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Has a shiny new exercise bike earned its place in your home? Whether it’s made by Peloton, Echelon, NordicTrack or any other brand, the presence of a highly coveted, low-impact connected fitness machine will undoubtedly conjure up some other exercise equipment to complement it, like new shoes or a speciality cleaner to keep it looking pristine after a particularly sweaty workout.
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Luckily, you don’t need much for the workout itself—other than your own motivation to get pedaling. But with these accessories you can make your rides even more comfortable and ensure your bike stays in peak condition for many more.
1. Cycling shoes to feel connected to your bike
Some stationary bikes have pedals with cages that allow you to ride using any pair of sneakers. This is great for pure convenience,but wearing unsupportive footwear can cause foot pain and could also affect the smoothness of your pedaling and the quality of your ride. Upgrading your footwear to cycling shoes with cleats will allow you to clip into your bike’s pedals so your foot acts as a more effective lever, creating a smoother range of motion to give you more power to climb higher up the leaderboard or just beat your own personal best. Some stationary bikes come with cleat-compatible pedals, but you can easily swap those out, too.
The cleats that work best for you will either be dictated by the pedals on your bike or are otherwise a personal choice. Two-bolt SPDs are the most common cleat type at cycling studios, so they’re a good choice if you still find yourself craving the occasional in-person ride. Some spin enthusiasts also prefer them because they clip in and out of pedals more easily; many two-bolt-compatible shoes have built-up treads or rails around the perimeter of the sole, making them safer to walk around in because the cleat is recessed. The three-bolt styles have a much larger connection point to the pedals for arguably greater power production, but the cleats also stick out from the balls of the shoes, making them difficult (if not dangerous) to walk in, and the cleats could even damage floors.
Peloton’s bike requires LOOK Delta cleats, which means you would need shoes that have three-bolt attachments (naturally, you can buy these shoes from the brand to the tune of $125). Shimano SPD-SL cleats, common on road cycling shoes, are also three-bolt, while Shimano SPD cleats, often on mountain-bike shoes, are two-bolt.
Shoes usually aren’t sold with cleats, so you’ll need to buy both items separately. You may prefer a pair that’s compatible with any kind of cleat type, like the Giro Cadet cycling shoes. In addition to two- and three-bolt compatibility that works with a variety of cleat styles, the Cadets have a breathable upper lining to keep your feet cool and a carbon fiber reinforced sole for support. They also have a Boa L6 dial and a hook-and-loop strap—and no laces that could untie mid-ride and tangle.
2. A fan to keep you cool
There’s only so much circulation you can get from cracking a window. Investing in a fan can go a long way towards keeping you cool during workouts. We love the Lasko 3300 Wind Machine, our best value pick for fans, which provides a brisk, cooling breeze at a decent price.
If you prefer fans that attach to your bike, Amazon reviewers like the Hurricane Classic 6-inch clip fan, which fits around the handlebars and provides a surprising amount of air for its diminutive size.
3. An absorbent towel to sop up sweat
If you’re biking for a while, you’re likely going to sweat profusely and will need more than a fan to keep you cool and dry. So you don’t drip all over your bike (and all over the floor), it’s a good idea to have a towel close by to blot your face (and decolletage) when drops start to form.
Any old towel can work for this but if you want something exercise-specific, opt for a soft, quick-drying microfiber, like the PackTowl Luxe face towel. We tested the full-size PackTowl for a review of beach towels and found the fabric effective for wicking away m
oisture and drying out quickly—both essential when you’re perspiring during your workout.
4. Wireless headphones so you can exercise in peace
You may love hearing instructors’ encouraging words and the pump-up music they’ve chosen for class. But other people around you might not feel the same way—especially if you’re exercising in a house or apartment with thin walls or limited space. One easy solution is a pair of Bluetooth headphones, so you can tune into your workouts without disturbing housemates and neighbors.
We love the Jabra Elite 4 Active—they’re our best value pick for true wireless earbuds, thanks to their excellent sound, comfort and durability. The Elite 4 Actives offer many high-end features such as noise cancellation, a water-resistant design and onboard controls.
5. A bike seat cover to make long rides more comfortable
One great option is this Zacro gel-infused cover, which slides over narrow seats to provide more cushioning and support for your rides. If you have a regular road bike with a narrow seat, this cover should work on it, too: You can switch back and forth if you need a softer base on both bikes.
6. A mat to protect your floor and ensure a smooth ride
Whether you’re putting your bike on a bare floor or carpet, it’s important to have a mat beneath it to protect the surface from scuffs or tears. In addition to preventing damage, a mat can also provide extra stability for the bike and absorb vibrations and noises, which is great for people in shared living spaces or apartments with thin walls.
Amazon reviewers love the CyclingDeal mat: At 30 inches by 60 inches, it fits perfectly under most stationary bikes. It’s made of durable, protective PVC that prevents damage and keeps the machine from slipping and is available in two texture options: “soft,” which is best for hard floors and “high-density,” which is best for carpets.
7. Gear to clean your bike post-workout
As already discussed, you will sweat during your ride, and some sweat will end up on your bike. This means you’ll want to make time for a post-ride cleanup in addition to your stretch—especially if you share the bike with other people.
Each manufacturer has different instructions for wiping down the bike. Some recommend using a rag with soap and water, while others, including Peloton, recommend using an all-purpose surface spray cleaner or disinfectant wipes. Some cyclists on Reddit say they use baby wipes or other gentle vinegar-based wipes to clean up without risking damage to the paint.
If you share your bike with others, using disinfectant is especially important. If you can’t locate Clorox or Lysol wipes, try a spray like Cleansmart. When using a spray, spritz it directly on a microfiber towel or rag, as paper towels often leave lint behind.
If your bike has a screen, skip the spray when you clean it. Instead, turn it off and gently rub it down with a clean microfiber towel. When a dry towel doesn’t cut it, Peloton recommends using Windex wipes before the microfiber towel, which helps clear off oil and fingerprints without making the screen streaky.
8. A water bottle to replenish your fluids
Staying hydrated is key to powering through your workouts. Maintain your workout water intake with our favorite water bottle, the Brita Premium Filtering water bottle. This 20-ounce drinking vessel has a straw-containing lid that opens with the push of a button and allows you to drink without twisting a cap or even tilting the bottle, which is helpful when you’re simultaneously panting and trying to slurp down your drink before the next interval begins. The Brita also keeps water cold for 24 hours, helps remove funky taste from water and fits in most cup holders.
9. Resistance bands and weights to add on to your workout
Your bike may come with a pair of light weights. But if you really want to build muscle, it’s a good idea to add a little more resistance training to your routine. A full set of dumbbells is great but can be costly and will take up a lot of space. For a space-friendly and not-so-costly solution, consider a set of resistance bands. This one, from Fit Simplify, costs just over $10 and can help strengthen glutes, arms, core, hamstrings and more, and can be neatly tucked away when they aren’t in use.
If you want to make more of an investment in your strength training, a pair of adjustable dumbbells could be the right call. Our favorite pair of adjustable dumbbells from Bowflex switches from 5 to 52.5 pounds in 2.5-pound increments with an easy-to-use dial to change the load, making any kind of strength training accessible.
10. Socks to keep your feet comfy throughout your workout
You might not think that your feet sweat all that much. But a few minutes into a cycling class and—yeah. You can’t stop this, but you can mitigate its uncomfortable effects—blisters, chafing, feelings of overwhelming sogginess—with a good pair of socks. If you’re wearing cycling shoes, Peloton instructor Matt Wilpers recommends socks that are thin, light and moisture-wicking.
Pretty much all athletic brands offer socks of this variety, but you can’t go wrong with Smartwool’s cycling socks, which are made of a blend of merino wool and nylon to wick moisture, regulate body temperature and prevent odors.
If you run through socks quickly, look for a multipack of running or athletic socks. One solid option is the Adidas Superlite’s no-show running socks, which keep feet cool while offering light arch support.
11. A yoga mat to keep your joints happy while stretching it out
Yoga can provide a wealth of benefits for many people. But it’s an especially great cross-training method for cyclists, as it can strengthen the core and stretch out muscles that get stiff with a lot of pedaling such as hip flexors and calves. You can do yoga on your own with instruction from a variety of sources, whether it’s via your bike’s class membership, a workout app or a free YouTube channel. But no matter how you choose to get your flow on, you need a good surface.
We love Lululemon’s Reversible Mat, which we named our favorite yoga mat. It’s made of textured natural rubber, which provides a non-slippery grip for downward-facing dogs and lunges, and it holds fast on the floor so there’s no fear of sliding around when you’re practicing.
For a less pricey option that’s thicker and more versatile for non-yoga workouts, we like Amazon Basics’ Extra-Thick Exercise Mat. It also has an effective non-slip surface and is surprisingly lightweight, so it’s easy to carry around.
12. A strap to help lengthen your muscles
Cycling is great for improving your cardio and endurance but not so great for flexibility. If yoga isn’t your thing, you can counteract the effects of tight hamstrings and hip flexors with the Original Stretch-Out Strap by OPTP. The nylon strap, which is over six feet long, has 10 loops that provide an easy grip or resting place for hands and feet to provide more control as you stretch out your back, quads, calves and any other part of your body that feels stiff after a ride.
13. A heart-rate monitor to gauge the intensity of your workout
Sure, you can feel your heart pumping. But how hard are you really working? You may be able to figure out an approximation of effort based on how you’re feeling, but some people like training with heart-rate monitors to ensure they’re working in a zone that will deliver maximum results while avoiding overexertion. Some connected bikes offer workouts designed around heart-rate zones.
If you want to try this method of training, your best bet is a chest strap, like this one by Polar—it’s close to your heart, so it provides accurate readings more quickly than a wrist-worn Fitbit or Apple Watch can and connects to your bike screen, phone or tablet via Bluetooth so you can monitor your effort all workout long.
14. Workout apparel to exercise in style
One of the best things about working out at home is that you don’t feel any pressure to dress to impress people in your classes. But if you’re inspired by the cool shorts, leggings and tank tops your instructors wear—or simply want to replenish your supply of clothes built to sweat in—you can justify the investment in a few new, key pieces. For working out indoors, we recommend lightweight synthetic fabrics that wick sweat away so they don’t become sodden during class.
All major exercise apparel brands sell items made of this kind of material, but we’re especially partial to shopping at Nordstrom for its high quality brands and Old Navy for its competitive stock-up prices. We also love brands such as Lululemon and Outdoor Voices, both of which make highly rated bike shorts and leggings.
15. A headband to stop sweat from getting in your eyes
Cycling is a lot of fun. But one not-so-fun side effect? Sweat, (noticing a theme?) and its tendency to run into the eyes, causing a burning feeling that can distract from class. Prevent that teary-eyed sensation with a simple sweatband.
If you have a gaiter that you’ve stopped using as a mask for safety reasons, this is a great opportunity to get some use out of it. Push it up around your hairline to absorb the drips that would otherwise activate your tear ducts.
If you’re looking for more of a dedicated headband, Amazon reviewers like this four-pack from the brand Vgogfly. The headbands, which come in a range of colors such as army green, white, blue and black, keep hair in place, absorb sweat and are lightweight enough that they won’t cause more sweat.
16. The Pivot to make off-bike classes more comfortable
One beloved feature of the Peloton Bike+ that the original lacks is its rotating screen that allows users to more easily see their instructors during off-bike classes. If you have the original Peloton Bike and want to make your off-bike Peloton workouts more comfortable, consider the Pivot, which users can attach to their bike and use to swivel the screen 360 degrees. Reviewers say the Pivot is a great addition to their bike, feels durable and is easy to assemble. But note: Modifying your bike in this matter will void its five-year manufacturer’s warranty, so if you haven’t had your bike for five years, this is the risk you’re taking.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.