Photo credit: Decathlon

Decathlon Domyos 500 Exercise Bike Review: Build Strength and Motivation at Home

The affordable, easy-to-use, low-tech Decathlon Domyos 500 indoor exercise bike motivated me off the couch and closer to the recovery my body needs. Read on to see if it’s right for your home gym setup.

I was stoked when Decathlon reached out to GearJunkie to review the Decathlon Domyos 500 indoor exercise bike. It meant I didn’t have to stumble through a workout in front of strangers while pretending to not gasp for breath. Yeah, I’m in bad shape, and I don’t mind telling you. But this exercise bike is really helping me out.

And at $499 with free shipping, it’s more affordable than competitors like NordicTrack or Peloton. And I really appreciate that. French sporting goods brand Decathlon — purveyor of $4 hiking packs and $7 T-shirts — makes a slew of budget gear for wallet-conscious outdoorspeople.

Decathlon Domyos exercise bike basement
The Decathlon Domyos 500 in the author’s medieval-dungeon-looking basement; photo credit: Alex Kirk

While we’ve tested only a fraction of what the brand offers, its Forclaz jacket did make it into our “The Best Down Jackets of 2021” list, so we know Decathlon’s got some good stuff.

And the same goes for this bike. I love how low-tech it is. It’s exactly what I need, with nothing I don’t need getting in the way. And besides lugging the heavy steel-and-plastic thing into my basement, it was so easy to set up.

You’ll be giving up some features at this price, but if you’re like me, you’ll welcome the straightforward simplicity. But, if you care a lot about bike-driven data during your workouts, this probably isn’t the machine for you.

Decathlon Domyos 500 Bike Review

What I Appreciated

During my review, this indoor bike had a lot more positives than negatives. After 2 weeks of riding, the standouts to me were customization, simple tech that took little to no effort from the user, multiple handlebar grip styles, and affordability.

There are four customization knobs in total: two to adjust the handlebars (one for height and one for horizontal distance from the seat) and two to adjust the seat (one for height and one for horizontal distance from the handlebars). You can even loosen a bolt to change the seat angle. Using these, I was able to get the right fit.

Decathlon Domyos exercise bike handlebars
Photo credit: Decathlon

Again, I love how low-tech the bike is. No fiddling with apps or entering of personal info — just how I like it. I don’t use fitness trackers with data on heart rate and the like; I find them overpriced and overcomplicated. But I could see myself pairing this bike with a no-frills heart-rate monitor worn on my chest.

While riding, the screen shows distance ridden, how long you’ve been riding, current rpm, current speed, calories burned. When you stop, it automatically pauses after a few seconds, then shows average rpm over your ride as well as average speed, along with the rest. Because this is the only data I care about, I was pleased.

The multiple handlebar grip styles really helped me get into the zone. I enjoyed gripping the ones in the middle when I stood up to ride. It made me feel like a time trial racer.

The bike even has an easy-to-reach holder for your water bottle — which my dehydrated body needed a lot during my rides. And the bike also doesn’t take up a ton of space, and you can move it around a room with the help of two plastic wheels on its base in the front.

And it bears repeating: This $499 bike costs one-third to half that of indoor exercise bikes from competing brands. Like, why don’t you have one already?

Drawbacks

And now for a few negatives. The seat isn’t comfortable for long periods of time. I kept having to squeeze my glutes to give my tailbone a break. However, from the looks of the seat, it seems like you could switch it out for a comfier one.

The bike is still a bit wobbly after adjustment of the “stabilizer pads” on the base, but this was on the uneven concrete of my basement floor. On a more level floor, I suspect this wouldn’t be a problem. I even kind of liked the slight wobble because the movement felt more like being on a real bike.

Lastly, some plastic splintered off the bike during shipping, which didn’t affect the bike’s functioning. But I did worry about long-term durability when I saw that, especially if I were to put it in a U-Haul.

A Temporary Setback: Back in the Saddle

I want to be upfront about this: I’m in a long period of mental and physical health recovery, spanning years. I have more bad days than good, and that’s been my norm for a while.

A hard lesson has come my way: that one’s mental and physical health are inextricably linked. Being bedridden from a fear of the world can make it that much harder to get out and explore when you have a good day. All the way up the mountain, your joints pop like popcorn, your atrophied muscles nag you “Are we there yet?”, and your lungs burn.

Decathlon Domyos exericse bike resistance pad
Decathlon Domyos 500 resistance pad; photo credit: Alex Kirk

I’ve been neglecting my body for so long that it seems like a separate person — that it has to scream to get my attention. As soon as I got on the Decathlon bike and began pedaling, my legs awoke. Movement breathed new life into them, and they were excited! A little too excited.

I tightened the leather resistance pad on the 39.7-pound (18kg) flywheel — using the knob on the down tube — and felt my quads and calves sing the Hallelujah chorus.

But here comes the bad news: I overdid it. I bruised my left leg from overexertion while barely breaking a sweat and not feeling tired at all. That’s just where I’m at — and it’s difficult to accept. I could feel the disappointment radiating in my every cell. My body knew it used to be more capable, and it was hungry for its old strength.

But on the bright side, home was the perfect place for this temporary setback. I didn’t have to worry about people in the gym locker room seeing my bruises, or myself seeing people way fitter than me doing way better than me and involuntarily, automatically comparing myself to them. I can repeat “recovery is not linear” until I’m blue in the face, but my brain will do whatever it can to discourage me.

Because I was home, I just walked upstairs, took a day of rest, and got right back in the saddle.

Decathlon Domyos 500: Final Thoughts

Decathlon Domyos exercise bike woman riding
Photo credit: Decathlon

Before Decathlon sent me the Domyos 500, I didn’t know I could afford an exercise bike. Honestly, getting one didn’t even cross my mind. But I’m glad to have had the opportunity to test this one. It’s letting me build up some strength and confidence at home so I can feel and perform better outside on my real bike.

I recommend this exercise bike ($499) for people who don’t want to drop the cash on a NordicTrack or Peloton — and who, like me, also don’t care about full-color touchscreens, online classes, or online interactive personal training.

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