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A recumbent exercise bike is a bike that provides a comfortable position as the user reclines against a backrest. The unique shape allows people to sit closer to the ground while exercising.

A quick look at 5 of the best recumbent bikes

Compared with a standard exercise bike, a recumbent bike has a larger seat, cushioned back support, and pedals situated in front rather than in line with the body.

This article discusses the pros and cons of recumbent exercise bikes, some of the best options to consider, health considerations, and more.

The laid-back position allows users to multitask while exercising. This encourages users to stay on the equipment for longer without getting bored.

Recumbent bikes sit closer to the ground and have a lower center of gravity, making them a good option for people with stability issues. The large seats offer better support for users’ buttocks.

Recumbent bikes are a suitable choice for individuals who are new to working out, have certain health conditions, are recovering from an injury, or want to multitask while exercising.

Recumbent bikes are also popular with athletes since they prevent soreness and allow for more extended periods of workouts with less fatigue.

Medical News Today chooses fitness equipment that meets the following criteria:

  • Price: Products suit a range of budgets.
  • Size and capacity: Products are suitable for people of different heights, weights, and strength levels.
  • Connectivity: Where fitness equipment has fitness memberships or subscriptions, MNT ensures variation in classes and services that benefit a person’s health.
  • Materials: Products use safe and durable materials that are easy to clean and maintain.
  • Ease of use: MNT selects simple-to-use products that have clear instructions. If the setup is complicated, MNT chooses brands that offer a setup or installation service.
  • Quality: Companies adhere to high quality manufacturing processes that ensure their products are safe for personal use.
  • Reputability: MNT chooses products from businesses that adhere to industry best practices and that offer reliable customer service and support.

Below are some recumbent bikes available to buy online.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for a VR-compatible bike: Schwinn 270

  • Resistance mechanism: friction
  • Number of resistance levels: 25
  • Maximum weight recommendation: 300 pounds (lb)
  • Warranty: a 30-day manufacturer’s warranty for repair and replacement
  • List price: $659

This bike has a Bluetooth connection that syncs fitness data, such as time, calories, heart rate, and distance, with the Schwinn Trainer App and other app-based tracking tools, allowing users to set and monitor fitness progress.

The Bluetooth connectivity makes the device VR-compatible. It also syncs with Explore the World App, which gives users access to a wide variety of destinations and route lengths. The app has free routes and a paid subscription.

A person can also use the free RideSocial app, which provides an interactive 360-degree view in real time as a person virtually rides alongside others.

The company claims that the high speed, high inertia system ensures easy start and a smooth, consistent workout.

This bike includes a media rack, a bottle holder, a USB charging port, and an adjustable fan. It also uses two blue backlit LCDs.

Best for easy mounting: Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike with Resistance ME-709

  • Resistance mechanism: magnetic
  • Number of resistance levels: 8
  • Maximum weight recommendation: 300 lb
  • Warranty: an extended 90-day return window
  • List price: $239.99

This bike has a step-through design that allows for easy mounting. The weighted pedals come with adjustable foot straps.

The bike has an ergonomic, high-density foam padded seat for comfort. Users can adjust the bike to accommodate their leg length.

The large LCD can show user statistics for time, speed, calories, and distance.

The bike comes with transport wheels that allow the user to move the bike easily for storage.

Best for most heights: Sunny Health and Fitness Magnetic Recumbent Bike

  • Resistance mechanism: magnetic
  • Number of resistance levels: 8
  • Maximum weight recommendation: 300 lb
  • Warranty: a limited 1-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • List price: $199.99

This bike features a step-through design that allows for easy mounting. It comes with built-in transportation wheels for easy portability and has front and side handlebars.

An easy-to-read LCD shows distance, time, calories burned, speed, and heart rate.

A person can adjust the seat forward and backward with a flick of a handle, without the need to get off the device.

The bike can accommodate user heights and height adjustments between 5 feet (ft) 3 inches (in) and 6 ft 6 in.

Best for a space-saving design: IRONMAN Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike

  • Resistance mechanism: magnetic
  • Number of resistance levels: 8
  • Maximum weight recommendation: 145 lb
  • Warranty: a 1-year limited warranty
  • List price: around $199

This exercise bike has a space-saving design, as it folds to half of its size. The small frame allows a person to use it as a desk bike for adjustable desks. It also comes with transportation wheels for easy transport and storage.

The semi-recumbent design makes it easy for users to get on and off. Users can adjust the back seat and chair to accommodate people who are between 5 ft 2 in and 6 ft 2 in tall.

This recumbent bike has a precision-balanced flywheel, which the company claims operates quietly.

The product includes a performance monitor, which is a 3.3-in, easy-to-read LCD that shows the distance, calories, speed, time, and heart rate.

The bike also comes with the MyCloudFitness app, in which users can view their activity reports and workout stats. A premium subscription gives users access to trainer-led videos and personalized workout programs.

Best for many resistance levels: Sole LCR Recumbent Bike

  • Resistance mechanism: magnetic
  • Number of resistance levels: 40
  • Maximum weight recommendation: up to 350 lb
  • Warranty: a 30-day money back guarantee, a lifetime warranty on frames, and a 5-year parts warranty
  • List price: $2,799.99

This recumbent bike comes with a device table, a USB port, cooling fans, a sound system, and a bottle holder.

Bluetooth-compatible audio speakers allow users to listen to music from their smartphones.

This bike allows for forward and backward seat adjustment to accommodate users of different heights. It has two wheels up front for easy transfer and storage.

The following table compares all of the recumbent bikes in this article.

ResistanceResistance levelsMaximum user weightWarrantyPrice
Schwinnfriction25300 lb30 days$659
Marcymagnetic8300 lb90 days$239.99
Sunny Health
and

Fitness
magnetic8300 lbone year$199.99
IRONMANmagnetic8145 lbone year$199
Solemagnetic40350 lblifetime$2,799.99

People may wish to consider the following factors when choosing a recumbent bike:

  • Size: A person should ensure that the bike they purchase is the right size for the area in which they will use it. For example, a person with less space may prefer to buy a bike they can fold up when it is not in use.
  • Weight limit: It is advisable to ensure the bike is suitable for a person’s current weight. Companies should clearly indicate the maximum user weight in the product description.
  • Warranty: People may wish to purchase a bike with a longer warranty period in case the product breaks or becomes damaged.
  • Price: A person may wish to consider the price of the bike to ensure it is within their budget.

Below, we discuss some health and lifestyle factors to consider when purchasing a recumbent bike.

Pros

Regular exercise bikes require users to support their weight on their hip bones and their hands, causing them to round their backs. This may be uncomfortable and lead to back pain.

By contrast, a recumbent bike provides back support and reduces strain on a person’s back and hips.

A 2017 study found that recumbent bikes are beneficial for individuals with cardiac limitations. Also, the recumbent bike’s low placement makes it more accessible for individuals with mobility issues and people using wheelchairs.

A 2019 study recommends recumbent bikes as an endurance conditioning exercise for older adults with hip and knee pain.

Physical therapists sometimes use recumbent bikes as part of their recovery programs for their clients. An older study from 2004 notes that a recumbent cycling position puts less load on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), making it suitable for people recovering from an ACL injury.

The authors of a 2014 study found no difference in the muscle workload of major leg muscles when comparing cycling in upright and recumbent positions. However, using recumbent bikes resulted in greater activity in some muscles in the lower limb. This suggests that recumbent bikes are a suitable alternative to upright bikes for building up leg muscles.

A 2012 study reports that using bicycles was more effective than whirlpool treatment and moist hot pack treatment in improving the hip range of motion.

Cons

A recumbent bike may not fully engage the core muscles. Users bear much less body weight while reclining in a recumbent bike, requiring less core strength than when pedaling on an upright exercise bike.

Moreover, recumbent bikes only allow a person to assume a specific position. By contrast, an upright bike allows for more flexibility and enables users to target specific muscle groups by altering their position as they pedal.

Unlike most upright bikes that fold away easily for storage, most recumbent bikes do not fold. Recumbent models also tend to be more expensive than traditional upright bikes.

Similar pieces of home exercise equipment include the following:

Upright exercise bikes

Upright exercise bikes may be a suitable option for people who do not have any joint or back issues or who wish for higher intensity workouts.

These bikes may also suit individuals who want to cross-train, as they allow a person to target specific muscle groups.

Learn more about some of the best exercise bikes here.

Elliptical trainers

Like recumbent bikes, elliptical trainers offer a low impact workout. However, while recumbent bikes primarily target the lower body, ellipticals target both the upper and lower body.

Being suspended in the air also gives people a lower rate of perceived exertion, which may allow for more prolonged periods of exercise.

Treadmills

Treadmills are not only for walking and running. Individuals can often customize their workout routine with a treadmill by incorporating strength training using their body weight or hand weights.

There are a variety of treadmills available on the market.

Learn about some of the best treadmills here.

Below, find the answers to some common questions about these bikes.

What recumbent bikes do gyms use?

There is no standard recumbent bike that gyms use.

Some companies offer studio or gym bikes for home use. If a person likes the bike they use in the gym, they can visit the manufacturer’s website to see whether the company offers a similar bike for home use.

Which recumbent bike has the most comfortable seat?

How comfortable a recumbent bike seat is will depend on each person.

A seat should be comfortable enough for an individual to be able to sit on for the duration of a workout. Additionally, it should have an ergonomic design to support the body.

It is also important to ensure the seat is the right height and length for a person to use the pedals comfortably. People may wish to purchase a bike that allows them to move the seat backward, forward, up, and down.

Can you get a good workout on a recumbent bike?

Research suggests that recumbent bikes are a good option for people with hip and knee pain who wish to exercise.

Also, recumbent bikes put less stress on the ACL.

What are the disadvantages of a recumbent bike?

Recumbent bikes tend to take up more space than upright bikes, especially as most models do not fold away.

Additionally, these bikes do not work the core muscles as effectively as upright models, and people cannot move positions to work out all muscles the same way as they can with an upright bike.

Does a recumbent bike burn belly fat?

Biking in whichever form helps burn calories and increase muscles, which reduces fat.

However, people who exercise regularly are more likely to see a difference.

What is the point of recumbent bikes?

Recumbent bikes allow people to multitask while cycling.

The seat is lower to the ground, which may benefit those who find it difficult to get onto an upright bike saddle.

A recumbent bike may be a good choice for people of various abilities, including those who may have joint issues.

There are different recumbent bikes available. Before making a purchase, a person should consider their fitness goals and any health concerns to find a bike that suits their preferences and needs.