Three best recumbent exercise bikes

Erica van Blommestein

With a large seat and backrest, a recumbent exercise bike can be used hands-free, giving users the freedom to hold a book or smart device while working out.

Next to treadmills, exercise bikes are some of the most popular pieces of home gym equipment around. While both deliver a great cardiovascular workout, treadmills aren't exactly easy on the joints, and standard exercise bikes can be tough on the back and hips.

Enter the recumbent exercise bike. With a design that's engineered for comfort, it's an ideal option if you have back or joint problems but still want an effective workout.

However, not all recumbent exercise bikes are the same, and choosing the right one can be tricky. They come in a variety of sizes, with features that differ from model to model. If selecting the best recumbent exercise bike for your home gym has got you in a spin, you've come to the right place. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about this workout equipment and check out our top picks.

Considerations when choosing recumbent exercise bikes


Size can vary dramatically from bike to bike. Before committing to a particular model, consider its footprint and your available space. The best way to determine whether a recumbent exercise bike will comfortably fit your home gym is to check the assembled dimensions and compare them to the measurements of your intended workout area.

Weight and height limits

Weight: Different recumbent exercise bikes can support different amounts of weight. While most are sturdy enough to accommodate up to 300 pounds, others can support as much as 400 pounds. If you share your home gym with family members or friends of different weights, choosing a recumbent bike with a higher weight capacity is a good idea.

Height: Most recumbent exercise bikes have adjustable height settings, but it's a good idea to check the maximum height accommodation anyway. Since the average model is designed for individuals up to six feet tall, this is especially important if you happen to be vertically blessed or if several people of varying heights will be using the machine.


Seat and backrest:  All recumbent exercise bike seats are designed for superior comfort, but if you suffer from back, hip, or joint pain, a ventilated backrest, and a well-padded seat, and lumbar support are features worth paying for. An adjustable backrest can offer a more comfortable ride. Having at least three positions to choose from will allow you to customize the angle of the backrest, which is especially helpful if you have a bad back.

Handles: Although not a strict requirement, two sets of handles (one at the seat and another next to the display) offer greater workout versatility, allowing you to choose a cycling position that's comfortable for you. Some models even boast padded armrests, which may further help to reduce strain on the back.

Pedals: Even if it doesn't top your list of must-have features, pedal size and style can make a world of difference. Plus-size pedals accommodate any foot size and can make for a smoother ride overall. If you have a hard time keeping your feet on the pedals, a recumbent bike with toe cages or adjustable straps can be helpful. Some recumbent exercise bikes have hand pedals, too, giving you the opportunity to work your upper and lower body simultaneously.

Resistance levels

In order to be effective, every workout should be somewhat challenging. As your fitness level improves, you'll find yourself breezing through workouts that once seemed arduous. To keep moving from strength to strength, it's important to choose a bike with multiple resistance levels. While the average recumbent bike has as many as 10, some high-end models offer up to 25, so you can fine-tune the intensity of each workout.

Recumbent exercise bike features

Display: Nearly all recumbent exercise bikes come with a digital display to help you track your workout progress. Depending on the model, your display screen can give you a visual readout of speed, distance, revolutions per minute, calories burned, heart rate, and elapsed time. Larger display screens are easier to read. For improved visibility in low light, opt for a bike with a backlit display.

Preset programs: If you like the idea of guided workouts, look for a bike with preset programs. This feature will automatically adjust the resistance level as you pedal to help make every workout fresh and interesting. Some premium models boast up to 30 different programs to keep your body guessing and your fitness level progressing.

Heart-rate sensors: Whether you're trying to burn as many calories as possible or simply want to make sure you're getting an effective cardiovascular workout, heart-rate sensors are a valuable tool for anyone who takes fitness seriously. Located in the handles, heart-rate sensors make it easy to see when you're in your target zone so you get the most out of every session.

Bluetooth connectivity: Bikes with Bluetooth connectivity can be synced with manufacturer training apps, allowing you to track each workout and monitor your progress.

Speakers and USB port: Models with speakers and a USB port will allow you to plug in a device of your choice so you can listen to your favorite tracks while you sweat.

Fan: Built-in fans can help you stay cool, reducing the number of times you have to stop and reach for your towel.

Cupholder: Staying hydrated while you exercise is essential, and a conveniently placed cupholder makes it that much easier.

Recumbent exercise bike prices: The cost hinges on a number of factors, including size, resistance levels, programs, and other features. Prices can range from as little as $100 to as much as $1,000. For the most part, mid-range models that cost around $300 to $600 offer a good variety of both essential and convenience features.


Q. Are recumbent exercise bikes as effective as upright bikes in terms burning calories?

A. Absolutely. The number of calories you burn per workout is determined by the resistance level, your pace, heart rate, and the duration of the session. In fact, because recumbent exercise bikes are so comfortable, many people find that they're able to work out longer and end up burning a few extra calories in the process.

Q. Are recumbent exercise bikes suitable for people with arthritis?

A. With a seat design that's made for comfort and a pedaling motion that doesn't cause a jarring impact on the joints, recumbent exercise bikes are an ideal aerobic alternative if you have arthritis. However, when it comes to selecting an appropriate resistance level, it's always best to check with your physician first.

Recumbent exercise bikes we recommend

Best of the best: Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike 

Our take: With state-of-the-art features, excellent workout versatility, and superb comfort, this bike is ideal for multiple users of all fitness levels.

What we like: Smooth, quiet ride. Quick and easy seat adjustment. Generous 25 resistance levels and 29 preset programs. Large, clear screen and good speakers. Bluetooth connectivity makes it easy to track progress. Straightforward assembly.

What we dislike: The fan could be a little more powerful.

Best bang for your buck: Marcy ME 709 Recumbent Bike 

Our take: Affordable option with all the necessary features for an effective workout. Not as advanced as others on our list, but given the price and user-friendly design, it's well worth considering if you're on a budget.

What we like: Quiet operation. Decent number of easy-to-set resistance levels accommodate different fitness levels. Hassle-free seat adjustment. Easy-to-read display tracks essential workout information. Built-in roller wheels make it conveniently portable.

What we dislike: No heart-rate sensors.

Choice 3: Stamina Elite Total Body Recumbent Exercise Bike 

Our take: A great all-rounder if you're looking for a quality bike that will work both your upper and lower body.

What we like: Well made with solid construction, yet compact enough to fit just about any space. Several resistance levels and adjustable seat suit a variety of fitness levels and heights. Seat-positioned handles feature heart-rate sensors. Rotating hand pedals can be used to ramp up intensity or for a total body workout.

What we dislike: Getting the hang of using the hand pedals and foot pedals simultaneously can take practice.

Erica van Blommestein is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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