Recumbent bikes are an excellent addition to a home gym. They’re also a great starter piece of equipment if you’re looking to begin a new fitness regime. They’re low-maintenance, easy on the body, have the ability to get you sweating and breathing hard and they are available at pretty much any price point.
There are also about a zillion of them on the market.
Rather than search for hours – or days – on end, weeding through bikes that in no way will help you live your fitness dreams, check out the helpful tips below as well as our list of Top 8 Best Recumbent Bikes 2018. We’ve got you covered.
Table of Contents
- 1 How to Choose the Best Recumbent Bike
- 2 8 Best Recumbent Bike Reviews 2020
- 2.1 1. Best for Families – Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike
- 2.2 2. Best for Injuries – ProForm 440 ES Exercise Bike
- 2.3 3. Best for Small Spaces – Marcy ME-706 Recumbent Bike
- 2.4 4. Best XL Option – Exerpeutic 900XL Recumbent Bike
- 2.5 5. Best for Hard Workers – Exerpeutic ExerWork Exercise Bike
- 2.6 6. Best for Serious Athletes – IRONMAN H-Class 410 Recumbent Bike
- 2.7 7. Best Budget Option – Marcy Magnetic Recumbent Bike
- 2.8 8. Best for Targeting the Whole Body – Stamina Elite Total Body Recumbent Bike
- 3 Conclusion
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
How to Choose the Best Recumbent Bike
Before you even go looking for a bike, you need to decide for yourself what it is that you’re looking for. These questions and considerations will help you narrow down for yourself exactly what you need in a recumbent bike, making the shopping process a breeze.
1. How Do You Want to Use Your Bike?
If you’re looking to pedal lightly and easily, you will be just fine with a lightweight, minimalist bike. However, if you’re looking for a more rigorous ride, make sure you choose a heavier bike that will remain stable throughout your heavy pedaling.
Also think about the growth potential of your bike. Some bikes come with far more resistance or difficulty levels than others, meaning that if you start out easy, you have the option to work your way up to a seriously hardcore ride after a while.
Know what you want the bike to do before you buy and choose an option that will keep giving you the kind of workout you desire long after you invest in it.
2. How Much Space Do You Have?
If you’ve got a small studio apartment, odds are you’re going to want to maximize space, which means minimizing the footprint of your bike. If you’re living in a much larger space, you may be just fine with a larger bike, if that’s what you desire.
Figure out where you want your bike to be and measure the area. Compare your measurements with the listed bike dimensions to find out if your bike of choice will fit in your preferred location.
3. What is the Weight Capacity?
Some bikes are built to handle up to 350lbs, while others can only handle 250lbs. If you fall somewhere in between that range, it’s best to find a bike that gives you wiggle room as far as weight is concerned.
It won’t necessarily cost more to get a bike that can hold your weight. Recumbent bike options for riders at any weight can be found at all price ranges.
While it’s possible to ride a bike for which you exceed the maximum weight capacity, it is certainly not recommended, and increases the likelihood of damage to your bike. Stick with options that are advertised as being able to hold your weight.
4. Do You Like Entertainment While You Ride?
Unless you like to ride in silence, you’re going to want to consider the entertainment features available on your bike. Does it come with Bluetooth? Does it have a tablet holder? What about a USB port to plug in your phone or tablet directly?
Most bikes these days – with the exception of very, very basic models – have some sort of entertainment feature. Make sure you consider how you might like to enjoy music, movies or television while you ride and choose a model that supports that choice.
5. What Type of Seat Do You Need?
If you’re going to be riding for longer than thirty minutes at a time, the comfort level of the seat becomes a real factor. When shopping for your recumbent bike, make sure you take a careful look at the specs of the seat – both the seat cushion and the seat back.
Some recumbent bikes come with a breathable, mesh back that is curved to offer support for your lumbar spine – perfect for those with back pain or injury. Others are padded, but flat and not breathable, which may be fine if you have no history of back problems and would prefer to have a cushy surface for your whole back.
The seat should be wide enough to comfortably fit your entire rear. Some recumbent bikes have hard seats. This may be fine for short rides, but you may want to add a separate cushion for yourself if you’re going to be logging serious miles.
6. What’s Your Price Range?
Lower budget does not mean lower quality. The market is full of great bikes at all price ranges. Make a list of the three or so non-negotiable features your new bike must have, and search with those in mind.
Even if you have to sacrifice a lower priority feature in order to get a bike in your price range, you’ll still end up with a bike that serves your highest needs.
8 Best Recumbent Bike Reviews 2020
1. Best for Families – Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike
The Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike can track the progress of up to four users, making it a great choice for families. It comes with twenty-five levels of resistance and is smooth and quiet.
Its USB port allows you to plug in external media to be played thorough the bike’s speakers if you desire. It has a 300lb weight limit and the handles by the seat measure your pulse.
- Up to 4 users can track their progress in the system
- Cup holder
- 25 levels of resistance
- Hard back may be uncomfortable for some
- Big LCD screen may block users from being able to watch TV in front of them while riding
2. Best for Injuries – ProForm 440 ES Exercise Bike
This bike comes with a step-through (versus a step over) design that makes it easy to get on the bike. It has twenty-five levels of resistance and a 350lb weight limit.
The ProForm 440 ES has an oversized lumbar-supporting back, making it a great option for those with back problems or injuries. It also comes with an integrated tablet holder as well as a USB port.
- Heavy – can handle rigorous rides
- 350lb weight limit right up there with the highest on the market
- Oversized seatback
- Pulse handles are by console, making them hard to reach
3. Best for Small Spaces – Marcy ME-706 Recumbent Bike
The Marcy ME-706 is perfect for those with small spaces. This bike comes with twenty-four levels of tension and is easy to assemble.
The seat has multi-axis adjustment, which allows you to create a very comfortable seat for your ride. The display is user-friendly, and the bike has a 300lb weight capacity.
- Easy to assemble
- Compact perfect for small spaces
- Heavy and sturdy for hard rides
- Seat adjustable, but narrow, and does not come with breathable fabric
4. Best XL Option – Exerpeutic 900XL Recumbent Bike
The Exerpeutic 900 XL is for those who need a wider seat. The bike has an extra wide seatback and an adjustable seat. This bike comes with a 300lb weight capacity.
The basic LCD display tracks your time, calories, speed and heartrate, which is measured through the handles next to the seat. The eight levels of tension are perfect for those who want a challenging ride, but who aren’t looking to totally exhaust themselves.
- Great seat with extra lumbar support
- Budget-friendly option
- 8 levels of tension not great for high-level athletes
- No cup holder
- Instructions for setup are reportedly challenging to follow
5. Best for Hard Workers – Exerpeutic ExerWork Exercise Bike
Consider this the recumbent bike for the busy worker. This bike is technically semi-recumbent, allowing you to sit upright enough to work at the integrated desk. The desk is adjustable and can handle up to 44lbs. It is also foldable, making it great for smaller spaces.
The seat contains extra thick cushioning, so is great for long rides. The eight levels of magnetic tension will get your heartrate up without disrupting your work. It’s the perfect option for those who complain about not having enough time in the day to exercise.
- Allows you to work and work out at the same time
- Cushy seat
- 8 levels of tension not great for high-level athletes
- The seat is comfortable, but on the narrower side
6. Best for Serious Athletes – IRONMAN H-Class 410 Recumbent Bike
Yes, this is the official recumbent bike of the IRONMAN triathlon. This is a bike for the avid, serious biker. Its twenty-four levels of tension and twelve computer programs will keep you sweating and gasping for air for years to come.
The IRONMAN bike fits riders between 5’2” and 6’4” comfortably and has a 300lb weight limit. Its memory foam seat offers maximum comfort while you torch serious calories. It is also Bluetooth capable so get ready to rock out to some tunes while you ride.
- Heavy duty – made with elite athletes in mind
- Comfortable seat
- Water bottle holder instead of cup holder may be inconvenient for some
- No pulse monitor
7. Best Budget Option – Marcy Magnetic Recumbent Bike
Another stellar bike from Marcy, this is a compact, low cost option for those who don’t require a lot from their exercise bike. The easy to use display tracks speed, distance, time and calories. There is no pulse monitor.
The Marcy Magnetic comes with eight levels of tension and the seat distance is adjustable but requires that you move the entire seat frame back, rather than slide it back, as is the case with many other models. This no-frills bike will get the job done, but don’t expect anything fancy from this model.
- Budget friendly
- Easy to use display
- No Bluetooth or USB
- Small seat
- Lightweight – not good for vigorous rides
8. Best for Targeting the Whole Body – Stamina Elite Total Body Recumbent Bike
This is the only option on the list that offers the option to work the upper body as well. The handles near the console crank in harmony with the pedals, allowing you to get your arms burning as well as your legs.
If you don’t want to use the handles, you can grip the second pair of handles on either side of the seat so that the bike can measure your pulse.
The cushy seat provides a smooth ride and the bike comes with eight levels of magnetic tension. The bike also weighs a hefty 117lbs so it’s not going anywhere, even if you’re engaged in an especially active ride.
- Hits the upper body
- Very comfortable seat
- Sturdy construction
- No audio input
- 8 levels of tension not great for high-level athletes
If you’re a busy person who doesn’t have time to drive to a separate workout facility, but you know you need to exercise, a recumbent bike is great for you.
If you’re coming off an injury and need something low impact that will help your recovery, a recumbent bike is great for you.
If you’re a senior who needs something easy to use and low to the ground that will still help you keep your body in good working order, a recumbent bike is great for you.
If you’re already a hardcore fitness buff who needs something at home to help you get some more cardio in while you watch TV, listen to music or read a book, a recumbent bike is great for you.
Basically, recumbent bikes are just…great. Find the one that fits your style and get your sweat on. You’ll be happy you made the investment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the benefits of a recumbent bike?
Recumbent bikes are a low-impact way to get your heartrate up and stay in shape. These bikes are especially perfect for those who are recovering from injury or who are older and need a way to exercise that won’t cause undue stress on their body.
These bikes often come with a variety of exercise options, so you can focus on heartrate one day, intervals the next and increase the resistance settings to really torch some calories.
For some this will be the only piece of exercise equipment they need. For others, it supplies the perfect warm-up or cool down to another workout.
Q: Why should I choose a recumbent bike over an upright bike?
The main factor is comfort. Upright bikes have smaller – and less comfortable – seats, and your back will be asked to remain in a hunched, curved position for an extended length of time, leading to soreness.
Added back pain is simply out of the question for some riders, as they are already prone to back injuries and need something that supports their back rather than placing it in a position of increased stress. Recumbent bikes provide the leg activation of an upright bike, but in a much more tenable position.
Q: How do I maintain my recumbent bike?
Happily, once your bike is set up, it really doesn’t need much maintenance. Make sure you wipe it down after each use so that sweat doesn’t start to mess with the machine, but other than that you should be fine for a very long time.
Q: How do I know if I’ve set my seat to the right height/distance?
Ah, the seat. Getting your seat the right height and distance will be the most difficult thing about your recumbent bike experience besides the actual workout itself, but once it’s set, you’ll be good to go.
Though there have been studies done in order to find an equation that will nail the appropriate distance between seat and pedals, it’s far from perfect. Instead, spend some time playing with seat distance yourself. Ideally, you want your legs to be bent at a 10-15-degree angle when fully extended on the bike.
Height is less of a concern for recumbent riders – it’s more of an upright bike thing. Height here is more applicable to finding the right height of your seat back. When shopping for a bike, check out the listed height of the seat back and measure your own back against it.
Make sure the seat isn’t so high that it’s going to be resting uncomfortably against your neck or the back of your head while you ride, or so low that it’s not offering enough support. It takes a bit of time and effort, but it’s worth it.