After researching 15 air bikes, using 8 of them, and legitimately testing 6 of them, we've determined that the Schwinn Airdyne Pro is the best air bike available. Factoring in price, warranty, performance, durability, and ease of use, the Schwinn Airdyne Pro offers the best performance and least amount of maintenance among all its competitors including the ever-popular Assault Bike.
The Schwinn Airdyne Pro is nothing like its predecessors. While Schwinn has been making air bikes longer than anyone else (the first Airdyne was introduced in 1978,) it wasn't until the Airdyne Pro was released that Schwinn had an air bike designed for true fitness and commercial applications.
The main reason the Schwinn Airdyne Pro is our top pick is due to its belt driven system. As we'll get into more detail later on, chain driven systems are prone to require much more maintenance than belt-driven systems and although they cost more, are worth it in the long run. Although the Schwinn Airdyne Pro is our current top pick, there are others to consider.
If you'd rather not spend $1,000 and plan to train for the CrossFit Games, then we suggest as our runner-up the Assault Bike. The Assault Bike is the most popular bike among the CrossFit and Functional Fitness communities due to its use in the CrossFit Games as well as sponsorship of CrossFit events. Although the bike is popular, that doesn't mean it's the best available. For those pursuing CrossFit competition levels of fitness, then this is probably the bike to choose due to it's use at the Games, however.
Our budget pick is practically the same (besides the monitors) and comes in at a lower price point.The Assault Bike is definitely an improvement upon previous air bikes like the original Airdyne's, but after consistent use, we've found the Schwinn Airdyne Pro to be both more durable as well as enjoyable to use.
If you're looking to spend under $1,000 and are competing heavily in CrossFit, then we suggest the Assault Bike.
The Xebex Airmill takes the same features as our original budget pick, the Xebex Air Bike, and replaces the handles while lowering the cost dramatically.
We thoroughly tested the Xebex Air Bike and have used the handles on the Xebex Airmill (they're the same as what the Assault Bike uses) and therefore feel confident in recommending the Xebex Airmill for those looking for a budget conscious air bike that truly performs.
Although the Xebex Airmill is our budget pick, it performs just as well as our runner-up. In fact, when looked at closely, the only real difference between the Xebex Airmill and the Assault Bike is the monitor (we prefer the Assault Bike monitor over the Xebex.) Other than that, the bikes are nearly identical, meaning you're getting a solid performer at the lowest price currently available. If you want the cheapest bike we recommend, then we suggest getting the Xebex Airmill.
The Concept 2 BikeErg has similarities, but also many differences between our other picks. The main difference that is quite apparent is the lack of arms. The BikeErg was designed with traditional cyclists in mind, but can provide an absolutely brutal workout.
One thing to realize about traditional air bikes is that although they have the opportunity to provide more of a “total body” workout, many people will spend a majority of their energy on the pedals and not the arms. Concept 2 has taken what they do exceedingly well, building very durable and effective equipment, and applied it to a bike.
If you train solely for CrossFit, then you should stick with a traditional air bike, however, if you don't, we found that the BikeErg was both more enjoyable and provided a more versatile piece of equipment.
Table of contents
- How we picked and tested
- Our top pick: Schwinn Airdyne Pro
- The CrossFit-focused runner-up: Assault Bike
- The budget-friendly air bike: Xebex Airmill
- The best air bike without arms: Concept 2 BikeErg
- The competition
How we picked and tested
To compile our list of air bikes, we researched all of the major manufacturers, scoured Amazon, Alibaba, and more as well as reached out to industry experts who aided in the creation of these bikes. In addition to this, we went to Garage Gym Reviews HQ to rank and test all of the bikes we've used in the past as well as currently own. After researching around 15 air bikes, we narrowed it down to the bikes that are worth your time and money.
One of the things we found that wasn't too surprising was the fact that many of the modern air bikes are pretty much the same. In fact, we found that not only were they made to look and perform alike, but many of them are actually made in the same factory in Taiwan.
Due to the fact that many of the air bikes that are currently available are similar, we looked for the differences (mainly just the monitors) as well as bikes that weren't like these. The bikes we've picked are all worth using, it really comes down to your preferences and budget. Ultimately, after some deliberation, we narrowed down our specification to the following list of features we like to see in air bikes in no particular order.
- Overall Construction: An air bike is going to receive a lot of use. Whether you choose to use it for just warm-ups and cool-downs or use it for interval training as well, you're going to want a bike that can take a beating and keep on going.
- Required Maintenance: Unfortunately, two of our four picks still use a chain drive system which does require constant maintenance (oiling the chains as well as adjustment.) However, an air bike and any piece of equipment for that matter is designed to be used for increasing fitness, not increasing handyman skills. Therefore, we took this into consideration.
- Durability: Durability relates pretty closely to the required maintenance of the machine. An air bike should be able to take years of abuse from commercial CrossFit facilities or home gyms and still work like the day they were purchased. This is an expensive machine, it should last like one.
- Adjustability: The seat should be able to be adjusted both vertically and horizontally. The more adjustments available for customization, the better.
- Monitor: The monitor should be able to track a wide range of metrics from wattage to meters biked.
- Durable Components: The pedals, handles, seat, and other parts of the bike should be capable of taking a beating and keep on operating.
- Value: It doesn't matter if the bike is $500 or $5,000, the value received is what we're judging.
- Noise: All air bikes are loud due to how they receive their resistance, they shouldn't be unnecessarily loud from the clanking of components.
- Warranty: Air bikes will occasionally break, and if they do so in a short amount of time then the company should either repair or replace whatever the issue is.
During testing, we used the bikes in various time durations from sprints to longer rides. We tested the adjustability, ease of maintenance, monitor metrics, noise levels, and simply how much they hurt during use (they all hurt pretty equally.) Finally, we asked the opinion of others on what bike they would most like to have.
Our pick: Schwinn Airdyne Pro
The Schwinn Airdyne Pro is the next generation of the Airdyne from Scwhinn. Although we've had a lot of beef with Schwinn Airdyne's in the past (I've owned three of them), the AD Pro is nothing like the previous generations.
The first thing you notice about the Schwinn the bike is the overall quality. The Assault Air Bike and Xebex Air Bike have brought a new level to air bikes regarding build quality, and the AD Pro is right up there with them.
Although the AD Pro doesn't feature an all metal construction, in this case, plastic is a plus. Metal, in most cases, is much more durable than plastic, but metal also makes much more noise. And, when it comes to a machine that already produces the decibels that air bikes are known for, the last thing you need is more noise. So, the basic makeup of the bike is metal and plastic, with a majority being aluminum and steel.
Everything on the bike seems to be larger than on the Assault & Xebex bikes as well. That's not to say it takes up a whole lot more foot space because it doesn't, but the fan, for instance, is gigantic as is the monitor and seat.
The frame on the AD Pro is a bit longer than other air bikes out there, and it makes sense why; the AD Pro is made for fitness enthusiasts, not the elderly.
No longer are old people the only ones using air bikes. They're now being used more than ever in competitions and in serious training environments. This means they take more abuse from people who can push some serious wattage. (Want to see something freaky? Watch Danny Nichols get 300 calories on an Airdyne in under 10 minutes.)
The longer frame keeps the bike from rocking back and forth when you're starting. It also has seems to have the weight a little bit more evenly distributed on the frame which helps combat the side to side rocking that anyone who's spent much time on an air bike has noticed.
The biggest upgrade on Airdyne Pro over other bikes, and the main reason it stole our top pick is that it features the first belt drive system on any air bike ever produced. Belt drives have been used for a little while on bicycles with great results, but this is the first time I've seen it in this type of application (Concept 2 also uses something kind of similar on the BikeErg.)
Rather than using your typical link chain, the bike uses a heavy-duty rubber belt often seen in cars. This allows for a few things:
- fewer adjustments needed to be made over the lifetime of the bike
- more responsive ride
- a much quieter and smooth ride
The belt drive system will require far less maintenance, but it also reduces noise dramatically. The only real sound you hear is the one produced by the blades on the fan battling against the wind. Starting the bike is smooth and quick as is coming to a stop for things like movement changes or intervals.
This is by far the most significant improvement of the air bike and one I would imagine other companies will try and emulate in the future.
The Schwinn Airdyne Pro also boasts the best monitor on any air bike we tested. Second place was the Assault Bike with it's many presets, but it still left some improvements to be desired.
The main difference between the two were the size and brightness of the AD Pro's screen being easier on the eyes (especially while sweating), and additional metrics at the top.
The top of the monitor features dials very similar to what you would find on a car. It seemed excessive at first, until you do a workout that you're pacing and the ability to see your current RPM is beneficial. If you're a person who loves data, this monitor is the one for you.
It also tracks heart rate, connects to your monitor very quickly, and you can track your effort based on heart rate zones.
Finally, the bike is, to put it simply, really well-built. The pedals are actual metal pedals and not plastic so expect fewer problems. The rubber grips are heavy-duty and unlike foam take chalk extraordinarily well. There are just so many little things you start to discover as you go through the bike that show Schwinn really went back to the drawing board on this bike.
For these reasons, the Schwinn Airdyne Pro is our top pick for the best air bike.
Runner-up: Assault Bike
The Assualt Bike is the most popular air bike currently available. That said, popularity does not equate to something being the “best.”
First off, the Assault Bike has become popular for a few reasons. One, it's been marketed more and better than any other air bike. Assault/LifeCORE Fitness has targeted the CrossFit/Functional Fitness Community as well as anyone in the industry.
Assualt saw that there was a need for a commercial grade air bike and came to market with the Assault Bike before anyone else. It took competitors months to come out with a product that could compete and by that time Assault Bikes could be found in just about every CrossFit Affiliate in the country.
The Assault Bike isn't a bad bike, in fact, compared to what used to be available it's quite good. The real issue is that a very similar bike (except for the monitor) can be had at a lower price (our budget pick.) This said, the Assault Bike does have one of our favorite monitors and overall, has a good build.
The Assault Bike is based on an all-metal frame designed to take whatever a CrossFit Affiliate can throw at it. It features upgraded materials from Airdyne's of the past and is quite stable for its small footprint.
The frame of the Assault Bike uses rounded square tubing that allows the bike to be stiff enough for high power work, but light enough to move the bike around.
The handles have a rubber grip that takes chalk well and is firm enough to keep a steady grip. One advantage of this style of handle is that it's quite rigid and remains out-of-the-way of your knees. You can torque them somewhat in the beginning of an interval if you're pushing a lot of wattage, but I haven't noticed much of any issue.
The fan is oversized compared to some of the original Airdynes, but uses the same bike spoke fan blades that have been around for decades. The fan blades on our top pick is preferable due to the lack of noise and more consistent feel, but these get the job done just fine.
The main reason the Assault Bike took our runner-up spot instead of the top pick was primarily due to the chain drive. Although the outer components of the Assault Bike are all upgraded from the original Airdyne's, the part that most people had issues with remains the same.
Chain drives are notorious for needing lots of maintenance and also making excess noise. Compared to our top pick, the Schwinn Airdyne Pro, the Assault Bike is louder, requires more maintenance, and less responsive. Going from the Assault Bike to the Schwinn Airdyne Pro is like driving a gas vehicle versus a Tesla. They both get the job done, but one is undoubtedly a better experience.
Although the chain-driven system is less than ideal, the monitor on the Assault Bike is a standout feature. Every metric you would like to see as well as ways to run intervals quickly are a button away on the Assault Monitor. If you wish to do long, slower sessions, there's also a place for your phone.
Ultimately, the Assault Bike is a great air bike, just not as good as our top pick. If you train for the CrossFit Games, then we suggest the Assault Bike, however, if you don't, then stay with our top pick.
Budget pick: Xebex Airmill
The Xebex Air Bike is pictured, however, the Air Bike and Airmill are the same with different arms.
The Xebex Airmill is an answer to the Assault Bike at a lower price point. Initially, Xebex released the Air Bike, which we rated very high, but in looking to hit a lower price point, Xebex came out with the Airmill that features all of the same things as the Air Bike, but with different arms.
The Xebex Airmill and the Assault Bike are very much identical. Nearly everything about them is the same form their chain driven system to their frame. The main difference between the bikes is the price and the monitor.
The frame on the Airmill is as solid as they come. In fact, because the frame of the bike is so heavy and well-built, it shakes very little; mainly at the start of sprints.
This is a huge plus compared to the old Airdyne's that would begin to topple as soon as you went for a max effort, thankfully the newer Schwinn Airdyne Pro doesn't do this, but nevertheless, the Airmill is a significant upgrade over the original Airdyne's.
The welds on the frame are overall excellent and provide a solid foundation for the rest of the components. There are a few features on the frame that make it stand out compared to previous iterations of the fan bike.
One is the extra welded piece of steel behind the seat post. This piece of metal provides extra rigidity, and although it's probably not essential, it shows that this bike is made to take a beating (you'll notice the Assault Bike has the same piece.)
Attached to the front of the frame are a pair of wheels. However, unlike Airdyne's who have the wheels attached to the fan, these are attached to the base (in the same way the Assault Bike is, except they recently added an extender bar) and are heavy-duty. Rolling the bike around is very easy, which for people who train at home, mobility is very important.
The base pieces and the metal that runs along the base of the bike uses thick, rounded square tubing. Once again, completely unnecessary, but that's one of the things that makes this bike so great.
The word that comes to mind when discussing the Airmill and the Assault Bike is over-engineered. In a world that tries to skimp on product costs as much as possible, it's great to see companies producing products that will last.
That said, the Airmill, despite its great frame, does have the same shortcomings as the Assault Bike, and that is the chain-driven system.
Chain drives have been around forever, and although they do fine on bicycles, they require much more maintenance than the belt drive system of our top pick. You should be regularly oiling the chains (if you can get to them) and expect the chain to occasionally pop of the chainrings at which time you'll have to disassemble the lower section (it's a pain.
The Airmill is also noisier (the same as the Assault Bike) than the Schwinn Airdyne Pro, and finally, out of all of our picks, we like the monitor on the Airmill the least.
If the Airmill had the same monitor as the Assault Bike, we would see no need to purchase the Assault Bike as the Airmill is pretty much the same. However, due to the difficulty of use with the Airmill's monitor and fewer metrics, we decided to put the Assault Bike as our runner-up pick.
If you want a great air bike and are on a budget, then we suggest the Xebex AirMill.
Best arm-less air bike: Concept 2 BikeErg
The Concept 2 BikeErg is the best fan bike without arms, and to be honest, is one of the only available. That said, Concept 2 as with all of their machines, has created something that is not only effective, but will be as durable as a bike could possibly be.
First off, the BikeErg is not a typical air bike which is immediately evident when you realize there are no handles. However, despite it being different from the typical air bikes we see, that does not mean it's any less effective. The goal of the original air bike design (the Schwinn Airdyne) is to provide both a stimulus to the upper and lower body. One thing that is often overlooked, however, is the fact that in reality, the majority of users spend most of their effort pushing the pedals instead of the arms.
So, although there are arms available with all of the air bikes in this guide, that doesn't mean the workout is more “total body” or “harder” for most people.
The Concept 2 BikeErg does receive its resistance from air, but it has an entirely different feeling from the air resisted Airdyne and Assault Bikes. One thing that the Concept 2 has that traditional air bikes cannot touch is a damper, the same thing that provides either more or less air flow on the Concept 2 Rowers and SkiErgs. Although the damper plays a significant role in the Rower and SkiErg, neither can compare to the importance of the damper on the BikeErg.
I say this because the damper can take the BikeErg from feeling like an Airdyne with hardly any resistance to a spin bike with the brake all the way pressed down.
In our opinion, the BikeErg is superior to the Airdyne and Assault Bike for most people. It has more versatility, better metrics, and will likely (based on Concept 2's history) have much fewer problems than other air bikes. If you're training for the CrossFit Games, then having an Assault Bike is necessary, but if you're just looking for a bike for conditioning, intervals, HIIT, sprints, warming up, recovery, etc., then the BikeErg is genuinely the superior option.
The build of the BikeErg is as good as we've come to expect from Concept 2. Starting at the feet, the frame sits on four adjustable pegs that screw into the feet for adjustability based upon the slope of the floor the bike is resting on. This is standard for air bikes, and I'm glad to see they've included them in the BikeErg.
To keep the bike grounded and stable, Concept 2 uses steel feet that are bolted to the frame. The BikeErg rocks much less than our other air bike picks, but this is most likely due to the fact that there are no arms. On the front feet are two roller hockey wheels that are larger than what is used on the rower and provide for easy maneuvering.
The aluminum frame is given the signature black powder-coat look that is both hard-wearing and corrosion resisting. Attached in the middle of the frame are two crank arms with black metal pedals. These can be interchanged just like a bicycle for any pedals you'd like including clipless.
One of the best features of the BikeErg is the fact that you won't have to do much, if any maintenance over the life of the bike.
The BikeErg uses polygrooved belts rather than the traditional chain seen on Assault Bikes and Airdynes (excluding the Airdyne Pro) which not only makes the ride quieter but also reduces maintenance and increases the life of the bike. We praised Schwinn for transitioning from a chain drive to a belt drive system, and we're glad to see Concept 2 insisted on the same, except even better is the fact that the BikeErg's belts are self-tensioning.
In addition to the belts, the BikeErg utilizes a clutch that allows the flywheel fan to continue spinning despite the pedals stopping, something you don't see on our other picks. If you've ever done intervals with another person on an air bike, you know how frustrating it is getting on and off due to the pedals having to continue progressing. This is a significant advantage of the BikeErg, and I hope Schwinn, Xebex, and Assault take notice.
The Concept 2 BikeErg also features every adjustment you can imagine, from the height of the seat to the handlebars both horizontally and vertically.Finally, one of Concept 2's biggest selling points is their Performance Monitors that track every metric you could want and allows you to compete against others.
The versatility of the BikeErg is unmatched, and it's the reason we recommend it above the traditional air bikes for most people. The Assault Air Bike and Airdyne certainly have their place (I won't be getting rid of mine,) but if I had to have one, I'd take the BikeErg.
Xebex Air Bike: Before Xebex released the Airmill, the Air Bike was our budget-friendly option. However, the Airmill is the exact same as the Air Bike, but includes different arms at a much lower price. Because of this, we believe the Airmill is a better value, although the Xebex Air Bike is still a great bike.
Body-Solid FB300: The FB300 is the exact same bike as the Assault Bike, but with a lower quality monitor and at a higher price. Unless you can find it used, we recommend staying away from it.
Schwinn Airdyne AD6: The Schwinn Airdyne AD6 was Schwinn's premier bike prior to the AD Pro. Although it's a decent bike, they are prone to breakage and have a lot of plastic parts. If you want a Schwinn but don't want to spend the amount that the AD Pro costs, then this is our recommendation.
Schwinn Airdyne AD4: Before the Assault Bike, this is what you would find in most CrossFit Affiliates, and although it's limited in its functions and not that durable, it's an okay bike. That said, it's no longer manufactured and can be purchased for pretty cheap on the secondary market.
Schwinn Airdyne AD2: We would not recommend this bike at just about any price.
Body Rider Exercise Upright Fan Bike: This bike is not made for the functional fitness crowd, however, if you're trying to go slow, it will work just fine.
Marcy Fan Exercise Bike – NS-1000: This is a decent budget friendly bike, but only buy this if you really cannot afford something more expensive. This bike will work, however, not for as long as you'd like.
Marcy AIR-1: There are much better options around this price range.
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B2706 Fan Bike: This bike is based off the Assault Bike, however with some cheaper modifications. At this price point, there are better options. However, it's not a bad bike.
StairMaster Air Fit Bike: We have yet to use this model, however, for the price we can't see it being that much better than our top pick.
StarTrac ST Fitness 8610 Air Force Bike: This is the same bike as the Assault Bike with a worse monitor.
StairMaster Zephyr Dual Action Bike: This is the same bike as the Assault Bike with a worse monitor and a backrest.
Lamar Fitness Air Force Dual Action Bike: This is the same bike as the Assault Bike with a worse monitor and a backrest. It's fine if bought cheaply on the secondary market.
We will update this article as new air bikes are introduced and prices change.