Desktop wobbles while in use
Desktop doesn't tilt
Desktop adds extra to the price
Casters don't work well
With more and more people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, exercise is becoming a huge concern. Sitting at a desk all day in an office is bad enough, but sitting all day within steps of your fridge is doubly worse.
That’s why a device like the FlexiSpot Desk Bike might be appealing. It allows you to burn some calories while working or to simply get some exercise while bingeing the latest show on Netflix.
In this review, I’m going to go over the reasons why this product could be a must-buy for some readers — and also why you might want to ride past this one to something a bit more premium.
FlexiSpot Desk Bike at a glance
In essence, the FlexiSpot Desk Bike is an indoor training cycle with the handlebars ripped off and replaced with a laptop desk. If you’ve ever used a training bike, you’ll feel right at home here, as the setup is very similar (although quite simplistic).
You can also use the Desk Bike as a traditional standing laptop desk by standing on the opposite side of the bike seat. Doing this, you can simply adjust the desktop to your preferred position and get to work. When you want to cycle, you can sit down, readjust positioning, and start racing away.
There are no electronics powering the cycling aspect of the FlexiSpot Desk Bike. There’s a very simple stat-tracking system that is powered by AA batteries, but the pedals themselves are totally mechanical. As such, there are no plugs or wires with this particular device.
When you’re done for the day, you can roll the Desk Bike somewhere and then fold the legs in. With the desktop removed, the system is about the size of a large piece of luggage, which allows you to put it into a closet or other storage space.
How do you assemble the FlexiSpot Desk Bike?
When you open the very, very large box the FlexiSpot Desk Bike comes in, you’ll find most of it already assembled. The base is mostly one complete piece, so there’s nothing to do there besides unfold the legs and pedals.
The desktop shown in this review is actually an optional add-on with the Desk Bike. If you opted for that piece, it’s incredibly easy to attach to the bike: simply slide the post into the bike and then tighten the hex bolt with the supplied Allen wrench.
As with other FlexiSpot products, assembly is super fast. After opening the box, you'll be pedaling within minutes.
The bike pedals are standard-sized all-plastic designs, complete with reflectors. Considering the FlexiSpot Desk Bike isn’t going anywhere, I thought the little reflectors were cute. Since cycling barefoot on these pedals would be painful, FlexiSpot includes rubber sheaths that go over the pedals to make barefoot cycling more comfortable. These are easy to put on and take off.
Like the FlexiSpot standing desk converter I recently reviewed, the setup here is a snap. Once you get everything out of the box, you’ll be cycling in minutes.
What is the FlexiSpot Desk Bike like?
The most obvious product to compare with the FlexiSpot Desk Bike is Peloton’s line of incredibly expensive indoor training bikes. This is like a supremely watered-down version of that.
As such, there’s really not much to using the bike itself. You sit down, turn the resistance dial to your preferred setting, and start pedaling. While your feet are moving, you can rest your arms on the soft-yet-firm desktop padding and clack away at your laptop’s keyboard.
If you don’t opt for the desktop, you can instead use the Desk Bike at your current standing desk or desk with a standing converter. Either way, you can pedal at your own pace and keep yourself moving throughout the day.
Unfortunately, the desktop is not stable enough to both work and train with this device. In other words, you’re going to need to pick between two extremes: burning tons of calories or getting lots of work done. The faster you pedal the more the whole unit wobbles, making work increasingly difficult. I found that pedaling at a light pace was the best way to use the Desk Bike.
How do you adjust the FlexiSpot Desk Bike?
Besides pedal resistance, there are three adjustments you can make with the FlexiSpot Desk Bike. The first is the height of the seat (or saddle if you’re that cyclist person). Under it, you’ll find a lever that you can press upwards. When you do, the spring-loaded seat post will pop up. When you find the height you like, simply release the lever and the seat will stay there. There are no pre-determined slots where the seat must stop; you can set it to any height you like.
At its highest point, the seat is about 34 inches from the floor. I’m 5’10” and I found my ideal positioning very quickly. There was plenty of height left to go, so a taller person shouldn’t have any problem here either.
You can also adjust the desktop’s height as well as how close/far away it is from your body. Unfortunately, you cannot tilt the desktop, which would be a welcome option. The desktop has over a foot of adjustment space, giving you plenty of options for where you want it to land.
Because the mechanisms for seat/desktop height adjustment are spring-loaded, you can make all these adjustments while you are using the Desk Bike. This is definitely a nice touch!
What about the ergonomics?
The two most important aspects of the FlexiSpot Desk Bike when it comes to comfort are the seat and the pedals. Let’s start with the seat.
The seat on the Desk Bike is incredibly comfortable. It does not feel cheap at all and stays comfortable even after a few hours of straight use. It’s big and plush and is more comfortable than most actual bike saddles I’ve used.
The pedals without the rubber sheaths are essentially the same as what you’d find on a normal bike. As such, I would always wear shoes when using the Desk Bike. With the sheaths on though, pedaling barefoot was surprisingly comfortable. It got a bit painful after over an hour of cycling, but even then it wasn’t bad enough that I wanted to stop.
The Desk Bike is very, very quiet. If you are at all concerned about noise, you will be pleasantly surprised with this bike.
You might also be concerned with how loud the bike gets while in use. To be frank, I was completely blown away by how quiet this thing is while it’s in operation. It is whisper-quiet. I have pretty skittish cats and even they barely noticed when I was using the bike while they were sleeping right next to it.
Really, the only major complaint here is the desktop wobble I mentioned earlier. Because the desktop was never quite stable, I could only get light work done while using the FlexiSpot Desk Bike.
Does the FlexiSpot Desk Bike track your stats?
There is a battery-powered stat-tracker built-in. You’ll find a solitary black button that turns the tracker on. Long-pressing it will erase your past data and start a fresh ride.
Since there’s no way to input any of your health information, the tracking is very rudimentary. The stats related to how long you’ve been on the bike, how fast you’re pedaling, how far you would have ridden if you were on a real bike, etc. are pretty dependable. However, the calories you’ve burned is only an estimate. For that, you should use a fitness tracker or smartwatch to get a more accurate idea.
The FlexiSpot Desk Bike will store all your data automatically when you stop pedaling. When you start pedaling again, it will pick up where you left off, once again, automatically. I didn’t really care about the stats the Desk Bike showed me, as I was relying on my Fitbit Charge 4 for health data. However, the stats are there if you don’t have a fitness tracker and want a general idea of how well you did on your ride.
What I like about the FlexiSpot Desk Bike
- It’s easy to assemble: Once you take the device out of the box, you’ll be pedaling in just minutes.
- Whisper-quiet riding: The sound of typing on your laptop will be louder than the bike itself.
- It’s very compact: It can fit pretty much anywhere when in use and can be folded up for storage, too.
- Barefoot usage is an option: The rubber sheaths included with the Desk Bike make it so shoes are optional.
What I don’t like about the FlexiSpot Desk Bike
- It wobbles: If you are riding with even a slight amount of intensity, the desktop wobble will make typing/working difficult.
- No desktop tilt: You can move the desktop up, forward, and back, but you can’t tilt it.
- Folding in legs is tricky: If you decide to store the Desk Bike, you’ll need to fold the legs inward, which is actually pretty tricky. I wouldn’t suggest planning to do this often.
- Rolling is wonky: If you want to roll the Desk Bike around the house, the wheels are not smooth. You can replace them with higher-quality casters, but it’s a shame the ones included are so poor.
FlexiSpot Desk Bike review: Should you buy it?
You might be thinking that the FlexiSpot Desk Bike is a great way to get rid of your standing laptop desk and your training bike. However, I would advise against considering this as an adequate replacement for an actual training bicycle.
Since the desktop wobbles so much while you are pedaling, you really should only plan on using the FlexiSpot Desk Bike as a way to get some very light exercise throughout the day. If you want to crank up the intensity, you should remove the desktop (or simply not buy it, since it’s an add-on) and use this with a standing desk converter as shown in the image above. That way there won’t be any wobble and you can pedal as hard as you like.
All in all, there’s a lot to love about the FlexiSpot Desk Bike. It’s compact, whisper-quiet, and inexpensive for what you get. At a list price of $350 (or $400 with the desktop), getting a quality standing laptop desk and exercise machine in one is a good bargain.
However, this shouldn’t be your only exercise machine. If you want to really get your heart rate up and burn some calories, you should go with a more traditional standing bike. And, if you do that, there’s no reason to own this.