One of the first pieces of equipment I got for my home workouts was an upright exercise bike. I thought it was a smart purchase—until I stumbled across what was be a better option for me at the time.
I bought a recumbent model and I didn’t regret it one bit. They offer many of the options you’d find with a traditional machine but way more comfortable, given they sport a full seat. They’re also great if you have a dodgy back as I had, providing excellent support.
This article includes affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of the products we have discussed in this article, we may receive a small commission.
I’ve done some digging to find the best recumbent exercise bikes. If you’re in a rush, here are our favorites, starting with the best:
- Sole Fitness R92 Recumbent Exercise Cycle
- Nautilus R628 Recumbent Cycle
- Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike ME-709
- Schwinn 230 Recumbent Bike
- Exerpeutic 900XL Recumbent Bike
What Is a Recumbent Exercise Bike?
Recumbent bikes are similar to other stationary models in that you perform the same motions with your lower body.
However, the primary difference is that you do this seated on a slightly reclined chair versus a saddle. You’re able to lean back since it offers full support—some even have armrests or handles at the sides. Furthermore, because you’re sitting down low, a recumbent bike’s pedals sit in parallel to your hips.
These devices have been around since the late 19th century.
Benefits of a Recumbent Exercise Bike
Let’s have a look at what you can expect from incorporating this machine into your exercise regime:
The saddle seat of an upright exercise bike is similar to that of a regular bicycle. This can cause butt soreness and for women, it comes with a risk of groin pain and damage to the pelvic floor.
What makes a recumbent bike ideal for nearly everyone is its reclined seat with back support. This provides you with a more relaxed upper body and a greater ability to focus on other movements. Your butt and hips will also be better supported.
Furthermore, a recumbent bike could also be easier on your lower back and help counteract the popular position cyclists take when leaning towards the handles. This can cause damage to your spine, whereas the design of a recumbent allows you to maintain a healthy posture.
Mounting and dismounting a recumbent is a lot more convenient than an upright bike, as well. Less effort is required as you don’t have to swing your leg over and bolster yourself up onto the saddle. Instead, you simply sit down.
2. Low Impact
Cardio exercise can often mean high impact, which can cause your knees and hips to suffer, possibly leading to cartilage breakdown.
Much like a standard exercise bike, cycling on a recumbent bike means low impact on the joints in your lower body. However, the position you assume on this type could put even less pressure on your knees.
There’s almost zero impact on your upper body since those muscles and joints are mostly not engaged on a recumbent. This makes it ideal for those in rehabilitation or elderly individuals with limited strength.
3. Other Health Benefits
Cardio has been found to help with weight loss, among other benefits including:
- Lowers other risk factors that come with a sedentary lifestyle.
- It strengthens your lungs and heart.
- Increases oxygen supply to the muscles.
- Improves circulation leading to better skin.
- More stamina and endurance.
- Improves the symptoms of arthritis.
- Reduces stress and improves mood.
Cycling, in particular, provides further unique benefits:
- Improves flexibility.
- Better posture.
- Improves coordination.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Recumbent Exercise Bike
It’s always better to know what you’re in for before hopping on the computer and ordering a new piece of equipment. There are several things to keep in mind:
This might seem obvious, but since these machines don’t run cheap, it’s essential to ensure that you have the available funds. You can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $1000, according to our list.
Are you a serious enthusiast looking for a top-of-the-line machine with all the bells and whistles for optimal performance? Or are you after something basic?
Factors that could add cost include a high number of resistance levels, tech-connection options and more. If the machine features weighted pedals or an advanced flywheel system, these can also be heavier on the wallet.
You see an ad for a recumbent and think, “this is the one for me” and place an order. A week later, you’re stuck with a machine too large to fit into your designated area.
You’ll want to sort this out before purchasing to avoid this frustrating experience. Each product has specific dimensions so you can measure your area accordingly. Keep in mind the space you need to mount the bike as well.
Some of these machines feature wheels for easy transport if you want to store the bike when not in use.
Comfort is probably one of the main reasons you’re getting a recumbent bike.
The biggest factor here is seat positioning including recline and height options. Some bikes feature an easy-lever mechanism to make the changes and others have a slide system for convenient mounting.
You also want to be able to adjust the resistance levels for intensity. Some machines only offer a few different ones, while others go up past 20 levels.
Furthermore, some machines have preset programs making it easier to load a custom program you’ve set before or use an existing program that comes with the machine. Either way, it makes it easier and encouraging when you track your progression.
Make sure the screen is easy to navigate and the tracking options are suitable for your goals such as heart rate, distance and more.
For those who enjoy working out to music or a podcast, additional features include speakers or Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Bluetooth connectivity allows you to use compatible apps to add motivation and interest to your workouts. The apps can feature interactive workouts with live coaching or virtual landscapes.
The more expensive models have larger monitors that bring these apps functionality to life while working out. Others have laptop and tablet holders—you can also purchase a holder separately.
A fan is a pretty cool—pun intended—feature on a recumbent as it’ll keep you from overheating. However, there’s no need to dish out on this if you have a convenient portable fan.
Tips for Using Recumbent Exercise Bikes
Before hopping onto the recumbent bike, there are some steps you can follow to make the most of your workout:
- Set up thoroughly: Setting up your workout station means you’re ready to go when you sit down. This includes your resistance options, preparing your music and more. If you’re using a pre-selected program, it may adjust the intensity/resistance as you go along.
- Stretch and warm-up: Dynamic stretching, in particular, is ideal before a cardio workout as you can wake up various muscle groups this way. It increases your range of motion, while warming up also helps avoid injury. Spend about five minutes on this.
- Maintain proper form: When holding onto the handles, don’t hunch over as this can cause pain and damage to your back. Instead, ensure the chair is supporting you well. Make sure there’s a slight bend in your knee when pushing the pedal to the farthest end.
- Slowly build endurance: According to the American Heart Association, you should aim for about 2.5 hours of cardio at a minimum per week. If your bike is the major form of cardio exercise, start with short segments on a daily or every-other-day basis and work up to a 45 to 60-minute session in one-go. Aim to work at a moderate intensity.
Get the lowdown on how to use a recumbent bike with this awesome explanation:
The Best Recumbent Exercise Bikes Review
Whether you’ve been out of shape since the dawn of time or you’re a seasoned cyclist, a recumbent bike has something to offer everyone. Our top five picks are detailed below, so let’s get cracking:
This is one of the best all-around recumbent exercise bikes and for good reason starting with its heavy-duty steel frame and aluminum finish. It’s back by a lifetime warranty, so you know this machine is made to last.
The weight capacity comes in at 300 pounds, making it suitable for larger individuals. You’re guaranteed a comfortable position with the adjustable padded seat and two-degree inward incline which supports proper posture.
There’s a built-in sound system, cooling fans, tablet holder and water bottle placement to boot. The Bluetooth compatibility means you can connect to the Sole app and track your workout stats. A USB charging station ensures you won’t lose juice on your devices.
The company claims this bike is compact by design, so if you’re tight on space, this is worth checking out. Furthermore, its magnetic-resistance system ensures a quiet workout, so you won’t be worried about waking the kids or bothering the dogs.
As a bonus, you’ll receive a chest strap to monitor your heart rate.
Dimensions: 57 inches by 30 inches by 50 inches
Weight: 125 pounds
- Sturdy frame with a 300-pound capacity.
- Quiet while in use.
- Comfortable seat with incline.
- Plenty of features.
- Compact design.
- You might find the fan system is below par.
This machine is ideal for experienced cyclists and fitness enthusiasts with its advanced design and ample features.
The Nautilus has 25 resistance levels and 29 programs including interval training, weight management and heart-rate training. You’ll manage all of this from the easy-to-read, dual LCD screen. Tracking your progress and setting important goals for your overall health is highly achievable.
This brand’s Nautilus Trainer 2 app collects the data via Bluetooth connectivity, so you’re able to monitor on your handheld device. Other compatible apps can be accessed such as RideSocial for the reality-ride, an experience you can share with friends via the monitor.
A sound system is included with an auxiliary cable and USB connectivity options too, which is ideal for those that want some music for motivation.
Comfort isn’t lacking either. The bike features a seat that properly cushions your back and glutes, thanks to the Nautilus gel incorporated throughout the materials. A dynamic recline design shifts with you naturally as you workout.
The large, weighted pedals and adjustable straps offer easy foot placement and a smooth positioning throughout your ride. No worry about slippage here.
There’s a 325 pound weight capacity on this flywheel machine that’s backed by multiple warranties.
Dimensions: 67 inches by 26 inches by 49 inches
Weight: 90 pounds
- Plenty of programs and resistance levels on offer.
- Bluetooth, USB and aux.
- Comfortable—large, cushioned seat and oversized, heavyweight pedals.
- Very quiet.
- Warranties included for electronics and parts.
- Backrest not adjustable.
This recumbent model comes in at third place, also offering a quiet and smooth operation with its magnetic-resistance system. You have eight levels to choose from so you can build up your strength and endurance accordingly.
It’s a simple model, which makes it one of the more affordable options on our list. However, this doesn’t mean it’s without its merits.
The high-density seat filled with foam and the contoured, cushioned handlebars to each side should offer a comfortable ride. Weighted pedals with adjustable straps provide support and stability through the feet.
There’s a monitor that displays basic info such as speed, time, distance and calories burned, but you won’t find other tech specs beyond that. Workouts will be straightforward.
It’s a compact unit featuring wheels, making it easy to move around or store.
Lastly, it’s suitable for individuals weighing up to 242 pounds and those between 5 foot 2 inches and 6 feet tall.
Dimensions: 55.5 inches by 25 inches by 37.5 inches
Weight: 60 pounds
- Easy on the wallet.
- Comfortable and user-friendly.
- Smooth and quiet operation.
- Two-year warranty included.
- Tech specs are minimal.
- No preset workout programs and only eight resistance levels.
It’s a high-speed machine with a perimeter weighted flywheel that offers effortless and consistent workouts. With the weight concentrated around the center, there’s less chance for a choppy ride. It indicates that this could be one of the best recumbent exercise bikes for newbies and seasoned riders alike.
Are multiple people going to be using the machine? Two user profiles can be accessed through the split LCD screen, allowing both individuals to create customized settings. Options include 22 workout programs and 25 resistance levels.
Metrics tracking includes speed, time, calories burned, resistance used and distance traveled. The USB connectivity and speaker system are perfect for jamming out while you sweat away on the bike.
The contoured and ventilated seat should stop you from overheating, while you maintain a comfortable position throughout. A rail-slider system with an easy-adjust lever makes any seat changes convenient.
Other extras include a three-speed cooling fan, a water bottle holder and a media shelf making it easy to enjoy your own entertainment.
Assembly is straightforward and the machine’s backed by a 10-year warranty on the frame. It also provides a two-year warranty for the parts and one year on electronic features.
Dimensions: 50 inches by 28 inches by 64 inches
Weight: 96 pounds
- Weighted flywheel for stable workouts.
- Multiple user profiles available.
- Convenient extras including a media shelf.
- Easy to assemble.
- Bluetooth not available.
- Good price.
This is an affordable bike that arrives mostly pre-assembled, so you’re ready to hop on and give it a spin. The oversized, cushioned seat and backrest and the 300-pound capacity make it a viable option for larger individuals.
Furthermore, tall folks shouldn’t have an issue here as the pedal range fits anyone up to six feet six inches tall. The pedals are also on the large side, featuring safety straps to ensure your feet remain in place.
A step-through design offers an easy on and off, which is crucial for those with limited mobility.
Tech and customizable features for this machine are scaled back with only eight resistance levels and a simple LCD interface.
You can, however, still track speed, distance and calories burned on the easy-to-read screen. The handles feature pulse sensors for monitoring your heart rate as well.
These options are great for beginners, while not being overwhelming.
If you need to move the machine to a different location, the transport wheels will be a big help.
Dimensions: 52″ by 36″ by 24″
Weight: 74 lbs
- Convenient transportation with wheels.
- Great for seniors.
- Easy step-through design.
- Larger individuals can exercise comfortably.
- Keen price.
- Only eight resistance levels.
- Doesn’t include as many features as more expensive recumbent bikes.
Whether you’re an avid cyclist looking to train in the off-season, or a newbie needing to get in shape, the best recumbent exercise bikes will help although if you’re looking for more we have a complete guide to all the types of indoor exercise bikes.
They provide a wonderful option for low-impact, at-home cardio workouts. One of the most important aspects is that these machines can suit many body types and abilities as well, thanks to the seated design.
Although at the high end, price-wise, our top overall pick with all its bells and whistles and good design has to be the Sole Fitness R92 Recumbent Exercise Cycle.
This bike goes above and beyond, where its features are concerned including a comfortable seat at an ergonomic incline. It also offers a high number of resistance levels and programs to suit your needs.
You can enjoy a slew of extras with this machine including Bluetooth connectivity, a speaker system and more. The steel frame and 300-pound weight capacity means it’s built to last, so consider it an investment in the long run.
At the basic, good value end of recumbent bikes, the Marcy ME-709 Exercise Bike has got to be the choice.