How to Decide on a Recumbent Exercise Bicycle

Whether you’re an avid exerciser already or are looking at purchasing some type of home workout equipment in your quest to “get in shape,” you can’t go wrong with a recumbent exercise bicycle. Exercise and cycling enthusiasts worldwide have discovered the benefits of the recumbent bicycle for a solid workout, calorie burn, and cardiovascular fitness over time.

While exercise equipment resembling the stationary bicycle has been in existence since the late eighteenth century, only in more recent times have those stationary bikes been created in the recumbent position. Recumbent exercise bicycles have the advantage of allowing the rider to relax into the frame, sitting on a more padded seat almost in line with the pedals.

The recumbent provides you with more comfort, less pressure on the wrists and rear end, decreased tension in the neck and shoulders, and reduced fatigue during your workout. If you have lower back problems, the recumbent allows you to continue an exercise regimen without the added fear of injury or the additional pain that comes with other forms of exercise. Recumbent bicycle enthusiasts are quite adamant that this mode of stationary “travel” is second to none!

As you browse through the wide variety of recumbent exercise bikes on the market today, you’ll want to consider the following characteristics and features that will suit your particular style and needs.

The Basics

So, what will we look for in a recumbent exercise bicycle? Experts agree that while there is not one perfect bike for all, there is sure to be a perfect bike for YOU. Here are some important considerations:

  • Weight, stability, and ease of use: Where will your recumbent bike be stored and/or used within your home? Will you need to move it around sometimes? Are you a larger person who might be looking for extra stability in the frame? Recumbent exercise bicycles come in several different weights, some with a wider base for added stability, and some with wheels for easy movement around the house. Most of these bikes today can handle a person 250 lbs. or more.
  • Comfort: Whenever possible, try out different models of recumbent bikes in order to find the one that suits your body- seat adjustments, placement of handlebars, the location of screens, and other ergonomic features will help determine just the right bicycle for your needs and body type.
  • Resistance and noise: Most recumbent exercise bicycles today emphasize the magnetic brake flywheel as resistance, which results in a quieter workout and the feel of being on the road instead of inside a building. Older or less expensive models may come with the hassle of a more tumultuous sound and a bumpier “ride,” as they utilize a direct-contact brake system. Either one offers several resistance options during your workout. The direct-contact systems often require more maintenance over time. Whether or not this matters to you will lead you down the path to your bicycle.
  • Warranty: Reputable companies will most certainly offer a warranty on your recumbent exercise bike. You’re investing a pretty penny in this piece of equipment, so look for solid coverage on brakes, electronics, the frame, and labor and parts.
  • Safety: Do you have children or pets in the house? Be sure the flywheel and other moving parts are covered, as we don’t want anyone hurt by this piece of equipment!
  • Price: You can find recumbent exercise bicycles in a wide range of prices, from around $150 to upwards of $800. Be sure to check out the benefits and features of each one before deciding what’s most important to you. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for in an exercise bike- better design and engineering, and more “extras” keep the price higher, while simplicity and fewer bells and whistles mean less out of your pocketbook. Again, we’re talking about your personal preferences and capabilities when it comes to your supreme bike.

Speaking of Bells and Whistles…

Companies offer a dizzying array of features on their recumbent exercise bicycles! It can be difficult to make sense of which ones are necessary and which ones won’t matter for you, so we’ve listed a few more things to contemplate below:

  • Adjustments: If your bike will be used by more than one person, or when you want to work different muscle groups during your workout, it’s essential to purchase a bicycle that offers multiple adjustment options. Most recumbent exercise bicycles will allow seat position changes so that your leg is not quite fully extended at the furthest point of the pedal from your body. In addition, you’ll want to move the angle of the seat back to your satisfaction. Vertical adjustment is usually not a factor with recumbent bikes; however, some exercise recumbents come with hand pedals for an upper body workout at the same time. These hand pedals can be vertically adjusted to your height and comfort level.
  • Programming and feedback: If you have not yet experienced the world of exercise bicycle programs lately, you’re in for a shock! The number of optional programs that provide you with different workout scenarios is through the roof these days. From intervals to long distances, heart rate monitoring to calorie counts, pre-programmed to manual, you’ll have no problem finding the right features for your perfect recumbent. You can even download your workout data to your personal devices with some models. If you’re more interested in watching TV or reading a magazine as you pedal, you can do that, as well- be sure you can see above or directly into the flat display shelf on the model of your choice.
  • Extras: Aside from all these attributes, many recumbent exercise bicycles offer additional trappings such as water bottle holders, fans, pedal foot straps, speakers, and even USB ports for your workout pleasure! The possibilities are endless- all that’s required is for you to browse the options and choose.
  • Keeping it clean: Finally, you’ll want to consider how tough you’ll be on your exercise bike, and how easy it will be to keep it (and your home) clean after workouts. In addition to the warranty, you might want to purchase some lubricants and cleaning materials for your recumbent bicycle, or a mat for the floor beneath it, but most people look for a model that will not require hours of maintenance or scrubbing to keep it in tip-top shape.

Choices, choices, and more choices!

While it’s impossible to properly and completely outline the infinite combinations you could find among the recumbent exercise bikes on the market today, we hope we have been able to arm you with the guidelines necessary to make just the right decision on this purchase for you and your loved ones. We know that your recumbent exercise bicycle will be a constant workout companion for decades to come and that all your exercise needs will be met in this unique machine. Good luck, and have fun!