Recumbent exercise bikes are one of the most misunderstood pieces of exercise equipment on the market today, so we thought we would put that straight along with bringing you 8 of the best recumbent exercise bikes in the UK.
First off, let’s answer the question – what is a recumbent exercise bike? Put simply, this type of exercise bike is similar to an upright bike but it affords the user a more relaxed and comfortable seating position thanks to it being designed in such a way that it resembles more of a standard seat with support provided around the lower back and up in to the upper back.
Even avid cyclists have to admit that bicycle saddles are one of the least comfortable forms of seating and no matter how high end you go and how much gel seat padding you add, sitting on a bike saddle is going to take its toll at some point on your precious behind. The upright position of a standard bike or exercise bike can also place a fair amount of strain on your lower back – something that a recumbent bicycle aims to alleviate.
Thanks to the user being seated in a more reclined and supported riding position, weight is dispersed more evenly which is not only more comfortable over long periods of time but is also providing a lot more support for the back which makes recumbent models all the more accessible.
There is a misconception that recumbent exercise bikes are predominantly reserved for those of an older generation, and although they are perfect for dealing with many of the aches and pains often associated with older age they can also have many advantages for younger enthusiasts too. Less strain means less likelihood of injury or causing long term damage – something that is advantageous no matter how old you are.
The recumbent exercise bike also targets those leg muscles in a slightly different way to an upright bike. Whereas an upright bike will tend to put more focus on the quadriceps, a more reclined seating position will bring the hamstrings and glutes more in to focus whilst still giving your quads a good workout.
Buying Guide For Recumbent Exercise Bikes
Like with all fitness equipment there are varying levels of quality, price and functionality and how much you spend is likely to be dictated by the other two factors – quality and functionality. If you are buying a recumbent exercise bike for home use then understanding the functionality you need is probably the best place to start – if you are buying for a gym setup then you are going to want to go for high quality and lots of functionality.
Features that you should look out for include comfort levels (especially important if you are planning longer workouts) and this will predominantly come down to the materials used for the seating but may also include how flexible the bike is in terms of providing varying positions. You should also look out for details around the seats and hand rests as these will again be key for your comfort. Many bikes feature handles that can be moved or removed which is quite handy if the bike is going to be used by different people. Resistance is another factor that you want to consider. Higher quality bikes will have more levels of resistance whereas the cheaper ones will have less – expect up to 32 levels of resistance from the top end bikes. The ability to select programmes for the bike is also going to be an important factor in your decision. Are you happy to manually change your resistance and inclines or do you prefer the ability to have these adapt for you based on a pre-set plan?
Finally, you should consider the price you are willing to pay. There are some really good options on a fairly low budget but there is a big difference between a £150 bike and a £1500 bike. We will do our best to provide you with the best options.
V-Fit G-RC Recumbent Magnetic Bike
V-Fit is a relatively new brand in the fitness industry but with over 20 years of trading under its belt it has now established itself as one of the high quality, lower cost options when it comes to exercise bikes – and their G-RC recumbent cycle sits perfectly in that description.
If you are looking for excellent value, good quality and something that will give you enough of a challenge then the G-RC is an excellent choice. It is not quite as robust as some other models listed (namely the Schwinn 570R below) but it does feature a 6kg cast iron flywheel, which might not be quite as meaty as we’d like but it does the job pretty well – and it does all this at around half the price of the Schwinn.
8 levels of intensity are controlled by the dial adjustment on the main stem of the bike which is fairly easy to reach if you need to change the level of resistance mid-ride. The seat is fairly comfortable and has a large padded back rest for extra comfort whilst the handles are vert sturdy and will provide extra balance to the most unstable of riders – these two are padded for extra comfort. The seat and backrest are both height adjustable and will allow most people to find a pretty comfortable seating position.
The pedals on the G-RC are pretty sizeable and have straps for added non-slippability (we aren’t sure if that’s a word but you get what we mean) and these straps are too adjustable. There is a monitor for keeping an eye on your progress and although it’s not going to win any tech design awards it does provide feedback on the key data you are likely going to want to know – namely your time, speed, distance, calories burned, pulse rate and also features an odometer. The handles of the bike have pulse sensors built in and this data is sent straight to the LCD display unit.
The G-RC can withstand just over 18 stone of weight and measures up at 135cm in length, 64cm wide and 100cm tall.
Overall, we found the V-Fit G-RC to be a fantastic option with the only real drawbacks being the lack of levels of resistance and the assembly – as this was a little tricky. But once set up, this is a top option at a really fantastic price point.
Schwinn 570R Recumbent Bicycle
As mid price range recumbent bikes go, the Schwinn 570R is right up there with the best and there are a number of reasons for that which we will get in to shortly – but most of the real selling points of this exercise bike revolve around the centre console which provides much of the functionality as well as the rock solid stability afforded by this model.
Dual LCD displays sit above push buttons as part of an impressive console that gives this bike a very premium feel – more importantly it provides the user with an easy to use interface and 29 programs to access. It also has bluetooth connectivity and can be used in conjunction with apps such as MyFitnessPal, Under Armour Fitness, Ride Social and the custom made Schwinn Trainer app.
This bike is more than just the centre console though and the rest of the bike has some pretty nifty features as well as being extremely well built. The seat features lumbar support and is easy to move in to your prime position – this is really important for most recumbent bike users and is yet another reason this bike deserves its billing in second place on our list.
The padding is comfortable and the seat itself will not leave you feeling too hot. If things do get a little warm there is a three speed fan that can be used and there is even a USB charging port built in to the bike which we found to be a good touch – especially for those longer rides and for when you are connecting to Ride Social with your own device to take on one of the 8 maps they have.
There are 2 fitness tests, 9 heart rate control programs and a recovery test among the 29 pre-programmed modes and there are pulse rate monitors on the handle bars as well as connectivity to a bluetooth chest strap heart rate monitor should you have one. The centre unit has speakers built in which actually provides decent quality sound and there are 13 different displays to choose from so you can get the feedback you need mid-ride.
With 25 levels of resistance powered by magnets there is plenty of challenge with the Schwinn and in terms of sheer functionality it is probably the best in its class. If you have the budget then this blows the V-Fit away and should be your go to pick.
JLL Home Recumbent Exercise Bike RE100
The JLL RE100 Recumbent Home exercise bike is one of the best budget recumbent bikes that made our list. Generally available at under the £200 mark, the JLL RE100 is not only good on your pocket but it is also one of the nicest looking recumbent bikes we have reviewed. Considering the low price point of the RE100, there are still plenty of features to get your teeth in to and with 8 levels of magnetic resistance to try out, there should be enough of a challenge to really push your fitness to its peak, while beginners will find it easy enough to get going.
The padded seat is pretty comfortable and low enough to the ground that riders with lesser mobility will feel safe and secure. The stability is aided by two well built and robust handles that also have built in pulse rate monitors with heart rate being neatly presented on the LCD display – this is conveniently low down so you can actually see it very clearly unlike some other recumbent bikes that inexplicably position their screens higher up! The seat has 6 levels of adjustment so you should be able to get pretty comfy and at an appropriate distance for an optimum workout.
A two-way 5kg flywheel provides a smooth workout and as the resistance is produced by magnets the noise levels are as low as your ride. The display units will not win any design awards but it is functional and gives you all the key information you need.
The overall build quality of the JLL RE100 is solid and we really like the design. It may not fold down but it is easy to move around and with a maximum weight load of 100kg it should suit most people.
XS Sports Magnetic Seated Exercise Bike
The XS Sports Magnetic is another aimed at the budget end of the market, but whilst upon first impressions you might discount this bike as it doesn’t share the snazzy looks of the JLL RE100 it does have other elements that may surprise you. It also has some of the best user reviews of all the bikes reviewed here. At £125, the XS Sports bike does have a few drawbacks however so we may as well deal with those first. The main drawback that we found was the level of challenge was not enough to push a more advanced user. The XS Sports bike has just a 4kg flywheel and although in theory it does have 8 levels of magnetic based resistance, the level of challenge on even the hardest setting is not going to satisfy season cyclists. But for someone looking to increase their fitness levels from a beginner point of view it will be sufficient.
The bike is pretty well made and we found it comfortable enough to sit on – even for up to 60 minutes. The seat position is adjustable and their are handles up high as well as down low for extra stability with the lower handles including pulse rate monitors with heart rate displayed on the LCD display. The display is positioned a little too high up for our liking but it is still visible and provides you with all the key information you need such as pace, distance, total duration and your calorie expenditure.
The maximum user weight is pretty impressive at 110kg and we have to say that the build quality of the XS bike is excellent. The display is pretty basic but does give you everything you need but the quality of the parts that really matter are very good indeed. The XS Sports Magnetic bike is a really top budget option.
JLL RE500 Recumbent Bike
The second JLL recumbent bike to make our list is the RE500 and although it is around twice the price of the RE100 and the other budget bikes we reviewed it still retails at around the £250 mark which makes it pretty accessible for most buyers. We really liked the RE500 in testing and found it to be a really good entry level bike thanks to its good build quality, good range of difficulty levels and the customisable programs that can be used by various users. Everything about the RE500 is still pretty manual but there is enough going on to test intermediate and experienced riders whilst remaining perfectly accessible for beginners.
In comparison to the RE100 the RE500 has been given an extra 4 levels of magnetic resistance with 12 in total and the it can also take a little bit more weight with 110kg load capacity in total. It has a 7kg bi-directional flywheel as well as a larger 5.5″ LCD screen. There is also a tablet holder which is pretty convenient.
The ergonomically designed seat of the RE500 is incredibly comfortable and with plenty of positioning options it is easy to set up the bike for your perfect position. The pedals are pretty wide and feel comfortable with a decent pair of trainers on and the ride itself was smooth and pretty quiet. The fact that the RE500 is almost twice the weight of the RE100 speaks volumes of the build quality here and this is without a doubt one of the most sturdy recumbent exercise bikes that we have ever used.
Everything just seems right with the RE500, from the positioning of the LCD screen to the comfort of the seat. We also loved that you can manually program your own workouts and have up to 4 different users – perfect for the home setup. If you have £250 spend on a recumbent bike then the RE500 would be the bike we would suggest.
BH Fitness i.TFR ERGO WH650
BH Fitness offers a good range of seated bikes but the i.TFR WH650 (yes we know it’s a mouthful) is one of our favourite options for the home. It sits firmly in the premium band of exercise bikes and will set you back just shy of 4 figures but you do get a very good piece of equipment for that and unless you become a professional cyclist you are likely to never need anything else. Users who are in excess of 100kg will be pleased to hear that the WH650 is capable of withstanding up to 130kg of weight which makes it one of the most robust on the market.
Featuring one of the sturdiest flywheels of all the bikes on this list, the 12kg flywheel combines with a 24 resistance level magnet to provide a super smooth and super quiet experience. The comfort levels afforded by the well padded seat are excellent and there are a range of positioning options too as well as lumbar support.
The LCD display comes in the form of BH Fitness’ M6 display unit which provides all the data you need including heart rate information which can be sent over via a telemetric device or bluetooth heart rate monitor. It features 12 preset programs and like the Schwinn 570R it includes a fitness test and a recovery test. There is a smartphone/tablet holder and the bluetooth link allows you to send and receive data from fitness apps such as MyFitnessPal. You can also use your mobile device with the DUAL kit to turn your device in to a personal trainer using i.Concept.
The BH Fitness i.TFR may not be cheap but it is an excellent option and if you want something that will stand the test of time and push you as you get fitter then this has to be seriously considered.
Nordic Track VR21 Commercial
The Nordic Track VR21 Commercial bike is one of the more expensive options on our list and currently retails at around £600. For that, you do get a different level of recumbent bike to the cheaper options and you also have the opportunity to access iFit which gives you access to a wide range of training videos and virtual personal trainers. The built in software is also pretty impressive with 32 workout apps designed for different purposes dependent on your fitness goals.
Like the other bikes, you have an adjustable padded seat that is very comfortable with plenty of customisability in terms of seat positioning. There are two sets of handles, one set running parallel to the seat and one set up high so you can assume different riding positions – handily, both sets of handles have pulse rate sensors which transmit your heart rate to the display.
Despite being one of the cheapest Nordic Track exercise bikes, the VR21 has an excellent display and even better connectivity with the possibility of bluetooth communication to a mobile device. This connection with an iOS or Android tablet allows you to access iFit or even use Google Maps to help track your rides as you map them out – allowing a virtual reality riding experience. If you have a bluetooth heart rate monitor you can also use this instead of the built in pulse rate sensors to send heart rate data to the machine.
The bike itself is really well built – as you would expect from a Nordic Track bike – but don’t be fooled by the name, this is very much designed for home use rather than commercial use. You do however get many of the features you would expect to find on a bike like this is a state of the art gym. There are 25 levels of digital resistance powered by magnets which makes for a very quiet ride and the seat even has ventilated lumbar support – so if you suffer with any kind of lower back pain this is going to be an excellent option for you.
The one touch controls are really intuitive on the VR21 which makes it pretty user friendly and allows you to do the basic stuff really quickly and easily. For those who want a little but more depth to their workouts or for more advanced users there is plenty to keep you entertained and this recumbent bike is about as future proof as it gets. We give the VR21 a big thumbs up. If you are looking for something a little more premium then you might also want to consider the NordicTrack VR25 Commercial bike.
To complete our list we have a recumbent exercise bike that is perfect for tall people. The Exerpuetic 900XL is designed for users that are over 6ft tall and has a maximum user weight of 136kg – the highest of all we reviewed. The seat of the Exerpeutic 900XL is also extra wide for added comfort and we have to say it was actually pretty comfy – even for long periods of time.
This isn’t the cheapest recumbent bike on our list and is comparable in price to the JLL RE500. It doesn’t quite stack up to the RE500 but it is a close run thing so if you are particularly tall or need the extra load capacity then this is a worthy option for you.
For your £250 you will get 8 levels of magnetic resistance that are easily changed and an LCD display that provides feedback on a range of data including distance, calories burned, total time, pace and heart rate. The latter is pulls data provided by the built in pulse rate monitors which like most of the models reviewed are found on the handle bars.
The Exerpuetic 900XL will provide users with enough challenge but for the more experienced they will be better suited to a higher end model with more levels of resistance. Anyone who is 6ft 2inches or taller will enjoy this bike and it is suitable for anyone up to 6ft 6inches which is not something that can be said by many manufacturers.