Recumbent Bike Buying Guide

There are over a hundred different models of recumbent exercise bikes on the market today. They all have their pros and cons, and trying to figure out which one to purchase can be rather confusing. Recumbent exercise bikes are not cheap; doing your research before you buy is essential in ensuring you get the one best suited for you size and exercise needs, and that you don't waste money.

Here are what we consider to be the ten most important things buyers should consider when choosing which recumbent exercise bike to buy.

1. Resistance

All recumbent bikes have adjustable resistance so users can make their workout harder or easier as required. Some only come with eight resistance levels, while others offer twenty to thirty tension levels. For the casual user who is planning on exercising just a couple of times a week, a bike with eight to ten resistance levels should be more than enough. Serious athletes and professionals should consider a recumbent exercise bike with twenty to thirty resistance levels.

There are no standardized resistance levels, so they are different on every brand and make of bike. Exercising with a 4 resistance level on one brand of bike will not be the same as exercising with a 4 resistance level on a different brand of bike. However, generally the higher the level the more resistance pedalling will have (working out with a 3 resistance level is much easier than working out with a 8 resistance level, for example), and the better the workout will be.

There are three different types of resistance available with recumbent bikes: Magnetic ECB resistance, direct tension or direct friction, and wind resistance. Magnetic ECB resistance is by far the most popular and best of the three resistance types. Direct tension and direct friction tends to be clunky and loud, and wind resistance, though once popular, is now outdated and hard to find. It is recommended that buyers stay away from bikes with either direct tension/direct friction or wind resistance and purchase a bike with Magnetic ECB resistance.

2. Computer and User Settings

Almost all recumbent bikes have a computer that keeps track of the user's fitness goals and achievements, and allows them to customize workouts just for themselves. This computer keeps track of things like the user's pulse, speed and distance, how many calories were burnt, what resistance levels were used and how well the user did compared to previous workouts.

Some bike computers can only keep track of one user's stats, while others can keep track of two, three or even four users' stats. For those looking to purchase an exercise bike for the entire family, we recommend a bike that can track several users' fitness goals and accomplishments, and allow several users to customize their workout. Having multiple user settings is not extremely important if just one person is going to be using the bike or if those using it are using it casually and have no interest in keeping track of their workout performance, but if several people in the house are serious about their workout routine and tracking their achievements then a bike that has multiple user settings is a must.

In addition, casual users do not need a computer that offers a large number of stats and programs - something simple would be a better choice. Someone who is looking to do some serious training, professional athletes and those using the exercise equipment for physio-therapy or on doctor's order may need to purchase a bike with a full range of stats and programs to ensure they get all the information they need to get the most out of their workout and keep exact track of their progress.

3. Seat and Backrest

The seat and back rest on a recumbent bike may not seem like an important thing when you are looking to buy one, but once you get it home and spend hours on it, it sure will be! Hard plastic seats tend to be very uncomfortable for extended use, especially for larger people. The best seats are ones that are oversized, padded with a vented seat back and that offer lumbar support. The seat should also be adjustable to ensure it is comfortable and supports the lower back properly. An exercise bike that is comfortable during use is easier and more enjoyable to use and will increase the amount of time you use it.

4. Pedals

Pedals seem like such a small thing, but they can make a real difference in the overall enjoyment and safety of riding the bike. Good pedals also increase the workout potential and help to make for a better workout. The best pedals are those that are oversized and come with a safety strap to ensure your feet don't slip out. There are several different types of pedal cranks available, but the most common types are a simple one-piece pedal crank and a three-piece pedal crank. The three-piece pedal crank is better because it offers smooth pedal movement, transition and workout, and is less clunky than a one-piece pedal crank is.

5. Drive System

The drive system on a recumbent bike is very important. A good drive system keeps the bike quiet and gives a smooth ride, while a poor drive system tends to be noisy, shaky and clunky to ride. Not only is a bike with a good drive system more comfortable and enjoyable to ride them one with a poor drive system is, it also substantially improves the physical benefits of the workout for the user.

Most recumbent bikes come with some type of a weighted flywheel. Generally, the heavier the flywheel the smoother and quieter the workout. For a quiet smooth ride, look for a weighted flywheel, one weighing around 35- 40 pounds.

6. Proper Height and Weight Rating

Different brands and models of recumbent bikes have different weight ratings. A weight rating is the maximum weight that the machine can accommodate. Be sure to get a bike that is usable by the heaviest person in your household. Some of the less expensive bikes has a weight rating of only 250 pounds, while the more expensive ones usually have a weight rating of 300-400 pounds. Recumbent bikes that have a weight rating above 400 pounds can be purchased, but they are very expensive.

Some bikes have a height rating, while others do not. Most recumbent bikes can be adjusted to fit someone from 5'2” to 6'2" tall. It is important to get a bike that is adjustable to ensure that users fit comfortably. If multiple people are going to be using the machine, getting one that adjusts easily will save a lot of headaches and time.

7. Heart Rate Monitor

A heart rate monitor is a helpful tool for tracking your health and overall fitness levels. It is also an excellent way to judge the intensity of the workout. A heart rate monitor is very important for those doing physio-therapy and doctor prescribed exercise. The best heart rate monitor is a telemetric chest monitor; however, they are generally only available on the more expensive bikes. Cheaper and average price recumbent bikes usually comes with a contact heart monitor that it built in the handlebar's grips. Contact heart monitors are not as accurate as telemetric chest monitors, but they still usually work reasonably well.

8.Warranty

Recumbent bikes are fairly expensive, especially if a high quality one is purchased. A good warranty is important in case something goes wrong. Warranties vary per brand and are divided into categories. Usually there is a different warranty for the frame, mechanical, electrical, labor and parts. Buyers should check the warranty carefully, and if buying a more expensive bike, try to get at least a 5-10 year warranty on the frame and two years on the mechanical and electric.

9. Bonus Features

For those planning on using their bike regularly, a few bonus features may be worth the extra money. Some recumbent bikes come with built in speakers for listening to music, a media/book rack, a USB charging port for charging cell phones and MP3 players, a water bottle holder, transport wheels to make moving it easier, and even a fan to help keep the user cool. For some users these bonus features are not needed. If you're one of these users, why pay extra for them? We recommend a bike that leaves out these features for the sake of a lower price point. There are users that will take full advantage of these features and for them these extra features will enhance their fitness experience, making it well worth the extra money.

10. Price

Recumbent bikes range in price from $100 to thousands of dollars. Generally, the more expensive the price, the better quality the bike and the longer it will last for. However, special features can drive up the price of a bike, while really not offering a better overall bike than one that's less expensive without the same extra features. We recommend that you don't spend a mountain of money on a slew of features you won't use. Buying a recumbent bike is a big purchase; it's worth taking the time to research the different brands and models. Definitely take a look at our reviews for more information on each specific model to find out what features it has and what consumer reviews indicate about its quality and durability.

Our Recumbent Bike Reviews

You are probably looking to buy an exercise bike because you want to be able to enjoy a good workout in the comfort of your own home. Several popular options include recumbent bikes and stationary bikes. Before you buy a recumbent bike, make sure that you look at several recumbent bike reviews. These reviews will help a great deal in making your purchase decision much easier.

In the event that you are in the market for purchasing a recumbent exercise bike, you should be aware of what separates the best recumbent exercise bike from cheap and flimsy models that simply won't last. If you are searching for the best bike, there are a few critical details that you will need to acknowledge and consider. We definitely recommend that you take a look at our list of ten things to look for when buying a recumbent bike that we've outlined above. You may also want to create a checklist to make sure that you do not forget any details or factors. Obviously, the best recumbent bike will have many more positive reviews than negative ones. Reviews are important because they will help you come to your final decision about the bike that will be perfect for you and all of your needs.

2014 Best Rated Recumbent Bikes

Based on our comprehensive survey of editorial and user recumbent bike reviews, we have rated the following three models the best overall.

#1 Best Overall

Diamondback Fitness 510Sr

The Diamondback Fitness 510Sr is an affordable recumbent bike that offers the features and warranties of a far more expensive bike. This excellent bike offers a smooth, quiet and comfortable workout. It has a multi-speed fan to help keep user's cool, a media bay with USB port and built in speakers, 16 levels of resistance that are easily adjusted to make workouts harder or easier, and 20 programs that are displayed on a large easy to read LCD display screen. The frame on this bike is very sturdy and built to last; it comes with a lifetime warranty. The Diamondback Fitness 510Sr is perfect for those  who require a high quality bike with all the programs needed to monitor their progress, that will last for years, at a price that won't break the bank.

Diamondback Fitness 510Sr Full Review

#2 Best Overall

Schwinn 270

Schwinn has been making high quality bikes for over 100 years and is  one of the leading recumbent exercise bike manufacturers in the market today. The 270 is one of Schwinn's newer model recumbent bikes. It is extremely high quality, packed full of useful features and comes with a fantastic warranty. This is a bike meant to last; it has a 10 year warranty on the frame, 2 years for the mechanical/electrical parts and 90 days on labor.

The Schwinn 270 offers great features such as a dual LCD monitor that has 13 different displays, 29 programs, 4 user settings and has goal tracking to help users monitor their exercise achievements. It also offers  25 levels of resistance, a high speed high inertia perimeter weighted flywheel  that makes the bike ride like a dream and very quiet. It also offers a comfortable padded seat and vented backrest, a USB port for charging and playing MP3 players and cell phones, and built in speakers. The Schwinn 270 is an excellent recumbent bike that offers the high quality and features that are compatible with other more expensive bikes. 

Schwinn 270 Full Review

#3 Best Overall

Horizon Fitness RC-30

Horizon exercise equipment is made by Johnson Health Tech, one of the biggest and most popular exercise equipment companies in the world. First and foremost the Horizon RC-30 is designed for comfort and ease of use, while offering the maximum workout potential. It is ideal for those doing physio-therapy and doctor prescribed exercise to get in shape and lose weight.

The Horizon RC-30 is a solid recumbent exercise bike that offers a fair amount of features and an excellent warranty. It has a large sculptured seat and backrest that offers superb lower back support and an easy step through design that makes getting on and off the bike simple and safe. It also features eight levels of resistance, eight workout programs, a very sturdy flywheel that gives a quiet smooth ride, and a pulse-grip heart rate monitor. The Horizon Fitness RC-30 has a maximum weight rating of 275 pounds. This is an excellent high quality bike; it does not offer as many features as many of the competitors do, instead it was made for comfort and longevity.

Horizon Fitness RC-30 Full Review

The bikes above are rated best overall. If you are looking for a recumbent bike at a more affordable price point (less than $200) the following three bikes are great options.

#1 Best Budget

Exerpeutic 900XL

The Exerpeutic 900XL does not have as many features as most of the more expensive recumbent bikes offer. However, it is an extremely sturdy well made bike for an affordable price. It has an adjustable oversized padded seat and backrest that give excellent lumbar support and is comfortable even during extended use. It also features leg stabilizers to ensure the bike doesn't tip during vigorous workouts, eight levels of tension so users can make their workout harder or easier, transport wheels to make moving it hassle free, and an on-board computer that displays the user's distance, calories burned, speed, time and heart rate. It also offers hand grip heart rate sensors, a "smooth torque" crank system and large pedals with safety straps, and has a maximum user rate of 300 pounds.  The Exerpeutic 900XL is not  an extremely fancy recumbent bike; it does not have a lot of bells and whistles. However, for the price, it is a excellent bike that does the job well and should last for years - a very dependable piece of exercise equipment.

Exerpeutic 900XL Review

#2 Best Budget

Velocity CHB-R2101

The Velocity Exercise magnetic recumbent bike is an excellent bike for those looking to seriously increase their fitness level. Unlike many other recumbent bikes, it has manual tension adjustment instead of computer tension adjustment. This is good and bad: generally, manual tension adjustment doesn't break down as quickly as computer tension adjustment does; however, with manual tension adjustment the bike cannot be programmed to mimic uphill and downhill riding, and it also doesn't allow the user to increase or decrease tension automatically during a workout.

The Velocity CHB-R2101 is a very well made bike with a solid frame. It is dependable and not given to breaking down or burning out. It features a large LCD screen that displays the user's stats, comes with transport wheels, and has a large well cushioned seat, backrest and padded hand grips to help keep users comfortable during rigorous and extended workouts. It is very quiet and sturdy even during the most extensive of workouts. It is built to last and is better made than many of the other compatible bikes on the market today - an excellent well made bike for an affordable price.

Velocity CHB-R2101 Full Review

#3 Best Budget

Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle

If you're looking for a solid dependable recumbent bike for an incredibly low price, then the Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle is worth looking in to. This bike is one of the least expensive bikes on the market today; however, it still offers many of the same features that the more expensive bikes offer and it's made to last. It has a 300 pound weight rating, offers eight levels of adjustable magnetic resistance, and has a large LCD screen that displays user's speed, distance, time and calories burned.

This solid bike was made for comfort: it has counterbalanced pedals with adjustable safety straps and a large padded seat and back rest to ensure comfort and lower back support. It is also incredible quiet and comes with transport wheels , so moving it to and from the living room so you can watch television while you work out is a breeze. The Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle is certainly not one of the fanciest bikes on the market today, but it is one of the least expensive, and it is an excellent choice for those wanting a well made long lasting bike for an extremely low price.

Marcy Mag Cycle Full Review

More On Buying A Recumbent Bike

No matter what type of bike you are considering purchasing, there are several guidelines that you will need to follow. These guidelines are great to follow because they will help you make a reasonable decision that you will be satisfied with. It is important that you follow each guideline carefully and pay close attention to detail.

Most people are concerned about the price more than any other detail. The price of the bikes will depend on where you purchase them. Some stores will have several deals and bonuses available, while other stores may have a clearance on the bike you would like to purchase.  When it comes to the price, be sure to compare prices. The best way to do this is by means of the internet. By using the internet, you will be able to compare prices and see which store has the better bargain.

You also need to compare the features the bike offers for the price. Does it have all of the presets you are looking for? Is the seat comfortable? Check the maximum weight for the bike, and find out if it is easy to move from room to room. Read about the cons of the bike and see if it required a lot of repairs after purchase.

If price is a factor that bothers you, you may want to consider purchasing a bike that is used.  There are plenty of websites that you can use to help you find exactly what you are looking for.  If you are on a budget, this may be the route that you should take. If you do decide to go this route, there are many more details that you have to pay attention to.

Purchasing used equipment means that it has already been used by another person and is not brand new. Knowing how the previous owner took care of the bike is essential information. You will need to check for wear and tear.  When you see the bike in person, you should give it a test run to make sure that everything is functioning properly. You should ask for the original instruction manual, if available.

Asking questions is something that you should do before you make your final purchase. Ask the previous owner how long they have had the bike and if they know the date that they purchased it. This will give you a good idea of any maintenance that needs to be done. Look the bike over carefully and check for any malfunctions or other issues that you may have with the bike. If the bike has features that do not work, this could be means for a reduction in the original price that they are asking. Other information that you may need to know is where the previous owner purchased the bike from. In some instances, a shop will make the proper repairs to your bike for a low price. Even though you are still spending money, you will be saving money in the long run because purchasing a brand new bike will be a lot more money.

If you are trying to find a site on the internet to find a used product of this kind, use your search engine to find what you are looking for. Once you have typed what you are looking for in the search field, several websites will appear. You will have to go through each site and see what they have to offer.  Some sites that you run across will be the same or very similar to one another. Most sites that offer this type of product will have several search fields so that you can find exactly what you are looking for.

Search fields in this instance usually include price range, year it was made, previously owned or new product, style, make, and model of the product. On other sites that are similar, there will be buyers and sellers who have access to the site. With these sites, you will be able to view pictures and other information about the products.  You will also be able to send e-mail to the owner with any questions that you may have.

Another detail that you have to consider when you are purchasing a used bike is the distance.  Most people who sell products online do not mail the products to the buyer.  In this instance, it is important that you deal with people who are local to you. Traveling twenty to thirty miles is a lot better than taking a road trip to another state to get your product. Gas will definitely be a factor in this situation. Keep in mind that if you are purchasing a used bike, you are trying to save money instead of spending it.

It’s a good idea not to run with the very first person that you see that is selling a bike that you would like to have.  A lot of people make this mistake and find something later on down the line that they would like but are not able to purchase it because they no longer have the funds or the space to put anything anywhere. If you keep all of this in mind when you are purchasing a new or used bike, you are more likely to be satisfied with the product that you have purchased.

2013 Best Rated Recumbent Bikes

For your reference, we've included our list of last year's best rated models. As you can see, many of 2013's best models are no longer rated the best in their respective categories by consumers.

#1 Best Overall

Diamondback Fitness 910Sr

The Diamondback Fitness 910Sr Recumbent exercise bike offers excellent features that can be utilized by any user. Whether you are trying to lose weight, need help with rehabilitation, or are just trying to keep your body fit, toned, and healthy, this bike can provide in all areas.

The 910Sr comes with 35 workout programs and 32 levels of resistance, meaning the most hardcore rider can effectively use this bike just as an elderly woman trying to keep her heart rate up can. If you want to lose the pounds while pedaling furiously and sweating up a storm, or if you want to keep active and moving while playing video games or watching the television, this is the perfect bike for you.

Diamondback Fitness 910Sr Full Review

#2 Best Overall

Schwinn 240

With two kids and a family to run, time was never on my side. As a result, I found myself getting out of shape with little or no time to work out! The Schwinn 240 Recumbent exercise bike changed that for me by allowing me to have a great workout in the comfort of my own home without having to brave any type of weather. These are the thoughts of one of many past users of the Schwinn 240.

The Schwinn 240 allows the user to burn hundreds of calories just by getting on the bicycle for an hour a day while watching television, listening to music, or being right in the room with your children. The seat is comfortable and designed with ergonomics in mind to provide maximum support. The seat and the console are adjustable, so users can move them to the optimal height for their needs. 

Schwinn 240 Full Review

#3 Best Overall

Nautilus R514

Wanting to lose weight is the dream of billions of people around the world. However, the majority of overweight persons often shy away from the gym. Whether it’s a matter of self-esteem or lack of motivation, everyone who wants to lose weight should have the opportunity to do so. If you don’t want to pay gym fees but want a fitness bike that your family can use at home, the Nautilus R514 Recumbent Exercise Bike is a great addition to any home gym.

Many exercise enthusiasts will agree that an ergonomic design that allows comfort and easy use is mandatory for every piece of workout equipment. The Nautilus R514 Recumbent Exercise Bike features a step-through design which makes getting on and off this machine easy. The adjustable lumbar support allows users to adjust the seat to their desired positioning for maximum comfort. This fitness bike also comes with a 20-pound flywheel with 16 resistance levels. It’s simply designed for use by everyone regardless of their age, gender, or fitness level. The Nautilus R514 Recumbent Exercise Bike comes with oversized deluxe pedals which prevent slipping while cycling as well as increase comfort for the user.

Nautilus R514 Full Review

These three bikes were 2013's best rated more wallet friendly models. All are priced less than $200.

#1 Best Budget

Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle

The Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle is a great bike for anyone on a budget. Trying to lose weight can turn out to be an expensive affair and many companies selling weight loss products are cashing out on that weakness. The Marcy recumbent mag cycle costs so little even as a brand new bike, making it an affordable option for most consumers.

The Marcy recumbent mag cycle is sturdy enough to be able to hold up to 300 pounds, making it a very study option. The step-through frame makes the bike easy to mount and dismount. The adjustable seat and console adjust to fit all sizes.

The bike is small enough to put in any room and to keep hidden, if necessary. You can actually roll it away anywhere after your workout, thanks to the glider wheels and manageable weight.

Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle Review

#2 Best Budget

Schwinn A20

There are many reasons to love the Schwinn A20 recumbent exercise machine. It is really sturdy and yet quiet as a mouse! It also costs a lot less that many of its competitors, making it affordable for most consumers. It also offers many comparable features to the more expensive models, despite having a much lower price.

The Schwinn A20 recumbent exercise machine is so quiet that it can be used while watching television or reading a book. You can even use it while you children are sleeping nearby. You can make maximum use of your time by exercising and catching up on your favorite shows. The television can keep you distracted from watching the timer to see how long you’ve been working out, helping you burn more calories. Most of the time, I don't even realize that I have been working out through an entire movie. As a result I end up burning at least 300 to 500 calories. For a person like me that is just awesome. The Schwinn A20 recumbent exercise machine is my savior in losing weight. Especially, because I hate visiting a gym, looking at a wall and running on a treadmill, and paying good money for it. This option is easy, quiet, comfortable and light on my pocket as well. These are the thoughts of one of many satisfied customers.

Schwinn A20 Full Review

#3 Best Budget

Stamina 1350

I happen to suffer from terrible knee aches, and my doctor advised me to purchase the Stamina 1350 magnetic resistance recumbent bike. I tried to get out for a walk now and then, but the pain was too excruciating for me to even think of getting out of the house for a jog. This equipment came as a savior when I really needed it. I managed to get on the bike and use it for at least 20 minutes. This amazing fitness equipment helped keep me active and get me into much better shape. These are the thoughts of one of many satisfied customers.

A recumbent resistant exercise bike offers all the benefits of riding your bike outside without having to brave the elements. Sit comfortably on the Stamina in any room in your home while listening to music or watching your favorite television show. There is no experience or advanced fitness level required to get started with the Stamina 1350 because this kind of bike is good for all users.

Stamina 1350 Full Review