A recumbent bike is one of the best pieces of exercise equipment for fat loss, weight loss and getting fit. They are comfortable to use and offer a low-impact workout that is easy on your knees and hips. But with so many different models available, you make be asking yourself what is the best recumbent exercise bike? In this blog post we will explore five popular models that we consider to be the best on the market and would make an excellent choice for people looking to buy a new recumbent exercise bike.
What Is a Recumbent Exercise Bike
A recumbent exercise bike is an exercise bike designed to allow the user to pedal in a reclined position. This makes an exercise bike workout much more comfortable than using a conventional exercise bike where you are upright. The reason for this is that your body weight is distributed through your buttocks and your back when pedaling.
Because of the reclined position of the rider, recumbent exercise bikes tend to take up more space than upright exercise bikes. This means that they may not be suitable for your home gym if you have a limited amount of space.
Most models of recumbent exercise bike will have similar features to traditional exercise bikes:
- Adjustable resistance;
- Adjustable seat positioning;
- A computer to track your workout.
Benefits of Using a Recumbent Bike Over an Upright Bike
As mentioned above, the main benefit of a recumbent bike over an upright bike is comfort. It is far easier to churn out a 40-minute workout on a recumbent bike then on an upright bike.
Many users of recumbent exercise bikes report that they feel less discomfort in their knees and buttocks than when they use an upright bike.
Recumbent exercise bikes are also used for rehabilitation from spinal injuries because they require little or no upper body engagement. This is great news for anybody with a back problem who wishes to continue to exercise during their recuperation.
It’s not all about comfort however. You can still enjoy all the benefits of intense cardio work on your recumbent exercise bike, such as high intensity interval training (HIIT).
While many people perceive the recumbent bike as an easier, less-effective option than the upright bike, this paper from 2014 used EMG data to compare muscle activity in upright and recumbent bikes and it found that:
“The differences in average peak muscle activity were not statistically significant for any of the four muscles tested. Pedaling a recumbent ergometer resulted in greater activity in two (semitendinosus and tibialis anterior) of the four muscles studied. Only the rectus femoris muscle demonstrated greater activity during upright pedaling.”
So you needn’t feel like you’re taking the easy option if you decide to buy a recumbent exercise bike.
Tips for Buying the Best Recumbent Exercise Bike for You
If you take the advice below you will be sure to find the best recumbent bike within your particular budget.
Try before you buy
The most obvious advice when buying a recumbent exercise bike is to try the model you want before buying.
That’s not all that easy to do in this era of online shopping, but it’s definitely worth doing your best to try the bike before you buy it – even if it means taking a long journey to do so.
You want to be sure that the recumbent exercise bike is comfortable and suitable for your height and weight.
Cheap Isn’t Always Best
We all love a bargain, but when it comes to fitness equipment there is no substitute for good quality – and quality comes at a price.
Don’t make the mistake of buying the cheapest machine available only to find that it is rickety and unpleasant to use. You are far less likely to persist with your exercise program if you don’t enjoy your time in the saddle.
When a product seems to be significantly cheaper than its competition then more often than not it means that the manufacturer has cut corners.
Don’t compromise on quality even if it means paying more than you ideally wanted to pay. A recumbent exercise bike is a long-term investment and after years of happy use and great fitness results, you’ll be glad you spent the extra money.
See our warning toward the end of this article for the low down on why you really don’t want a cheap recumbent bike.
Don’t Miss out on Essential Features
A comfortable seat is a must as you’re going to be spending a lot of time sat in it. Make sure that there is sufficient padding.
There should be adequate seat rail adjustment so that all members of your family can benefit from using your new recumbent bike.
Make sure that you’re happy with the way the pedals secure your feet. There’s nothing worse than constantly feeling that you’re pushing with the wrong part of your foot during a session on an exercise bike.
If possible within the constraints of your budget, the display monitor should feature a workout tracker and some degree of interactive coaching. This will help to track your progress and motivate you to keep coming back.
Top 5 Best Recumbent Exercise Bikes Available
After much research into the best recumbent bikes, certain manufacturers keep cropping up. The list below represents the best recumbent exercise bikes for a variety of budgets and all have maximum user weight ratings in excess of 300lbs.
Life Fitness Platinum Club Series
- One of the highest quality recumbent bikes
- Truly provides a gym experience in the home
- Advance touchscreen display with RideSocial / Netflix / YouTube integration
- Applewatch and Samsung Galaxy Watch compatible
Nordic Track r8.9b
- Stunning modern design
- Near silent operation
- Supportive and rapidly adjustable seating system
- Integrated iFit Coach technology and 1 year subscription
Spirit Fitness CR800
- Commercial grade recumbent exercise bike with WiFi connectivity
- Extra-smooth ride
- Oversize frame and comfortable seat
- Huge amount of adjustment ensuring maximum comfort
NordicTrack Commercial VR21
- NordicTrack build quality at a lower price point
- Near silent operation
- Autobreeze workout fan to keep you cool
- Integrated iFit Coach technology and 1 year subscription
Horizon Comfort R
- Beautiful design and solid build
- Bluetooth speakers
- Digital console with useful data readouts
- A selection of ten workout modes
How to Use Your New Recumbent Exercise Bike to Achieve Your Fitness Goals!
If you’re getting in shape for the first time all looking to improve your fitness after a break from training then you should take it steady and gradually increase your work load.
If you’re overweight and completely new to using your recumbent bike, then you first need to speak with your healthcare professional. But assuming you’ve been given the all clear to begin exercising, it’s important to start gently and build up daily.
Begin by making the commitment to use the recumbent bike every single day.
Start with a target of just 3 minutes continuous pedaling. Make sure you achieve this before moving on to the next target – even if it means you are barely pushing the pedals around! Just don’t give up and hit your 3 minute target.
Once you’ve achieved 3 minutes, aim for 4 minutes the next day.
Repeat this until you hit 30 minutes continuous cycling.
It’s so simple, yet so powerful.
You will be amazed at how quickly your body responds to your new fitness regime. By approaching your new regime in this way, you will be capable of cycling continuously for 30 minutes within a month! Your joints and cardio-vascular system will adapt beautifully without being shocked by sudden intense exercise.
When you hit 30 minutes continuous cycling, you can then start experimenting with interval training to take your fitness to new levels.
A Final Warning Not to Buy a Cheap Recumbent Exercise Bike
At the risk of repeating ourselves it’s important that you understand the perils of buying a cheap model.
Quite often the manufacturer of a cheaper recumbent exercise bike will simply re-purpose the flywheel assembly from their conventional exercise bike and fix it to a new frame and seat.
They then have something that resembles a recumbent exercise bike but which is ergonomically unusable because the crank is too close to the floor meaning that you can’t pedal naturally without your heels hitting the floor.
So don’t fall for this trick. Treat yourself to a quality model instead.
Summing it all Up
Once you’ve read this guide, it should be clear why a recumbent exercise bike is one of the best choices for your home gym setup and also why it pays off to spend a little more to get a quality bike.
We hope that we have helped to answer any questions you had about which model is right for your fitness goals and more importantly how to get started on your fitness journey by making consistent improvements over time which will lead to a radical improvement in your fitness and quality of life.
Which recumbent exercise bike will you buy? Do you already own a great model which we’ve not mentioned? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’ve been reading this article because you’re not as young as you used to be and are looking to get in the best shape you can to enjoy your later years, then you’ll want to read our ultimate guide to building muscle after the age of 60.