Recumbent bike, as the name suggests, is a sit-down bike with the back rested against a mesh seat. You must have come across them in a gym or a public place, as they are easy to spot, given their reclined shape that looks more like a piece of garden furniture than cardio equipment.
These bikes can be an excellent choice for those who like to enjoy their cardio with a firm and comfortable back support and sitting down (as opposed to standing positions).
The options are plenty when it comes to effective cardio equipment, and amongst the regular options of treadmills, elliptical, rowing machines and stationary or moving bikes, the recumbent bike does provide you with a ‘different’ option with its fair share of benefits.
If you are intrigued by them and would like to know more about their features and their associated benefits, then keep reading.
What is a Recumbent Exercise Bike?
One of the best features of a recumbent bike is the fact that it is physically and practically more comfortable to ride and use due to its reclined and adjustable positions as compared to the other cardio equipment available in the market. Your back is fully supported by a large seat that lets your upper body muscles to relax and let the lower body do the work for you. The bike pedals come in varying options including being placed out in the front that allows your feet to extend completely.
If you are new to biking or cardio exercises, then these bikes are an easy way to start exercising. As you get more experienced, you can increase the resistance of the bike or speed of your pedaling, or even consider backpedaling.
This reclined positioning on a recumbent bike allows the rider to read or watch television or a gadget, as they exercise. This can help you do longer sessions on the bike without getting bored of the cyclical pedaling.
Why Use a Recumbent Bike?
This is, by far, the most commonly cited reason for choosing a recumbent bike – thanks to its comfortable and adjustable mesh-based wide seats.
A lot of people also prefer the side arms that they can use to rest their forearms whilst exercising. This is particularly helpful for users of old age who need added support during the workout.
Longer journeys are more comfortable and relaxing on long wheel based recumbent. It also ensures that you do not have a sore back, neck, or hips, and at the same time enjoy the scenery as you pedal along.
Recumbent bikes have a lower center of gravity. This is because the seats are closer to the ground and the pedals are placed in the front as opposed to below the rider. It is also a much safer option for those who find it hard to balance a bicycle on different terrains or roads. Even in the case of an accident, the rider will not fall far from the bike as compared to a normal exercise or stand-up bike.
On a normal road, recumbent bikes can ride faster than the usual bikes. This may be surprising news to some! They have reportedly broken almost all records of human-powered machines that there is. These records just do not get noted as there is no official body noting it, other than for routine diamond-shaped frame bikes.
You can also get similar thrill and speed within the comfort of your home or gym with the indoor styled recumbent bikes.
The intelligent design of these bikes does not require the cyclist to grip or hold the handlebars during the exercise. This means you have both your hands free to do whatever you like with them during the workout. You can read, write, watch your favorite programs or play games on TV or a gadget, to give you a few examples.
A recumbent bike is a great choice if you simply want to lose some weight or generally improve your fitness levels, or even enhance your cardio endurance. It is also well-suited to those looking to minimize their risk of getting an injury or a strain.
Having said that, the intensity level of a recumbent bike may not be the same as an upright or a stationary bike. Hence, a recumbent bike may not be the ideal choice for those looking for a seriously rigorous workout or advanced users who need more intensity.
Is a Recumbent Bike a Good Workout?
A recumbent bike has great utility as sports or exercise equipment leading to increased muscular strength, improving flexibility, and overall cardiovascular fitness.
Some of the benefits of riding this bike are:
- Great back support for a low or high impact workout
- Reduced stress impact on joints
- Reclined positioning reduces stress on the lumbar spine/lower back and hence ideal for those with lower back injuries or discomfort
- Comfortable large seats minimize post-workout “saddle soreness”
- Resistance levels and speed can be adjusted for a customized workout for every user
- Uphill and downhill rides can be simulated by adjusting the inclination settings
- The perfect solution to inclement weather conditions as it can provide you with an equally effective workout indoors
- Safe and effective mode of exercising or rehabilitation post-injury and equally effective for riders with cardiac issues
Recumbent bikes have all the features and designs to provide its users with a high-intensity workout too.
It also has high and low impact programs that are well—suited to those seeking strength and power training, quite akin to resistance training.
Which Type of Recumbent Bike System is the Best?
Recumbent bikes come in all shapes and sizes. Once you are comfortable riding an alternative bike (i.e. other than diamond frame designs), you have options within the recumbent bike system as well.
The two most common types of recumbent bikes are short wheelbase and long wheelbase.
There is questionably the third type as well, known as the compact long wheelbase, without much appreciable difference between this and the first two.
These types of bikes will generally have the front wheel positioned around the rider’s knees, and the cranks are extended out in front. These are speedier versions of recumbent bikes. This type of bike can also lead to a rougher ride as the rider is positioned almost on top of the front wheel.
Long wheel bikes will have the front wheel positioned in the front of the cranks, as you would expect to see in a traditional bike. These would have wider turning radiuses and are meant to provide you with smoother riding experience. They are also positioned much lower to the ground (less than a foot above).
These bikes also have handlebars on both the front sides of the display and also on the sides of the seat.
Some of the features of an upright bike are also relevant for recumbent bikes and must be considered by the purchasers – built-in programs, adjustable seating, heart-rate monitor/sensors, and clear displays with standard measurements.
Recumbent bikes take up more space given their wide structure, seating, and design. These are some of the factors you need to factor in when thinking of placing or storing it within your home.
What Type of Foot Pedals does a Recumbent Bike have?
There are primarily two types of foot pedals that a recumbent bike may have – flat pedals (also known as platform pedals) or clipless pedals. Some pedals may have both the options and the rider can switch to the one he needs accordingly. The type of foot pedals will vary depending on the type of commute and riding goals that you may have.
This is what most people are used to seeing on a bike, however, these flat pedals come in a lot more variety to suit the style and need of every rider, for example, the no-frill pedals, or those with grippy pins that help the shoes to grip better on a pedal. These grippy pin pedals are well-suited to mountain bikers.
Clipless pedals allow you to push and pull with each pedal stroke as opposed to flat pedals that only let you push down on them. The clipless function gives you enhanced power, smoother riding experience, and hence much more efficiency.
When you clip in, your shoes are attached to the pedals to provide with you added power to push. You should always do some practice on them before getting onto the road if this is your first time.
Some clipless pedals also work as flat pedals, but those that do not will require cleats to function. Cleats are small pieces of metal or plastic, placed on your shoe soles, and act as a connector between your shoes and clipless pedals. These cleats can be replaced when worn out or changed if you require varying float whilst riding with clipless pedals.
Why is it Good to Use a Recumbent Bike?
Recumbent bikes are faster (with sustainable speeds) and have less drag (and greater push or force against the seat) on a normal road as compared to a diamond frame bike.
These are amazing long touring cycles and are also available with full suspension for those rough terrains and road conditions.
Other than that, they are more comfortable and safer than upright bikes and let you have the best of both worlds, i.e. have effective cardio as well as pursue a past time such as reading, watching TV, or even knitting.
Riding a recumbent bike guarantees you tons of fun and a great workout, all at your own pace and by people with limitations too (aged or those with back or neck sprains).
No matter what shape, size, or brand of a recumbent bike you go for, it will only be as good and effective as your willingness and seriousness to utilize it. That can be an outdoor full-fledged bike or an indoor gym or home equipment, depending on your preference. Happy riding!