Best Recumbent Elliptical

One of the best ways to burn calories and tone muscles is with an elliptical. There are many types of elliptical trainers available today, but which one is the best? The recumbent elliptical trainer has many benefits that make it worth considering for your home gym. Find out more about this type of machine and which of the currently available models are the best.

What is the Best Recumbent Elliptical?

It can be difficult to find the best recumbent elliptical. 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 6 recumbent ellipticals 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 elliptical 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 ellipticals.

1. 900XL Recumbent Exercise Bike

Specs
Price: 💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
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
Material: Steel
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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Unstable pedaling on the high levels,
  • Unreliable warranty information,
  • Difficult assembly instructions

2. SCHWINN 270 Recumbent Bike

Specs
Price: 💲💲💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 86.6 Pounds (39.3 kg)
Size: 64 x 49.9 x 27.7 Inches (162.6 x 126.7 x 70.4 cm)
Resistance Type: Friction
Resistance Levels: 25 levels
Material: Carbon Steel
Screen Type: Dual-Track LCD

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The Schwinn 270 is a high-priced model suitable for seasoned cyclists and people who want a high-intensity fitness regimen. The bike handles a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds and is ideal for people with a height of between 4’10” on the low end to 6’4″ on the upper side. Additionally, it features the least cumbersome seat adjustment systems that use an aluminum rail system with a lever to slide the seat. You can also pre-set the seat position and exercise program to twelve user profiles.

The recumbent features a perimeter-weighted flywheel and a friction resistance mechanism with 25 levels that helps to simulate riding the bike outside. It comes with a fully loaded dual-track LCD console that offers 29 pre-set workout programs and 13 workout metrics. The console also features an iPad holder if you prefer to watch a movie and Bluetooth connectivity to sync your workout details with apps such as MyFitnessPal. The handles monitor your heart rate, and you also have the option of getting a chest strap for telemetry reading.

Other features I like include a USB charging port, an MP3 input port to connect your phone to the built-in speakers, an adjustable fan, a side-mounted water bottle holder, and a ventilated comfortable seat.

I also like that it comes with two inline roller wheels at the front and a grab bar at the back that allows you to lift it and conveniently roll it in place. The recumbent also features leveling adjustments for uneven floors, and you can buy a protective floor mat separately.

Pros

  • Accommodates up to twelve separate user profiles,
  • Allows you to customize your workout programs,
  • Convenient seat adjustments with a single lever,
  • Easy to move the bike for storage with inline wheels,
  • Compatible with various media for entertainment,
  • Resistance mechanism simulates outdoor riding

Cons

  • The heart rate monitor is not accurate,
  • Mechanical components may wear out quickly,
  • Poor customer service

3. Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike with Resistance ME-709

Specs
Price: 💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
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.

Pros

  • Highly rated and affordably priced,
  • Low profile design for easy mounting,
  • Wide ergonomic seat for heavyweight people,
  • Sturdy structure with a high weight limit

Cons

  • Bike parts wear out quickly,
  • Pedaling action is not stable

4. Sunny Health Recumbent Bike SF-RB4631 with Arm Exerciser

Specs
Price: 💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 91.1 Pounds (41.3 kg)
Size: 52.5 x 51 x 25 Inches (133.4 x 129.5 x 63.5 cm)
Resistance Type: Magnetic
Resistance Levels: 8 levels
Material: Steel

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Arm exercisers on recumbent exercise bikes can add value to your workouts by building upper body muscles and strong shoulders. Additionally, if you incorporate moderate weight lifting exercises, you can greatly improve your cardio fitness and reduce the risks of heart disease. The arm exercises on the RB-4631 allow you to engage your upper body to burn more calories. The bike is also ideal for overweight users as it has a sturdy and robust frame with a 350-pound user limit and has a low-profile design for easy access. It also comes with transportation wheels on the rear stabilizer bar to make moving it around your space easier.

I like that the bike is easy to assemble even though it is significantly heavy at 91 pounds. However, the bulk does help stabilize the bike on the floor while cycling, and the slider seat adjustment ensures that you get a comfortable fit. Unlike most recumbents with arm exercisers, the pedal mechanism on this bike works independently, which means that you can work your arms without the pedals.

The recumbent comes with a wide seat with a contoured backrest and sliding adjustment mechanism that is simple to use while seated. Although it is ergonomic, the seat padding is firm, and some users may not find it comfortable. The resistance system delivers moderate intensity at its highest level, and the bike comes with a simple LCD monitor with a large display.

Pros

  • Delivers a smooth and quiet pedal action,
  • Features arm exerciser with high friction resistance,
  • Sliding saddle adjustment for a comfortable fit,
  • Sturdy frame with a high user weight limit

Cons

  • Saddle padding may be uncomfortable,
  • Poor build quality and durability

5. SCHWINN Fitness 230 Recumbent Bike

Specs
Price: 💲💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 80 Pounds (36.3 kg)
Size: 64 x 44.5 x 27 Inches (162.6 x 113 x 68.6 cm)
Resistance Type: Magnetic
Resistance Levels: 16 levels
Screen Type: LCD
Screen Size: 5.5 inch

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The SCHWINN 230 is a mid range electric recumbent exercise bike with various advanced features that you can expect to find at this price level. It comes with 16 magnetic resistance functions and 13 pre-set workout programs to help you achieve your fitness goals and lose weight. Its drive mechanism features a high inertia perimeter weighted flywheel that delivers smooth pedal action so you can work out quietly at odd hours.

The bike comes with a 5.5-inch segmented LCD console with a media shelf for your tablet and grip handlebars for extra support while cycling. It tracks six workout metrics, and though it comes with Bluetooth connectivity, it is not compatible with most devices and is pretty much useless for connecting with the cycling apps offered. The screen is also not backlit, and it might be difficult for some people to read it.

Another downside is the instruction manual is difficult to follow, and many people found the assembly unnecessarily hard to do. It also comes with an adjustable saddle that features a ventilated backrest. However, many users found the seat uncomfortable for long workouts, and you may have to consider getting a memory foam seat cover to reduce fatigue.

Overall, this recumbent is ideal for weight loss and maintaining an active lifestyle, and many users are happy with its performance. It also features sturdy and robust construction with a 10-year warranty and a 2-year warranty on the mechanical parts, but it is also bulky and a little hard to move around.

Pros

  • Features 13 pre-set programs for interval training,
  • Easy to adjust saddle for a customized fit,
  • Excellent warranty package on frame and parts,
  • Ideal for weight loss and moderate-intensity training

Cons

  • Not suitable for tall people

6. Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike

Specs
Price: 💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 43 Pounds (19.5 kg)
Size: 54 x 20 x 17 Inches (137.2 x 50.8 x 43.2 cm)
Resistance Type: Magnetic
Resistance Levels: 8 levels
Material: Steel
Screen Type: LCD
Screen Size: 3.3 x 1.5

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The Exerpeutic 400XL is an excellent choice for small spaces as it folds up to almost half its size for storage. It is semi-recumbent as the pedals are almost below you like an upright bike instead of out in front. Another outstanding feature is that it is low enough to fit under a height-adjustable desk, so you can work while you exercise.

Like the 900XL model, the bike features a tube steel construction that makes it durable and sturdy to accommodate a 300-pound weight limit. However, it has narrow stabilizers on its frame, and its design may be a little harder for seniors and disabled people to mount. It also doesn’t come with floor levelers, but many users note that the bike is firm on the ground when using it.

The saddle adjustment is also slightly different from the 900XL bike as it moves top-down instead of front and back. The padding helps to provide comfortable seating, although the saddle is narrower than the 900XL. However, the handlebars are a little lower than the seat to accommodate people with wide hips, and they come with sensors to monitor your heart rate.

Like the 900XL, the bike features a magnetic resistance mechanism with eight levels that increase or decrease with a tension knob. The lower settings don’t offer much intensity and are ideal for people recovering from knee replacement surgery. However, the highest levels are harder and unstable to pedal, which may impact the joints.

The recumbent uses a V-belt double-drive system that is noiseless and doesn’t require heavy maintenance care. It also comes with a simple console that displays six workout data points, as you would expect at this price point. The console also uses batteries while the rest of the bike is manual, which is a plus for many people.

Pros

  • Foldable design with a small footprint,
  • Easy to assemble for most people,
  • Sturdy construction prevents movement,
  • It fits under your work desk,
  • It doesn’t require power to use

Cons

  • Workout metrics may not be accurate,
  • It doesn’t offer an intense workout

Verdict

After going through a vast range of recumbent ellipticals, taking into consideration personal experiences with recumbent exercise elliptical, their key features, as well as opinions of real customers online, our opinion is that the 900XL Recumbent Exercise Bike is the best recumbent elliptical 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 SCHWINN 270 Recumbent Bike which is our premium pick.

Our other reviews you may find useful in your research:

What You Should Know Before Buying Recumbent Ellipticals

Extra Features

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.

Comfort

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.

Display

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.

Maintenance

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.

Adjustability

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.

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.

Drive Mechanism

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.

Storage Space

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.

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

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.

Pedals

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.

Arm Exercisers

Recumbent exercise bikes with moving arms are also known as dual-action exercise bikes as they combine lower and upper body workouts. Dual-action bikes are ideal for weight loss as you burn more calories due to the extra exercise and help develop strong shoulder joints and tone your arm muscles. The mechanism that moves the handlebars is often linked with the pedals to work simultaneously.

Weight

Recumbent exercise bikes typically have a user weight limit that one should consider when buying the bike. Budget-priced recumbent bikes that you can get for your home workouts feature maximum weight limits of up to 300 pounds. On the other hand, commercial-grade recumbents have a more robust structure that allows for a higher weight limit of up to 400 pounds and is ideal for heavy-weight people.

Questions and Answers About Recumbent Ellipticals

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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