Working out from home is often a habit that saves you a lot of time by not having to go to the gym and plan your whole day around that. Having a stationary bike at home is a great way to break a sweat every time you feel like it. Some of the best recumbent bikes on today’s market focus on precisely that – stay at home, burn calories, and save time. It is also a good way to stay in shape without the need for expensive gym memberships or an actual road bike.
Most recumbent bikes on today’s market are also fairly practical and are very easy to store and maintain. Compared to traditional stationary bikes, these offer a variety of health benefits and are, in general, cheaper. In this buyer’s guide, we will go through some of the top models for this year and then see some of the benefits and features that define a good recumbent bike.
Recumbent Bikes Comparison Chart
Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike
The Marcy recumbent exercise bike is one of the most well-received models for 2 years in a row now. It isn’t the most complicated nor feature-packed model out there but it definitely has one of the best price-to-value ratios, which is essential when it comes to expensive training gear.
Some of the main pros of this bike are that its inseam length adjustable from 27 to 36 inches, meaning it can accommodate a variety of body types and sizes. It also has a maximum capacity of 300 pounds which is on par with most other models in this price bracket. The bike itself isn’t too bulky and weighs 61 pounds, making it easy to move around in your apartment, even more so thanks to its transportation wheels. There are 8 different resistance levels controlled magnetically, which is both good and bad depending on your cycling experience. If you have a more demanding cycling workout, then I suggest opting for a model with more resistance options. The resistance here is controlled via a manual knob which is a more future-proof approach compared to buttons.
Lastly, the built-in display here gives you information about the time, speed, calories burned, and distance, as well as having an odometer.
- Great price-to-value ratio
- Easy to assemble and move around
- Safety straps for the pedals
- Detailed LCD display
- Adjustable seat
- Seat and backrest are very comfortable
- Only has 8 levels of resistance
- Resistance adjustment knob isn’t easy to reach when training
- No pulse sensors
EXERPEUTIC 900XL Recumbent Exercise Bike
Everyone that has ever browsed for a home fitness product is aware of the Exerpeutic brand. They have specialized in home-fitness for quite some time now and that really shows in the quality of their products. Right off the bat, I will say that if it wasn’t for the slightly higher price tag, this would’ve been the go-to choice for anyone looking for a durable and highly-functional recumbent bike.
Unlike other mid-tier models, this bike comes with a fitness app integration. You can use the data it stores with the MyCloudFitness app which is available for both Android and iOS. Mobile phone users will also benefit from a phone holder and Bluetooth connection, although the Bluetooth ads a little over 10 dollars on top of the price.
In terms of comfort, the seats and handles are padded relatively well but are more on the firm side which is fine for some people but most elderly users have shown tendencies towards more well-padded backrests and seats. The seat is also adjustable, allowing the bike to accommodate people from 5’3″ to 6.6″. The performance is also decent, although there are only 8 levels of magnetic tension.
- Relatively well priced
- Excellent material quality
- Easy to read LCD screen
- MyCloudFitness app integration
- Easy to use step-through design
- Accurate pulse sensors
- Only 8 levels of magnetic tension
- Seats could use a bit more padding
Schwinn Recumbent Bike Series
The Schwinn Recumbent Bike is one of the high-end models in this niche. It has all the bells and whistles you can think of and then some. All that comes at a price, though, making the bike’s total price over five hundred dollars. While that might seem like a big pill to swallow there is a lot of value that you get out of your money here.
For starters, there are 29 training programs here which are designed to help you with various tasks such as heart rate control, fitness tests, warm-ups, and others. The bike also allows you to connect with your mobile phone via Bluetooth or ride with your friends in real-time.
Unlike the rest of the bikes on this list, there are 25 resistance options here which are magnetically regulated. The head control unit has built-in speakers, a large and very detailed training display, as well as a plethora of buttons to control various aspects of your workout. While that is great on paper, there is a steep learning curve to maximizing the benefits of this bike.
- Packed full of features
- 29 fitness programs
- 25 levels of resistance
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Large detailed LCD display
- USD charger
- Built-in speakers
- Takes some time to get used to all the controls
- Very expensive
EXERPEUTIC 300SR Heavy Duty Foldable Recumbent Bike
It should come as no surprise that there is a second Exerpeutic model on this top 6 list. The 300SR heavy-duty foldable recumbent bike is one of the more unique models here with its peculiar structure and super affordable price tag.
As the name suggests, the main feature here is the foldable design. For anyone looking for a decent recumbent bike that is cheap and can be stored in almost any empty space in the apartment, this is as close as it will get to a perfect fit. The 300SR has a smooth double-drive transmission system which lets you seamlessly switch between the 8 magnetic gears. The bike itself isn’t large at all but can accommodate a large number of body types. Its maximum weight capacity is 300 lbs.
The seat cushion is very deep and soft and is excellent for longer cycling sessions. At the front, the LCD display gives you the most vital stats of your workout. While this might seem quite simple there is a goal behind that and that goal is affordability which is the main selling point of this bike followed by its convenient design.
- Features a foldable design
- Very soft seat cushion
- Excellent price
- Has a decent weight capacity
- Has an LCD display
- Hand pulse sensors
- Has transportation wheels
- The structure isn’t meant for a large person
- Doesn’t feature a fully recumbent design
- Pedals can sometimes feel disbalanced
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Recumbent Bike
The Sunny Health & Fitness recumbent bike is yet another bike that is unique in its own way. The most important feature here which makes this a great all-rounder is the fact that it comes with moveable handlebars that allow you to train your whole body during your cycling workout, strengthening your cardio, arms, and core muscles.
The seat and backrest here are also really big and soft and are adjustable in terms of how far they are from the pedals. On the handles, you have pulse sensors that can read your hear’s beats per minute. All that is displayed on the center monitor that can also show you other vital information. On there, you have a holder for your mobile phone.
The whole frame of the bike is made out of heavy-duty steel which ads a lot to the rigidity but also makes the bike quite heavy. That frame allows for a maximum weight capacity of 330 lbs, which is on par with other bikes at that price point. What isn’t on par with other equally priced bikes are the 8 resistance levels.
- Large comfortable seat and backrest
- The handlebars allow for a full-body workout
- Has pulse sensors
- Non-slip adjustable foot pedals
- Heavy-duty steel frame
- 330 lbs weight capacity
- Quite expensive
- Only 8 levels of tension
- Hard to move around despite having transportation wheels
MaxKare Indoor Recumbent Exercise Bike
Last but definitely not least is the MaxKare Indoor recumbent bike. It is practically everything you need from a recumbent bike at a bargain price. It has a large fairly comfortable seat and backrest with handlebars next to it. While there are handlebars at the front as well, there are pulse monitors only on the ones next to the seat.
The frame is powder-coated steel which makes for a long-lasting product, although the construction itself isn’t very tightly put together. There are transportation wheels for easier moving around your apartment. Underneath the seat, there is a level which is used to adjust the distance to the pedals. Speaking of the pedals, they are non-slip and very well-balanced making it easy to pedal even at higher resistance levels.
At the front, the LCD monitor does an okay job of tracking your progress and it also doubles as a mobile device holder.
- Easy seat adustments
- Large seat and backrest
- Pulse monitors in the handles
- Comfortable pedals
- Only 8 magnetically regulated tension levels
- Construction isn’t very sturdy
Recumbent Bikes Buyer’s Guide
When it comes to buying a recumbent bike, there are a number of things that you need to know beforehand. To get you more familiar with the whole concept of those types of bikes, we will go through some of the most important questions and then list the features that you need to keep an eye for…
What is a recumbent bike?
Exercise bikes allow you to train and raise your heart rate without moving too much. They do that without putting too much stress on your joints. They are also quite space-saving making them the ideal way of exercising.
Within the niche of the exercise bikes, there are two major kinds – stationary bikes, which are very similar to the real thing and recumbent bikes which take a more ergonomic approach to cycling.
With traditional bikes, the seat is positioned high up and has the bike’s handlebar right in front of the rider. Recumbent bikes, on the other hand, have their seat quite low and the pedals are located at almost the same level or slightly below the seat. That makes you extend your legs to the front, resulting in less back strain.
Now, let’s go over some of the most important benefits of these types of stationary bikes.
Benefits of using recumbent bikes
While traditional stationary training bikes have the advantage of mimicking the real experience as accurately as possible, the recumbent bike takes ergonomics into consideration. With traditional bikes, you risk muscle pain and fatigue due to improper posture, while recumbent bikes are far better for your body and allow you to exercise while having a properly supported posture. This minimizes soreness and fatigue and maximizes the effects of your workout.
Currently, there is a broad spectrum of bikes on the market which all have slightly different features. The feature which varies the most from model to model is the seat. Newer models try to add more comfort and support to your lower back while using them.
Another benefit of recumbent bikes that is often overlooked is that your hands are free throughout the workout. This allows you to use all sorts of different weights to train your upper body, which is an advantage that is very unique to recumbent bikes and cannot be replicated on traditional stationary bikes.
All these things make recumbent bikes a really beneficial way of exercising for people that are recovering from an injury or are more prone to one. They are also the go-to choice for exercising when it comes to older people that have trouble walking their daily miles. Old people also benefit from not having to stand or lose balance when training on a recumbent bike, which is yet another advantage which helps them exercise in a safer way as opposed to traditional stationary bikes.
With all that aside, let’s now focus on the features that you should pay attention to when finding the ideal bike for your home…
Features to look for
Out of the countless features that define a good stationary bike, there are a few very important ones which are absolutely essential if you demand good performance and value out of your product. These are:
- Information console (display)
- Workout programs
- Additional features
When it comes to the design, you have to think about all the different components of the recumbent bike – frame, seat, pedals, and handlebars. They all have specific features that have the potential to improve the bike’s performance and your experience with it.
The frame of any recumbent bike is what makes these bikes far sturdier than any other alternative out there. That low-to-the-ground build allows great flexibility when it comes to the size of the person training on it. These bikes usually last far longer than standard stationary bikes and can easily be your go-to workout machine for the better part of a decade.
Frames on these bikes allow the seat to be placed further back which unfortunately also increases the bulk of the model and decreases its portability. There are two main variations of recumbent bike frames – step-through and whole-piece frames. As the name suggests, step-through ones allow you to get on the bike without having to over-extend or lift your leg. They are the most common type for that very reason.
In terms of materials, heavy-duty steel frames are a standard in today’s industry and you shouldn’t settle for anything less than that since a steel frame is more likely to last you a long time and not break under strenuous conditions.
One last thing about frames is that you can either have the seat placed on a railing system or a fixed adjuster that allows you to change the position and angle of your seat. Railing systems are superior since they allow you to move the seat back and forth for different types of workouts and positions.
Seat and pedals
Just like with regular road bikes, you want to pay extra attention to the seat design. Larger seats are a must if you are going after long-term comfort. Some narrow and sportier seats can be suitable if you are into intensive training and plan on using the bike a lot.
If you have back issues or just want to relax your upper body when exercising, I strongly suggest looking for a model with a backrest to its seat. Bonus points if it is removable.
Lastly, look for a seat that can easily be adjusted in terms of its height. Some more advanced models even offer incline angle adjusting.
Pedals, on the other hand, aren’t as diverse. Just make sure that their surface is highly textured which will prevent accidental slips during your workouts. Some additional features here are adjustable straps and hand pedals, which are excellent for a full-body workout. Last but not least, look for counterbalanced pedals that will be easier to use and will prolong the bike’s life.
While most handlebars feature a typical and similar design, you should always look for well-padded models that have ergonomic curves. Some handles are even adjustable via rotation. What is unique about recumbent bikes is that their main handlebars are located on both sides of your seat as opposed to in front of you.
One feature that is a must for older people is the built-in heart rate sensors in both handlebars. This will give a real-time reading on your pulse while you are exercising which is especially important for people who are into zone-training or others that want to be more aware of their heart’s performance.
As I previously mentioned, there are some models which have active handlebars that allow you to move with your upper body and train your arms and core muscles.
The dimensions of the bike are generally determined by its frame. Recumbent bikes with railing systems tend to take up more space than ones with fixed seat adjusters. While these bikes take a lot of space in terms of their length, they are mostly quite narrow and short in height meaning they can fit in most storage rooms bellow your shelves.
Some recumbent bikes have a foldable structure but I do not generally recommend it since it is far less sturdy than traditional models and won’t be ideal for intensive training.
The weight heavily depends on the type of bike. Some models with a more advanced heads-up display and flywheel will be bulkier and therefore harder to move around. This shouldn’t really be a factor when you’re browsing between different models, though, since these bikes aren’t really moved around very often.
While most recumbent bikes are fairly similar in terms of their design, the major thing in which they all differ from one another is the resistance levels (or tension levels). Some models out there can offer more than 25 different resistance levels suited for various workouts – from light to intense. Other models are only geared towards lighter workouts and are suitable for older people that won’t need a pedal-heavy workout.
There are a few major benefits of having a lot of resistance levels, though. One of the most important ones is that it is great for beginners. If you are just now starting to get into cycling, the lowest resistance levels will be your best friend at first. The more you progress, though, the deeper you’d want to get into the grind. When you start switching to a higher gear, the number of gears/levels will determine the increments by which the resistance changes. For example, a bike with 20 resistance levels will have far smaller increments than one with just 8, meaning it will allow for smoother tension transitions. This allows you to move up a level easily without feeling stuck on it since you can’t make the huge leap that is required for the next one.
The thing that creates resistance on most recumbent bikes’ flywheels is magnets. They are used to create drag against the flywheel which is transferred to your pedals. This type of resistance is very smooth and dead-silent compared to older mechanical ones.
There are, however, bikes that use fans for this same purpose. These won’t allow you to adjust the tension and resistance but will rather make it harder the harder you pedal. These fan-bikes practically don’t have an upper limit and allow you to push yourself as hard as you want but are also quite noisy.
Information console (display)
Sticking to their budget nature, recumbent bikes rarely have a fully-coloured and detailed information screen as the ones you can find on normal stationary bikes. The reason for that is that is fairly simple – your positioning doesn’t always allow you to be close to the front console and screen and it is therefore useless in most scenarios. Still, more and more models are trying to adapt types of information screens that give you some basic data like calories burned, elapsed time, miles, and heart rate if there are sensors in the handlebars. If you prefer training in the later hours, I suggest a screen with an LCD-backlit which will allow you to turn it off or will simply be very minimal compared to the basic red LCD displays.
Apart from the screen, usually, there are buttons around the center console which allow you to control the various settings of the bike such as its resistance. Some cheaper models have manual resistance dials, which in my opinion are far more durable in the long run.
While most bikes try to keep some additional features to a minimum in order to cust costs, there are still some premium models out there that come with built-in workout programs. These programs will help you move up the ladder of your cycling endeavour and will guide you through various difficulty levels. Still, this is a rather rare feature and most sub-two-hundred-dollar models don’t typically have it.
The assembly is something most people often overlook which is a decision you can regret once you start setting everything up in your apartment. Some bigger bikes are very hard to install and can sometimes require the need for a second person.
Look for models that come with detailed instructions if you want a high-end recumbent bike. Cheaper models are usually very straight-forward and their assembly doesn’t take more than half an hour.
After you’ve covered all the essential features of your recumbent bike it is now time to dive deeper into the secondary options that might improve your workout experience.
Some of the main additional features that I want to touch on here are seat padding, transportation wheels, USB ports, headphone jack, built-in speakers.
While I discussed seat padding earlier, it is important to talk about it again here. Some bikes will come with plain moulded seats that have an equally uncomfortable backrest. Those tend to make you not want to workout which undermines the whole purpose of the bike. Look for well-padded seats which won’t put unnecessary strain on your thighs and waist.
USB ports are good if you want to charge your phone while training but they aren’t as essential as people make them out to be, since most recumbent bikes are already located in your home, where you have plenty of charging options. Still, it is good for keeping your phone charged if you want to continuously use it for during your workout.
An audio jack or built-in speakers can take care of the boredom issue in a 1-hour long cycling session by putting a little soundtrack to it.
Last but not least, don’t forget to take the price into consideration when making your home dream fitness room. While you may want all the above-mentioned features on your bike, that might be slightly out of your budget. Higher-end recumbent bikes tend to be two or even three times the price of some regular ones and in most cases that price difference isn’t truly justified so opt for the models that have the best price-to-value ratio and not the ones that are the cheapest (or most expensive). My general advice is to choose a bike with a lot of resistance levels without a ton of fancy features like a full-on information display. That falls right into the budget, mid-tier category anyway, and is perfectly fine for anyone looking to get something for a casual workout at home.
Now that you know how to choose the right recumbent bike model, let’s answer some common questions regarding the topic…
Frequently Asked Questions
How long to train on a recumbent bike at a time?
To get the most out of your recumbent bike, many experts recommend training at least 30 days of cycling 5 days a week. This will improve your cardio and keep you in good shape. If you want to use your recumbent bike for weight loss, however, you will need to dig deeper and go through 60-90 minute workout sessions again 5 times a week.
How many calories do recumbent bikes burn per hour?
Recumbent bikes have the potential to burn a lot of calories depending on their type. Typically, you burn anywhere between 450 and 550 calories per hour cycling at a speed of 12 mph with an average weight of 175 pounds. Of course, depending on your resistance level you can either increase or decrease that calorie number.
Click here to learn whether sweating helps you burn more calories!
Are recumbent bikes better than walking?
There is a constant debate with which is better – cycling or walking, especially among the older folk. Cycling is more efficient and therefore burns fewer calories than walking. It also puts less strain on your joints, as opposed to walking which is more energy-intensive and in a sense harder for your musculoskeletal system.
Are recumbent bikes considered intensive training?
Recumbent bikes are a good stationary way of keeping your cardio and muscles in a good shape. It is, however, not an ideal way to train at a high-intensity level. For that, running, HIIT, and other types of workouts might return better results.
Finding the best recumbent bike in 2020 might prove challenging due to the many factors that you have to take into consideration. Still, there are some well-proven models that are good all-rounders and are perfect for everyday use by the casual user. For more advanced training, I suggest sticking to the high-end models which are designed with higher performance in mind.