Recumbent Bike vs Upright Exercise Bike

A successful course of any fitness regimen starts by choosing the correct equipment. In the end, we’re all scouting for the most convenient, efficient, fast and comfortable machines that will help us achieve our fitness goals seamlessly.

Indoor cycling is one of the most popular fitness routines, and enthusiasts can choose between a recumbent and an upright bike. But, is there any difference between the two bikes? Is one superior over the other? Does the choice of one bike over the other matter? What are the benefits of either bike?

We take a side by side comparison of the two fitness bikes based on factors such as design, stability, the level of comfort and anything else in-between.


The design is entirely different between upright and recumbent and exercise bikes. The upright bike design mimics a traditional bike which means that the user is stimulating the same muscles as though they’re riding outdoors and is ideal for whole body exercise.

Note – upright exercise bikes have a space-saving design and are perfect for a home gym.

A recumbent bike, on the other hand, features a seat that’s on the same level as the pedal. In essence, this means that the user can support their back while pedaling. A recumbent bike stimulates the hamstrings, calves, and quads as well as glutes.

Level of Stability

By design, an upright bike offers a higher level of gravity, which significantly compromises its stability. However, despite the lack of stability, an upright bike provides a more consistent workout.

In comparison, a recumbent bike has a relatively lower center of gravity which makes it more stable. The stability further ensures that the rider is more comfortable which by extension reduces soreness and fatigue in the upper body.

Seating Position

The rider has to lean forward and bend the back and neck slightly to get the most out of an upright bike. Thus, he/she has to maintain a good posture to avoid hurting the back, especially when in a slouched position.

With a recumbent bike, the user sits in an inclined position and doesn’t have to bend the back and neck. Because of this sitting position, a recumbent bike is an excellent option for riders with back problems and is after a good cardio workout. The inclined seating position can also come in handy for the rider who has a problem finding balance with an upright bike.

Level of Comfort

One of the major downside of an upright bike is its lack of comfort. Because rider is in an upright position, the hands and arms are exposed to stress and pressure from the upper body and might end up becoming sore. Besides, there’s a likelihood that sitting on the bike for long may cause unnecessary fatigue.

A recumbent bike is a more comfortable option between the two fitness bikes. With this bike a rider’s back is supported, allowing him/her to get the hands off the handles for lesser pain and aches.

Important Points to Remember

  • An upright exercise bike is ideal for those who want to work out abdominal muscles
  • Recumbent bikes are perfect for individuals diagnosed with neurological conditions

Personal fitness goals primarily determine the choice between a recumbent and upright exercise bike. While either option can give an intense workout, it is important to consider your abilities before making a purchase. After all, you’re better off with a spin bike that allows you to achieve the desired results faster.