Living in the big city can be stressful and what’s even worse about it is that there is less and less space each year to relieve that stress. Most modern cities just now started to think about bikers by making separate bike lanes but even those are often blocked by cars or unavailable due to bad weather. If your love for cycling cannot be contained the only other place left for you is the gym.
That has some disadvantages of its own, though. The best way to stay in shape, save money and be comfortable while doing all that is to get a recumbent bike for your home. Not only will that allow you to save time and money but you will be able to exercise whenever you want ultimately providing greater results. Here we will review some of the best recumbent bikes currently on the market and give you some extra tips on what’s important when buying your first one.
To kick things off, we’ve created a comparison chart between which are the current three best models. Our team has tested countless of bikes throughout the recent months and these three left us the most surprised when it came down their value to price ratio. Make sure to check their full reviews to get a better perspective on their features and specific advantages and disadvantages.
Top Three Recumbent Bikes Comparison Chart
|Product||Levels of Resistance||Weight Capacity||Score||Price|
|Schwinn 230||30||320 lbs.||*****||$$$$|
|Exerpeutic 900XL||8||300 lbs.||****||$$|
|Marcy ME 709||8||270 lbs.||****||$$|
1.Schwinn 230 Recumbent Exercise Bike
What Schwinn have accomplished in this model hasn’t been done too often in this industry. The Schwinn 230 has one of the best value to price ratios even though it might seem expensive at first sight. It is also fun, challenging and brings new features to the table. It is an overall great recumbent exercise bike which can easily be used by the whole family due to its adjustability.
2.Exerpeutic 900XL Extended Recumbent Exercise Bike
The Exerpeutic 900XL is a model which is defined by its easy to use, various features, comfort, and pricing. It is ideal for anyone no matter your size or fitness level. That makes this recumbent bike a good investment as it will also last long enough to pay back its price multiple times. The workouts on the 900XL can be challenging but at the same time offer you the comfort to read, watch your favorite series or listen to your favorite songs. In other words, riding this bike won’t be as boring as other models can be.
3.Marcy ME 709 Recumbent Exercise Bike
The Marcy 709 has some of the best construction materials used in it which is why so many people choose to have it in their homes. It is super easy to assemble and the progress monitoring features are understandable and informative. It may not satisfy the needs of some advanced cyclists, though. On the other hand, it is more than perfect for beginners, people who have some sort of disability or elderly. It is one of the cheapest recumbent bikes in its price range as well which makes it the ideal starters bike.
We’ve tried to create the perfect guide which will take you through some of the major thought processes behind a successful recumbent bike purchase. First, we will explain which things you should consider before moving forward with your decision and then we’ll show you what to look for in a recumbent bike so that it fits your exact needs.
Types Of Recumbent Bikes And Things To Consider
Recumbent bikes have been on the rise lately, and are most likely going to surpass their old predecessor – the upright bike. If you’ve ever thought about an indoor bike the image popping in your head was most likely an upright one but that will change soon.
Recumbent bikes are far more comfortable to ride and concentrate on you being able to do more stuff while exercising. Furthermore, your lower back will be much more supported and the primarily engaged muscle group will be leg and tight muscles. The downside is that your arms won’t be as engaged as they’d be with a treadmill or an elliptical machine, for example. Either way, nothing beats being able to read your morning newspaper while breaking a little sweat.
If you want a more detailed comparison between recumbent bikes and treadmills, check out our article on the topic.
Now, there are a few questions you have to ask yourself before going forward with your purchase. The most important are…
How Much Free Space Do You Have?
The amount of space that the recumbent bike will take is perhaps the last thing that people have in mind when buying theirs. Just because you like a model that is packed with features doesn’t mean that it is ideal for your home. Bigger machines are usually more comfortable but aren’t exactly space saving. If you live in a small apartment opt for the smaller models, even if they lack some major features. Think of it like that – not only will you be saving space but you will most likely be paying less money for your bike. Two birds with one stone, if you ask us,
How Much Money Can You Spare?
Recumbent bikes have a really wide price range. There are models for as low as a hundred bucks and some which are in the four-digit range. All that depends on the materials used on the bike, its size, and the features it has. What we offered in our top 3 list are three great bikes which offer you an amazing experience with zero compromises at an affordable price. The Schwinn 230 even has features which are usual for much more expensive bikes.
The easiest way to spot a cheaply made bike is by testing its pedals. That is the first thing that gives away the cheap construction. Another thing is the weight capacity. Cheaper, badly constructed models won’t have a weight capacity of over 200 lbs, while the more sturdy models can handle weights close to 300 pounds.
More expensive models also have a variety of training programs which are designed to motivate you and push you further every day and speaking of daily activities, if you plan to use your bike more than just a few times per week, consider investing a bit more, since that will greatly increase the time of ownership. Higher end models also have a more extended warranty, so it’s a win-win situation.
What Features Do You Need?
A main difference between recumbent bikes and their upright counterparts is that the recumbent ones are usually packed with features. Apart from the digital ones, such as various training programs, hill simulations, etc., the more expensive models have things such as desks. It might seem like a gimmick but you can place your laptop/tablet there and work as you are exercising.
If you are one of those people who love to keep a track of their progress, you’d be happy to know that most bikes come with amazing tracking software embedded in them. Those usually have large displays which give you important data, such as time spent cycling, calories burnt, distance covered, and others. There are even programs which allow you to race with your friends if connected and even export your data to any device. If you enjoy listening to music while training, there are bikes with built-in speakers and even USB and 5mm jack interfaces.
If you plan on longer training sessions, look for a recumbent bike with a water bottle holder and adjustable tension levels, so that you can simulate a more realistic environment while staying hydrated.
Changing the tension levels can also allow you to do interval training sessions. You can learn more about that and general calories burning information on this article.
Is Comfort Your Main Concern?
If all you want is a comfortable training session, then recumbent bikes can easily be your new favorite thing. Unlike the upright ones, you won’t have any soreness in the back here, nor will your hands hurt after longer sessions. All you have to do here is sit back, relax, and start pedaling. Almost all of the recumbent models come with a comfortable chair with a large backrest which will keep your back straight and stable. Furthermore, you will have either 2 handles for your hands or two raised hand rests. Your body will be working hard but you won’t be feeling the strain as much. This is exactly the reason behind recumbent bikes’ success.
Things That Define A Good Recumbent Bike
- First on our list comes the comfort of the bike itself.
An uncomfortable bike leads to all sorts of issues with your muscles and joints and overall kills your dedication to train. Make sure you get a bike which has a lot of user reviews (better if they are positive). That means that people have bought it and specifically went back to the web page and left their thoughts for other customers. From the recumbent bikes we’ve tested, there were a lot of models which had comfortable seats and steady pedals and our three top choices are no exception to that.
- The next most important thing is stability.
Every bike must be designed with stability in mind, as the dynamic movements you’ll be doing can throw the whole thing off easily. After all, the first thing you want is to feel safe and stable on your bike when doing a longer cycling session. There are various features such as leg stabilizers which help your feet stay in place when cycling. The seats of most bikes are stabilized as well. All in all, look for a bike with a sturdy and heavy enough base which people report to give a nice sense of stability.
If you don’t feel quite stable, you can adjust the armrest and backrest height and angles on most bikes. That greatly improves your center of gravity and adds to the total comfort.
Even if your bike does not meet any of the criteria needed for a great stability, recumbent bikes are still one of the safest and most stable fitness machines out there.
Pro Tip: make sure you check the screws on your bike from time to time and tighten them if needed. We noticed that some of the screws on the cheaper models tend to come loose after continuous use.
- Another thing which adds to the quality of the bike is its features.
An aspect of the recumbent bikes which is drastically different from model to model is their HUDs (or the so-called consoles). The cheapest out of those will give you basic information such as how much miles/kilometers you’ve traveled, how much time has elapsed and maybe, but just maybe, how many calories you’ve burned. The heads-up console can progress all the way up to having an actual screen on it which allows you watch TV or browse the Internet. Those can also follow your progress and create custom programs for you, which will give an edge to your overall performance.
Other features can be extra tension levels (up to 30-40), adjustable armrests, backrests, pedal weight, and others. If we have to be honest, you won’t be needing half of these features if you’re now starting. We found that the simpler a bike is, the better user experience it offers. Get a bike which tracks your basic progress metrics and work your way up from that.
- A great bike is defined by its versatility.
Your bike should offer a lot of workout programs which will ultimately help you advance easier. Usually, these programs are divided into three groups: beginners, intermediates, advanced cyclists. Working your way up that ladder with the help of your built-in programs can be a breeze if you have something to follow. Otherwise, we found out that beginners aren’t really sure how they should start riding their recumbent bike.
Apart from programs, a bike’s versatility is reflected in the features it provides. We already covered that but things such as a heart rate monitor and/or adjustable leg pedals and back angles can really make a difference. These will set your bike apart from all the regular models and make it feel more special and convenient to you. It is important to find the right combination of features you want at the lowest possible price while keeping an eye on any reviews regarding the quality of the bike.
If you are now wondering what features you need when starting, we suggest getting a bike with backrest and hand rest adjustability, as well as a central console which gives you the most important metrics such as distance traveled, time passed and calories burned. Also, aim for at least either levels of tension on your bike.
- Last, but not least, come the safety and efficiency of your bike.
Make sure your new bike has good brakes which need to be easy to use and smooth enough to not ruin the cycling experience. The base of the bike should be heavy enough to support your weight without going off-balance and falling to the side. Furthermore, the materials should be sturdy enough and not produce squeaky sounds during your ride, as this can be annoying.
In terms of efficiency, the bike should be easy to assemble, quiet and you should be able to do all the necessary adjustments by yourself. Also, cleaning and maintaining your bike shouldn’t be a technical process as well.
Tips To Help You Get The Most Out Of Your Recumbent Bike
Having a bike in your home is a great way to stay in shape without losing time and money by going to your local gym and is also a great method to lose weight, mainly due to the fact that you don’t have to overcome that “too busy to train” idea. You can just hop on your bike and cycle away while reading a favorite book of yours. Either way, here are some tips which will help you make the most of your biking routine.
Something most people overlook is stretching. This brief activity before going at it is what keeps your body healthy. People who don’t stretch tend to have joint issues and muscle aches constantly. A proper stretching is the key to a good workout. We highly recommend dynamic stretching since its benefits are simply infinite. It warms up your muscles and improves their range. A good 5 minutes of stretching should be enough.
You might be a little warmed up from the dynamic stretching you did before you got on your bike but that usually isn’t enough. Spend a few minutes pedaling lightly (on a lower tension setting) while your legs get used to it then gradually work your way up. We recommend spending around 5 minutes pedaling lightly, then getting up and stretch again and hop back on the bike for the real workout.
Adjust Your Bike
One of the main issues with people using recumbent bikes is them not adjusting their seats. This is something that takes a few moments but makes all the difference to your workout. Your seat is the key to a comfortable biking and also increases the effectiveness of the workout. Adjust the seat until your extended leg is bent slightly when on the far side of the cycle.
Keep A Good Posture Throughout The Ride
Proper form is key to avoiding any unwanted injuries but a little-known fact is that it also increases the calories you burn. Just remember not to lean forward and keep your back in a straight line tightly against the backrest. During intense workouts, it is perfectly okay to hold the handles with your hands.
Choose The Right Resistance For You
In the beginning, you might be wondering which gear to select. Usually, people set the resistance levels way too high. Just remember that this exercise isn’t any different from all the rest. As with the others, you shouldn’t go all in straight from the start. Be gradual. Select a resistance level which is comfortable for you and work your way up. The higher the resistance, the harder your legs work but also the slower you pedal, therefore your heart rate might not increase as much as you want it to.
Do Interval Training Sessions
Interval training has been gaining popularity in recent years and for a reason. It does wonders for professional athletes, so why wouldn’t you use it as well? It basically consists of short bursts of intense pedaling, combined with longer, more calm periods. The end result is more calories burnt and a greater cardio. Play with the bike’s resistance levels during that workout to see which ones work the best for you.
Choose The Right Duration Of Your Training Session
The key to getting the most out of your recumbent bike is to pedal for long enough periods of time. The golden number here is 30 minutes per day, which should be your daily goal to meet. If you want to lose some pounds, though, we suggest going for something along the lines of 60-90 minutes per day for 5 days a week (best if the days are consecutive).
Keep Yourself Busy
Lastly, we wanted to point out that these types of bikes offer you the possibility of doing something else while training. This is great for people with not a lot of time. If you need to work on something, or maybe even want to read a book and train but can never find time for both, you can do it here. Put your eggs to boil on the stove and go read the morning newspaper while breaking a little sweat!
Some Final Words
Choosing the best recumbent bike can seem like a complex task but by now we hoped that you’ve learned all the basics needed to make the right decision. Just remember, that having the best bike for you is just half the solution to your better health. The other half is actually using it on a constant basis. That is up to you and we hope that with the tips we gave you, you can have a healthier training routine and become an expert in no time!