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If you’ve ever been at the gym and thought, “This would be better if I were practically lying down,” then a recumbent exercise bike may just be for you.
These machines are like regular exercise bikes, except with a seat that you can lean on. This takes a lot of pressure off your joints, as you won’t have to support the weight of your upper body. That makes recumbent bikes an excellent choice for seniors, those rehabbing from injury, or people with back or leg issues.
Not all recumbent bikes are winners, though, and it can be hard to know whether to spring for a high-end model or to try to save money on a more moderately-priced option. With that in mind, we looked at 23 recumbent bikes — at multiple price points — and ultimately found that the Vanswe RB661 was the best of the bunch.
Regardless of whether you’re trying to recover from injury, hoping to stay in shape as you age, or simply want to lose weight, you can find a recumbent bike that will help you reach your goals below.
You won’t find a more comfortable riding experience than this — and it will give you quite the workout to boot
While “comfortable” probably isn’t a word you’d think to use to describe a recumbent bike, the Vanswe RB661 provides as much luxury as a piece of exercise equipment can reasonably be expected to.
The seat has an infinite slider, so you can position it at the exact spot that’s most comfortable for you — no more stretching to reach the pedals or trying to avoid hitting your chin with your knees. The cushion is amply padded as well, and you shouldn’t walk like you’ve been in a car accident after putting in a session on this thing. It can hold up to 380 pounds as well, so users of virtually any size can fit on it with ease.
It’s also very reasonably priced, which is surprising given the amount of bells and whistles on it. It has an LED tracking panel that tabulates all your important information (like distance, heart rate, etc.), and there’s a free companion app you can download to track your fitness journey. However, you’ll need to be careful about where you place it, as the display can be very difficult to read in direct sunlight.
Of course, it’s more than just a fancy, comfortable place to sit. This machine can also give you one heck of a workout, thanks to its 16 different resistance levels. Newbies can give themselves a gentle challenge and experienced athletes can push themselves to new extremes with this device.
What I Liked
- Infinite slider makes it easy to adjust
- Lots of cushioning
- LED tracking panel lists important info
- Free companion app available
- 16 different resistance levels
What I Didn’t Like
- Display could use a backlight
If you close your eyes and turn on a strong fan, you’ll think you’re actually out riding on the road
The Schwinn 270 is about as top-of-the-line as you need to go in a recumbent bike, and while it’s expensive, it’s worth every penny. It’s a great choice for anyone who worries they won’t actually put in the effort on their new machine, as it does everything short of pedaling for you.
Speaking of pedalling, this is the machine that feels most like you’re pedalling an actual bike. It has a high-inertia drive system with a weighted flywheel that makes it easy to get started and gives you a smooth riding experience, so you’ll feel like you’re actually out on the road (minus the bugs and crazy drivers, of course).
You can sync with the Schwinn trainer app via Bluetooth, and then it’s simply a matter of following the on-screen instruction. There’s no need to think — just do what your trainer says, and the pounds will (theoretically, anyway) melt off.
You can track them as they melt away, thanks to the 29 different programs this thing offers. It has a heart rate monitor, 12 different profiles you can set up, fitness tests, and more. There are also 25 different resistance levels on tap, allowing you to fully customize how intense you want each workout to be.
Besides the price, the biggest issue you’re likely to have with it is with the heart rate monitor. It tends to be a bit spotty with how it registers your pulse, so if you need that data for medical reasons, you’re better off using a separate device than trusting this bike.
What I Liked
- Extremely realistic riding experience
- Bluetooth training app is very helpful
- 29 different tracking programs
- Boasts 25 resistance levels
- Includes fitness tests
What I Didn’t Like
- On the pricey side
- Heart rate monitor is inconsistent
You can barely hear this machine, making it perfect for anyone who likes to work out in front of the boob tube
If you want to pedal while you watch TV, the JEEKEE Exercise Bike is just what the doctor (or someone who plays a doctor on TV) ordered. It’s extremely quiet, even when you’re pushing yourself as hard as you can, so you can work out without missing a line of dialogue or waking up someone sleeping in the next room.
This is a big bike that, at just 66 pounds, is still lightweight enough for one person to move easily. The chair has a generously-sized back, allowing you to really lean back and enjoy yourself as you work out. There are also handles by your butt that are extremely helpful for users with balance issues, or just for anyone who really likes to lean into their workout.
That large back also protects your back. It allows you to lean back while keeping your spine straight, and if you maintain proper posture, it will take any strain off your hips, knees, and lower back.
There’s plenty of room for larger users, so you can pedal without feeling cramped. That’s a double-edged sword, though, as it may swallow smaller athletes whole. Anyone shorter than about 5’5” may have trouble reaching the pedals.
It doesn’t just take the load off your body, either. It has an iPad holder that lets you keep your mind entertained while you work out (in case your TV stops working), and the LCD monitor tracks all the health information you need to know.
While this machine is comfortable when it’s fully assembled, putting it together can be a giant pain. You may need a second pair of hands, and if you suffer from arthritis or a similar condition, you may want to outsource the job completely.
What I Liked
- Very quiet while in use
- Sturdy yet lightweight and easy to move
- Large back provides plenty of support
- Helps promote proper posture
- LCD monitor tracks health information
What I Didn’t Like
- Shorter users may struggle to reach pedals
- Difficult to assemble
This inexpensive machine can give you a workout that rivals any of its higher-priced counterparts
The Marcy ME-709 is actually one of the cheapest recumbent bikes you’ll find anywhere, but you’d never know it from how the thing performs. While it only offers 8 resistance levels, the pedalling motion is smooth and reliable, making it feel like you’re riding the real thing — or reasonably close to it, anyway.
This is one sturdy machine, as it’s made using 14-gauge steel tubing. The listed maximum weight for it is 300 pounds, but it can likely support quite a bit more than that without issue. It’s not difficult to move around, either, as it has wheels on the bottom.
This bike is especially good for seniors, as the LCD screen has large, easy-to-read digits that reveal your time, miles traveled, calories burned, and more. The seat is easy to get in and out of as well, thanks to the step-through design, so there’s little risk of falling when you’re trying to get a workout in. The arms offer a lot of support as well, so you can push yourself out of the seat if need be.
And you may have to do that, too, as the high-density foam seating is plush enough for you to sink into. It’s very comfortable, even on long rides, and you shouldn’t need to constantly adjust in order to make it through your workout.
Adjusting the seat itself is quite a different story, however. If there are two users of different sizes using this thing, they’ll both have a devil of a time trying to move the seat back and forth. The sliding adjustment bar simply doesn’t move very well, and it will take quite a bit of effort to change it, which may prove bothersome to users with joint issues.
What I Liked
- Made of sturdy steel
- LCD screen has large, easy-to-read digits
- Easy to get in and out of
- Comfortably plush foam seating
- Arms offer lots of support
What I Didn’t Like
- Incredibly difficult to adjust for users of different heights
- Only offers 8 resistance levels
This bike will keep you interested — and that will keep you coming back for more
If you recoil at the thought of spending hours on a recumbent bike, staring at the same blank walls, day after day…then you’ll love what the Nautilus R616 has to offer. It features an “Explore the World” app that lets you digitally visit a variety of scenic locales and famous trails, so you can feel like a globetrotter even if you never leave the house.
There are also 29 pre-programmed workouts inside the crystal-clear LCD console, each of which is customizable, so you can get a custom-tailored workout instead of just trudging along mindlessly. This really lets you determine exactly what you want to get out of your exercise routine, and then follow a proven strategy to attain your goals.
The seat is comfortable and well-padded, like many of the other options on this list, but what sets this chair apart is the ventilated back. It may not sound like much, but it helps cut down on sweating, and you’ll be less likely to stick to this thing when your workout is finished.
It’s incredibly quiet while you’re working out — at first, anyway. While it starts off nearly silent, if you work out hard, the screws holding the seat in place slowly start to work themselves loose, leading to an annoying “clacking” sound. To avoid it, you’ll have to tighten the screws often, perhaps even every few rides. Doing so isn’t much of a hassle, but it’s an unnecessary one.
There’s also a fan installed, but it does little more than make noise. Then again, that could come in handy when the screws work themselves loose…
What I Liked
- Companion app lets you explore trails all over the world
- Comes with 29 customizable workouts
- Vented seat cuts down on sweating
- Usually quiet while in use
- Crisp LCD console
What I Didn’t Like
- Screws holding seat in place work loose over time
- Included fan is basically useless
What We Looked For in the Best Recumbent Exercise Bikes
Recumbent bikes can be difficult to shop for, as many of them look practically indistinguishable upon first glance — and many deal breakers only become apparent after you’ve logged dozens of hours on the machine.
While recumbent exercise bikes aren’t the most expensive piece of fitness gear out there, they’re still pricey enough that you don’t want to get a dud. With that in mind, we looked at recumbent bikes at all points of the price spectrum, and we looked for the following qualities in each model we tested:
-Comfortable to use
-Wide range of resistance levels
-Technology that actually assists your workouts rather than distracting from them
-Durable and capable of handling hardcore workouts
How to Choose the Right Recumbent Exercise Bike
As we’ve already made clear, our favorite recumbent bike is the Vanswe RB661. It’s easy to adjust, has lots of cushioning, and won’t break the bank.
However, that doesn’t mean that the Vanswe RB661 is right for you. Everyone’s individual needs are different, which is why we recommend you do your own research and come to your own conclusions.
When comparing recumbent bikes, we recommend that you consider the following:
Not everyone needs the same amount of resistance while peddling. Novices may want less of a challenge when starting out, while experienced riders may want to push themselves as much as possible.
The more resistance levels a bike offers, the easier it will be to tailor your workout to your needs. Many cheaper bikes only have a handful of resistance settings, and that usually creates a situation where the rider is either faced with choosing either a workout that’s too difficult or one that barely challenges them at all.
The smoothness of the resistance is important as well. Some bikes have a herky-jerky pedaling motion that’s uncomfortable, while others offer smooth, steady resistance — the kind you’d get if you were actually riding a bike.
You’re (hopefully) going to be spending a lot of time on this bike, so you want something that’s actually comfortable to sit on.
This is a bit of a personal preference, as some people prefer lots of padding while others want firmer support. Still, you’ll want a bike that doesn’t hurt to sit on, and that ideally keeps you aligned in proper posture. If you’re in pain (other than normal soreness) after a ride, the bike probably isn’t for you.
You want a bike that’s tailored to your body, so that you don’t have to stretch to reach the pedals or hunch over to fit in a confined space. However, it’s extremely unlikely that the bike will be perfectly suited to your body out of the box, so you’ll need something that lets you adjust it.
Not all bikes offer the same level of customization, though. Some let you get closer (or farther away) from the pedals than others, and some can be effortlessly adjusted in seconds while fine-tuning others is a workout in its own right.
This is especially important if you’ll have multiple people using the bike. Each rider is going to want to adjust it so that it fits them, and you don’t want a bike that will force you to waste 5 minutes at the start of every workout trying to get it just right.
Bells & Whistles
Virtually every bike nowadays has some sort of display on it that tracks things like your workout time, speed, calories burned, etc. For some people, that’s all they need, and that’s fine.
However, other bikes (especially high-end ones) have a lot more technology you can take advantage of. This tech ranges from fancy, high-definition screens to companion apps, and there’s new tech being released all the time for these machines.
Not all of it is useful, however. Make sure that, if you’re paying for extra bells and whistles, they actually improve your workout. Some seem nice but are just distracting (we really don’t see the need for a fan on a machine you’ll use indoors, for example), while others can actually make you want to workout (like video programs that make you feel like you’re exploring the world on your bike).
A recumbent bike is an indoor machine, and you’ll need to decide how much space you’re willing to sacrifice for it. Some of these things can be pretty massive, and while that generally makes the workouts more comfortable, it might cramp your style the rest of the time.
Also, think about how easy the machine will be to move if you need to do so. Some are quite heavy, while others are lightweight or on wheels. This isn’t necessarily a huge deal, but it’s worth thinking about all the same.
Ease of Assembly
This another minor consideration, but one worth making all the same. It’s something that you’ll only need to do once, but some are much easier to put together than others.
Then again, you can always pay someone to help you if you have your heart on something that’s hard to put together.
The Vanswe RB661 is our favorite recumbent bike, and we feel will be the best for most users. It’s comfy, moderately-priced, and capable of putting you through your paces.
Regardless of which model you choose, though, pat yourself on the back for finally taking control of your health. A recumbent bike can be just what you need to look and feel better, and it’s an investment in yourself that will pay off for years to come.
Above all, though, remember that the best recumbent exercise bike is whichever one you’ll actually use.