. Consider that I've adapted to my bike's STA over time. Thus, the articles you identified might not translate to your use case.

Unfortunately, I don't know how to answer your question. I don't know how to search for the effect of slack STAs on comfort over the cycling durations you anticipate. It does seem that comfort oriented bikes may have STAs that are slack relative to road bikes, and we know people cycle those for leisure and exercise. It might be a problem if the stationary bike's STA is even slacker than those bikes, but I don't know how to tell this from the photo. Unfortunately, the best answer I can offer isn't exactly groundbreaking: If there is an opportunity to test ride this at all, or if there's a return period, take advantage.

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    For tri bikes, I believe the theory is that riding in this position recruits the muscles used in running less. That, and in order to get the upper torso as low and flat and therefore as aerodynamic as possible requires a steeper seat tube to allow the hips to open enough so your knees don't hit your elbows. And yes, this messes up weight distribution, putting a lot of weight on the arms and front wheel, making control even more difficult (as if not having immediate brake access from aerobars wasn't enough...) But aerodynamics rules everthing else in triathlons and time trials. Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 21:51
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The position is more suited to exercises like spinning, that are meant to also train the upper body.

If your goal is to train for cycling, a bike trainer seems to be more appropriate, although the space requirements are different: they are more compact when not in use, but when in use, you need to bring the bike in the apartment. There are different kinds, detailing them would deserve another question though.

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  • (Copy-pasted comment): We considered those too but were a bit put off by a salesmen telling us that they are pretty loud (unless you get the direct-to-gear version and take off the rear wheel... which seems like a lot of work every time we want to use it). The problem isn't helped by the fact that our bikes are standard mountain bikes with typical mountain bike tyres - not the smooth highway tyres.
    – Vilx-
    Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 21:08
  • Even with road bikes, it's necessary to use different tires in fact: the rubber of regular tires is spec'ed for different kind of constraints than rollers. If you use regular tires, they'll be worn quite fast. I have a direct-to-gear version, so I don't have a feedback about noise for the other ones. But you are right: it's not the kind of device you use 1h and then put back in the shelve. It makes sense if you can leave the bike "some time" in the apartment. And changing the tire would make sense only of you are sure to not use the bike for the entire season.
    – Rеnаud
    Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 21:15
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    @Renaud It's a lot easier to get a cheap wheel dedicated to trainer use - the nice thing is weight and aerodynamics are utterly irrelevant. And FWIW, you can save your old worn-out road tires for trainer use if you don't want to get a trainer tire. Hopefully you spend more time riding outside than on the trainer so the trainer tire supply never runs out... Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 21:44

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