If you like biking, running, or both, an outdoor elliptical bike might just be your ideal workout tool. These innovative machines are fun and easy to use, and provide a whole-body workout without putting stress on your joints.
Curious to learn more? Keep reading to learn what advantages an elliptical bike offers over other forms of exercise. We’ve also included reviews of our three favorites to help you pick which one is best for you!
What Is An Elliptical Bike?
You could also think of an elliptical bike as a running bike or standing bike. It has wheels and a handlebar like a regular bicycle, but removes the seat and replaces the pedals with flat platforms.
These platforms are similar to what you’d find on a stepper machine, which is why some people call this innovative machine a stepper bike. Because there’s no seat, you balance differently on a standing bike. Elliptical bikes engage your core muscles and provides a better full-body workout than biking.
Some designs also have independent handles rather than a handlebar, more similar to a stationary elliptical machine, adding more upper-body training to your workout.
How Much Does An Elliptical Bike Cost?
That depends on which outdoor elliptical bike you get. You can find a basic elliptical road bike for as little as $600 to $1,000 dollars. Just keep in mind you often get what you pay for. These lower-cost elliptical bike models often aren’t as durably built and have fewer adjustment options, so they won’t provide every user with a comfortable ride.
Practically speaking, you should budget a minimum of $1,500 for a well-made stand up bike, with an upper-end budget of around $4,000.
Generally speaking, you should expect to pay more for more gears and a higher quality construction. While you may spend more upfront, the costs often balance out over time since they’re more rugged and last longer. Want more details? Let’s look at some reviews of their top elliptical bikes so you can see these differences in practice.
The 3 Best Elliptical Bikes
If you’re looking to purchase elliptical bikes, consider these top 3 picks of ours:
#1. ElliptiGO MSUB All Terrain Outdoor Stand Up Bike
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Most standing bikes are designed for use on city streets. The ElliptiGO MSUB bucks this trend with a frame and tires built for off-roading. Its wide knobby tires are just as effective on dirt roads as they are on paved streets. It can handle grades up to 30%, as well, and has a wider gear resistance range than other stand-up bikes.
The ElliptiGO MSUB can still be used as an indoor elliptical trainer, too, making it an incredibly versatile option. With a fully-adjustable steering column and a high maximum weight limit, it’s a comfortable way to exercise no matter where you want to ride.
- 27.5” Kenda Honey Badger tires suitable for paved or dirt roads
- Smooth 100mm suspension with high-quality disc brakes
- Sturdy custom-forged 6061-T6 aluminum frame
- 10 gear speed settings (382% resistance range)
- Adjustable steering column fits riders of almost any height
- Climbs steep grades up to 30%
#2. ElliptiGO SUB Outdoor Stand Up Bike
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The ElliptiGO SUB is a hybrid indoor/outdoor workout machine. It’s one of the lightest and most portable stand-up bikes out there, weighing less than 30 pounds so it’s easy to take anywhere. It doesn’t sacrifice durability, either. The heavy-duty aluminum tube construction holds up to whatever wear and tear you throw at it.
With 8 gears, the ElliptiGO SUB can go faster than most stand-up bikes, great news if you plan to use it for transportation. It’s comfortable to use, too, with a steering column that’s easy to adjust and oversized foot pedals designed for maximum user comfort.
- 8 gear and speed options
- Lightweight and super-portable design
- Adjustable steering column fits users from 4’10” to 6’10”
- Easily converts from outdoor bike to indoor trainer
- Presta-valve aluminum tube construction supports users up to 250lbs
- Reach speeds up to 20 miles per hour on flat terrain
#3. Long Stride ElliptiGO 8C Outdoor Elliptical Bike
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Serious cross trainers will love the ElliptiGO 8C. It has 8 gears to accommodate terrain as steep as a 30% grade, and it can go faster than other elliptical bikes on flat terrain. It’s comfortable to ride, too, with adjustable stride length and steering column height.
The ElliptiGO 8C is designed for outdoor use. You can buy a stationary trainer stand to use it inside, but this doesn’t come included. That said, for outdoor cross-training it’s an elliptical bike you can ride anywhere. Since it comes almost fully-assembled, you’ll be ready to start working out as soon as you get it.
- 8-gear transmission great for tough terrain (up to 30% grade)
- Reaches speeds of over 23 MPH on flat terrain
- Supports up to 250 pounds
- Large foot platforms with adjustable stride length (16”-25”)
- Adjustable steering column for users from 4’11” to 6’8”
- Provides comfortable, fun full-body workout
What Is The Elliptical Bike Good For?
In a certain sense, stand up elliptical bikes give you the advantages of both running and biking. It provides a great cardio workout to help you burn fat and calories without putting undue strain on your joints. That makes it an excellent alternative to other aerobic exercises like running, or gym equipment like step machines.
You can also use an elliptical street bike to combine exercise into your commute. While they’re not quite as fast as a sitting bicycle, they can usually go upwards of 20 MPH. You might not get where you’re going as quickly, but you’ll burn more calories along the way since you’re engaging more muscles by using the elliptical.
There’s also the intangible benefits: they’re unique and different, and many people find them more fun to ride than a typical bike. If you’re the type of person who needs a little extra motivation to get moving, how fun an activity is will make a big difference in how likely you are to do it.
Benefits Of Elliptical Bikes
- They’re low-impact. Running is hard on your body, especially the joints in your hips, knees, and ankles. An elliptical bike provides the same heart-elevating cardio workout but reduces the strain on your body, minimizing wear and tear and exercise injuries. (1) If you are someone that has an issue with these joints anyway, this may be the bike you are looking for.
- They boost your stamina. Elliptical bikes provide an aerobic workout that raises your heart-rate, strengthening your lungs and heart. You can use elliptical bikes for both steady-state cardio work and interval training, so it’s a versatile way to improve your overall heath. (2)
- They give a whole body workout. When you’re riding a bike, you’re mostly exercising your legs. A standing elliptical bike also engages the muscles of your back, stomach, and chest. Elliptical bikes with mobile handles add an arm and shoulder workout, making them one of the best exercises for your entire body.
- They improve your balance. With no seat to rely on, you have to balance more carefully on a stand up bicycle. Targeting and strengthening your core muscles is part of this, but it also teaches you to correctly balance your weight, and that can have benefits for your posture. Having the proper posture can reduce strain on many parts of your body and it can improve your circulation as well.
- They increase bone strength. Even though a step bicycle is low-impact, it’s still weight bearing. This helps improve bone density and prevent fractures. It can even prevent bone loss in older adults, and that can keep you mobile for longer. (3)
- They’re fun to ride. You’re more likely to do something you enjoy. Compared to spending an hour at the gym, riding an elliptical bike outdoor model around the neighborhood is a lot more fun. It is like being able to exercise wherever you want, and in the fresh air around you.
Are There Any Disadvantages Of Elliptical Bikes?
- They don’t improve leg strength as much as running. There’s a trade-off to getting a low-impact workout. Different muscles are used when you ride an elliptical exercise bicycle than when you go running or jogging. As a result, they’re not quite as effective at improving leg strength. Running still burns more calories per hour, too.
- They can be tricky to use. First-time riders of elliptical bikes may take some time to get used to balancing while riding. It’s also harder to go up hills and around curves, especially when you’re still inexperienced. There is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of riding one, you may be sorry that you didn’t learn about them sooner.
- They can be bulky and hard to store. You can find compact standing bikes, but as a rule they’re wider and taller. This may be a problem if you don’t have a lot of space for storage. It also means they’re not as well-suited to riding on sidewalks or in bike lanes, which are designed for slimmer machines. Keep these things in mind before you purchase one, especially if you are concerned about space or where you will ride it.
ElliptiGO vs. StreetStrider
StreetStrider and ElliptiGO are two of the top names in outdoor elliptical bikes. Both companies make durable, easy to use bikes that can be adjusted to make them comfortable for everyone. While one brand isn’t definitively better than the other, they’re aimed at different kids of users. Here are the specs to pay attention to when you’re choosing which elliptical bike is best for you.
- Number of gears. The Streetstrider 7i has 7 gears, which is plenty for riding around the cities and suburbs. For steeper terrain, though, you’ll want more options from your elliptical bike’s transmission. ElliptiGO bikes offer up to 11 gears. That means you can ride them on steeper grades more comfortably.
- Indoor/outdoor versatility. Any outdoor stand up elliptical bike can be converted into an indoor workout machine with the right trainer stand. Many StreetStrider elliptical bikes come with that trainer stand included, making them a great indoor/outdoor elliptical bike combo.
- Size and design. A stand up bike is bulky, and this can make storing and transporting it difficult. Foldable elliptical bikes can be more easily loaded into your car, and are a lot easier to store.
- Price. A more complex transmission with more gears costs more to make. The price of ElliptiGO elliptical bikes is correspondingly higher on the whole, especially considering you’ll need to purchase an indoor stand separately.
Overall, we’d recommend StreetStrider elliptical bikes for most users because of the lower price, better design, and indoor/outdoor versatility. If you’re a serious cross-trainer, though, the expanded gear options on ElliptiGO models are worth the investment.
How To Use An Elliptical Bike
The first time you step on a standing bike, it’ll probably take some getting used to. Balancing and riding feel different than they do on either elliptical machines or traditional bicycles. In truth, though, riding an elliptical bike is just as easy. ElliptiGO has a great video that explains the process, but we’ll run through the steps here.
Step-by-step: Using an Outdoor Elliptical
- Stand on the riding platforms and take hold of the bike handles. You should be standing comfortably upright without hunching or needing to reach. If you’re not, adjust the handlebar accordingly. Being in an awkward position while you exercise on your elliptical can cause muscle strain and injury, so it’s worth it to take the time and make these adjustments.
- If you have an indoor training stand, it’s good to start there to get used to the bike’s operation. Lock the bike into the stand and take a few strides. If you’re particularly short or tall, you may want to adjust the stride length of the elliptical, as well.
- Identify the location of the brakes. These will normally be on the handlebars, similar to their placement on a traditional bicycle. Also identify the gear adjustment, and put it in a mid-range gear to give the best resistance for starting the ride.
- Take the bike off the kickstand and put your less-dominant foot on the platform in the forward position, ready to pedal.
- Push off with your dominant foot from the ground while pushing down with your other foot on the platform to gain initial momentum. Once you’re moving forward smoothly, place your dominant foot on the other pedal. Push down and back on the platform in an alternating pattern. Though the shape of the stride on an elliptical bike is different, the process of pedaling is basically the same.
- Stand upright while you ride your elliptical. If you find yourself hunching or crouching, you may want to further adjust the handlebar.
- To get off, first make sure the bike is completely stopped, then carefully step down with one foot. It’s a longer drop to the ground than you may realize, so be aware of that as you dismount.
It’s a good idea to practice riding, turning, and stopping a few times in a safe location without cars or other people before you go out on a road or trail. The hardest part of riding a stand up elliptical bike is getting a feel for the balance.
What Burns More Calories: Elliptical Or Bike?
Using a road bike standing burns somewhere between 15% and 40% more calories. Someone who weighs 140 pounds can burn as much as 800 calories an hour riding an elliptical. That same person would burn 400-500 calories biking, so you do burn more on average with an elliptical exercise bike.
Don’t treat those numbers as gospel, though. How many calories you burn depends on a lot of factors, including:
How Fast You’re Going
This is true across types of exercise. Runners know that the faster you go, the more calories you’ll burn in the same amount of time. A half-hour of jogging at 6 MPH burns roughly 370 calories. Just speeding up to 7 MPH, you’ll burn about 460 calories. That’s an increase of 90 calories, or roughly 25%.
The same goes for other forms of exercise, like biking. Going on a leisurely elliptical bike ride won’t burn more calories than an intense ride on a traditional bicycle. It can be difficult to compare speeds, since elliptical bikes on the whole require more effort and won’t go as fast. If you’re pedaling at the same speed, though, you’ll burn more calories doing it on an elliptical.
Environment and Terrain
The terrain on an indoor stand up bike is set. This is the rough equivalent of riding the bike around a flat, paved track, where there’s no extra resistance from the environment. When you take your elliptical bike outside, things get a bit trickier.
Hills and inclines are the biggest calorie busters. A 3% increase in the steepness of your route can nearly triple how many calories your burn. If you’ve ever biked up a steep hill, you understand why. Your muscles have to work harder to push yourself up an incline, and that elevates your heart rate, forces your lungs to move your air, and generally kicks your metabolism into a higher gear.
Along with the grade, the surface itself plays a role. Whether you’re on a standing or sitting bike, the wheels glide more easily over smooth surfaces, and face more resistance on soft, uneven surfaces. This means you’ll burn more calories biking on gravel or sand than on a paved road.
Speaking of resistance, there’s another variable when you’re biking outside that you don’t get on indoor workouts: the weather, specifically the wind. You burn more calories when you bike into the wind on a standing bike than you do on a sitting bike.
There’s a reason professional bikers hunch over their handlebars during a race. Your body presents a wider surface area when you’re standing up, and that increases the impact of wind resistance, making it more difficult to push forward and increasing the calories burned.
Not every person burns the same number of calories when they work out. Your weight, muscle tone, and overall fitness also have an impact. Weight is the most significant variable here. And it makes sense; if you strap a 30-pound weight onto your back before you jump on the bike, you’ll feel how much more it works the muscles of your legs.
The impact of body weight on calories burned is less significant with biking than with running, since the bike carries some of that load for you. Even so, a heavier person will burn more calories (assuming all other factors are identical, like speed, terrain, and intensity).
The Elliptical Bike’s Design
There are two main design factors that impact the total calories burned. The first is the number of gears and which gear you use with your elliptical. It might feel like you’re burning more calories in a higher gear because the pedals offer more resistance, but the opposite is true. Calories burned goes up conversely with your pedaling rate. Since your legs have to work harder to achieve the same speed and distance in a lower gear, you’ll ultimately burn more calories. Bikes with lots of gears are great for traversing terrain more easily, but they don’t necessarily help you burn more calories.
The other design element of note is the handlebar design of the elliptical bike. A cross-trainer style handle design uses independent bars for each hand, which you move along with your legs as you go. This brings your upper body into the workout. Since it’s working more muscle groups, you’ll burn more calories compared to elliptical bikes with a stationary handle.
Using An Elliptical Bike For Interval Training
Interval training alternates short bursts of intense exercise with longer periods of less intense exercise. The short, intense bursts elevate your heart rate and breathing, while the periods in between give your muscles a break. This strategy gives you the calorie-burning power of high-intensity workouts without wearing you out or risking injury.
Interval training is an excellent way to improve your cardiovascular health and lung capacity. The heart rate elevations from the short bursts will sustain during most of the lower-intensity periods. Basically, you’ll burn more calories even during the parts of the workout that you’re moving more slowly.
Elliptical bikes are an excellent tool for interval training outside the gym. Start by riding at your usual pace for about 4-5 minutes to loosen up your muscles. Once you’re warmed up, pedal intensely for about 30 seconds, then return to light pedaling for another 4-5 minutes.
You can repeat this pattern as many times as you want. Just make sure you start and end with light, low-intensity pedaling. This reduces the risk of muscle injury and helps stave off post-workout cramping and excessive soreness.
Do Elliptical Bikes Help You Lose More Fat?
Any whole-body aerobic workout is a great way to get rid of extra weight, and an elliptical is no exception. Going by the numbers, you have to burn about 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat. That’s roughly 3-5 hours on an elliptical bicycle, depending on your weight and how intense your workout is.
Compared to most activities, you burn more fat on an elliptical bike. For the highest fat-burning power, though, good old fashioned running is still the winner.
Keep in mind that weight loss isn’t just about how many calories you burn. It’s based on your body’s calorie deficit. In other words, you need to burn off more energy than you’re taking in.
No amount of ellipti riding will make you lose weight if you’re consuming more calories than your body needs. Sustained, successful weight loss requires a balance of proper diet and sufficient workout time.
Do Ellipticals Help Burn Belly Fat?
If you talk to any doctor or physical trainer, they’ll tell you there’s no such thing as spot reduction. There’s no exercise that will burn fat magically away from your stomach while leaving it in other areas. Your body has its own idea of which fat stores it’s best to burn up first, and there’s no real way to tell it otherwise.
Having said that, elliptical bikes do engage the muscles of your core more than biking and similar forms of exercise. This means you’ll be working to tone and strengthen your abdominal muscles, which can make your stomach look flatter. You’ll lose belly fat, too, along with fat from your thighs and other areas of your body.
Which Is Better Exercise: Bike Or Elliptical?
What’s the bottom line of all these factors and figures? On the whole, an elliptical bike provides a better workout because it forces your body to use more of its muscles. You’ll get the best workout from an elliptical that also moves your upper body.
Even on an elliptical bike with a stationary handlebar, though, being forced to balance and steer with your whole body activates more muscles. In addition, the lack of seat forces your legs to bear your entire weight, making it one of the few low-intensity weight-bearing workouts out there.
We also love elliptical bikes because they offer more versatility. The option to exercise either indoors or outdoors is something you won’t get from either a traditional bike or a stationary elliptical machine.
Exercise equipment is only useful if you’re actually able to use it. Having the choice to stay in when the weather’s bad makes you less likely to skip workouts. That’s good news if your goal is long-term weight loss and improved health.
Share Your Experience with Elliptical Bike
Do you own an ElliptiGO or StreetStrider stand up elliptical bike? Which one do you have and how do you use it? Be sure to share your experience in the comments!
If you haven’t tried one yet, we’re glad to be the ones to introduce you to this fun, easy way to exercise indoors or out. We hope you’ll come back and let us know about your experience once you’ve had a chance to give one a try!
- Lindberg, Sara. 10 Benefits of an Elliptical Machine Workout. Healthline, 21 June 2019.
- Spritzler, Franziska. 10 Natural Ways to Build Healthy Bones. Healthline, 18 January 2017.
- Kaplan, Yonatan et. al. Referent body weight values in over ground walking, over ground jogging, treadmill jogging, and elliptical exercise. Gait Posture, 2014.
- McCoy, William. Does Jogging Really Burn More Calories Than Running? Chron, 18 April 2018.
- Cartlidge, Edwin. A better way to burn calories on your bike. Science, 14 September 2015.
- Rev up your workout with interval training. Mayo Clinic.