The importance of low-impact cardio is becoming more and more apparent in the world of fitness. Running – the king of getting in shape and keeping your cardiovascular system healthy – can be hard on your joints, especially your knees.
Recumbent bikes solve that problem by offering high-quality cardio with zero impact damage to these vital joints.
Today we’re going to show you our top picks for the 8 best recumbent exercise bikes on the market. We went out and found what we think are the best models your money can buy right now. After we go over these bikes individually, we’ll touch upon different types of recumbent bikes, what features to look for and more.
Your body will thank you for going down this route later in life. Let’s get to it!
Best Recumbent Bike At a Glance
Best Recumbent Bike Overall
This feature-packed recumbent bike from Schwinn Fitness is one of the more expensive options on the market, but it’s also the best. It’s well-designed and sturdy, with a comfortable seat, easy step-through frame, and smooth magnetic resistance (25 levels). The Schwinn 270 is easily the overall best recumbent bike.
Best Value Recumbent Bike
This bike is perfect for those that want their exercise equipment to be both good-quality and good-looking. Not only is it a sturdy and well-designed bike, it’s also got a great range of features. There’s 24 levels of magnetic resistance and 24 present exercise programs to help you get into great shape.
Best Budget Recumbent Bike
Those looking for a great budget recumbent bike should consider the 900XL from Exerpeutic. It’s not feature-packed, but it is good enough quality to hold up over a long period. Ultimately, it’s a simple and effective piece of equipment that’s perfect if you’re just after something quick and easy to get on and ride without hassle.
8 Best Recumbent Bikes
|Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike||
|XTERRA SB2.5r Recumbent Bike||
|Exerpeutic 900xl Recumbent Bike||
|Diamondback Fitness 910SR Recumbent Exercise Bike||
|Schwinn 230 Recumbent Bike||
|Nautilus R616 Recumbent Bike||
|Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike||
|Stamina Elite Total Body Recumbent Bike||
|Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike|
|XTERRA SB2.5r Recumbent Bike|
|Exerpeutic 900xl Recumbent Bike|
|Diamondback Fitness 910SR Recumbent Exercise Bike|
|Schwinn 230 Recumbent Bike|
|Nautilus R616 Recumbent Bike|
|Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike|
|Stamina Elite Total Body Recumbent Bike|
At the top of our list sits one of the overall best recumbent bikes you can get right now. The Schwinn 270 is a complete package when it comes to features and performance. It sits on a solid H pattern, step-through frame that can be level adjusted thanks to a set of wheels in the rear.
This is also where you’ll find a transport handlebar. Combined with a set of transport wheels in front, this bike is easy to move around for storage. Moving up, we see a lightweight contoured seat that’s nice and comfortable despite lacking heavy padding.
It sits on an angled rail that allows the user to adjust the seat for height. At the front is a quality, precision-machined, perimeter-weighted flywheel.
Controlling this bike is done via the massive, back-lit console. It features 29 built-in programs and room for 12 user-profiles in total. With 25 resistance levels you can manually select, this bike will provide for years of challenging cardio workouts to say the least. Lastly, there’s a media shelf where you can place your phone, tablet, or e-reader and enjoy your favorite show or book as you exercise.
- Built on a stable frame that’s easily leveled out using built-in adjustment wheels
- Comfortable, contoured seat reduces the risk of fatigue
- Versatile control console with 29 exercise programs and 12 user profiles
- Precision machined, perimeter weighted flywheel offers a smooth ride all the way
- Lots of creature comfort features such as built-in speakers and a cooling fan
The Not So Good
- Among the popular recumbent bikes, it’s relatively expensive
Our next pick features a very similar package as that Schwinn above but catered to those looking for great bang for their buck. Namely, the XTERRA SB2.5r features a compact frame design that’s still adjustable for level but doesn’t feature a transport handlebar like many of the premium models. Still, the bike isn’t too hard to move around, or in and out of storage.
The seat on this model isn’t contoured but it is well-padded. This doesn’t make a huge amount of difference to the comfort (especially since contours don’t actually suit all users).
Next to the seat is a pair of handlebars with built-in heart monitor sensors, while there’s also a pair of handlebars mounted to the control module. Frankly, the in-built sensors tend to be inaccurate, so you’re probably better off using a good fitness watch or separate heart rate monitor.
This bike features a 22 lbs. flywheel that runs fairly smooth and noiseless. The console we’ve mentioned features 24 workout programs and also allows you to choose manual resistance modes. It comes with a color display and clearly labeled control keys for easy navigation. At this price, the XTERRA SB2.5r is more than a solid pick.
- One of the best bang-for-your-buck options on the market right now
- Comes with a padded and two sets of handlebars
- A Solid 22 lbs. flywheel offers a smooth and relatively silent ride
- Good selection of exercise programs and user profiles
The Not So Good
- Lacks the small creature comforts
- Doesn’t have a transport handle, which can make it a little tricky to move around
Not so long ago it was nearly impossible to find a solid recumbent bike on a budget. These days that’s no longer an issue. Brands like Exerpeutic offer a range of models including the 900XL, which is arguably the best budget option on the market right now.
The bike is fairly compact compared to most. On top of that, it’s pretty light on non-essential hardware. As a result, you have the H-pattern frame fitted with leveling feet, transport wheels and not much else. The seat is also basic and features two straight, lightly padded surfaces.
One interesting surprise is the addition of heart rate sensors on side-mounted handlebars. That’s definitely not something you see very often in this price range. That said, don’t be surprised if they’re not terribly accurate.
As far as the flywheel goes, Exerpeutic has used a relatively small unit for this model. It’s within reason and fairly smooth during use, however it hasn’t got the same weight or quality that the more expensive models do. While larger and heavier flywheels make an exercise bike more cumbersome, they also last longer. Just something to be aware of.
Controlling the magnetic resistance is done by adjusting the knob that’s located under the LCD display unit. Everything is manual here so there are no presets or programs to choose from. That display unit is there to give you the basic metrics such as distance, speed and heart rate monitoring.
- One of the most affordable bikes available
- Robust build quality that makes the bike reliable
- Features heart rate monitoring which is a bonus in this segment
- A decent flywheel that runs fairly smooth
- Lightweight setup that’s easy to move around
The Not So Good
- That lightly padded seat can be uncomfortable after a while
- Limited resistance due to a smaller flywheel design
The other end of the spectrum price-wise hides some true gems of the industry. The Diamondback 910SR is all about ultimate performance, quality, and comfort. You can tell this bike means business just by looking at its frame. Where most other commercial models feature relatively thin piping, at least when it comes to the cross member, Diamondback Fitness went with thick, robust aluminum tubing.
The seat is all about ergonomics. The backrest is contoured to perfection and is comprised of breathable mesh. While mesh is generally not as comfortable as a padded backrest, it’s much better for ventilation, and helping you keep as cool as possible during those heavy workouts. Plus, it’s still suitably comfortable. The seat bottom is padded but also contoured, offering great support as you exercise. One of the advantages this recumbent bike has over much of the competition, is that it allows you to adjust almost all aspects of your seating position: Ride height, backrest height, distance, from pedals, and more.
The flywheel you get with this model isn’t massive, but it’s large and heavy enough to give you a run for your money. As expected, the whole system is controlled by the massive digital control console. It features a large backlit display, built-in speakers with mp3 connectivity, a built-in cooling fan and a whole myriad of controls.
These are there to give you quick and easy access to all of the 35 workout programs, target heart rate profiles as well as 32 levels of manually selected resistance. Overall, this is the Cadillac of recumbent bikes and it’s worth the investment if you appreciate high build quality, durable materials, and uncompromising comfort.
- A high-end machine that’s all about performance and comfort
- Exceptional build quality all around
- A super quiet flywheel that runs smooth and offers plenty of resistance
- Fully ergonomic seat for ultimate comfort
- A massive console unit that’s packed with all kinds of goodies
- Built-in speakers, a cooling fan and bottle holder
- 32 programs and a whole lot of other features
The Not So Good
- Arguably one of the most expensive machines on the market
- Although it’s worth the money, there are cheaper options out there that offer similar features
The next pick on our list is very similar to our top pick as these two models; we’ve previously described it as ‘the younger brother’. The Schwinn 230 we’re looking at here is essentially a lighter version of the 270 model. However, you’re still getting most of the features that make our top pick (the Schwinn 270) such a good deal.
One of the areas where you’ll first see some differences is the frame. It’s almost exactly the same aside from the exposed vertical element under the seat and the obvious lack of transport handle in the rear.
The seat configuration is the same. You’re getting that same contoured backrest and an ergonomic seat. The side-mounted handlebars with heart rate sensors come as standard and so does the side-mounted bottle holder. Up front, you got the exact same display unit with two displays, each showing a different set of metrics. At this point, you’re probably wondering what is so different between Schwinn 230 and 270?
It largely comes down to the available digital programs. Both of these bikes feature digitally controlled flywheels. 230 offers 22 programs compared to 29 you get in 270. Latter also features Ride Social support and Schwinn Trainer App where 230 only comes with Goal Track. Also, 230 offers 20 resistance levels, which is 5 levels less than 270. In other words, this bike is a neutered 270 and that’s perfectly fine because that allows it to be under that magical $500 mark.
- An awesome package that retains many of the flagship features at a very competitive price
- Comes packed with a variety of great features and creature comforts
- The contoured, ergonomic seat offers good support and comfort
- Decent range of built-in programs
The Not So Good
- The lack of a handlebar on a frame makes it tricky to move around
High-end recumbent bikes can offer a lot depending on what you need. The Nautilus R616 represents a decent choice that comes with a single flaw which prevented it from being higher on our list. Here’s the gist of it. The bike is rock solid. It’s built on a sturdy frame that’s fully adjustable and features that handlebar you definitely want to have.
The seat is fully ergonomic and offers great levels of comfort. However, the way the seat is mounted to the rail can become an issue over time due to the bolts coming undone. It’s not a big deal nor does it happen on every machine. With that said, we feel that stuff like that shouldn’t happen on a bike in this price segment, hence why R616 is so low on our list. You can actually reduce the fail rate of the bolts in question by using some locktight solution, which you can pick up from any hardward store.
Aside from that, you’re looking at a robust piece of equipment that comes with a 30 lbs., precision machined, perimeter weighted flywheel that runs quietly even if you push it hard and offers 25 levels of magnetic resistance.
The console is where things become super interesting. You’re looking at a dual-display setup that allows you to track all your metrics, choose between 29 built-in presets and tap into Explore the World app, which allows you to cycle different tracks from around the globe. In order to access the full suite of tracks, however, requires a paid subscription – you only get 3 tracks for free. The console also includes built-in speakers and a cooling fan.
All-in-all, this a good alternative to the Schwinn 270.
- Great overall build quality and decent materials all around
- Brings a solid set of features that make working out fun
- Allows you to track your progress in a very precise way
- Comes with a 30 lbs., precision machined flywheel
- The ergonomic seat offers plenty of comfort and prevents fatigue during longer rides
The Not So Good
- Suffers from a seat mount related flaw that shouldn’t happen in this price range
- It’s rather expensive all things considered
No list of recumbent bikes would be complete without at least one Sunny Health & Fitness model. The SF-RB4850 is a perfect representation of what this brand is all about. It’s inexpensive, comes with a great set of features and is more or less a jack of all trades. Sunny Health & Fitness is known for delivering bang-for-your-buck machines that bring a great combo of features to the table.
Starting from the frame, we see solid, beefy tubing as well as leveling feet in the back. There’s also a transport handle back there, while the front features the standard transport wheels. The seat rides on a short rail, which offers some adjustability but not as much as other models. This might be a limiting factor for taller users.
The seat itself is padded and the backrest is ventilated via mesh material. This model also features the side-mounted handlebars with built-in heart rate sensors.
The flywheel inside inspires confidence when it comes to quality, as well as the lack of noise. The SF-RB4850 is a surprisingly silent bike. Resistance is controlled using the console unit that packs a large backlit display and a media shelf. As far as features go, you’re looking at 12 workout programs as well as custom workout modes. It’s not as complex as some of the models above, however, this bike is a solid choice, to say the least.
- Good build quality all around
- Brings various features often seen in flagship models
- The relatively compact design makes it suitable for smaller spaces
- 12 preset workout programs ensure a challenging workout
The Not So Good
- Shorter seat rail may be a limiting factor for taller users
- The seat features an aggressive angle and contour
Last but not least we have a very different type of recumbent bike. Stamina Elite’s Total Body recumbent bike offers exactly that – a total body exercise. This is made possible by adding a hand crank component that’s linked directly to the flywheel. This way you can work your lower and upper body at the same time.
Other than that, the Total Body bike is pretty much the same as any other recumbent model. It sits on a sturdy frame and features both horizontal and vertical seat adjustment. The seat itself is padded and relatively ergonomic. On balance, the bike is also compact; and doesn’t take up much space.
There’s drawbacks too. The main issue with this bike is that it doesn’t offer much to set it apart from other bikes aside from the hand crank.
In fact, it’s lacking in a number of features compared to models in its price range. It has manually adjusted resistance, a simple display system that shows only the basic stats and a heart rate monitor. That’s it. That said, it’s a great bike for those who want something different that activates the entire body.
- Good build quality across the board
- Features a hand crank component that offers upper body exercise
- Padded, contoured seats ensure high comfort levels
- Fairly compact design suitable for smaller spaces
The Not So Good
- The features it offers are too basic considering its price
- Limited horizontal seat adjustment due to a short rail
Should You Get a Recumbent Bike?
Overall, if you’re looking for a low-impact means of getting a cardio workout done, getting a decent recumbent bike is the way to go. They provide an excellent alternative to common, high-impact cardio activities such as running / jogging.
Running / jogging, which is often considered to be the ultimate aerobic activity, can be hard on your knees, ankles, and hip joints. This is especially true if you’re running on asphalt or other hard surfaces. Good running shoes help in this regard, but only so much. If you’re dealing with joint pain and related issues, you’re probably going to need a less aggressive way of getting that workout done. This is where good quality exercise bikes have great value.
Right off the bat, you’re eliminating that heavy, repeated impact to the key joints in your legs and hips. But, even standard upright bikes have their drawbacks. These more conventional exercise bikes have much smaller seats, and no back support, which means that much of your torso’s weight is concentrated on the ischial tuberosities or “sitting bones”. Placing so much pressure on this small area compresses the perineal nerve, and has been associated with impotence in men, and other urogenital disorders in both men and women. Upright bikes also force you into an unnatural downward stare, which can strain the neck, and they require you to bear some of your body’s weight through your elbows and wrists.
Recumbent bikes address many of these issues. The recumbent bike’s typical bucket seat allows you to sit in a semi-reclined position, which takes the strain off the lumbar vertebrae and mid-section of your spine. Therefore, recumbent bikes are perfect for people with back problems.
Because the pedals are positioned in front of your body rather than below it, a recumbent exercise bike’s seat can also be much larger and allow your body weight to be evenly distributed across the padded area of the buttocks. Also, when on a recumbent exercise bike, your head sits in a natural position where it’s properly supported by the spine. Finally, recumbent bikes allow the arms and hands to be in a relaxed position where they don’t have to support any of the torso’s weight.
As you can see, recumbent bikes offer a lot of benefits, especially for those that suffer from various kinds of joint pain.
Choosing the Right Recumbent Bike
One glance at our list will tell you that not all bikes are created equal. Each model has its strong suit despite most of them sharing some common features. In this section, we’ll try to summarize all of the things you might want to pay attention to while searching for the best recumbent exercise bikes for your needs.
Before we get to that, let’s break down recumbent exercise bikes into several categories:
Best Recumbent Bikes for Seniors
This section is where you’ll find bikes suitable for seniors. These are usually simple in terms of features, which makes them easy to use and fairly straightforward. Some of the features that define these types of bikes are large displays that are easy to read, comfortable seats and low-intensity programs in the case of digitally controlled models.
Best Recumbent Bikes for Home Use
Recumbent bikes from this category come in all shapes and sizes. It all comes down to finding the perfect one for your specific needs. Models from this segment are often competitively priced, offering a variety of features you might want to have in a home setting. This is also the widest category of recumbent bikes.
Best Recumbent Bikes Under $500
This one is pretty self-explanatory. We went out and found the best models out there that can be yours for less than about $500. We’ve included a variety of different bikes and did our best to include most recumbent bike types. The $500 price range is definitely the sweet spot when it comes to finding good features, build quality and reliable performance.
Best Budget Recumbent Bikes
Affordable recumbent exercise bikes used to be rare. However, these days there’s a whole market based around this segment. We’ve selected several models that we feel are the best options out there for this amount of money. Budget bikes (i.e., any exercise bikes under approximately $300) will be limited in features. However, most of these will get the job done.
Best Recumbent Bikes with Moving Arms
As you’ve probably figured out by now, recumbent bikes come in all shapes and sizes. One of the unique varieties is recumbent bikes with moving arms. These machines offer a full-body exercise via hand crank handles directly linked to the flywheel. Bikes from this category are great for people who want to activate their upper body as well as their lower body.
What to Look for in a Recumbent Bike?
The key to finding the perfect recumbent bike for your needs is to know what features you can and can’t live without. Let’s discuss a few of the most important factors you might want to consider when searching for a recumbent bike.
Most recumbent bikes use the same frame design – the H pattern frame. However, you’ll definitely want to make sure that your bike has leveling feet in the rear at the very least. Stability is essential as a wobbling bike can be rather dangerous.
Being able to level off your recumbent bike is the bare minimum any frame should offer. After that, you can look for transport wheels and ultimately a handlebar of some sort that will make moving these bikes easier.
Recumbent bike seats are a great measure of how serious of a model you’re looking at. More basic models will have lightly padded seats with only horizontal adjustment available. While that’s often more than enough, there are bikes that offer contoured, highly ergonomic seats that contribute a lot towards keeping that fatigue at bay.
Seats are a matter of taste so we won’t tell you which way to lean on this one. However, we will tell you to look into how much adjustment there is on the rail. Some bikes aren’t all that generous which can be a problem if you’re a taller person.
Flywheel and Drivetrain
A large majority of recumbent bikes utilize some sort of weighted flywheel and magnets to provide resistance. Although the difference between a compact, cheap bike and a full-sized expensive one is tangible, most flywheels meet the necessary requirements to give you a solid workout.
What you’ll discover is that some flywheels are loud while others are silent, some are rough while others are smooth. Higher quality, silent, and smooth flywheels tend to put recumbent bikes in the higher price range. That said, there are some precision machined flywheels to be found in the mid-range segment of the market as well.
Last but not least we have the control console. Recumbent bikes come in digital and analog versions. Analog models will have a resistance adjustment knob while digital models control resistance via the control console.
The thing with control consoles is that they’re not always easy to navigate. As you go higher in the complexity of options and features, the harder it gets to quickly find the programs you use. This is where a good console design comes into play. Not only will you need an easy-to-use interface, but you’ll also want a good display setup.
Furthermore, digitally controlled bikes come with several or more workout programs and user profiles. These are great because they simulate natural terrain. Combined with a cool exploration app we’ll talk about in a bit, you can definitely simulate a real bike ride. You’ll need to figure out whether you need analog or digital control, and how many features you want.
The last thing on your list should be creature comforts. These features are good to have around but definitely not necessary to finish a workout. Some good examples of creature comfort features are built-in speakers, built-in cooling fans, media shelves, and similar hardware solutions.
On the software side of things, you’re looking at various apps that simulate a ride through actual locations around the world, apps that track advanced performance metrics and similar. Keep in mind that gaining access to some or all of these features might limit you to higher-end models.
Frequently Asked Questions About Recumbent Bikes
There are always going to be common questions asked about popular pieces of fitness equipment like recumbent bikes. If you’re new to recumbent bikes, we strongly suggest that you check these out.
Is an upright or recumbent exercise bike better?
It’s actually not a matter of which is better. These two types of exercise bike offer solutions to different problems.
Both bikes will give you a great workout as long as you put in the effort.
Therefore, a better question is ‘who are recumbent bikes better for?’ The simple answer is anyone who suffers from joint pain, especially in the hips, lower back, neck and arms / wrists. Specifically, the fact that you’re semi-reclined in a bucket 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, which reduces the strain on the lumbar verterbrae
- 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.
Do recumbent bikes provide a good workout?
Yes. You may be having a hard time believing that you can get a proper workout done on a machine where you’re comfortably reclined in the seat. Recumbent bikes, despite all of the awesome features they offer, are fitness machines first and foremost.
Pedalling against resistance involves heavy use of the large muscles of the legs, irrespective of whether you’re sitting upright, or in a reclined position.If you put in the effort, you’ll get a good workout.
Will a recumbent bike help you lose weight?
Yes, a recumbent exercise bike is definitely an effective tool for weight loss. As we mentioned above, 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.
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.
If weight loss is your goal and you’re willing to put in consistent effort, a decent recumbent exercise bike will help you get there.
Will a recumbent bike build and tone your leg muscles
Yes, recumbent exercise bikes can help you build and tone your leg muscles. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, stimulating your muscles by increasing the resistance they must contract against will prompt those muscle to grow. With recumbent exercise bikes, that resistance is adjustable. This means that you can continuously adjust the resistance upwards to continuously stimulate muscle growth in your legs.
Well, there you have it: The best recumbent exercise bikes money can buy!
We did our best to pull together models that offer a good value, good quality and, most importantly, good performance. We’ve plucked bikes from all price ranges and niches in order to give you plenty of choices to find your perfect machine. All you need to do now is pick the one that best fits your needs.