Best Recumbent Bikes 2019 for Home

woman using a recumbent bike

Every person should be engaging in some form of exercise, but not every form of exercise is right for each person. There is one implement that everyone can benefit from using, however, and that is the recumbent bike. Though this is primarily a cardiovascular tool it holds many more benefits for general health and fitness enthusiasts.  

For those not familiar with name recumbent bikes, you have probably seen the implement in the gym and just aren’t aware that it had a specialized name. The recumbent bike is a stationary bike that contains an actual seat (with a back like a chair) as opposed to a bicycle seat. With this setup, the chair is often lower to the ground, almost level with and sitting behind the pedals, making this implement easier to get into and out of than the standard stationary bike.

The chair can slide forward and back, accommodating for different length legs, and provides handles on either side for the user to hold on to. This set up makes the recumbent bike more comfortable to use while still providing all the benefits of the standard upright stationary bike.

Which are the best recumbent bikes for 2019?

Our top 5 picks

NameImageResistance LevelsMax WeightIF-FIT Rating 
Schwinn 270schwinn_27025 levels 300 lbs 95%Check Price
Marcy ME-709Marcy-Recumbent-Exercise-Bike-ME-709 8 Levels 300 lbs 90%Check Price
Sunny SF-RB4708Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RB47088 Levels 350 lbs 87%Check Price
Exerpeutic Gold 525XLRExerpeutic Gold 525XLR_ 8 Levels 400 lbs 85%Check Price
Nautilus 616nautilus_616 25 Levels 300 lbs 91%Check Price

Now, we will analyze every different model with details plus advantages and disadvantages. You can read, also, our buying guide and the comparison between Upright and Recumbent bikes.

1. Schwinn 270

A man using Schwinn 270 magnetic recumbent bike
Schwinn 270 Magnetic Recumbent Bike

Schwinn’s 270 Recumbent Bike is our top choice and a value for money product. The bike is easy to set up and very comfortable to use.

The console of Schwinn’s 270 is dead-easy to set up depending on your fitness level. Of course, it can be changed for each workout. Finally, it keeps track of your fitness workouts so you can track your progress as well.

Pros
  • 25 magnetic resistance levels
  • Ventilated and contoured seat
  • Awesomely quiet, no matter the resistance level
  • DualTrack LCD displays
  • Telemetry heart rate enabled and ergonomically placed
Cons
  • No padded seat

2. Marcy ME-709

Marcy ME-709 recumbent bike
Marcy ME-709 with Magnetic Resistance

Marcy ME-709 is an excellent magnetic recumbent bike and maybe the best option for budgets <200 $. It has everything that you need:

  • an 8-level Smooth magnetic resistance
  • adjustable pedals and seat
  • it can be moved pretty easy, as it features transport wheels for portability
Pros
  • 8 magnetic resistance levels
  • Comfort of seat (very high-density foam)
  • Easy-to-read LCD screen
  • Transport wheels for portability
Cons
  • It can be challenging for short people to adjust it so they can reach the pedals

3. Sunny and Fitness SF-RB4708

A woman using Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RB4708
Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RB4708

It’s a model with mobile arms (you can even isolate your arm exercises by placing your feet on the ground). It features a thick steel frame which can support users up to 350 lbs

The generous sized seat supports the hips and increase comfort during the workout. Finally, with the patented Easy Seat Adjustments you no longer have to get up off the machine to make seating adjustments.

Pros
  • Two handlebars to work your arms
  • Heavy-duty frame – supports weights up to 350 lbs
  • Padded oversized seat for comfort
  • Integrated pulse sensors
Cons
  • A bit bulky for a small department (60 x 25.5 x 52 inches and 91 pounds)

4. Exerpeutic Gold 525XLR

Exerpeutic Gold 525XLR Folding Recumbent Exercise Bike, 400 lbs
Exerpeutic Gold 525XLR Folding Recumbent Exercise Bike

This bike has the size of a regular recumbent but has a very practical advantage: You can fold it down for dead easy storage

Although its relatively small and light, the Exerpeutic Gold 525XLR is a very sturdy with high weight-capacity (Up to 400 lb). It comes with an easy to read LCD monitor display which indicates distance, calories burned, time, speed, Pulse, odometer, and scan

Pros
  • Smaller and lighter than many recumbent bikes on the market
  • Extended weight capacity (27% more steel than the Exerpeutic 400XL)
  • Very quiet
Cons
  • A little uncomfortable seat for heavyweight people

5. Nautilus 616

A man using nautilus 616 recumbent bike
Nautilus 616 Folding Recumbent Bike

Released in 2018, the R616 is one of the high-end models of Nautilus. It is the upgraded model of its popular 2014 model predecessor.

The bike has 29 workout programs and
25 levels of resistance for a wide range of workout intensity options. Based on user reviews it is a smooth, quiet and pretty stable bike.

Pros
  • 25 magnetic resistance levels
  • DualTrack blue backlit LCD console
  • MP3 player jack and built-in charging port
  • Easy assembly
  • Whisper quiet when operating normally
Cons
  • A few people said that the seat is not so comfortable
  • Difficult to move

Recumbent Bikes Buying Guide 2019

What to know before buying

How recumbent bikes work?

The chair of the recumbent bike allows the user to sit in a comfortable position while providing support for the back. This increased support is ideal for individuals who experience low back pain while using an upright bike, have difficulty getting into an upright back, or even for those looking for a more relaxed position while exercising.

Users of recumbent bikes will also note that this implement does not require great amounts of core or upper body strength like an upright bike would. The chair provides all the necessary support, and the pedals are now in front of the body allowing the upper body to relax (compared to an upright bike where the pedals are underneath and the user must hold themselves upright from the handlebars, taxing the upper body).

While sitting in the chair, users can strap their feet on to the pedals and begin pedaling in the same manner as a standard bicycle. A small screen display is provided above the pedals so users can control the amount of resistance the pedals provide, increasing and decreasing resistance as needed to match the level of workout you are trying to produce.

What muscles does a recumbent bike work?

With the addition of the chair, the recumbent bike is used to primarily work the muscles of the lower body. This includes

  • the quadriceps- vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and rectus femoris;
  • the hamstrings- biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus;
  • calves- gastrocnemius and soleus; and
  • muscles of the inner thighs- the adductors.

For this reason, the recumbent bike is a great lower body workout, but it doesn’t end there. Since this is a cardio tool it also targets the heart and fine muscles that control the cardiovascular system. The work put in on a recumbent bike can help elevate heart health metrics 1 such as increased blood flow, decreased build up in the arteries, plus strengthening the walls of the heart.

Look how many additional muscle groups can a recumbent bike work

Though the bike itself targets the lower body and cardiovascular system, the positioning of the chair allows the user to also include small hand weights for upper body exercises as shown in the picture above. For those comfortable using the recumbent bike and are looking for an added challenge try incorporating small dumbbells or handheld weights for upper body movements like bicep curls, lateral raises or overhead presses.

To help maintain a healthy lifestyle it is suggested that you get at least 30 mins of cardiovascular training a day. This can be redefined as at least 30 minutes of movement that elevates your heart and breathing rate. If you are able to do both of those things you are training your cardiovascular system. The longer and more often you are able to engage in activities at this level, the greater the benefits.

Most people will choose to reach this daily requirement through running. If running is not your thing the next most common form of cardio training is cycling and/or swimming. We are going to focus on the cycle part of cardio training and in particular, cardio training using a recumbent bike.

What are the benefits of recumbent bikes?

The recumbent bike shares many of the same benefits of the standard stationary bike, plus a few extra. Beginning with the extra, the recumbent bike is very user-friendly. The lower chair makes it easy to get into and out of while also provided added support for the back. This chair also mitigates the “saddle soreness” that is generally felt after sitting on a bicycle seat for extended periods of time. Lastly, the lack of support needed from the upper body also frees up the arms to perform small weighted movements for increased calorie burning and muscle toning.

Those are just the additional benefits a recumbent bike can produce. Here are the standard benefits offered by recumbent bikes:

Increases Cardiovascular Fitness

This benefit was touched on earlier but let’s expand on why an increase in cardiovascular fitness is beneficial. Cardio workouts target the muscles that control the heart, lungs and blood vessels. Strengthening these increases your body’s ability to breathe in oxygen, exhale carbon dioxide, increase blood flow, and keeps these organs (the lungs and heart) functioning efficiently for extended health. 

All of these benefits are important to delay the process of aging. As we get older it becomes difficult to maintain muscle mass, keep off body fat, and our bodies become more susceptible to disease. Cardiovascular training mitigates each of these.

As the heart and lungs become stronger and more efficient, it is easier for the body to move oxygen from the heart and lungs to the muscles. This is very important because oxygen is utilized by the muscles to produce energy. If oxygen is being transported to the muscles at a higher rate, the muscles can be used at a higher intensity. This increase in intensity then helps us build and maintain sufficient strength and muscle mass.

The more muscle we have on our bodies the easier it is to keep body fat to a minimum. This is because muscle is a high energy tissue and when sufficient energy is not being provided the muscles turn to our body’s fat storage sites to provide what is needed. Yes, cardiovascular training increases the amount of oxygen delivered to the muscles, and thus the amount of energy they can produce, but this often isn’t enough. To make up the deficit, the body converts fat to energy so the muscles can continue to work.

The increased muscle mass decreased body fat, and overall increased efficiency of the cardiovascular system all aid in boosting the immune system. The cardiovascular system is responsible for moving immune cells throughout the body to sites that are currently being affected. Increasing blood flow decreases the time and energy needed to move these cells around. In addition to this, fat stores often create inflammation in the body which dampens the effectiveness of our immune system. Increasing muscle to further decrease fat eliminates this stress on the immune system, allowing it to focus on fighting illness and other stressors.

Beyond improving the body’s efficiency and composition, cardiovascular training on the recumbent bike can also lead to better mood, more energy and decreased stress throughout the day. Any time we exercise the body releases hormones in the form of dopamine, serotonin, and a few others. These first two target the pleasure centers of the brain leaving you with a euphoric feeling post-workout.

Reduced Stress on Joints

The recumbent bike isn’t just good to boost your mood though, it is also used to help with joint pain.

A huge benefit of the recumbent bike is that this implement is very low impact. It does not require jumping, loading, or repetitive beating on the legs (as in running). Instead, the feet are strapped to the pedals and one cyclic movement is performed without interruption from an outside source, such as the ground. This greatly reduces the amount of force being placed on the joints.

Recumbent bikes are used in many therapy settings for this exact reason; little to no impact stress is produced which allows the joints to move through a healthy range of motion without stress. This benefit is particularly useful for individuals with arthritis or gout.

A joint faced with either arthritis or gout is often inflamed to the point of pain. It can become even more inflamed or painful when trying to exercise because of the impact forces present in most forms of training. Since the recumbent bike produces little to no force, this form of training can be used without increasing joint pain 2 . Furthermore, being able to produce movement can help clear inflammation in the joints, reducing pain for periods beyond the workout.

As the muscles surrounding an arthritic joint are activated, they increase the blood flow surrounding the area which helps clear inflammation and waste from both the muscles and the joint. Let’s take the knee for example, an individual with arthritic knees can use a recumbent bike to exercise the legs without placing impact on the knees which keeps pain to a minimum. Beyond that, as the quads, hamstrings, and calves begin to work through pedaling, the amount of blood flowing to the legs and past the knee increases. As blood gets pushed past the knee it can provide immune cells to help clear the inflammation within the joint as well as remove waste that could be causing the pain. This movement will decrease pain beyond the workout interval.  

The joints of the lower body aren’t the only ones who can benefit from the recumbent bike though. The seated position and additional support provided from the chair decreases the amount of stress placed on the low back as well. For those suffering from back pain, the recumbent bike is a great alternative so you are still able to perform cardio exercises and increase the amount of calories you burn on a daily basis.

Weight Loss

Any form of exercise will increase the amount of energy used by the body, the same is true when using a recumbent bike. As you engage in higher intensity or longer duration workouts on the recumbent bike, your body will burn through calories at an increased rate. This increase in calories burned can aid in weight loss.

A popular form of training for weight loss is high-intensity interval training, and this form of training can easily be performed on a recumbent bike to help you on your weight loss journey. The idea behind high-intensity interval training is to perform short 60-90s sprinting intervals, pedaling at max speed, followed by short 60-90s rest intervals. Repeat this 8-10 times for a great calorie-burning workout.

Toning of Legs

The last benefit we will discuss ties in everything from above, and that is the benefit of toned legs.

The recumbent bike primarily uses the muscles of the lower body, and with the screen attachment, you can choose how much resistance is placed against the legs while pedaling. Increasing the resistance pushes the muscles to work at a higher level, while a decreased resistance will allow you to focus more on the cardiovascular benefits; either way, the muscles of the legs are being worked and built throughout the training session.

There’s no escaping the benefits a recumbent bike has to offer. This low impact, stress-reducing, muscle building, cardio machine is perfect for any user trying to improve their health and fitness.

Why is this type of workout so effective?

As we touched on earlier, the recumbent bike taxes the cardiovascular system and our body’s ability to bring energy to the muscles. When performing high-intensity interval training you are pushing to the maximum intensity which means the muscles need a greatly increased amount of energy. We often cannot breathe in enough oxygen to keep up with this energy need so, as we pointed out earlier, the muscles turn to fat stores for the rest of their needs.

This is just the first part though. High-intensity interval training isn’t just about high-intensity intervals, it is also paramount to keep rest periods shorts for this taxes our energy system to the point of needing extended recovery. So much energy is needed to perform these workouts correctly that our bodies have to keep energy production elevated for hours after the workout in order to make up for the deficit created during the workout. This means your body is burning calories at a higher rate for longer post-workout. And all of this can be done while sitting in a chair using a recumbent bike.

Recumbent Bike vs Upright Bike

We already speak about Recumbent Bikes on our Guide. What about Upright Bikes?

Woman using the upright bike Marcy ME-702

Upright exercise bikes have been popular for many decades now. In fact, they are probably still more popular than recumbent bikes, or at the very least, they’re more readily available.

Upright stationary exercise bikes basically do what they say on the tin. We won’t get too technical when describing them because there’s not a great deal to say. These bikes have typically been designed to closely resemble standard road bikes. Basically, if you imagine a road bike, without the wheels, that’s what you get with an upright exercise bike.

So, which do you choose? Well, to help you get a better understanding, here’s a look at the key benefits.

Benefits of Upright and Recumbent Bikes

A. Upright bike benefits

  • More cycling options – One of the main benefits of upright exercise bikes is the fact that they offer more cycling options. You can either sit down and pedal, or stand up and pedal.
  • Affordable – Because they’re so readily available, upright exercise bikes tend to be more affordable than recumbent bikes. This means that, if you’re buying one to use at home and are on a budget, they’re ideal.
  • Great for the core – If you’re looking to target your core and work your abs, upright bikes are perfect. Because your body is upright as you pedal, more resistance is placed upon the abs, meaning that your core gets a great workout.
  • Builds muscle – As well as being great for cardio, upright bikes also work very well for building muscle. This is because, when upright, you engage your deltoids, biceps, and triceps. If you stand up and pedal, you’ll also work your glutes and quads.

B. Recumbent bike benefits

  • Comfort – One of the best things about using recumbent bikes is the fact that they’re so much more comfortable than upright bikes.
  • Better for the back – If you deal with back pain or discomfort, recumbent bikes are much better for the lumbar spine (lower back) because you are sat back, instead of being hunched forwards.
  • Great for the joints – Even though stationary bikes aren’t especially high-impact, they are generally harder on the joints than recumbent bikes. Recumbent bikes put no pressure on the joints, and the seat itself offers support for the back.
  • Great for hamstring muscles – A research 3 showed that novice cyclists activated their hamstrings with more force while pedaling a recumbent than a standard stationary bicycle 4 .

Which bike to choose?

So, out of the two, which should you choose? Well, that all depends on your goals and personal circumstances. If comfort is a priority, a recumbent bike would be better. If you’re looking for a way of working your abs at the same time, perhaps an upright bike would be better?

Incorporating recumbent bikes into your routine

The recumbent bike does not require a high level of technique to use properly which makes it an easy tool that you can start incorporating into your training today. The recumbent bike can be used as part of your workout or for your entire workout, the choice is yours.

When incorporating the recumbent bike as a supplemental form of training, you can use it to warm up before your lifts, to get in some intervals after a strength session, or just for a long ride while watching your favorite talk show hosts. If, however, you prefer to use it for a full workout try some of the following:

Beginners Workout

Perfect for those trying the recumbent bike for the first time, or those who need a lower intensity workout for the day’s training

  1. Warm-up 5-10 minutes easy intensity
  2. Intervals (low resistance)
    • 5 minutes medium intensity
    • 2 minutes high intensity
    • 5 minutes medium intensity
    • 2 minutes high intensity
    • 5 minutes medium intensity
    • 2 minutes high intensity
  3. Cooldown 5-10 minutes easy intensity

Fat Loss Workout

This workout targets the benefits of high-intensity interval training so push the medium and hard intensities to maximize energy needs and calories burned

  1. Warm-up 5-10 minutes easy intensity
  2. Intervals (medium resistance)           
    • 60s easy intensity
    • 60s medium intensity
    • 30s hard intensity
    • 60s medium intensity
    • 30s hard intensity
  3. Repeat for 5 rounds (total of 20 minutes)
  4. Cooldown 5-10 minutes easy intensity, low resistance

Full Body Workout

The chair setup allows the arms to be free, grab some dumbbells and put those arms to work for a full-body workout on the recumbent bike.

  1. Warm-up 5-10 minutes easy intensity
  2. Intervals with hand weights
    • 2 min medium intensity, no lifting
    • 1 min easy intensity, add in bicep curls
    • 2 min medium intensity, no lifting
    • 1 min easy intensity, add in lateral raises
    • 2 min medium intensity, no lifting
    • 1 min easy intensity, add in overhead press
  3. Repeat for 3 rounds
  4. Cooldown 5-10 minutes easy intensity, low resistance

Using and incorporating the recumbent bike is quite easy to do. Throw in all the benefits this implement has to offer and you’ll understand why this should be incorporated as often as possible. Reap the benefits of recumbent cardio training today by trying out one of our workouts, or perhaps one of your own.


References:

  1. Indoor cycling for older adults, https://www.health.harvard.edu/
  2. Exercise on a Stationary Bike With Arthritis, https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/arthritis-friendly/stationary-bike.php
  3. Electromyography during pedaling on upright and recumbent ergometer, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24567858
  4. Ask Well: Recumbent Bike vs. Upright Bike vs. Elliptical Machine, https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/15/ask-well-recumbent-bike-vs-upright-bike-vs-elliptical-machine/
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