Buying a recumbent bike? Not sure what to look for?
When shopping for a recumbent exercise bike you want to get the best bike for your money. But where do you start?
Recumbent bikes are not the same as upright bikes – there are different things to consider.
This recumbent bike guying guide will break down 5 things to consider when buying a recumbent exercise bike.
You may not get the best of the best in all these categories depending on your options and budget.
However, by factoring in as many of these things as possible when shopping, you’ll have a much better chance of finding a bike you love!
So let’s dive in:
Recumbent Bike Buying Guide
#1 Recumbent Bike Seat
Recumbent bikes tend to have more comfortable seats 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 as you ride.
A padded bottom seat gives more comfort and cushioning to your…well, bottom.
And a seat with lumbar support will help support your back during extra long rides.
Another thing to consider is seat adjustability. Can you move it back and forward easily?
Can you move it when you sit on the bike (by pulling a lever under the seat, for example)?
Or do you have to get off the bike to adjust the seat (which can be annoying and hard to find the right fit for you)?
Another thing to consider when looking at the seat are the little “extra comforts”. For example, can you change your resistance level from controls on or beside your seat – or do you have to reach up to the console to do it?
Is there are shelf or water bottle holder somewhere close so you can stash a drink or your phone?
These may seem like little things – but they definitely make a big difference in how much you enjoy your workouts over time!
#2 Resistance Levels
You want a bike with at least 20 levels of resistance if not more – especially if you’re going to be using the bike frequently.
Because the last thing you want is to top out at the highest resistance level within a few months of your bike purchase. Then you have nowhere to go and nothing to challenge you.
You’ll also want to make sure there’s an easy way to change resistance.
While most recumbent bikes do offer power-button resistance nowadays, some cheaper models may still come with manual resistance controls.
With manual controls, it can be a pain to change resistance constantly by cranking the knobs up and down. And you may not even get the exact resistance you want, depending on how the resistance knobs are designed.
#3 Console Options
One of the most important things when shopping for a good recumbent bike is a 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, because the console screen is not backlit (see below).
In a dimly lit area, a non-backlit console can be almost impossible to see.
You want to look for 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 bikes do not come with backlit consoles.
Also, try to make sure to get as large of a console as you can – as larger consoles make it easier to read your workout stats.
#4 Entertainment Options
If you want your workouts to be more enjoyable, then entertainment options are important.
What are entertainment options? Basically, they’re everything from streaming workouts to world trail rides to tablet holders and console speakers.
For example, Nordictrack and some Proform bikes come with iFit. With iFit you can ride famous trails all over the world, map out your own trails to ride with Googlemaps or even take live cycling fitness classes from your home.
Sole bikes like the LCR recumbent come with large, backlit consoles and tablet holders. So you can attach your tablet and watch your favorite shows as you ride.
Entertainment options may not seem like something you need to consider.
But if you want to make sure you enjoy using your bike over time (especially during long workouts), this does make a huge difference.
#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 bikes do not – but they will work with a wireless chest strap that you provide yourself.
Some bikes have the hand grip heart rate sensors on the side handrests – which is very convenient to take a fast reading.
Other bikes have hand grip heart rate sensors on the bars in front of the console – so you have to reach up (which is not as convenient).
What you decide to get on your bike is up to you. Just be aware of all of the heart rate tracking options – and what you prefer to have – before you start shopping for a bike.
So those are 5 essential areas to consider when buying a recumbent bike. With any of these things, keep in mind that usually the higher you go in price (mid level to commercial grade bikes), the better options you’ll get.
Mid to higher-range bikes for example, will give you options like more comfortable seats, proper ergonomics, higher resistance levels, better entertainment options etc.
And if you choose a good brand name, you’re also more likely to find a quality recumbent bike.
Want a few suggestions for quality recumbent bikes? I’ve listed a couple of options below:
Recumbent Bike Recommendations:
This is one of Nordictrack’s high-end recumbent bikes coming in at a great price. It was designed to give you a more comfortable ride with an ergonomic, fully adjustable seat design.
The 25-lb flywheel also helps to make your ride feel smoother, especially during resistance transitions.
Plus, the entertainment options are amazing.
With a full-color, touch-screen, HD console, you can go online and ride famous trails all over the world with iFit. You can also stream cycling classes to your home and take a new class every day.
Another nice option?
You get 26 levels of resistance – so you have plenty of challenge in this bike. And you can easily change the resistance levels from the arm bars on either side of your seat.
Overall, it’s a fantastic option if you want a well-built recumbent bike that gives you endless entertainment options.
The LCR Recumbent bike is a fantastic option if you want the ultimate in comfort.
While the console and entertainment options are not as good as the Nordictrack R35, you do get incredible construction and excellent ergonomics on this bike.
For example, the pedals come with an inner 2 degree angle tilt that keeps your body in proper alignment as you cycle.
The seat is padded and easily adjustable forward and back.
Sole also added a tablet holder above the console on this bike. So you can attach your tablet and watch your favorite shows or Youtube videos as you ride.
Overall, it’s another great option if you want to buy a quality recumbent bike.
So that’s a quick and simple Recumbent Bike Buying Guide to help you know what to look for when shopping for your exercise bike.
Keep these 5 things in mind and you’re guaranteed to find a quality recumbent bike that you’ll be able to enjoy for years to come!