5 Things To Consider When Choosing A Recumbent Bike


recumbent bikeSo you’re shopping for a recumbent bike and you want the best bike for your home. But where do you start? What do you look for?

Recumbent bikes are different than upright bikes. There are different things to consider.

You may not get the best of the best in all these categories, depending on your budget levels. However, you should try to factor as many of these things in that you can when choosing a recumbent exercise bike:


#1 Seat Comfort

Recumbent bikes tend to have more comfortable seats in general than upright bikes. The bucket-seat is just easier to sit on for long stretches. However there are still differences in seats.

For example, a mesh-back seat (seen below) lets air circulate to your back and helps keep you cool.



Also look for an oversized seat, preferably padded with lumbar support for maximum comfort.\


#2 Resistance Levels

You want a bike with at least 20 levels if not more – especially if you’re going to be using the bike a lot. Why? Because the last thing you want is to top out at the highest resistance level within a year of your bike purchase. Then you have nowhere to go and nothing to challenge you.


#3 Backlit Console

This is important because a backlit console is easy to read. There’s nothing more frustrating than working out and straining forward to see your workout stats in the console.

You want a bright, backlit console that is large and easy to read – it will pay off in the future. This is especially important if your budget is limited as a lot of cheaper (under $500 bikes) do not come with backlit consoles.


Sole Recumbent bike Console

Sole Recumbent bike Console


#4 Entertainment Options

If you want your workouts to be more enjoyable, the entertainment options are important. What are entertainment options? Well, they are everything from iPod docks to tablet holders to online tracking to new workout add-on options.

For example, Nordictrack and some Proform bikes come with iFit LIVE. This lets you download new workouts to your bike, map out new trails online with Googlemaps and track your workout stats online to see how far you’ve come. A lot of people like this extra addition to their bike – the bike can grow with them as they get more fit.

ifit bikes


heart rate monitor#5 Heart Rate Monitor

If you want to stay in your target heart rate zone, you’ll want a heart rate monitor of some kind. And there are really 3 options here – the finger pulse monitor (not very accurate), the hand grip pulse monitor (medium accuracy) and the wireless chest strap (very accurate – and most convenient).

Some bikes come with wireless chest straps included, some don’t – but the monitor will work with a wireless chest strap that you provide. Some bikes have the hand sensors on the side handrests – and some bikes have it on the consoles, so you have to reach up.

But those are some things to consider when you’re looking at different heart rate monitors on bikes.


So those are 5 essential areas to consider when shopping for a good recumbent bike. Keep these things in mind and you’re more likely to get a solid, quality bike that you’ll enjoy for years to come!

Some of my recommendations for a good recumbent? I like the Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro, the Sole R92 and the Horizon R30.

Good luck and happy shopping!






Nordictrack Commercial VR Vs Sole 92:


Two of the most popular recumbent bikes are the Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro (Full Review Here) and the Sole R92 (Full Review here). This isn’t surprising as they are some of the best values on the market.

Nordictrack VR Pro Recumbent

Nordictrack VR Pro Recumbent

sole R92 Recumbent

Sole R92 Recumbent


But what if you’re going back and forth wondering which one is best for you? This post will help you compare them by showing you the main differences – and then you can decide which one suits your needs.

So here are the main differences between the Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro vs the Sole R92 Recumbent bikes:



While prices do tend to jump around, overall the Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro is about $200 – $300 less than the Sole R92, which runs about $999. So while both are under $1000, the Nordictrack bike is more affordable.



A heavier flywheel in general gives you a smoother feeling ride  (and helps anchor the bike for higher stability). The Sole R92 has the heaviest flywheel here, a monster 26 pounds. The Nordictrack bike isn’t a slouch by any means however – at 23 pounds.


sole exercise bike console

Sole R92 Console



The Nordictrack VR Pro uses a mesh-type seatback, whereas the R92 has a solid seatback. The advantage of the mesh-type back is that it allows cool air to circulate more and helps to keep you cooler.



While the VR Pro is well designed and comfortable, the R92 has a bit of an edge here. Sole bikes are designed with a 2 degree inward cant to the footpedals, which is a more natural angle for the body. This helps to give you a more proper alignment and reduces the stress on your joints.


nordictrack commercial vr pro console

Nordictrack VR Pro Console



Both bikes have large, backlit consoles with iPod docks and cooling fans.  However the Nordictrack VR has more workout programs (32 vs 6) and slightly more sophisticated graphics display.



The Nordictrack has something the Sole does not – iFit LIVE. iFit lets you connect your bike to the internet. From there you can download new workouts from Jillian Michaels, map out new trails using Googlemaps and even track your workout stats over time to see how far you’ve come.

So if you tend to get bored easily and need new challenges, iFit can help to keep you on track.


Resistance Levels

The Nordictrack VR Pro edges out the Sole here just slightly with 26 resistance levels over 20. A lot of people want more resistance levels so that they don’t top out on the bike within the first year.

Plus the Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro has resistance controls on the side handrails, which the Sole R92 does not have. So you can change the resistance from your seated position, instead of reaching up to the console to do it.


Heart Rate Monitor

heart rate monitorBoth bikes include hand grip heart rate sensors and are wireless compatible. But the Nordictrack comes with a free wireless monitor whereas the R92, as of this writing, does not.


So those are the main differences between the Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro vs the Sole R92 recumbent bikes.

Which is best?

Well, it really depends on what you’re looking for. The Sole has the slight edge in terms of design and construction. The Nordictrack has the edge in terms of entertainment options, console, resistance and price.

Overall however, they’re both great choices so you can’t go too far wrong either way. For more details on each bike, see the links below:

Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro Recumbent

Sole R92 Recumbent







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