Exercise bikes provide a great home cardio workout that puts less strain on your joints than running on atreadmill. Out of the different types of exercise bikes, recumbent bikes are best for beginners, seniors, or people who don’t want to put as much pressure or weight on their joints.
What is a recumbent bike?
A recumbent bike is an exercise bike that positions you in a reclined form while pedaling. Think of it sort of like a rowing machine, but your feet pedal instead of your arms pulling back a cord. The pedals are in front of your body rather than underneath it. Because you are leaning back, a recumbent bike can feel a bit awkward before you master it.
The difference between a recumbent bike and upright bike
An upright bike is what you’d typically think of when you picture a stationary bike. You ride it like a normal bicycle, with your body straight up and down.
A recumbent bike has a larger seat more like a chair, so you avoid that uncomfortable soreness you’d typically get from a bike seat. The reclined position of the seat is easier on the lower back — plus most recumbent bikes have seat backs for more support than you’d find in an upright bike. You won’t be hunched over handle bars like you would be on an upright exercise bike.
Which recumbent bike is best?
When determining the best recumbent bike for you, you really need to think about the design of the bike and how it’s going to work with your body. If you have a bad back, you’ll want a bike with a more supportive seat. While on the topic of seats: Short people, make sure the seat will slide to a position where your feet can reach the pedals comfortably. An exercise bike is worthless if you can’t use it properly and safely.
The levels of resistance a bike has will determine how tough your workout is. If you’re new to the world of stationary biking, you can probably stick with lower resistance, but if you’re a regular cycler, you’re going to want those extra levels of restraint to get the most out of your workout.
We’ve picked out some of the best recumbent bikes to add to your home gym. Let’s ride.
Bluetooth enabled • Includes a year of NordicTrack iFit membership • Touchscreen with on-demand classes • Virtual bike paths
On the pricier side • Resistance levels might be too hard for some users
The NordicTrack VR25 has tons of great features for the ultimate cycling experience.
1. NordicTrack Commercial VR25
With plenty of bells and whistles, this recumbent bike is great for cycling veterans.
- Levels of resistance:26
- Display:7-inch HD touchscreen
We’re kicking off with the fanciest recumbent bike, theNordicTrack Commercial VR25. This baby is like having a personal trainer in your home. Its 7-inch HD touchscreen is interactive and features on-demand workout videos, virtual backgrounds that make you feel like you’re cycling through the mountains of New Zealand or through a national park in Utah, and a comprehensive look at your stats like heart rate and elevation.
The bike’s seat is ergonomic, has lumbar support, and glides easily so you can adjust to a comfortable position. It features hand grips on either side of the seat and even has a cupholder so you can stay hydrated as you spin.
While this bike is suitable for all users regardless of skill level, it’s really great for experienced riders because it has 26 levels of resistance and a 25-pound flywheel for a hearty workout.
Virtual races and trails • Bluetooth connected • Comfortable seat
Some users reported inaccuracies with heart rate monitoring
This super affordable options offers some seriously great features.
2. Schwinn 270
With training programs and virtual trails, the Schwinn offers a lot while still remaining relatively affordable compared to the competition.
- Levels of resistance:25
- Display:Backlit LCD screen with panel
You know and love Schwinn for their street bikes, so it’s no surprise that people rave about the brand’s recumbent bike. TheSchwinn 270combines comfort with cardio. Sit back in the ventilated seat with lumbar support and a padded, contoured base while your hands naturally fall to the ergonomic handlebars.
Through the backlit LCD screen you can track your goals, participate in programs, and try out virtual races and trails. The machine is Bluetooth connected to transfer your stats and goals to the Schwinn app so you can track your progress on your phone.
With 25 resistance levels, immersive training, and a comfort-forward design, the Schwinn 270 is a top tier recumbent bike and an excellent deal.
Large handlebars • Comes with water bottle • Multiple riding programs
Display is pretty basic and small
This recumbent bike is pretty middle of the road and gives you enough features while staying very affordable.
3. Stamina Magnetic Fusion 7100
This bike isn’t too fancy, but has enough features to make it effective.
- Levels of resistance:8
- Display:Small digital monitor
If you’re cool with just riding a bike at your own pace with no trainer guidance, theStamina Magnetic Fusion 7100will work perfectly fine. The display is nothing fancy — it looks like an LED clock that features easy-to-read numbers for your time, speed, distance, calories, pulse, and more.
There are programs to follow, but the user interface is pretty basic. You won’t be watching a trainer on the screen, nor will you be watching the winding hills of a mountain-side trail as you pretend you’re there instead of just at your house. You can pop some nature pics on your TV if you crave that sense of outdoor biking.
This bike features eight levels of resistance and its seven programs include manual, fat burn, maximum fat burn, aerobic, hill, mountain, and plateau.
On-demand classes • Good number of resistance levels
Most programs require membership to iFit
This bike has impressive features, but you’ll have to pay extra to get access to everything it has to offer.
Like the NordicTrack Commercial VR25, theCommercial VR21is pretty decked out with features. It has a smaller display that’s not a touchscreen, lighter flywheel, and one less resistance level, but otherwise it’s very similar.
This is a more affordable option if you don’t mind those downgrades — if you can really call them that. This is still a superb recumbent bike that gives you access to personal trainers and virtual trails.
Monitor your heart rate, play music, and feel a nice breeze from this exercise bike’s integrated workout fan.
More than 30 workout programs • Super adjustable seat • USB charging port
Pricey • Outdated display design
At this price, we’d expect a better display, but this exercise bike has plenty of other great features.
5. LifeCORE Fitness 960
Try out more than 30 workout programs on this bike.
- Levels of resistance:32
- Display:LCD screen
TheLifeCORE Fitness 960recumbent bike is programmed with 5K, 10K, interval, and more than 30 other workouts to help you distance train and work out. This exercise bike has a whopping 32 resistance levels and its programs work different muscle groups on your body.
The seat has a ventilated back to keep you cool, but a super cushioned bottom to keepyourbottom feeling good. You can slide it forward and back and adjust the angle of the recline to fit it perfectly to you.
The display is a little outdated looking and the control panel is a bit busy, which is our main gripe with a bike a this tier. Otherwise, it’s definitely worth a look.
Free month of iFit • Affordable • Tablet holder
Awkward handlebars • Not many levels of resistance
It’s not super feature-heavy, but this bike is affordable and gets the job done.
6. Weslo Pursuit G 3.1
This affordable recumbent bike is a great intro to cycling.
- Levels of resistance:10
- Display:LCD display
At just $199, theWeslo Pursuit G 3.1is a great exercise bike for someone looking to save a little cash. It has a basic LCD display that tracks speed, time, RPMs, calories, and distance, but you can enhance this if you have a tablet. There’s a little tablet holder on the display panel and the bike comes with 30 days free of iFit, which will let you get more out of your experience with training videos and virtual riding trails.
You’re able to adjust the seat vertically and horizontally to find the right position for your body. Unfortunately, this bike does not have great handlebars up by the display — they’re pretty stubby — so you’ll have to depend on the handles down by your side.
Overall, this is a nice little starter bike if you’re not sure you want to commit to a fancier, more expensive recumbent bike.
Easy to store • Can use with almost any seat • Affordable
Could use more resistance • Obviously not as effective as a full-sized bike
Cycle on the couch or at your desk with this portable exercise bike.
OK, this one is loosely a recumbent bike. TheStamina InStride folding cycleis great for a quick workout wherever you can find a seat. Yes, that means you can work out from your couch. This is great for someone on a budget or someone with limited space as it allows you to get a bike workout even if you live in a tiny apartment.
This bad boy comes assembled, so you just have to unfold it and pop a squat over it. You can control how far you recline based on the seat you choose. It’s small, but this exercise bike does feature a digital monitor that tracks your workout. There’s a tension knob that you can tighten and loosen to control the level of resistance, though some reviewers said they wished they could tighten it more than it allows.
For what you’re paying, this is not a bad investment. You can cycle while you work or watch TV, and you can easily store the equipment while it’s not in use.