Exercise bikes are a great way to make sure you’re getting your daily cardio in a low-impact format.
There are two standard types of exercise bikes – standard and recumbent.
Standard exercise bikes resemble classic bicycles – you’re sitting upright, and the bending over the handlebars in much the same way that you would do when riding a bicycle.
Recumbent bikes, on the other hand, take all the benefits of stationary cycling and make it a little more comfortable.
What is a recumbent bike and why should you consider adding one to your home gym?
Read on for a breakdown of all the information you would want to help you choose a recumbent bike that fits your needs, as well as some reviews of the best bikes on the market right now.
What is a Recumbent Bike?
Recumbent bikes, whether they’re stationary or not, move the rider’s center of balance.
Instead of sitting on the bike and pressing downward with your legs to move the pedals, the rider’s center of balance is located further toward the back wheel.
The pedals are near the front wheel of the bike and you sit in a reclined position while you push forward to move the pedals and propel the bike.
You can find recumbent bicycles for regular outdoor exercise, but if you prefer to stay indoors or live in an area that isn’t safe for bicycling, a stationary recumbent bike may be the best option for you.
What are the Benefits of Training with A Recumbent Bike?
Training with a stationary recumbent bike can be a safe and effective way to get your daily dose of cardio without ever having to leave your home.
Some of the benefits of a recumbent bike over an upright bike include:
- Lower back support – leaning over the handlebars of an upright bike can be painful if you suffer from lower back pain. A recumbent bike is usually equipped with a bucket seat which provides additional back and lumbar support, reducing the strain on your back while you’re exercising.
- Less joint impact – The position of the pedals (in front of you rather than beneath you) means that there’s less impact on your knees, ankles, and hips as you pedal. It also prevents you from standing up on the pedals, like you can on an upright bike.
- More Comfortable Seat – The banana seats on upright bikes, whether they’re stationary or not, are notorious for being uncomfortable after long periods of time. The bucket seat on a recumbent bike is much more comfortable for long workouts.
- Multitasking – With it’s reclined seating, the recumbent bike leaves your hands free to read, play on your phone, or even do upper body exercises with free weights while you’re pedaling away.
- Adjustable Cardio Exercise – Recumbent bikes are ideal for anyone of any fitness level. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been going to the gym for years or haven’t gotten off the couch in just as long – a recumbent bike can be adjusted to fit your fitness level, and will adapt with you as you grow.
This particular type of bike ideal for anyone who needs a good cardio exercise regimen but at the same time needs something low impact.
How to Choose a Recumbent Bike?
What sort of features should you be looking for in a recumbent exercise bike?
- Height and Weight Requirements – A bike designed for a 5’4” 150lb woman might not have all the features or the size required to accommodate a 6’1” 200lb man. Make sure your bike is adjustable and that you fit within its recommended height and weight ranges.
- Standard and Custom Programming – Does your bike come with a variety of standardized programs for exercise (i.e. cardio, hills, uphill marathon, etc) or just a few options with the opportunity to set up your own programs instead?
- Heart Rate Monitoring – Does the bike you’ve chosen come with onboard heart monitoring, or can it be synced to your Fitbit or other heart rate monitoring equipment?
- Footprint – How much space do you have for an exercise bike? Recumbent bikes do have a larger footprint than upright bikes, because of their reclined seat and pedal positions. Collapsable models might be an option if you need to be able to stow your recumbent bike when it’s not in use.
- Networking – Is your recumbent bike wifi or Bluetooth enabled? Do you need a bike that can be wifi enabled to help you keep track of your workout progress?
- Workout tracking – Do you use a wearable workout tracker or would you prefer a bike that keeps track of your workouts and progress for you?
There are a variety of bikes out there that will meet a number of different needs, but these are some of the features that you should be looking for before you purchase your first recumbent bike.
What Sort of Budget Do I Need to Purchase a Recumbent Bike?
As with any other piece of technology, whether it’s designed for exercise, networking, or cooking, you get what you pay for.
The price of your recumbent bike will largely depend on the features that you’re looking for.
A basic bike, without a simple LCD screen and adjustable tension can be obtained for as little as $150, while a more elaborate recumbent bike with all the accessories will cost considerably more.
The nice thing about recumbent bikes is that you can get a lot of bang for your buck, and you can add some comfortable cardio equipment to your home gym without breaking the bank.
Recumbent Bike Reviews
And now for the part, we’ve all been waiting for – the reviews!
We took a look at a variety of different recumbent bikes to see which ones offered the best bang for your buck, and which ones fell a little short.
Schwinn is normally the brand you go to for standard bicycles, but did you know that they make exercise bikes too?
If you’re looking for a fully networked, tricked out recumbent bike with all the bells and whistles, this is definitely the bike for you.
When it comes to programs, you’ve got a smorgasbord – there are 29 preset programs already included in the bike’s computer, as well as customizable settings.
It’s also good for more than one user – it can store presets for up to 4 individual users. The LCD backlit screen keeps track of all your goal settings as well as your current workout results.
The bike is also Bluetooth enabled so you can link it to your supported smart devices to keep track of your workouts and your fitness goals.
According to info from Schwinn, the app that syncs with their bikes is compatible with any Apple device that runs iOS 9.0 or higher, and Android devices that run Android 5.0 or higher.
The bike also features an adjustable cushioned seat with lumbar support, speakers and USB charging ports so you can charge your device and listen to music while you work out, and a sturdy 1 piece design that can stand up to the toughest punishment.
It has an upper weight capacity of 300 lbs, but even at its longest setting, it’s not comfortable or useable for riders above 6’4”.
If you don’t need all the bells and whistles, but still want a recumbent bike that gets the job done, the Exerpeutic 1000 High Capacity Recumbent Bike is an excellent choice.
It doesn’t have customized workout plans or progress tracking, but it does feature an easily adjustable 8 level magnetic torsion control system that is useful for every fitness level.
The LCD display features a large, easy to read window that keeps track of your distance traveled and calories burned, as well as your target heart rate, read through Hand Pulse Monitors on either side of the bike’s seat.
The seat itself is larger than average and well padded to keep you comfortable during those long exercise sessions.
This recumbent bike has an upper weight limit of 300 lbs and can be adjusted to accommodate riders from 5’3” to 6’3” in height.
If you don’t have a ton of extra space or a dedicated home gym, a folding recumbent bike can be a great alternative.
The Exerpeutic Gold 525XLR offers all the functionality of a static recumbent bike with the added bonus of it being foldable.
It also has a 400lb max weight limit and can be adjusted to fit riders from 5’2” to 6’5”, which makes it ideal for taller riders who might not be able to use other bikes comfortably.
Similar to the 1000, the 525XLR has an 8 level Magnetic Tension system which provides varying levels of resistance for any and all fitness levels.
The LCD monitor shows distance traveled, calories burned and heart rate. The seat and seat back are larger than average, making it ideal for taller or larger riders.
It’s also lighter than many other models, despite its increased weight capacity, so it’s easy to move the bike out of the way when it is folded or not in use.
While the 525XLR is a great option for larger riders, due to its higher weight rating, if you just need a small foldable bike that you can bring out for your workout and stash away in the corner when you’re done, the 400XL is a great option.
Its design is similar to the other Exerpeutic bikes that we’ve reviewed so far – LCD display, 8 level magnetic tension system, hand pulse sensors to keep track of your heart rate, and a large seat cushion and tall seat back.
What sets this bike apart from other similar pieces of equipment from the same manufacturer is the fact that it is incredibly quiet while in use.
You’ll hardly hear it moving at all, which is ideal for anyone who needs to work out quietly or lives in an apartment type setting where loud equipment is frowned upon.
The 400XL has a maximum weight of 300lbs and can be adjusted to accommodate riders between 5’2” and 6’2” in height. If you’re taller than 6’2”, you might want to opt for the 525XLR instead.
A recumbent exercise bike is a fantastic tool whether you are training for the Tour de France or simply trying to add some extra cardio to your workout regimen.
If you like riding a bike, but suffer from lower back pain or simply need a lower impact workout to protect your joints, consider a recumbent bike.