Recumbent bikes have emerged as a popular tool for completing low-impact cardio. Compared to most other cardio machines, recumbent bikes create the least amount of wear and tear on the joints of your hips, knees, ankles, and lower back. This is why you often see them used for rehabilitation of various injuries. That being said there are numerous different types of recumbent bikes. One type stands out. Of all recumbent bikes, only those with moving arms allow you to engage your upper body as well as your lower body, and help you get a well-rounded, full-body workout that is still kind to your joints.
Today we will show you the best recumbent bikes with moving arms.
We’ve picked five models that we think will make for the best investment in your health and fitness. After we go over our picks, we’ll go deeper into recumbent bikes more generally, how to choose the best one for your specific needs, what to look for when purchasing one, and more. By the time you’re done reading this guide, you should have a good idea of what works and what to stay away from.
If you’re wondering if all of this info is really necessary for a simple recumbent bike, you’d be surprised. There’s a lot more going on in one of these than meets the eye. Let’s get started with our selection overview and slowly move on from there.
Best Recumbent Bike with Moving Arms At a Glance
Best Overall Pick
This recumbent bike offers a balance between comfort and performance, size and functionality. It is a great choice for those who want a complete package. Sure, it’s not the most affordable model, but it offers a lot of awesome features that will ultimately make a significant difference.
Best Value Pick
Sunny’s offer in this segment of the market features one of the best bang for your buck machines available. It’s a simple, full-sized recumbent bike that just works. Much like most other machines from this brand, this one is a great option for those looking for the combination of good quality, and affordability.
Best Budget Pick
Those looking for the most compact solution possible will absolutely love this model. Stamina’s folding recumbent bike offers a mobile exercise package that has a surprisingly small footprint. Not only that, but you are looking at a very affordable piece of fitness equipment that still gets the job done.
The Best Recumbent Bikes with Moving Arms
|Stamina Elite Total Body Recumbent Bike||
|Sunny Health & Fitness Recumbent Bike with Cross-Training Arms||
|Stamina Recumbent Exercise Bike with Upper Body Exerciser||
|Sunny Health & Fitness Recumbent Bike with Arm Exercisers||
|Teeter FreeStep Recumbent Cross Trainer and Elliptical||
|Stamina Elite Total Body Recumbent Bike|
|Sunny Health & Fitness Recumbent Bike with Cross-Training Arms|
|Stamina Recumbent Exercise Bike with Upper Body Exerciser|
|Sunny Health & Fitness Recumbent Bike with Arm Exercisers|
|Teeter FreeStep Recumbent Cross Trainer and Elliptical|
From all the models you’ll see here today, this one from Stamina Elite is easily the most streamlined option. They have figured out a way to combine a relatively small form factor, intuitive controls and efficient arm exerciser all in one device. Looking at the Total body recumbent bike, we notice two things – it features side mounted heart rate sensors, and it packs a complete control module up top.
The frame, which is the core of the entire machine, is rock solid. It’s an H pattern unit that sits on adjustable feet that you can easily level out. One of the main factors that impact the comfort of any given recumbent bike is the seat. The one on this bike is well padded with a semi-ergonomic contour. On top of that, you can adjust it just about anyhow you want to.
Flywheel they chose for this build is fairly decent. It’s a precision machined piece, which makes it quite and stable during heavier use. Tension is adjusted using the tension knob that’s located right under the arm crank. That built-in console offers a few metrics which you’ll find important aside from the heartbeat. You’ll see calories burned, distance, overall time and more.
- Compact, step through design with a solid frame and leveling feet
- Features a built-in console as well as heart rate monitoring
- Comfortable, ergonomic seat
The Not So Good
- It is not a cheap bike by any means
Sunny Health & Fitness is a brand that generally dwells in the affordable to mid-range segment of the market. However, they also happen to be one of the best value-for-money brands you can find right now. In their effort to bring you the best your money can buy, Sunny often times cuts corners. As bad as this may sound at first, those corners they cut are not that important.
In the case of the SF-RB4708, what they did is take a regular recumbent bike and adapt it to meet the needs of this niche segment. As a result, you have a full-sized H pattern frame that features a rail mounted seat and a front mounted flywheel housing. The arm crank is nothing more than a mechanical linkage designed to work around the frame and connect with the pedals.
Is this the prettiest solution out there? No, not really. Does it work? Absolutely and that is what it all comes down to. This bike comes with a padded seat, a minimalist console, heart rate monitoring and a media shelf. Overall, it really doesn’t get much better at this price.
- Great value for the money
- Robust design and quality materials
- Features heart rate monitors and a padded seat
The Not So Good
- The full sized frame which takes a decent amount of space
- The seat isn’t fully adjustable
Machines designed to be used at home need to satisfy one criterion. They need to be compact. While different people may have different definitions of what is actually compact, we can generally agree that a smaller device that gets the job done is preferable to a larger one. Especially if you don’t have the square footage of say Pentagon at your disposal.
Stamina’s recumbent bike may not look all that impressive at first glance. However, what you’re not seeing is exactly what makes it so great. It is a super compact, folding recumbent bike with an arm crank that you can easily store away. As usual, the first thing we are interested in on a model such as this one is stability. No amount of space saving is worth it if you need to worry about your balance as you exercise.
Fortunately for all of us, Stamina did a decent job with the frame, although it is a bit narrow for our taste. As for the features it offers, you’re getting a height adjustable padded seat, side handles, a small console interface that offers basic stats and not much more. This is a minimalist rig that is all about being mobile and compact. If you’re a budget user, this is the bike for you.
- Folding design that makes the bike very compact
- One of the most affordable models on the market
- Comes with a console, which is not common at this price
The Not So Good
- The frame might be a tad too narrow
- Compact design means a smaller flywheel
Up next is another model from Sunny Health & Fitness. This time around we’re looking at something that was purpose-built for the budget crowd. Compared to the other model we’ve shown you already, this one looks more streamlined, even though both are based on the same chassis. What makes them so different? The price. This one is generally cheaper, which makes it a great deal for those who are limited in how much they can invest in a recumbent bike.
From the ground up, Sunny went with a solid frame. It’s a standard H pattern layout made of fairly decent piping. Most importantly, it offers plenty of stability even if you go ham on that crank. The seat is mounted on a rail and adjustable for the user’s height. Unfortunately, that’s the only adjustment you can make. Both the seat and backrest are fixed.
This model also features side mounted handles with built-in heart rate sensors. The integrated console packs a small display, but one that is easily legible and navigated. If there’s one thing Sunny Health & Fitness knows how to do, it’s make intuitive equipment. Lastly, there’s the resistance selection lever with 8 available levels of resistance.
- It’s a budget option, but a pretty packed one at that
- Comes with heart rate monitoring as standard
- Comfortable seat that is adjustable by height
The Not So Good
- Full-sized frame
- Backrest angle won’t work for everyone
Our last pick for today brings something different. You’ll often hear that recumbent bikes are just one step away from ellipticals. In fact, these two machines are not all that different, especially if you add the upper body component. Case in point Teeter FreeStep.
This machine is a hybrid of a few things. It is essentially a recumbent elliptical with a cross trainer element to it. As it turns out, it works great despite how complicated it seems. With a rear mounted flywheel, this machine offers a full length of stride in the recumbent position. The really great thing about it is the fact that those armbars are adjustable. You can find a perfect fit that allows you to sit back and make the best of that recumbent position.
Due to having to facilitate such a weird layout, this machine features a modified H frame. We mention this because this is one of the most stable pieces of exercise machines you can get. FreeStep comes with a built-in console unit, rear mounted handlebars and more. This is the type of device we would recommend to those who want a zero impact home trainer.
- True zero impact exercise machine
- Combines the best features of three different devices
- One of the most stable platforms you can get
The Not So Good
- Not something we’d call affordable
Should You Get a Recumbent Bike with Moving Arms?
Recumbent bikes have always been a great way to get low-impact cardio done in a comfortable manner. The entire point of these bikes is to isolate your legs and limit your core’s engagement as you workout. However, what if you like the comfort recumbent bikes offer but you feel that your upper body is left out too much? Recumbent bikes with arm exercisers are the way to go.
To answer the question from the title, it all comes down to what you’re looking to achieve. The recumbent bikes listed above will give you a solid total body cardio workout. You’ll greatly benefit from working the muscles in both your arms and legs – the more muscles you work, the more results you’ll see.
Recumbent bikes with moving arms are a perfect choice for those recovering from an injury, as well as for seniors and older adults. The low-impact, low-strain nature of this design makes them suitable for people who would otherwise struggle to get good quality cardio exercise.
At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve fitness-wise. Recumbent bikes will suit most purposes, but being clear with your goals is imperative.
Choosing the Right Recumbent Bike with Moving Arms
Recumbent bikes come in all different shapes and sizes. Knowing how to choose the right one might seem easy, but it’s not. You’ll need to recognize the features you find important and focus on those. With that said, here’s a short list of things you should pay attention to when shopping for a recumbent bike.
Compact or Full Size?
This might sound like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how few people actually think about the size when shopping around – especially when looking for a recumbent bike to use at home. Here’s the thing: Recumbent bikes can be massive. The recumbent position necessitates a significantly longer machine.
Unless you have enough space to facilitate such lengthy machines, we strongly suggest that you pay attention to the size of the model you’re looking at. Similarly, if you’re in need of a really compact fitness machine, folding recumbent bikes can be a great solution.
Flywheel and Resistance
Another often overlooked yet essential thing to look out for are flywheels. To be more specific, how massive and well made it actually is. Even though magnetic resistance is the preferred choice for most brands out there, flywheel quality still matters. A bad one will make a lot of noise during use, while it can also negatively impact your balance in extreme cases. What you are looking for is something that can create enough inertia, something that runs silent and runs smooth. Just about every model on our list matches this description.
The last thing we’d like to touch upon is comfort. The whole idea behind recumbent bikes is to allow you to recline in the seat and enjoy the comfort. But what defines comfortable in this segment? It’s simple. You’ll want a padded backrest and an ergonomic seat. These may or may not be adjustable, but the padding is a must in most cases.
Frequently Asked Questions About Recumbent Bikes
Now that we know a thing or two about recumbent bikes in general, let’s address some of the most frequently asked questions about these machines. Some of these answers will probably sound intuitive, but some might come as a surprise.
Is an Upright or Recumbent Exercise Bike Better?
What you need to understand is that it’s not a matter of which one is better. These two designs of exercise bike were created to offer solutions to different problems.
An upright bike has many benefits of its own, but so does a recumbent bike.
A much better question would be ‘are recumbent bikes better for your joints?’ In this case the answer is a solid yes. The fact that you are semi-reclined in a seat with the pedals in front of you rather than beneath you has a number of beneficial effects:
- Your weight is evenly distributed across your whole buttocks, which reduces the pressure placed on your ischial tuberosities, or “sitting bones”
- Your lower back is supported, and not hunched
- Your head is in a natural, forward-facing position, which reduces strain on your neck
- Your arms are not forced to support any of your weight, eliminating potential strain on your wrists
Even with the arm exercise element you’ve seen on our picks above, you are still not loading up your back, neck or wrists in a detrimental way. This is generally why recumbent bikes are often used as a part of the injury rehabilitation process.
On a similar note, you may be wondering whether an upright or recumbent bike is better for your knees. The truth is, they’re about the same in this regard.
Is a Recumbent Exercise Bike Effective for Weight Loss?
Yes, a recumbent exercise bike is definitely an effective tool for weight loss. The reason why this question gets asked so often is that people associate the reclined seating position with relaxation. Your brain might have trouble believing that you can actually burn calories in such a body position. The truth is that you absolutely can. Just because you are comfortably seated doesn’t mean that your legs aren’t working overtime or that you’re not getting that cardio burn.
On the contrary, you can get a very effective workout out of a recumbent bike. It all comes down to your training regimen. In other words, it doesn’t matter all that much if you are on an upright bike, recumbent bike or something else. If you are putting in work and following a decent routine, you will lose weight. Naturally, your diet is a massive part of this equation as well. However, that is a topic for another time. All you need to know right now is that recumbent bikes can be every bit as demanding as any other type of home bike. It’s all about how you use it.
Will a Recumbent Exercise Bike Build and Tone Your Legs?
Yes, recumbent exercise bikes can help you build and tone your legs. There are two reasons why this is true. First one is deeply rooted in the basics of hypertrophy and muscle building in general. Stimulating any muscle by increasing the resistance it has to deal with will prompt that muscle to grow. With bikes that resistance is adjustable. This means that you can build your leg muscles if you find a way to adequately use the resistance settings on your bike. You can do this by following a HIIT regimen, which undoubtedly makes quick work of your legs if you’re persistent enough.
Well, there you have it: The Best Recumbent Bikes with Moving Arms
We went on to find the models that best represent a cross-section of the market. As you can tell, there are expensive recumbent bikes and cheap ones too. There are also recumbent solutions that take things to a whole new level like that Teeter. Anyway, we hope that this guide helped you figure out how to choose a good recumbent bike and why these fitness machines deserve a place in your home. All you have to do now is find one that best fits your needs and your style.