We all know that it’s important to get a good workout. However, you shouldn’t have to hurt yourself on the road to getting fit. Recumbent bikes are a great fitness solution for users who want a more comfortable experience or need to protect against back and joint issues. Because you’d sit back in a full seat, you’ll take your back completely out of the equation and place minimal orthopedic stress on your leg joints.
At the same time, you’ll get a complete lower-body workout, and even get more leg results than you would on a regular bike. A recumbent bike involves your core and your glutes, and it’ll give you a cardio workout while building muscle mass. The low rider position also means a better center of gravity and less instability on the machine.
So, recumbent bikes aren’t just for people recovering from injuries. Many fitness enthusiasts prefer their design to a regular bike, and they’re a great way to train differently. Just like spinning bikes, there are lots of options on the market. They range from budget home models to heavy-duty training models like you’d find at the gym. We’ve done some research and found the three best recumbent exercise bikes. We’ve based our recumbent exercise bike reviews on quality, value, and buyer popularity.
First, take a quick look at our current most popular recommendations:
Exerpeutic 900XL Extended Capacity Recumbent Bike with Pulse
3 Year Warranty
1 Year Warranty
1 Year Warranty
Best Recumbent Exercise Bike Reviews
Exerpeutic 900XL Extended Capacity Recumbent Bike With Pulse
This extra-large capacity recumbent features an ultra-quiet magnetic resistance system, which previous buyers said was both smooth and silent. It’s solidly built, and thanks to the size and sturdy construction, we’re recommending it to taller and heavier users.
It comes with a three-year warranty from the manufacturer, and most users found that it held up well over time. We read lots of reviews from buyers who were still riding problem-free years later.
Most users should fit comfortably on this model. It’s got a wider seat, a weight capacity up to 325 pounds, and adjusts to fit users from 5’3” to 6’3”. Previous buyers said the seat was especially comfortable thanks to its strong low back support, which is usually a weak point on exercise bikes. That makes this model better suited to people who have a history of back pain or injuries. It allows for a great workout while still protecting you.
While this machine isn’t designed to be taken down, it does have wheels installed to make moving it around a little easier. It’s also light, at only 70 pounds.
The Exerpeutic comes with a great computer setup, especially for this price. It’s got handlebar sensors to measure heart-rate, and its display shows you distance, speed, resistance, and calories burned.
The drive system is designed to be smooth and adjustable. The pedals turn a belt/flywheel system, which takes the jerkiness out of the ride. You also have 8 levels of resistance to choose from. Many reviewers complimented the quietness of the machine, saying that it was less audible than a ceiling fan or appliance hum.
The seat is large and adjustable, but it’s not heavily padded. Some users found that placing a pillow on top of the seat made it more comfortable for long rides.
Some reviewers said that the bike didn’t hold up under sustained, heavy use. The outer construction is not entirely metal, so it won’t be able to take aggressive workouts. While casual users found it smooth and reliable, people who tried to work out more intensely eventually had problems with the pedals and drivetrain.
Customers had mixed experiences with the company’s support team. Some were well-taken care of, and received new parts easily and conveniently. Others didn’t hear anything from the company when they registered their products.
A popular, solid choice for beginners and casual cyclists. You’ll get a moderately intense workout, and be able to multitask while you exercise. Previous buyers said they were very impressed by the level of quality for the price. Probably not a good choice for serious cyclists or people serious about athletic training.
Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike
An extremely convenient budget model for indoor users. It comes with adjustable magnetic resistance and a basic monitor system. Unlike most recumbent models, it folds up for easy storage. Previous buyers found it extremely convenient to use in houses that didn’t have dedicated workout spaces. We like it because it’s simple, convenient, and very affordable.
This machine is one of very few recumbent bikes which fold up. It’ll take up about half as much space while in storage, and is fairly lightweight. As previous buyers wrote, this is a perfect choice for people who live in small apartments, or have houses where there’s not much space for exercise equipment. Since it folds up for storage, it’s ideal for people who don’t have a dedicated space for working out.
Even at $150, it provides a reasonable amount of electronic monitoring. Previous buyers were pretty impressed with the computer system, which gives you readings on distance ridden, calories burned, and time spend on the machine. It also takes heart rate readings, which is pretty impressive at this price. While you’ll have to guide your own workouts, you’ll have the numbers to help you do so.
It’s a quiet ride, and provides 8 levels of tension adjustment. Reviewers said they range from light and easy to feeling like moderate weight lifting on a leg press. The noise level stays quiet no matter the level. Previous buyers said that meant they could watch TV without interference, or have conversations with their housemates.
The seat is heavily padded and reviewers said it’s quite comfortable for longer rides over an hour.
The assembly instructions were hard to follow for some users. Directions were confusing, and the provided diagrams weren’t clear.
A great option casual to intermediate users. With the added convenience of the folding structure, it’s a top choice for apartments and users with limited space. It’s sturdier than most machines, especially compared to other folding models. We particularly like the wide range of resistance levels, as well as the overall quiet-ness of the ride. A great choice for people who are getting in shape for the first time.
Nautilus R614 Recumbent Bike
A high-quality, well-equipped model for frequent users and more serious exercise programs. It has a full computer system with built-in workouts, and has lots of convenient features to make your workouts more comfortable and more productive.
There’s a lot to this bike. It’s got a shelf for tablets or books, an mp3 player dock with speakers, and an adjustable fan built in. Nautilus have really thought about features which will be useful to users, and you’ll get a lot for your money.
The computer system provides a lot of functions you don’t find on cheaper models. In addition to heartrate/calorie/speed tracking, it includes 20 levels of resistance, 22 programmed workouts, and the option to create two different profiles. The added programs will keep you challenged and engaged, and you’ll be able to keep track of your progress with MyFitnessPal.
The workout itself is quiet and comfortable. Nautilus have used a weighted, balanced flywheel system to achieve high resistance with little interference. Reviewers said they barely noticed any noise as they worked out. They said there’s no ratting or squeaking to distract you from TV or music, which can be played through the onboard speakers! In addition to the built-in fan, the seat is ventilated, so you’ll sweat less.
It’s solidly built. Nautilus insures the frame up to 10 years, and provide a 2-year mechanical warranty for moving parts. You’ll also notice that they take the time to read and reply to online reviews. Reviewers said the were very reassured by the feel of the build, saying it was sturdy and inspired lots of confidence in their purchase.
Assembly was easy for most reviewers, though some previous buyers mentioned that it did take some time to put everything together from the box. If you’re not mechanically inclined, you may want to find someone to help you–especially with the heavy box.
It’s not compact. It doesn’t fold, and it’s almost 100 pounds. So, if you’re not going to be putting it in a dedicated space, you might have some difficulty fitting it into your home.
If you’re prepared to pay more, this is a solid, very well-equipped machine. It comes with more than enough electronic programming to keep you challenged and engaged, and is built to last. However, you’ll want to have a dedicated space to keep this, as it’s difficult to lug around.
Most users will be satisfied with the quality of the Exerpeutic models. They’re sturdy and provide a reasonable amount of resistance. The 400XL is also a convenient option for someone who wants the experience of a recumbent bike but is limited by space. If you’re a serious cyclist and are going to be working out hard and frequently, you might be better off with the Nautilus model. In addition to being more durable, its electronics will help you vary your training schedule and keep from reaching a fitness plateau.
Things to Think About
Recumbent bikes are best for moderate cardio users, or muscle building workouts. You won’t get a realistic road-bike feeling on a recumbent trainer, but you can still have a range of fitness results. They come programmed with a variety of workouts, and you’ll be able to adjust resistance. They don’t allow for standing up and going all-out in a cardio workout, but they are suited for muscle building and moderately high-rate cardio. Given that they totally isolate the lower body, you won’t be involving your upper body at all, beyond your core muscles. So, a recumbent trainer is best used in conjunction with other sorts of exercise. Look for models with lots of programmed workouts, so that you’re getting the most out of your lower-body. Many come with sensors for heart rate and body temperature as well as normal speed and intensity ratings.
Recumbent bikes are ideally suited to people with pre-existing back or joint issues. They provide a fully supported seat. It’s designed to keep your back straight, and to take your body weight out of the exercise. This helps take stress of your knees while you ride. You won’t have to worry about hunching over in a normal bike pose. This position is perfect for people recovering from short-term injuries as well as people who have long-term problems. Make sure you find a model with a comfortable seat. Also, you’ll want to check that you’ll fit comfortably on the bike. Weight isn’t generally an issue for recumbent models, but there may be issues for tall people if the seat and handles aren’t adjustable.
Recumbent bikes have the largest footprint of indoor cycling options, because your body is situated horizontally. Generally, you won’t be able to collapse and put away a recumbent bike. However, their reclined positioning makes them ideal for users who want to multitask while they exercise. You’ll be at a perfect angle for watching television or looking at a tablet screen, and you’ll have hands free for holding a book or doing other activities. Look for models with cupholders and connectivity to other devices, if that’s important to you.
More expensive recumbent bikes will come with more sophisticated onboard electronics. They also tend to be sturdier, and be made from mostly metal parts. When you pay for a higher end model, you can expect better body metrics, programmed workouts, and a more durable design overall. There will also be a longer warranty period. Be prepared to spend more for a machine that can take aggressive, frequent workouts. If you’re a casual to moderate cyclist, you’ll find that you can get a great workout from budget models.
If you’re interested in other indoor cycling equipment, check out our guides to the best spinning bikes and best indoor bike trainers.