5 Excellent Recumbent Exercise Bikes with Real Pedal Power
Gone are the days of the old-fashioned stationary workout bicycles. You know what I’m talking about–the ones that only have two tension levels, that give you a backache from leaning over while you pedal, and that inevitably ended up in the corner of your workout space with laundry stacked on them.
Instead, let us introduce you to the recumbent exercise bikes of the 21st century. They’re sleek, stylish, and set up to help you get great results from your workout. They have a wide array of features and come as minimal or as high-end as you want. And because the recumbent style has you sitting closer to the ground and leaning against a backrest, exercising on it gives your back a real break.
We’ve done the research for you so you can spend less time searching for the perfect bike and more time riding it. Here are five recumbent exercise bikes that will have you loving your workout.
There are so many things to like about the Sunny Health and Fitness Recumbent Bike that it’s hard to list them all–but we’re going to try!
The first thing is the moveable handlebars. Most recumbent bikes have stationary handles, and when you don’t use your arms, your workout is obviously more limited to the lower half of your body. The moveable handlebars on this bike allow you to get your upper body in on the action, working out your arms, back, and core. If you want, you can even isolate your workout to your upper body by putting your feet on the floor instead of pedaling.
We also loved the oversized seat on this machine. Since one of the distinctive features of a recumbent bike is the seat and the seatback, you want it to really work for you. This one does. It’s more comfortable, and also allows you to position your hips and back correctly to give you the best support while you cycle.
Other features that caught our eye include the 350-pound maximum weight limit, the patented seat lever (which allows you to easily change your seat position), and the wheels so you can move it. Recumbent bikes tend to be large so you may not want to move it often, but it’s great to know that you can if you switch up your workout space.
Our one wish? That its most unique feature was adjustable. The moveable handlebars come at a pre-set angle, and that’s where they stay. If you have less shoulder motion or shorter arms, these handlebars may not work as well for you.
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Recumbent Bike Exercise Bike, 350lb High Weight Capacity, Cross T…
The moveable handlebars are the stand-out feature on our top pick, but there are many more things to love about this recumbent exercise bike.
The Merax Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but you don’t need them to get a great workout.
The seat on this bike is easily adjustable, the display screen gives you a lot of stats (speed, heart rate, distance, calories burned, etc.), and the eight tension levels allow you to customize your workout. The simple design of the bike makes it easy to set up on your own but doesn’t compromise the quality of the machine.
We also were amazed at the weight and height limits on this recumbent bike. You can be up to 6’5″ tall and weigh as much as 380 pounds and still use this bike. A lot of other bikes have much lower limits, making it harder for people who really want to get in shape to find a good bike.
However, here’s our warning. While the bike is certified to handle that maximum weight, you should read the manual’s weight guidelines before you buy. They state that to get the most and longest life out of your bike, the recommended max weight over time is 242 pounds. That’s a significant difference, and it makes the 380 max that they also state feel misleading. You should definitely consider this before you purchase.
Merax Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike | 8-Level Resistance | Quick Adjust Seat (Black/Yellow)
With eight speeds, a great display, a simple design, and a high weight limit, it's easy to see why this bike made our top five!
More of the Best Recumbent Exercise Bikes
Exerpeutic 4000 Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike
The Exerpeutic 4000 Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike has a lot of things going for it. The seat is extra padded (2.5″ thick), the seatback is breathable mesh, and it has padded armrests, to name just a few. We love that you have 12 pre-programmed workouts to choose from, as well as 24 different tension levels.
It didn’t grab the top pick on our list for two reasons. First, it can have some stability issues. Secondly, while it’s Bluetooth accessible, that’s a feature that may not be necessary and can leave you feeling really frustrated if it doesn’t work, as advanced technology on workout machines sometimes doesn’t since the focus is less on that and more on the actual mechanics of the machine.
Overall though, if you’re looking for an advanced piece of equipment, this bike a good choice.
Schwinn 230 Recumbent Exercise Bike
The Schwinn 230 Recumbent Exercise Bike is for people who are looking for all the extras on a bike. Want extra technology? This one has dual LCD screens, MP3 input, and goal-tracking capabilities. Want impressive numbers? This one has 22 pre-set workout programs, 20 tension levels, and two fitness tests.
The downside? The number on the price tag goes up for all of those extras. However, if you’re a dedicated recumbent bike rider and if you’re ready to take your workouts to the next level, this machine can certainly help you get there.
Our pick for the best value also has the best color: the Marcy ME-709 Recumbent Bike is orange and gray, setting it apart from the other black ones on our list – an almost all of the recumbent bikes on the market.
It’s also a great bike for other reasons too. The counter-balanced pedals provide great support for your feet as you work out. It’s compact, has an ergonomically designed and padded seat, and higher handlebars for more comfort.
It doesn’t give you a ton of data (just calories burned, speed, distance, and time), but those four stats are probably the ones you’re looking for most anyway, and the screen does display them with extra-large numbers.
Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike with Resistance ME-709
With its splash of orange, this bike looks modern and prices out just right for the features.
Questions to Consider
What’s the difference between a recumbent exercise bike and a regular stationary bike? Overall, recumbents are designed to be easier on your body. They have a seatback and a more padded seat, ensuring better postures with less hunching. Because you’re sitting slightly reclined and lower to the ground, there is also less stress on your knees and back.
Are recumbent exercise bikes effective at helping to get you in shape? Yes, they are. They give your lower body a great workout, and if you choose one that has moveable arms, like our top pick, you’ll get a great upper body work out too. As we mentioned, it does this without putting increased pressure on your knees and spine.
Can a recumbent exercise bike really help you lose weight? Yes, it can. It’s exercise and it gets you moving. The higher the tension level that you set the machine at, the harder you’ll need to pedal and the more you’ll break a sweat. Like any other form of exercise, it’s worth noting that you get out of it what you put into it. If you only ever use it for a few minutes a day on the easiest tension level, you’re not likely to see results. If you keep pushing yourself more and more on it, increasing the tension level and length of your workout, you’ll get better results.
What muscles does a recumbent exercise bike work? The muscles that get the best workout are definitely your lower-body muscles: your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Your core will also get stronger because you’re actively holding your body upright as you pedal. Your upper-body muscles can get a good workout if you decide to purchase a machine with moveable handlebars.
If you’re ready for an exercise machine that takes the stress off of your knees and back but can still give you a great workout, you need to check out these recumbent bikes. With their great style and unique features, there’s no way these will end up being a glorified place to hold your laundry–unless it’s that sweaty towel from the great workout you got riding the bike!