While biking is a beloved, popular form of exercise, the constant pressure on wrists, back, and knees is one that makes this sport a physically costly one. Going back as early as the year 1817, biking has taken more and more of the mainstage, while the body count of athletes crippled by forcing their bodies into uncomfortable contortions to meet the challenging demands of the sport has only increased.
In less extreme cases, when the purpose of biking has not been competitively motivated and more directed towards filling an empty exercise niche, those with chronic back or wrist problems have found themselves out of luck, and even upright biking requires a certain level of core and balance that is not a universal or particularly common characteristic. Plenty of people experience great difficulty in a hard workout without some form of safety handle to hang on to.
The recumbent bike fills all these insufficiencies, allowing many to reap the benefits of a biking workout without the harsh strain placed on the upper body by the more classic, forward-leaning set-up. Additionally, in today’s uncertain climate, it is even more necessary to find some form of exercise that doesn’t require going outdoors or to the gym, as such amenities and routines can easily be derailed by the newest virus making its way through international channels. Here we’ll discuss the criteria to consider before making your recumbent bike purchase and the top 5 best recumbent bikes available on the market today.
Carry on reading or jump straight to our number #1 pick here.
- What Should I Look For When Buying a Recumbent Exercise Bike?
- Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Recumbent Exercise Bike
- Budget Options
- Is a Recumbent Bicycle Definitely Right for You?
- Verdict: Your Best Recumbent Exercise Bike
What Should I Look For When Buying a Recumbent Exercise Bike?
Good recumbent bicycles range anywhere between $500-$2,000, and can be simple setups with a seat and flywheel, or have all sorts of fun gadgetry included for the ideal workout experience. Recumbent bicycle fanatics fall in love due to the excellent lower body workout and maximized muscle definition that comes from the repetitive leg muscle flex and movements.
Additionally, the low impact quality of recumbent biking means that this is completely safe for all ages – children, adults, and seniors – challenging muscles that need work and sparing the joints that get overworked by the daily grind of life. Within the market of recumbent bicycles, there are specific criteria that can be used to help you narrow down your search and decide which to buy more concisely, as well as with a better understanding of your purchase and what you will actually be receiving. These criteria are cost, function, appearance, warranty, and ratings.
#1. Cost: Like the annoying in-law, the cost will never go away, and as much as we wish that we could all live lives and stop worrying about the brass tacks, the cost will always factor into our decision making process, neatly separating what we can and cannot afford. This is a very effective way of immediately narrowing down the field of options, considering only what is accessible to us, as viewed through the eyes of our bank account.
#2. Function: Depending on what you need from your recumbent bicycle, the function will have a big part to play in how much money you should reasonably expect to spend on your exercise machine. Some of the more expensive machines come with Bluetooth transmission, exercise programs, and are built to accommodate and track multiple users. Others are a seat, pedals, and a wheel, designed to provide a workout and nothing else – the Spirit Airlines of workouts.
#3. Appearance: If you’re building an at-home gym and this machine is meant to mesh with other workout equipment, the color and design of the recumbent bike will matter. If you have a flat with limited space, the look of your recumbent bike will matter. Finally, even if you have some extra space, anyone trying to bring together a room beautifully is going to care about how the recumbent bike looks and if it proves irritating in the space that it occupies.
#4. Warranty: Not to suggest that purchases be made with an intention of returning or demanding frequent replacements from the company, a strong and inclusive company policy goes a long way towards demonstrating their faith in their product and their confidence that they won’t be required to make frequent payouts. With this in mind, the warranty policy is very important to notice, both so that you can know your rights and buy a product that you won’t have to swallow the cost if it proves to be faulty and so that we all can buy something that its creators believe in its functionality.
#5. Ratings: While the company can say all kinds of things about their product, the consumers who came before us can best give us an understanding of what it is like to own each machine. The performance and small glitches that are impossible to know about unless you’re an actual owner and not just a creator – if things are conveniently placed on the machine, if the display is difficult to work with, or if the machine is too loud for a quiet home workout – all these things are questions that the reviewers can answer. Therefore, the reviews and ratings are an important aspect of our eliminating and decision-making process.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Recumbent Exercise Bike
Beginning by finding and researching a bunch of different brands and models from major names, I continued, narrowing down my search by using the above criteria to eliminate models and brands based on cost, appearance, and reviews about the performance and customer service experiences listed by individual consumers. Mostly, lots of late nights staring at the screen until my eyes burned and many reviews later, I narrowed our list down to the top five best recumbent stationary bicycles available on the market today.
Since most of us don’t have the time or motivation to invest that much time in research and analysis, here I am providing you with the inside scoop. A note to the wise, the below list is organized not from best to worst, but to highlight different benefits embodied by each machine. So let’s begin!
#1: ProForm 440 ES (Best Value – All-Purpose)
The ProForm 440 ES is an impressive looking sturdy steel-frame machine, the kind that you know someone put effort into building and making an impressive machine. The ProForm is a recumbent bike, grey with a cool, swept-back design and an ergonomic seat, that has both a padded sitting section and provides ventilated back support, so hard workouts are not made unpleasant with sticky leather. The backrest provides lower spine lumbar support so that long recumbent workouts promote good posture and not alternative back issues. The handles on either side of the seat and flanking the monitor allow you a stable, grounded workout, with built-in heart rate sensors so that your workout stats show up accurately on the 5 inches backlit display.
The ProForm monitor displays your mileage, speed, calorie burn, heart rate, and total workout time, helping you stay on task. Additionally, the ProForm 440 ES is great for athletes and beginners alike, as it includes a total access iFit membership, allowing you to access workouts and regimens, as well as have a real trainer automatically bump up the difficulty for you, so that you can challenge yourself every time.
With 25 different exercise levels of silent magnetic resistance, the ProForm combines difficulty and subtlety in one, streamlined and convenient frame. If your goal is to watch TV, the ProForm doesn’t make noise, and if you want to get coached through iFit the accessories holder above the display is perfect for propping up your tablet for on the go coaching.
The ProForm doesn’t require that much floor space, measuring 22.25 inches wide, 68.25 inches long, 52 inches tall, so it can be incorporated into the average home setting. The wide pedals, transport wheels, leveling feet, and water bottle holder all combine to give you and any additional users a comfortable, stress-free experience. The maximum weight capacity is 350 lbs., so all users of all shapes and sizes can feel secure getting onto the ProForm for a good workout.
Affordably priced, the ProForm sits on the affordable side of quality recumbent bicycles available on the market, so those interested in making a solid investment into a durable, long-lasting product should have it on their radar. The warranty offered for the 440 ES is full coverage, with a guaranteed 10 years on the frame, and one year for parts and labor.
With good reviews, this recumbent bike is one that can be depended on and will provide you and your family with many solid, fat-burning workouts for the long haul. The one detectable downside is not with the function of the machine, but rather with the customer service, which people said took a while to respond and was not difficult to work with.
These considerations, however, do not change the ProForm from the solid, aesthetically appealing, affordable, dependable machine it is, and anyone in the market looking for a solid purchase they can count on should look no farther than the ProForm 440 ES.
#2: SPIRIT XBR95 Recumbent Bike (Best Recumbent Bike)
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The SPIRIT XBR95 Recumbent Bike is on the higher end of the scale when it comes to recumbent bicycles. A stark grey, the SPIRIT has an amazing 40 resistance levels, putting it well above any other bike on this list in terms of capability, especially when it comes down to finetuning your workout and getting it to the perfect difficulty level for you. The SPIRIT Recumbent also comes with exercise programs, specifically designed to meet different target goals – fat burn, strength, cardio, and more.
The LCD monitor is large and backlit, showing your standard workout stats, but also special features like showing which muscle groups your targeting and activating, as well as your heart rate profile – low, ideal for a great workout, or too high. With the 30 pound flywheel spinning smoothly, your workout is quiet and convenient, giving you a high-intensity challenge from the comfort of your own home. The seat of the SPIRIT is well-padded, with a sculpted mesh back for ideal support and airflow, allowing you to stay cooler for longer through your workout. Additionally, the cooling fan helps your body to stay at the optimal temperature and push yourself for longer – no need to stop and cool off in the middle of your rep.
The body of the machine is set low to the ground and has stabilizing feet, keeping you from rocking unsteadily while cycling. The low walk-through-design accommodates people of all ages and the rear accessory pockets for storing your phone or water bottle add to the general feeling of comfort and convenience – your every need anticipated and attended to. The design of the SPIRIT is ergonomically savvy – with a 2 degree seat incline to make the cycling motion more natural to the body. The adjustable seat makes the SPIRIT compatible with people of all heights, and the conveniently placed pulse grip handles on either side of the seat make for a sensible placement during your workout, as well as keep nice track of your heart rate during the workout. While the heart rate monitoring strap is not included in the purchase, the SPIRIT Recumbent supports wireless heart rate monitoring, allowing it to link up with any strap you purchase.
Definitely on the pricier side, the SPIRIT legitimizes its price hike by being an excellent, high-performing exercise machine on the market. This is not the recumbent bike for someone who wants a cheap machine for semi-serious use. The SPIRIT is not only sold for private use, but also for commercial use in gyms, so this is truly the real deal. A high-performing product, this gives as much function and service as the machines at the gym you’re attempting to replace, and therefore is only for the person willing to spend more to get more; this is not the buy for someone hoping to save money on an expensive buy. Included is the company’s lifetime warranty on frame and brakes, with 10 years for parts and 1 for labor.
Finally, with a great rating and a high-performance score from consumers, the SPIRIT Recumbent Bike is a beloved exercise machine with an amazing reputation. Specific reviewers sad that the SPIRIT was quiet and great to use. The only downside to this product was that a few complained that assembly was difficult, although this was denied by other shoppers, leaving the possibility that the difficulty of assembly is somewhere in the middle between confusing and easy. Looking great, and performing great, the SPIRIT Recumbent Bike is a great buy for someone looking to add that little extra oomph to their workouts. If you can afford a little more, this is a great buy for you.
#3: Schwinn 230 (Simple, Yet Complete)
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The Schwinn 230 has a simpler interpretation of ergonomics than the Commercial R35. Still giving functional lumbar support, the Schwinn has a hard seat base and padded handlebars in the ideal position for the embedded heart rate sensors to keep track of you while you work. The Schwinn is simple and black, not dressing itself up with many bells and whistles just providing you with a solid standard workout.
The Schwinn 230 tracks time, distance, and calorie burn, comparing stats with previous workouts so you can see your effort and energy output over time, as well as your rate of improvement, giving you a complete understanding of your body and its performance. The display monitor shows your workout stats in real time, while the media shelf provides the perfect place for you to put your tablet or phone and space out to the news, your favorite TV show, or even catch up on some work.
The charging port, water bottle holder, and console speakers provide a serviceable workout experience, with no fuss and no stress. The three-speed fan ensures that even the hottest summer days won’t stop you from getting the workout you deserve.
Twenty resistance levels are there to ensure that beginners and gym-rats alike can feel challenged on this bike and by adjusting the difficulty you can match the workout perfectly to what your body needs and your goal for the day. The Schwinn comes with 22 preprogrammed exercise regimens, based on fitness goals and levels.
Additionally, the Schwinn can accommodate 2 users, so you and your partner can both use this machine comfortably, saving and keeping track of your stats along the way. The sturdy frame provides support for everyone, and the slide rail makes the adjustable seat an easy feature – a key component of a functional multiple person exercise machine.
The Schwinn 230 falls on the affordable side when it comes to high-quality recumbent bicycles, so all the many benefits it provides bring it well above being worth the initial cost expenditure necessary. While Schwinn is a reputable company that stands behind its products and generally works to provide the best of the best in care, the provided warranty differs based on location, so contact your local seller to discuss warranties and coverage.
The Schwinn was liked and appreciated by consumers, with many people saying that they were surprised by the quality of the product, based on the price. One customer related how he needed a new part and they shipped it to him within the week, asking him to set up and use the product in the meantime. When the shipment arrived, Schwinn customer service insisted on having licensed mechanics set up the new replacement at the company’s expense. He wrote that, from beginning to end, his contact with customer service was pleasant and efficient, and overall he was completely satisfied with his experience.
An important consideration for my more mature readers, the Schwinn seat is supposed to be hard on the back and derrière, so for those who enjoy a more cushioned setup, this may not be the machine for you. For those who prefer a harder, ventilated seat or don’t suffer from sensitivity, this is a solid, dependable, low cost buy, suitable for any couple trying to get in shape during these uncertain times.
#4: EXERPEUTIC 900XL (Best Low Cost)
The EXERPEUTIC 900XL is a real find when it comes to high quality vs low cost. Anyone expecting an experience similar to the New Commercial R35 will be disappointed. This is not a machine that is designed to provide anything except a solid, reliable workout. That said, for what it does provide, the price is amazing, and the service it provides considering the price is outstanding.
The 8 resistance levels provide enough variation to make even the most athletic person feel the burn, the initial assembly required is minimal, the magnetic resistance ensures that you get a quiet workout that does not interfere with whatever TV show or news channel you’re zoning out to, and the LCD monitor tracks your caloric burn, time, speed, and “distance” traveled.
The transportation wheels and pulse sensors combine to make your workout, while bare and not complicated by any additional fancy stuff, sufficient for conveniently positioning your equipment and getting a good idea of your performance so that you can pay close attention to your progress.
The EXERPEUTIC 900XL is small and grey, measuring 22 inches wide, 54 inches long, and 34 inches tall. This recumbent bike sits close to the ground, so mount and dismount are easy for seniors and young ‘uns alike. With a 300 pound weight capacity and a large seat and backrest, this recumbent can accommodate most customers. The transportation wheels make shifting this around – to fit underneath a desk or get it out of the living room for in-law visits – easy, so there is no downside to using this in your home.
The EXERPEUTIC comes with a 1 year warranty on the frame and 90 days for parts. While this in itself is not the most amazing coverage available on the market, the reviews for this stationary recumbent bike were enthusiastic and extensive, bumping it up from just another cheap product to one that needed to be included on this list. While the LCD monitor is small, the reviewers said that the EXERPEUTIC 900XL recumbent bike works smoothly, silently, and easily, with great resistance levels and no noise.
For my budgeters out there, there is no machine to equal this one for pure function and design compared to the cost. If all you want is a reliable workout and are hoping to get it at a low price, this is the perfect buy for you.
#5: Stamina Avari Conversion II (Best for Multiple Forms of Exercise)
The Stamina Avari Conversion II is a unique design on this list. While others here are simple recumbent bicycles, the Stamina Avari is a two-part exercise machine – a hybrid of sorts. Set low to the ground with a sliding rail for lengthening or shortening the distance, the Conversion II is easy to use and doubles as a recumbent bike and rower, a way to get a full-body workout while still having the option for passive upper body posture.
The exterior is a standard grey design with a small LCD interface, just enough for displaying speed, distance, heart rate, and more. The seat is oversized, well-padded for comfort, and molded to provide the necessary back support for safe and healthy exercise. The magnetic resistance makes for a quiet, challenging workout, while the side handlebars have sensitive heart rate monitoring for exact data.
The Avari comes with two sets of pedals, one conveniently placed for rowing in concert with the foam handle grips and strap, while the others are positioned in the classic recumbent biking configuration so that you can switch between the set-ups and design your workouts with ease.
The steel frame provides security, so there is no need to fear overturning the boat, and the frame easily folds, so those miserly hoarding their floor space and looking for products that can easily be stored may depend on the Avari. The folding size is 34 by 23.5 by 56.5 inches high, so all in all a small setup, and the assembled size is 74.5 inches long, 23.5 inches wide, and 34 inches tall.
Understandably, considering the durability and dependency of the Avari, the price hike makes sense. While nowhere near as expensive as the New Commercial R35, the Avari is definitely on the pricier side, but then it is a machine with minimal fuss so fewer things can go wrong, and it is meant to last long term. The three year warranty covers the frame, and 90 days insure your parts, while not covering wear and tear of use and labor.
Customers were enthusiastic about the Avari, saying that, as single users and couples, it worked well for them. Both short and tall people could effortlessly switch resistance levels and seat dimensions.
For those looking for a machine with a varied, full-body workout and with recumbent bike capabilities that easily fold and won’t monopolize your storage space, the Stamina Avari Conversion II is the ideal buy.
While budgeting is always tempting, it’s best to steer clear of choosing products that are too cheap. In many cases, the result is a cheap, poorly made product. However, as much as we wish it otherwise, sometimes we simply are not in the market for a high-quality purchase because our bank accounts say so. With this awareness in mind, I have tracked down some alternatives for anyone who feels like the recumbent bike is currently out of their budgeting reach.
A pretty enthusiastic customer response, the Sunny Health and Fitness Recumbent Bicycle pairs a lower body workout with an upper-body arm workout. Grey, simple, and functional, while this doesn’t compare to the other models above, for someone in a tight spot this could be just the thing to get you through the long winter season.
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An easy, step-through design, the Marcy Recumbent Bike is designed to provide a no stress, workout. With a padded seat and a comfortable backrest, you can listen to your favorite podcast or watch the numbers rack up on your LCD screen. The Marcy looks sweet and functional and has a large fan base of happy consumers – a perfectly decent budgeting option for those so inclined.
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The EXERPEUTIC 400XL is a semi-recumbent bike, which – while just a few metal bars, a wheel, a chair, and practically nothing else – gives support and consistent, reliably good workouts. Many people were pleasantly surprised by the performance of the EXERPEUTIC 400XL, saying that they use it consistently while sitting at the desk. For those trying to find a good way to exercise indoors, with minimal strain on the joints, at an incredibly affordable price, this budgeting option is perfect for you. Additionally, this – more than any of the other budget models – lends itself to multitasking, as the semi-upright position makes typing and reading more convenient than its low-set rivals.
Is a Recumbent Bicycle Definitely Right for You?
The perks of a recumbent bike are many, among them the low impact intense workout on your joints and the seated position which protects your back. The main perk of the recumbent bike, though, is that this exercise form is accessible to people from all walks of life. While elliptical and treadmill are ruled out for people with previous physical conditions and ailments, the recumbent bike provides a tough workout for both athletes and recovering patients, meeting each user at his or her level, so that everyone gets a workout suited to their comfort level.
On the other hand, anyone looking for a full-body workout is going to have a tough time feeling satisfied with the recumbent, as there is no recumbent function that addresses the upper body and arm muscles in the classic recumbent biking design. Some models like the Avari Recumbent and Rower make up for these inadequacies, but on the whole, the recumbent is just not designed to address upper body fitness or strength.
Someone looking for a full-body workout might want to try an elliptical or HIIT training. The recumbent is suited for someone interested in exercising his or her lower body. Also, the recumbent is suited to people who are very busy and are looking for a way to imbue exercise into their otherwise sedentary lifestyle.
People who work from home and never get up from the couch can understand this one, as, depending on which model, the recumbent design is perfect for slipping underneath a table and pedaling away while typing busily on the computer. Additionally, anyone who has important research or reading to get done will be well-suited to the recumbent bike, as this machine allows many to conveniently and safely kill two birds with one stone.
Finally, the recumbent is very appropriate in these current uncertain times, when regulations are constantly being put into effect or changing, so outdoor exercise is frequently disrupted. If any of the above-listed issues apply to you, then the recumbent is a great idea for you, your partner, and your family.
Verdict: Your Best Recumbent Exercise Bike
While trying to find the perfect recumbent bike can be a hellish experience similar to banging your head directly into a brick wall, the decision making process is simplified by considering exactly what your priorities are and using them to way the criteria accordingly.
If you’re looking for a generally good machine of middling price, nothing too fancy but that will give you long term exercising outlet, choose the ProForm 440 ES, guaranteed to give you a heavy-duty workout without added back pain.
If you can afford to spend a little more and are interested in a longer-term investment, as well as a larger, more comprehensive LCD screen and user interface, the SPIRIT XBR95 is ideal for giving you customized workout resistance along with an interface that precisely shows stats and your body’s exertion levels, giving you a better idea of your workout performance and improvement.
Finally, if you’re in the market for a total body workout and are trying to minimize space dedicated to exercise equipment, then the Stamina Avari Conversion II is the best machine for you, as it joins recumbent bike features like lower back protecting workouts with total body weight loss fitness goals – the ideal package for anyone in the market to keep their trim figure during the winter season.
I hope this article finds you healthy and well. As always, happy shopping.