In the world of exercise bikes, the perennial question remains: How to decide between a recumbent or an upright model? We’re frequently asked to render an opinion on whether a recumbent or upright exercise bike is better. Here are some points to consider. Full disclosure, we sell both, including our best-selling Cybex 525C Upright, but we are always impartial when it comes to our equipment, so let’s dive in.
Recumbent Exercise Bikes
Simply put, you can get an excellent workout on both an upright and a recumbent bike. In our experience, people dedicated to staying fit will always find a way to get the job done – but the more comfortable they are, the more likely they are to stick with it.
That said, if you often experience lower back discomfort, or if you’re recovering from injury, a recumbent bike may be a better choice. With a more natural seated position, you may find a recumbent to be less stressful on your body—and your lower center of gravity makes the bike feel more stable, allowing you to concentrate on meeting your goals. Plus, with less stress on joints, you might go a little further or a little faster than and get quicker results.
Among our favorite recumbent training bikes are the TRUE ES700 Recumbent Training Bike and the Cybex 525R Recumbent Bike. The ES700 is one of the smallest exercise bike designs, and is ideal for use in limited home spaces. Seats have a wrap-around adjustment handle that allows you to change the position of the ergonomically designed seat. Plus, instead of the traditional mesh seat you’d expect to find on an exercise bike, the ES700 is covered in a new “fatigue resistant” elastic-type mesh that provides lumbar support and feels ultra-comfortable.
The 525R from Cybex is specially designed for users who want a customized workout. With resistance levels ranging from 20 watts to 600 watts and user-friendly technology that integrates QR codes, you’re working out in no time with a wealth of motivating programs at your fingertips.
Upright Exercise Bikes
An upright exercise bike, of course, mimics an outdoor road bike much more closely. That said, if you’re training for a race or event—or if an authentic road-bike feel motivates you to push harder—an upright might be the better choice.
Two of our favorite upright bikes are the Expresso S3U and the G-Force UT Training Bike from Lemond by Hoist. The Expresso provides an unmatched variety of vistas—real and imagined—on its ample hi-def monitor, plus it features unique programming options you won’t find on other stationary bikes.
The G-Force is a tremendous upright (and popular among serious competitors), with custom seat options and multi-position handlebar—and the only stationary bike on the market that can be fitted with a road bike saddle of your choosing.
Whether you’re more comfortable (and motivated) on a recumbent or an upright bike, you really can’t go wrong. But whatever you do, don’t buy anything until you’ve personally tried it yourself. A lot of variables go into your comfort (or discomfort) with a particular bike, and experiencing the machine for yourself is the only way to know for sure if you’ll be satisfied.