By Tab Olsen
It can be difficult for homeschoolers and online college students to get enough exercise, especially if you’re not into sports or taking a P.E. class. It’s really easy for us to just sit in front of our computer screens all day long, or lounge on the couch reading books. When there’s studying to do, who has time for exercise? I know that this is certainly an issue in our house. However, I found the perfect remedy for it! I’m here to tell you about an amazing product to help keep you in shape – the DeskCycle! (Buy one at Amazon!)
I had an indoor recumbent bike on which I’d average about 2,000 miles per year while watching animes and movies. Then when my bike got old, worn out, and so noisy that I no longer enjoyed using it, I couldn’t find a new one of the same type that I could afford. Well, I bought a cheap one at Walmart but hated it – it was poorly made, wobbly and loose, and the frame was made of such thin metal that it bent. Plus the recumbent bikes take up a lot of space, and I was hoping to find something smaller. After getting rid of the one I wasted my money on, I went without any bike at all for a while.
However, as a writer I’d find myself sitting in my desk chair for hours on end. And I kept thinking, if only there was a way to do double duty by being able to exercise at the same time. I mean, as long as you’re sitting there, you might as well be doing something, right? Then a sedentary office job wouldn’t be so bad for your health. That’s when I realized an under-desk exercise bike would be an excellent option. After much debating and looking at a few different ones online, I finally decided on the DeskCycle. I ordered mine from Amazon. It needed some minimal assembly to attach the legs and pedals.
I’ve been using this bike for almost six months now and it’s the ideal solution I’d been searching for. I only wish I’d found the DeskCycle years ago! It’s high quality but it’s not too expensive. It’s easy to carry for moving it around to work at the kitchen table and play computer games downstairs, too. The DeskCycle is very full-featured for its size and price, making it a good value. It’s super sturdy and built to last for years of maintenance-free use. Plus it’s fun to use and it looks cute – I love my DeskCycle!
The DeskCycle is not some cheap Chinese knockoff. It’s made by 3D Innovations, a small privately-owned company in Greeley, Colorado. Interestingly, they got their start as an “exer-gaming” business with the goal of developing video games as a form of exercise, and then branched out into making pedal exercisers for personal fitness and physical therapy. The DeskCycle acts kind of like a recumbent bike, just without the seat and handles. It’s shape, size, and mechanical details were specifically designed for the purpose of sitting in an office chair and pedaling underneath your desk while working. Or you can use it with any other chair, such as when watching TV.
The DeskCycle has a sleek, low profile, and it takes up little space. It’s just under a foot tall, 24″ long, and about 20″ wide. That means if you have two square feet under your desk, the DeskCycle will fit. It’s also the only bike that they say will work under desks as low as 27″ for a person as tall as 5’7″. This is because the DeskCycle has the lowest pedal height (10″) of all the under-desk exercisers. But it also depends on the length of your legs and the height of your chair. I think you should have at least 12″ between the top of your seat and the underside of your desk, or you might end up banging your knees. It helps if you adjust your chair to its lowest position. I have a pullout keyboard shelf that’s only 25″ off the floor, but I’m 5’3″ and I can push the keyboard in a little to make room for my knees. Taller people can position the cycle further under their desk, lean back a bit and extend their legs. If you find yourself in a pinch, you can buy a short front leg that gives you an extra inch of clearance. But if you’re too tall, you may need a higher desk; maybe you can raise it up with bed risers or something.
The sides of the DeskCycle are white plastic, and the rounded design makes me think of Portal. (Seriously, I carry my adorable DeskCycle around with me like Chell and her companion cube.) The top is a smoke-gray see-through plastic that shows off the precision-machined parts inside. The legs are heavy-duty metal. You can tell when you pick it up because at 23 lbs. it’s pretty hefty for its size. But it’s still light enough that I can take it up and down the stairs or wherever I want to go with it. I certainly couldn’t do that with my big clunky recumbent bike!
Smooth Quiet Operation
Most inexpensive recumbent bikes have friction resistance that can be noisy and have jerky pedal motion. The magnetic resistance system of the DeskCycle is both smooth and quiet, and lets you focus your attention on your work. It really is as quiet as they claim, meaning that you can listen to soft music while pedaling. Also, it won’t bother anyone else in the room or interfere with watching a movie while biking. The only noise that I notice is the squeaking of my chair!
Multiple Resistance Levels
The DeskCycle has 8 calibrated resistance levels, which allow you to easily adjust the tension to suit your needs. Level 1 is really loose; I switch between level 2 and 3, but it goes all the way up to level 8. The company says that the maximum resistance of the DeskCycle is greater than the maximum resistance of other pedal exercisers. You can tailor your workout for cardiovascular endurance with a lower setting and a longer distance, or for muscle strength building with a harder setting.
I like the bidirectional pedal motion that lets you pedal the bike forwards or backwards, which utilizes opposite muscle groups. Pedaling forward uses your calf muscles and quadriceps; pedaling backward uses your hamstrings and your tibialis anterior. So if your leg muscles get tired, you can switch directions and continue your workout afresh using different muscles. I didn’t care for the pedal straps that came with the bike, though. They got in the way and made the pedals turn upside down which was annoying. So I just took the straps off and the pedals are perfect now. No sneakers required! Works with any shoes, slippers, socks, and I even pedal in my bare feet. When you’re not biking, you can rest your feet/heels on the rear leg for sitting calf raises/ankle exercises.
A computerized battery-powered LCD display tells you how fast you’re pedaling, how far you’ve traveled, how long you’ve been biking, and how many calories you’ve burned. You can set it on the one you most want to keep an eye on, or scan between them. The display is attached to the bike, but it also comes with a stand and extension cable (shown above) for setting it on your desk. That will make it easier to check your time, distance, speed, and calories burned without having to bend down and look under your desk. But since I move my DeskCycle around a lot, it was more practical for me to keep it mounted on the bike.
My old recumbent bike would time out if I took too long when I’d run out to get a drink, go to the bathroom, or answer the phone. So I’d have to hurry back or I’d lose my miles. The DeskCycle will maintain your numbers and keep a running total all the way up to 1000 minutes or about 16 hours. So if you’re keeping track of how much you bike every day, you just have to remember to reset it to zero at the start of each workout.
Great for Warm-Ups
A side benefit of this bike is that it’s a convenient way to convert your pedal motion into thermal energy by speeding up your metabolism. This will warm you quickly on a chilly morning without having to turn the heat up, which saves money. No need for a space heater! I can be freezing when I get out of bed, but upon using the DeskCycle while checking my e-mails and the news, I feel warmer in no time. At the same time, getting your blood pumping wakes up your brain, and pedaling at my desk keeps me from feeling drowsy in the afternoon. I got my DeskCycle in May and used it all summer too. Just pedal leisurely on a low resistance setting and you won’t even break a sweat.
Another advantage of the DeskCycle is that it’s great for working off nervous energy. After I stopped using my old bike, I’d have restless legs when lying in bed, but now that I’m biking again it’s been a good outlet for the excess energy that builds up during the day from stress or whatever. And bike pedaling – unlike tapping your feet or wiggling your toes – can actually build leg muscle. Teachers have even installed DeskCycles in classrooms to keep students from fidgeting, which would be fantastic for ADHD kids!
You can use your computer normally while pedaling, assuming you’re good at multitasking. But the DeskCycle works best for passive tasks such as reading emails, watching videos, or surfing the web. When I’m intently concentrating on doing research, typing, or game playing, I often realize that I’ve stopped pedaling. So you might find yourself exercising in fits and starts, but it’s still better than not doing anything at all. And if you’re doing a repetitive task like stuffing envelopes at the kitchen table, it’s perfect for that! I can work and pedal while listening to my favorite music, and get the job done while having fun.
If you have an office chair with wheels, the momentum of pedaling will push your chair backward (unless maybe you have a deep pile shag rug). The DeskCycle comes with a Velcro strap to tether the bike to your chair, but all I have to do is hook one or two wheels over the rear leg of the DeskCycle. This configuration keeps my chair in place.
If your legs are too long to have your chair that close to the pedals, and you don’t want to bother having to attach a strap, you can either get locking wheels or use a chair without wheels, or you can place dumbbells or something behind the wheels to keep your chair in place. DeskCycle also has a narrower 10″ rear leg that you can buy separately, if you’d rather be able to fit it in between the legs of your chair.
Burn More Calories
The DeskCycle is a wonderful way to become a bit more active in even the most sedentary situations, which is something we can all benefit from. By using the DeskCycle, you’ll burn more calories that you would if you were just sitting still. An added benefit of the DeskCycle is that the company gives you access to their online calculator for accurately calculating calories burned based on your gender, height, weight and age. This takes your calorie counting a step further than even the more expensive exercise bikes. Because without knowing your weight, the displayed calorie estimate could be way off. Only 3D Innovations offers this feature.
If you want to burn calories, boost your circulation, feel better, and improve your health while simply working at your desk, then I highly recommend the DeskCycle. Especially if a standing/treadmill desk is not practical for you, or if you’d like an indoor bike but don’t have much space or can’t afford a recumbent bike, the DeskCycle is an absolute must. The price, quality, ease of use, and physical appearance are all exceptional! DeskCycle makes it so easy to get safe, healthy, and effective exercise in an office, school, or home environment. I’m convinced that the DeskCycle by 3D Innovations is not only the best under-desk bike but the best indoor bike, period.
- Cycling while working on the computer
- Biking while doing homework at your desk
- Pedaling while playing video games
- Sitting in a chair reading a book and biking
- Cycling while talking on the phone
- Doing your daily Bible reading while biking
- Pedaling while doing crafts at the kitchen table
- Sitting on the couch biking while watching TV or a movie
- Exercising while listening to music or watching music videos (pick the right music and you will really get those pedals moving!)
- Rehabilitating an injury (smooth pedal motion is easy on ankle and knee joints)
- Set it on a table for exercising your arms
- Take it out on the deck or porch to exercise in the fresh air (be sure to bring it back in when you’re done)
- Dorm room exercise
- Get one for the office
- Share it with family members – it’s great for kids, teens, all ages, even grandpa! (It’s true, we gave him a DeskCycle to help with his physical therapy.)