Stationary bikes are fun and convenient calorie-burners that seamlessly help you attain your fitness goals. You can improve your stamina, endurance, mindset, shape your muscles, and change your weight.
And you can do all that from your PJs in front of the telly.
But there’s a problem:
Like all machines invented by people, exercise bikes may break or have other technical problems.
We’ve got you covered.
In this article, we discuss seven common exercise bike issues and how to solve them. To make things easier for you in the future, we’ll also tackle some maintenance tips so that you can prevent future problems.
7 Common Stationary Bike Problems
Here’s what you can expect from your stationary bike:
1. Resistance Problems
An exercise bike with resistance problems will suddenly feel:
- Too easy to pedal even at the highest intensity
- Like you’re pedalling through cement even at the lowest settings
Also, it can be challenging to change between resistance levels.
Remember: These problems should appear suddenly after your bike has been working correctly for some time. If your stationary bike feels too hard or too easy from the start, it means:
- You haven’t adjusted it correctly, or:
- You haven’t bought the right bike for your needs. Side-note, we have an excellent article that explains how you can make that choice here, plus plenty of examples to prove our point.
Here’s what you can do in case of faulty resistance:
- Check for any bent pins and cross-cabling.
- Clean and lubricate the gears.
- Check for wobbly wheels in the resistance mechanism and replace damaged hubs. You’ll need a wrench to take out the flywheel and hub bolt. Insert a new hub bolt, replace the wheel and screw in the resistance mechanism after you’re done.
Magnetic resistance bikes are a bit different.
In this case, the problem may be the magnets that have moved closer or further apart. They might even have travelled too far from the motor, so your bike now has no resistance.
Here’s the solution:
This problem usually happens when some screws and bolts loosen too much. So, you have to put the magnets back where they belong and tighten the screws back.
Your stationary bike’s drive belt can often slip or just for the first time.
It doesn’t matter; you need to fix it because otherwise, you can get severely injured. There are two possible ways to repair a slipping belt:
Replace it, or tighten it.
- Unplug the stationary bike.
- Use a screwdriver or Allen wrench to remove the pedals without messing with the threads.
- Undo the attached screws to get the shields out.
- If the belt isn’t tight enough, you need to fix the loose bolt and adjustment nut.
- If you want to replace the belt pad and/or the brake pads, you first need new ones. So, install these after removing your belt or brake pads.
Pro tip: Compare the new bike parts with the old ones side-by-side to ensure they’re the same. Sometimes, manufacturers change some components without also changing their names.
Your bike can become too noisy all of a sudden, so the first step is finding the culprit.
Possible sources of that noise are the following:
If the belt, motor, or wheels make a squeaky sound, you have to oil them.
If the pedals are responsible, you must check the threading to see if the pedals are worn. In this case, you’ll notice that the pedals don’t form a 90ᵒ angle with the crank arm anymore. Alternatively, they can feel bumpy when you’re using them.
Alas, the solution for worn pedals is replacing them with new ones.
Pro tip: If you want to avoid this problem, follow the maintenance tips we discuss in the next section.
4. Error Codes
Common error code problems include E1 or E6. Otherwise, your electric bike may not start at all.
Unfortunately, there’s no cut and dry solution for this issue. We’d love to tell you which button to press to make it all better, but we can’t.
The good news is someone can:
Your user manual.
So, blow the dust off it or download a new one from the internet to cross-reference the error code you’re getting. If you don’t get a quick answer, look for online reviews because chances are other customers had the same issue in the past.
Here’s how you should Google your problem:
The brand of your stationary bike + Name of error code + platform (e.g., YouTube or Reddit to start with)
5. Display Out
If your display is out, check for loose cables and ensure the power adapter is inserted correctly into the bike.
And here’s some weird advice you probably already got from every customer support literally anywhere in the world, but:
Try unplugging your bike and plugging it again.
We don’t know why it works, but it does 90% of the time.
But if you’re one of the unlucky 10%, your best bet is talking with an authorized service centre or an electrician.
6. Strange Heart Rate Readings
Strange heart readings aren’t the same as inaccurate ones. For example, a lower-end exercise bike can show you a 100 bpm pulse when yours is, in fact, 110.
However, strange heart readings make no sense, and they appear suddenly.
For example, your bike can oscillate dramatically between pulse values or get impossible numbers.
In this case, check the contact between the straps and the grips. If it’s loose, you need to tighten it, and your readings will come back to normal.
Alternatively, if you want to get highly accurate heart rate values, consider a stationary bike, Polar chest strap connectivity or one that’s a little more high-end.
7. Loose Bolts and Screws
Loose bolts and screws can cause other problems. Besides, if you have a magnetic resistance bike, it’s common for the bolts and screws to untighten from use.
So, do a routine check every two weeks to make sure the bike has everything in place.
If you discover any loose bit, take a screwdriver and solve the problem.
In Conclusion – Exercise Bike Maintenance Tips
Many of the exercise bike issues we discussed so far can be prevented if you’re doing regular maintenance for your indoor bike. Here’s what you should consider:
- Keep the bike clean, but wipe the dust using a soft cloth. Remember that it’s best to clean your bike after every workout to remove possible traces of sweat. There’s not much need for anything else really. Also, never use anything with petroleum or abrasive ingredients because they’ll damage your bike in the long term.
- Ensure the sensors work well. You can measure your stats with other devices and cross-check them with your bike’s display. For example, many people already use separate fitness watches to keep track of their pulse/calories burned/distance.
- Check the pedals and straps every time you climb on your indoor bike. If the pedals feel too loose or too tight, you’ll need to solve this problem before it worsens.
- Lube the parts. Your bike’s motor, pedals, and flywheel need constant lubrication to work smoothly. Otherwise, the excess friction can cause the bike to grip and incur more damaged.
- Ensure the belt is tight enough. Check the belt’s tension weekly and readjust it if it seems too loose or gone awry.
That said, a lower-end stationary bike is more prone to damage.
The solution is to avoid compromising quality, even if your budget is limited. A value-for-money indoor bike may lack high-tech features, but it’s still excellent from a structural perspective.
So, if you want to get an excellent exercise bike on a budget, we discuss what to look for and some great models in this article.