Here's another option: find a regular bike -- the kind you ride outdoors. Get an indoor trainer for it (lots of sales right now), new ones retail for somewhere between $150 to $300. Don't go too cheap when getting a trainer, though. The rides are not nearly as smooth or consistent as mid-range ones. As a bonus, when you get bored with the cycling inside, you can take the bike outside. Outside is much more pleasant! :)
Don't have a bike? First, go to a bike shop or two and find out what kind of bikes there are and, most importantly, what size bike you need. It's the end of the season, and you might find some deals that fit your budget. If you're on a tight budget, now that you know your size, Craigslist should have a bunch available.
If, after riding on your bike for a while, you find you don't like the saddle, you can replace the saddle pretty easily (in fact, you might be able to swap out seats on cycling machines). It's also much easier to customize the handlebar height, handlebar distance from the seat, seat height, saddle position, etc. The ones at the gym are nice and all, but the handlebars are too far forward for my short little frame. My road bike fits me better -- loose translation: I'll ride longer. And I absolutely LOVE that I can take it outside and do group rides.
You'll also want a little cyclocomputer that tells you your speed and cadence. They can be had for around $35; if you're handy with an iPhone or very new Android (with bidirectional USB support like a Galaxy S3 or S4), you can get a $50 Garmin cadence/speed sensor and use your cell phone to view (and record) your workout.
If you get tired of it, it's pretty easy to sell the bike and trainer separately, since bikes can be used for transportation, and budget-minded cyclists/triathletes are always looking for used gear.
It may not be what you, TACDGB, are looking for. But others reading might realize there's a bike in their garage that they can use for the price of a trainer and cyclocomputer.
| Pounds lost: 23.0