Gym Brains

Best recumbent bikes of 2018

With more and more people going to the gym and staying healthy, there is a growing number of them wanting to have the convenience of exercising at home instead of spending time and money on the commute and gym membership.

Recumbent exercise bikes are one of the options for cardio people are turning to, with it’s low impact nature, and simplicity in it’s design. We aim to help our readers understand the inner workings of products in this industry, as well as help them find a suitable model for their training needs.

Top pick – Schwinn 270

A best seller for numerous retailers and with good reason. Aside from the Schwinn brand name, which has quite a big share of this industry. This bike includes a smart data tracking system that can really help you understand areas needing improvement. Users get a great deal of choice in exercise programs, with twenty nine in total, plus an additional twenty five levels of resistance to keep you on your toes. It falls in the mid tier budget range making it affordable, but feature rich. A great option for home use.

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Runner up – Diamondback 510SR

Our choice as a worthy runner up is the 510SR from Diamondback Fitness. We have to say it came close to being the number one choice for us, but being a little more expensive, we opted for the Schwinn 270 instead. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t quality to be found within this bike. You get some great training features built in including twenty workout apps through the console and sixteen differing resistance levels. This could be a solid alternative, with plenty of options to adjust your position for comfort and plenty of positive feedback found from consumers.

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Best for low budgets – Exerpeutic 900XL

For users not looking to spend a lot of cash on new exercise equipment, the Exerpeutic 900XL could fit the bill. For a very affordable price, you get eight separate tension levels operating on smooth and quiet magnetic style resistance. Additionally, users get the ability to keep track of key stats about their workout through the console which will include details about calories burnt off, time, distance, speed, and heart rate. Unlike many lower tier products who sometimes offer a lower quality frame to compensate for the price cuts, this model has a recommended weight capacity of three hundred pounds. So you get sturdiness, several tension levels to work through, and a low price all in one package.

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Top 10 recumbent exercise bikes

Name Our rating
Schwinn 270 9/10
Diamondback Fitness 510SR 8/10
Nautilus R614 8/10
IRONMAN Triathlon X-Class 410 8/10
Nordictrack GX 4.7 7/10
Exerpeutic 4000 7/10
Stamina Elite Tota Body 7/10
Exerpeutic 900XL 6/10
Universal R20 6/10
Marcy ME-709 6/10

How we researched

We’ve spent countless hours scouring the web for bikes that meet a specific criteria based on budget tier, amount of tension levels, number of workout programs, construction quality, brands, and much more.

We’ve picked out several products from each category and outlined each individual products main specifications, capabilities, and functionality to decide what could be best for a certain scenario or type of person.

Benefits of recumbent bikes

There can be many potential advantages one stands to gain over using one of these style bikes over other types of fitness equipment. Some are glaringly obvious, others not so much. We explore the benefits in detail below.

Lumbar support – Looking after your back should always be one of your highest priorities. The seating on recumbent stationary bikes come with a back that will hold your weight and reduce stress and pressure on the back region.

Step through designs – Many manufacturer provide frames that are easily accessible. These are known as step through designs and make getting on and off the machine simple. This is ideal for some people who have joint and mobility issues.

Larger, more comfortable seating – Unlike upright and indoor variants, they have larger seating that covers a wider surface area. This will help riders feel more at ease whilst peddling. In fact, many of them are well padded and contoured too making it a more comfortable experience.

Low impact – Because you’re seated, a lot of your weight is taken off your legs. This reduces the amount of impact key joints and muscles take on board whilst cycling.

Safe – Although you’re never 100% safe from injury when exercising, because the extra support features mentioned above are built in, you’re less likely to pick one up.

Pre-purchase considerations

Now that you understand how advantageous they can be, you’ll want to consider a few important things before you buy anything. Namely:

  1. The frequency at which you’ll be using it.
  2. Will it have multiple users?
  3. How much space in the household do you have dedicated to this?
  4. What are your fitness goals?

How often you plan on using the bike should be an important part of the decision making process. If you’re only planning on riding casually once a week to burn off a few excess calories, then the higher tier models may not be a sensible investment. However, if you’re aiming for consistency, and will be using it multiple times a week, you’ll need to look for something with a solid construction and durable.

In addition to how frequent you use it, you should know whether or not this machine will be ridden by multiple people, say for example in a family household. In this case, you will need something highly adjustable to meet the differences in height, leg length, and feet size. Extra profiles built into the console system will be a handy addition in such a scenario too.

Do you have floor space limitations in your home? Then you may want to opt for a more compact option that stores away with the help of transportation wheels easily. Also, check the product dimensions to give you an idea of the sizing specifications.

Do you have specific fitness or weight loss goals you want to achieve? Would you like to be able to track how your training sessions are progressing over a period of time and share them online with friends and family? If so, you may want to look at models that have advanced functionality and software in the console that allows you to do so. This is more often than not, found in the mid to upper range bikes.

Now that you’ve spent time considering the four points above, you’re ready to start your research into product features below.

What to look for – A buyers guide

There are numerous features you need to take into consideration when shopping for a new recumbent bike. We go through several of the need to knows below to put you in the best position of getting one that meets your requirements.

Resistance – You are going to find many products that provide lesser amounts of tension, in some cases up to ten. On the flip side, you will also find several that offer over thirty. The average seems to be around the fifteen to twenty five mark. Keep in mind that the amount built into the system will come down to how much you’re willing to spend on it. If you live in a family household, or shared accommodation you will want as much resistance to choose from as possible to suit the varying fitness levels of each person using it.

Workout programs – Again, this is something that will vary wildly dependent on how much you want to spend. There are a number of products that offer up to ten, and some over twenty. Very few go over forty, but they do exist and are out there if you look hard enough. They can be a great addition to anyone’s cardio regime, and provide an extra layer of challenge for people to work with, as well as helping keeping people on the path towards specific training goals.

Console menus – In an ideal world, you’ll buy a bike that has a nice large screen on the console, with user friendly menus and navigation. Screens can vary in size but we believe the average floats around the five to eight inch range. They can also come with a lit background to make the text and statistics far more visible and easier to read. Look for machines that have large, easy to understand buttons that are clearly labelled.

Tracking data – Getting numerous types of feedback based on your latest exercise session is common in today’s exercise bike market. The main data inclusions should be related to tracking how fast you’re going, how far you’ve peddled, the time you’ve taken, calories burned off, and if the specific model in question has it built in, heart rate information.

Heart rate sensors – Depending on the manufacturer and package purchased, you get two ways to make pulse readings. The first is by using sensors either built into the frame or handlebars. The second isn’t as commonplace, but some recumbent bikes will provide a chest strap to record heart rate data that will then wirelessly sync to the computer console at the front.

Peddles – Being able to keep your feet securely planted to the base of the peddles is something worth considering. Look at options with adjustable foot straps. These don’t just lock your feet in place for a more effective workout, they also help prevent slippage and any potential injury risks associated with that.

Entertainment and media – From compatibility with your music players, to tablet holders and reading racks, these bikes have come a long way in recent years. Some models even include the ability to train using virtual trails and Google maps, which brings a bit or fun to the workout. Some also have more ways to share your progress online and through social media platforms. In general, the top tier products are unparalleled in this respect, but you do find mid tier options that provide some great entertainment features too.

Adjustable seating – The ability to position yourself closer to, or further away from the peddles with adjustable seating plays an important role in how comfortable you feel. To some extent it will also allow you to put yourself at a position that feels most natural which can have a knock on effect in your overall training performances.

Weight capacity – A user weight limit is something provided by the company and is a recommendation based on the build quality and materials used in a bikes construction. Anything around the three hundred pound capacity is around about average, but you will certainly find some that go to three hundred and fifty and above. Likewise, in some of the low budget products, it can go down to two hundred and fifty or so pounds. Generally, the higher you go up the price scale, the better bigger the number.

Consumer feedback – Spend some time browsing through the customer reviews and feedback on various shopping websites online. They can give a clear indication of the quality of the product as well as giving you an idea of how happy people are with their purchase. But perhaps more importantly than that, is that you can pick up important information about its flaws or malfunctions that can save you running into problems and needing replacements in the long run.

Available space – The problem with buying new gym equipment for your home is that they do consume a reasonable amount of space. Whilst recumbent bikes don’t consume as much as say a treadmill, we understand that smaller space consumption is appreciated and can important to many. There is a couple of tools online that may well help give you a rough idea of where things are going to go. The first is the Life Fitness space planner, and the second being the one provided by Precor. Both tools can give an early indication of which room in the house will be most effective for keeping your home gym.

Brands

In such a highly competitive market, the leading recumbent exercise bike brands are always striving to introduce new and effective ways to improve user experience. But who are these companies? Find out below.

Schwinn – A reputable company that made a name for itself in bicycles. Which over time has stretched out to the fitness industry producing not just exercise bikes, but treadmills, and elliptical trainers too. They are one of the brands that fall under the umbrella of Nautilus. Several of their products have gone on to be among the top sellers at various online stores, and ratings are generally high. We recommend you start your research with their products.

Diamondback – Another reputed brand that has produced all kinds of machines. Among the best in their product line is the Diamondback Fitness 510Sr, which came a close second to the Schwinn 270. They offer some great models in the mid tier category.

Exerpeutic – Known as the brand who manufacture therapeutic products that are comfortable and well designed for people recovering and rehabilitating from injuries. These are usually affordable options that are well suited to the home environment, and a testament to that is the Exerpeutic 900xl which won our best low budget award.

Nautilus – Producing several kinds of cardio training equipment, this is a company that has produced some highly rated machines over the years. More recently, the Nautilus R618, and R616. They have some solid designs with a lot to offer users in terms of training features.

Budgeting

Setting yourself a budget within your means should be one of the first steps you take. It’s no use looking through pages and pages of recumbent exercise bikes when half of them don’t meet your pricing requirements. You should have a rough figure in mind and do your best to stick to it, whilst filtering out the more expensive products. This will make the research process far less time consuming, and ensure you focus solely on the offerings of the models that may interest you.

You’ll undoubtedly come across vast differences in prices. So to give people a rough overview of what to expect from each range, we have compiled a short list, with descriptions of what you can find within each.

$300 and below – The low budget range. Many products will come equipped with a weaker construction quality than several higher tier products. They can also be fairly limited in offering many resistance levels, which can hinder more advanced users fitness progress. We would say these are built for casual riders and beginners just starting out.

Up to $600 – This is what we consider to be the lower to mid tier range. They usually offer a small step up in build and sturdiness, as well as providing more choice in tension controls. Tracking technology in the console is something that should be expected at this price with indications of speed, time, calories and much more appearing on a computer display at the front. Beginners and intermediates will usually find enough quality here.

Up to $1000 – The mid to upper budget range. The quality is normally of a high standard here with strong frames handling heavier weight capacities. You will find advanced functions in the console and more choice in resistance and workout programs. For the casual shopper, these products should offer plenty of challenge and enough durability for Intermediate to advanced riders.

$1000 and above – This is a price band reserved for those willing to spend the extra cash to get the highest quality products offering a great deal of variety in tension and exercise programs. These are usually well built and offer some great technology that can enhance anybodies home cardio experience.

We believe that for the average household the two mid level budgets will suffice. They will often contain enough functionality and features to give people a great training session from home.

Our recumbent bike reviews

Listed out below, you’ll see several best rated recumbent bikes that didn’t quite make our top picks list. We analyze each models specifications to try and get an understanding of its quality and ability to help you improve your endurance and lose weight.

IRONMAN Triathlon X-Class 410

With a larger than average user weight limit of three hundred and fifty pounds, you can expect a reasonable amount of durability from the X-Class 410. What’s more, the adjustments that can be made to the position of the seating ensures people between the height of five foot two to six foot four can use it. You get an impressive thirty two resistances, as well as air soft seating for comfort. For those looking for a mid to upper range product that is user friendly, and feature rich, this could be worth looking into further.

Universal R20

The R20 from Universal could be seen as a viable alternative to the ME-709 and 1000XL. It’s very affordable, and gives people a reasonable selection of tension and workout programs. Much like the two previously mentioned, you get eight difficulty levels. However, the inclusion of seven exercise programs is something that will give it an edge for some over them. It also includes built in heart rate sensors which can be activated by gripping them. It’s also relatively compact, ideal for those working with smaller rooms. All in all, you get a great set of specifications for a good price.

NordicTrack GX 4.7

Manufactured by a brand with a reputation across several types of fitness equipment, the GX 4.7 could be a great match for people working with a mid level budget. It comes equipped with a decent range of training specifications that will help you push yourself outside your comfort zone towards your goals. You get twenty two individual tension levels that ensure beginners and advanced users get a difficulty that challenges them, alongside a advanced computer display showing all the important data readouts from the front. An alternative option for those not looking to break the bank, whilst still retaining some intensity.

Exerpeutic 4000

From the therapeutic fitness viewpoint, the 4000 from Exerpeutic, contains the necessary design features to ensure people feel at ease, natural, and comfortable on the bike. The air soft seat plays a big role in that by being well cushioned yet breathable. You shall also get a great set of training specs to keep you motivated. Among these are twenty four resistance levels, and twelve workout programs. One way it manages to differentiate itself from its competitors is by offering a slightly above average weight capacity of three hundred and twenty five pounds, which probably says a lot about the solidity in construction. This could be a match for those who want to put comfort first, but still be spoiled for choice in exercise features.

Marcy ME 709

This was an option that was seriously being considered as the winner of the low budget award. However, the Exerpeutic 900xl pipped it to the post. Take nothing away from it however. You still get the same amount eight levels of tension built in, plus a small computer for keeping tabs and understanding workout data. Additionally, the peddles have straps attached to keep your feet secured whilst peddling and transport wheels would cut out the need for any heavy lifting when moving it around the house. This is a low risk option that is well suited to beginners or casual users.

Nautilus R614

This was a challenger for the best overall award won by the 270 of Schwinn Fitness. Looking into its features, it’s easy to understand why. The amount of choice in depth for both resistance and workout applications whilst falling in the mid tier budget brand is impressive. You get twenty two programs, alongside twenty levels of tension with the choice of two user profiles that makes it perfect for households where two separate people are looking to track their progress. In addition to this, it comes equipped with built in sensors that enable riders to monitor there pulse rate. This is a solid option that includes some terrific functionality.

Stamina Elite Total Body

The majority of products in this industry focus mainly on working the leg muscles through cycling. With a unique design on the Stamina Elite, they tip this on its head, with the inclusion of hand peddles that will bring the upper body into the movement. It still operates on various levels of magnetic style tension, and still has the ability to track data. However, one drawback we discovered is the two hundred and fifty pound weight limit, which is below what you’d expect to find at this price point. For those wanting something different, and the ability to hit more muscle groups from one machine, this could be perfect.

Wrapping up

Getting a good recumbent bike could be a sensible investment for someone piecing together a home gym. They contain some excellent features that will help you get an intensive workout but at the same time minimizing the impact and toll it takes on your body. But like any fitness equipment, they are only as good as your dedication to improving your fitness. They can play an important part in your journey to fitness, but not necessarily the most important part. With a well planned diet in place and consistency in training, the results will come.