Modern indoor bikes have a built-in electronic display that tracks your workout performance. But what are these exercise bike console features for, and how significant are they to your cycling sessions?

Most stationary bike models can display key workout stats like speed, calories, heart rate, and distance.

On the other hand, smart exercise bikes may have extra buttons or modes that let you choose a workout program or turn on their automated functions.

Naturally, the more advanced the console is, the more expensive your exercise bike will be. This is why understanding what these console features do and whether they are helpful to you are crucial.

After all, you wouldn’t want to invest in an exercise machine with features you do not need.

So, to help you weigh your options better, here’s a rundown of the top console features you should know.

Importance of an Exercise Bike Console

Before we get into the specific exercise bike console features, let’s settle this question: is an exercise bike console necessary?

A console is probably not essential before, considering you can still use the bike without a display screen.

But today, where more people prefer at-home workouts and online interaction, a bike console is a semi-important component.

Admittedly, screen time takes a big chunk of our daily lives, and we probably feel weird not tapping a button or scrolling something before a day ends.

Having a bike console also has advantages. For instance, it lets you access the software built into the machine to make workouts effective, diverse, or fun.

Some bike consoles also let you record multiple user profiles, making spreading the fitness vibe among family and friends easier.

Cycling exercises can be monotonous and having a screen can be a form of “healthy distraction” to keep you focused and pedalling with gusto.

Importance of Exercise Bike Consoles

Essential Indoor Exercise Bike Console Features

Getting a bike with a console is a priority among serious fitness enthusiasts and athletes mainly because it shows useful cycling metrics.

Cycling metrics are figures that objectively measure your workout performance.

For example, rather than using your judgement on what intense pedalling is, the bike can show you the exact speed and heart rate level for vigorous cycling.

And knowing how to read and interpret these metrics can make a big difference to your cycling sessions.

Specifically, these give your workout plan direction and ensure continuous progress. These metrics also make workout results more specific and tangible.

More importantly, cycling metrics act as your reference to avoid overworking your body.

Here are some bike console features you should know.

1. Speed

  • Unit of measure: kilometres per hour (kph) or miles per hour (mph)
  • Role: indicates your increasing fitness level

Speed is a fun exercise bike console feature to monitor, particularly as you progress with your cycling routine.

Over time, your starting 16 kph speed level, for example, may increase to 17 or 18 kph, indicating you are getting faster and fitter on your bike.

If you prefer to track speed gains thoroughly, try cycling the same route or settings for several weeks.

Record your improvement and observe if you can consistently cycle faster than your typical speed.

Just a heads up, though. The speed metric on an exercise bike is not as reliable if you are training for a cycling competition or race.

Due to wind, outdoor terrain, and other similar elements can influence your cycling speed.

2. Cadence

  • Unit of measure: revolutions per minute (rpm)
  • Role: helps control your cycling intensity and energy use

Cadence is the number of times your knee rises to complete a cycling motion in 1 minute.

Going for a high cadence or more revolutions is an excellent way to train for leg strength and speed. However, unlike the speed metric, a higher cadence is not always better.

Researchers Stebbins and team (2014), for example, concluded that a higher cadence only drains your energy inefficiently.

A relevant 2019 study further explained that high cadence affects proper respiration, which does not encourage efficient metabolism.

These findings stress that cadence lets you know when an all-out cycling effort is needed. Cadence controls your energy use, so you can get the most out of your exercise and avoid tiring yourself out unnecessarily.

This exercise bike console feature is handy when designing a workout with varying cycling intensities, like HIIT and pyramid training.

Monitoring Speed and Cadence while Cycling

3. Distance

  • Unit of measure: kilometres (km) or miles (mi)
  • Role: indicates your improving endurance

The distance metric is often an underrated exercise bike console feature.

However, when used correctly, it can be an excellent motivational tool, especially in cycling classes or group workouts.

For example, you can organise a small team of stationary bike riders for a mini indoor cycling race.

Set a target distance, say, 1 km, and whoever finishes first wins. You can also do the same when exercising alone by besting an old record.

If you like, set a target distance you can gradually finish in a few days or weeks.

Pros and athletes can also use this metric to improve their cycling endurance and prep for long-distance events. If you’re a cycling beginner, make sure to start slow. Set more realistic goals to avoid hurting yourself.

4. Time

  • Unit of measure: seconds, minutes, hours
  • Role: helps improve your pacing

Time is a multipurpose cycling metric.

You can track it together with your distance and speed record to see how fast you can reach your set target.

Monitoring time along with your cadence is also vital during interval workouts.

And for most fitness enthusiasts, time is crucial when doing short 20-minute cycling workouts on busy days and hour-long sessions on weekends.

Workout duration, after all, is a valuable component of any fitness routine. Of course, you can always use any watch or a separate timer for these.

But as an exercise bike console feature, a built-in computer is more convenient for tracking moving and stoppage times.

5. Calories

  • Unit of measure: calories
  • Role: helps with your weight loss goals

The calorie metric is, by far, most people’s favourite metric to track.

But while it’s a motivating and fun feature to monitor through your exercise bike console, calorie calculations are imperfect.

A study in 2017 from the Journal of Personalized Medicine noted that wrist-worn calorie counters have a wide margin of error. One of the evaluated devices was even off by 93%.

A more recent 2020 meta-analysis echoed this finding, stating that the accuracy of wearable devices for calorie expenditure depends on the type of activity.

The researchers added that syncing the monitor with your movement would provide more accurate results.

All these mean that you should not rely so much on the numbers. Better yet, use the calorie counter on your bike as your guide rather than an absolute indicator.

For example, if the machine shows you are burning fewer calories than usual, switch up your cycling workouts and make them more challenging.

Pairing your exercise bike with a smart digital scale can also give you a better picture of how your body responds to your workout plan.

Monitoring Heart Rate while Cycling

6. Heart Rate

  • Unit of measure: beats per minute (bpm)
  • Role: tracks your heartbeats for safe and efficient workouts

This one is, I think, the most significant exercise bike console feature, and it’s good that most bike models have this metric.

Why is it important? This is because your heart rate is an honest indicator of how hard you work during your cycling session.

Aside from exercise duration, workout intensity is another indispensable element of any fitness goal.

Intense cycling is necessary to burn more calories, boost your endurance, or tone your muscles.

And the heart reacts almost instantaneously to your workout intensity, making it a reliable metric.

Also, over time, you can ride the bike faster while keeping your heart rate low, indicating your growing fitness capacity.

Monitoring the heart rate is also essential for people into zone-based indoor cycling. This type of training involves low, medium, and moderate phases based on specific heart rate levels.

People who exercise despite their heart-related condition also find this metric helpful. They can monitor their heart rate and safely do their cycling workout without overexerting themselves.

However, note that external factors, like ambient temperature, caffeine intake, monthly period, and hydration status, can affect your heart rate.

So, ensure you are well-rested and comfortable when using this metric.

7. Power

  • Unit of measure: watts
  • Role: counts the energy you produce during workouts

Like the heart rate, the power metric indicates how hard you work during your workout.

But, instead of heartbeats, this one measures the energy you make or the effort you exert on any particular ride.

Also, as power depends on your fitness level and riding experience, it is less vulnerable to external factors.

That means this metric is more accurate than your heart rate.

The best strategy, however, is to monitor both metrics while cycling. This method is helpful during interval training.

For example, if you notice that your heart rate is high despite low power output, that’s your sign to slow down or extend your recovery time.

Monitoring Power while Cycling


Exercise bike console features are more than workout metrics and numbers to look at while pedalling.

You can also use them to create effective programs, ensure workout variety, and protect your body from injury.

Rather than pedal aimlessly, your console features also serve as your guide so you burn the optimum calories every session.

Of course, the indoor bike metrics you need depend on the workouts you like to do and your fitness goals.

So, the next time you shop for a good-quality exercise bike, check its console and ensure it has the right features to help you lose weight, boost endurance, or cycle faster.

1. What are exercise bike weight limits for?

Load limits in exercise bikes are indicators of machine quality and durability. In most cases, bike models with higher weight limits are also more expensive. Exercising on an exercise bike with the correct load limit is crucial for safety and optimum performance. It also protects your bike from premature wear and tear.

2. Does evaluating exercise bike flywheel weights matter?

The exercise bike flywheel indicates how easy or hard it is for the bike to build and maintain momentum. So, using an exercise bike with the correct flywheel weight is essential for smooth and comfortable cycling sessions. Aside from riding experience, flywheels also indicate the exercise bike’s lifespan and cost.