Comparing The Best Recumbent Exercise Bikes

best recumbent exercise bike

If you’re looking to lose weight and improve your fitness with a low-impact, safe cardiovascular exercise, then a recumbent exercise bike is a great option to look into.

Not only does it allow you to quickly start exercising in the comfort of your own home, but it’s also more comfortable than a normal, upright exercise bike as the body is in a more reclined position, providing more back support and less hunching over.

And my favorite thing about recumbent bikes:

They’re so comfortable that I can exercise for longer periods without feeling pain. The bike’s are gentler on the body, which is also great if you’re injured but still want to work out.

There are many recumbent exercise bikes to choose from, and it’s sometimes overwhelming to choose the one that’s right for your needs. That’s the reason I created this guide, so let’s start with my top picks:

  NameProduct dimensionsWeightRating 
Best Overall
Schwinn 27064L x 27W x 50H inches93 pounds4.8/5Check Price
Best Folding
Exerpeutic 400XL33L x 19W x 46H inches43 pounds4.7/5Check Price
Best Budget
Marcy ME-70955.5L x 25W x 37.5H inches60 pounds4.5/5Check Price
Best Quality
Sole Fitness LCR57L x 30W x 50H inches157 pounds4.5/5Check Price
Cross Trainer
Nustep TRS 400060L x 28W x 43H inches205 pounds4.5/5Check Price
I

n this extensive guide I will help you decide on the best recumbent exercise bike for your needs. We tested 15 of the top recumbent bikes on the market and ended up covering 8 of our absolute favorite ones in this guide.

Below the reviews you’ll find a detailed buyer’s guide where I attempt to answer any questions you might have before choosing a bike.

Let’s begin:

Best Recumbent Bike

Recumbent Exercise Bike Comparison Chart

schwin
Best Overall!

Schwinn 270

  • 4.8/5 Rating
  • 64L x 27W x 50H inches
  • 93 pounds
  • No foldable
schwin

Recommendation

In our opinion, the best overall recumbent exercise bike is the Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike. Easy to set up, incredibly quiet, pre-set with a broad range of 29 programs and fitting into a mid-range price bracket, this bike represents great value for money.

Our Rating: 4.8/5

TECH SPECS

Product dimensions
64L x 27W x 50H inches
Weight
93 pounds
Foldable
No
Hand pulse sensors
No
Weight capacity
300 pounds

Schwinn 270

Who Should Buy

We found this bike so easy to assemble and use that we’re sure that it would be suitable for anyone of any age. The seat slider has a long reach to suit lots of different people, including children and those under 5 feet tall. However, at the other end of the spectrum, if you’re taller than 6 feet this might prove to be just a stretch too close to be comfortable.Click here for the Schwinn 270

Review

For a recumbent exercise bike which sits at the low to mid end of the price range, the Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike comes with a pretty broad range of features and added extras which left us wanting for nothing.

Getting started is easy. Assembly is required, but all the tools are included and the instructions are pretty clear. It took us just over an hour to get the whole unit set up and ready to ride.

Once you get going, you’ll be astonished at how quiet this bike is to use. There is no motor or loud flywheel: simply some magnets which keep the whole system working. This makes it almost noiseless, which is great if you want to listen to music, watch TV or even have a conversation while you exercise. The noise from your entertainment won’t have to compete with the sound of the bike.

However, we were frustrated by the fact that although the volume of this recumbent bike lends itself to using electronic entertainment while you exercise, the design isn’t anywhere near as practical. The LCD display screen (which, incidentally, is brighter than we found comfortable first thing in the morning) rises up pretty high, which gets in the way if you want to watch a wall-mounted TV screen. Alternatively, if you choose to place a tablet on the media shelf, it actually blocks the display screen itself. This is ok if you don’t want to be reminded how long you have left, but it’s frustrating if you want to keep track of your program at the same time.

Putting the entertainment features to one side, this recumbent bike is actually great when it comes down to the serious work of exercise. It has 29 different programs already installed, which is more than most casual users would ever need. These can all be set to run over different lengths of the time, so you can take a leisurely pace if you have time, or speed through exactly the same routine in just a few minutes. You can also adjust the level of resistance between 25 different settings depending on how fit (and brave) you’re feeling at the time.

All workout sessions can be downloaded to a USB or synched with various apps, including the Schwinn Trainer app which accompanies the bike, or the ever-popular My Fitness Friend.

We found the heart rate monitor to be a little inaccurate and unreliable. It takes a while to warm up (don’t expect an accurate reading within the first 10 minutes of your exercise) and even once you get going, you may still see the occasional blip. However, unless you’re going for some serious cardio monitoring (in which case you’ll probably want an external heart monitor anyway) this minor frustration isn’t enough to knock the Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike (MY17) off our top spot.

Pros
  • Very quiet
  • 25 resistance levels
  • 29 pre-set programs which you can set to run over different lengths of time
  • Exercise sessions can be downloaded onto USB or synched with various apps, including a corresponding app from Schwinn
Cons
  • Seat doesn’t slide far enough back to be comfortable for people over 6 feet tall
  • Impractical placement of the LCD display – either blocked by a device in the media tray, or blocking a separate wall-mounted TV
  • Heart rate monitor is unreliable
schwin back
schwin chair
schwin front
schwin monitor
exerpeutic 400x
Best Folding!

Exerpeutic 400XL

  • 4.7/5 Rating
  • 33L x 19W x 46H inches
  • 43 pounds
  • Yes foldable
exerpeutic 400x

Recommendation

Our recommendation for the best folding exercise bike on the market is the Exerpeutic 400XL. The seat is designed to be semi-recumbent, so it is fitted in a slightly more upright position. This gives all the comfort of a recumbent bike with the serious workout of a traditional upright exercise bike. The Exerpeutic 400XL is inexpensive, but don’t expect to be let off lightly: the higher tension settings present a really challenging workout.

Our Rating: 4.7/5

TECH SPECS

Product dimensions
33L x 19W x 46H inches
Weight
43 pounds
Foldable
Yes
Hand pulse sensors
Yes
Weight capacity
300 pounds

Exerpeutic 400XL

Who Should Buy

The fact that this recumbent exercise bike folds down to around half its size for storage makes it perfect for anyone who wants to workout at home, but without all the living and storage space to keep full-size exercise equipment. The semi-recumbent chair design and the 8 challenging tension levels also make it a great bridge between gentle home exercise and tough gym workouts – a great compromise if you’re recovering from injury or trying to keep up your fitness during winter months.Click here for the Exerpeutic 400XL

Review

Considering that this folding recumbent exercise bike is significantly cheaper than $200, we were really impressed at the speed of the assembly and the overall build quality. All the tools which you need are included, so setup can be done in less than an hour. The assembly instructions look quite complicated and intimidating at a first glance, but we found the whole process to be far simpler than it first appears!

Once set up, the Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike feels very stable to use, even if you’re near the upper weight limit of 300 lbs. The seat, while comfortable, is a little smaller than we would have liked for a semi-recumbent position. If you find that it rubs against your thighs, have a play around with yoga blocks and cushions as there are plenty of simple adaptations which can make the whole design more comfortable.

Despite its compact size, folding design and low price tag, we were really impressed at the workout that this recumbent bike delivered. It comes with 8 different tension settings: number 1 offers a surprising amount of resistance, and as soon as you start reaching level 5 and above, the level of resistance becomes a real challenge. You are guaranteed to break a sweat!

Like the Schwinn 270 (MY17), the Exerpeutic 400XL is incredibly quiet to use. Whether you’re 5 feet 2 inches or 6 feet 2 inches tall, you can pedal while you watch TV, use the phone, or even do some work. The front handle bars don’t have to be connected, so simply fit this bike in front of a standing desk and you can exercise while you work.

When you’ve finished working out, this exercise bike can be folded and away and stored quickly and simply. It folds down to around half its original size, so you should be able to fit it in a cupboard. Wheels are fitted to the base to make it easy to move, but we found that these struggled on thicker carpets. However, at 43 pounds, the bike is light enough to be picked up and transported if you don’t have hard floors.

Pros
  • Semi-recumbent seat combines the fitness benefits of a recumbent bike with the workout of an upright exercise bike
  • Folds down to half its size for easy transportation and storage
  • 8 tension settings give a challenging workout
  • Can be used in front of a standing desk if the front handlebar is removed
Cons
  • Seat is slightly small for its position
  • Wheels don’t run smoothly over carpet
exerpeutic 400xl seat
exerpeutic 400xl time
exerpeutic 400xl front
exerpeutic 400xl engine
marcy
Best Budget!

Marcy ME-709

  • 4.5/5 Rating
  • 55.5L x 25W x 37.5H inches
  • 60 pounds
  • No foldable
marcy

Recommendation

If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, the best budget exercise bike is the Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike with Resistance ME-709. In terms of maximum weight capacity and functionality it’s comparable to the Exerpeutic 400XL folding recumbent exercise bike, but here the build quality and flexibility gives you even better value for money in exchange for the folding feature.

Our Rating: 4.5/5

TECH SPECS

Product dimensions
55.5L x 25W x 37.5H inches
Weight
60 pounds
Foldable
No
Hand pulse sensors
No
Weight capacity
300 pounds

Marcy ME-709

Who Should Buy

If you’re looking to cut back on gym fees without giving up exercise altogether, this budget recumbent exercise bike is a great option. It doesn’t offer as much in the way of high spec features, settings and adjustments as more expensive bikes, but if you don’t mind the basic functionality then the Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike ME-709 still offers a satisfying workout.Click here for the Marcy ME-709

Review

Considering that it doesn’t fold down, the Marcy ME-709 is a pretty compact recumbent exercise bike. A sensible option for those with a limited amount of space in which to exercise, it’s smaller than the Schwinn 270 (MY17), although it isn’t quite as small as the folding Exerpeutic 400XL.

It might be small, but this recumbent exercise bike is really well built. In fact, its steel construction feels like something that we’d expect from a more expensive design, and we’re confident that it could stand up to considerable use.

Like the Exerpeutic 400XL, the Marcy ME-709 comes with 8 levels of resistance. It’s easy to switch between these by turning a dial. For the price, you’ll get a great workout from this bike, but if you’re looking for serious cycling training or dozens of pre-set workouts you’ll have to make a bigger investment. Nevertheless, you’ll still get a certain amount of flexibility and versatility: unlike some home exercise bikes the pedals allow you to cycle forwards or backwards, and you lean forwards to use the handlebars like a normal bike, or sit back in comfort.

The screen is only a simple digital display unit, but it can show your speed, distance travelled, the length of time you’ve spent exercising, and an approximation of the number of calories you’ve burned. The bike isn’t fitted with heart sensors so the screen won’t show your heart rate, but it is larger and easier to read than the Exerpeutic 400XL.

The only annoying factor that we found with this exercise bike was during the assembly. One the whole, setting up the bike was easy, but the most difficult came when trying to connect the computer wire. If you let go of the wire before you’re ready, it can fall down inside the tube, and getting it back out again is a challenge in itself.

Pros
  • Compact, sturdy, well built design
  • Inexpensive (under $150)
  • Fitted with an easy-to-read display screen
  • Versatile: you can pedal forwards or backwards, and sit reclining or lean forwards to hold the handles like on a traditional bike
Cons
  • Doesn’t have as many features or settings as more expensive bikes
  • Can be difficult to connect the computer wire during assembly
  • Does not come fitted with heart sensors
marcy
marcy side
marcy details
sole
Best Quality!

Sole Fitness LCR

  • 4.5/5 Rating
  • 57L x 30W x 50H inches
  • 157 pounds
  • No foldable
sole

Recommendation

With an incredible 40 different resistance levels to choose from, the Sole Fitness LCR Recumbent Bike blows the Exerpeutic 400XL and the Marcy ME-709 out of the water. In addition, easily supporting as much as 350 pounds, this is the only one of our recumbent exercise bike reviews that has a maximum weight limit above the 300 pound mark. Add in super tough, durable steel and aluminium construction, and this is an easy winner for of our best quality recumbent exercise bike crown.

Our Rating: 4.5/5

TECH SPECS

Product dimensions
57L x 30W x 50H inches
Weight
157 pounds
Foldable
No
Hand pulse sensors
Yes
Weight capacity
350 pounds

Sole Fitness LCR

Who Should Buy

The Sole Fitness LCR Recumbent Exercise Bike has been designed for light commercial use, so if you’re buying for your hotel, apartment or school gym, this could be the model for you. It’s highly adjustable – not to mention comfortable – so it’s suitable for use by many different people on a regular basis. Alternatively, this is also a fantastic option to choose if you’re looking for a gym standard exercise bike for your own personal use at home.Click here for the Sole Fitness LCR

Review

One of the features of the Sole Fitness LCR that we love the most is that when it comes to power, it’s entirely self-generating. Unlike cheaper models like the Exerpeutic 400XL (which runs on AA batteries), you don’t need any external power source. Not having to hook this bike up to any electricity source, generator or battery means that you can put this bike anywhere. Of course, there’s the added bonus that if you do use it for commercial use, you won’t rack up sky-high energy bills, regardless of how much it’s used.

This recumbent exercise bike does have the build quality to stand up to rigorous, continuous use. It’s made from super strong steel and aluminium tubing, so it feels sturdy and stable at all times – even if you’re 6 feet 5 inches tall and 350 pounds in weight! It’s strong enough to present a fitness challenge to all users, with an impressive 40 different resistance levels to choose from. We pushed ourselves to the mid-30s and still found the workout to be pretty intense. This bike isn’t cheap, but you get what you pay for, including a smoother and quieter ride than we’ve experienced elsewhere.

Aside from the unrivalled quality, versatility and the fantastic workout offered by this recumbent exercise bike, it also has a great range of extra features which all help to enhance the overall exercise experience. This includes a built-in fan to keep you comfortable, a water bottle holder, space for your smartphone. In addition, the LCD screen measures 9 inches, so although this makes it easy to see your statistics, it does obscure the view if you want to look at anything beyond the exercise bike.

Pros
  • Highest maximum weight limit (350 pounds)
  • Suitable for light commercial use by people of all ages, heights and abilities
  • Self-generating: does not require any external power source
  • Comes with a wide range of extra features, including a water bottle holder, built-in fan, 9-inch LCD screen and MP3 functionality
Cons
  • Expensive (over $1500)
  • LCD display screen obscures the view of anything behind it
sole
sole back
sole panel
sole side full
nustep side
Cross Trainer!

Nustep TRS 4000

  • 4.5/5 Rating
  • 60L x 28W x 43H inches
  • 205 pounds
  • No foldable
nustep side

Recommendation

Our recommendation for the best cross trainer is the Nustep TRS 4000 Recumbent Cross Trainer. When in use, the motion required is somewhere between recumbent stepping and pedalling, but it’s incredibly smooth and comfortable. We believe this to such an extent that we don’t just think it’s good for the physically fit who want a tough workout: it’s ideal for anyone wanting to use exercise as a means of recuperation, too.

Our Rating: 4.5/5

TECH SPECS

Product dimensions
60L x 28W x 43H inches
Weight
205 pounds
Foldable
No
Hand pulse sensors
No
Weight capacity
300 pounds

Nustep TRS 4000

Who Should Buy

Featuring a large, super comfortable, ergonomically-designed seat, an exceptionally smooth motion and a design that supports and relaxes the entire body, this recumbent exercise bike is perfect if you’re going through rehab after an injury. Its combination of comfort, adaptability and 10 tension settings offer a great workout without putting strain on the joints at the same time. However, it’s by far the most expensive of our exercise bike reviews, so it’s probably out of reach unless you’re buying for a commercial setting or looking for a long-term investment.Click here for the Nustep TRS 4000

Review

Unlike many of other recumbent exercise bikes, the Nustep TRS 4000 Recumbent Cross Trainer doesn’t require a household electricity source to run. This means a neat and tidy living space with no trailing wires, and an exercise bike that can be placed anywhere in the house. The large display is easy to read, and it only needs battery power to run, so there’s no need to keep moving it nearer to a plug point every time you want to exercise.

That’s just one of the things that makes the Nustep TRS 4000 great for people recovering from injury or needing rehabilitation. It couldn’t be easier to get on and off the bike as the seat swivels, so you don’t need to worry about lifting your legs too high or twisting awkwardly to get into position. The seat is large and incredibly comfortable – providing impressive support for the lower back – and the pedalling motion is so smooth and easy that it doesn’t strain the ankles and knees as much as upright exercise bikes. The seat can be adjusted anywhere within a range of 15 inches, so it’s been designed to be comfortable, suitable and safe for almost everyone.

We were both surprised and impressed at how easy this bike makes exercise. It required no assembly, practically no ongoing maintenance, and it runs so quietly that most of the time we forgot that it was around if it was being used by someone else in the same room. Plus, for anyone actually using the bike, the inbuilt bottle holder and reading rack make it easy to distract yourself from the exercise and rehabilitation at hand!

Pros
  • Designed to help with recovery from injury
  • Includes a large, very comfortable swivel seat for easy mounting and dismounting
  • Does not require electricity to run, only battery power
  • Very quiet to run
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Does not include hand pulse sensors
nustep side
nustep front
nustep panel
schwinn 230
Schwinn 230
  • 4.1/5 Rating
  • 64L x 27W x 50H inches
  • 80 pounds
  • No foldable
schwinn 230

Recommendation

The lower-spec brother of the Schwinn 270 (MY17), the Schwinn 230 Recumbent Bike still makes a great choice for anyone looking for a gym-quality bike for home use. It doesn’t have as many settings or as many levels of resistance as the 270, but it can still connect to the same fitness apps for easy monitoring of performance. The Schwinn 230 does come with a lower price tag, so it’s a more than adequate option for all but the most serious exercise buffs.

Our Rating: 4.1/5

TECH SPECS

Product dimensions
64L x 27W x 50H inches
Weight
80 pounds
Foldable
No
Hand pulse sensors
Yes
Weight capacity
300 pounds

Schwinn 230

Who Should Buy

At a little over $300, the Schwinn 230 is well positioned for those who take their exercise seriously, but who can’t afford the most expensive bikes. In terms of noise levels and smoothness of movement, this bike rivals those found in commercial gym settings, so if you want to take some of the features that you find in gym bikes and transfer them to your home for personal use, this could be the bike for you.Click here for the Schwinn 230

Review

The Schwinn 230 has 22 pre-set programs (including 2 custom programs) and 20 different resistance levels to choose from, offering less choice than the Schwinn 270. However, we didn’t feel like this exercise bike limited us in any way. There is still more than enough variety to make workouts interesting, and the higher levels of resistance still posed a significant challenge. Unless you’re a serious fitness fanatic or a very keen cyclist, you probably won’t miss having the extra settings.

As with the Schwinn 270, the Schwinn 230 features a USB point and the ability to upload workout and fitness statistics to apps and websites such as SchwinnConnect and MyFitnessPal. We were both pleased and impressed that this model didn’t lose this functionality with its lower price tag.

The seat might be large and vented to keep you cool and comfortable, but we didn’t find that it was as soft or cushioned as the Schwinn 270. However, this model does come with a fan which has three different speed settings. Inbuilt fans on exercise bikes have a reputation for being weak and ineffective, but the fan on the Schwinn 230 was one of the best that we’ve ever come across.

The display, while simpler than previous models of this bike, does block the TV or anything else that’s positioned behind the exercise bike. However, Schwinn have made up for this with the 230 by creating some awesome speakers that blast out some powerful sound when you hook up your exercise playlist.

Pros
  • Cheap (under $400)
  • Offers a gym-quality experience in terms of sound and motion
  • Features app, USB and music connectivity, with powerful speakers
  • Includes the best inbuilt fan of all our recumbent exercise bike reviews
Cons
  • Fewer programs and levels of resistance than the Schwinn 270
  • Less comfortable than the Schwinn 270
schwinn 230 back
schwinn 230 side
schwinn 230 monitor
schwinn 230 profile
exerpeutic
Exerpeutic 900XL
  • 4.0/5 Rating
  • 54L x 22W x 34H inches
  • 63 pounds
  • No foldable
exerpeutic

Recommendation

The Exerpeutic 900XL Recumbent exercise bike is all about simple, no-fuss exercise. At a whisker over $100, this is one of the cheapest models we’ve reviewed, opening up exercise to everyone. This does mean that it has a limited number of added features and tension settings when compared to more expensive bikes, but in return it couldn’t be simpler to set up or use.

Our Rating: 4.0/5

TECH SPECS

Product dimensions
54L x 22W x 34H inches
Weight
63 pounds
Foldable
No
Hand pulse sensors
Yes
Weight capacity
300 pounds

Exerpeutic 900XL

Who Should Buy

Its low price tag makes the Exerpeutic 900XL a great buy for newcomers to the world of exercise, families with a small budget, or anyone who wants to get a feel for recumbent exercise bikes before splashing out on a more advanced design. However, if you’re looking for a high number of tension settings, pre-set programs and added extras, you won’t find them with this simple model.Click here for the Exerpeutic 900XL

Review

This recumbent exercise bike couldn’t be simpler to use. There are no pre-set programs and no fancy computerized settings to choose, so while this isn’t great if you like technology to lead your workout, it does make life simple. To use, simply get on the bike and start pedalling: the LCD computer starts up automatically.

The screen is easy to read, and it monitors everything from distance pedalled to calories burned. There are even hand pulse sensors for tracking heart rate – a nice feature which is conspicuously absent on many other models we’ve reviewed, such as the Nustep TRS 4000, the Marcy ME-709 and the Schwinn 270.

With 8 tension settings to choose from, the Exerpeutic 900XL offers no less variety than the Exerpeutic 400XL, which we reviewed earlier. While this can’t rival the high, commercial standard heights of more expensive models from Schwinn and Sole Fitness, it’s still more than enough for most home gyms. In fact, we were impressed by the challenge presented by some of the higher settings – we definitely didn’t feel like we received any less of a workout.

This bike is both adjustable and comfortable. The seat and pedals are large, so it’s easy to use – whatever your size. The seat can be adjusted to suit users of different heights (ranging from just over 5 feet tall to 6 feet 6 inches), but the bolts need to be tightened with each adjustment. This does make it a hassle when switching between users, but this shouldn’t be a problem if you expect to be the sole user.

Our main disappointment for a recumbent exercise bike of this price is that no tablet, smartphone or document holder is included as standard. Although this was an inconvenience when it came to storing or using our devices, it did eliminate the high obstruction that so many exercise bike tablet holders create!

Pros
  • Inexpensive (under $150)
  • Very easy to assemble
  • Computer starts up automatically when you begin pedalling
  • Comfortable and adjustable for users of different heights
Cons
  • No tablet, smartphone or document holder included
  • Does not have any pre-set programs
exerpeutic handle
exerpeutic 900 clock
exerpeutic 900 front
exerpeutic 900 foot hold
diamondback
Diamondback 510SR
  • 3.8/5 Rating
  • 64L x 23W x 50H inches
  • 125 pounds
  • No foldable
diamondback

Recommendation

Overall, the Diamondback 510ST Fitness Recumbent Bike offers some seriously impressive features for its mid-range price tag. It doesn’t have as many pre-set programs or resistance levels as some of the other models we’ve reviewed, but it’s super flexible in terms of levels of adjustment. This bike does provide a good, challenging workout, but it also comes with a unique range of added extras which make it really appealing – as well as value for money.

Our Rating: 3.8/5

TECH SPECS

Product dimensions
64L x 23W x 50H inches
Weight
125 pounds
Foldable
No
Hand pulse sensors
Yes
Weight capacity
300 pounds

Diamondback 510SR

Who Should Buy

The adjustment possibilities and practicalities when it comes to cleaning make the Diamondback 510ST a smart choice if you’re looking to buy for a commercial setting or an environment where the users will be changing constantly. At the same time, the tilt-down display, the headphone jack and the inbuilt speakers also make it suitable for home use.Click here for the Diamondback 510SR

Review

Getting started with the Diamondback 510ST Fitness Recumbent Bike takes a few hours, but once it’s set up this design has a seemingly endless range of settings which can be adjusted to make it comfortable for almost every user. This includes the ventilated seat (the back of which can be removed for easy cleaning – handy if there’s a build-up of grime from various users), the armrest, and even the console is adjustable.

The display screen itself is very bright and easy to read, although we were frustrated to find that it can’t be switched off. However, this problem is easily overcome as Diamondback have designed the screen so that it can be tilted down. This is a feature which many of the other models (both Schwinn exercise bikes included) have been crying out for, so if watching television while you exercise is important to you, you’ll be pleased to have this option.

Entertainment functionality aside, we found that the workout was surprisingly challenging. With 20 pre-set programs to choose from and 16 levels of resistance, it doesn’t have as much variety as some expensive models, but it does have more than that offered by Exerpeutic. For a bike of this price, it would have been nice to have some even higher resistance settings thrown into the mix, but that doesn’t mean the highest settings provided are easy. They will still test and improve your strength and stamina.

If you’re particularly keen to track and monitor your progress within each workout session, you may become irritated by one peculiarity of this design. It does not have an option to pause the workout, so if you stop pedalling for more than 15 seconds, all the settings reset to zero. This might be efficient in a commercial gym, but if you’re a home user who pauses to have a drink of water, answer the phone or grab the TV remote, monitoring long workouts can be frustrating.

Pros
  • Easily adjustable to suit different users
  • Back rest can be removed for easy cleaning
  • Display screen can be folded down
Cons
  • Brightly lit LCD screen cannot be switched off
  • No option to pause the workout
diamonback seat
diamondback back
diamondback front
diamondback monitor

How To Choose The Best Recumbent Exercise Bike

The Definitive Buyer’s Guide

recumbent exercise bike buyers guide

What Is A Recumbent Exercise Bike?

A recumbent exercise bike is similar to an upright exercise bike in that it features a seat cushion and pedals to replicate cycling, but here the seat is designed in a reclining position. The legs extend to the front, eliminating the need to reach forward to grab the handles as with traditional, upright exercise bikes.

What Is A Recumbent Exercise Bike Good For?

Due to the facts that you don’t have to reach forward to grab the handles and that the pedals are positioned so far forwards, the riding position is very comfortable. Upright exercise bikes can be associated with lower back, leg and ankle strain, but the reclining position of recumbent exercise bikes dramatically reduces this strain. Aside from making this a comfortable way to exercise, it also provides an opportunity to exercise and build up strength safely for anyone recovering from injury.

A Recumbent Exercise Bike Vs An Upright Exercise Bike

The frames of upright and recumbent exercise bikes are designed completely differently. Upright exercise bikes are usually shorter front-to-back than recumbent bikes, so the user tends to sit on top of the frame. With recumbent bikes, the frame is much longer, so the user sits in more of a reclining position, with the legs extending forwards.

As a result of this difference in position, recumbent exercise bikes are designed with back rests. These provide support for the lower back and allow the user to exercise in a comfortable position, without being hunched over as with upright bikes.

Similarly, the seat cushions on upright bikes are usually smaller than on recumbent bikes – much like those on normal bicycles. This can make exercising on upright bikes uncomfortable – and even painful – when done for long periods. As the seat cushions on recumbent bikes are usually larger, they tend to be more comfortable.

In terms of the type of workout which the two bikes offer, recumbent bikes are much gentler on the body. This makes them well suited to people with neurological conditions, people recovering from injury, or those with back and leg problems. For these people, recumbent exercise bikes provide a safe way to exercise.

Upright exercise bikes, on the other hand, are much better for simulating exercise on a normal outdoor bike. The position is almost exactly the same and training uses the same muscles, so upright bikes are better suited to anyone wanting to practice outdoor riding techniques indoors.

How To Choose A Recumbent Exercise Bike

The first step when choosing a recumbent exercise bike is deciding how much room you have for use and storage. Recumbent exercise bikes are usually longer than upright exercise bikes, so you may have to factor in a little extra space than you first expect. However, if you’re tight
on space and you don’t need the bike to be up all the time, you might want to think about looking for a design that can fold away for easy storage.

You should also give some thought to how many people are likely to use your recumbent exercise bike. If you will be the only user then you can opt for a design where the seat and settings can be fixed in place, but adjustment should be an important factor if your bike will be used by different people. The ability to adjust the seat helps to make the workout comfortable and safe. Most models allow you to slide the seat backwards and forwards (typically suiting people between roughly 5’3” and 6’6” tall), but some bikes allow you to adjust the height of the seat and the handlebars, too.

The next step in choosing the best recumbent bike is deciding what you want to achieve from your workout. If you’re choosing a recumbent exercise bike for a hobby or for some light, occasional exercise, you can probably get away with a simple, inexpensive option. However, if you want to use the bike to train hard and seriously improve your fitness, you should invest in one which allows you to track your fitness goals.

This is part of the inbuilt computer, which usually monitors things such as time spent exercising, distance pedalled, calories burned and heart rate (if your bike has hand heart rate sensors). Not every bike monitors the same information, so if one of these categories is particularly important to you, check the product specs.

Also, if you use an external fitness app, website or your own spreadsheet for tracking your workouts, it will save you a lot of time and confusion if you’re able to transfer your exercise data straight from the bike to the app. Some brands – such as Schwinn – have their own fitness tracking app. Others use Bluetooth to upload data to apps, but some rely on downloading data to a USB first, then transferring it to your fitness tracking platform of choice via a computer. In general, the more you pay, the easier it is to monitor your exercise progress, but look closely at the details of what’s included with each bike.

Many recumbent exercise bikes come pre-set with a series of programs which automatically adjust the tension at various intervals, simulating anything from a long, gradual incline to pedalling over many steep hills. These are not a crucial part of an exercise bike, but they do present a challenge which is difficult to replicate just with your own willpower. If you’re buying for gentle, occasional use then you don’t need to place much importance on the pre- set programs, but if you’re serious about your exercise then you’ll find these to be hugely beneficial.

Arguably of more importance should be the levels of resistance offered by the bike. These – also known as the tension settings – define how easy, how difficult or how heavy it feels to pedal. Most recumbent exercise bikes come with a variety of different tension settings which can easily be adjusted by turning a knob. Remember that a high number of resistance levels doesn’t necessarily mean a more challenging workout: it could just mean switching between tensions at smaller intervals. That said, we would recommend looking for an exercise bike with a minimum of around 8 to 10 different tension settings.

Although it’s not a part of the workout process, you should also give some attention to the assembly of the exercise bike, too. You might be lucky and find a design which requires little or no assembly, but most require a few hours of your time. If you’re not handy, either choose a simpler model or find someone to help!

Finally, when you’re choosing the right recumbent exercise bike for you, you should see whether any other features are included as standard. At a basic level, this might be a water bottle holder or a multi-speed fan, but advanced features might include a smartphone or tablet holder, or even powerful speakers, through which you can play your music.

What Is A Recumbent Bike Used For?

A recumbent bike is used for improving fitness and building strength, particularly in the legs. It can be used by athletes, beginners or regular gym- goers to provide a comfortable yet challenging workout. Alternatively, recumbent bikes are used in physical therapy situations to rehabilitate lower body injuries gently and safely.

What Is A Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike?

The flywheel is the large, round piece connected to the pedals which spins as you exercise – and it is this that provides the resistance. A magnetic recumbent exercise bike uses magnets to adjust this level of resistance. As you press the button or turn the knob to adjust the tension, it moves the magnets further away from or closer to the flywheel, making it easier or more difficult to turn. The alternative is a bike which uses an electrical current and a copper coil to create this magnetism and adjust the tension.

What Is The Best Recumbent Exercise Bike To Buy?

The answer to this depends on what is important to you and how much you’re willing to spend. If you don’t mind basic, no-fuss exercise, you can get away with a cheap model, but if you’re serious about your fitness and intend to spend hours on the bike, you’ll want to invest in a more expensive, comfortable model which can track your workout. Our recommendation for the best overall recumbent exercise bike is the Schwinn 270 (MY17), but check out our recumbent exercise bike reviews for some alternative options that could be more suitable for your particular needs.

Features To Look For:

Most recumbent exercise bikes come with a number of different tension settings which you can adjust during use. At the lower end of the scale, 8 tension settings is not uncommon, but this can rise to above 20 different tension settings in more advanced models. Be aware that a greater range of tension settings does not necessarily mean that the bike provides a better or more challenging workout: sometimes all it means is that you can progress between the different levels at smaller intervals.

Many bikes also feature a range of pre-set workout programs, including several which are customizable to your preferences. These are not an essential part of an exercise bike, but keen cyclists and regular users might like the fact that the bike sets a challenge rather than leaving it to your own motivation, power and strength. Some of these workouts can simulate cycling over hilly terrain or pedalling up a gentle incline.

If you expect your recumbent exercise bike to be used by several different people on a regular basis, you should also look for the option to adjust the settings. This is particularly important when it comes to moving the seat backwards, forwards and even up and down, which you’ll need to do if some of the users are noticeably taller than others.

If tracking your workout is important to you, you should also look for the ability to connect your recumbent exercise bikes to a USB, a website or a fitness app to download your data. Some recumbent bikes don’t store data in the onboard computer, in which case transferring it to your own tracking system is essential.

Apart from the fitness features of recumbent exercise bikes, many come with a variety of added extras to make the exercise more entertaining. This can include anything from an inbuilt fan and water bottle holder to help you freshen up, right through to Bluetooth-capable speakers and tablet holders to let you listen to music or watch TV while you work out.

The Bottom Line

With recumbent exercise bikes, you get what you pay for. Higher prices generally bring more comfort and a better range of features, but with some good research and by following our advice, it is possible to pick up some gym-standard equipment for a very reasonable price.

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