There are so many different ways that people can experience exercise and physical fitness, but not all of them are forgiving on your lower lumbar and shoulders.
Cycling falls in line with that, because if you’re on a weight loss journey, you can encounter back pain every step of the way.
That’s where recumbent bikes come into play, with full back support and a more ergonomic way to position your body during exercise.
We’re going to start with the best recumbent bike, and four others that are worth your time to take a look at.
If you’ve ever done an independent search on recumbent bikes on Amazon, then you know that there are pages upon pages of third-party garbage-tier exercise machines—this list is an elite roundup, where we keep cost in mind, but put quality and durability above all else.
Best Recumbent Exercise Bikes
Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike
The best thing about recumbent bikes is that they’re not overly expensive, and there’s no better representation of budget-friendly, in-reach exercise equipment than Marcy.
They stole the spot for the best recumbent exercise bike on our list because they keep things cheap, and maintain quality the whole way through.
Starting off with the resistance system, you get eight separate settings to choose from, gradually increasing your difficulty level along the way.
The more resistance you have, the harder it is to push the pedals, and the better it is for your overall exercise.
Marcy’s gradual resistance system is good for beginners and up to moderate level cyclers, but those who are simply looking for a replacement recumbent when they’ve already been using one for years might find this a bit underwhelming.
Altering the resistance, as well as your seat positioning, is fairly easy with minimal effort required.
One common issue that a lot of recumbent bike manufacturers run into is making their tightening pegs very rough and hard to use, but Marcy put focus on these little grievances to improve them.
Over time, you will have to tighten this bike. Vibrations and use will weaken the frame (at the points that you attach it), so it’s important to perform maintenance as often as possible to avoid long-term issues.
It’s a budget-friendly unit, so this is just one of those issues that come with the territory.
That being said, the thickness of all the piping makes this frame sturdy, supporting up to 300 lbs of user weight.
The LCD screen on most exercise bikes and machinery in general tends to be severely lacking, but Marcy gives you a clear screen design with enough backlighting to actually view the backlighting with ease.
Marcy’s warranty here is a little weak, all things considered. They offer a two-year coverage term on the frame, and stipulations have changed over time on labor and the parts.
Because this is already an inexpensive recumbent bike, it may not even be worth it to mail back 60 lbs worth of metal and plastic and also have to pay labor.
Schwinn Recumbent Bike Series 270
Schwinn is best known for their actual bicycles that they produce, but just because this isn’t going to take you down the lane doesn’t mean that you can’t get in a fantastic workout.
Their recumbent bike series comes with three separate models, but based on pricing, durability, and some key features, we’ve gone with the Series 270 for our review.
If you’re interested in the other units, you can go through to the sales page and see the price differences in the other models.
In these recumbent exercise bike reviews, I want to disclose that if you’re already committed to buying a recumbent bike, I would avoid “Expert Assembly” options that they often try to tack-on to your purchase.
Schwinn did a fantastic job at keeping most of these components together in the box, so despite it looking a little more complex than the Marcy recumbent bike wee juste reviewed, it’s dead simple to put together.
With Schwinn, they include a bluetooth app that connects right to their LCD screen.
While the display is fairly basic in terms of resolution (and very bright), it displays tons of useful data that can then be sent to the Schwinn Trainer app.
There, you can review your progress and trending results on a day-by-day, or week-by-week basis to see how you’re improving.
If you’re training for a marathon or to test your own endurance, this is the best way to do that.
The screen controls offer you tons of ways to input and change data to customize your workout.
While the tech is nice, it’s all about how powerful the recumbent bike is that’s going to make the difference.
Schwinn includes 25 different resistance levels for long-term gradual training and difficulty increases, which can make or break your workout in the long run.
With all of this, there’s a catch: it’s all electrical, so you have to plug your recumbent into the wall in a 110V/120V circuit, and it’s not exactly going to take it easy on your utility bills.
You can expect this to run about four to seven dollars a month in electricity if you use it five days a week for 30 minutes at a time.
Last but not least, I want to shine some spotlight on Schwinn’s excellent warranty program.
You get a decade on the frame alone, as well as two years on parts, one year on electronics, and ninety days on labor.
That’s long-term coverage for replacement, but keep in mind that shipping 93 lbs of metal and plastic back to the manufacturer and paying for labor can be a bit pricey, should you ever need to.
EXERPEUTIC 900XL Recumbent Pulse Exercise Bike
I always think it’s hilarious when an exercise bike or piece of exercise machinery advertises their bike by showing photographs of a phone in front of their on-board LCD screen.
EXERPEUTIC makes a good bike with plenty of power and stability, but their screen is a bit lacking.
I think that’s why they put a phone holder directly in front of it, so you can track your progress from your FitBit and apps.
As one of the most popular recumbent bicycle units on the market today, they certainly hold their own when it comes to quality.
Starting from the ground up, you get excellent stability through the axles and feet.
Along the front pie, you have a couple of roller wheels sticking off the front so that you can move your recumbent bike to a new spot with ease.
When it comes to tech, you can connect your phone or tablet to this via bluetooth to get Smart Cloud Fitness data—a way to track your information in an analytical format, giving you a way to compile data and watch how you progress over time.
The movement is fairly smooth, though if you have larger feet, the foot cage straps might not work well for you.
I don’t think they’re entirely necessary, but if you don’t need them, you’ll have to put in some extra effort to remove them from the pedals.
Putting everything together is simple enough on the instructions, but it can be a bit aggravating with the amount of pieces they give you.
They provide you with step-by-step instructions and all, it’s just a bit backwards until you actually figure it all out.
Last but not least, you get a one-year warranty on this, which is about as low as most recumbent bike manufacturers go. I would have liked to see two years, but it is what it is.
MaxKare Recumbent Indoor Exercise Bike
MaxKare is a tough one, because I’ve reviewed other products by them in the past.
They make good budget-level physical fitness machinery, but to get it out of the way right now, their customer service isn’t the best.
You can eventually get through to them, but it’s a bit of a chore.
That being said, they do make one of the best home recumbent bikes on the market for a fraction of the price that you see for Bowflex and Schwinn machines.
Built with a similar I-shaped design with the axles and bike base, it stays stable enough during use that you don’t need an exercise mat, even though it’s always good to have one.
The stand also includes two roller wheels to maneuver this around your home gym as you see fit.
You get eight different levels of magnetic resistance with this, all built into a very quiet flywheel.
Some bikes have this whirring sound when you start up, but MaxKare did a good job as keeping everything running smoothly, and quietly.
They’re another brand that makes an LCD screen, but shows photos of positioning a phone or tablet in front of them, so take that as you will.
The LCD screen displays very basic data, so you might have a better time using a FitBit here.
When you take a seat and actually feel the cushion, you’ll easily be able to lean back and go a few miles on this recumbent bike.
The seat leans back just enough to give you a great deal of comfort, while still positioning your body in an effective workout stance.
It’s a simple, budget-friendly recumbent bike. I will say this though: assembly isn’t lengthy, but it is difficult.
The holes in the axles, for example, are very roughly cut. You’ll have a few struggles here and there, but once it’s built, it’s not going anywhere.
Harison Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike
A little-known brand, Harison develops middle-of-the-road solutions for exercise equipment that hits home on quality and pricing.
They chose a very unique design, and went with power play colors of black and red to give it an executive feel.
I want to start with the seat, because it’s the one part that was both confusing and enjoyable at the same time.
The bottom cushion is very thick, so you don’t feel the metal beneath the seat, but it’s not very cushiony.
The backing to the seat looks like an office chair with its slotted rear and curved design.
The good thing about this is that it ventilates your back while you’re riding, so you don’t end up with a bunch of sweat just coating everything when you stand up.
They have to have the best LCD screen out of all these (excluding Schwin), but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fantastic.
It’s just the most visible. Instead of showing a tablet or phone in front of your LCD screen, they show a separate stand that comes with your recumbent bike, allowing you to stream workout plans or Netflix while you work out.
The resistance settings are excellent, and the entire flywheel is designed to be pretty quiet.
Your pedals are a bit awkwardly designed, so you may find it more useful to remove the foot straps along the top of the pedals. I personally find them a bit restricting.
Last but not least, there’s a large 350 lb maximum weight capacity, so users looking to make major weight loss goals a reality will be able to use this for years to come.
The warranty covers one year for replacements, however based on Harison’s production quality, any issues that you find with your recumbent bike will make themselves apparent early on, giving you plenty of time to contact the manufacturer.
Recumbent Bike Buying Guide & FAQ
Is a Recumbent Exercise Bike a Good Workout?
In all of these recumbent bicycle reviews, we talk about resistance.
Resistance training, whether in cardio or strength training, is what any good workout should consist of. It builds up muscle while stripping away calories.
If you put the best recumbent stationary bike up against other types of cardio machines, there are going to be differences.
Recumbent bikes are designed for a cardio workout, whereas other machines, such as rowing machines, will do more for you than just shed weight and target a few muscle groups.
Recumbent bicycle exercise provides a good workout and helps maintain a healthy heart and weight.
Regardless of your current workout regimen, you should have at least one type of cardio thrown in the mix, whether that’s a treadmill or a spin bike.
Recumbent bikes offer less stress on your joints, so if you’re on a weight loss journey, they’re an excellent place to start.
What Are the Benefits of Recumbent Exercise Bikes?
Recumbent bicycles are used primarily for cardio exercise, with a bit of leg and low abdomen muscle to be gained along the way.
These are the main benefits of using one:
- Better Cardiovascular Health: Through cardio exercise, you reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and some forms of cancer, heart cancer being among them.
- Increased Lung Capacity: All of that heavy breathing works your airways, and helps to “stretch out your lungs” for lack of a better scientific term. Your lungs need exercise, too, and simply breathing isn’t enough to work them out.
- Stress Relief: It’s been proven that exercise leads to the production of serotonin, which does more than just make happy—it alleviates the physical signs of stress, which also fall in line with better cardiovascular health.
- Confidence: Even if you haven’t lost a pound yet, working out helps with your confidence, because doing something is better than doing nothing. After a few days of recumbent bicycle use, you’re producing better feel-good pheromones, and that gives you a better view of your own appearance.
- Weight Loss: The world is a fast-food-filled, gas station snack, double deep-friend mess right now. Weight loss is important: it puts less physical stress on your heart, lungs, and digestive organs, but it also changes the way your brain produces necessary chemicals for everyday life.
- Longevity: 30 minutes of cardio on a recumbent bicycle is good for you. It’s good for every part of your body, and consistent exercise does all but 100% guarantee a llonger life.
Can You Lose Weight on a Recumbent Exercise Bike?
Yes, you absolutely can lose weight on a recumbent bike.
The goal is to elevate your heart rate and shed calories, which you can do with a recumbent bike, spin bike, or any cardio equipment.
While some are optimized for full-body workouts, others are strictly for cardio.
Recumbent bicycles offer a way to develop a better cardio workout routine, but are not designed for full-body workouts.
You will be shedding calories while shaping up your legs here, and providing some lower abdominal exercise as well, though it’s nothing major.
On average, if you spend 30 minutes on a moderate intensity, you can burn between 220 and 350 calories.
This depends on the conditions and the user weight, because you shed more calories at a higher weight.
If you could match seven days of moderate intensity at 30 minutes a day with a daily 200 calorie deficit, that alone is one pound lost per week.
It’s beyond possible to lose dozens of pounds with a recumbent bike. Better yet, it’s within reach. You just have to seize the opportunity.
How Long Should You Exercise on a Recumbent Bike?
Cardio exercises the heart—your most valuable muscle—but it’s possible to overdo it.
You want to get the right amount of time down that meets in the middle of weight loss and physical fitness, and being healthy without overdoing it.
If you use the top rated recumbent exercise bike at the right settings for your current fitness level and capabilities, without tiring yourself out, you can achieve excellent weight loss results.
You should shoot for no more than 90 minutes of moderate/intermediate level cardio on a daily basis.
I don’t want to freak anyone out, but if you know anything about Michael Goolaerts death, it’s the prime example of overdoing it.
Athletes who cycle for more than they should on a constant basis pose a greater risk for blood calcification, which can lead to heart attacks, stroke, and eventual fatality at a young age, despite doing it to be healthy.
To avoid this, aim for 60 to 90 minutes a day, five days a week, and give your body (and heart) some time to rest in between these five-day cycles.
This gives you the best benefits of cardio exercise in terms of weight loss, maintenance, and heart health, without putting you at-risk.
Get to Work
Indoor cycling is excellent for convenient cardio workouts, and recumbent bikes give you the ability to push yourself without straining your muscles or damaging your lower lumbar.
At the end of the day, this is the easiest method to begin at-home machine cardio, and it’s never been cheaper to get started.