The 10 Best Recumbent Bikes
This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in April of 2015. You can give yourself a full-body workout without straining your joints by investing in one of these recumbent exercise bikes. We've included a wide selection of models suitable for both home and commercial use, many of which offer adjustable seats, varying resistance levels, intuitive electronic displays, and customizable programs to help you achieve your fitness goals. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
September 10, 2020:
Recumbent bikes offer the advantage of getting a good workout without excessive strain on your legs, knees, thighs, and upper body. That is not to say that using a traditional upright exercise bike is a bad idea, but these recumbent models typically offer wider seats and step-through designs that make them particularly well suited for those who may be suffering from arthritis or going through some form of physical rehabilitation.
This year, we've added the 3G Cardio Elite for its narrow profile and rolling wheels for easy transport between rooms. This one also supports 350 pounds and is a great option for users who are over six feet tall. While warranties are nothing new, this one comes with lifetime protection for its frame and seven years for parts, which is significantly longer than what is offered for much of its competition.
We thought the Stamina Conversion II was a nice complement to the list, as it can be used as both a rowing machine and recumbent bike, allowing you to strengthen your leg and back muscles using the same machine. Its frame also folds for easy storage.
The Exerpeutic 900XL is quite affordable and has integrated pulse sensors on its handlebars for continuous heart rate monitoring.
We've also included the Sunny Health and Fitness RB4880 as a model that is powered entirely by consistent cycling motion, so you don't have to depend on batteries for its components to run. Equipped with integrated speakers and USB and auxiliary ports, you can easily charge your mobile device and listen to music while you work out.
Also newly added is the Nautilus R618, which features two backlit screens and a mixed reality training app that can simulate outdoor scenery from various worldwide locations to make your exercise session more enjoyable.
May 26, 2019:
Recumbent bikes may look like they offer a more relaxed workout than traditional models, but this doesn't actually have to be the case. Sure you may be sitting in a more comfortable position, but you can easily burn just as many calories and enjoy a truly intense training session with one of these models. They are also great for anyone dealing with knee rehabilitation after and injury or surgery. Since, after cost, one of the biggest hurdles for most people interested in purchasing a recumbent bike is space, we made sure to include some reasonably compact models, such as the Exerpeutic Gold 525XLR, which actually folds up for storage. The Stamina Elite is slightly more compact than traditional models, and it is equipped with arm pedals for full-body engagement. The Schwinn 270, Nautilus R616, and Nautilus R614 most closely resemble what you find in commercial gym facilities, and offer all the features you'd expect from that type of model, such as wide range of resistance levels and workout programs. The Exerpeutic 2500 deserves special mention because of its incorporated desk. If you were considering a walking desk, but think that it might be uncomfortable to stand all day or the walking motion might interfere with your typing, consider giving this model a try instead. As we mentioned previously, we do realize that budget is a hurdle for many, so we included the very affordable Exerpeutic 1000, Marcy ME-709, and ProGear 555LXT.
Star Trac 8RB The embedded touchscreen on the Star Trac 8RB supports a range of connectivity with Bluetooth and Ant+ wireless technology as well as USB and HDMI ports for streaming media directly from a mobile device. This machine also features a personal fan, built-in television tuner, and service light. It has a lightweight aluminum frame and supports a weight of up to 350 pounds. Its integrated armrests alleviate tension in the shoulders, while promoting a relaxed posture during extended workouts. corehandf.com
Precor RBK 885 The professional-grade Precor RBK 885 offers a convenient step-through design, double-sided pedals, and a large vented seat with an integrated suspension system designed to give you (and your customers) a cool and cushioned ride. Of additional value is its 15-inch touchscreen that, when networked, can be used as a communications portal to all riders in your facility. precorhomefitness.com
Life Fitness Platinum Club Series Lifecycle Including a range of entertainment and engagement options, the Life Fitness Platinum Club Series should keep your mind occupied as you push through your training session, making it more likely you'll stay on the bike longer. It has an ergonomic backrest, 42 preset workouts, and eight custom ones. Its cost may put it out of reach for many buyers, though. lifefitness.com
NordicTrack VR25 The NordicTrack VR25 has 26 resistance levels, many of which are immediately accessible with a touch of a button, making it ideal for high-intensity interval training. Another one of its main selling points is the seven-inch high-definition touchscreen that lets you stream live workouts or ride along simulated mountain roads and city streets for a truly motivating experience. nordictrack.com
Getting A Great Recumbent Bike
For the dedicated fitness enthusiast interested in maintaining a trim, toned body, a more interactive recumbent bike can be well worth the investment.
Depending on your level commitment and the accessories you're looking for, recumbent bikes are available at a range of price points to consider.
A majority of recumbent bikes have a similar design consisting of a pair of pedals attached to a flywheel with varying levels of resistance applied through the use of magnets. You can adjust the level of resistance -- or in other words the difficulty -- to suit your fitness level or present goal, and you can enjoy a low-impact, productive workout from the comfort of your own home, office, or spot at the gym.
For the casual exerciser who wants a relatively easy way to burn calories and get his heart rate up, a low-cost recumbent bike with few features is a fine choice. Any modern recumbent bike has an adjustable seat for positioning your body in the ideal arrangement based on your height, making it easy to change the resistance settings for a tailored workout. Some models also have features such as a distance tracker, burned calorie counter, and a timer. If you're using a recumbent bike as a tool to assist with weight management and general cardiovascular health, these features definitely come in handy, as they can help you set and reach your fitness goals.
For the dedicated fitness enthusiast interested in maintaining a trim, toned body, a more interactive recumbent bike can be well worth the investment. Consider the benefits of a recumbent bike with a built-in computer capable of tracking heart rate, time and distance traveled, and calories burned. Rather than simply telling you what you have done (i.e. miles "traveled" or time spent cycling), a top quality recumbent bike will get you on the right track for maintaining a consistent heart rate, hitting calorie consumption targets, improving your physique and stamina over time, and tracking your progress and results from one workout to the next.
Making The Most Of Your Recumbent Bike
A recumbent bike is a great tool for cardiovascular exercise, strengthening and toning the legs, and tightening your abs and core muscles. But taken on its own, a recumbent bike does not provide a full body workout. However, with a bit of gear and a few modifications to your recumbent bike riding routine, you can turn each cycle session into a head-to-toe exercise session.
To add exercises for the biceps, shoulders, and chest, attach elastic exercise bands to the handles or base of your recumbent bike.
One of the simplest ways to get more out of a recumbent bike is to invest in a set of grip strengtheners for your hands and forearms while seated and pedaling. You can work one hand at a time to maintain stability with the other, or use a gripper in both hands at once, even rotating your arms in time with your legs to maintain balance and add even more productivity.
To add exercises for the biceps, shoulders, and chest, attach elastic exercise bands to the handles or base of your recumbent bike. Bands allow you to complete strength training exercises while cycling without losing stability.
And by taking an interval training approach to your use of a recumbent bike, with periodic changes to the resistance setting to approximate sprints and steady cycling, you can build muscle both in your legs and heart.
A Few Words On Calorie Burning
Simply put, your weight depends on the balance of calories consumed versus calories used. Your brain uses twenty percent of your daily calories, while everyday physical actions like walking, talking, and digestion consume plenty more. However, most of us tend to eat more calories than we actually need. Some of these excess calories are excreted, but most are absorbed by the body. To prevent them from turning into fat, we have to burn them up through exercise.
The amount of calories burned during a given workout depends on multiple factors. Understanding these different factors can help you plan effective workouts and easily maintain your weight and fitness levels. Your weight directly affects calorie burning. After 30 minutes of moderate exercise on a recumbent bike, a 125-pound person will burn around 210 calories, while a 185-pound person will burn more than 300 calories.
However, age also plays a role in this process. A young person will burn more calories than an older person of the same weight. And of course, weight is not a universal indicator of calorie burning potential: a fit person standing 6'5" may weigh the same as an obese person standing 5'5", but they will burn different amounts of calories in the same amount of time.