Recumbent Exercise Bikes – Effective, Comfortable and Safe Workouts

It might come as a surprise that recumbent exercise bikes are liked by seasoned athletes as well as people with sedentary lifestyles. Might you be a potential fan of the seated bike? If you don’t like the discomfort of an upright stationary cycle, the recumbent just may be the solution to your cardio workout needs.

These bikes are very effective, compact in size, and are less likely to break down over time than other machines.

Like uprights, most recumbent bikes are based on magnetic flywheels that are very quiet, and they have electronic displays to show feedback on your workout stats.

What are the Benefits of a Recumbent Exercise Bike?

Recumbent Exercise Bikes - Life Fitness Club Series + 2021 Model

There are numerous benefits and advantages to the recumbent bike vs an upright.  

Let's take a look at a few of them...

In addition to the comfort and safety of the design overall, here are some other pluses:

  • Most come with a wide, comfortable bucket seat and a padded backrest for lumbar support, as opposed to the smaller seat on most uprights.
  • Seniors often prefer them for the safety. Recumbent stationary bikes are lower to the floor with the legs comfortably stretched out front. The pedals are located under and at the back of the console post.
  • Overweight individuals are more comfortable on recumbent bikes than trying to maintain balance on uprights.
  • Compare Recumbent Exercise Bikes at Amazon

  • By using a bike of the proper size, the workouts should be pain-free with no stress on the knees or hips. There is little pressure on the joints due to the design of these bikes.
  • Recumbent exercise bikes offer good anatomical positioning! Riders on uprights tend to hunch over the handlebars due to either boredom or distraction. This bad posture places strain on the back.
  • You still get pre-programmed workouts offer a challenge and change from a manual pedaling routine.
  • Your hands are free to hold a book or to press a set of hand weights or dumbbells to get an upper body workout.
  • There is still a wide range of resistance from zero and up to simulate uphill pedaling.
  • Pedaling while seated might look easy, but it can be made to be very challenging – hitting different leg muscles using different programs and settings.

Any Drawbacks to the Recumbent Bike?

Sole R92 Seated Reclining Bike

Everything has its disadvantages, and the drawbacks are definitely worth considering if you're trying to choose between a recumbent and an upright exercise bike.

Let's take a look at some of them here....

  • Recumbent bikes tend to be slightly higher priced than their upright exercise bike counterparts, depending on the features and resistance mechanism.
  • You can't really simulate that on-road experience like you can on an upright, as you can't elevate yourself off the seat.
  • They tend to be a bit bulkier than uprights, taking up more room and weighing a bit more.  So that's certainly a consideration, especially if space is limited in your home gym.
  • You're targeting leg muscles more, as opposed to a full body workout on an upright, including core engagement

So you can expect to pay a little more for that added comfort and it might take up a little more room, but usually not enough to make a real difference.  It's less of a real outdoor ride, and engages less of your arms and upper body muscles than an upright does.

Which Should You Choose?

At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference.  Some people love the fact that they can get a good cardio workout in while being seated and minimizing impact on their back and joints.

Other people prefer to be in the same position they would be on an outdoor bike, with the ability to rise up and train harder if they want to.

There's no right or wrong decision when it comes to the recumbent bike vs the upright bike...both have their pros and cons, and you need to weigh them to decide what works best for you.

If you are elderly, suffer from back pain, looking to rehab an injury, etc. the recumbent exercise bike is probably the better option for you.  You can always grab some hand weights while you pedal to engage your upper body muscles more.  They are definitely more comfortable and reduce stress on the back and hips, which is key for many people.

Who Makes the Best Recumbent Bikes?

There are a number of manufacturers out there to choose from, at various price points.  You can check out our expert's Best Recumbent Bikes here, which breaks it down by price so you can find one that fits your budget.

Entry Level Recumbents

In the entry level market you have names like Schwinn, Nautilus, ProForm and NordicTrack, ranging in price from about $400 to $700.  These bikes are good for light use, rehab, elderly...they are ideal for those who are just starting out and want to get into shape, burn some calories and tone up the muscles in the lower body.

Mid Range Recumbents

In the mid-range market you have names like Diamondback, Horizon and Sole, ranging in price from about $700 to $1000.  These bikes are a higher grade than the entry level models, with more comforts, programming, more durable construction and better design.

Club Quality Recumbents

Moving up to the commercial-grade recumbent exercise bike market you're looking at top brands like Precor and Life Fitness.  These bikes are similar to the ones you'll find at your health club, built to last, able to handle heavier workouts with minimal maintenance required.  If you want something that will last forever, these are the ones you'll want to pick.

So those are the top brands in all of the different price categories, which should give you a good jumping off point to narrow down your choices.  All of these companies have been making recumbent exercise bikes and uprights as well for years, so you know you're getting a good product.

If you can stretch your budget and get one of the mid-range or higher end bikes you'll be a lot happier with your purchase.  However, if your budget is tight, by all means go for one of the entry level models.  They are perfectly fine for light daily workouts.

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