Recumbent Exercise Bike UK Buying Guide
In this article we offer you the best advice that we can, if you are contemplating buying a recumbent exercise bike. The best place to start your research, is this buyer's guide. That will help you ensure that a recumbent style of bike, is actually the right choice for you. After that we examine which types are best for your own particular needs.
Is a Recumbent the Right Choice for You?
There are a few different types of indoor exercise bikes available in the UK market. The recumbent is just one of those types.The two others are the upright and the fitness bike. The upright and the fitness bikes, are suitable for people who want to exercise at home, and can comfortably do normal cycling exercises.
For the fitness bike users (spin style bikes), they will use high level intensity bursts of exercise, to boot up their metabolism and to work up a sweat quickly. Upright bike users can also do this to a certain level, but more commonly, the uprights are used to exactly match a normal outdoor bicycle.
Recumbent bikes have been designed to help people with any type of minor or major mobility issues. We have explained this in more detail below.
Who Should Buy a Recumbent Exercise Bike?
Recumbent exercise bikes are bought by a whole range of the UK population. Any person recovering from an injury, and wanting to get back to fitness, but do that safely, would buy one of these.
Likewise, any person who has joint problems, knees, ankles and hip issues should also use one of these. We have completed an article specifically for the best recumbent bikes for those with bad knees.
People suffering from ANY type of back problem should also use one of these recumbent bikes. In fact, we would recommend specific types of recumbent bikes, for those with back pain problems. You can read that article by clicking here.
They are also ideal for older people. I do not want to put a specific age bracket on this as health varies quite a lot among the older age groups. Again this is a separate category, and we have completed an article here, on the best exercise bikes for seniors.
However, for any person, who generally wants to keep fit, with placing any heavy impact on the joints or back, then this is the one for them.
A recumbent bike is designed to support the upper body. The legs then do the work of pedalling, while the upper body remains fully supported. This type of exercise on a recumbent bike is generally known as a "low impact" exercise. That is, it is a form of exercise that is gentle on the joints.
Below you will find a video that helps explain this in a lot more detail.
Main Buying Guide - The Features of a Recumbent Bike That Are Must Haves
I thought that I would begin with the basics. In my opinion there really is no need to spend a fortune on an exercise bike. You do of course want it to be very good quality, and also built to last. For around £150 you can get both of those basic requirements. If your budget allows it, then for a higher cost, you can also enjoy and take advantage of the more advanced features.
The basics of the bike is that it needs to feel solid and supportive. Many of the very cheap ones just feel flimsy and all the parts are very low quality. You will be working out on this on a regular basis. By doing that the bike will get a lot of wear and tear. You will want to make sure it is up to the job. A simple guide to ensuring that is to avoid any recumbent bike priced under £90.
Underneath I have show the main range of recumbent bikes with average prices.
Basic Recumbent Bike Costs Around £100-150
Higher End Recumbent Bike Costs Around £300-500
Folding Recumbent Bike Costs Around £150-250
Human beings come in all shapes and sizes. Some of us are short, some are tall, some are light and some are heavy. The bike that you buy needs to be able to match your body height and body weight. Let's deal with body height first.
I personally have short legs so I need a bike that can cater for those. My wife has longer legs and yet we share the same bike. That is only possible as we can adjust the seat position, as it has a telescopic shaft. In just a few seconds we can tweak this and have the seat located in the perfect position, for either of us.
We have done a separate article here on the best recumbent bikes for those with short legs, which we think you will find very helpful.
In the riding and exercising position, the legs should never be fully extended when pedalling. Simply by making some small adjustments you can make certain that you have adopted the perfect cycling position. Just make sure that whatever bike you decide to buy, has this as a basic requirement. Most do, so hopefully will not be an issue for you.
Body Weight - All good indoor bike manufacturers will have a maximum weight calculation, usually expressed in Kilograms. That means they are guaranteeing that their bike will be able to support a maximum weight. If you happen to be heavier than the recommended weight, then please do not buy that particular model.
There are two reasons for that; the first is that you automatically break the warranty and the second is of course the risk of an accident. Manufacturers measure stress levels on materials to make sure that they can handle a certain load bearing weight at specific points. If those weights are exceeded, then the metal can fracture and break.
If the model does not support your weight limit, then please find a model that does. The more expensive models like the Kettler Premium shown above are better for that. They are built much stronger and can support heavier body weights.
Seat Size & Comfort
If you plan on using your recumbent bike to do workouts, then the reality is you will spend quite a long time sitting on your bottom. The seat needs to be wide enough to make this comfortable. I would also strongly recommend that the seat is well padded.
We noticed when reading all of the reviews, that quite a few people added a cushion to make the exercising more comfortable. On the higher end bikes you will not need to do that. It is however a very good idea for longer workouts.
Strong Back Rest
Like the seat above, you will also spend a lot of time with your back leaning back against the back rest. That needs to be adjustable for comfort and supportive reasons. I also strongly recommend that it is padded as well.
There is nothing worse than sitting on a narrow hard seat, or with your back pushed up against a hard back rest. Recumbents are all about working the lower body, and supporting the upper body. Make sure that those two parts, the seat and back are adjustable, comfortable and padded.
Pedals and Toe Straps
In many ways the pedals are often overlooked in many recumbent exercise buying guides that I have read. They are very important. Again as human beings, we all have different sized and different shapes of feet.
The pedals need to be wide enough to accommodate larger feet, and also snug enough for smaller feet. The only way manufacturers can accommodate that, is to have pedals with toe straps. You will find that most pedals are a standard size, and the toe straps then make the finer adjustment to suit the feet.
Make sure that whichever bike you buy has adjustable toe straps. Some of the better bikes come with extra wide pedals. Personally I prefer larger pedals as it minimises the risk of your feet slipping off. You should of course wear some type of a trainer with good grips, when riding an exercise bike.
This feature allows you to create different levels of resistance when cycling. At the lowest level it is easy to push the pedals around. At the highest level, your legs have to work a great deal harder. The principle behind this is that you start off an an easy level. As your strength and fitness improves, you take it up a notch to the next level.
As a basic feature, you want to have a number of different levels. I would recommend nothing less that 8 levels. That will be enough for most people. That allows you to work your way through the various stages of fitness. Levels 1-8 are considered to be beginner levels, but are enough for most people.
Having different levels also allows you to have a variety of exercise. For example you could do 15 minutes warm up on an easy level, then 15 minutes on a higher level, and perhaps a cooling down period of 10 minutes on a lower level of resistance.
This resistance is normally done using a weighted flywheel.
Read Outs & Display
Even the most basic of recumbent bikes should be able to measure time taken, distance covered, calories burned, and some form of pulse or heart measurement. These are usually shown on a LED display. That should be easy to set up, easy to use and most importantly easy to see.
These measurements are important as they can help keep you motivated. They can also help track your progress.
Low Entry Height
This is just a fancy term for being able to get on and off the bike. If the seat is set at the right level, then doing this is a great deal easier. Some of the recumbent bikes simply have the seat too low down.
Recumbent Exercise Bike Buyer's Guide - The Nice to Haves
The features that I have mentioned above are all necessities. Those that I mention below are what I call the nice to haves. They are not essential by any means, but they allow you to make the full use of your recumbent exercise bike.
As the name would suggest, these are set of riding programs. that have been designed by experts. When you select a program, then it takes you through a pre-defined program or workout. I like these as it mixes up the routine, and gives you the right level of exercise.
Many people who are new to indoor cycling tend to get a tad carried away at the start. The novelty of the bike, and the enthusiasm tends to highly motivate the user.
The main problem with that is they tend to ride harder, and stay on it longer than they should. That can lead to sore joints and aching muscles. It can also put that person off for a few days, even weeks.
It is much better to start slowly, and build up both the effort used, and time spent over a period of time. These programs are a great way of doing just that. You normally find the programs contained on an on-board computer, and from an LED display. There will be instructions with your bike, showing you how to set these up, and use them.
Additional Resistance Levels
I mentioned earlier about having at least 8 resistance levels. Depending on how serious you want to take your workout, the better bikes will allow you more levels of resistance. Typically there will be 16 levels instead of the standard 8 levels.
These allow you to build up more slowly, and also to take your training to a higher level. You will also find some of these bikes have adjustable handlebars.
Advanced Read Outs & Displays
With the better and more expensive bikes, you can get a much better set of personal measurements. As well as time and distance, these will include pulse, heart rate, energy consumption etc.
You will also be able to hook up a chest strap to these. That can be very useful for those with mild heart conditions. In some of the advanced bikes, there are also pulse monitors in the handlebars. These pulse monitors come with alarms, when the maximum pulse has been reached.
The better quality bikes will also have fat target settings and also heart controlled programs.
The more sophisticated programs will use something like Google Maps to give you upwards of 1,000 downloadable workouts.
Over Sized Lumber Support
You can also get what is termed larger size lumber supported bikes. They come with larger seats, and easy glide seat adjustment. They will also come with extra wide ergonomic pedals. All of these have been designed for extra comfort. Below I have shown the Bremshey BR5 as an example.
These are normally more expensive, but are made much stronger.
Foldable Recumbent Exercise Bikes
The one thing for certain is that the standard recumbent exercise bike is big. It is also heavy, not that easy to move around, and takes up quite a lot of room. That is why the manufacturers have designed versions of these which can be folded. I have shown the Tecnovita YF93 below as an example.
Not only does this one fold up for easier storage, but it also comes with wheels. That as you can imagine makes it a lot easier to move around.
Recumbent Exercise Bike Buying Guide Summary
You should have by now enough information to make a better buying decision. For around £99-150 you can buy a very good quality basic recumbent exercise bike. They are available as standard styles or as a folding style.
The higher end bikes come with more features, and some of those can be very useful. They are also usually better made, and more comfortable. There are also recumbent bikes for heavier people. They cost more as they have to be manufactured with stronger metals and supports.
I hope that you find what you are looking for. If you have any questions, leave a comment below or pop us your question via our contact form. Good luck with your choice.