(Pocket-lint) - If you're looking for a way to get some exercise without putting unnecessary strain on your body, investing in a recumbent bike can be an excellent solution.
While traditional stationary options will often have you hunched over without any back support, recumbent exercise bikes go for a more laid-back approach. The rider is able to sit back with ample support for the lumbar spine and posterior chain, all while taking the pressure of your hands and feet, which are usually locked to support your body weight.
However, while most recumbent cycles offer a similar design, they are still like any other piece of exercise equipment, and that means there's a big range in both features and price.
We've tested a range of models to establish which offer the most comprehensive training options, and the best customisation - since gym equipment isn't built for your specific body. Comfort is really important, as is build quality, since a recumbent bike will be taking a decent amount of wear and tear as you use it.
To help you find the right one for you, we've rounded up some of the best choices, below.
Our Top Pick: Best Recumbent Bike
- Nice and affordable
- Solid features
- Could be more comfortable
Marcy's recumbent bike sits on the more budget end of the scale, but that doesn't mean you don't get a healthy array of features.
Eight resistance levels are present on the stationary bike, with tension knobs able to replicate the feeling of riding on different terrain. Stats such as time, speed, distance and calorie burn also feature on the LCD screen.
In terms of design, the lumbar-friendly seat is backed up by contoured handles and arms rests, as well as counterbalanced pedals to aid foot support.
Other recumbent bikes to check out
Here are four other excellent options you could also consider:
Schwinn Recumbent Bike Series
- Great build
- Comfortable and adjustable
- Proper display
- Expensive (relatively)
Schwinn's offering is the ideal pick for home gyms and those serious about their recumbent exercise, and less for first-timers.
You get all the basics, naturally, but with plenty of additional bells and whistles. There are 29 programs in total, with 25 levels of resistance also on board to let you customize the intensity to your fitness level.
Workouts can be synced with the Schwinn Trainer app, too, while the dock itself features two LCD displays, a shelf to prop up tablets or phones and an adjustable fan.
- Solid feature options
- Decent display
- Heavy so hard to move
Exerpeutic's 900XL is another great choice for those looking to get started with recumbent bikes, offering a neat set of features that cover the basics.
There's a total of eight tension modes to pick between during workouts, with the LCD display showing you information on distance, calorie burn, speed and heart rate (which the handle's sensors can detect).
If you want to move the bike between different areas of your house, the design also features wheels to help you do so.
Nautilus Recumbent Bike Series
- Loads of programs
- Customisable and app-connected
- Heart-rate options
- Also pricey
Nautilus provides another high-end recumbent bike packed with features that make it a perfect fit for home gyms.
There are 29 workout programs to pick between, 25 levels of resistance and the ability to sync progress within the World app. Within the companion app, you're also able to link up and ride through more virtual courses and trails, all while progress is displayed on the LCD screen.
There's also contact heart rate readings provided, too, for those who want additional insights.
- Does the basics well
- No connectivity
The JLL RE100 is a top option for those who want a budget-friendly recumbent bike, offering eight levels of magnetic resistance.
There's no fancy Bluetooth pairing or workout syncing here, but it does more than enough for those who just want a basic workout. On the monitor, you'll get a quick view of time elapsed, speed, distance, calories and pulse (provided by the handle's sensors).
Like other bikes, it also has plenty of adjustments for both the foot straps and the seat, too, letting you find the right fit for your size.
Other products we considered
The Pocket-lint editorial team spends hours testing and researching hundreds of products before recommending our best picks for you. We consider a range of factors when it comes to putting together our best guides including physically testing the products ourselves, consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. Many of the devices we consider don’t make our final best guides.
These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5:
How to choose a recumbent bike
As you research what bike to choose, here are some areas that you'll want to be thinking about, before you commit.
How important is comfort?
One of the big variable between the models on our list, and indeed between others that didn't make the cut, is how comfortable they are to use - how much cushioning they offer, and how user-friendly they therefore feel. We think this is really key, but everyone's different, so if you've used a bike with little cushioning before and either liked it or hated it, do bear that in mind as you shop.
Do you need loads of options?
When you plan your workout, are you hoping to be able to chop and change a lot, between different training regimes and options? If so, be sure to read up on how many programs your favourite bike offers, and what levels of resistance it can cater to. In the more affordable bikes, these options are more restricted, but that might not be a problem for many people.
Is connectivity vital?
Some recumbent bikes will offer the ability to connect to your smartphone to give you feedback on how you're doing, and may even be able to sync up with services like Strava or Apple Health to help you keep an easier record of your progress over time. However, this is fairly rare, and often limited to the most expensive models going, so if you're really committed to a connected bike you might have to spend a chunk more.
Will you want to move the bike?
Another small but telling difference between some of the bikes we've tested is both their weight and the ease of moving them - some have wheels to make this easier, while others are going to be much more of a hassle to relocate. If you often change where you work out, this is something to bear in mind.
More about this story
Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.
In the case of recumbent bikes, that means climbing on (or sitting down) to actually see how they feel to use, checking out their cushioning and comfort levels, but also being sure to work out which are built to last. In use, the number of features and exercise programs is also hugely important - it can be limiting to only have a few options to pick from.
We aren’t interested in pointless number crunching or extraneous details - we just want to provide an easy to understand review that gives you an idea of what it's going to be like to use. And don’t for a second think that the products aren't tested fully because the reviews are concise.
We’ve been covering tech since 2003, and, in many cases, have not only reviewed the product in question, but the previous generations, too - right back to the first model on the market. There is also plenty of models we've considered that didn't make the cut in each of our buyer's guides.
If you love tracking stats and crunching the numbers on your latest outdoor activity, you'll love The Gear Loop. Our new sister site is here to bring you the freshest news, the most honest reviews, informative guides and inspirational travel features that cover all outdoor active lifestyle pursuits, from sea to summit. Whether that’s running or cycling, winter sports or water sports, The Gear Loop has got it covered.