There are many reasons for purchasing a recumbent bike, but one of the most popular is to combat bad knees. Recumbent bikes offer relief from overuse on joints and muscles by providing a way to exercise while sitting down. They also often have more features than traditional upright bikes, which can be appealing. In this blog post we’ll outline some of the best recumbent bikes you should consider when looking into these types of bikes for your own home gym or workout space!
What is the Best Recumbent Bike For Bad Knees?
It can be difficult to find the best recumbent bike for bad knees. There are so many options and products available! But don’t worry; we’ve done all of the research so that you don’t have to. After going through most of the products, we have narrowed it down to the absolute top 5 recumbent bikes for bad knees and wrote down why they’re worth your time and money.
We have also compiled a list of key pointers to consider before buying recumbent exercise bike for bad knees which you can find later on in this article, together with some helpful FAQs. So without further delay, let’s get started with the list of best recumbent bikes for bad knees.
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Weight: 53 Pounds (24 kg)
Size: 45 x 40 x 20 Inches (114.3 x 101.6 x 50.8 cm)
Resistance Type: Magnetic
Resistance Levels: 16 levels
Material: Alloy Steel
Screen Type: LCD
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The Vanswe Recumbent Exercise Bike is another popular entry-level option that provides great value for its price point. It features a heavy-duty alloy steel construction that gives it a high maximum weight of 380 pounds. On the other hand, it has a lightweight build that makes it easy to maneuver and has a low-profile design that makes it ideal for seniors and the infirm.
The recumbent features a magnetic resistance system with 16 levels, and one would expect it to offer more tension than bikes with 8. However, most users have noted that there isn’t a significant difference, especially in the lower positions while the higher levels deliver moderate intensity. Therefore, I would not recommend this exercise bike to anyone who isn’t elderly, obese, or recovering from joint and back problems.
The maximum height allowance is another exaggerated feature where the manufacturer indicates that the seat adjustment would be comfortable for 6’3″ people. But, users have noted that its maximum height is less, and a 6-foot person may not get the proper leg extension to use the recumbent safely. However, I like that the seat adjustment is infinite and allows you to fit without getting off the saddle.
The console is another outstanding feature that I would like to highlight. Although it displays the typical metrics you find in most recumbents, it also comes with Bluetooth connectivity that helps you sync with the free fitness data app. The console also features a media shelf to hold your tablet or kindle to keep you entertained while you work out.
- Easy to assemble and maneuver,
- Lightweight construction with a compact design,
- Features Bluetooth and tablet holder,
- Ideal for seniors and overweight people,
- Offers 10-year warranty on the frame,
- Comes with highly responsive customer service
- Maximum saddle adjustment is below six feet,
- It doesn’t provide high-intensity workouts,
- Seat padding is not adequate
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Weight: 107 Pounds (48.5 kg)
Size: 67.3 x 48.8 x 26.4 Inches (170.9 x 124 x 67.1 cm)
Resistance Type: Electromagnetic
Resistance Levels: 25 levels
Screen Type: Dual-Mode LCD
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If you’re looking to get more sweat and intensity from your workout, you should consider getting a midrange recumbent, such as this Nautilus R618. It comes with more desirable features than most recumbent exercise bikes in this review, and it is ideal for professional cyclists and people who want intense fitness training.
This recumbent exercise bike includes 29 built-in and customizable training programs that you use to improve your fitness goals. The console comes with Bluetooth connectivity that syncs with apps like MyFitnessPal and the Nautilus app to track your workouts. You can also sync with a free RideSocial app that allows you to view tons of cycling routes and other cyclists virtually while riding the bike. Plus, the console features a media tray where you can slot in your tablet or iPad to engage with the apps and the MP3 input and USB port to play music from your device with the stereo speakers.
To be clear, the R618 is a bulky recumbent bike, and it has the largest footprint and weight value on my list. Also, if you compare it with the Schwinn 270 bike, you get more value with this recumbent for almost half the price even though the features are almost similar. The recumbent also includes several comfort features such as the tilting console to view your data better, a 3-speed fan to cool you down as you work up a sweat, four user profiles, and a water bottle holder.
The saddle adjustment is another outstanding feature in that it is as simple as pulling up a lever and sliding it into position. The backrest is ventilated with angle adjustments, while the seat comes with a thick layer of gel padding for maximum comfort. The seat handlebars feature the heart rate monitor and a resistance level adjustment button.
The Nautilus R618 uses a type of electromagnetic resistance system known as the eddy current brake. The difference from the typical magnetic systems is that it requires a power source to work while the other is manual. Moreover, it comes with a perimeter-weighted flywheel that delivers a smooth pedaling action with 25 resistance levels. The advantage is that you can have a wider mix of users because the lower resistance settings are lighter for seniors, while the higher settings provide more challenging workouts.
- Compatible with a variety of free fitness tracking apps,
- It comes with various comfort and convenience features,
- Excellent warranty package that includes labor,
- Allows customized user-profiles and training programs,
- Drive system provides smooth pedaling action on all levels
- Heavy construction with a large footprint,
- No height adjustments for the saddle,
- Seat and backrest angles may be uncomfortable,
- Apps may not sync with all phones
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Weight: 66 Pounds (29.9 kg)
Size: 55.5 x 37.5 x 25 Inches (141 x 95.3 x 63.5 cm)
Resistance Type: Magnetic
Resistance Levels: 8 levels
Material: 14-Gauge Steel
Screen Type: LCD
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Marcy ME-709 is an entry-level recumbent that comes highly recommended due to its ease of use and affordable price point. The bike features a low-profile design that makes it ideal for seniors, overweight people, and people on the path of recovery as it is easy to mount.
One of its most attractive attributes is its ease of assembly, and most people can assemble it alone in under an hour. It also has a sturdy and lightweight construction that makes it easy to move around with its built-in glider wheels. It also has a high weight limit of 300 pounds, but my research shows that it can easily accommodate people who weigh up to 400 pounds.
The ME-709 is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to include exercise in their daily routine, but it’s not ideal for professional cyclists as it only comes with limited features. For instance, it features a quiet magnetic resistance system with eight low-impact resistance levels.
It is lightweight with low inertia, so it is easy for seniors to pedal but not challenging enough for people looking to get a heavy workout. It also comes with an LCD screen that displays four exercise metrics. They include time, distance, speed, and calories burned.
The seat is also relatively large to accommodate overweight people and provides excellent ergonomic support. The saddle is adjustable by moving the steel tube frame closer or further away from the pedals with six pre-set lengths, but you can drill extra holes on the tube frame to accommodate your height. I also like the weighted pedals with adjustable foot straps to prevent your feet from slipping.
- Highly rated and affordably priced,
- Low profile design for easy mounting,
- Wide ergonomic seat for heavyweight people,
- Sturdy structure with a high weight limit
- Bike parts wear out quickly,
- Pedaling action is not stable
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Weight: 48 Pounds (21.8 kg)
Size: 41 x 32 x 20 Inches (104.1 x 81.3 x 50.8 cm)
Resistance Type: Magnetic
Resistance Levels: 10 levels
Screen Type: LCD
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This bike also features a semi-recumbent design with a foldable X-frame structure ideal for home or office use. It delivers low-impact cycling exercises which are easy on the joints in the reclined position and provides full-body workouts to improve your cardio fitness as an upright bike. It has a 330-pound maximum user weight that makes this bike an excellent option for weight loss and rehabilitation exercises.
The Lanos folding bike features ten magnetic resistance levels, which you adjust with a tension knob. On the downside, it does not feature tension bands for arm exercises, and it is too lightweight for performance training. Also, the design does not accommodate short people, and the seat may be uncomfortable for them. However, it offers quick assembly as it comes pre-assembled out of the box and is a good value for a budget exercise bike.
- It comes with 330lbs weight capacity,
- Quick and easy assembly with clear instructions,
- Pedals are textured with rubber overlays to prevent slipping,
- It comes with a phone holder to listen to your music
- It can be unstable while pedaling heavily,
- It has a clunky noise while cycling,
- The bike may not be durable
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Weight: 63 Pounds (28.6 kg)
Size: 54 x 34 x 22 Inches (137.2 x 86.4 x 55.9 cm)
Resistance Type: Magnetic
Resistance Levels: 8 levels
Screen Type: LCD
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The Exerpeutic 900XL is another budget recumbent exercise bike that shares some similar attributes with the March ME-709. It is a sturdy and reliable exercise bike with excellent customer reviews as it is easy to use, has a low maintenance build, and is durable. The bike features a steel frame with stabilizers to keep it firm while you exercise.
The saddle adjustment is slightly different from the ME-709 recumbent, where it features a slider with pre-set holes instead of a moving frame. Many users have noted that the seat is wide and comfortable, with the handlebars set wide apart to accommodate big people.
Unfortunately, you can’t add holes to the slider if you are shorter than 5’3″ or taller than 6’3″ like the Marcy recumbent. However, it comes with a low-profile design profile that enables most users to mount the bike comfortably. Also, the textured pedals with foot straps help prevent your feet from slipping.
It comes with eight levels of magnetic resistance that you adjust with the tension knob. Unlike the Schwinn 270, the bike offers little intensity on the low levels and moderate intensity on the high levels. The magnetic system has a lag between the intensity levels, and if you are relatively fit, you may not notice the difference.
Also, the pedaling action becomes less stable on the upper resistance levels. On the upside, the handlebars feature a heart rate monitor. Plus, the console gives out six different metrics to help you track your workout.
- Affordably priced with low maintenance construction,
- Includes a heart rate monitor in the handlebars,
- Resistance levels deliver moderate impact workout,
- The balanced flywheel offers a noiseless operation,
- Leg stabilizers prevent movement while pedaling
- Unstable pedaling on the high levels,
- Unreliable warranty information,
- Difficult assembly instructions
After going through a vast range of recumbent bikes for bad knees, taking into consideration personal experiences with recumbent exercise bike for bad knees, their key features, as well as opinions of real customers online, our opinion is that the Vanswe Recumbent Exercise Bike 16 Levels Resistance is the best recumbent bike for bad knees out there.
However, if you’re on a tighter budget you can also consider Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike with Resistance ME-709 as an affordable alternative for you.
Now, if you want the best money can buy then you can go for Nautilus Recumbent Bike Series R618 which is our premium pick.
Our other reviews you may find useful in your research:
What You Should Know Before Buying Recumbent Bikes For Bad Knees
The Key Features Of Recumbent Exercise Bikes
The key design feature of recumbent exercise bikes is the adjustable reclined seat with a backrest that allows one to be comfortable while working out their lower body. Other critical features include the size and weight of the bike, materials for durability, a display panel to monitor your workout, and resistance levels.
One noticeable feature that stationary recumbent bikes lack is the handlebars you would find on upright bikes. Instead, most come with support bars on the sides of the seat or moving handlebars to work out your arms, such as you would find on the Sunny Recumbent Exercise Bike. However, dual-action exercise bikes such as the Xspec Dual Exercise Bike give you the option of using it as an upright or recumbent bike. Hence it features handlebars for the straight position alongside the support bars on the sides of the seat when you recline.
Resistance helps you determine the intensity of your workout, and the most affordable recumbent exercise bikes feature 8 – 12 levels. Generally, exercise bikes use a resistance mechanism that applies various degrees of pressure on the bike’s flywheel to make the pedaling harder or easier to simulate riding up a hill or a flat surface.
There are various types of resistance systems that include friction, magnetic, and electromagnetic. All work the same except that the friction magnetic resistance bike delivers an experience closest to a road bike where a change in the resistance level is immediate as you turn the knob.
On the other hand, magnetic bikes are manual and do not require electricity to work while electromagnetic mechanisms do. The disadvantage of magnetic bikes is they have a slight lag when you switch the resistance level, and electromagnetic systems are typically more expensive.
Comfort is a critical design attribute of any recumbent exercise bike and is ideal for people who need upper body support while exercising. The bikes feature a low-profile design that makes it easy for the elderly, overweight, and infirm to get on the bike safely, while the bucket seats provide back support and balance with minimal pressure on the lower body joints.
Saddle adjustments allow you to fit the bike to the length of your legs and reach the pedals. There are two types of adjustments depending on the design of the recumbent exercise bike. The most affordable type involves sliding two movable parts of the frame to bring the saddle closer to the pedals, such as the Marcy ME-709 bike. The frame features pre-set holes that you align to position the seat and lock with a holding pin and knob.
On the other hand, you can get bikes that only use a lever to lock the seat’s position. The advantage of this system is it allows you to adjust the saddle as you sit on it, unlike the previous method. However, these bikes are also more expensive and are ideal for commercial purposes such as the gym.
While the recumbent exercise bike saddle design provides excellent support for your back and lower joints, how you position it ensures that you don’t suffer pain and injury while exercising. Generally, the seat should be such that your knees are not too bent or overextended to cause strain. Also, your legs should be at the same level or higher than your hips to protect your lower back.
Unlike upright stationary bikes, recumbent exercise bikes take up significantly more space due to their bulky design. The bikes come in different sizes, and you may want to consider the dimensions when shopping for one. Home exercise bikes are typically smaller than the commercial varieties, and you can get foldable designs such as the Exerpeutic 400XL if you have a tight space.
Types Of Recumbent Exercise Bikes
While recumbent road bikes vary greatly in construction, recumbent exercise bikes have slight variations in design features. These differences include digital versus manual consoles, the various seat adjustment, and drive mechanisms, and sizes. I have described these features in detail below.
When you are shopping for a recumbent exercise bike, you will probably see the drive mechanism mentioned a lot. The drive mechanism includes the flywheel, which is a disc that sits in front of the bike. It is the component that creates resistance in an exercise bike. It is usually covered with a casing in recumbent exercise bikes and connected to the pedals via a belt or chain.
The flywheel is weighted to generate resistance to simulate the experience of outdoor riding on your exercise bike. There are two types of weighted flywheels that include the perimeter weighted flywheel and the center-weighted flywheel. In a perimeter-weighted flywheel, the weight is positioned along the outside of the disc. It delivers the closest simulation to a road bike than the center-weighted option. They are also heavier and require more effort to pedal to start and stop. However, once you gain momentum, the pedaling gets smoother and is ideal for people with joint problems.
On the other hand, center-weighted flywheels are typically lighter and are commonly not used for exercise bikes. They are often more expensive, and the ride may not be as smooth as you would get on a perimeter flywheel. However, they are easier to start and stop as they are lightweight and are ideal for people with joint aches.
Like all equipment, recumbent exercise bikes require regular maintenance, and we recommend having your bike checked for wear and tear every six months or so. It is also necessary to ensure that you inspect the bike often for loose nuts and bolts and lubricate the mechanical parts to ensure that it remains in good working condition. In addition, you should also wipe down the handlebars, seat, and digital console with a soft cloth and antibacterial cleaner after every workout for hygiene reasons.
The display console is a pretty standard feature for all recumbent exercise bikes, and they help track and display workout data such as speed, distance, time, RPM, calories burnt, and pre-set programs. The more advanced recumbents will feature a tablet shelf, Bluetooth connectivity, speakers, and possibly a cooling fan. Display screens vary in size, the backlight color, and whether it is a touch screen or comes with buttons.
There are three types of stationary bike pedals which include clip-ins, flat, and hybrids. Clip-ins and hybrid pedals are found on upright and spin bikes, while recumbent exercise bikes typically come with flat pedals made of steel or plastic material.
Most flat pedals are textured and come with a plastic strap or toe-cage adjustable strap that holds down the forefoot securely on the pedal to prevent slipping.
Some of the extra features recumbent exercise bikes come with include media racks to hold your tablet or phone, so you can watch something online or read a book while you exercise. Built-in speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, and USB drives are also included in the midrange models to enable you to link your devices to the bike for entertainment and upload your workout data to apps such as MyFitnessPal. Some extra comfort features to look out for include built-in fans to keep you cool and gel padding on the seats to reduce fatigue while performing lengthy workouts.
Who Are Recumbent Exercise Bikes Best For
Recumbents have a laid-back design that supports your upper body and helps to distribute your body weight over a large surface area with the seat to reduce pressure on the lower body while exercising. This design setup makes recumbents ideal for rehabilitation exercises, seniors, weight loss, and anyone with poor form starting an exercise routine. Additionally, the professional-grade recumbents are excellent for training professional cyclists and for people who need high-intensity workouts.
Recumbent exercise bikes burn fewer calories than upright stationary bikes due to their low impact resistance mechanism. However, you can still achieve decent weight loss results if you include high-intensity interval training in your workout to enable you to burn more calories. It involves doing your exercises in intervals where you perform at a high intensity over a short period followed by a recovery period.
You repeat the session a total of eight times, and if you are a beginner, you can have slightly extended recovery periods until your body gets used to this type of training. The advantage you get from interval training is that your body burns more calories in the recovery process after exercise. In this way, recumbents with pre-set programs are your best option for weight loss as they give you interval training options to choose from, depending on your fitness level.
The reclining seat of recumbent bikes is a feature that makes these bikes ideal for heavy people. Most heavy-weight people suffer from back and lower joint problems and require the support and balance that a recumbent seat provides while exercising. Although most recumbents come with 300-pound weight limits, you can get specialized bikes for obese people that offer up to 500-pound maximum limits, such as the Fitnex R70 Recumbent and Physiostep MDX Cross Trainer.
Apart from the maximum weight limit, other features you may want to look out for include broad seats to accommodate you comfortably and enable you to exercise for extended periods. Also, look for bikes with a saddle that can swivel so that it helps you mount the bike safely. Exercise bikes with pre-set programs are also desirable for performing interval exercises that help you burn more calories.
Questions and Answers About Recumbent Bikes For Bad Knees
What recumbent bike has the most comfortable seat?
While comfort is relatively subjective, there are salient features you can look out for that will determine how comfortable the recumbent bike seat will be. Seat adjustment and inseam height are top on the list as they determine how long and effective your workout will be. Infinite sliders are easier to use and give you the best fit more than knob adjustments. They make a more comfortable riding experience.
Other features include gel padding to give it more cushioning and reduce pressure on your lower back and ventilated mesh backrest to reduce moisture on your back. Also, having an adjustable backrest is an added advantage as you can contour it to your back for better stability. The seat material is also an essential consideration because you wouldn’t want to keep slipping down the saddle as you workout.
Is recumbent bike good for hips?
If you’ve been through hip replacement surgery or you’re looking to strengthen your hip flexor muscles, the recumbent exercise bike is a better choice to use than a regular bike. Recumbents are more stable, and you don’t have to maintain balance or support your upper body due to the reclined saddle design. It allows you to put your effort into moving your hip joints smoothly without adding strain on them.
How long should I ride my recumbent bike?
Your fitness goals will determine the workout duration on the bike. For seniors and anyone looking for a low-intensity workout, 30 minutes daily on the recumbent exercise bike will provide adequate cardio to maintain health. On the other hand, if your goal is weight loss or to improve your overall fitness level and cycling performance, 60 – 90 minutes for five days a week can deliver the results you are targeting. However, always exercise within your limits to prevent injuries and muscle fatigue.
Does the recumbent bike tone legs?
Generally, any cycling exercises you engage in will tone your leg muscles. Although recumbent exercise bikes are easier to ride than upright stationary bikes, they are just as effective. The cycling action on a recumbent will engage your thigh, leg, and calf muscles while the butt and hip joints get a low-impact effect from the workout.
How Do I Choose A Recumbent Bike?
Recumbent exercise bikes come with various aspects, and your choice depends on the fitness goals you want to achieve. The critical features to look out for include the resistance levels, where recumbents with more than 12 levels offer more intense workouts for advanced users than those with less.
Comfort is another feature to consider, and it includes the saddle adjustment system and seat padding. Safety depends on how easy it is to mount and dismount the bike, and if you are not flexible, you may want to consider a recumbent with a step-through design. Many people consider price as a necessary factor, and there are many affordable recumbents to consider. However, as you look at how much it costs, you should also consider the build quality, durability, and manufacturer’s warranty to avoid buying junk equipment.
Can I lose weight on a recumbent bike?
Riding a bike is a great cardiovascular exercise that will help you to lose weight. While cycling you can burn a significant amount of calories, especially on long rides, so accompanied by the right diet you will likely hit a calorie deficit and lose weight.
Do recumbent bikes work abs?
Core muscles are activated while cycling, which includes the abdominals muscles. Additionally, cycling is a great cardio exercise that will help you lose fat and expose your abs.
Are recumbent bikes a good workout?
Yes, you can get good cardio work with recumbent exercise bikes, depending on their type. Entry-level models provide low to moderate intensity, while midrange and commercial types provide more intense workouts for professional cyclists.
Cycling with a recumbent bike helps build and tone your leg muscles and strengthen your lower body joints while providing upper body support. It is also an excellent option for anyone who needs low-impact cardio workouts, such as the elderly, people starting their fitness journey, or anyone recovering from illness.
Are recumbent bikes any good?
Recumbent exercise bikes offer a few benefits over upright exercise bikes, such as upper body support and low impact workouts for seniors, overweight people, and the infirm who most need it. On the other hand, you can get high-performance training that a professional cyclist would require on these bikes while reducing the risk of strained joints and back muscles due to the seating position.
What’s better recumbent bike or upright?
Both types of exercise bikes offer specific advantages depending on your fitness goals. Recumbents are more comfortable due to the saddle position, and they are more suitable for people with knee or lower back problems. However, upright bikes offer more intense, full-body workouts that make them ideal for professional cyclists and people with high fitness goals.
Is recumbent bike as good as walking?
While both forms of exercise are efficient means of cardio exercise and weight loss, recumbent exercise bikes may help you burn more calories than walking as you put in more effort in the workout due to resistance. On the other hand, brisk walking may burn more calories in the same period as riding your recumbent on the lowest settings.
When you consider the effect on the body, recumbent exercise offers more benefits as you reduce the impact on your joints as you reduce the weight on your lower body because you are seated reclined. However, walking has a better effect in helping you develop strong bones to prevent osteoporosis than training with a recumbent.
Do You Need Extra Features?
Midrange and premium-priced recumbents often come with extra features to enhance your workout experience and also provide convenience. These features include Bluetooth connectivity to help you link your workout metrics to fitness apps, speakers for listening to music from your phone or tablet, and 3-speed fans to help keep you cool while you work up a sweat.
However, as nice as it is to have extra features, whether you need them or not is a matter of preference. Budget recumbents that feature the minimum functions may give you the results you need just as much as a bike with a water bottle holder. But, the performance features such as the resistance levels will determine if the recumbent will help you achieve your fitness goals.