Like so many things, exercise trends come and go.
For example, these days Cross Fit is all the rage, whereas in the 1980s, aerobics were the next best thing. During these different phases, stationary bikes have remained popular. They’re a staple in gyms everywhere and a common choice for folks who want to workout at home.
There are loads of reasons why people gravitate towards exercise bikes. To begin, they are appropriate for athletes of all ages and ability, from hardcore cyclists to casual athletes to people recovering from injuries. You determine the length of your workout and the level of difficulty. While the cycling motion is considered low-impact (easy on your joints), it’s also a serious cardio workout so you can count on burning a significant number of calories. Plus this piece of equipment fits within the comfort of your own home so you can hop on whenever is convenient for you.
When it comes to exercise bikes, there are two main categories: upright and recumbent.
Most of us are already familiar with upright models. These have straight up-and-down frames with a seat positioned directly over the pedals and handlebars in front of the seat (so you need to reach for them just like on a regular bicycle). Your posture on this bike is the same as on a regular street bike; you can even rise up on the pedals like you’re trekking uphill.
Although biking is low-impact, it also offers a strong cardio workout, significantly raising your heartbeat. This combo of low-impact, high cardio is a major reason biking is so popular. And folks wishing to simulate the experience of riding a bike but also wish to remain indoors (perhaps because of weather conditions or the time of day) will probably choose an upright design.
What distinguishes a recumbent exercise bike from an upright model is how you sit on the bike.
With a recumbent bike, you’re in a semi-reclined position (on a seat with a backrest) with the pedals in front of you instead of directly below the seat. With your legs outstretched, your weight is evenly distributed for a more comfortable ride. The recumbent position also puts less pressure on your joints and gives you additional support for your back and muscles. In this way, a recumbent exercise bike is a smart choice for beginning cyclists, folks with lower back pain or anyone who is recovering from an injury.
Now that we’ve explained the difference between the two designs, let’s take a closer look at what each of them has to offer.
Some people feel that because the recumbent bike is so much more comfortable than the upright, it probably doesn’t give you a very intense workout.
The truth is that both designs have the potential to build stamina, strengthen muscles and promote weight loss. What matters is how much time and effort you want to put into your exercise routine. Consider this: if you pedaled at the same rate for the same amount of time on an upright exercise bike and then a recumbent bike, you’d find that you burned more calories on the upright model (because it’s harder to pedal in the straight up-and-down posture). However, since the recumbent bike is tailored for comfort, you may find that you want to extend your workout longer than your usual time—and in that way you could make up the difference in terms of calories burned.
All of this is to say that choosing the right piece of equipment will vary from person to person. For some, comfort is the priority. For these folks, the recumbent design is the only option. If you fall into that category, these recumbent exercise bicycle reviews will help you to make an informed decision about which particular model is right for you.
When shopping for a recumbent stationary bike, it’s extremely helpful to consider the following issues:
Before we get into all the details on our top picks, here's a quick look at our favorite machines.
Features we love
Buy it now
Marcy ME 709 Recumbent
- 8 resistance levels
- Oversized, adjustable seat
Marcy NS-716R Magnetic Resistance Recumbent Bike
- Excellent resistance, thanks to the
Exerpeutic 900XL Extended
- 8-level magnetic tension system
Velocity Exercise Dual Motion Recumbent Bike
- Had a heart rate monitor
Exerpeutic 4000 Magnetic Recumbent
- 24 resistance levels
- 29 present programs
You need the bicycle seat to be in the proper position in order to have an effective and comfortable workout. Here are general guidelines:
If you suffer pain in the front of your knee, you probably have too much flex in your leg. If you experience pain in the back of your knee, you probably have too little flex in your leg.
So, without further ado, let's take a good close-up look at the bikes!
No more excuses! The Marcy ME 709 makes exercising easy, comfortable and affordable. For starters, it’s a step-through bike that’s easy to mount and dismount, the adjustable seat is oversized and generously padded, the handlebars can be raised or lowered to the perfect height, and the pedals are expertly balanced with adjustable foot straps. The oversized monitor is a cinch to read with its large numbers. The screen shows the distance traveled, speed, time and the number of calories you’ve burned.
With 8 levels of resistance already programmed, all you need to do is tighten a knob to change up the level of difficulty. This design has built-in wheels so you can move the bike to wherever you feel like working out. So go ahead and roll it up to the TV or a picture window and enjoy a simple yet satisfying workout!
We especially like how easy it is to switch the tension. We just turned the knob it increase the level of difficulty and turned it again when we were ready to cool down.
If you’re looking for a no-brainer way to increase your cardio, tone your muscles or burn extra calories, this may be the best recumbent bike for the money. The Marcy ME 709 is a terrific match for someone who exercises regularly but isn’t looking for a hardcore workout. It’s also a smart choice for anyone new to cycling who wants to get used to the feeling of being on a bike.
This model ticks all the boxes: it’s easy to use, comfortable and sturdy, long lasting and affordable. Considering this, we think this is a perfect option for the beginner cyclist or anyone who is looking to increase their amount of cardio exercise.
The Velocity Exercise CHB-R2101 is a simple machine made with the beginner in mind. It covers all the bases but it doesn’t offer any extras. In other words, you get what you would expect from a recumbent bike with a low price point.
The 8 levels of resistance aren’t difficult enough for the expert biker, but should do just fine for those looking for a low-impact workout. The cycling motion is smooth and consistent thanks to a two-way flywheel system, and the padded pedals with adjustable straps keep your feet comfy and secure. There’s a large, easy-to-read display screen that marks your time, speed, distance and the number of calories burned.
Although the seat is oversized (it measures 16” x 10”), some customers have noted that it’s too hard to sit on for more than 30 minutes. In addition, there’s a gap between the backrest and the seat that some riders found uncomfortable (these folks resorted to folding up a towel or using a small pillow for added support and comfort).
Finally, we feel we must comment on the heart monitor. On the Velocity Exercise CHB-R2101, there are pulse sensors in the handlebars. This is a terrific idea for a heart rate monitor.
We couldn’t believe how quiet this is! We were able to workout while we watched our favorite TV show and not miss a word! We’re also confident that our apartment neighbors never hear us when we hop on the bike after hours.
This model is a decent entry-level recumbent bike. There are no bells and whistles to confuse the beginning cyclist or the person (young or old) who wants a consistent low-impact workout that probably won’t last more than 30 minutes.
Although there are a few negatives about this bike (uncomfortable seat, tough to adjust etc.), we don’t feel these are significant enough to take this model out of the running. Considering the low price and the fact that it would satisfy (and not intimidate) a beginner, we think it’s definitely worth including in our recumbent exercise bicycle reviews.
The special feature of the Marcy NS-716R Magnetic Resistance bike is the pedal tension. This degree of tension is what makes a workout go from easy to difficult. Magnetic tension is one of the more technologically advanced systems. The way it works is two magnets are placed on the sides of the flywheel (the large front wheel) and as pedal tension increases, the magnets move closer to the flywheel so it’s harder to accelerate. The pedaling motion is super smooth since there is never any friction between the magnets and the flywheel. Magnetic resistance either can be manually or digitally adjusted. A major plus of magnetic tension is it doesn’t make much noise at all.
But wait -- there’s more to recommend the Marcy NS-716R! A lot of thought has gone into the bike’s sleek design. For example, the seat easily moves into one of the 5 pre-set positions to accommodate riders from 5’ to 6’ tall. The seat is generously padded and reportedly comfortable enough for older riders or those suffering from minor injuries.
For additional comfort, there’s a step-through frame, foam-covered handlebars (2 sets), counterbalanced pedals with adjustable straps, 8 tension levels, transport wheels and a convenient cup holder. Riders can track their distance, speed, time and calories burned on the easy to read monitor.
It’s hard to beat the magnetic resistance because the pedaling action is so smooth and uninterrupted. What’s more, the bike barely makes any noise at all!
Considering how easy it is to adjust the seat and how comfortable the seat is, this is a perfect model for older bikers or anyone needing physical therapy. In fact, the Marcy Magnetic Resistance Recumbent bike is reportedly used in many health facilities for just this reason!
This is another contender in the entry-level category. Like the others we’ve mentioned, this is a reliable model without any fancy gadgets. There is an 8-level magnetic tension system that is responsible for the bike’s quiet operation and the even, continuous pedaling motion.
As for comfort, the Exerpeutic 900XL has a step-thru design so it’s easy to maneuver on and off the bike. What’s more, the seat is oversized, padded and adjustable. (To be fair, several customers had difficulty moving the seat to different positions, but it didn’t seem to annoy them as much as in other models.) The pedals are oversized too, allowing your feet to get a solid grip when pushing through the different tension levels.
The screen display shows how long you’ve exercised, how far you’ve gone, how fast, and how many calories you’ve burned. A major plus for the Exerpeutic 900XL is that it has a heart rate monitor (activated by hand pulse sensors) to keep you in the perfect heart rate zone. This bike is for riders ranging from 5’3” to 6’3” and it can hold up to 300 lbs.
Thank you, magnetic resistance! Not only is this bike super quiet, the pedaling motion is so smooth and comfortable that we found ourselves extending our routine longer than usual. This continuous motion felt like it belonged on a more advanced exercise bike rather than a budget model.
This is another example of an entry-level bike that’s solid, effective, and affordable. If all you need is a straightforward, low-impact workout without any hassle (and with the added bonus of a heart monitor), this may be the best recumbent exercise bike for you.
It’s hard to come up with an argument against the Exerpeutic 900XL. Clearly, it’s not a good fit for professional cyclists or exercise fanatics who are always looking for the next best thing. The bike’s simplicity and reliability go a long way and would be suitable for exercise newbies looking to get in shape in the comfort of their own homes.
The Velocity Exercise Dual Motion definitely raises the bar when it comes to recumbent bikes. How does it do that? By making a solid exercise bike that incorporates an upper body workout.
The main body of the bike is pretty much what you’d expect from a mid-range priced model. This means it has a steel frame with a maximum weight capacity of 250 lbs.; 8 levels of resistance; a magnetic belt and a heavy (5 kgs. or 11 lbs.) flywheel; a quiet and smooth pedaling motion; a padded, adjustable seat; balanced pedals; and a LCD digital monitor that tracks your distance, time, speed, ODO and calories burned. There are pulse sensors in the lower handlebars to keep track of your heartbeat (note: these are the only sensors on the bike.)
The top part of the bike offers something totally different: a way to exercise your upper body! You just adjust the tension knob on the upper platform and grip the rotating handlebars to give your arm muscles (biceps and triceps) and upper back a workout. This is a perfect way to release the tension in your neck and shoulders after a long day!
Two things we should point out about this unusual design: the seat does not recline as much as other bikes, so it may not be as comfortable as you expect. In addition, when you’re gripping the upper handlebars, there’s no way to engage the heart monitor (and no way to hook up a chest strap monitor).
It’s a bonus to get a full body workout in your own home – and with just one piece of equipment! With the Velocity Dual Motion bike, you don’t need to invest in extras like free weights. All you need it this one bike to work multiple muscle groups throughout your body.
If you’re looking for something beyond an entry-level bike that will do more than just increase your amount of cardio exercise, this may be the model for you. Of course, the added features do increase the price point, so make sure you will use the add-ons before you lay out the cash.
For this price range, we admit that we wished the seat was more generously padded; we started to squirm after 30 minutes and resorted to sitting on a small pillow when our routines ran longer. But other than that, this is definitely one of your favorites.
With all its add-ons, the Exerpeutic 4000 is a league ahead of the entry-level bikes we’ve reviewed above. The steeper price tag also sets this model apart from the others. So what do you get for the extra money?
While starter bikes usually come with 8 resistance levels and don’t have any preset programs, the Exerpeutic 4000 has 24 levels of resistance and 12 preset computer programs. What’s more, there are 4 individual user settings.
The computer console has a screen that displays the time, distance, RPM, watts, and pulse as well as a spot to accommodate your mobile devices. And from your mobile devices (Apple or Android) you can track your workouts via the mobile app tracker called MyCloudFitness app.
In terms of comfort, this design is hard to beat because of the more than 3” thick “Air Soft” seat that’s covered in breathable fabric. The office chair-type seat has a mesh backrest and padded armrests. The oversized ergonomic design is reported to reduce stress on riders’ backs. The maximum weight capacity is a whopping 325 lbs.
The oversized seat was the most comfortable of them all! The padding was more than sufficient and the breathable fabric managed to keep the seat from getting soaked with sweat. The padded armrests were a bonus too!
The Exerpeutic 4000 Magnetic Bike is for the more serious athlete who doesn’t mind spending money on something more complex than a starter exercise bike. The numerous programs and super comfortable seat are ideal for the rider who wants a variety of longer routines.
If you’re looking for a technologically advanced exercise bike to use at length on a regular basis, you should consider the Exerpeutic 4000. It’s a particularly good option for those reliant on their mobile devices to keep track of daily routines and workouts.
The Schwinn 270 is loaded with extras. It has all the features you’ve come to expect in a recumbent bike, plus many more. For example, it has a sturdy walk-through adjustable frame, quiet operation, a padded seat with a vented backrest, oversized pedals, a large monitor that shows your time, distance, speed, pulse and calories burned, and various levels of resistance.
The add-ons are extensive! There are 29 pre-set programs and 9 heart-rate programs so there’s little chance you’ll get bored with your routines! There are 4 user profiles so more than one family member can track their progress and goals. The data from the LCD monitor can be transferred to the Schwinn website and MyFitnessPal app and there’s an attached media tray to secure your electronic devices. When you’re ready to challenge yourself in the middle of a workout, there are 10 resistance buttons to swiftly change the level of difficulty. A built-in fan and water bottle holder keep you cool while built-in speakers are ready for your favorite tunes to keep you motivated.
All of these extras do increase the size and weight of the bike plus they hike up the overall cost, That said, from our research, a huge number of folks will argue that it’s totally worth it for such a varied and efficient piece of equipment.
With 29 pre-programmed workout routines and 9 heart rate routines, we never got bored on the Schwinn 270! (There are routines that simulate hills and valleys for a real life like experience!) What’s more, there’s no chance you’ll forget the details of your workout because you can download your exercise information to keep track of your progress and goals.
This is a perfect bike for a family or a hardcore biker. With the 4 different user profiles, individual family members can keep track of their workout programs. And with the stable, quality frame, serious athletes can train repeatedly for long periods of time without worrying about wear and tear.
Many of the other recumbent bikes with this many bells and whistles cost a good deal more. So even though the price is higher than most of the others in this review, you will certainly get a lot for your money. What’s more, with such an extensive warranty, if something does go awry, chances are it will be covered. In this way, we think this is a great contender for the best recumbent exercise bike on the market!
A low-impact, high cardio exercise is a good idea for just about everyone -- from people exercising for the very first time to professional athletes. (If you're a senior looking for a recumbent bike, check out this article right here.) It’s guaranteed to build stamina, strengthen muscles and burn calories. And, arguably, the best way to get this is to incorporate a stationary bicycle into your exercise routine.
We’ve learned that there are loads of stationary bikes on the market, including upright and recumbent models. In our minds, you can’t beat the recumbent design, mainly because it’s so much more comfortable than an upright design. In addition, the semi-reclined position is easier on your joints (hips, knees, ankles) and even appropriate to use if you’re recovering from an injury (if you have your doctor’s OK).
Like so many pieces of exercise equipment, recumbent bikes come in different sizes and colors and prices. Therefore, it’s worth taking the time to research the options. Recumbent exercise bike reviews like the ones above can help you determine which is the best fit for you.