Has a shiny new exercise bike recently taken up residence in your home? Whether it’s a Peloton, Echelon, NordicTrack, or any other brand, the presence of this highly coveted fitness machine may call to mind some other equipment you may need, like a bike mat or a fancy kind of cleaner to keep it looking pristine after sweaty workout.
The good news: For the workout itself, you don’t need much—other than your own motivation to get pedaling. But there are some accessories you can get to make your rides even better and ensure your bike stays in peak condition as long as possible.
1. Cycling shoes to feel connected to your bike
Some stationary bikes have pedals with cages that allow you to use them with any pair of sneakers. This is great for pure convenience, but can cause foot pain and may affect the smoothness of your pedaling and the quality of your ride. Upgrading your footwear to cycling shoes and cleats allows you to clip into your bike’s pedals so your foot acts as better lever, creating a smoother range of motion and 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.
There are three types of cleats to choose from, which will either be dictated by the pedals already on your bike or are otherwise a personal choice. Peloton’s bike, for example, requires LOOK Delta cleats, which means you would need shoes that have three-bolt attachments (and, of course, you can buy 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. The three-bolt styles have a much larger connection point to the pedals for arguably greater power production, but the cleats also stick out quite a lot off the balls of the shoes, making them hard (if not dangerous) to walk around on, and the cleats could even damage floors. The two-bolt SPDs are the most common cleat type at cycling studios, so they’re a good choice if you still need your in-person fix. They are also sometimes preferred because they are easier to clip in and out of pedals, and many of the 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.
Shoes usually don’t come with cleats, so you’ll need to buy each separately. For shoes, you may prefer a pair that’s compatible with any kind of cleat type, like the Giro Techne cycling shoes. In addition to a universal cleat fit, the Technes have a microfiber and mesh upper lining to keep them breathable, and velcro straps for a secure fit—and no laces that could untie mid-ride and tangle. They have no rails on the soles, though, so take care if you need to hop off your bike to grab more water.
- Get Men’s Giro Techne Shoes from Backcountry for $99.95
- Get Women’s Giro Techne Shoes from Amazon for $99.95
- Get LOOK Delta Cleats from Amazon for $20
- Get Shimano SPD Cleats from REI for $15
2. A fan to give you some air
There’s only so much circulation you can get from cracking a window. To increase your airflow, having a fan close by can be a big help. 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 a fan to 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.
- Get the Lasko 20-inch 3-Speed Wind Machine from Walmart for $32.99
- Get the Hurricane Classic Series Clip Fan from Amazon for $21.53
3. An absorbent towel to sop up sweat
If you’re biking for a while, you’re going to sweat beyond what a fan can help. 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 an exercise-specific option, go 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 at wicking away moisture and drying out quickly—two vital components when you’re perspiring during your workout. Get the PackTowl Luxe Face Towel from REI for $12.95
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 the 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 Jabra Elite Active 65t earbuds—they’re our best value pick for true wireless earbuds, thanks to their excellent sound, comfort, and durability. They’re also dust- and water-resistant, which keeps them feeling and sounding great throughout the sweatiest of workouts.
Another great, less-spendy option is Mpow Flame earbuds. We love this pair of earbuds because they’re waterproof and have strong yet pliable hooks to hold them in place—which provides assurance that they won’t short out, fall out, or cause pain during long and sweaty rides.
- Get Jabra Elite 65t Earbuds from Amazon for $118
- Get Mpow Flame Bluetooth Headphones from Amazon for $19.99
5. A bike seat cover to make long rides more comfortable
Many popular at-home bike models are stadium cycle bikes, which come equipped with a slim, lightly padded seat. This makes it easier to get up and down while you’re pedaling, but can also cause discomfort after an extended period of time. If your rump isn’t happy after a few minutes on the saddle, you may want to supplement it with a seat cover.
One great option is this Zacro gel-infused cover, which slides over narrow seats to provide more cushioning and support for your rides. As a bonus, if you have a regular road bike with a narrow seat, this cover should work on it, too, so you can switch it back and forth if you need a softer base on both bikes.
Get the Zacro Gel Bike Seat Cover from Amazon for $21.99
6. A mat to protect your floor and keep your rides smooth
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 and tears. In addition to preventing damage, a mat can also help provide extra stability for the bike and absorb its vibrations and noises, which is great for people in shared living spaces or apartments with thin walls.
Amazon reviewers love the CyclingDeal mat, which, at 30 inches by 60 inches, fits perfectly under most stationary bikes. It’s made of durable PVC that prevents damage and keeps the machine from slipping and comes with two texture options: “soft,” which is best for hard floors, and “high-density,” which is best for carpets. Get the CyclingDeal Bicycle Trainer Mat from Amazon for $48.98
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 just use baby wipes or other gentle vinegar-based wipes to clean up without risking damage to the paint.
If it’s a shared bike, 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—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.
- Get Scotch Brite 3-in-1 Cleaning Microfiber Cleaning Cloth from Target for $2.99
- Get Cleansmart Disinfectant Spray 2-Pack from Amazon for $12.99
- Get Up&Up Fragrance Free Baby Wipes from Target for $12.95
- Get Windex Electronics Wipes from Target for $5.19
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.
Get the Brita Premium Filtering Water Bottle from Amazon for $24.99
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 into your routine. A full set of dumbbells is great, but can be costly and take up a lot of space. For a space-friendly and not-so-costly solution, consider a set of resistance bands. This one, from LetsFit, costs less than $20 and can help strengthen glutes, arms, core, hamstrings, and more, and 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. This set from PowerBlock switches from 3 to 24 pounds in 3-pound increments with an easy-to-use selector pin, making any kind of strength training accessible.
- Get LetsFit Resistance Bands Set from Amazon for $19.95
- Get PowerBlock Sport24 Adjustable Dumbbells from Amazon for $3489.95
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 bad 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 Saucony’s no-show running socks, which have thicker woven support on the heel and toe to prevent blisters and mesh on the top to promote airflow.
- Get Smartwool Men’s UL Cycling Socks from REI for $16.95
- Get Smartwool Women’s UL Cycling Socks from REI for $16.95
- Get Saucony No-Show Inferno Running Socks 3-pack from Amazon for $16
11. A yoga mat to keep your joints happy while stretching it out
Yoga has a lot 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.
- Get The Reversible Mat from Lululemon for $68
- Get the Amazon Basics Extra-Thick Exercise Mat from Amazon for $19.49
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.
Get the Original Stretch-Out Strap by OPTP from Amazon for $15.95
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 and also avoid overexertion. And some connected bike’s 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.
Get the Polar Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap from Amazon for $84.09
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 up for the 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 you sweat in—you can feel justified in buying 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.
- Shop men’s and women’s activewear at Nordstrom
- Shop men’s and women’s activewear at Old Navy
- Shop activewear at Lululemon
- Shop activewear at Outdoor Voices
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 the class. Prevent that mid-class 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.
- Get the Buff Original Multifunctional Headwear Gaiter from REI for $20
- Get the Vgogfly Running Headband 4-Pack from Amazon for $12.99
Related content feature Here’s everything you need to know before buying an exercise bike feature I’ve owned a Peloton for almost two years—is the pricey bike really worth it?
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.