The magnetic resistance on spin bikes and indoor cycles makes for a very quiet and low maintenance. Bikes with this resistance tend to be more expensive than those that use friction pads.
They also, in some circumstances, give you the ability to have levels of resistance which can help in finding the amount you want for various workouts rather than remembering that what you need is a quarter turn or full turn to know how hard to set the bike.
In choosing the bikes I looked at a number important attributes and features over above the fact they had magnetic resistance to find the best spin bikes
Console. I looked for bikes that featured a console that you can use to monitor performance within your workout, reporting on resistance level, cadence, speed and distance.
Stable. Provides a rock solid base with no rocking or wobbling so that you can just concentrate on your workout.
Smooth Ride. That you get a smooth natural ride that feels like riding a road bike with a balanced flywheel.
Adjustable. Easy to adjust and set up for a variety of heights, leg lengths and upper body
Price. I didn’t look specifically at the price looking more at the quality for this list but I did look for a more affordable option that still rated highly, although I did compromise on the resistance levels
The bikes that made the best spin bikes with magnetic resistance are:
Keiser M3i Indoor Cycle
Keiser have a range of M3 bikes with M3i being the top of the M3 range. The other bikes in the range are also very good bikes with magnetic resistance. The M3i has the advantage that you can use it with an iOS App (GoInd) to upload and analyse your workout information.
To adjust the magnetic resistance you use a lever at the front of the handlebars. It works in conjunction with the console to let you know how hard you’ve set the resistance. It has 24 levels going from easy to very difficult. The transition between the levels is smooth and incremental.
It does have a light flywheel to take advantage of the variable resistance you get when using magnets that is similar to what happens when on an outdoor bike – the faster you ride the more resistance there is but it is a different experience to the spin bike’s that have a heavy flywheel as it doesn’t building the same momentum.
It is fully adjustable for people between the heights of 4 ft 10 ins and 6 ft 5 ins.
Bodycraft SPR Indoor Group Cycle
This bike has a similar arrangement to the M3i for adjusting resistance with a lever at the front of the handlebars that works with the console. This bike has 16 marked levels of resistance.
As well as resistance the console lets you know watts, calories, speed (mph/kph), distance (m/km), RPM, time and heart rate (if you have Polar compatible 5 kHz heart rate strap)
The flywheel on this bike weighs 38 lbs so rides more like a traditional spin bike with the momentum of flywheel pulling the legs through providing a natural riding motion.
The bikes is made from heavy duty steel that provides a solid base for intense cardio workouts and training. There is no wobbling or shaking
The bike is fully adjustable with handlebars and seat able to be move forwards/backwards and upwards/downwards to get the best fit. The seat can be adjusted between 28 and 37 inches from the pedals.
This bikes is priced is a more affordable option. You control the resistance using a tension knob at the top of the frame like a friction resistance bike. Unfortunately the console doesn’t report on what level of resistance you’ve applied so you do need to do this by feel and estimation when setting your resistance levels for workouts.
The console reports on RPM, calories burned, heart rate (if heart strap purchased separately), speed, distance, time elapsed and a clock.
The bike weighs a 160 lbs with a flywheel of 48 lbs which provides a stable and fluid riding experience giving the base for intense workouts.
Users report that it works best for people between the heights of 5 ft and 6 ft 2 inches. The seat and handlebars are fully adjustable – both can be moved horizontally and vertically to get the bike fitting just right.
The drive is a belt drive and it has a fixed gear which means when the flywheel is moving so are the pedals which provides the smooth and fluid ride.
Another affordable bike is the Diamondback Fitness 510IC. It comes with 14 workout programs and resistance that you control through the console. You do need to plug in the bike to the house supply for you to be able to workout to control the resistance. Some people (not all) have reported issues with reliability and that is why it didn’t make the list as the budget option. You can check our full review here.