Top 5 Best Recumbent Exercise Bikes - Recumbent Bikes 101
When compared with upright exercise bikes, recumbent bikes have many benefits and are more and more found not only at commercial gyms, but also at home gyms.
Benefits of recumbent bikes include: more comfortable exercises, more muscles worked, more stable exercise machine, easier access etc.
There are many recumbent bikes on the market, here are reviews and recommendations of few of them, including the top 5 recumbent bikes.
If a user is fed up of the experience of literally ‘pain in the butt’ because of their traditional bicycle, why shouldn’t they choose a recumbent bike? It makes them comfortable and takes care of their major concern – pain in the bottom. How does it do that? What are various types of recumbent bikes? Which of them are the best? How to choose one? Let us answer all of these and more questions.
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A recumbent bike is a bike on which the rider can sit in a laid-back position. The weight of the rider is evenly and comfortably distributed over a larger area, and is supported by back and buttocks. Unlike a traditional bike, in which a very small portion of the sitting bones, feet and hands are used to take the entire weight of the body, a recumbent bike supports a larger portion of rider’s body and thus saves it from the pain.
Benefits of Exercising on a Recumbent Bike
A recumbent bike can offer the riders a good exercise, if they put a decent effort in it. If they unwind and pedal causally while listening to Mozart and playing with a smartphone, they may not acquire sufficient intensity to raise their heart rate and obtain the fitness benefits. However, if they increase the resistance and maintain a steady, forceful rhythm, a recumbent bike will help them train their heart, burn calories and increase the strength and stamina of their lower body.
Recumbent bikes are available either as stationary exercise equipment or as proper bicycles that riders can ride outdoors. It requires users to sit back and pedal out in front of them with their feet. This posture is absolutely relaxed and makes the recumbent a fantastic alternative for those who can’t use upright bikes due to shoulder, neck or even back problems. If people decide to use a recumbent for cardio, they should maintain at least a moderate intensity all through the duration of their workout session and they can make the most of their recumbent.
Most modern exercise recumbent bikes comes with exercise programs, designed for different goals - burn calories, increase stamina, heart zone programs etc., or the user(s) can load their own exercise programs depending on their own goals and requirements.
Exercising on the recumbent bikes has benefits like improving cardio and losing weight. However a recumbent is a preferred choice for exercise because it has some other distinct benefits, like:
More Muscles are Targeted: In case of either of the bikes, cycling is beneficial for the muscles of buttocks, thighs and lower legs. Cycling is also beneficial for building more lean body mass. However, because the recumbent bike makes a different position of riders’ legs than an upright bike does, it targets these muscles in an altogether different manner. Hence, the recumbent bike enables riders to target different muscles and research has proven that it targets more muscles than an upright bike. A combination of a stationary recumbent bike and an upright bike while riding outdoors is a great way to make sure that all muscles in rider’s legs are being targeted.
Safety: Recumbent bikes are a far safer alternative to upright bikes. This is why they are often used in rehab centers. A recumbent offers a larger seat and back support. It is also lower to the ground, thereby making it easier to get on and off for elderly and rehab patients.
Higher Level of Comfort: A larger seat, back rest and recumbent position offered by the recumbent stationary bike make it a far more comfortable option than a traditional bike. An upright bike causes pain in buttocks with smaller seats and strained or tired backs because of lack of support. These issues are eliminated by recumbent bikes. A few studies have also found that less strain on knees and hips are put by recumbent bikes than upright bikes, thus a recumbent bike is a better alternative for those having arthritis or similar disorders.
Extending Workout: Because the recumbent stationary bike is far more comfortable and often easier to use than the traditional bike, the riders tend to enjoy the workout and do it for a longer duration. It’s quite understandable that if they are suffering from pain in their back and buttocks, they are less or not likely to continue the workout. Even they are less likely to do the workout the next day or even later in the week. If their body is pain-free and comfortable, they tend more to push themselves and stick with their new workout schedule.
Recumbent Bikes - Reviews and Recommendations
There are so many brands and models of recumbent bikes on the market, that it is almost impossible to make 'top 5' list. However, here are top 5 models, in our opinion. You may agree with us or not, after all, there are so many other excellent exercise machines on the market, too.
1. Expeuretic 900XL Extended Capacity Recumbent Bike
Exerpeutic 900XL Extended Capacity Recumbent Bike is a very affordable recumbent stationary bike and is excellent choice for the home gyms. While there are a lot of recumbent exercise bikes offered for a cheap price, they often lack the quality. Exerpeutic 900XL is a cheap unit, but still maintains quality.
A thing to note for the users is that they can get heart pulse monitor within this price range. Now here is an evaluation of Exerpeutic recumbent stationary bike.
Comfort: Exerpeutic offers comfort with its large seat and the back suppert. However, the main point here are the handlebars. The two handlebars are positioned in two different ways. Users can ride while lying back or leaning forward. These handlebars offer guaranteed comfort.
LCD Screen Readability: The LCD screen of Exerpeutic is small and may be difficult to read while sitting. Its positioning is not even standard as users need to lower their vision to look at the monitor. But the output is accurate and all required data are shown on the screen.
Duration of Workout: Here the convenient handlebars play an important role. By choosing and using them wisely, the user can exercise quite longer. Although the LCD screen is small-sized, the handlebars and seat offer a great comfort.
Onboard computer provides easy scrolling through exercise data sets. Exercise Data Set includes: Heart rate, Distance, Speed, Time, Calories burned.
Exerpeutic 900XL Specs: Length: 54 inches, Width: 22 inches, Height: 34 inches, Weight: 63 pounds, Maximum User Weight: 300 pounds.
- Heart Rate Monitor within a low price range
- Noiseless because of ‘smooth torque’ technology
- Magnetic resistance containing 8 levels
- Comfortable back rest
- Large seat with padded cushion
- Transport wheels
- Extended leg stabilizers to secure user’s legs
- Large pedals with straps avoiding slipping of feet
- Lacks automatic resistance level selection
Exerpeutic 900XL Extended Capacity Recumbent Bike is being replaced with the newer model: Exerpeutic Gold 975 Recumbent Exercise Bike. It is very similar unit, but improved in many ways. Of course, it is also slightly more expensive, but still very affordable exercise bike.
2. Schwinn 230 Recumbent Exercise Bike
If the users think that Schwinn 270’s feature list is too overwhelming for them and they have no problem if the list of features is slightly shorter, but the recumbent bike is more affordable, there is another Schwinn bike for them - it’s Schwinn 230!
This recumbent stationary bike is much more economical than Schwinn 270, which is very important for home gym owners.
Comfort: When it’s about comfort, Schwinn 230 is similar to Schwinn 270. Placement of seat and LCD screen is the same and even the size and position of pedals are the same.
Thus, if comfort is the main feature users are looking for within a limited budget, Schwinn 230 is a perfect recumbent exercise bike for anyone. In fact, it is short of computer features and therefore costs less than Schwinn 270.
LCD Screen Readability: This feature is also the same as that of Schwinn 270, i.e. it has the DualTrackTM LCD window, with two backlit windows.
Duration of Workout: As mentioned before, duration of workout largely depends on the comfort level of the bike. The design of Schwinn 230 is the same as Schwinn 270 and therefore workout duration can quite long.
All in all, Schwinn 230 recumbent bike is also an excellent bike for seniors, too. It is similar to Schwinn 270 just short of some features.
Some salient features of Schwinn 230 are:
- DualTrackTM – versatile data display with the two-in-one LCD screen
- 9 profile programs including mountain rides, fun rides and challenges 3 each
- Quick start option
- 2 exclusive preloaded software systems for determining physical progress
- Four customizable heart rate settings
Exercise Data Sets include: Total time, Total distance, Time intervals, Elevation per minute, Pulse, Calories burned, Speed and velocity, Present resistance level, Watts.
Schwinn Specs: Length: 64 inches, Width: 27 inches, Height: 50 inches, Maximum User Weight limit: 300 lb.
- 20 resistance levels
- Heart rate monitor on handlebar
- 22 exercise programs
- Transport wheels
- High inertia creating weighted flywheel in perimeter shape
- Heart rate monitor is placed on the handlebar; it would have been great if it was tied to the heart rate strap.
3. Nautilus R616 Recumbent Bike
Nautilus R616 Recumbent Bike was launched in the fall of 2014 as a top model in the range that includes the highly rated R614 too. But it’s interesting to see whether the price difference is justified and whether the lower priced design offers better value for the user’s money.
Nautilus R616 comes in the price range of many other recumbents including not only Nautilus’ recent collection but even ProForm’s 440 ES and an entire line of Schwinn models (230, 270, 520). So, how does it compare with others?
Firstly it offers 25 levels of Eddy Current Braking (ECB) resistance, an enhancement over the 20 levels available with their R614 which is lower priced and has the same number of resistance levels as in Schwinn 270.
Next, while considering the seat, the Nautilus R614 in fact has better ventilation in the back support than most of the recumbents in its price range, thus helping the rider stay cool. Only the ProForm 440 ES is an exception to this, though its seat doesn’t provide the same ergonomic contouring like the Nautilus, which means the user can move around a little bit more.
The ECB resistance offers a quiet workout to the user, while the high-inertia, high-speed, perimeter-weighted flywheel too makes sure that the cycling motion remains consistent and smooth.
This is further added by the upgrade to deluxe oversized pedals from that of R614, providing a wider range of possibilities of foot positions leading to a more efficient transfer of power.
Further, the low-profile crossbeam as well as walk through design paired with reclined seated position and lumbar support provide workouts that are not only effective, but also low impact and therefore comfortable.
Nautilus R616 vs Nautilus R614
Here’s a short comparison between Nautilus R616 and R614 so that users can take buying decision easily.
Programs: Both bikes provide an extensive range of pre-programmed workouts. But those offered by R616 are a bit more i.e. 29 programs while R614 offers 22 programs.
Profiles: R616 offers four different users to create profiles and store their exercise stats against only two offered by R614.
Flywheel: Both machines feature a perimeter weighted flywheel that is smooth and quiet, allowing users to listen to music or watch their favorite shows while exercising.
Heart Rate Monitor: When it’s about monitoring heart rate, R616 scores clearly over R614. R614 can do the job but requires you to grab the handheld heart rate monitor, while R616 offers the option of a chest strap that makes it easier to monitor the heart rate.
Display and console features are more or less similar in both the machines and include a dual track LCD screen, a USB charging port, data export to NautilusConnect and Myfitnesspal and Bluetooth connectivity.
Nautilus R616 vs. Schwinn 270
These are two very similar exercise recumbent bikes, very popular units for home gyms, even when paying slightly higher price is not a problem.
Both the recumbent stationary bikes feature some similar points like magnetic resistance, grip heart monitor, maximum user weight 300 lbs, 10 year frame warranty, USB charging port, built-in speakers, 3-speed fan, 2 integrated levelers and water bottle holder etc.
In the end, Schwinn 270 costs slightly more, but when found on sale, even the price difference is negligible.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Nautilus R616 Recumbent Bike Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
4. Schwinn 270 Recumbent Exercise Bike
Schwinn 270 is indeed a smart choice for all people interested in cycling, as means of cardio exercise, seniors included. It has impressive list of features. Although it is not cheapest recumbent bike on the market, the user gets a lot more. Here are some of the Schwinn 270's features:
Comfort: Schwinn 270 is so comfortable that elderly users can sit on it as long as they want and pedal. The seat’s orientation and position of the LCD screen are the main factors that decide comfort of a recumbent exercise bike. LCD screen of Schwinn 270 is a bit upper than user’s face. Thus, a user doesn’t have to nod even slightly to get information from the screen.
The best option for the position of the LCD screen is to position it at the face height of the user. However, not everyone is of the same height and also body structure.
Therefore, it should be ensured that the LCD screen is not positioned below the user’s eye level. It can be a little upper than the eye level, but should not be too high.
Display and Readability: Schwinn 270’s LCD display consists of two backlit windows, named as DualTrackTM. The DualTrackTM window enables the user to read up to 13 different feedbacks.
Duration of Workout: On Schwinn 270 recumbent exercise bike, a user can do workout for a long time. This is because the more comfortable a recumbent stationary bike, the longer a user can sit and pedal on it. This proves that Schwinn 270 is truly comfortable.
Here are some salient features of Schwinn 270:
The computer of Schwinn 270 provides:
- LCD display consists of two backlit windows called DualTrackTM
- 12 profile programs such as mountain rides, fun rides and challenges – 4 each
- 2 fitness test workouts
- MyFitnessPal software system and Nautilus® connect to connect with USB and Bluetooth to use conveniently
- Recovery test software to find out the duration of user’s heart rate recovery
Exercise data sets include: Total time, Total distance, Present resistance level, Speed and velocity, Pulse, Calories burned, Elevation per minute.
Technical Specs: Length: 64 inches, Width: 27.7 inches, Height: 50 inches, Maximum User Weight: 300 pounds.
- 25 resistance levels
- Heart rate monitor that reads data from chest strap and is the most reliable
- 29 exercise programs
- Transport wheels
- High inertia creating weighted flywheel in the shape of perimeter
- Nothing as such
Actually, the only reason for Schwinn 270 to be on 4th position is its price, when compared with some other models. For home gym, many of these features are not absolutely required, but when available, they are great.
If you need a really great recumbent bike at affordable price, go for Schwinn 270 or Nautilus R616.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
5. ProForm 440 ES Recumbent Bike
ProForm 440 ES recumbent bike features comfortable reclined seating, iFit compatibility, a tablet computer holder and an extensive workout menu.
It is a mid-price recumbent bike, offering a two-year parts warranty, one-year labor warranty and life time warranty on frame.
If the user wants cardio exercise, low-strain weight loss and muscle toning of lower body, this is one of highly recommended recumbent bikes. However, this bike too has some cons with pros. Here are both.
- 350 pound user weight limit which is a high capacity
- Padded chair-like seat offering ventilated back support
- Step Thru Design allows user to easily get on and off the bike
- Quiet magnetic resistance
- 18-pound drive favorable for lighter workouts
- iFit compatibility for endless workout options and sophisticated data tracking
- 32 built-in workout programs
- Handlebars featuring grip pulse sensors
- iPod compatibility (2” speakers and charging port)
- Water bottle holder
- Two-year parts warranty
- Workout fan
- Acceptable price
- It takes two hours to assemble the machine
- Lack of a bigger drive for intermediate and advanced training
- iFit monitor isn’t included
- No wireless heart rate monitoring
- Customer service of ProForm could be better
- Controls are easy to use, but the display could be larger
When assembled and working properly, ProForm 440 ES is excellent home recumbent bike, highly recommended, especially for beginners, medium-advanced trainees and elderly people. Advanced trainees might find exercises on this model too light.
For more reviews and recommendations, check ProForm 440 ES Exercise Bike Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Other Recumbent Bikes
Apart from the above-mentioned models, there are much more recumbent bikes on the market that might fit your needs. Some of them are really cheap and are good only for beginners, some of them are commercial class machines. If you are looking for a good recumbent bike, top 5 list is the first thing to look at, but don't forget these models, too.
Precor RBK 835 Recumbent Exercise Bike
Precor RBK 835 Recumbent Exercise Bike is a premium recumbent and a commercial cardio trainer offering a generous warranty.
With a wide resistance range and adjustable seating, Precor RBK 835 suits virtually any body size and strength. It also offers the most workout programs of all Precor recumbent stationary bikes.
RBK 835 is equivalent to any Precor bike featured in an elite fitness clubs and therefore offers a gym-quality training at home. It offers a generous 10-year residential warranty on wear items and parts.
The machine is beautifully engineered and allows a comfortable position for the body for low-impact cycling and effective calorie burn. It offers an easy to get on and off design and a very comfortable lumbar support because of air-flex seating. It offers 11 seat positions for a perfect fit.
RBK 835 offers 12 preset bike workouts (most among all Precor recumbent bikes) for weight loss, cardiac health, sports performance enhancement and more. These programs have preset durations and machine’s resistance can be adjusted from 22 to 750 watts to suit any skill level.
The bike also features a SmartRate heart rate monitor that keeps the users informed about their exertion level to make the most of training period.
Moreover, an optional 15” high-definition entertainment screen as well as iPhone/iPod compatibility provides extra motivation to the user.
- Smart and comfortable cycling design
- Dual sided pedals (with and without straps)
- Easy to access step-through frame
- Powder coated steel frame
- Optional 15” entertainment screen
- 25 resistance levels up to 750 watts
- 12 workout programs
- Detailed workout stats
- Reading rack
- Transport wheels
- Easy maintenance with a convenient design
- Ten-year warranty on parts
- Good customer service
- High price
- No exercise fan
- No chest strap transmitter
Precor RBK 835 Commercial Series Recumbent Exercise Bike is excellent recumbent bike, but really an overkill for home gym owners. But, if you don't mind paying extra money, Precor RBK 835 is perhaps the ideal model for you.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Precor RBK 835 Commercial Series Recumbent Exercise Bike Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Diamondback 910SR Exercise Bike
This is a low-impact recumbent that fits not only common users but also those having chronic pain. 32 individual levels of resistance are provided by Eddy Current Braking system, along with an adjustable seat and Step Through frame. It also features a wireless heart rate monitor and a wide workout program menu (35).
- Highest number of resistance levels
- Huge range of workout programs
- Adjustable seatback and handlebars
- Docking station for Apple products so users can listen to music
- Wireless heart rate monitor
- Comfortable multiple speed cooling fan
- Quiet operation
- Display not the flashiest
- No compatibility with iFit Live
- Average warranty – not great for the price
- price for average home gym owner
Diamondback Fitness 910SR recumbent exercise bike is cheaper than Precor RBK 835 model, but it still costs more than Schwinn 270 or Nautilus R616.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Diamondback Fitness 910SR Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Sole Fitness LCR Recumbent Exercise Bike
Featuring 40 resistance levels, 12-position adjustable foam seat, flywheel drive design, self-leveling oversized pedals and 10 pre-defined exercise programs, Sole Fitness LCR is ‘comfortable, dependable and affordable’ as claimed by the manufacturer. This recumbent is perfect for use at homes, apartments or weight rooms for those who want to get back in shape.
The machine offers commercial grade training but is ideal for home use. It offers a solid warranty and thereby providing users with an extra confidence that it’s sturdy enough to last long with its commercial grade steel frame as well as heavy-duty flywheel.
The warranty of Sole LCR comes depends on the usage: Residential (lifetime warranty for frame, 5 year warranty for electronics and parts, and 2 year warranty for labor) and Light Commercial (lifetime coverage for frame, 3 years for electronics and parts, and 1 year for labor).
- Smooth performance with heavy-duty flywheel drives
- Commercial grade steel frame
- Huge selection of resistance levels
- Two different warranty packages
- Comfortable seat with 12 positions
- Oversized pedals for comfort and stability
- No iFit Live compatibility
- Sufficient pre-defined workout selection but not very great
- Not self-powered
- price for most home gym owners
Sole Fitness LCR Light Commercial Recumbent Bike is being replaced with Sole LCR Exercise Bike, very similar, but somewhat improved model, which comes at slightly higher price.
Nautilus R614 Recumbent Bike
This is a really great recumbent exercise bike for the price. Actually, it’s not lacking much that its elder sibling Nautilus R616 offers for a few hundred dollars more. R614 has seven less programmed workouts and five less resistance levels. Another shortfall is that it has not heart rate chest strap. Besides these points, it is pretty the same.
Most importantly, users get loads of extra features that connect them to the outside world and offer them a fun workout experience that will make them eager to come back every day to shed pounds or tone up at comfort.
- 22 workout programs
- 20 resistance levels
- Heart rate monitoring on handlebar grips
- Smooth and consistent exercise with a high speed, high inertia drive system with a perimeter weighted flywheel
- In-console speakers with MP3 player or iPod input port
- Media shelf for a fun workout experience
- USB data transfer functionality to MyFitnessPal or NautilusConnect
- 3 speed adjustable cooling fan
- Transport wheels for easy portability
- Water bottle holder
- Maximum user weight 300 lbs
- Generous 10-year warranty on frame, 2-year warranty on parts, 1-year warranty on electronics and 90-day labor warranty
- Heart rate monitoring through hand grips
- Less workout programs and resistance levels than R616
For people on not so tight budget, but also not wanting to spend a small fortune, Nautilus R614 Recumbent Bike is perhaps the best option.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Nautilus R614 Recumbent Bike Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Exerpeutic 400 XL Recumbent Bike
Exerpeutic 400 XL is a topnotch folding semi-recumbent bike available for a very reasonable price. This bike is an example of the fact that just because something is cheap, it need not act cheap.
It’s called semi-recumbent bike because it is a cross between an upright and a recumbent bike. Users’ legs will be in front of them making an angle to the body like in a recumbent bike and also down like in an upright bike. This arrangement seems to provide a comfortable yet effective workout as seen from a lot of positive reviews by customers.
Narrow stabilizers have been provided to fold this lightweight bike and it may seem that it won’t support users while exercising. It is 19 inches wide and weighs 39 lbs. But to their surprise, when riders ride it, it stays firm with no shakes or an about-to-tip feeling even for a tall user. It has sturdy steel tubing and stands stable on all surfaces including thick carpets provided that the floor is flat. However, levelers are not provided, so can be a problem while using on an uneven surface like basement or garage.
A 1-year warranty is offered on frame and a 90-day warranty for parts.
Some users find it problematic to reach pedals and pedal blocks are recommended. On the other hand, taller (5’10” and above) people find the bike small for them. However, the bike can be adjusted quickly for different heights.
Resistance can be adjusted as per user’s needs with a knob just below the console with which a magnetic pad is moved closer or farther to increase or decrease resistance respectively.
The V-belt drive system of the bike gives a smooth riding experience.
- Easy to store with the folding design
- Can be quickly adjusted for the size of 2 or more people
- Basic console for feedback during workout
- Same toughness of exercise and calorie burning as with an upright bike
- Quick and easy assembly, all tools needed for assembly are supplied
- Smooth resistance can be changed to get toughness of workout if you want
- Quiet operation
- Doesn’t give exercise to abdomen like an upright bike
- Console offers only estimates and not exact figures, except time
- No levelers to balance on uneven surfaces
- Being semi-recumbent, it won’t give you the same workout and relief of pressure on legs
- Console doesn’t have pre-programmed exercises
- Won’t suit serious athletes
Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike is excellent beginner's recumbent bike. If you are starting a home gym, and you are on the budget, consider this model. It will give you more than decent low-impact cardio workout and will not break your budget.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Sole Fitness R92 Recumbent Exercise Bike
Sole Fitness R92 Recumbent Exercise Bike is a top level, durable and comfortable recumbent that can stand up to whatever the users are going to do without stressing out their joints. The machine offers a massive 300lb capacity and a lifetime warranty for frame, which shows Sole’s confidence.
Sole R92 is able to accommodate a wide range of users with a fully adjustable seat and ergonomic pedals. It features two options for heart rate monitoring and a 10-program console, 2 of which are for heart training.
The bike also features a convenient built-in fan, water bottle holder and plug-in for MP3 player or iPod.
- Sole exercise bikes are almost indestructible. The frame of R92 is made of heavy-gauge steel tubing and is sealed with a covering of aluminum. Thus it’s extremely sturdy.
- Sole bikes are also extremely quiet while working.
- The R92 has a 20-pound flywheel which offers a comparatively smooth ride for most users. It’s particularly good for beginners and those who are not very heavy.
- Sole Fitness is characterized to use narrow spacing between pedals to facilitate ergonomically correct, low-impact workouts. R92 has got extra-wide pedals that are slightly tilted inward.
- R92 has two heart rate controlled workouts and offer six standard programs and features space for two user-designed programs. There is a 9” LCD to display workout data.
- Wireless heart rate monitoring is provided with a chest strap.
- Adjustable seat and handlebars
- Water bottle holder
- Transport wheels
- As high capacity as 300 lbs
- Lifetime guarantee on frame, 3-year warranty on parts and electronics and 1-year warranty for in-home labor
- R92 is not huge-sized, but it’s not even space-saving; so, it has a footprint of 57” x 30”
- The integrated exercise fans are weak
- pricey for home gyms
Sole Fitness R92 Exercise Bike is one of those exercise machines that many people want to have, but few actually have them. If the price is not an issue, consider this model.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Sole Fitness R92 Exercise Bike Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Marcy ME709 Recumbent Mag Cycle Bike
Marcy ME709 Recumbent Mag Cycle Bike is a budget-friendly exercise bike having several useful features including adjustable handles, fore and aft adjustability, a monitor to watch workout stats and variable resistance. Also, the machine has a far higher user weight capacity than most other exercise bikes in its price range and is suitable to a wide range of users.
- The bike features 8 resistance levels accessible just at the turn of a knob. It also features an oversized screen that allows easy monitoring of stats like time, distance, speed and calories burned.
- The adjustable seat of the bike can accommodate users from 5 feet to more than 6 feet.
- Users are offered forward and reverse cycling motions with counterbalanced pedals. Also safety and comfort are provided with adjustable handles and foot straps.
- The bike also features transport wheels for easy relocation. Marcy Recumbent Stationary Bike leaves a small footprint and is suitable to those who have a limited space. This is one of the best quality recumbent bikes for the price.
- Because of variable resistance levels, this bike is suitable for users with no to medium to high experience. Also users can increase the intensity of workout as fitness improves.
- Marcy ME-709 Recumbent Stationary Bike can be safely used even by heavy users and there is no risk of tipping over. It stays firm even during heavy workouts at a high speed. But the magnetic resistance keeps its working smooth and silent with easy transitioning between various resistance levels.
- It’s easy to get on and off from the bike.
- Adjustable seat allows multiple users to exercise on this bike.
- Assembly takes around one hour. Tools needed for the assembly are provided.
- 2-year warranty for frame is provided.
- Padding of the seat is not as good as some more expensive models.
- Backrest of Marcy ME 709 screws into place and so, is not adjustable. Still it suits most heights but anyone below 5 feet has to place a pillow against the backrest to be able to reach pedals comfortably.
- This model doesn’t come with any preset workout program. However, this doesn’t stop it from offering an effective exercise.
- It also doesn’t feature a heart rate monitor. If you want it, you will have to purchase it separately.
- Wiring up of the monitor is a bit difficult. Users will have to do it with a longer screwdriver than the one supplied, or a piece of wire or a bent coat hanger.
For its price, Marcy ME 709 Recumbent Exercise Bike is an excellent cardio exercise machine, smart choice of anybody wanting an entry level recumbent bike.
Diamondback Fitness 510Sr Indoor Cycle
Rated as one of the excellent exercise bikes on the market today, the Diamondback Fitness 510Sr Recumbent Bike delivers cutting edge technology, a comfy design and a generous warranty, that too at an affordable price.
It features 20 different pre-programmed cycling routines so that users can’t get bored. It also features a big, backlit LCD display showing eight types of statistics at a time including workout time, heart rate, distance, speed and calories burned.
An integrated fan has been featured in the control console along with stereo speakers meant to connect to almost any personal music device with the help of a standard 3.5mm plug.
The position and back of the seat are fully adjustable so that any person in a household can use it comfortably. The warranty of the bike includes lifetime coverage for brake system and frame, three-year coverage on mechanical and electronic parts and one-year coverage on labor costs.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Diamondback 510SR Fitness Recumbent Bike Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Best Recumbent Bike for Seniors
Recumbent bikes are ideal exercise bikes for elderly people for several reasons: they provide much more back support than upright bikes, they are very easy to use (walk-through design), they are very stable, many have heart rate programs etc.
However, sometimes a wrong assumption is seen among people that recumbent bikes are made only for senior citizens. But, this is not true and recumbent stationary bikes offer some exclusive features that other types of exercise bikes don’t offer.
Exerpeutic and Schwinn recumbent stationary bikes are the best for seniors. Both the brands are known to have produced some of the best bikes of their types. If you compare between the two, you will find that Exerpeutic is cheaper than the Schwinn’s, however, it has fewer features. Therefore, only if you have a limited budget, go for the Exerpeutic; otherwise, choose between the two Schwinn models (270 and 230).
If the budget is not a problem, consider one of more expensive models ($1000 or more). Such units have many resistance levels, workout programs (heart rate programs included), walk-through design etc. And, be sure to order assembly service, too.
Semi Recumbent Bikes
Semi recumbent bikes are also called Crank Forward Bike or Flat Foot Bike. Many riders choose it as a comfortable and practical option for both home gyms and as outdoors bike.
Semi recumbent stationary bikes are stable, comfortable and practical bikes of which users can easily get on and off. A semi recumbent offers much of the comfort of a recumbent bike; but still is more traditional and extremely easy to get habituated to. If this seems something good to the users, they should take a keen look at these recumbents.
Semi recumbent bikes are a combination of safety, comfort, moderate cost and ergonomics. Some of their distinct features are:
- No need to bend forward to access handlebars
- Wide comfortable seat
- User’s both feet easily touch ground upon stopping
- Some of these bikes have a backrest
- Many have aluminum frames, so, they are lightweight
- Almost same comfort as that of a recumbent exercise bike
- Easy maintenance
- Most outdoor semi-recumbent have 26” dual wheels to tackle bumps well
- Traditional style
- Cost less than most recumbent stationary bikes
- Semi-recumbent design is often found in cycling desk stations
Several semi recumbent outdoor bikes come fitted with an electric assist for users who find it hard to pedal or have to climb large hills.
Although most electric bikes have no ergonomic comfort of a semi recumbent, users can enjoy comfort as well as electric assist with such a custom semi recumbent bike. Thus with a semi recumbent bike fitted with an electrical assist, users get the confidence and power to go to places they never imagined they could.
Cycling Desk Stations are recommended for people having office jobs and have no time for cardio exercise - such stations enable the user to cycle at low to medium pace (with short high intensity intervals), while doing simpler office tasks, like responding to emails and similar. A really time saver!
Folding Recumbent Bikes
Many people may be surprised to learn that folding recumbent exercise bikes have been around for quite a while. Records show that some folding recumbent stationary bikes were actually produced as back as 1892 and general public were aware of them. But the bikes were mainly used by nobility and the rich. Actually, folding recumbents set some records of speed which remained intact for more than 50 years till the standard upright bike broke them in 1984.
If defined strictly technically, a folding recumbent bike is a variation of an upright, a recumbent or an indoor cycling bike, with an additional feature of a folding frame. It is particularly useful for those who live in a small homes and apartments and still can get a quality exercise without needing to convert their small house into a makeshift gym. Once they finish exercise, they can just fold the bike and store it away neatly.
Sunny Folding Recumbent Bike: Sunny folding bike is just perfect for those who live in a small apartment or home. It’s not just small, comfortable and affordable, but you can actually fold it and keep it away when you are done. So, it’s an absolute champion in compactness and space-saving.
Moreover, it’s equipped with wheels and so is easily portable. It’s quite sturdy and riders can perform even the most intense workout with it.
But when it comes to comfort which recumbent bikes are aimed at, Sunny doesn’t rank very high. Its seat needs some more padding and handlebars are quite close to the seat.
- Small and pretty standard LCD screen which shows important data like speed, time, distance and number of calories burned.
- Nice design
- 8 resistance levels
- Quiet operation
- maximum user weight 220 pounds
All in all, it is very affordable foldable recumbent bike, ideal for small home gyms or people wanting to have cardio workout at home, without sacrificing much of space.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Sunny Folding Recumbent Exercise Bike Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
FitDesk FDX 2.0 Desk Exercise Bike: If users are looking for comfort, stationary bike, laptop support and massage bar in one single place, FitDesk FDX 2.0 Desk Exercise Bike is the thing they should choose.
FitDesk FDX 2.0 Desk Exercise Bike features an adjustable 16” x 19” desk surface for laptop, it’s also lightweight and foldable. In short, while exercising, users can also browse the internet, schedule meetings, chat with their friends and more. So, its design is great for those who cannot afford to move their eyes off the screen but still are concerned about their health and exercise.
The bike features 8 different levels of resistance and because it’s magnetic resistance, it’s super-quiet and smooth to operate.
If the users are tired of working on their laptop and want some rest, they can just lie down on the beach cruiser style seat of the bike or can get their forearms massaged with the massage rollers to get reenergized for the next session of typing.
Actually speaking, the FDX is a semi-recumbent bike too, because it has got the backrest and extender. Thanks to its adjustable seat, users can easily get a right fit if their height is anywhere from 4’10” to 6’. The maximum recommended user weight is 250lbs.
FDX features a storage drawer too making the bike indeed practical because riders can store whatever they need in the drawer without having to get off the bike.
For more reviews and recommendations, check FitDesk 2.0 Desk Exercise Bike with Massage Bar and FitDesk 3.0 Desk Exercise Bike with Massage Bar Amazon links (links open in the new windows) and/or our full FitDesk 2.0 Desk Exercise Bike with Massage Bar review.
How to Choose a Recumbent Bike?
Before considering what to look for in the stationary or outdoors recumbent bike, users should think upon the following points:
- How frequently the user will use the bike?
- How many people will use it?
- User’s fitness goals?
- How much floor space the user can dedicate, permanently or temporarily?
Regarding this, the following points may help users while choosing the best recumbent bike for them.
Walk-through Design: Recumbent designs have pedal crank and resistance system set further forward on the frame according to the position of the seat and this is one of the major differences between upright and recumbent stationary bikes. This is beneficial for anyone having less mobility and has let several companies to create their bikes with what’s called as a ‘walk-through’ frame. It means that there is sufficient walking space for users between the seat and resistance system casing.
The distance between these two differ between bikes, but generally it is enough for an adult to comfortably sit on and off the bike.
Rider Size and Weight: It’s pretty obvious that large and heavy riders require a strong frame, fatter tires and larger wheels for outdoor bikes, while lightweight riders can do with smaller, lighter frames. A lot of one-size-fits-all bikes are available for average-size riders, while some models are available in various sizes.
Majority of recumbent stationary bikes fall into the range of 250lb to 350lb. Still, there are some models that support more user weight too and some that support a bit less as well. (For example, Sunny Health and Fitness P8400 supports only up to 220lb; however, it also maintains a high average rating.)
Recumbent Sizing: There are many recumbents that are one-size-fits-all, while there are some which come in sizes. They adjust with either by a sliding seat or a sliding boom (crank). Sliding seats can be used more easily. Sliding booms too are manageable once set, but getting the correct fit needs cutting the chain to proper length. Therefore, making different settings for riders of various sizes may be a hassle.
Recumbent stationary bikes are sized with the help of a measurement known as X-seam. To get this measurement, the users should sit on the floor with their back against the wall, legs extended on the floor and toes towards sky. Now they should measure from the floor/wall to the heel. This is equivalent to the one on a recumbent exercise bike. While setting this measurement on a recumbent stationary bike, users should place their heel on the pedal and have their leg totally extended to find the correct seat/pedal extension.
Bike Size and Weight: Users shouldn’t forget to consider bike size BEFORE they purchase. They should consider where they will store the new bike and how they will transport it.
Recumbent outdoor bikes are heavier than upright outdoor bikes. Bikes having lighter wheels and skinnier tires are easier to propel. Heavier bikes, on the other hand, are faster downhill. Lightweight bikes offer the biggest benefit while climbing hills or while keeping on a car’s roof rack.
Low Pedal Height: The most typical riding position for recumbent stationary bikes is with back slightly reclined, pedals being low and out in front of the rider, as found in most long wheelbase models. It works best for riders with bad knees, knee problems or a more casual touring riders. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be a right position for serious enthusiasts.
Medium Pedal Height: Users should imagine the same position, reclining the seat back and raising the pedals up to the seat height. This position is also very good for those with hip replacement or other similar problems.
High Pedal Height: Now users should recline the seat even further and raise the pedals even more. This position is same as several recumbent trikes, highracers and lowracers. It takes most of user’s weight off their bottom and places it on their back. It works best for serious athletes, racers and club riders who want a fast, light bike. Examples are lowracers, highracers and most performance-based tadpole trikes.
Users will find one of these three riding positions working for them. It can’t be said definitely which ergonomic style will work best for a user.
Models having low pedals are very user-friendly. Those with higher pedals are for more advanced riders, though many riders are using low-pedal bikes for decades.
Where to Ride: This is also a factor to consider. But recumbents can be used for almost every kind of riding. Users just have to use their brain and choose a bike that best matches their terrain where they will ride on.
Wheel Size: Smaller wheels are a unique feature of recumbent bicycles. Though full-size wheels (26”) are excellent, it is not always possible to use them with a few recumbent designs. The most preferable wheel choice for a recumbent bike is the 26” rear wheel (mountain bike size) matched with a 20” front wheel (BMX sized). This works on SWB as well as LWB two-wheelers.
Two 26” wheels offer the road feel like an upright bike, but the bikes can be extra long (LWB) or too high (highracers). Bigger wheels usually roll faster, are more comfortable and roll over obstacles better. They even offer more gyroscopic feel like an upright bike (even some dual 20” SWB models offer this).
The smaller 16” wheels are faster to accelerate and lighter, but don’t hold their speed that good. Tires and rims wear out faster than 20" or 26" tires and rims. They also give a very rough ride as compared to larger wheels. Still 16” are used primarily for their compatibility with the small bikes. These wheels work especially well on tadpole trikes and the front of CLWB to keep the BB low.
Steering: Most of modern recumbent bikes have ASS i.e. above-seat steering. The ASS is of three types:
T-bar: This is like a handlebar of a mountain bike, i.e. on a long stem.
Chopper Bar: These are modern aluminum bars that resemble a Stingray bicycle or chopper motorcycle.
Tweener: This means that user's legs are positioned “in beTWEEN” the double bend “U” shaped bars. User's hand are kept low and stretched forward. It can be harder to maneuver in low speed turns.
Under-seat Steering: A few under-seat steering two-wheelers are there around, but are not very popular as they were ten years ago (perhaps because of user-friendliness problems).
Seats: Most recumbents nowadays have seats with a composite base covered with Lycra and foam. Backs of seats are a breathable mesh. By far, this is the most popular seat style.
Racing and high performance recumbents have light composite shell seats having minimal padding. They provide a more firm base to push against; however, they may not be very comfortable.
Euro modeled seats feature a distinct lumbar curve and are meant for a quite laid-back position. These are perfect for performance bikes where the number one goal is speed.
Composite shell seats haven’t been always strictly for performance bikes. For several years, RANS and Easy Racers used only shell seats. They are simpler and lighter, and can generate more power.
Mesh seats can be extremely comfortable and work particularly well on trikes in which stand-over height is not a big concern. The wide seat base rails of these seats make them tough to use on two-wheelers.
Selection of seat is a personal preference and should be taken seriously. One seat may be perfect, while another may not feel good. Still another may offer less comfort but better performance and vice versa.
Footprints: Out of all exercise bikes, recumbent bikes are the only ones that have a little bit larger footprint. Users should figure out where the bike will go and how much space it will need. Also they should not forget to keep additional space for mounting and dismounting, and moving arms and legs outside the footprint of the bike. If the space is really an issue, folding recumbent bikes are the way to go.
Number of Programs: Users can get bikes with or without pre-set exercise programs. In bikes without pre-set programs there are several options available. On these bikes, users can only pedal away and adjust resistance as they go.
Pre-set programs are profile programs that modify the level of resistance users are pushing against at specific intervals.
They also feature heart rate control programs where they will modify the resistance to keep the user’s heart rate in a specified heart rate zone.
Lastly they have heart recover tests and fitness tests.
Users can get a larger variety than these if they spend more. For example, there are bikes that use Bluetooth/WiFi with Fitness Apps that users can download to their mobile device.
Performance: While streamlined recumbents hold most records of human-powered speed, they range from slower to far faster than upright bikes. Nowadays, it takes a real recumbent to be faster than modern sub 20 pound carbon fiber road bikes.
The models of street recumbent that are the fastest are lightweight mid- and high-racers. Partially faired LWB and lightweight SWB recumbents can offer fair performance that is almost as good.
Braking System: The way the recumbent bikes provide resistance is also an important factor to consider before buying a recumbent stationary bike. These differ a lot between bikes and their intention is to provide the same sensation as that of riding an actual road bike. The bikes that populate the market use direct-contact and magnetic braking systems, since they provide resistance that can be totally adjusted. Besides these two, another type is a fan that transforms air resistance into resistance you get while pedaling on the bike. Here are some more details of each of these systems.
Brake-based System: At the center of most recumbent stationary bikes is flywheel. This is a mechanical device meant for storing rotational energy. In easy words, it’s a heavy metal disk which is normally placed at the front of the bike, instead of the wheel. Since it’s covered by the casing, users can’t see it working. It is connected to pedals with a belt or chain, in a much similar fashion as a road bike. Typically, when a user pedals, the momentum is stored by the flywheel and released till it’s used up.
To provide sufficient resistance for an intensive exercise, the flywheel is usually very heavy - the haevier, the better. But, this approach is limited for many reasons.
Firstly users are limited by the wheel’s weight. The wheel is supposed to be heavier, but then it should be bigger too. To deal with this problem, direct-contact or magnetic braking systems were developed for exercise bikes. In this, resistance is generated by applying brake to the flywheel.
Direct-contact: Recumbent stationary bikes featuring direct contact braking use the principle of friction to offer resistance. The flywheel is straightaway applied the brake to lessen the rotational speed provided by user’s pedaling. This kind of bike is very precise and lets the user choose one of many different resistance levels. Friction is offered via brake pads which touch the flywheel and are normally made of felt; but many other materials can be used.
Instead of brake pads, friction bands too can be fitted at the edge of the flywheel. Because of all its advantages, an exercise bike having direct-contact friction tend to undergo plenty of mechanical abuse which results in their wearing out over time. Users may have to think about replacing the pads at some point, or even the flywheel. It should also be remembered that because this braking is sheer mechanical, direct-contact bikes are likely to make noise, unlike those with magnetic braking.
Magnetic Resistance: With the advent of magnetic resistance bikes, direct-contact bikes, which dominated the market till then, lost their position. The major advantage of magnetic bikes is that their parts don’t undergo wear and tear, since no direct friction or even contact takes place in them. They make use of electromagnetic induction to provide resistance.
The action of magnetic resistance resembles much with the Japanese bullet trains which hover above tracks. Bikes with magnetic braking have the same continuous, smooth resistance which users can adjust with a touch of a button, and as mentioned earlier, these bikes are extremely quiet. Actually, they are quieter than bikes with other breaking systems – direct-contact as well as fan exercise bikes.
Fan-based: A fan-based exercise bike is not constructed around a flywheel. It makes use of a large resistance fan instead. This fan is connected to the pedals with a belt. The system is in fact very simple – as users pedal, the fan starts, and as there is an increase in speed, the air resistance on the fan’s blades increases too. It may seem quite unimaginative at first, but it’s in fact very effective once riders learn how to use it. Another advantage is that users get the breeze from the fan to cool them down during an intensive workout.
Safety Features: Most recumbent exercise bikes are lower than upright bikes. Though this isn’t a very big deal on a bike trail or country road, it can really be a big deal on a busy urban street. In this case, visibility is the most important. The higher the visibility, the safer is the bike. Users should look for the following safety features: safety flag, rearview mirror, head light (if users are to ride the bike in dark or dusk), tail light (solid and flasher), reflective tape and clothing, air horn (for motorists), bell (for other cyclists), etc.
Recumbent Bike Brands
There are several well known stationary and outdoors recumbent bikes manufacturers, and they are:
Founded by Ignaz Schwinn, a German-born mechanical engineer, in 1895 in Chicago, Schwinn Bicycle Company became a leading maker of exercise bikes almost throughout the 20th century. Since 1992, when they declared bankruptcy, they have been a sub-brand of Pacific Cycle by Dorel Industries, a multinational conglomerate. Their Schwinn 230 and Schwinn 270 are leading models of recumbent bicycles.
Founded in 1975 by Edward and Florence Pauls, NordicTrack had a ski machine of the same name as their first product. The company was sold to CML Corporation in 1986 and later in 1999 to another leading fitness equipment company Icon Health & Fitness.
Founded in 1987, Stamina Products Inc. has a primary focus on fitness equipment. They manufacture exercise bikes, treadmills, elliptical trainers, strength systems, rowers and free weights. Their exercise bikes are available in over a dozen models of recumbent bikes, upright bikes, folding models, spinning bikes and an open flywheel Air Resistance Bike. The company has even introduced Stamina Fusion bikes that combine the feel of riding a traditional bike at the comfort of a recumbent bike for exercising.
ProForm, a leader in fitness equipment manufacturing and their products are appealing especially due to non-essential fun features like touch screen, interactive workouts, internet connections and so on. They are known for combining a lot of electronic goodies on their bikes. However, their bikes aren’t well-made with more serious resistance. The brand is owned by Icon Fitness, the owner of NordicTrack and other fitness brands.
Marcy is one of the oldest fitness companies in the world and their fitness equipment aims at various areas like home gyms, elliptical cross trainers, exercise bikes and weight benches. Marcy’s popularity is because of their promise of 100% satisfaction and reliability. Marcy stationary bikes are especially popular and are divided into 3 categories such as upright, recumbent and spin bikes.
FreeMotion is the commercial fitness equipment division of Icon Health & Fitness, makers of ProForm, NordicTrack, Reebok, Healthrider and other popular brands. While FreeMotion is more known for heavy-duty commercial equipment, they lately have started making high-end fitness bikes for home use too.
Of course, there are other, not so known brands on the market - those 'smaller' brands must produce good bikes at affordable prices, if they want to truly compete with large brands.
If you have home gym and need a cardio exercise machine or like outdoor cycling, recumbent bike is excellent choice.
We hope that this guide has helped you to make proper decision and that you have found the bike that you actually need.
Good luck and stay safe.