Recumbent exercise bikes are great for building leg strength or improving fitness after an injury. But which models provide the greatest value? In this article, we've listed our best recumbent bike reviews to help you make an informed choice.
Our top pick for a recumbent exercise bike is the excellent NordicTrack VR21. With a 9kg flywheel and magnetic resistance, it's the perfect balance between an effective workout and price. It also comes with a huge range of built-in programmes and features.
Recumbent exercise bikes are a great tool for building fitness and leg endurance. They offer greater comfort than an upright or indoor cycle and also have increased stability. Advanced riders often disparage the benefits of a recumbent bike, but they can still provide an intense workout for all fitness levels.
With a larger seat and reduced stress on the lower back, recumbent bikes are also an excellent way to stay in shape if you have an upper body injury or are recovering from surgery. The reclined position also eliminates the danger of standing up on pedals, which is a common source of injury on an upright bike.
But which are the best recumbent bikes on the market? And are there any you should avoid? Keep reading our recumbent exercise bike reviews to find out.
Advantages of a Recumbent Exercise Bike
Before we get to the bikes though, you might be wondering about the advantages of a recumbent cycle. Why would you buy a recumbent instead of an upright? And are there any reasons you shouldn't buy one?
Perhaps the biggest advantage of a recumbent exercise bike is that they place less strain on the lower back. Upright bikes tend to promote a hunched posture, which can lead to lower back pain or aggravation. On a recumbent, the upper body is in a more relaxed position.
The best recumbent bikes are also more comfortable. They have a large seat with backrest, which many people enjoy more than a standard bike saddle. The reclined position also removes the temptation to stand on pedals and they are generally more stable.
There are some downsides though. The body position on a recumbent bike means it doesn't build the same muscles as an outdoor bike. If you want to train for "real" cycling, a recumbent probably isn't the best option. The relaxed upper body also means a recumbent bike doesn't build abdominal or upper body strength.
Which are the Best Recumbent Bikes of 2020?
Below is a table of our best recumbent exercise bike reviews. We've also sorted the bikes by price range and provided mini reviews below. While we think all these bikes are excellent models, make sure you read each review first to check it's the right bike for you.
|Name||Flywheel Weight||Resistance System||Price Range||View Price|
|V-Fit G-RC Recumbent Bike||6kg||Magnetic||BUDGET||View Price|
|XS Sports Magnetic Recumbent||4kg||Magnetic||BUDGET||View Price|
|NordicTrack VR21 Recumbent||9kg||Magnetic||MID-RANGE||View Price|
|Schwinn 570R Recumbent||3.5kg||Magnetic||MID-RANGE||View Price|
|BH Fitness I.TFR Ergo||12kg||Magnetic||PREMIUM||View Price|
Best Low-Budget Recumbent Bikes
The cheapest recumbent cycles are often poor-quality and don't provide a comfortable workout - but there are some hidden gems available for less than you might think. It's important to have realistic expectations though, as a cheap recumbent exercise bike isn't going to provide the durability or smoothness of a gym-standard model. They are also usually targeted at beginners, as the flywheels are too light to provide an intense workout.
1. V-Fit G-RC Recumbent Bike
The V-Fit G-RC is a popular cheap recumbent bike that's great for low-moderate intensity workouts. It's not the most durable and the flywheel is relatively light, but considering the low price we think it provides excellent value.
With its 6kg flywheel, the G-RC doesn't provide the smoothest ride. The comfort is increased by the magnetic resistance system though - and this also makes it a relatively quiet bike.
It comes with a simple display showing basic statistics about your workout. The backrest and seat are both adjustable, and there are heart rate monitors on both handles. It's also a stable bike, so you don't need to worry about toppling over when riding.
One of the downsides to this model is that the seat is relatively small. It's fine for most people, but if you're a tall person it may not provide the comfort you require. The seat also isn't the most comfortable, but you expect that from a budget model.
Overall, the V-Fit G-RC is a solid bike that does a great job for the price. It's not perfect, but it provides great value and a good workout.
2. XS Sports Magnetic Recumbent
Another popular cheap recumbent is the XS Sports Magnetic. Like the previously reviewed V-Fit, this isn't a bike that's built for advanced riders, but considering the low price it's great for basic workouts.
It has a lightweight 4kg flywheel, so it isn't suited for people who want an intense workout. For simple workouts, or for recovering from an injury, it's comfortable and can burn a decent amount of calories though. It uses magnetic resistance which provides a smoother ride than frictional models.
It also comes with a basic computer that displays distance, time, speed and your current pulse (via the handle sensors). The pedal straps and seat are both adjustable, and it has a maximum user weight or 110kg.
As you would expect from a recumbent exercise bike in this price range, there are some drawbacks. The maximum resistance isn't challenging enough for intermediate or advanced workouts, so this isn't a bike for intense riding. The seat also isn't the most comfortable.
Despite these issues, the XS Sports is still a great option if you want a cheap recumbent for basic exercise.
Best Mid-Range Recumbent Bikes
3. NordicTrack VR21 Commercial Recumbent
The NordicTrack VR21 is one of our favourite mid-range recumbent bikes and a big step up from budget models. It has a heavier flywheel, allowing for more intense workouts, and a console with a variety of options and settings.
The VR21 is also designed to bring commercial quality into the home gym - and it largely succeeds.
Like most recumbent bikes, the VR21 uses magnetic resistance for quiet operation. There are 25 levels of resistance, which provides plenty of room for improvement without finding workouts too easy. The console also has 32 pre-set programmes, plus the option of connecting to iFit (although you'll need a separate subscription for this).
One of the biggest differences between this model and budget recumbents is the flywheel. With a 9kg flywheel, the Nordictrack Commercial VR21 is able to provide a much more intense workout. The combination of magnetic resistance, 9kg flywheel and lumbar support also means it's both smooth and quiet.
Other features include EKG heart rate monitors, ergonomic foot pedals with adjustable straps, auxiliary music port and speakers, water bottle holder and built-in fan. The console displays metrics such as distance, calories, pulse and time, while allowing you to quickly change workout programme. It's also a durable and sturdy bike, so will last a long time if cared for correctly.
If you want a home recumbent exercise bike that can provide an intense workout and comes with a variety of programmes, the NordicTrack VR21 is a great choice. It's smooth, quiet and provides great exercise for beginners and intermediates alike.
4. Schwinn 570R Recumbent
We listed the upright version of the Schwin 570U amongst our best exercise bikes, so it's no surprise the recumbent version is also excellent. It's built with a strong and durable frame, range of features and Schwinn's dual-track console to view your progress. In other words, this is an advanced recumbent exercise bike that's available for a very reasonable price.
One of the most impressive features of the 570R is the console. It includes a variety of built-in programmes, including fitness tests and heart-rate controlled workouts. There are also two screens showing a variety of statistics, and you can use Bluetooth to sync data to MyFitnessPal or Schwinn Connect to track your progress over time.
The 570R uses a magnetic resistance system with a 3.5kg perimeter weighted flywheel. This provides a relatively smooth and quiet workout. There are also 25 levels of resistance, so you won't outgrow the machine in a hurry.
Other features include an acoustic chambered sound system, built-in fan and fixed ergonomic handlebars. The 570R has built-in contact heart rate monitoring, although it also has the ability to connect to telemetry heart rate monitors (chest strap needs to be bought separately). Unlike cheaper recumbent bikes, the 570R is comfortable to ride and feels strong and durable.
There are a few drawbacks though. The 3.5kg flywheel isn't as heavy as we would like from a mid-range machine, so it probably isn't suitable for serious athletic training. If you're very tall, you might also find that the seat doesn't go back far enough to fully extend your legs.
Even with these issues, we think the Schwinn 570R is one of the best recumbent exercise bikes. With its advanced features, smooth performance and durable design, it provides an outstanding workout and value for money. Highly recommended.
Best Premium Recumbent Bikes
The best premium recumbent bikes combine smooth performance with a durable design and almost limitless potential for workout intensity. They are expensive, but are built to last.
5. BH Fitness I.TFR Ergo
BH Fitness produce some excellent exercise bikes, but one of their best recumbent bikes is the I.TFR Ergo. Despite the somewhat strange name, it's a premium bike with a range of features, heavy flywheel and great build quality. If you need a recumbent bike that's capable of intense workouts, the I.TFR is one to consider.
With a 12kg flywheel, the bike is able to provide a smooth workout that will challenge even advanced riders. BH Fitness also claims the bike can withstand intensive use due to its high build quality.
The bike comes with a magnetic resistance system with 24 levels. This provides ample resistance for even semi-professional athletes while making sure the bike is quiet when in use.
It also comes with a variety of workout programmes that can be accessed via the LCD display. These include a fitness test, heart rate controlled workouts and five custom programmes. There is also bluetooth connectivity for syncing your workouts with various apps.
One thing we like about the Ergo is that it has an extra large seat for improved comfort. The backrest is also made from breathable material, which helps keep you cool during intense workouts.
If you're looking for the best recumbent exercise bike for intense workouts, the BH Fitness I.TFR Ergo is a great option. The 12kg flywheel and 24 magnetic resistance levels make it suitable for more rigorous training, while the large seat means it's comfortable even during long workouts.
A recumbent exercise bike can be a great way to get in shape without putting too much stress on your joints and lower back. While they are often seen as inferior to uprights by advanced users, recumbent bikes can still provide intense workouts.
When looking for a recumbent exercise bike, make sure you take into account your personal requirements. If you need a bike for mildly intensive workouts to help recover from an injury or maintain your fitness, a budget or mid-range option can probably do the job. For advanced training, you'll need at least a mid-range bike or even a premium model.
Finally, we hope the recumbent exercise bike reviews in this article have made it easier to find your perfect bike!
Do you have any questions about choosing a recumbent exercise bike? Or have you used a bike and would like to add your review? Please use the comments form below!