Working out on a budget used to be borderline impossible because fitness equipment was so damned expensive. Fortunately for all of us, things have changed in recent years. Now, we can do good workouts on inexpensive equipment that, despite its lower cost, is still relatively high quality.
Today, we’ll show you our picks for the 5 best budget recumbent bikes that will back this claim up.
These affordable recumbent bikes are lacking in bells and whistles but still offer good long-term performance at a great price point. In fact, we’ve put at least one of these bikes among the best recumbent bikes you can get right now. After we go over our picks, we’ll talk about how to choose a budget recumbent bike, which features matter and a bunch more.
Top Budget Recumbent Bikes At a Glance
Best Budget Recumbent Bike Overall
Exerpeutic’s 900XL is the jack of all trades type of bike that offers solid core performance and a decent set of features. At this price, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something much better. It’s a great overall choice for budget-conscious users.
Next Best Option
If you’re looking for a simple, basic bike that gets the job done, the R4000 is the way to go. Fitness Reality has put together a solid budget workhorse and even added a few creature comforts such as the media shelf on the display unit.
The Best Budget Recumbent Bikes
|Fitness Reality R4000||
|<||Marcy ME-709 Recumbent Exercise Bike||
|Exerpeutic Gold 525XLR Folding Recumbent Bike||
|Marcy Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike||
|Fitness Reality R4000|
|Marcy ME-709 Recumbent Exercise Bike|
|Exerpeutic Gold 525XLR Folding Recumbent Bike|
|Marcy Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike|
The Exerpeutic 900XL is the type of recumbent exercise bike that brings you the best bang-for-your-buck in terms of features and performance. It’s not going to be comparable to flagship models, but it’s nothing to scoff at either. It’s a jack of all trades, in a good sense. The bike sits on a standard, step-through H-pattern frame. It comes with simple leveling feet in the back and a pair of transport wheels in the front. As far as build quality goes, the frame feels solid and is rated at 300 lbs weight capacity, which is exceptional for such an affordable recumbent bike.
The seat is mounted on a horizontal rail that allows you to adjust your seating position for height. One thing we’ve noticed is the angle of the rail, which is fully horizontal. Recumbent bikes often have seats mounted at an angle to compensate for the way your legs bend. That’s not the case with this one. While it’s not a big deal, it’s something to take into consideration as particularly tall users may find the angle is not quite right for them. The seat is fully padded and features side-mounted handlebars for support as well as heart rate monitoring.
The 900XL features a compact but well-made flywheel. It’s quiet enough for most users, most of the time, though you may experience some noise as you go up in speed. There are 8 levels of magnetic resistance to choose from using the manual adjustment knob. The bike features a small display unit that shows basic information (speed, distance, heart rate if measuring) on a basic but easy to read LCD screen.
Overall, this is a compact budget bike that gets the job done and offers a decent selection of features. You can’t get much better than that at its current price.
- Very affordable for what it offers
- Decent build quality overall
- Comes with heart rate monitoring
- Fully padded seat greatly improves comfort
The Not So Good
- Can get loud at higher speeds
- Seat mounted on a horizontal rail means somewhat limited seating position adjustment
Budget recumbent bikes come in a variety of flavors. Some are trying to punch above their weight class, while others, like the Fitness Reality R4000, are going the other way. This bike fully embraces the simplicity of design that’s inherent to budget models. It’s as basic as they get, and that’s one of its strongest traits. The bike features a light yet strong step-through frame that offers leveling feet in the rear.
The seat is fully padded and mounted on a slim, but surprisingly strong rail. Fitness Reality offers a set of side-mounted handlebars as well, however they don’t sport heart rate sensors. Since the user is sitting fairly close to the flywheel housing, the R4000 can be described as a semi-compact recumbent bike. It’s also light (60 lbs.), making it very easy to move in and out of storage.
As far as flywheels go, the one on the R4000 is simply average. It’s a solid unit in a sense that it offers 14 levels of manually controlled resistance. That said, it doesn’t offer a greater level of resistance at its highest end than most models with 8 available levels. Rather, it gives you more fine resistance adjustment. The R4000 also features a modest display unit that will show you your basic metrics and little more. Last but not least, you’re also getting a media shelf with this unit, allowing you to enjoy your favorite show, movie, podcast or book during your workout.
- Simple yet robust design
- A compact layout that’s easy to move in and out of storage
- Fully padded seats with a pair of side-mounted handlebars
- 14 levels of resistance allow for finer adjustments
The Not So Good
- This bike is as basic as they come, which could be a turn off for some
Marcy is one of those brands that have a strong presence in the low to mid-range segments of the fitness equipment market. Their ME-709 recumbent bike offers exactly that – a strong basic package that delivers what you need for a solid workout and not a lot more.
It’s one of the cheapest bikes you can find. Don’t let the price tag fool you, though. This is one of the most popular recumbent bikes out there as it’s had a near-perfect track record so far. The bike features a compact frame that’s light but functional. Unlike most recumbent bikes out there, this one uses the frame itself to adjust for user height rather than sliding the seat along a rail.
It’s a simple but elegant solution. As for the seat, it’s fully padded and offers enough comfort for everyday use. It’s not overly ergonomic, but that can be said for all of the models on this list. You’re also getting a set of handlebars that are sitting higher than usual. Up front there’s a solid flywheel that features 8 levels of manually controlled magnetic resistance and runs smooth even when pushed hard. It’s one of the quietest budget options you can get, which is partially why it’s so popular.
Basic metrics are displayed on a very small but very legible LCD display unit. What makes this bike so great is its compact size. Since it uses an extending frame to adjust for user height, you can retract the frame to its shortest position and wheel it away into storage.
- One of the most affordable bikes out there
- Proven design with a near-perfect track record
- Compact and lightweight
- A quiet flywheel that offers a smooth ride even under heavy load
The Not So Good
- It brings no extra features whatsoever
Recumbent bikes can be quite massive, which is a potential issue for users who don’t have much space to spare. If space is a factor for you, Exerpeutic might have a solution. Their Gold 525XLR is a folding recumbent bike. The frame and the seat fold up leaving you with a sub-compact package. This doesn’t mean that the bike is any less reliable. In fact, this model is rated for 400 lbs., which is about 150 lbs. more than your average budget recumbent bike.
However, there are some compromises that come with its small form factor. For starters, the bike isn’t as stable as regular recumbent bikes because the seat sits higher due to its folding design, and thus the center of gravity is higher. This generally isn’t an issue for shorter, lighter users, but once you start extending that seat higher, you might find the inherent wobble more noticeable.
Speaking of the seat, it’s surprisingly comfortable despite its small size. They’ve used plenty of padding for both the seat and the backrest. Additionally, the seat features short but functional handlebars with built-in heart rate sensors.
The other compromise is the flywheel. They’ve had to use a smaller unit to maintain the small form factor. The good news is that you’re still going to get decent resistance control. This is thanks to its dual transmission drive, which works like gearing on a car to multiply the resistance. This model comes with 8 levels of manually adjustable resistance. The resistance selection knob is built into the small display unit that sits right between the user’s legs. Overall, this bike offers a lot for its size and is a viable option for those with limited space.
- Super compact design thanks to its folding frame
- Features a comfortable, padded seat
- A functional flywheel that offers plenty of resistance despite its size
- Can withstand up to 400 lbs. of weight thanks to its robust frame
- Features heart rate monitoring
The Not So Good
- Can become unstable due to its narrow frame, especially when the seat is adjusted for tall users
- The seat, although comfortable, might be too small for larger users
Last but not least, we have another solid budget recumbent bike from Marcy. This model is by far the most expensive one on our list, but still well within the budget range. Marcy offers a lot for the money as well. Their bike features a heavy-duty steel frame that has the user sitting lower than on most other bikes. This low center of gravity adds more overall stability, which is always a plus. The bike comes with leveling feet in the rear and transport wheels in the front.
One of the best features this model offers is the seat. It’s a large, well-padded seat that’s mounted on a heavy-duty rail. It allows for plenty of adjustment and is more comfortable than most. Marcy also offers a pair of heart rate monitors mounted on the handlebars next to the seat. The flywheel unit is pretty solid. It runs smooth and quiet and offers 8 levels of manually adjusted magnetic resistance.
This bike also features a display unit mounted up top. It’s larger than most, but it doesn’t offer any advanced functionality. You’re still limited to basic metrics in addition to the heart rate monitor. Being slightly more expensive, this Marcy bike treats you with some creature comforts. Namely, you get a drink bottle holder mounted behind the resistance selection knob.
- A solid model that sports a low seating position
- Comes with a built-in heart rate monitor
- Driven by a smooth flywheel that’s quiet even under heavy load
- Features a drink bottle holder mounted to the frame
The Not So Good
- The instruction manual is a bit confusing which can make the assembly process harder than it needs to be
Should You Get a Budget Recumbent Bike?
Recumbent bikes are arguably the best home exercise equipment for low-impact cardio. If you want a low-impact cardio workout on a limited budget, and you can live without advanced features, you should definitely get one of these bikes.
Budget fitness equipment used to have a bad rap back when working out on the cheap was still a novel idea. That’s no longer the case. We’ve reached a phase where affordable doesn’t mean bad. You don’t need a $500 recumbent bike to get a good workout anymore. You can get a decent exercise bike for less than $300 these days. However, this obviously doesn’t mean that more expensive equipment is not worth the extra money. An old adage that often acutely applies to fitness equipment is “you get what you pay for”.
The idea behind low-cost recumbent bikes is to offer the core performance without all the bells and whistles. Even so, some of these bikes come with the odd advanced feature, such as heart rate monitoring. Fortunately for consumers, the bar is moving every year. What used to be advanced features are slowly being pushed into the entry-level segment. In other words, affordable recumbent bikes are only getting better.
Choosing the Right Budget Recumbent Bike
Choosing the best cheap recumbent bike for you generally comes down to personal requirements and preferences. Truth be told, most of these bikes offer similar levels of quality, performance and functionality. Your choice should then be based primarily on price and the style you like, but also the bike’s size and any extra features that take your fancy.
Budget recumbent bikes, although pretty basic in nature, come in different formats. As you can tell by our list above, several distinct designs dominate this segment. The very first thing you should look for is the size that best you and the space you’re going to use the recumbent bike in. If you’re on the taller side (6’ plus) and have plenty of space in your home or garage gym for a larger bike, get one. In life, bigger isn’t always better, but when it comes to exercise bikes, larger models are usually more stable and have heavier flywheels (which is what you want). However, if you need a compact recumbent bike for home use that you can store easily, there are a number of worthy options available.
Features tend to be few and far between in recumbent exercise bikes. You’re mostly getting the basics in every model, however there is some diversity to be found if you look. Some bikes come with heart rate monitoring, drink bottle holders, media shelf, and maybe thicker seat padding. Depending on your specific body shape, exercise habits, and personal preferences any or all of these features may have value for you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Budget Recumbent Bikes
Are recumbent bikes a good choice for exercise?
Absolutely. They’re among the most effective and safest pieces of exercise equipment. Cycling (whether on a recumbent bike or another type) is a complex physical activity that requires fine coordination of the large muscles of the legs and buttocks. For this reason, when done at a moderate to vigorous intensity, cycling is an extremely effective way to both burn calories and build strength.
In fact, cycling is as good or better than many other common forms of physical exercise. Harvard Health found that, depending on weight, 30 minutes of moderate stationary cycling burns 210 – 311 calories, while vigorous cycling burns 315 – 466 calories. This was higher than any other common gym activity (such as rowing, using an elliptical trainer, weight lifting and doing aerobics). You’ll experience these benefits irrespective of the type of exercise bike use.
By design, recumbent bikes have additional advantages over more traditional upright exercise bikes. Being in a semi-reclined position means the head sits more naturally, which reduces the strain on the neck. The large bucket seat of a recumbent bike spreads your weight across your buttocks, thus reducing the pressure on the genitals and the perineum (do we need to explain why this is good?). Moreover, the seat’s backrest supports the spine, and reduces stress on the lumbar vertebrae.
As you can see, recumbent bikes are genuinely great pieces of equipment.
Are recumbent bikes good for weight loss?
Yes, recumbent exercise bikes are certainly effective tools for weight loss. They provide a good cardio workout, plus if you have the resistance set to a high level they’ll help build strength in the major muscles of the legs and buttocks.
Just because you’re comfortably seated doesn’t mean that your legs aren’t working overtime or that you’re not getting that cardio burn. As long as you’re putting in the effort, you’ll be burning a significant amount of calories, which will help you lose weight. Of course, your diet must be well-balanced and you need to be maintaining a calorie deficit in order to burn fat.
Ultimately, it all comes down to your training regimen. It actually doesn’t matter all that much if you are on an upright bike, recumbent bike or something else. If you’re putting in the work and controlling your diet, you’ll almost certainly lose weight.
Which inexpensive recumbent bike has the most comfortable seat?
You’re likely to find the most padding (and, therefore, comfort) on the Exerpeutic 900XL (#1) or the Marcy Magnetic Recumbent Bike (#5).
Well, there you have it: The Best Budget Recumbent Bikes
We’ve put together a list of models that we felt were the best in this segment. Our picks come in all kinds of flavors, including compact and folding bikes. All you need to do is figure out which one of the models above best fits your requirements. What all of them have in common is an absolutely solid performance that will get you the challenge you need.