- 1 Why buy a recumbent exercise bike?
- 2 Best recumbent bikes by price
- 3 Top 10 Recumbent Exercise Bikes
- 4 What’s the best recumbent bike for your budget?
- 5 Best recumbent under $200 – Exerpeutic 900XL
- 6 Best recumbent under $600 – ProForm 440 ES
- 7 Best recumbent under $1000 – Diamondback 910SR
- 8 Best recumbent under $1500 – Sole Fitness LCR
- 9 Best recumbent over $1500 – Precor RBK 835
- 10 What to consider before you buy
- 11 Top 10 design features to look for
- 12 Recumbent bike brands reviewed by USA Home Gym
Why buy a recumbent exercise bike?
Although there are hundreds of different exercise bikes now available, they can generally be grouped into three main categories: upright bike, recumbent bike, and spin bike.
But why should you buy any of these for home workouts, and what makes a recumbent bike so unique?
Firstly, having an indoor exercise bike gives you complete control over the workout environment. This means if you live in a busy city, you don’t have to worry about cycling in rush hour traffic. You’re also much safer cycling late at night, or in bad weather.
In addition to the safety benefits, many of the best recumbent bikes include high-tech display consoles. This allows you to track your performance via a collection of feedback metrics, including RPM, distance, and heart rate.
Each piece of information can help set and measure achievable fitness goals, and allow you to monitor improvements over time.
High quality ergonomic design
Top fitness companies go to great lengths researching and developing ergonomic design features, to help make your indoor cycling more efficient and comfortable.
The basic design of a recumbent bike has some important benefits over other types of home fitness equipment, such as treadmills and elliptical trainers.
Their footprint is more compact, meaning that they require less space. They also have much lighter frames, which makes it easier to move them around between workouts if needed.
Recumbent bikes also feature walk-through frames, with a low frame profile that makes it easier to get on and off. Some of the top models are even fitted with two sets of handles; one at the display console and the other wrapping around the seat cushion, to assist with getting into position.
There are many more benefits to specific models that we are yet to mention, such as the suspension seat systems and Knee Over Pedal Spindle (KOPS) biomechanics used by Precor. Advanced workout tracking systems from Schwinn (SchwinnConnect) and Nautilus are also worth a mention, but we’ll cover these in much more detail throughout this guide.
Effective, low-impact cardiovascular exercise
Being in a reclined position offers several major health benefits over upright and spin bikes. This includes better lower back support, reduced impact on your joints and tendons, and more even weight distribution.
However, while the nature of the exercise is lower impact, the range of resistance levels is still challenging. Recumbent bikes like the Schwinn 270 are pre-programmed with dozens of challenging cycling workouts to cater for all fitness levels.
Best recumbent bikes by price
PRICE RANGE: $50-$200
PRICE RANGE: $200-$500
PRICE RANGE: $500-$1000
PRICE RANGE: $1000-$1500
- Sole Fitness LCR Light Commercial Recumbent Bike – 20+ Reviews
PRICE RANGE: $1500+
Top 10 Recumbent Exercise Bikes
What’s the best recumbent bike for your budget?
Even with a high-tech design, the price of a new recumbent bike can have a major impact on your buying decision. That’s why we created a guide to the best recumbent bike in each price range.
But whether your budget is $200 or $2000, we’re confident you can still find a highly rated exercise bike. You just might need to compromise on the number of workout programs, warranty coverage and entertainment options for the lower priced designs.
The following 5 recumbent bike reviews highlight what we believe to be the best bikes in their respective price categories.
Best recumbent under $200 – Exerpeutic 900XL
Our decision to choose the Exerpeutic 900XL as our top recumbent bike under $200 probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Many exercise bike review sites have voted it their top bike, and the number of highly rated reviews on eCommerce sites like Amazon is unsurpassed.
However, this is a much less competitive price range compared to bikes in the $200 to $600 category. You have to consider how many more features a recumbent bike could have and still be profitable for the company that makes it.
The 900XL already has 8 resistance levels, touch sensors for heart rate monitoring, and glide rail seat adjustment. This means you don’t need to extend the length of the step-thru base frame to access the seat. At 300 lbs, the weight capacity is also high for a recumbent bike at this price range.
A selection of preset workout programs would have been a nice addition, but this is something that’s rare to find on bikes at this price point.
We chose the 900XL over the Stamina 4825, even though the Stamina bike has 6 built-in workout programs. That’s because the seat on the 4825 can’t be adjusted independently of the frame. This may not be an issue if you’re the only one using the bike, but may prove frustrating if you need to buy a bike the whole family can use.
In terms of price, the Stamina 4825 was within our $200 limit, but once you took into account the cost of shipping this was closer to $220. In comparison, the Exerpeutic recumbent bike is available for less than $200, with shipping included.Read ReviewCheck Price on Amazon
Best recumbent under $600 – ProForm 440 ES
This was probably the hardest category to decide. Several top rated popular recumbent bikes have proven themselves as bestsellers, but it’s difficult to ignore the advanced high-tech workout tracking in newer models.
After comparing technical specs, the ProForm 440 ES just managed to come out on top of the Schwinn 270. In truth the advantages are hard to ignore. Although there are similarities, such as the ventilated and well padded seat, we also identified a number of important differences.
While both bikes offer integrated tablet support, the shelf on the ProForm model doesn’t obscure the console screen when in use, unlike the Schwinn.
Schwinn also include 10 years warranty coverage on the frame, compared to lifetime coverage offered by ProForm.
Although a minor difference, the 440 ES includes 32 workout programs, whereas the Schwinn has a total count of 29. Both bikes have 25 levels of resistance.
We also took into account the progress each company is making outside of the physical bike design. Specifically, with their workout tracking software.
SchwinnConnect is an excellent tool for analyzing and tracking workout data, in a way that’s easy to understand. But iFit from ProForm continues to expand, introducing a new line of wearables and an online database of workout videos. All of this is directly accessible directly through your tablet, to be enjoyed while you cycle.
The only reason we were hesitant to include the ProForm model in the ‘under $600’ category is because the cost of these features would push it over the limit. Tablets can conceivably cost upwards of $300, and when you factor in the $100 cost of an iFit module (the 440 ES is iFit compatible, not iFit enabled), this doesn’t conform to a strict budget of $600.
However, even without iFit, the overall quality and spec was enough to make it our top recumbent bike under $600.Read ReviewCheck Price on Amazon
Best recumbent under $1000 – Diamondback 910SR
With 35 workout programs and 32 levels of resistance, the Diamondback 910SR offers some serious improvements over the earlier 510SR model (20 programs and 16 resistance levels).
Good design is subjective, but we feel that the console doesn’t quite match up to those found on Precor’s RBK recumbent bikes, from an aesthetic point of view.
Functionally it may actually be more useful, as you have the quick-select resistance levels along one side, and quick-select workout programs on the other.
You also have secure tablet support in a way that doesn’t obscure workout feedback, and a scale that grades your current heart rate in a similar way to Precor’s SmartRate.
The ventilated seat mesh back and cushioned seat are features we’ve come to expect from recumbent bikes at this price range, but are still nice to have.
Some of the strongest competition for the 910 SR comes in the form of the R92 from Sole Fitness. However, the reduction in workout programs (10 instead of 35), 300 lb weight capacity, and lack of ventilation in the back support are a few of the reasons why the Diamondback was rated the best recumbent bike under $1000.Read ReviewCheck Price on Amazon
Best recumbent under $1500 – Sole Fitness LCR
LCR stands for Light Commercial Recumbent, something which is validated by the high overall build quality and sturdy frame design.
Similar to the Precor RBK collection, the LCR is self-powered. This means you don’t need to position it near a power outlet. There’s also no need to unplug the bike when your workout ends, which is an important safety measure in most user recumbent bike manuals.
The 350 lb weight limit is amongst the highest we’ve seen, with 40 resistance levels and 10 workout programs. This includes customized resistance profiles, to ensure your cycling workouts remain varied.
A subtle two-degree inward pedal camber has also been added to prevent unnecessary stress on your ankles when cycling. This is in addition to multiple seat positions, creating a recumbent bike that supports a maximum user height of 6’5″.
The large 9-inch LCD screen provides accurate feedback on a variety of metrics, using a combination of text and dials. Combine this with the high level of customer service from Sole, and a warranty that’s approaching that of Precor (RBK 835 has 7 additional years on parts and wear items) and it’s no surprise we voted the Sole LCR our top recumbent bike under $1500.Read ReviewCheck Price on Amazon
Best recumbent over $1500 – Precor RBK 835
The highest price category for our guide was originally going to be ‘Over $1000’. But we were surprised to find a large number of premium recumbent bikes from companies such as Sole Fitness, Life Fitness, and Kettler.
This mostly included bikes in the $1000 to $1500 range, which is why we created an additional category.
There are a number of important reasons why we chose the RBK 835 as our top recumbent bike over $1500. Firstly, the entertainment options, where the reading rack / tablet support is integrated, and the Personal Viewing System and Entertainment Cap are optional.
Workout variation is also excellent, where you can switch between heart rate controlled, interval, cross country, hill climb, and watts control programs. Want to switch programs mid-workout? The majority of your data will carry on being displayed, and your totals won’t reset.
The width of the walk-through section in the frame, comfort of the seat, and aesthetic design also make it one of the most visually attractive recumbent bikes for home gyms.
As for the console, it’s been intuitively designed with workout data split across multiple screens and intuitive quick select buttons. This makes it easier to select workout programs and enter basic personal information – such as age and weight – for more accurate feedback.
The Precor RBK 835 also delivers 5 more workout programs (25 total) compared to the StarTrac E-RBi. Both recumbent bikes are available at a similar price, but the StarTrac model is supplied with a Personal Viewing Screen.Read ReviewCheck Price on Amazon
What to consider before you buy
Before buying a new recumbent bike, it’s worth answering a few important questions:
- How frequently will you be using the bike?
- How many people will use it in their workouts? e.g. Just for yourself or for the entire family
- What fitness goals do you hope to achieve?
- How much floor space can you dedicate, and would this be on a permanent or temporary basis?
If you’ll be the only person using the recumbent bike, and only have time for a couple of indoor cycling workouts each week, shopping for bikes in the $1000+ category may not be the best choice.
That’s not to say they aren’t worth considering. Light commercial recumbent bikes offer some of the best workout tracking and ergonomic design on the market. But there are lower priced models that still perform well with this level of use.
Knowing how many people will be using the bike is important for similar reasons. Few models offer more than 2 user profiles, so workout tracking wouldn’t be an option unless you looked at a high-end bike from Sole Fitness or Precor.
Having a clear idea of what fitness goals you want to achieve will also play a major role in your final buying decision.
Do you want to be able to monitor your weight loss online? Then you’ll need a recumbent bike that offers performance tracking.
Do you want to improve your lower body strength and muscle tone? Then you might want to look at bikes with the highest resistance levels and Watts ratings.
Once you’re sure you have the space, and have a budget and fitness goals in mind, it’s time to narrow down the list of options by comparing key features.
Top 10 design features to look for
With so many different designs to choose from, not to mention the terminology that companies use to describe them, it can be difficult to know what to look for when choosing a recumbent bike.
That’s why we’ve created a guide for everything from the design features through to USB connectivity and workout tracking.
Below you’ll find the 10 key factors that can be used to identify the best bike for your workouts. These are the same 10 factors we use to create ratings for our own recumbent bike reviews.
- 1. Walk-through design
One difference between recumbent and upright bikes is the position of the pedal crank. Along with the resistance system, this is set further forward on recumbent designs, in relation to the position of the seat.
It’s a real benefit for anyone that has low mobility, and is often referred to as a ‘walk-through’ frame. This means there’s enough space for you to walk between the bike seat and resistance system casing.
The size of the step-through is what differs between most bikes, but there are several bestselling designs that don’t even have this feature. This includes the Exerpeutic 400XL, Exerpeutic 2000, Schwinn A20, and the popular Stamina InTone folding recumbent bike.
Recumbent bikes with a wide walk-through frame include Precor’s RBK collection (RBK 835, RBK 815, and RBK 615), the Horizon Fitness RC-30, Schwinn 270, and the Exerpeutic 900XL.
- 2. Comfort level and freedom of movement
Treadmills and elliptical trainers have an important benefit over exercise bikes and rowing machines. This is that you don’t have to worry about the comfort of the seat.
However, if you plan on using your recumbent bike for workouts with a duration of more than 30 minutes, then the comfort of the seat is certainly worth bearing in mind.
This can be split into two parts; the seat cushion itself, and the ventilation and contouring of the back support.
More affordable recumbent bikes don’t tend to offer ventilated, flexible back supports. Instead, bikes like the Schwinn A20 use the same cushioning for the back support as they do the seat. Usually this is combined with a flat seat design that doesn’t offer any ergonomic contouring to improve your posture.
If you look at the seat design for the Precor RBK 835 commercial recumbent, you’ll immediately notice the difference.
The RBK 835 has an air flex seat with ventilation to keep you cool and supported in the reclined position. The seat itself has been moulded to better fit the contours of your legs and glutes, with raised edges keeping you centered. Tapering at the front also allows for greater freedom of movement in your legs while cycling.
However, you don’t have to buy an expensive exercise bike to experience a comfortable workout. Many mid-range recumbent bikes – including the Schwinn 270 – offer similar features, with its ventilated back support and contoured seat cushion.
- 3. Seat adjustment options and weight capacity
There are really just three main types of seat adjustment;
- Locking pin with the seat sliding on a rail
- Locking pin on an upright support (similar to upright bikes and found on folding designs, such as the Exerpeutic 400XL)
- The seat is fixed. You adjust the length of the base frame to set your distance from the pedals (lower priced bikes only)
Each type has proven to be highly reliable, and doesn’t affect the level of maintenance required. We’ve included it in our list of features because it determines whether a bike is suitable for your height.
Most exercise bike companies won’t list a height range, although we did notice Precor added this to a couple of models in their RBK collection. From our research, we’ve found most bikes support a height range of 4’10” to 6’5″.
If you’re unable to try an exercise bike before buying, the customer reviews section of Amazon can be a great place to discover a bike’s suitability for your height.
Amazon allows you to post questions to people who have already bought the bike you’re interested in. In some cases they’re answered by the company that makes the bike, but usually it’s the customers themselves.
Maximum weight capacity:
Weight capacity is something that’s recorded in each of our recumbent bike reviews. This can also be found on the product listing or in the user manual.
The vast majority of recumbent exercise bikes will fall into the range of 250 lb to 350 lbs. But there are certain models which will support more, and those which support a little less. For example, the Sunny Health and Fitness P8400 supports just 220 lbs, yet still maintains a high average review rating.
Finding a bike with a high enough weight capacity is as important as finding a bike suitable for your height.
The good thing is that weight capacity isn’t something that’s linked to price. We’ve seen plenty of recumbent bikes priced under $200 with 300 lb (Exerpeutic 900XL) or even 350 lb (ProForm Hybrid Trainer) weight capacities.
- 4. Available space
While this isn’t as much of an issue as it is for elliptical trainers and treadmills, recumbent bikes can still require more space than most upright or spin bikes. In most cases they can’t be folded away for easy storage either (Stamina InTone and Exerpeutic 400XL being two exceptions).
That’s why we list the dimensions of each bike in our reviews, alongside its weight capacity. This should be enough for you to determine the best cycling location in your home gym.
However, several leading fitness equipment companies have taken this a step further, offering online room planner tools.
Life Fitness and Precor are two companies doing this with their product ranges. They’ve teamed up with online interior design software Icovia to create their Room Planner (Life Fitness) and Space Planner (Precor) tools.
These allow you to create a basic floor plan of whichever room you want to use for your workouts. Whether that’s your living room, bedroom, home office, or a room dedicated to being your home gym.
You can then scale the floor plan to match the dimensions and structure of your room, including furniture and doorways. All that’s left is to drag an icon representing your chosen exercise bike into the remaining space.
We’ve found these tools incredibly easy to use, and actually implemented them in a number of our recumbent bike reviews.
- 5. Resistance level variation
Comparing the resistance levels between recumbent bikes is tricky. Just because two bikes give you 25 levels to choose from, doesn’t mean they’ll require the same cycling intensity.
For example, the Precor RBK 835 and RBK 815 models both offer 25 resistance levels, yet the RBK 835 model has a maximum Watts measurement of 1000, while the RBK 815 has a maximum of 750.
Also, there’s no universal scale applied across the industry. This makes it difficult to compare resistance levels between exercise bikes from different fitness equipment companies.
So what are your options?
If you have the budget, some of the high-end recumbent bikes now offer METs as one of their feedback metrics. The truth is we could write an entire article based on METs alone. Essentially it’s a Metabolic Equivalent, considered the standard unit of measure when measuring exercise and energy expenditure.
Another option is to visit your local sports equipment store and try some bikes out. This gives you the opportunity to match the resistance levels to see if you feel any difference.
In truth, as long as the resistance proves challenging enough for your workouts, then any difference between machines is irrelevant. If the recumbent bike you choose is the only one used for your cycling workouts, the resistance level remains an accurate measure of performance and improvement.
There are 3 main types of resistance system: magnetic, friction belts, and fans. But by far the most popular of the three is an eddy current resistance system (magnetic).
Magnetic is quieter than fans or belts, making it easier to listen to music or watch television while you workout.
- 6. Storage capacity
With most cardio equipment, ‘storage options’ is usually limited to a water bottle holder. But recumbent bikes – particularly the light commercial models – are designed to support more than just hydration.
Under-seat storage for magazines and reading material is something that’s offered by the Nautilus R514 Recumbent Bike and Schwinn 250. Some of Precor’s high-tech consoles also have a patented SmartGrip holder, for securely supporting your tablet, smartphone, or MP3 player.
Something as simple as a water bottle holder may not sound like an advanced feature. But it’s surprisingly difficult to find one fitted to any recumbent bike under $200. The ProForm 115 CSX and Weslo Pursuit G 3.1 were two of the only models in this price range that had one built-in.
We don’t believe this is entirely based around cost though, as many $4000+ recumbents didn’t offer it either.
This is completely different to treadmills and ellipticals, where there will often be multiple storage compartments moulded into the console.
In summary, when you’re buying a new recumbent bike, you have to be prepared to sacrifice storage. Standing a water bottle alongside the seat is less convenient, but gives you a wider range to choose from.
- 7. Entertainment options
Tablets and apps have transformed the way we live our lives, but recently they’ve also started to integrate themselves into our fitness equipment as well.
Several major companies, including Precor (Preva app) and ProForm (iFit) have added a shelf / holder for your tablet. This doubles as a larger display screen when connected to your equipment via Bluetooth, wireless internet, or a USB port.
When connected to the app this provides a much more visually attractive layout for your workout feedback. iFit also offers some stunning visual representations of real locations, via Google Maps™ Street View images.
If you’re not connected to the app, you can use your tablet for a variety of other entertainment options. This includes browsing the internet, watching your favourite movies or listening to music.
Using tablet speakers also means you don’t have to rely on the sound quality from speakers built into the console. It’s a feature which has proven difficult to perfect, with many customers dissatisfied at the sound quality on many bikes.
Even if you don’t use the tablet to connect to fitness apps or monitor your workout, a tablet holder can still be a useful feature. This is something we’ve seen on upright bikes priced as low as $131 (Innova Fitness XBR450), and opens up a world of entertainment options. In most cases, it doesn’t add much to the price of the bike, but you still have the cost of the tablet if you don’t currently own one.
Precor also have a number of specialist entertainment options for some of their exercise bike consoles. A Personal Entertainment Player (PEP), Entertainment Cap, and Personal Viewing System (PVS) are all currently available.
You can choose to combine these optional attachments or use them in isolation, giving you access to a selection of audio channels and television stations.
- 8. Tracking your performance
Accurately measuring your progress towards fitness goals is crucial. Unless you see clear improvements in your cycling pace, reductions in body fat, or an increase in muscle definition, you may end up losing motivation.
But it’s not just being able to see your progress that’s so important. Analyzing historical workout data is one of the best ways to identify efficient training techniques, which help you reach your goal in the shortest time.
For example, does interval training or steady state cardio yield better results? Do longer workouts less frequently work better than shorter workouts on a more regular basis? These are questions that workout data software like Precor’s Preva app and Schwinn’s SchwinnConnect platform are able to answer.
However, there are still relatively few recumbent bikes that offer such a function.
The Precor RBK 835 supports connectivity to the Preva workout tracking app, and allows you to download workout data via a USB port in the back of the console.
The Schwinn 230 and 270 models offer connectivity to SchwinnConnect via a similar method of USB data transfer, which lets you transfer data from the console to your computer. You can then visit the SchwinnConnect website, upload data, and analyse your performance.
ProForm’s 440 ES model features iFit compatibility, letting you access global Google Maps™ routes and an unlimited workout library, in addition to the fitness tracking.
It’s worth mentioning that the Schwinn and ProForm models mentioned above have each have a list price around $500.
The fact that the Precor model is closer to $4000 shows that workout tracking isn’t exclusive to commercial gym. You can enjoy its benefits from the comfort of your own home.
- 9. Variety of workout programs
If you’ve experienced a workout plan before, whether it lasted 4 weeks, 12 weeks, or longer, you might have noticed that the initial gains were more significant than those at the end.
This is partly due to muscle adaptation, whereby your muscles become more efficient at performing a particular task the more they’re asked to do it.
If you want to see the greatest improvements in your fitness level, this isn’t necessarily a good thing. To shock your body into making more significant gains on a more regular basis, you need to vary your workouts.
But when it comes to buying a recumbent exercise bike, a higher price tag doesn’t always equate to more programs.
For example, the StarTrac E-RBe Recumbent Bike, usually retailing for between $5000 and $6000, and includes 15 workout programs. In contrast, the Schwinn 270 lets you choose from 29 preset programs at a price closer to $450. This is one of the reasons it has so many highly rated reviews.
The Nautilus R614 is also an excellent choice if workout variety is important, with 22 programs available for a similar price to the Schwinn.
Despite having over 1000 customer reviews on Amazon, the Exerpeutic 900XL doesn’t offer any preset workout programs. Unfortunately this is typical of a bike priced under $200.
The Weslo Pursuit CT 2.0 R (4 workout apps) and Stamina 4825 (6 preset programs) are two of the cheapest exercise bikes we’ve found with preset workouts.
But if you’re looking to get the most variation, you really need to be willing to spend closer to $450.
- 10. Heart rate monitoring and console feedback
Whether it’s for a specific health reason or for working towards fitness goals, being able to monitor your heart rate is a useful feature to have. It’s also something that’s available on the majority of modern recumbent bikes.
However, accuracy of feedback for your heart rate and number of calories burned is a major point of contention in many customer reviews. This is due to the formula for calculating your maximum heart rate requiring your age to provide any sort of accurate result.
Although you’ll see touch sensors and telemetry (using a chest strap) heart rate monitoring listed as a bike’s features, you also need to find out if the console lets you enter basic personal information, such as age and body weight.
One of the best known examples is the Exerpeutic 900XL, which is one of the lowest priced recumbent bikes to feature the touch sensors built into the handles next to the seat. Unfortunately the console doesn’t let you enter your age.
Cheaper bikes like these usually only have a single-button console, which lets you scroll through workout feedback displayed on the screen.
This is completely different to mid-range and commercial quality bikes, the majority of which provide an array of feedback on a much larger screen, or even via several smaller screens.
Similar to workout tracking, which bike is best for you depends on what you want to gain from your indoor cycling workouts. If cardiovascular exercise a few times each week is all you need, then basic single-metric screens will provide sufficient feedback.
But if you like being able to see your distance, calories burned, heart rate, RPM, current workout program profile, and much more in real time, then you’re generally better off comparing bikes in the $300+ range.
As a quick comparison, the console for the P8400 recumbent bike from Sunny Health and Fitness (retails for around $130) provides feedback information for 6 different metrics on a single screen, whereas the Precor RBK 835 (retails for closer to $4000) displays feedback on more than 20 metrics across 6 screens.
Recumbent bike brands reviewed by USA Home Gym
If you’re visiting a review site like ours, you should expect it to cover a diverse selection of products.
By not showing a preference towards any single brand, we’re able to create impartial reviews that judge each bike by its own merits. This means taking into account the physical and technological features, then comparing these with similar bikes from other companies.
We don’t claim to review every recumbent bike on the market. Instead, we review only those which provide unique and useful features, are highly rated bestsellers already, or are new product lines that have the potential to take the recumbent bike industry in an exciting new direction.
A quick search of our site will reveal a wide range of recumbent bikes that we’ve reviewed, from companies including Precor, Exerpeutic, Schwinn, Horizon Fitness, Sole Fitness, ProForm, and Marcy.
There’s no bias towards a specific price range either, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a high quality recumbent bike to suit every budget.