Recumbent exercise bikes have proven to be one of the best tools for low-impact cardio at home or in the gym. However, finding a recumbent bike that brings all the right features without breaking the bank isn’t as simple as it sounds. Today we’re going to show you some of the best recumbent bikes under $500.
Why this particular price range? Because this is the sweet spot where you’re getting a decent suite of features and good build quality at a reasonable price. For this reason, some of these bikes are actually among the best recumbent bikes on the market at the moment.
In this article we’ll go over these individual models in detail and then discuss what to look for in recumbent bikes in this segment.
Best Recumbent Bikes Under $500 At a Glance
Best Recumbent Bike Under $500 Overall
The Schwinn 230 represents a well-rounded machine that offers what is arguably the best combination of features, build quality and price in this segment of the market. You’re getting a reliable piece of kit that has enough potential to provide for long-term challenging workouts.
Next Best Option
A minimalist design that caters to those who want something compact, functional and ultimately Spartan in nature. Harison’s recumbent bike offers reliable, silent and smooth operation even under load. Thanks to its lightweight design, you won’t have trouble removing and returning this bike to storage.
The Best Recumbent Bikes Under $500
|Schwinn 230 Recumbent Bike||
|Harison Magnetic Recumbent Bike||
|Nautilus R614 Recumbent Bike||
|Marcy ME-706 Regenerating Recumbent Exercise Bike||
|Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RB4850||
|Schwinn 230 Recumbent Bike|
|Harison Magnetic Recumbent Bike|
|Nautilus R614 Recumbent Bike|
|Marcy ME-706 Regenerating Recumbent Exercise Bike|
|Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RB4850|
Schwinn’s 230 recumbent bike has proven to be an optimal bang-for-your-buck option for those looking to stretch their investment. The bike features a sturdy but low-profile step-through frame that makes it easy to get on and off the bike. The frame features leveling feet in the back that allow you to level the bike on uneven surfaces and eliminate annoying wobbles.
In the front, you’ve got a pair of wheels that make moving the bike around fairly easy.
The seat is made of contoured, ventilated hard plastic that is relatively comfortable despite not being heavily padded. A caveat here is that if you don’t have much…natural padding, you’ll start to really feel the hard plastic seat after a time. All-in-all though, combined with the side-mounted handlebars, you’re looking at a pretty comfortable setup for longer rides. The seat is mounted to a solid rail that allows for plenty of adjustment for height.
Up front, we’ve got a well-balanced, precision machined flywheel. It runs reasonably smoothly and quietly even if you push it hard.
Resistance on this bike is digitally controlled via the main console unit. It sports a large interface with numerous, but intuitive controls. This console also features two different displays sitting one on top of the other. The top one is used to navigate the built-in programs and other options, while the lower one displays your main stats. Right underneath the top screen is a media shelf where you can place your phone or tablet once you’ve selected the program you want to run for your workout.
As far as built-in features and creature comforts go, the Schwinn 230 comes with 2 user profiles, meaning that more than one person can build their own routine. There are 22 presets to choose from. These include various programs that simulate real-world terrain, 8 heart rate control programs and more. Manual resistance selection is limited to 20 levels.
The console features a set of built-in speakers that come with an AUX-in port, as well as a USB port that makes it easy to charge your devices while you ride.
- Good build quality all around
- Comes with plenty of flagship features
- Massive console unit that’s full of presets and other options
- Built-in creature comforts such as speakers, water bottle holder and media shelf
The Not So Good
- The seat can be slippery due to its shape and the lack of padding
The Harison model we’re looking at here takes a different type of approach to recumbent bikes. They’ve gone with a more minimalist design. Starting from the frame we see solid tubing all over, which inspires confidence if you’re looking for ultimate stability. Although the bike does come with leveling feet, they’re the rotating caps which are more rudimentary than screw in feet like on the Schwinn 230 above.
The seat’s design is a hybrid of a contoured mesh plastic backrest and simple padded bottom. In terms of comfort, it gets the job done but that thin padding can cause some fatigue over time. Since the bike features heart rate monitoring, you’ve got two sensors mounted on handlebars next to the seat. The seat itself is mounted on a slim rail that can take up to 350 lbs. of weight max. We’d definitely like to see a more robust rail design as it feels like Harison cut a few corners in this department. With that said, the rail manages the weight well enough.
The flywheel is of average weight and quality, but still runs relatively quiet and smooth. Pushing it hard will cause some noise, but it’s unlikely to impact your overall experience. This being an analog machine means that resistance is adjusted using a twistable knob that’s mounted underneath the display unit. There are 14 levels of resistance, which is plenty enough for people at all fitness levels to get a robust cardio workout.
The display setup on top is fairly basic and shows you your most important metrics such as speed, distance, and heart rate. Harison has also mounted a separate media deck/water bottle holder above the console, but don’t expect too much from it. It’s mounted at a weird angle that often doesn’t work for the angle that the average person sits at.
- Simple, robust and compact design that just works
- Good overall build quality
- Contoured backrest and cushioned seat
- Comes with a smooth and quiet flywheel
The Not So Good
- The rail design could have been beefier
- Media shelf at a weird angle that won’t work for everyone
If you’re looking for an affordable model that still offers many of the flagship features, the Nautilus R614 might just be the bike for you. This compact recumbent bike features a robust H-pattern frame that offers fine leveling adjustment in the back and a set of wheels in the front. Additionally, they’ve installed a handle on the rear of the frame that allows you to lift the bike up and move it in and out of storage with ease. That’s a feature we rarely see even on more expensive models.
The seat is made of molded plastic. It’s a rigid, contoured mesh design that offers decent support and comfort. The seat is mounted on a robust rail, although Nautilus have used substandard bolts to do so. As a result, they’re known to come loose over longer periods of use. You’ll potentially have to retighten the bolts over time or, ideally, use a fixative like Loctite when first assembling the bike.
The bike features a set of handlebars next to the seat that sport standard heart rate monitoring sensors. These HR monitors are not known to be particularly good, so don’t expect too much from them.
The flywheel is a solid unit that’s about average when it comes to noise and smoothness under load. Resistance is controlled via the massive console unit that features 22 workout programs as well as 20 levels of manually adjustable resistance. You’re getting two displays – the main display used for navigation as well as preset control, and the secondary display that shows your main stats. These controls are intuitive and simple to use.
Nautilus has managed to include a number of creature comforts as well. You’ve got a built-in set of speakers paired with an MP3 input port, a USB charging port, and a cooling fan. Overall, the Nautilus R614 offers great bang for your buck.
- Flagship features in a relatively affordable bike
- Good build quality and solid materials bar the seat issue
- Features plenty of functionality and presets
- Easy to pull in and out of storage
The Not So Good
- Seat mount screws tend to come undone
- Can be somewhat tricky to assemble – 2 people will reduce this hassle
This recumbent bike is one of Marcy’s mid-range offerings and is a solid choice for those looking for something a bit different. Marcy hasn’t followed the dogma when it comes to recumbent bikes in this market segment. For starters, the ME-706 is rather compact. It sits on a low profile H-pattern frame that’s made of flat steel tubes. It comes with basic level adjustment in the rear and wheels in the front.
The seat is where Marcy parted ways with most other bikes on this list. Instead of going with a hard mesh plastic seat design, they simply took two completely flat boards and added quality padding to them. Although it may seem like a lazy design shortcut, these types of seats tend to work better for those who find contoured molded designs too aggressive. With that said, the seat is easy to adjust and quite stable.
Marcy has used a quality flywheel for this model that has a dual purpose: Aside from offering resistance, the flywheel drives the self-regenerating power system. In other words, pedaling powers up the console and means that the bike requires no batteries or external power. That said, there’s actually not that much to power. The ME-706’s console is pretty basic compared to most others on this list. You’re getting a backlit display, rudimentary controls, and a media shelf.
With digitally controlled resistance, you can choose between 23 factory presets and 24 levels of manually selectable resistance. All-in-all, this is easily one of Marcy’s best recumbent bikes under $500.
- Solid build quality across the board
- Self-regenerative power means no need for batteries or external power sources
- Features a great selection of factory presets
- Quality flywheel ensures near-silent operation
The Not So Good
- Comes with very poor assembly instructions
- Seat design might not be up to everyone’s liking
The last bike on our list comes from Sunny Health & Fitness and represents a well-rounded option for those who don’t want to spend too much on a recumbent exercise bike. The SF-RB4850 features the trifecta of good frame design: Fine leveling adjustment in the rear, transport wheels and a transport handle. Aside from that, you’re looking at solid steel construction that is extremely stable.
The seat on this bike represents what’s probably the optimal solution when it comes to comfort. Sunny Health and Fitness has used a hard plastic mesh for the contoured backrest while the actual seat is heavily padded with high density foam. Adjusting the seat for height is done using a simple lever mechanism. Just like on other models that sport heart rate monitoring, the sensors are found on the handlebars mounted to the seat.
Sunny’s flywheel design has always been on point, which is also the case with this bike. You can count on a reasonably silent flywheel that’s smooth enough to not be noticeable during operation. Moving up the bike, we’ve got a great console that features a backlit display. Although pretty simple in nature, this console is miles ahead of the competition and it all has to do with the media shelf. Instead of mounting at the bottom of the console, Sunny has mounted it above the display. That way you can enjoy your favorite show all while having a clear view of the screen.
This being a digitally controlled bike means you’ve got 12 built-in presets and 16 levels of resistance to choose from. This is probably the only area where the SF-RB4850 falls behind its competition. With that said, those 16 levels of resistance are plenty enough for a challenging workout for most people.
- Good build quality across the board
- Features what is arguably the most comfortable seat design you can choose
- Comes with a well-designed console unit
- Built-in bottle holder and media shelf
The Not So Good
- Only 16 levels of resistance isn’t all that great for this segment of the market
Should You Get a Recumbent Bike Under $500?
What you’re buying when you invest in a mid-range model are mainly the more advanced features and better comfort. First and foremost, bikes from this segment of the market are mostly computer-controlled and that means they have factory presets, various workout profiles and more. Secondly, this price segment is where you start seeing more comfortable seat designs. To answer the question from earlier – mid-range recumbent bikes are definitely worth it if you need advanced features and better comfort.
If you want premium comfort, the best build quality, a heavy and smooth flywheel, and an extensive range of features, get a top-of-the-line recumbent bike. If, however, you just want something that you can get on and pedal for a while and you’re unconcerned about bells and whistles, then there are awesome budget recumbent bikes out there that do the job just fine.
Choosing the Right Recumbent Bike Under $500
When choosing a bike from this segment you really need to focus on three important areas: Console features, seat design, and creature comforts.
Console and Built-In Features
One of the main things that differentiates a recumbent bike at the bottom of the price range from those more towards the top is workout presets and programs. In getting a mid-range recumbent exercise bike, you’re starting to tap into that flagship selection of key features. This is important for more serious users who are keen to use data to inform the progress they’re making towards their fitness goals.
Another feature you see more of in this segment of the market is advanced seat design. When you’re spending more than about $300 on a recumbent bike, you’ll find simple padded seats, ergonomic, contoured injection molded seats, mesh seats and various hybrids. Seat design dictates comfort. Finding an exercise bike that you’ll be comfortable with for longer periods of use is essential for those who take fitness and cardiovascular health seriously.
Last but not least, bikes in this segment come with all kinds of goodies, including built-in speakers, built-in cooling fans and more. We strongly suggest that you figure out whether these are important to you as you can save some money by opting out on such options.
Frequently Asked Questions About Recumbent Bikes
Dropping a week or two’s paycheck on a piece of exercise equipment is no small ask for most
What is the best recumbent exercise bike for home?
What is the best recumbent exercise bike for home?
Any of the bikes on the list above will be more than suitable for home use. We’ve previously reviewed the best recumbent bikes for home use and found, much like in this article that the Schwinn 230 recumbent bike is your top option. It combines quality, features and affordability which are arguably the main boxes you’re aiming to tick when setting up a home or garage gym.
Are recumbent bikes any good?
The short answer is yes.
The longer answer is, it depends on why you want an exercise bike in the first place. Realistically you’re probably weighing up a recumbent bike against a more traditional upright exercise bike.
Upright bikes also provide a good quality, low-impact cardio workout. The main advantage they have over recumbent bikes is that they can be more compact. This is because you’re obviously sitting upright, and therefore have a smaller footprint while exercising. It’s for this very reason that recumbent bikes are superior to upright bikes for anyone who experiences pain or discomfort in their neck, back, wrists, elbows, or genitals.
Sitting in a reclined position means that your head is in a more natural, forward-facing posture. This eliminates the need for your neck muscles to hold your head in the downward stare necessitated by upright bikes, thus reducing neck strain.
The large bucket seat plus backrest of a recumbent bike has multiple advantages to the smaller seat of the upright bike. The backrest supports your spine, especially your lumbar vertebrae, which reduces back pain. The seat provides greater support for your buttocks, and means that there is no pressure on your genitals or perineum.
Upright bikes force you to lean forward and support some of your torso’s weight with your arms, which is an unnatural position for humans. We are bipedal, and our arms are not designed to hold our weight. This weight bearing can cause strain through your elbows and wrists, and exacerbate any existing injuries to these joints.
As you can see, recumbent bikes are much easier on the body than upright bikes, which is why they’re incredibly popular.
Will a recumbent bike help you lose weight?
Yes, recumbent exercise bikes are definitely effective tools for weight loss. 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 good deal of calories, which will help you lose weight. Now, of course your diet must be well-balanced and you need to be running at 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 following a decent routine, you’ll almost certainly lose weight.
Well, there you have it: The Best Recumbent Bikes under $500.
We’ve selected a variety of models that we think offer the ultimate bang for your buck. As you’ve probably noticed, some of these bikes lean towards simple designs while others are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Either way, no matter which one you go with, you won’t be disappointed.