Pretty much any type of physical activity will help you burn some calories, stay fit and improve your health. For this reason, you probably know already that recumbent exercise bikes make a good choice, hence their popularity among home gym owners. But choosing the best recumbent exercise bike can be a bit of a nightmare.
You will find plenty of options out there – cheap unbranded stuff and more expensive branded bikes. While recumbent bikes do not seem so sophisticated, you probably imagine that any model will do. Terrible misconception! Go through this guide to find out what to look for, but also to discover the best-rated models in the home gym segment.
Reasons to Invest in a Recumbent Exercise Bike
If you have back problems or chronic pains, a recumbent exercise bike is an ideal option and a much better solution than upright bikes. Why? Well, it puts no pressure on the lumbar spine. It is all because of the way you sit in it. An upright bike will force you to sit hunched on top of it, while a recumbent one is more comfortable and puts less pressure on the spine.
On another note, recumbent exercise bikes are known to provide low impact workouts. In other words, they put no pressure on your joints. Your lower back is comfortably sitting in the seat. You do not push yourself against your ankles and knees, so there are no risks to get injured due to too much pressure and tension.
Think about comfort too. A recumbent exercise bike comes with a large seat. It is comfortable. It might be made of plastic or padded. You could just as well throw a couple of pillows on it for extra comfort. Could you do that on those tiny upright exercise bike seats that seem to cut through your body? Exactly. Comfort is a must, or you will not feel like working out.
Think about the actual pedaling action. If you have ever ridden a classic bike, you have probably tried standing up on the pedals while moving. It is a more intense form of pedaling, but also a risky one. You cannot do that on a recumbent exercise bike, which means they are much safer. This inability prevents a series of potential injuries that might occur.
Suffering from a neurological condition? Whether you have been involved in an accident or you suffer from a chronic condition, finding the best recumbent exercise bike will allow you to exercise regardless of your ability level. You do not require any experience at all. It is perfectly safe and allows keeping fit without any risks. This is the main reason wherefore many doctors recommend these bikes to patients trying to recover after harsh accidents.
Given the low impact profile, you can build strength and keep your muscles in good condition without increasing or triggering any painful sensations. Those with hip injuries, back injuries or specific conditions like arthritis will love the possibility to spread their body weight over the buttocks and the entire back, rather than the lumbar area.
Your position allows you to exercise for as long as you want without experiencing any fatigue. You can do it for hours without your buttocks hurting or the lower back feeling stiff. You will not need to take stretching breaks either. You can do it while reading a book, watching a film or chatting to your friends on your smartphone.
The best recumbent exercise bike will allow some of the most extensive cardio workouts out there. Pedaling is an excellent aerobic exercise, and it targets some of the large groups of muscles in your body – glutes, legs, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Even if you do heavy weights, cardio is mandatory on a regular basis. It will improve the lung and heart function, not to mention helping against arterial hypertension. Make sure you talk to your doctor before engaging into such workouts, especially if you have lung or heart conditions. Also, a heart rate monitor could be quite handy, yet many bikes have built-in monitors.
Being overweight is nothing to be ashamed of. You should congratulate yourself for making an effort to find a bike and start burning those stubborn calories. If you have tried finding upright bikes, you have probably noticed their weight capacity is not too impressive. It might be hard to find the right one, mostly because of the vertical position. On the other hand, an excellent recumbent exercise bike can easily take more than 300 pounds – excellent for overweight users.
Now that you know what you can get from a recumbent exercise bike, what should you look for before spending your money?
What to Look for in a Recumbent Exercise Bike?
Your available space is an important consideration when trying to find the best recumbent exercise bike. Most people overlook this aspect. They invest in product packed with features, only to realize that they will barely have space to move in their houses. They realize that the living room is the only place that can accommodate such equipment – not the best idea of elegant décor, is it? The unluckiest users can barely fit their new bikes through their doors.
From this point of view, if space is an issue, you can opt for a foldable bike. They do have some drawbacks – their lifespan is shorter, and they feel more flimsy than classic models. However, if properly looked after, they will provide quality workouts for long periods. Besides, a foldable bike is portable, and it allows you to go exercise pretty much everywhere. The bad news is that such bikes are quite rare, so you might have to settle with a small model instead.
Just like space, the available budget is another vital aspect that will dictate the final decision. The good news is that recumbent exercise bikes vary widely in price – some models may cost up to ten times more than others. Therefore, you do have options to fit every budget.
The cheapest model will not necessarily make the best recumbent exercise bike, just like the most expensive one will never be the best one. Opt for a middle solution instead – a good value for money. Find the best-rated products on the market and choose one of them. When thousands of users recommend one product, there must be something good about it.
Brief market research will also give you some hints about what kind of budget you should decide on based on features.
What kind of features do you expect from a recumbent exercise bike? Unless you check a few products here and there, you may not even be aware of certain features. For instance, some models come with extras like a little desk for your laptop – surf or work while working out.
Some others have magazine racks to keep your favorites and avoid getting bored. They will eliminate some of the most common excuses to avoid training – being too busy or being too bored. However, these are extras that may add to the price. If you think about it, you do not necessarily need them to train – especially if your budget is limited.
Having a track of your progress adds to your motivation if you lack it. Most bikes come with LCD screens that display valuable information, such as the number of pedal strokes, covered distance, calories and so on. This way, you can always push a bit more than the last time.
Among the main amenities almost every bike has, you can count water bottle holders, programs, preset programs, and different tension intensities.
If your budget is not a problem, you can try to make this experience even more competitive. Your bike can connect to the Internet. You can export data to specific applications or even compete against other users over the Internet.
If music is your thing, some bikes have USB connectivity or MP3 slots. However, again, this is not the primary necessity, as you can do the same thing with your smartphone.
Double check the maximum weight a bike can take, especially if you are overweight. You might have a surprise when you bring it home and realize that it cannot accommodate you.
Some bikes are louder than others – it depends on the resistance. It may not be an issue for most people – just plug your headphones in. But if you have a family or you exercise at night, you do not want to disturb your loved ones or neighbors.
Safety considerations are just as important. A good bike should have the mechanics enclosed, so you should not be able to touch with moving mechanisms. It is just a matter of preventing accidents and potential injuries.
Now that you know what to look for in the best recumbent exercise bike, what are the top rated items on the market?
Top 3 Best Recumbent Exercise Bike
Designed with multiple intensity levels and lots of adjustability, this machine from Homgrace is likely to become your best friend in terms of fitness. Simply put, the height can be adjustable on five different levels. It is not all about the height, but also about how intense the workouts are. A lower height feels like climbing stairs, while a taller height simulates mountain climbing and burns more calories. You can burn around 500 calories an hour.
The machine is solid and sturdy. It features a two year warranty. It has to be assembled though. Luckily, everything is included in the package and no other tools are needed. A small booklet with instructions tells you exactly which part goes where, so the whole procedure should not take more than half an hour.
Schwinn’s best recumbent exercise bike features Bluetooth connectivity. It can connect to several fitness applications and allows you to upload your data, check your progress and even compete against others.
It also comes with an MP3 input port. A USB media charging slot is also available. Since it has its built-in speakers, you can play loud music as soon as you get an MP3 device in. Meanwhile, you can charge your smartphone as well.
Programs are quite diversified – there is something for everyone out there. There are 12 profile programs, as well as four deeply customized programs. If you are worried about your heart or you push too hard, you might want to try some of the nine heart rate control programs. Other than that, you have a couple of fitness tests, as well as a quick start program – free going for as long as you want.
The bike must be plugged in to take advantage of all these benefits. All the data is available through a DualTrack LCD, which covers all the essential details. A media shelf is also included.
Regarding resistance, you have 25 different levels. The lowest ones are mostly for elders or those trying to recover after injuries. The highest ones are more intense and will give you a good sweat.
The drive system is pretty impressive – something common for Schwinn though. You have a high inertia mechanism, as well as a perimeter weighted flywheel. Starting is extremely simple and smooth, while your workouts will be consistent enough to prevent unwanted fatigue.
- Multiple connectivity options
- Portable and relatively light
- Lots of customization
- Various preset programs
- Smooth operation
- Must be assembled
- Manual of instructions can be a bit confusing
At first glance, the best recumbent exercise bike from Nautilus may look a bit basic. Once you become familiar with it, chances are you will love its features and functionality. Its programs provide more than you need. There are 22 of them. You have nine profile programs to adjust based on your workouts, as well as eight heart rate control programs, a few fitness tests, and a few custom programs.
Just like you have probably guessed already, the quick start free program is also included – just start and keep going.
The resistance is quite essential, as it allows deep customization of your workouts based on your fitness levels. Simply put, there are 20 different levels on this bike. It is highly recommended to start with the lowest ones and increase the level gradually, without exhausting yourself. If you are recovering after an injury, stick to the low-intensity ones.
This model comes with a goal tracking feature, which keeps records of your workouts and allows you to track your evolution – great for motivation.
All settings are available on the DualTrack LCD. You can set the intensity of your workouts and choose the right programs – available time, covered distance and calories are also displayed on the same screen.
If you want some entertainment, the bike comes with built-in speakers, as well as a standard MP3 input port.
- Multiple adjustability options
- Detailed controls
- Lots of programs and resistance levels
- Easy seat adjustment
- Can be moved around
- Might feel a bit heavy
- Assembly is required
This model allows for a deep level of adjustability. You have moveable handlebars and proper seat adjustments. Both the handlebars and pedals move simultaneously, which means you have multiple choices. You can train the lower part of your body or the whole body. You can just as well isolate the arm workouts by placing your feet on the floor.
Whatever your workout goals are, this bike can help you achieve them much faster.
The seat and back are much wider than in other models, making this the best recumbent exercise bike regarding comfort and convenience. A higher comfort adds to your motivation, as you will not feel like quitting after a few tries only.
Moreover, wider seating adds to your safety. There are no risks to fall or injure yourself. Furthermore, a large seat will provide support for the hips and the lower back. At the same time, the bike can take users weighing up to 350 pounds.
A digital monitor allows you to adjust your programs to the smallest details, as well as the resistance. You can monitor the distance, calories, time and speed as well. It might be a small monitor, but at the end of the day, you will not use it to watch videos and films.
This bike might save you some money because you will not have to buy a heart rate monitor separately. Instead, you have pulse sensors. Just grab the handles hosting the sensors, hold them for a few seconds, and the heart rate will be displayed on the monitor.
- Moveable handlebars
- Allows arm, leg and full workouts
- Heart rate sensors
- Can take overweight users
- Great hip support
- Quite heavy
- Must be assembled
As a short conclusion, choosing the best recumbent exercise bike is a matter of personal needs. At first glance, most bikes might look alike regarding features and capabilities, but small features make the difference. Furthermore, you cannot tell how durable or efficient a bike is upfront, so you do have to go through a few reviews up front.
Based on reviews, ratings, and features, Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike might be the ideal option. It is fully featured and has no overpriced bells and whistles that no one can use. It is rated at 4.1 out of 5 stars, so there must be something good about it.