Updated: December 2017

Best Recumbent Exercise Bike Reviews:

Recumbent exercise bikes have been around for a long time - in our opinion, they are the best type of exercise bike to buy for home fitness. What is a recumbent fitness bicycle? It's an exercise bike (or fitness bike or stationary bicycle, all mean the same thing) where you sit in a leaning-back, seated (recumbent) position. Most of us are used to riding upright bikes around the streets -- you sit high on the seat (or saddle) and lean forward and grip the handlebars with your hands, which puts a lot of weight and stress on your hands, wrists, neck, back, and butt. But on a recumbent exercise bike, you get to sit flat, PLUS lean back against the back rest of the seat, with your feet out in front of you. You don't have to hunch forward, your hands and arms are free, and your weight is distributed the same way it is on a regular chair. A lot of people get numbness in their hands and wrists and in their butts and pelvic regions after spending significant time on a standard upright bike -- that doesn't happen on a recumbent. Probably 90%+ of people who try both types of exercise bikes prefer the recumbent exercise bikes. If you are going to spend a couple hundred dollars to buy home exercise gear, we say spend it on something that you are going to enjoy using. In this guide, we will see what to look for when you buy a recumbent fitness bike, what the best brands and models are, and how much you can expect to spend.
recumbent exercise bikeschwinn recumbent exercise bike

Schwinn Recumbent Bikes - Stationary Bicycles:

One of the most famous names in bicycles is of course Schwinn -- they started in Chicago way back in 1895, with a focus on racing bikes and didn't move into kids bikes for more than a decade. But today their reputation and expertise carries over into the home exercise equipment market as well. They make upright bikes and elliptical trainers, but we're looking at the recumbent exercise bikes here. Schwinn offers 4 main bike models (the 20, 203, 230, and 231), ranging in price from $250 to $650. The Schwinn Active Series 20 Recumbent Bike is the least expensive. It's lightly constructed at 58lbs compared to 106lbs for the top of the line model, the Schwinn 231 Recumbent Exercise Bike.

All models have the same handgrip heart rate sensor to check your pulse. The seat is adjusted by pulling up a knob and sliding the seat forward or backward -- you'll want to set it up so that with the center of your foot on the furthest extended pedal, your knee is just slightly bent. Resistance is controlled by pushing buttons on the control panel (+ or -). They all use the same resistance mechanism -- quiet magnetic ECB (Eddy Current Brake = electromagnetic induction, like the force you feel when you move 2 magnets near each other and they repel). The 203 and 20 series offer only 8 levels of resistance, while the 230 and 231 offer 16 levels -- a big improvement when it comes to working out. The other 2 features that make the high-end Schwinn 231 Recumbent Exercise Bike stand out are the 23 built-in workout programs (like Ride in the Park, Rolling Hills, Pyramid Intervals, etc.), and the far superior backlit LCD screen (which shows time, RPM, distance, watts, pulse, calories, resistance, and speed). In fact, one of the major user complaints on the earlier models is the old LCD screen -- it was hard to see, not bright enough (this is the LCD found in the 3 other models besides the 231).

The 20lb steel flywheel on the Schwinn 231 lets you really feel the workout, while the comfort seat with lumbar support helps you NOT feel the workout -- very comfortable. And then there are the extras - magazine holder, water bottle holder, transport wheel for easily moving around, adjustable fan (with angled louvres and on/off switch for when you want it), adjustable LCD angle. Add on top of this a 10 year frame warranty, 1 year on mechanical and electrical, 6 months on wear items, and 90 days for labor (all Schwinn models have same thorough warranty, except for the 20 which has 3 year frame warranty and 6 months mechanical and electrical), and you have yourself a pretty much risk free purchase.

So overall, our top pick is the (RECOMMENDED) Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike (the 230 runs around $50 less, but we feel the improved LCD readout and additional workout programs are worth the extra money). What we like about it:
  • Solid construction, heavy fly wheel
  • Excellent LCD screen for program information and stats, very easy to read
  • Good built-in workout programs for variety and challenge
  • Comfortable seat
  • Easy to move around house with wheel
  • Quiet enough to watch TV while exercising without having to blast out the volume
  • Check out the reviews on Amazon if you need more convincing -- more than 60 5-star consumer reviews, very-well received (we checked 4 leading retailers and sporting good stores as of Jan 2009, and Amazon tied for the lowest price of $549)
Check price at Amazon and BUY NOW.

* A note on recumbent workouts. One problem some beginner recumbent riders have is sore knees. With their backs pressed against the seat, they get more leverage and can push against even harder resistance in the recumbent position (think constantly standing on a regular bike), ending up with sore knee joints. With recumbent bikes, you're better off switching to a lower gear and pedaling a little faster. Try it, you'll feel better and your knees will thank you.

Other Top Fitness Bikes - Nautilus Recumbent and ProForm Recumbent Bicycles

Nautilus NR2000 Recumbent Exercise Bike is another great piece of equipment, but it is fairly expensive, coming in at over $1000. We've used Nautilus gear at home before, and they generally have a good reputation for well-built, durable exercise machines. The NR2000 does not fail to deliver here -- it could easily pass for a gym-quality bike built for sustained long-term use (parts are covered for 10 years by warranty, the frame for life -- how's that?). With 6 pre-programmed workouts built-in, you get plenty of variety or you can build and save your own 2 programs, moving between 16 different resistance levels. It uses electromagnetic resistance for a quiet, smooth workout. The extra-wide pedals are a nice touch as well, making constant contact nearly effortless. Interestingly enough, you don't even have to plug it in -- this green machine generates its power from YOU, so there are no cords to stretch or trip over. It's also got the little amenities like bottle holder and book rack. This is a great bike - if I had a $1000 budget, this would be my choice. But for $600 or less, I'm sticking with the Schwinn above.

Proform is another maker of popular recumbent exercise bikes. Some of their bikes come with built-in video games, called GameFit (ever play Black Jack while exercising?). We all know it takes some motivation to workout, and many times, these games are just the ticket to get you involved and pedaling, and before you know it, 30 minutes have gone by. That's my kind of workout. The ProForm 5.0 R Recumbent Bike sells for around $399 (it weighs in at 100lbs and is 38 inches long by 14 inches wide by 25 inches tall) and has standard heart rate monitors built into the hand grips, along with SMR - silent magnetic resistance for a quiet, smooth ride. The seat adjust by pulling up on a knob and sliding the seat forward or backward, depending on your leg length.

At the higher end, NordicTrack also makes some very sophisticated, high performance recumbent bikes (AutoRider 400 for $499, and Commercial 400 for $799). The AutoRider 400 has a 300lb capacity rating, and features a music port and speakers for plugging in your iPod, a well-padded seat and back rest (perhaps the most important), Personal Trainer workout cards to track and plan your progress, an excellent backlit LCD display, built-in cardiogrip heart monitor, a multi-speed fan, and 20 built-in workouts. You can order direct from them -- NordicTrack.com.