Recumbent exercise bikes are simply bikes which allow users to stretch out their legs in front of them (as though they were sitting on an armchair with their feet on a footstool), instead of having their legs tucked underneath them (as though they were sitting on a dining chair).
Although recumbent exercise bikes are still a niche market, they have won over a lot of fans due to their high level of comfort compared with upright exercise bikes.
Recumbent exercise bikes are good news for your back
The traditional “upright” cycling position is great for track and road where you need to see and be seen. It isn’t, however, necessarily good news for you back. It’s unlikely to trigger back pain on its own, but if you’re already susceptible to back problems then cycling upright can lead to more pain than it’s worth.
Recumbent exercise bikes offer a safe and comfortable way to exercise indoors
Recumbent exercise bikes can help to take the pain away from exercising, which means that you are not only more likely to get on your recumbent exercise bike in the first place, but also that you are likely to stay on it for longer. You might want to think of recumbent exercise bikes as being a step up from the mini exercise bikes which are popular with those who have limited space.
Top 5 – Best Recumbent Exercise Bike
What is the best recumbent exercise bike for me?
As always that depends and, as always, we’re here to help. We’ve reviewed five recumbent exercise bikes based on the following criteria.
Budget – we’ve selected recumbent exercise bikes at different price points, but they all offer great value for money.
Overall build quality – we expect even low-priced bikes to have a decent build standard and we’ll only recommend those which do.
Comfort – any recumbent exercise bike is going to be more comfortable to use than an upright bike. At any given price point, however, some recumbent exercise bikes are more comfortable than others and usually as you go up the price range, recumbent exercise bikes become even more comfortable.
We’ve paid close attention to the seating because, let’s face it, we all know what a difference comfortable seating makes to any situation. We’ve also looked at the options for what you do with your hands. Some bikes have arm rests and others have full-on riding handles.
Resistance – we’ve looked not just at the range of resistance levels available on each recumbent exercise bike, but also at how easy it is to change from one level of resistance to another.
JLL RE100 Recumbent Home Exercise Bike
Dimensions – 1.1m to 1.4 m x 60 cm x 82 cm
Seat height 45 cm, seat length 32 cm, seat to pedal 65 cm to 85 cm
Weight – 26.7 Kg
User weight – up to 100KG
Warranty – 12 months (home use only)
Flywheel weight – 5KG
Resistance levels – 8
Programmes – 0 (but there is a monitor with 6 functions)
JLL has been causing quite a stir with the JLL RE100 Recumbent Home Exercise Bike and it’s easy to see why. Although this bike is priced to appeal to those on a budget and therefore only has a basic level of functionality, hence the lack of programmes, what it does do, it does very well indeed.
Budget – entry level
Overall build quality – we’re very impressed with the overall build quality and in particular the attention to detail.
Seat – not only is the seat comfortable, but it has 7 horizontal levels. We’d say users up to 6’1” should be fine. It’s also firmly bolted to the frame so it stays put where it’s meant to.
Ergonomic handlebars – complete with heart-rate monitor.
Rubber belt – A rubber belt would be useless on a road bike, but we love them on exercise bikes because they’re so quiet, pretty much silent in fact.
Magnetic flywheel – Same comments apply here, adjusting the resistance with a magnet keeps your recumbent exercise bike nice and quiet in use.
Monitor – nice and clear and with 6 functions (time, speed, distance, calories, odometer and pulse).
Bonus points for the fact that the end cap does double – duty as wheels, so this recumbent exercise bike is fairly easy to move from room to room.
Comfort – the seat is decently padded and the handlebars feel good in the hand.
Resistance – 8 levels, no problems changing between them via the large, central dial.
Programmes – none, but you can track progress with the monitor which is very easy to use.
Overall – we’d say this recumbent exercise bike was best suited to those with a low level of fitness looking for some gentle cardio rather than people looking for a serious workout. We suspect that’s a lot of people, hence why this recumbent exercise bike is so popular and if it’s you, we’d say the JLL RE100 Recumbent Home Exercise Bike is a really solid choice.
- 8 levels of magnetic resistance.
- Quiet belt drive technology. 6-Function monitor displays: Time, Speed, Distance, Calories, Odometer and Pulse.
- Heart rate sensors built into handlebars. 7-level adjustable seat to fit your shape and size perfectly. Adjustable toe straps for the pedals.
- 5KG two-way flywheel. Robust frame provides stability and durability. ROHS CE Compliance.
- Warranty (Home Use) is 12 Months. Maximum User Weight is 100KG.
Kettler Premium Recumbent Exercise Bike
Dimensions – 1.65 m x 66.04 cm x 1.02 m
Weight – 48.99 kg
User weight – up to 130 kg
Warranty – 3 year on site
Flywheel weight – 9 Kg
Resistance levels – 16
Programmes – 12
Budget – premium, this recumbent exercise bike is proper home gym level, please note, however, we said “home gym”. We doubt even this recumbent exercise bike would stand up to use in an actual gym.
Overall build quality – excellent. In all honesty, we have to say that to us this recumbent exercise bike has a bit of a “space age” look about it. We can imagine it being used on the Starship Enterprise. It is, however, just about as well-built as you can possibly get for home exercise equipment.
NB – the fact that this is one robust piece of kit means that it is also one weighty piece of kit, so realistically it’s only a suitable choice if you have a place where it can be left permanently.
Also, the fact that the recumbent exercise bike has so much functionality means that the monitor packs a lot of information into a small space. It’s clear and we think it’s perfectly understandable, but some people may find it a bit intimidating.
Warning – the fact that this recumbent exercise bike is so advanced means that it takes more work to put together than the other options and some people can find this a bit of a challenge.
Comfort – We wouldn’t fancy using this recumbent exercise bike as a spare bed, but we could genuinely see ourselves watching TV on it quite comfortably. The good news for taller people is that we think anyone up to (and including) a height of 6’ 5” would be fine with this recumbent exercise bike.
Resistance – 16 levels controlled electronically
Programmes – 12 ditto. We like the fact that the nature of the programmes is clearly diagrammed on the monitor. We’re also quite impressed by the fact that the Kettler Premium Recumbent Exercise Bike offers heart-controlled programmes.
Overall – If you have the budget, the Kettler Premium Recumbent Exercise Bike can certainly deliver an experience which is as premium as its name. Just think carefully about whether or not you will really use the full range of features before you commit to the price, size and weight.
- Flywheel: 9kg (19.8lbs); Resistance: 16 Levels of Computer Controlled Magnetic Resistance;
- Easy-to-read LCD Display; 8 Challenging Programmes Including HRC + Recovery Pulse Fitness Test;
- Pulse Grip Sensors and Polar Receiver (Chest Strap Optional) for Heart Rate Measurement;
- Horizontal Seat Adjustment, Balanced Pedals for Comfort; Warranty: 3 Y Parts and Labour;
- Max. User Weight: 130kg (286.6lbs); Size: L=165cm (65"), W=65cm (25.6"), H=109cm (43");
Marcy Azure RB1016 Recumbent Exercise Bike
Dimensions – 1.32 m x 50 cm x 99 cm
Seat pad dimensions: Length: 30 cm (12 inch) x Width: 20 cm (8 inch).
Back pad dimensions: Length: 40 cm (16 inch) x Width: 20 cm (8 inch).
Seat height from floor: Lowest: 44.5 cm (17.5 inch) x Highest: 48 cm (19 inch).
Weight – 32 kg
User weight – up to 110 kg
Warranty – 2-year framework, 2-year all parts covered.
Flywheel weight – 4 Kg
Resistance levels – 8
Programmes – 0 (but there is a monitor and phone/tablet stand)
Budget – Medium
Overall build quality – we’re really impressed by the smart design and robust construction of the Marcy Azure RB1016 Recumbent Exercise Bike.
The step-through frame should make it easy for anybody to access this recumbent exercise bike, even if they have mobility issues and there is an extra set of handlebars on the front of the bike, which will help the less mobile. The seat can be adjusted to fit users of heights from 5’2” to 6’4” and has a reassuring 2.5” (6.25 cm) of padding for extra comfort.
Speaking of reassurance, we like the extra-wide stabilizers, hexagonal feet (for uneven surfaces) and slip-resistant pedals, particularly since this recumbent exercise bike is clearly intended for some serious work-outs as evidenced by the fact that there is a water-bottle holder (bonus points from us).
One touch we particularly like is the fact that the Marcy Azure RB1016 Recumbent Exercise Bike has a dedicated phone/tablet holder, which, in our opinion makes up for the lack of in-built programmes as you can just use apps. The on-screen monitor is nicely clear and covers the usual suspects of time, speed, distance, calories and pulse.
Comfort – in addition to the decent padding on the seat, we like the fact that the belt drive and magnetic resistance make the Marcy Azure RB1016 Recumbent Exercise Bike nicely quiet to use. You can actually hear yourself think while you work out.
Resistance – easily adjusted via the dial on the central column.
Programmes – none but you can use your smartphone or tablet.
Overall – the Marcy Azure RB1016 Recumbent Exercise Bike strikes us as being a very astute piece of design which has been very well implemented.
The 4kg flywheel suggests that the Marcy Azure RB1016 Recumbent Exercise Bike is intended for people who want regular, brisk cardio without the expense of gym membership, rather than hard-core, home-gym athletes, which, we suspect is probably the majority of people who’d be interested in a recumbent exercise bike.
As a final point, we think this is easily the best looking of the recumbent exercise bikes in our range and we’d be quite happy to have it out on display, but if we did want to move it, it’s a whole lot lighter than the Kettler Premium Recumbent Exercise Bike.
- Eight resistance levels; battery powered, no mains needed; for users between 5 ft 2 Inch - 6 ft 4 Inch; seven length adjustable seat
- 1.5 Inch thick 42 cm wide foam seat for comfort ; easy access step-through frame; low seat height; flip-out stand for tablet or phone
- Simple user-friendly computer shows time, speed, distance, calories and pulse; 4 kg flywheel and belt drive feels smooth and silent
- Maximum user weight capacity: 110 kg/242 lbs/17 stone; batteries included; CE certified, EN-957 compliant; hand pulse grips
- Assembled dimensions: Length: 132 cm (52 Inch) x width: 50 cm (20 Inch) x height: 99 cm (39 Inch); warranty: 2 years frame, 2 years parts
V-Fit G-RC Recumbent Magnetic Cycle
Dimensions – 135 cm length by 64 cm width by 100 cm height
Weight – 30 Kg
User weight – up to 115 kg
Warranty – 1 year
Flywheel weight – 6 Kg
Resistance levels – 8
Programmes – 0
Budget – Entry level +
Overall build quality – The build quality of the V-Fit G-RC Recumbent Magnetic Cycle is very good and we think it’s fair to say that this recumbent exercise bike has been designed with a specific target market in mind, specifically older users, presumably with reduced mobility.
There are various reasons we say this, one subjective and some more objective. The subjective one is that we think this recumbent exercise bike has quite a classic, old-school look, which is intended to appeal to older users.
We could be wrong on that one, but we can definitely say that while the frame is not actually step through (which is more than we’d expect at this price) it is low and there are two horizontal hand grips up beside the monitor, which don’t even pretend to be handles and are obviously there to help people with reduced mobility.
The monitor looks rather like an oversized alarm clock, but it’s a decent size, clear to read and easy to use. It displays: theoretical calorie burn, distance, hand pulse readings, scan, speed, time and total distance functions. We have to say we’re not convinced we entirely trust the readings, but in all honesty, inaccurate readings are not all that uncommon with lower-priced recumbent exercise bikes and we doubt many people are all that bothered about this.
Curiously, there’s a ledge in front of the monitor, the purpose of which isn’t specified but which seems a logical place to put a smartphone if not a tablet. Having said that, it could be used for anything you just want to keep handy.
Comfort – The seat is good, however this recumbent exercise bike can rock a bit if you pedal fast at low resistance. The type of flooring may have something to do with this and an anti-slip mat may do the trick or you could just either pedal slower or increase the resistance.
Resistance – There are 8 levels of resistance and our one real gripe about this recumbent exercise bike is that it can be fiddly to adjust the resistance. It shouldn’t be, since the knob is in the central column for right- or left-handed use, but it’s difficult to read the numbers on the dial and we suspect that shorter people will have particular trouble as they’ll have the seat close in to the central column and will have to look right down at the dial.
Our suggestion to deal with this is that you either leave the resistance on one setting or start with it on a known setting and count the clicks up and down. In fairness, this recumbent exercise bike is quiet enough for the latter option to be perfectly feasible.
Programmes – None
Overall – If the V-Fit G-RC Recumbent Magnetic Cycle was more expensive, we’d take a tougher line on its shortcomings, but since it comes in at the lower end of the price range, we think that overall it’s definitely worth at least a look.
- Magnetic resistance system with friction-free 6 kg cast iron flywheel and eight-step dial adjust resistance
- Large recumbent format reach adjustable seat and backrest
- Oversized self-presenting pedals with adjustable footstraps
- Single screen seven-function exercise monitor
- Assembled dimensions measures 135 cm length by 64 cm width by 100 cm height
- Maximum user weight: 115 kg/253 lbs/18.1 stones
XS Sports Magnetic Recumbent Seated Exercise Bike
Dimensions – 90 x 28 x 54 cm
Weight – 29 kg
User weight – 110 kg
Warranty – 12 months
Flywheel weight – 4 kg
Resistance levels – 8
Programmes – 0
Budget – Entry level
Overall build quality – you only need to look at the XS Sports Magnetic Recumbent Seated Exercise Bike to see how reassuringly solid it is. We’re particularly impressed that a recumbent exercise bike in this price bracket has a step-through frame together with front handlebars to assist those with reduced mobility.
Comfort – if you’re looking for a budget recumbent exercise bike which is comfortable enough to use for extended periods, like when you’re watching TV and just want to pedal along, then the XS Sports Magnetic Recumbent Seated Exercise Bike should definitely be a contender. We’ve even heard of it being used with height-adjustable desks to create a cycling desk for use during a working day.
Resistance – very easy to adjust via the central dial.
Programmes – None, but the monitor tracks speed, time, distance and pulse.
Overall – the XS Sports Magnetic Recumbent Seated Exercise Bike is a very budget-friendly option which does an effective job of providing low-impact cardio workouts to older users and/or people with reduced mobility.
- Provides a lower body workout-Burn more calories than walking
- Magnetic flywheel with 8 variable resistance levels from low to high
- Oversized pedals with foot straps
- Computer with speed, time, distance and pulse reading
- Fully adjustable seat with pulse sensors built into handles
Those who are really serious about building a home gym which rivals commercial ones should head straight to the Kettler Premium Recumbent Exercise Bike. Those who are fairly serious about fitness, but don’t want to (or can’t afford) to spend that sort of money, should go for the Marcy Azure RB1016 Recumbent Exercise Bike. Anyone simply looking for a low-impact cardio workout to do in the comfort of their own home, can take their pick from any of the other three recumbent exercise bikes.