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Get Your Cardio with the 5 Best Recumbent Bikes

Get Your Cardio with the 5 Best Recumbent Bikes

Bike spinning classes have been all the rage in recent years. From New York to Los Angeles, we see A-list celebrities posting their spin cycle classes on social media. What’s the big deal about spin cycling classes?

Not only can they be super fun, but they are also effective in weight loss and cardiovascular health. Not part of a spin cycle group? No worries! You can get the benefits of spinning by purchasing an exercise bike, such as a recumbent bike, to use at home.

This article will provide a well-rounded review of exercise bikes, particularly recumbent bikes. Along with some basic information about exercise bikes and popular biking workouts, we will also review the 5 best recumbent bikes that would suit a variety of people.

If you’re short on time and can’t read through the complete product reviews, look for “The Rundown” section for a quick review of the main characteristics of each product. Also, regardless of which type of recumbent bike (or other exercise bike) you choose, check out our exercise biking workout. No need to go to a spin class or purchase workout videos!

Spin Cycling: The Good and the Ugly

Woman Using a Recumbent Bike Spin CyclingWho wouldn’t want to engage in a high-intensity cardio workout for weight loss? While it may sound appealing, there are several things to consider about spin cycle workouts. Let’s take a look at the good and the bad.

The Benefits of Spin Cycling

There are many reasons someone may want to engage in spin cycling. Do any of these reasons appeal to you?

  • Low impact workout
  • Great cardio workout
  • Spin cycling machines typically take up less space than a treadmill or elliptical
  • You can incorporate some resistance training with free weights and adjustable dumbbells
  • You get a fun, easy way to lose weight

The Dangers of Spin Cycling

While spinning may seem like a fun and effective workout, there are several dangers to spin cycling. Here is a list of spin cycling dangers:

  • Classic spin cycling equipment may be inappropriate for those with knee, hip and back issues
  • Some spin bikes may worsen pain or injuries. Also, intense exercise that you are not ready for can lead to serious injury (1)
  • Riders engaging in intense spin workouts are at risk for rhabdomyolysis, which can be severely debilitating and/or deadly
  • Spin cycling is an exercise with a higher lactic acid buildup compared to other exercises. Higher lactic acid buildup from exercise leads to higher perceived soreness

You don’t necessarily have to do an intense spin cycle workout in order to get similar benefits. Luckily, you can get a great cardio and weight loss workout on a recumbent bike. But, what is a recumbent bike? Let’s take a look at recumbent bikes and their relatives.

What is a recumbent bike?

Recumbent Bike For Health and FitnessTo understand what a recumbent bike is and how it works, it is important to learn about all the different exercise bike options available. Knowing this will help you determine if a recumbent bike is truly the best option for you.

Upright Exercise Bikes

Upright bikes are one type of exercise bike you may find in a spin class. With these bikes, you are sitting upright with the feet pedals directly underneath your body. You may find upright bikes with several types of handle bars, however, the goal is to keep your shoulders, hips and feet in line during the exercise. One thing to keep in mind with upright bikes, however, is that they may have a higher back and knee soreness rate (even if you don’t usually have soreness in those areas).

Who would benefit from an upright bike?

Read the instances below in which someone would benefit from an upright bike. Do these relate to you?

  1. You do not have any pre-existing injuries or pain in your back, hips, knees or ankles.
  2. There are no pre-existing medical conditions that prevent you from engaging in high-intensity exercise.
  3. Your home fitness space is limited, and you need an exercise bike that has a smaller footprint than traditional treadmills and ellipticals.
  4. Proper, upright posture during exercise is important to you.

Recumbent Exercise Bikes

Recumbent exercise bikes differ from upright bikes in that the position of the rider is in a seated position. Instead of having your back, hips and pedals in line vertically, the recumbent bike allows you to sit back and pedal in front of yourself. Have you ever seen a recumbent road bike roll down your road?

The at-home recumbent bikes have a lower seat and less stress on the body. Since you are sitting on a recumbent stationary bike, your hands and arms are free to move. If you like to multitask, a stationary recumbent bike may be the best option for you.

Who would benefit from a recumbent bike?

Recumbent bike benefits are actually applicable for a variety of people. Would you benefit from one?

  1. You have pre-existing injuries or pain in your back, hips, knees and/or ankles.
  2. Your doctor cleared you for lower-intensity cardio exercise.
  3. You have adequate space in your home fitness area to accommodate equipment that is similar in size to a treadmill or elliptical.
  4. You want to lose way in a less-intense, easier way.
  5. You’re a multitasker and like reading, surfing the web or working during exercise.
  6. You are interested in adding resistance training to your workout with arm and chest exercises.

Indoor Exercise Cycles

These types of cycles are also seen in spin cycling studios. While indoor exercise cycles are similar to upright bikes, there are differences. For one, an indoor exercise cycle has handlebars that are set further forward than an upright bike. When using a cycle, you can either lean your body forward towards the handlebars, or you can stand up and cycle. Such positions activate more muscle groups. As you may imagine, these specific positions can increase the calorie burn during the workout.

Who would benefit from an indoor cycle?

There are several instances where the indoor cycle would be best suited. Consider if these fit your situation.

  1. If you’re looking to save electricity, most indoor cycles do not need electricity to run.
  2. You want both a cardio and muscle-engaging workout.
  3. If you are an elite athlete, you may want an exercise bike that exercises your muscles and heart to help you perform better.
  4. You like (and feel comfortable) with cycling while standing.
  5. You do not have pre-existing injuries or pain in your back, hips, knees or ankles.
  6. There are no pre-existing medical conditions that prevent you from engaging in high-intensity exercise.

Fan or Air Exercise Bikes 

While these are similar to upright bikes, the fan/air bikes have different mechanisms to challenge you during a workout. These bikes use air to increase the intensity of the pedal. So, the harder you pedal, the higher the resistance. Some fan/air bikes have moveable arms for an arm workout.

Who would benefit from a fan or air bike?

Maybe a fan/air bike is best for you. Read the following to find out:

  1. You are interested in resistance training over a cardio workout.
  2. If you have (or want) really toned and strong legs, you may enjoy the high air resistance.
  3. You do not have any pre-existing injuries or pain in your back, hips, knees or ankles.
  4. There are no pre-existing medical conditions that prevent you from engaging in high-intensity exercise.
  5. You want moveable arms on the bike, rather than stationary arms.

Non-Stationary Bikes

If you are not interested in stationary bikes, get outside and take a bike ride! Whether it is a mountain bike, beach bike, recumbent road bike or 3-wheel recumbent bike, you can still get similar exercise benefits as you would on a stationary bike.

Who would benefit from a non-stationary bike?

Not sure if you would benefit from a non-stationary bike? Here are some instances to consider:

  1. You do not have ample home fitness space to accommodate stationary bikes.
  2. Year-round outdoor exercise is possible.
  3. Being outside would be a huge motivator to exercise.
  4. You’re interested in biking with a friend or family member.
  5. You already have a non-stationary bike in your possession and do not have money for more exercise equipment.

Which exercise bike is the best for you?

Now that we discussed several types of exercise bikes, which is the best option for you? While there are many to choose from, this article specifically targets recumbent exercise bikes for the remainder of the article. If you think that a different type of bike would benefit you most, there is still more information for you to read! Jump down to our sample bike workout for ideas on how to get a fun and efficient exercise on your exercise bike.

If you find that you would benefit from a recumbent bike for lower impact cardio exercises, keep on reading. Also, if you are overweight and interested in weight loss, we have recumbent bike reviews geared to you. Below, we compiled our top picks in recumbent exercise bikes.

Fitnessator’s Top Pick

400XL Folding Recumbent Bike– The Best Recumbent Bike on a Budget

400XL Folding Recumbent Bike by ExerpeuticWhy We Love It:

It’s easy to love this recumbent stationary bike by Exerpeutic because it gives you all the cardio benefits on a budget. Not only is this stationary recumbent bike one of the cheapest on the list, but it is also small, lightweight and frill-free. No need to spend a lot of money in order to start losing weight and getting healthy!

The Research:

High-intensity exercises, such as those performed on recumbent bikes like this one, may provide metabolic and cardiovascular benefits (2). Per the research, spin cycling and biking exercises can reduce body fat and help people achieve a healthy weight. Biking on a recumbent bike can help you reach your weight loss goals!

Details:
  • Max user weight: 300 lbs
  • Contains a 3-piece torque system for resistance
  • Suggested user height ranges from 5’2” to 6’2”
  • Dimensions: 19in x 46in x 33in. Total product weight: 39 lbs
  • Walmart Price: $149
Things to Consider:

Keep in mind that this bike has specific weight and user height limits. Before you purchase, make sure you fit within the suggested limits!

Customer Reviews:

Per customer reviews, the Exerpeutic recumbent bike is great if you live in an apartment. It saves on space, and is extremely quiet during use.

On the other hand, this seemingly simple product can be complicated to assemble. According to some customers, the assembly manual contains a lot of unorganized information, making assembly difficult. So, have a friend help you with this one!

Who Should Purchase This Product:

This recumbent bike is best for people with small budgets and small spaces. With this product, you can easily get an effective cardio workout without all the expense and footprint requirements.

Fitnessator’s Runner Up

Stationary Upright Bike– Upright and Recumbent Bike Blend

Stationary Upright Bike by XSpecWhy We Love It:

This is another budget-friendly recumbent bike, but it differs substantially from our Top Pick. The XSpec bike is a mixture of a recumbent bike and upright bike, giving you the benefits of each.

Details:
  • Adjustable for higher upright biking and lower recumbent biking
  • Max user weight: 220 lbs
  • Dimensions: 36in x 23in x 44in. Total product weight: 47 lbs
  • Available in several colors
  • Crosslinks Website: $113.99
Things to Consider:

Since this bike sits higher than a normal recumbent bike, make sure an upright seat is suitable for you. While it does not sit as straight as an upright bike, some people may have discomfort due to the lack of back support on this product.

Customer Reviews:

Many customers have found weight loss and pain relief from this bike. This may be due to the bike’s ability to adjust up and down for recumbent and upright cycling.

On the other hand, people have been dissatisfied by the ancillary parts of the machine. For example, the display screen has stopped working and the pedals have arrived in poor condition. While the bike itself worked, there were definitely issues!

Who Should Purchase This Product:

Especially if you don’t suffer from back or hip issues, this bike may give you an extra boost of intensity and calorie burn compared to some of the other bikes we’ve reviewed. However, keep in mind that this bike lacks back support.

Fitnessator’s Honorable Mention

Schwinn 270 – The Classic Recumbent Bike

Schwinn 270 Recumbent BikeWhy We Love It:

If you want a low-riding recumbent bike, this Schwinn 270 bike is a classic. With high-tech features and backed by a well-known biking company, you can rest assured that this is a high-quality product.

Details:
  • High-tech features like Bluetooth connectivity and access to the Schwinn Trainer app
  • 29 fitness programs
  • 25 levels of resistance
  • Dimensions: 66.5in x 12.5in x 27.5in. Total product weight: 93 lbs
  • Schwinn Website: $549
Things to Consider:

The biggest thing to consider for this bike is the price. While it is not the most expensive on the list, the Schwinn bike has a hefty price tag for one piece of equipment!

Customer Reviews:

Many overweight and/or obese customers rave about this product. With a max user weight of 325 lbs, most people can use this machine to help them lose weight. With a large, supportive seat, a larger person can feel supported on the bike.

The main issue many customers complain about is a loud grinding noise. This is a malfunction in the bike, and some customers had it resolved whereas others didn’t.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you are overweight, obese and/or have existing joint pain, this classic recumbent bike may be the best option for you. This bike has a wide seat as well as several convenient features to like a cup holder and fitness apps to help you succeed with weight loss.

 

Elite Recumbent Bike– A Complete Workout

Elite Recumbent Bike by StaminaWhy We Love It:

Not all of the recumbent bikes on this list offer a full body workout at baseline. With the Stamina bike, however, you can do cardio while exercising your upper and lower body. 

Details:
  • 8 levels of resistance
  • Heart rate sensors for workout data
  • Safety and comfort features like textured pedals and padded seat
  • Total product weight: 121 lbs
  • Stamina Website: $1199.99
Things to Consider:

This is the most expensive bike on the list. While it does have many comfort and accessibility features, make sure to decide if these features are worth the price. It is also a heavy piece of equipment, so make sure you have the space and someone to move it.  

Customer Reviews:

Positive reviews for this bike relate to the durability and longevity of this product. Some people have been using the same bike for 9 years! Perhaps it’s worth the investment.

Per negative customer feedback, the foot pedals don’t always work well while moving the hand pedals. Also, with only 8 resistance levels, some customers have “outgrown” this bike. 

Who Should Purchase This Product:

The Stamina bike may be best for the elderly and/or those with pre-existing injuries and pain. This bike offers maximum comfort while providing a very low impact full body workout. 

Schwinn 230 – The Bells and Whistles

Schwinn 230 Recumbent BikeWhy We Love It:

For those who like the bells and whistles when working out, the Schwinn 230 can give you an interactive, personalized and fun workout. 

Details:
  • MP3 hookup with speakers
  • Able to set customized goals for your workout program
  • Max user weight: 300 lbs
  • Dimensions: 64in x 27.7in x 50in. Total product weight: 80 lbs
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods Website: $429.99
Things to Consider:

Remember that if music hookups and personalization area not top priorities, don’t pay for it! There are other bikes on this list that are no-frill and cost significantly less than this bike. 

Customer Reviews:

Even though the Schwinn 230 is a downgrade from the Schwinn 270, many customers enjoy this bike for its smooth ride, easy adjustments and just enough training levels to be challenging.

On the other hand, some people find the plastic seat to be uncomfortable. It’s important to weigh the price of the 230 versus the 270 just for the padded seat! 

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If some of the other bikes are too expensive for you, consider this moderately priced bike. This bike can give you all the benefits of a classic recumbent bike for less money.

The Rundown on Recumbent Bikes

The breakdown below will help you compare these products. As you can see, the main characteristics of each product are highlighted so that you can easily see which bikes have the features that are important to you.

Product

Less than $200

Upright ability?

Upper body workouts built in?

Max user weight

400XL Folding Recumbent Bike (Top Pick) X No No 300 lbs
XSpec Upright (Runner Up) X Yes No 220 lbs
Schwinn 270 (Honorable Mention) No No 325 lbs
Stamina Elite No Yes 250 lbs
Schwinn 230 No No 300 lbs

 

Sample Exercise Bike Workout

Try this sample bike routine for a great calorie-burning workout. It’s always best to discuss your exercise plan with your healthcare team so that you can get personalized recommendations on the routine you hope to use. Also, if you would like to use the arm exercises in this routine, do so with caution. Safety is important on an exercise bike. If you do not want to do the arm exercises while biking, check out this awesome bicep workout for after your cycling workout!

Resistance Level

Duration

Add to the Exercise

Baseline resistance
00:00-05:00 Focus on breathing
+3 resistance
05:00-15:00 100 overhead presses
+4 resistance
15:00-30:00 50 bicep curls on each side + 30 inverted curls to front presses
+2 resistance
30:00-40:00 30 lateral flys + 30 front flys
Baseline resistance
40:00-45:00 Focus on deep breathing

 

Before You Purchase

By now, you may have identified which type of exercise bike is the best fit for you. If you realize that a recumbent bike is the best option, hopefully these recumbent bike reviews will steer you in the right direction to purchasing the perfect one.

Remember, when it comes to any exercise routine, make sure you purchase a product that you are comfortable using (and you actually want to use it). Before you purchase, we suggest you visit a local gym or fitness store to try out several types of bikes. This will help you know which bike fits best with your body. Then, refer back to this article for the best recumbent bikes that will fit your needs.

Which type of exercise bike is the best fit for you? The recumbent bike? A road bike? Have you had bad experiences on one type of bike compared to another? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

 

3 Comments

  • Halyna R says:

    I’ve got an elliptical machine which can be changed into a “bike” but I was thinking about replacing it with a regular exercise bike. As much as I love the idea of reading while exercising, I don’t think I’ll have enough room for a recumbent bike. Also, I was wondering how different is a recumbent bike from an upright bike in terms of which muscles are involved?

    • Amanda Kostro RD, LDN & Professional Dancer says:

      Riding on an upright bike activates your back and core a little more than a recumbent bike since you have to sit up, however, the overall effect may be insignificant. You may be able to burn more calories on an upright bike since you can push harder, however, again, the difference may be insignificant between the two types of bikes.

  • Joesph Orm says:

    very interesting information! .

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