Top Desk Cycles
Like most reviews sites, our editorial staff and laboratory testing expenses are partially offset by earning small commissions (at no cost to you) when you purchase something through those links. Learn More
At WorkWhileWalking, we’re often asked how treadmill desks and desk cycles compare. Our answer is no secret: we think walking is the best way to stay active at work. That being said, we also recognize the surging popularity of cycling at your desk, and we want you—as a worker committed to office fitness—to be as informed as possible on the merits of these relatively new products by having thorough desk cycle reviews to learn from.
We sent our staff out to review the top under-desk pedal units on the market. They investigated design features, weight and size specs, customer experiences, and more according to our rigorous review process. Below, you’ll see the combined results of our research.
Note: under-desk pedals are different from bike desks. Bike desks are upright stationary bikes with an integrated desk platform, and include such products as the FitDesk 2.0 Bike Desk and Lifespan C3-DT3 bike desk. To learn more about these and other bicycle desk units see our round-up of Bike Desk Reviews.
Back to desk cycle reviews… to break up this large group of under-desk pedal units we’ve separated them into two categories:
1. Under Desk Ellipticals
A pedal exerciser designed for under desk use by virtue of an elliptical pedaling motion (though many are “trainers” meant to be used while sitting on a sofa watching TV). They include the Cubii, FitDesk Under Desk Elliptical, Stamina InMotion Elliptical Trainer, Stamina InMotion Compact Strider, and j/fit Under Desk Elliptical Trainer. (Jump below)
2. Desk Cycles
Distinguished from the elliptical by its circular pedaling motion. Some of these have too high a pedal stroke to use effectively at a desk, (but others are designed specifically for desk use). They include the DeskCycle, Stamina InStride Folding Cycle, MagneTrainer, and Sunny Magnetic Exercise Bike. (Jump below)
Of these, the Cubii qualifies as a true, state-of-the-art office fitness product, replete with Bluetooth link to a smartphone app and integration with popular wearable devices like FitBit. But before buying one of these devices, we strongly recommend our primer, How to Set up an Ergonomically Proper Desk Cycle. With the possible exception of very short individuals, most users find that the key to a good setup is combining a pedal exerciser with an adjustable-height desk, and ideally an articulating ergonomic keyboard tray. The field for desk pedals runs the gamut in price—from $25 to $1000s—with good units generally $200 to $350.
We’ve split our reviews for pedal exercisers into the two types listed above, Under Desk Ellipticals and Desk Cycles. See abstracts from our reviews for each product below. Click a title to be taken to the full review page.
Under Desk Elliptical Reviews
The FitDesk Under Desk Elliptical enters a market for under desk ellipticals where many units are positioned as ‘jack-of-all-trades’ devices, fit for the living room, weight room, or office. But the FitDesk does not make the mistake of spreading itself too thin, becoming a ‘master of none’. It’s designed for specifically for desk use, and operates well in many workspaces.
The j/fit Under Desk Elliptical looks a lot like the desk ellipticals from Stamina on the surface. They are all portable ellipticals that offer sit/stand capability. But we hope there the similarities end, since the Stamina products suffer poor durability. The jury is still out on the j/fit, as it’s relatively new to the market.
After entering the market for under desk ellipticals back in December 2015, the Stamina has sold its fair share of units. But its low price hints at the quality issues it suffers.
The Stamina InMotion Compact Strider strides onto the desk elliptical stage as a budget option with sit/stand functionality. But like its sister product, the Stamina InMotion Elliptical Trainer, its low price augurs troubling issues with durability.
Desk Cycle Reviews
While under desk bikes are a legitimate way to try to work on health goals even if your job chains you to a desk all day, you do have to make sure that it will work for you and your situation. If it does, the Ergonomyx Smart Under Desk Bike is a very legitimate choice considering its price in conjunction with the amount of technology that they have put into the bike. Bluetooth connection to your smartphone through an impressive app is a great way to track your use and performance on the bike, including helping set useful goals along the way, though you do have to keep pedaling at a decent pace to keep the Bluetooth powered. The biggest problems with this standing desk bike are that there are body types that will find it awkward to use if not just impossible. The short warranty of only 2 years also makes us wonder about the durability of the bike, despite the solid feel, but the price does seem to match that kind of warranty.
The Sunny Health and Fitness Magnetic Mini Exercise Bike bills itself as an office accessory, fit for pedaling under the desk. Our verdict is that while it competes with competitor products serving this purpose, it falls short of top notch status in a few basic ways.
The MagneTrainer is sometimes used as a pedal exerciser under the desk, but it is generally a poor performer in this capacity.
Small but powerful, the DeskCycle is a solid piece of equipment. Its low profile and quiet magnetic mechanism make it unobtrusive in offices and cubicles. But under desk ellipticals now compete with desk cycles for prominence in the market for desk pedals, and the DeskCycle has some disadvantages when stacked up to the new competition.
The most portable desk cycle we’ve reviewed so far, the Stamina InStride Folding Cycle probably belongs to a category of its own – in terms of weight, cost, and easy transport. It’s a folding cycle for quick use on the go. But its strengths don’t translate well to sustained use at a desk.
Discontinued Under-Desk Cycling
At WorkWhileWalking we’ve been lab testing and writing reviews of ergonomic office furniture and accessories for over a decade. In that time, we have seen many of the products we reviewed fall by the wayside. This is inevitable due to the cycle of continuous improvement, with new models supplanting their predecessors. Of course in some cases products weren’t as competitive as they needed to be, or their manufacturers ran into financial challenges (which very much accelerated as a result of the post-pandemic economy).
For whatever reason, these products now fall into the discontinued category, but we will still keep their reviews published and available to read. Whether you want to know more about the desk, monitor arm, etc. that you bought years ago, need more info because someone is selling one second hand, or just want to compare current offerings with what was available in the past, these reviews will remain here for your reference.
If you’re looking at under desks pedals, compact seated ellipticals are definitely the most ergonomic and fit under a desk much better than under desk cycles with their circular strokes. As under desk ellipticals go, Cubii is the Cadillac model.
If you’d like more insight into our desk cycle reviews, check out our guide “How We Found the Best Desk Cycle“. It will walk you through the top criteria we used in coming to our pedal exerciser recommendations.
To learn about the related category of stationary bike desks, check out our round-up of Bike Desk Reviews.