Fitness

Big 5 Best Recumbent Exercise Bikes (For Short People, Obese, etc)

You’ve seen the pictures or looked at them in the gym. Rows of shiny treadmills, rowers, stair steppers, and yes, recumbent exercise bikes. Perfectly in order, polished, perhaps being used by lithe fitness freaks. How hard can it be? Just get on and go, right?

But maybe this picture is more intimidating than inspiring. There are too many choices, and they all seem to take a minor amount of magic to get them to work. Perhaps you don’t even want to go to the gym in the first place. You like the idea of being able to stay home and get exercise without sharing the experience with other people.

So now you’re shopping for a home trainer. You’ve even narrowed the list down to recumbent stationary bikes rather than an upright exercycle. You’re probably familiar with the benefits that are described in this article, but you still have a lot of choices to make.

Many people choose to ride as part of their plan to reduce or manage their weight. Recumbents can be particularly suitable for very obese folks because these exercise bikes are low to the floor, stable, and easy to access. A high weight capacity might be something you’re looking for in an exercise bike.

Is comfort a high priority or are you more interested in a challenging workout? Do you have to choose between one or the other? Why is there such a big price difference and how come recumbents cost more than upright exercise bikes?

These questions and more are covered in this article. Keep reading to find the answers.

Why is There Such a Big Price Range?

There are a lot of recumbent bikes for sale today, and the price range is enormous. How do you know when it’s worth spending more money?

One of the easiest features to point out is the electronics that come on the bike. Almost always the higher priced trainers will have higher power computers. This is great if you like lots of data, pre-programmed workouts, and possibly even the ability to download to your computer.

You may be a person who enjoys a simple readout with large buttons and doesn’t care about digital adjustments. Lower priced recumbents will often have a knob to control resistance, so you don’t even have to deal with the computer to start riding. You can tell by these two pictures that there’s a big difference in what’s out there.

Exerpeutic 900XL

Schwinn 270

Which Recumbents Are Best for Big People?

The best place to look for the answer to this question is on the spec list. Web sites and stores that have recumbent bikes for sale should be able to provide this info if it’s not immediately easy to find. Look for two things on the list. First is the stated weight capacity. The usual range is from 250-350 pounds, but you can find some listed at 400 pounds.

The customer questions and reviews can shed even more light. Manufacturers will keep the official number on the low side for safety and liability reasons. Here’s an example of first-hand reports that provide a good mix of input from users.

The other indicator on the spec sheet is what type of warranty the bike comes with. This gives you insight into the type of materials and quality of construction. Most of us can’t accurately recognize the difference in these things. A tube might look heavy duty, but it may be made of lower grade material and then given an awesome finish to impress us.

Simply put, a longer warranty means that it’s built to last longer. Keep an eye out for what the warranty covers. The frame is always on it, but better bikes will include a mechanical and electronic warranty also.

Your height and leg length are other considerations in your selection. In the reviews below we mention which exercise bikes may fit tall people better. All recumbents have adjustable seats, but depending on the design they may be better suited for the tall or short end of the spectrum. Also, we point out models that accommodate very large feet.

Do Some Recumbents Give a Better Workout Than Others?

You’ll get the best workout from the trainer that you use the most. Spending more money is worth it if you bring one home that you’re excited about riding. Having said that, the straight answer is yes, there is a difference between bikes.

Different ways are used to increase and hold the resistance on the flywheel. Most of this is hidden from view, so you have to rely on feedback from other users about how well it works. Often the bikes that are adjusted with a knob or dial don’t go quite as high in resistance.

Some exercise bikes also have the option to combine your pedaling with an arm workout. You get a better-balanced body from working more than just your legs, and the variety can be motivating to keep you coming back.

Which Ones Are the Most Comfortable?

You probably already know that recumbents are usually considered more comfortable than upright bikes. The seats are bigger, and the weight is taken off your arms and partially spread over your back. Look for a seat that is contoured. This can have more of an effect on your comfort than a flat seat with lots of padding.

The backrest may or may not be cushioned. Don’t assume that the most padded ones are best. If the backrest matches your shape and has good ventilation, it may keep you cooler and more comfortable than padding.

A few bikes come with built-in fans. This is convenient and can go a long way towards helping you ride longer and burn more calories.

Recumbent Exercise Bike Reviews

Below are five bikes I chose to review. Read carefully to see which ones have the features that best match what you want.

Marcy ME 709 Recumbent Exercise Bike

Buy Marcy ME 709 Recumbent Exercise Bike from Amazon, click here

The Marcy is the most affordable bike that I looked at, which gives it a predictable combination of good news/bad news. At this price it’s worth buying just for a test run. Later on, if you want to upgrade you’ll have a better idea of the features that you most desire in a recumbent.

The seat is pretty basic. Comfort is always a matter of personal preference, but there’s a good chance you’ll want to add some extra cushion to this one.

The computer displays speed, distance, time and calories burned. None of these features are very high-tech, so if you don’t like dealing with computers, this bike will keep your life simple. It does have an optional scan feature so that you don’t have to push a button to scroll through each item. This can give a bit of variety to the readout and keep you from staring at the clock and hoping it moves faster.

Like all the other bikes, it uses a magnetic resistance system that is very quiet although not quite as smooth as some others. You adjust the eight preset resistance levels by manually turning a dial below the computer.

At this price, I was surprised by how sturdy and stable the bike is. The stated weight capacity is 300 pounds, and I’d be comfortable recommending it for big folks. Most people who addressed this question thought so too.

It also seems to extend long enough to accommodate taller users. The adjustment is done with the bottom frame bar, which isn’t the most convenient, but gives more range than some bikes that use a sliding seat adjustment. If multiple people are using it frequently, the movable seats are nicer, but if you’re concerned about overall length, this could be a good choice.

Pros:
Lowest price point for getting started.
• Accommodates taller riders.
Simple computer system.

Cons:
• May not be the most comfortable seat.
• Sturdy, but not as solid as some of the other bikes.
• Resistance doesn’t go very high. Stronger users may want more.

Exerpeutic 900XL Extended Capacity Recumbent Bike with Pulse

Buy Exerpeutic 900XL Extended Capacity Recumbent Bike with Pulse from Amazon, click here

The Exerpeutic 900XL is another value-priced stationary bike that performs above its price level. The single biggest difference between it and the Marcy is that the 900XL has a built-in heart rate monitor. To use it, you do have to keep at least one hand on a handgrip which is where the contact sensors are located. If you’re used a fully remote sensor system, this may be annoying, but for many people, it’s a great intro to the world of heart rate training.

Like the Marcy, the cushion and shaping of the seat are not the greatest. It may seem trite to base your bike choice on the seat, but if it’s not comfortable enough to keep you using it, it’s not worth having. If needed, you can add a cushion or even a gel pad and still keep your overall cost low. To adjust the position, there are knobs just under it. They do require a twist and pull, but overall it’s more convenient than the bottom bar system on the Marcy.

Once again, the computer is simple but adds a heart rate function to the data. For the size of the unit the screen seems small, but the numbers are fairly big and readable.

The magnetic resistance is very quiet and adjusted manually with a dial. It has a bigger range of difficulty compared to the Marcy, so if you’re concerned about getting a hard enough workout, this will be a better choice.

The 900XL is the smallest and lightest recumbent in the review, although not by much. In spite of this, it is still quite stable and has a 300-pound weight capacity. From what I’ve seen this bike can handle that weight and has enough adjustment range for taller users. This is not the case for many bikes in a similar price range. Yes, a more expensive bike will generally be more solid and stable, but I have confidence the 900XL is adequate for its stated load.

Pros:
The low price point for getting started.
• Includes a heart rate monitor for better training feedback.
• Accommodates taller riders.
Simple computer system.

Cons:
• May not be the most comfortable seat.
• Sturdy, but not as solid as some of the other bikes.
• No “bells and whistles” to keep you coming back.

Schwinn 230 Recumbent Bike

Buy Schwinn 230 Recumbent Bike from Amazon, click here

The Schwinn 230 is a step up from the previous bikes. It’s almost double the price too, so you’ll want to be sure you need what it offers. So, what’s the difference and is it worth it? It’s a heavier duty machine in general, and the electronics are significantly improved.

Let’s start with the computer and what it can do for you. It has two LCD windows that each display multiple pieces of information. There are 22 programs to choose from. Each setting delivers a different workout; for example up and down hills, short sprints, gradually increasing resistance, etc. You may not use all 22, but having the variety is better for your fitness and your interest level.

The resistance is also digitally controlled and has 20 different levels. To help you keep track of these options, you can save two different user settings. These are custom programs in addition to the ones it comes with. The 230 has built in functionality to export data to a website that helps you manipulate the data even more. All these features are designed to keep you on track and motivated with your riding regimen.

What about comfort? I like that the 230 has a built in fan. It’s aimed right where I’m sitting, and I can control it without stopping my ride. The seat is well shaped and contoured rather than just flat. It’s also ventilated to keep you a bit cooler. However, it is not cushioned. Surprisingly this is not a deal killer for everyone. The curved shape goes a long way in making it work, and in the worst case, you can add a gel pad or pillow. Here are a few personal comments that fall on both sides of the issue.

Pros:
• A large, multi-faceted electronic console.
• Great looks.
• The best warranty of the group (along with the Schwinn 270)

Cons:
• No options for an upper body workout.
• The computer may be too much for some people.
• May not be the most comfortable seat.

ProForm Hybrid Trainer Elliptical Machine

Buy ProForm Hybrid Trainer Elliptical Machine from Amazon, click here

This is the only exercycle I reviewed that includes an option for an arm and upper body workout. The ProForm combines a recumbent bike with an elliptical trainer. When standing on the footplates, your legs move in the same circular pattern as when you’re pedaling. At the same time, you can grasp the handles and push/pull them to work your arms and chest. This video shows you how it looks in action.

The computer offers a lot. Sixteen resistance levels and 16 programmed workouts give plenty of variety to keep you entertained. The console is small, but the readout is a decent size. It is compatible with iFit Live technology if you buy the extra subscription. iFit has virtual routes that you can train on, lets you track your progress, and provides more customization.

There is a built-in heart rate monitor if you hold the handles that have sensors. I like that the ProForm has a watt meter that reports the amount of power produced. This gives a measurable gauge of how hard you’re working and a better comparison of how workouts compare to each other.

Don’t let all this tech stuff overwhelm you. If you don’t like it you don’t have to use it; you can just enjoy the bike and elliptical combo.

Pros:
• Hybrid Bike/Elliptical combo provides full body workout options.
• The powerful computer features to keep you motivated.
• Integrated heart rate monitor and power meter.

Cons:
• The elliptical has a short stride and may not be the best for taller users.
• The tech features may be over the top for some folks.

Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike

Buy Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike from Amazon, click here

The Schwinn 270 is an upgraded version of the Schwinn 230 above. I think the 230 and 270 are two of the best-looking bikes you can find. You might even be willing to leave it in your living room so that you use it more often.

The construction between the two is almost identical. The 270 has a higher quality 3-piece crank, an aluminum seat rail, and over-sized pedals. They both have the same outstanding warranty on frame, mechanical parts, and electronics. The 270 uses a padded seat paired with a ventilated backrest for the best of both worlds.

The big difference is what the computer can do, so if you like bells and whistles, this may be the bike for you. The 270 has more levels of resistance (25), more workout programs (29), more tests, user profiles, and heart rate tracking capabilities. All of this is designed to give you the best workout possible, help you train different physiological systems, help you understand your training better, and keep you motivated. For someone who is into tracking data, the 270 may be an excellent choice.

There are more features than I can list here, so check out this video for a full run down.

Pros:
• A large, multi-faceted electronic console.
• Tech options for feedback and monitoring your training.
• Great looks.

Cons:
• No options for an upper body workout.
• Highest price bike in the group.
• Some heart rate features require additional gear.

Which is the Best Recumbent Bike?

I was very impressed with the lower priced recumbents I reviewed. For a few extra dollars, I’d choose the Exerpeutic because it includes a heart rate feature. For starter machines, these are both very good.

You can’t beat the warranty on the Schwinn’s, which gives me confidence in their quality. The Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike is well priced for such a top end exercise machine.

All of these bikes have plenty to offer within their price point. I only chose recumbents that had an Amazon rating of four stars or higher and plenty of consumer reviews to check on. If I had to pick only one to recommend it would be the ProForm Hybrid Trainer Elliptical Machine (It’s a clear winner for me).

I expected it to be more expensive since it’s a two-in-one machine. There are plenty of ellipticals (and bikes) which cost the same as this combo machine. And it doesn’t cut corners just to bring the price down. The 350 lb. Weight capacity is the highest in the review.

It doesn’t have the most programs in its electronics but still has a solid array. The built-in heart rate grips are almost to be expected at this level, but also offering power data is a bonus. When you measure power you’re looking at the amount of energy produced. When you try to “cheat” on a workout, it shows a lower number which can motivate you to keep your efforts honest. Here’s a short article with an overview of how it can help you.There’s a little bit of “techy” talk in there, but it covers the basics pretty well.

I already mentioned that the combo option is a strong point for me. Here’s a viewpoint from a user who shares the trainer and how that benefits them.

Hope you had a great read on this report, Now i think you would be in better position to choose the Best Recumbent Bike.

Do comment below on your opinion, what do you think best recumbent bike?

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