For those who like to exercise in comfort, stationary recumbent bikes may be the gentlest of all exercise bikes. Unlike upright stationary models that can be rough on your body, the best recumbent bikes have chair-like seats with comfortable cushioning and great lumbar support. They can relieve pressure from your back as you lean back to cycle, plus this type of seated biking is less jarring to joints in your ankles, knees and hips. This is partly because you exert less downward pressure than when seated upright.
Recumbent bikes are ideal for people with limited mobility or back pain — but these comfortable cardio trainers are also popular with riders in top form. After all, their design prevents the literal pain in the rear that some people experience with upright models. Plus, using a recumbent exercise bike is less likely to bring muscle soreness the following day. Calorie burn is less intense than with upright stationary models, but the best recumbent stationary bikes can still be excellent tools for weight loss. They’re also useful for rehabilitation, muscle toning and cardiovascular workouts.
Our favorite recumbent exercise bikes—which are also on our general best exercise bikes page—address three groups of shoppers. For those who enjoy immersive interactive training, NordicTrack entices with iFit-enabled touchscreens, tablet computer holders and unlimited workout downloads. For riders most interested in powerful resistance, Diamondback Fitness beckons with 32-pound flywheels. Their best recumbent bike has dozens of built-in programs too, some of which are heart-rate controlled. Finally, we suggest Sole Fitness to luxury shoppers and light commercial fitness room buyers. Sole’s best recumbent bike is made to light-commercial standards and has an extra-long parts warranty for residential owners. Specs include a 30-pound drive, 10 preset programs and wireless heart-rate control.
Why Choose Indoor Cycling?
Cycling is one of the best types of exercise around. Whether you choose to ride a road bike, hit the trails on a mountain bike, cycle for transport, or work out on a stationary exercise bike, you will enjoy a wide range of benefits including fat burning, improved fitness, stronger and more toned legs, and better health. As a form of effective exercise, cycling really is hard to beat.
However, there are two sides to every story. With cycling, some of the benefits of this type of exercise are outweighed by a few drawbacks. For example, if you ride a bike out on the street, you’ll have to contend with inclement weather, badly maintained roads, and other road users. Plus, your workout may be interrupted by a puncture or some other mechanical breakdown.
Of course, you could swap your outdoor bike for an indoor exercise bike. This eliminates all the hassles of outdoor cycling but adds one more thing you need to consider – comfort. Unfortunately, some people find standard exercise bikes uncomfortable. This is often only discovered after a few workouts. As you get fitter and are able to spend longer and longer on your exercise bike, you may well come to realize that you are not suited to using a regular bike.
That’s not too much of an issue if you use an exercise bike at your local gym. However, if you have purchased an exercise bike for home use you could find yourself saddled with a machine that is less than pleasurable to use. And if you don’t enjoy your workout, you are much less likely to do it, so this is a major consideration.
Time To Get Moving
Humans are really good at avoiding doing things they don’t enjoy. It provides us with the perfect excuse we need to do something else. If your exercise bike is uncomfortable, you have the perfect justification you need for lounging on your sofa instead of putting in a few miles on your indoor cycle. Do not underestimate the importance of comfort in creating and maintaining a sustainable exercise schedule.
Regular exercise bikes feature an upright body position and you have to support your weight on your pelvis and on your hands as you lean forward on the handlebars. This often leads to a rounded back. Exercising with a rounded back is not a good idea. Most people spend way too much time sat down as they work at computers or hunch over steering wheels. This can lead to very bad posture, and an increased risk of suffering back pain. Back pain can make life very uncomfortable, making sitting, standing, walking, and even sleeping very unpleasant.
The good news is that poor posture is relatively easy to fix with a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises but, if you already have a rounded upper and lower back, working out on a stationary bike is probably going to make things worse. Don’t worry though – there is a type of exercise bike that can help relieve back pain.
Exercise bike saddles can also be a source of discomfort. Outdoor cycling enthusiasts and experienced spin bike riders often wear padded shorts to help make things more bearable. However, that means you have to purchase a pair of extra shorts just for this exercise.
Bike manufacturers usually put good quality saddles on their machines, but even then the saddle might not suit you. It’s also worth noting that a wide saddle that looks like it should provide a comfortable ride is actually often less comfy than a narrower saddle. However, narrow saddles can take some getting used to. While you can often swap the saddle for one that is more comfortable—and most exercise bikes are adjustable so you can ensure your machine fits you as well as possible—this can all add up to an uncomfortable cycling position.
Regular exercise bikes often encourage you to lean forward and adopt a sort of aerodynamic position. This might make you feel like a “real” cyclist but could cause hand and wrist pain. And let’s be honest; when you work out on a stationary exercise bike, aerodynamics are not really a concern.
This combination of elements could be enough to stop you using your bike often enough to enjoy all the benefits on offer, and you might even stop using it altogether.
Is a Recumbent Bike For You?
There is no need to suffer for your fitness. With a recumbent bike, you can exercise in comfort! Stationary recumbent bikes are the gentlest of all exercise bikes. Unlike upright stationary bikes that can be rough on your body, the best recumbent bikes have chair-like seats with comfortable cushioning and great lumbar support. They can relieve pressure from your back as you lean back to cycle, plus this type of seated biking is less jarring to joints in your ankles, knees and hips. This is partly because you exert less downward pressure than when seated upright.
Benefits of a Recumbent Bike
Recumbent bikes are ideal for people with limited mobility or back pain — but these comfortable cardio trainers are also popular with riders in top form. After all, their design prevents the literal pain in the rear that some people experience with upright exercise bikes. Plus, using a recumbent exercise bike is less likely to bring muscle soreness the following day.
Calorie burn is less intense than it is with upright stationary bikes, but the best recumbent stationary bikes can still be excellent tools for weight loss. They’re also useful for rehabilitation, muscle toning and cardiovascular workouts.
As well as being more comfortable and easier on your lower back, butt, and legs, recumbent exercise bikes also put you in the ideal position for watching TV while you exercise. This can provide the ideal distraction that many exercisers need to make their workouts more entertaining. On a regular upright exercise bike, as you lean forward with your hands on the handle bars, trying to watch TV as you work out will probably cause neck pain.
If you want to cycle for fitness but are concerned about comfort, or think that a regular exercise bike might be too advanced for you, consider buying a recumbent bike. They provide a great solution for the problems that some exercisers experience with regular stationary indoor bikes.
Ready for lots of choices? Browse our stationary recumbent bike reviews and choose your new ride! We’ve reviewed the spectrum from cheap recumbent bikes to elite fitness machines. Just click an image below to get an honest point-by-point review. We start off with the positives of each choice and then point out possible drawbacks. Popular two-in-one fitness machines are reviewed here too. These recumbent bikes can also tone the upper body, so they’re sometimes called total body trainers. For example, the Avari Conversion II recumbent bike can be converted into a rowing machine.