Our reviewers evaluate products and services based on unbiased research. Top Consumer Reviews may earn money when you click on a link. Learn more about our process.

Recumbent vs Upright Exercise Bikes

Friday, August 12th

Recumbent Vs Upright Exercise Bikes

A stationary bike provides an excellent cardiovascular, low-impact workout no matter your level of fitness. Working out even a few times a week with an exercise bike can provide health benefits such as weight loss and toning. You can also reduce the risk of getting diabetes, heart disease and other serious medical conditions. For those power riders, exercise bikes are a popular way to build endurance, burn a lot of calories and firm up your legs, thighs and buttocks in the process.

When choosing an exercise bike, there are two different types of bikes for home use. Each design type has its pros and cons and it's important to understand the difference so you can make a well-informed decision:

Upright Models:

  • Upright stationary bikes look and feel more like a traditional road bike in design and function. You'll find the seat located directly over the pedals and high up off the ground. Generally you can modify the seat height on upright bikes to accommodate your specific fit.
  • Upright bikes allow for more movement, such as riding while standing on the pedals or in a racing position, which can give you a more strenuous workout.
  • The handlebars also work like a road bike to help maintain balance, pull yourself up or even capture your heart rate if the bike comes with that option.
  • Many upright models have a built in fan to help keep you cool. As you pedal the flywheel spins and generates wind that cools you off.
  • Unless you've spent a lot of recent hours on a road bike, the upright models can quickly become uncomfortable after prolonged periods of time. A quality seat is important for any stationary bike and especially critical for the upright models. With a lot of weight and pressure focused on the seat, choosing a bike that fits well will reduce some of the comfort issues.
  • The upright models generally require less space. With a shorter and narrower design, upright bikes are easier to fit into smaller spaces. For some buyers this may be the deciding factor when choosing between an upright and recumbent bike.

Recumbent Bikes:

  • Recumbent bikes are a newer design to the stationary bike industry. A recumbent exercise bike is more like sitting in a chair close to the floor with your legs in front. When resting, the design mimics a recliner with the pedals situated straight ahead.
  • Recumbent bikes are designed to provide a more comfortable ride and ease of use. If you have back problems, you'll really appreciate the padded seat and back rest. Many recumbent bikes allow you to adjust the seat to provide the best fit. Several personal trainers have stated that it's easier to get new clients pedaling on a recumbent bike over the standard upright versions. If you are new to exercise, you might pay attention to this opinion.
  • For those uncomfortable when high off the ground, the recumbent models eliminate the fear of falling. You'll sit safely and securely close to the ground, so there is no need for handlebars. This is important to consider if you've never loved riding a road bike.
  • As a result of the design, the recumbent models can encourage a less intense workout, which is good for those people looking to gently exercise at their own pace. For those that are looking to prepare for outside road bike action these less intense workouts might not get you were you want to be.
  • Recumbent bikes can require a lot of space over the upright versions. Make sure you identify the dimensions of the model your considering and measure for proper fit prior to purchasing. You'll need a little extra space around the machine to comfortably use the bike.

Most experts say that choosing between an upright and recumbent stationary bike is only a matter of preference. The recumbent bikes provide a more comfortable workout while the upright models can offer more intensity. You need to decide which is right for you based on your personal needs. With either type, finding a quality model is essential in finding a stationary bike that works well and provides an effective workout. Consider and compare several brands in your search and look for independent reviews that help you in your decision-making.

The Best Exercise Bikes Compare Exercise Bikes Compare Exercise Bike Reviews What are the best Exercise Bikes Best Exercise Bike Reviews

Exercise Bike FAQ

There are plenty of reasons that people buy an exercise bike for home use. For people with balance or mobility issues who still want a good cardio workout, bikes are a much better option than a treadmill or elliptical machine. They also take up much less room, are more portable/movable, and easier to maintain than larger pieces of cardio equipment.
That's up to you. Recumbent bikes have a seat like a chair, and the pedals are in front of you; they're the exercise bike of choice for people with joint and back issues. Upright bikes offer more flexibility in your workout: you can ride seated or pedal standing up for a more intense experience.
As with most products, the more features an exercise bike has, the more it will cost. You can get a basic, entry-level model for under $500 - or pay $7,000+ for one that has every bell and whistle imaginable (but it won't do the exercise for you!).
How does "free" sound? Many retailers include delivery in the price of the exercise bike. That definitely beats trying to lug it home from a brick-and-mortar store in your car!
Not necessarily. Most manufacturers have step-by-step instructions and even videos for how to put your bike together. You can also purchase professional installation/set-up from some retailers, either with their in-house team or through a third-party partner.
That depends on the store. Some offer no return policy whatsoever, while others give you 30-60 days to try your bike and decide if you want to keep it. Even then, you may still be responsible for return shipping costs and/or restocking fees.
Most bikes come with warranty coverage, usually with longer protection on the higher-end models. You may have lifetime coverage of the frame and brakes, 1-3 years on parts and electronics, and 90 days to 3 years on associated labor costs - but the specifics vary by manufacturer and bike model. Some retailers offer extended warranty plans as well.
That's one of the hottest trends in the fitness industry, and many bikes come with some kind of workout option with live coaching or on-demand classes. But, even if your bike doesn't, there are plenty of apps you can subscribe to and follow along on your own; you just need to have a way to see your phone, tablet or TV from wherever you position your exercise bike!

Compare Exercise Bikes

Select any 2 Exercise Bikes to compare them head to head

best-exercise-bikes
  • NordicTrack
  • Bowflex
  • Schwinn
  • ProForm
  • Xterra
  • Yosuda
  • Life Fitness
  • CAROL
  • Peloton
  • LifeSpan Fitness
  • Diamondback Fitness
  • Precor
  • Echelon
NordicTrack vs Bowflex NordicTrack vs Schwinn NordicTrack vs ProForm NordicTrack vs Xterra NordicTrack vs Yosuda NordicTrack vs Life Fitness NordicTrack vs CAROL NordicTrack vs Peloton NordicTrack vs LifeSpan Fitness NordicTrack vs Diamondback Fitness NordicTrack vs Precor NordicTrack vs Echelon Bowflex vs Schwinn Bowflex vs ProForm Bowflex vs Xterra Bowflex vs Yosuda Bowflex vs Life Fitness Bowflex vs CAROL Bowflex vs Peloton Bowflex vs LifeSpan Fitness Bowflex vs Diamondback Fitness Bowflex vs Precor Bowflex vs Echelon Schwinn vs ProForm Schwinn vs Xterra Schwinn vs Yosuda Schwinn vs Life Fitness Schwinn vs CAROL Schwinn vs Peloton Schwinn vs LifeSpan Fitness Schwinn vs Diamondback Fitness Schwinn vs Precor Schwinn vs Echelon ProForm vs Xterra ProForm vs Yosuda ProForm vs Life Fitness ProForm vs CAROL ProForm vs Peloton ProForm vs LifeSpan Fitness ProForm vs Diamondback Fitness ProForm vs Precor ProForm vs Echelon Xterra vs Yosuda Xterra vs Life Fitness Xterra vs CAROL Xterra vs Peloton Xterra vs LifeSpan Fitness Xterra vs Diamondback Fitness Xterra vs Precor Xterra vs Echelon Yosuda vs Life Fitness Yosuda vs CAROL Yosuda vs Peloton Yosuda vs LifeSpan Fitness Yosuda vs Diamondback Fitness Yosuda vs Precor Yosuda vs Echelon Life Fitness vs CAROL Life Fitness vs Peloton Life Fitness vs LifeSpan Fitness Life Fitness vs Diamondback Fitness Life Fitness vs Precor Life Fitness vs Echelon CAROL vs Peloton CAROL vs LifeSpan Fitness CAROL vs Diamondback Fitness CAROL vs Precor CAROL vs Echelon Peloton vs LifeSpan Fitness Peloton vs Diamondback Fitness Peloton vs Precor Peloton vs Echelon LifeSpan Fitness vs Diamondback Fitness LifeSpan Fitness vs Precor LifeSpan Fitness vs Echelon Diamondback Fitness vs Precor Diamondback Fitness vs Echelon Precor vs Echelon
Compare the Best Exercise Bikes
- VS -
Review the Best Exercise Bikes
See the Best Exercise Bike
The Best Reviews of Exercise Bikes