Best Recumbent Exercise Bikes

Recumbent exercise bike buyers guide

Recumbent exercise bikes provide an excellent way to increase leg strength and improve cardiovascular health, especially after having an injury. This is because they are more comfortable and have more stability than the traditional upright exercise bike that we have become so accustomed to. That being said, they can still give you a fantastic workout, regardless of your current fitness level.

A recumbent exercise bike has a larger seat with a wide and high back rest, this helps to reduce the potential stress on your lower back. If you are recovering from surgery or have an injured upper body, they provide a great way to stay in shape without causing further damage. They usually operate in a reclined position which further prevents safety concerns that can be caused by standing up on the pedals of an upright bike.

Recumbent bikes are also helpful for seniors who want to stay active in a safe manner, along with those who are new to exercise and are looking to improve their cardiovascular fitness and overall strength in a low-impact way.

So, what is the best recumbent exercise bike on the market for you? Here we have listed our best recumbent exercise bikes for home use along with a handy guide on what to look for.

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What are the best recumbent exercise bikes?

Here we will take a look at our best recumbent exercise bikes from the hundreds of recumbent exercise bike reviews that we have researched and analysed in great detail.

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How to choose the best recumbent exercise bike for you

If your goal is to stay fit in a safe and comfortable way, you may be considering a recumbent exercise bike. They can be great for losing weight, strengthening lower body muscles and improving overall health. With so many to choose from, it may seem like a mission to find the best recumbent exercise bike for your specific needs. Here we will look at some of the key features that we believe are worth considering in order to help you with your search.

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One of the first things you want to consider is the size of the machine. Recumbent exercise bikes tend to be quite large, especially in length. Make sure you have accurately measured the space in which you plan to put the bike and narrow down your options to those which will comfortably fit within it.

Most recumbent bikes will come with wheels on the base so that they can easily be moved around. Think about how convenient it will be to manoeuvre the bike in your space and where it will be kept when not in use. How often you plan on using it can help when deciding on a suitable size and portability.

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Weight & Height Range

Recumbent exercise bikes can hold a vast range of weight capacities. Thus, you will need to make sure that you are looking at bikes that will comfortably handle the weight of anyone using it. Most recumbent bikes can accommodate users at least 250 lbs (113kg) in weight.

Furthermore, some bikes work better for shorter users, whereas other models are ideal for taller users. You can check the height range listed in the bikes description to make sure that you will be able to pedal away on the bike with comfort and stability. The better you feel when using the bike, the more likely you are to use it on a frequent basis.

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Physical Limitations

Whilst recumbent exercise bikes can be an ideal fitness tool for those who have previous or existing injuries, you will want to ensure that you do not have any physical limitations that will cause any discomfort or safety issues when using the bike. Check to make sure that it can be adjusted to suit any specific physical needs that you may have.

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Being able to easily adjust the bike is important as we all come in different shapes and sizes. The best recumbent bikes will enable you to adjust the seat and back rest to find the most comfortable position for your cycling. You will want to be able to reach the handle bars and view the monitor display without over exerting yourself.

Some bikes have pedals that are oversized. These can be useful as they can stop your feet sliding off the narrower pedals. As you will be sitting down whilst exercising, a soft and cushioned seat is also a very important consideration.

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In an ideal scenario, an adjustable recumbent bike features should include a seat and backrest that can slide forward and backward to suit your leg length, as well as adjustable foot cages to help keep your feet in place for secure pedalling.

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The resistance level on a recumbent exercise bike is usually created by a flywheel. Whilst the technical details may not be that important to the average buyer, it is important that you have the option to vary the level of resistance according to your energy and fitness levels.

The majority of bikes will come with at least 8 resistance levels. You should consider everyone who may use the bike and what resistance they would expect. The levels of resistance could also be something that impacts resell value should you move onto another piece of cardio equipment in the future.

How the resistance is adjusted may also be an important consideration for some users. You may not be able to reach down in an awkward position to manually adjust the resistance. The best recumbent bikes can have electronically controlled resistance which may make things easier for you.

Keep an eye out for magnetic resistance when shopping around. The recumbent exercise bikes that implement magnetic tension resistance on the flywheel tend to create a smooth and quiet ride that you can set to be as challenging as you wish.

Generally speaking, the heavier the flywheel is, the more realistic a riding experience you are likely get with your bike. Some models feature perimeter-weighted flywheels to further enhance and mimic the feeling of being on a road bike.

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Display Monitor

The built-in electronic display console will show your exercise performance. This includes important statistics such as speed, distance covered, calories burned, heart rate, reps per minute (RPM / cadence), etc. It is a great way to keep track of your progress and help you to reach your fitness goals.

The display monitor is really dependant on your personal preference. Some users may prefer a simplistic design with basic features. Other users may want a more technologically advanced interface with all of the bells and whistles.

Consider what the features you require are and how user friendly you find the display console. The same goes for anyone else who you may be sharing the recumbent bike with.

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Now that you have an idea of the features and functionalities you need to be on the lookout for, perhaps the most important consideration of them all, is the price!

Thankfully, there are recumbent exercise bikes which can cater to a wide variety of budgets. Even if funds are limited, there is still a very good choice of recumbent bikes that are well-built, adjustable, comfortable and user-friendly.

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Other Key Features

To conclude our section on what to look for when choosing a recumbent exercise bike, we will take a look at some of the other key features that you may need to consider when choosing a bike;

  • Does it come assembled?
  • How easy is it to put together and will you need any help?
  • How much noise does the bike make?
  • What materials are used? Are they strong and will they last the test of time?
  • Does it have bluetooth/wireless functionality?
  • Does it have a water bottle holder?
  • Does it have a smart device holder?
  • Is it battery or mains operated?
  • What is the warranty?
  • How good is the customer support?
  • What is the existing customer feedback?
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Types of recumbent exercise bike

When it comes to resistance, there are two main categories for recumbent exercise bikes. Those that utilise a flywheel and those which do not. You will find that the majority of recumbent bikes have a flywheel that incorporates friction or magnets in order to produce resistance. On the other hand, air resistance bikes generate resistance using a fan rather than a wheel.

Each type of resistance has its advantages and disadvantages. Here we will take a brief look at each resistance option to help you decide which will be better for your particular circumstances.

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Frictional Resistance

Frictional resistance uses a pad that connects with the flywheel when you increase or decrease the resistance. The flywheel is a heavy metal disk that is located on the front side of the bike and stores rotational energy. It is connected to the pedals of the bike in the same way as a normal bike would be, by means of a belt or chain.

This is a common form of resistance that is usually controlled by a tension knob which the user can adjust as and when required. It ensures that the resistance remains consistent throughout your workout, depending on the level set.

The flywheel stores the momentum generated as you continuously ride and releases it upon completion. In general, a heavier flywheel is capable of higher resistance. Commercial gym flywheels tend to be around the 22kg range.

This type of resistance is generally cheaper to produce which can lead to lower prices in comparison with magnetic resistance. However, due to the contact between the pads and the wheels, these bikes tend to make more noise when in use and can even start to squeak if not maintained correctly. The pads also wear down over time and will probably need to be replaced if there is frequent use and they are not well looked after.

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Magnetic Resistance

Magnetic exercise bikes provide another common form of resistance. Rather than using friction to control resistance, they have two magnets either side of the flywheel. The distance of the magnets from the wheel will determine how high or low the resistance is. Whilst some recumbent bikes have a knob to adjust the resistance, the more premium options can allow the magnets to be moved via the on-board console.

The advantages of magnetic resistance recumbent bikes are that they make less noise and require less maintenance. However, they don’t always give a consistent resistance level as the resistance can increase when you pedal faster due to the magnetic fields.

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Air Resistance

Air resistance recumbent bikes are designed in a completely different manner to frictional or magnetic bikes. Instead of using a flywheel, they generate air resistance from a large fan-type wheel which increases the resistance the faster you pedal. This can deliver a tough workout as you are constantly fighting against the resistance as you pedal away.

Perhaps the main advantage of air resistance bikes is the fact that they come at a lower price range primarily because they only require a fan rather than magnets or frictional pads. This also means that they require less maintenance.

However, there are some disadvantages to air resistance recumbent bikes. Whilst they do give off a cool breeze which can be good during an intense workout, you cannot directly change the resistance. They are also loud when you pedal fast which is likely to distract you if you enjoy watching TV or listening to music when exercising.

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Benefits of recumbent exercise bikes

Why should you buy a recumbent exercise bike instead of the more traditional upright bike? There are many advantages which will be important to some users and less important to others.

The primary advantage of recumbent exercise bikes is that they put less strain on your lower back and neck, unlike an upright bike where you often see people cycling away in a hunched over posture. This can cause lower back pain compared to the more relaxed upright position on a recumbent bike. If you are in pain, then you are less likely to continue exercising.

The large seat and slightly raised pedals also allow you to read a book, watch TV and generally keep the upper body relaxed as you work out.

The best recumbent exercise bikes will have an adjustable large seat and backrest. This makes them super comfortable and stops you from wanting to stand on the pedals which can be a safety issue.

They are also very easy to use, making them accessible to users of all ages, all sizes and fitness levels. Perhaps if you are new to working out, a recumbent exercise bike can seem like a less daunting way to start.

If you fit within the following demographic, a recumbent exercise bike may be something you want to give serious consideration to using;

  • Anyone recovering from injuries
  • Senior citizens
  • Those who want a low impact workout that puts no strain on the joints
  • Anyone wanting to do cardiovascular workouts for a longer period of time
  • Anyone who suffers from high blood pressure
  • Those looking to lose some weight
  • Those who want to strengthen the muscles in their lower body
  • Those who prefer to exercise in the privacy of their own home

Aside from the comfort, pedalling any type of bike has its health benefits. It strengthens your leg muscles and helps tone the buttocks and waist area. You burn calories which can aid in weight loss. Cycling also works the lungs and the heart, which gets the blood pumping and can help with blood pressure, improved blood circulation and better cardiovascular health. Research shows that a minimum of 20 minutes a day of activity that increases your heart rate to a cardio-fitness level is a vital part of overall physical fitness.

Apart from the obvious physical benefits, regular exercise on a recumbent stationary bike can benefit your mental health. Physical activity increases endorphins and helps to reduce the symptoms of depression. This alone is an excellent reason to regularly use a recumbent bike.

Finally, if you invest in a recumbent exercise bike to use in the comfort and privacy of your own home, you can save a lot of money in the long term by not needing to go to the gym!

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Tips for using your recumbent exercise bike

It can be an exciting prospect to hop on and pedal away once you have got your dream recumbent exercise bike. Before doing so, there are a few things you will want to consider in order to make the most of it;

  • Take your time to setup and adjust the bike so that it is in a comfortable position
  • Place your bike in a suitable place where you will be encouraged to use it
  • Always warm up and warm down for a few minutes
  • Follow an exercise program according to your current fitness level and long-term goals
  • Take it slowly and increase the difficulty as your fitness improves
  • Stay hydrated whilst working out
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A recumbent exercise bike can be a great way to get in shape whilst putting less strain on your lower back and joints. This is especially true for those who have suffered injuries or are new to exercising. Whilst they are often wrongly assumed to be inferior to upright bikes, recumbent bikes can still provide intense workouts when used correctly.

They enable you to improve your cardiovascular health and exercise your lower body including the thighs, calves, and glute muscles. They have a wider and lower seat when compared to an upright bike, which ensures comfort and stability as you pedal away.

​Don’t forget, when you are looking for a recumbent exercise bike, it is imperative to ensure that you take into consideration your own personal requirements. If you just need a recumbent bike for mildly intensive workouts to temporarily help recover from an injury or maintain your fitness, a budget or middle of the range option could probably be sufficient. However, if you are more into your advanced training, you would most likely be looking at a mid-range recumbent bike or even a premium model.

Whatever you end up with, hopefully this best recumbent exercise bike guide has made it easier for you to make your decision!

Happy Cycling!

Rich is an avid bodybuilder who has dedicated over 20 years of his life to the sport. He has a strong passion for health and fitness, living a clean lifestyle with a commitment to helping others educate themselves and fulfil their true potential.

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