Recumbent exercise bikes are becoming ever more popular, and for good reason. But, with so many makes and models on the market, it can be a little confusing deciding on which is the best one to buy, especially if you’ve never bought one before. Here are some tips that will help you choose and buy the best recumbent bike.
First off, why buy a recumbent exercise bike; what are the benefits? Well, for those not used to doing exercise, the inclined position can feel a little more comfortable. If you suffer from lower back problems the chair, or bucket seat, offers more support and is more comfortable. They’re also preferred by those who are overweight; again they’re more comfortable to use.
But it isn’t just about comfort that makes this type of bike so popular. The main benefit of using a recumbent exercise bike is that they are more ergonomically correct than the more traditional upright bike. This means that you get improved aerobic capacity, which means you burn off more fat. Also, they are better at developing the gluteal muscles, which means you get a better shaped butt when using one.
When it comes to buying, there are three main price ranges, which determine both quality and features provided. You can buy a cheap model for under $500, a mid-range model between $500 and $1,000, and the top models start from $1,000 and can go up to $5,000.
But you shouldn’t use price alone when determining on what is the best recumbent model. If you’re someone who does exercise workouts only occasionally, or if you’re not sure if this piece of exercise equipment is going to be right for you, you’d be crazy to go out a spend thousands of dollars on Lifecycle exercise bike. A cheap Weslo exercise bike would be best.
But what can you expect for your money?
For under $500 you’re probably going to get a basic machine of low to medium build quality. You’ll get a minimal console – or none at all – and you may not get a heart rate monitor, built-in programs or much of a warranty. The main disadvantage with having a poor display and feedback is that you can quickly become bored. Most will come with Direct Tension resistance only – more about resistance later.
For mid-range models you’ll get a decent enough display with some models being iFIT compatible; iFIT is a suite of motivational programs that provide virtual coaching, music and interactive feed back. You can buy the DVDs and CDs when you buy the bike, or you can download them off the internet. Mid-range models will also have a decent amount of preprogrammed workouts. The bike will probably have either air-resistance or magnetic resistance – see below.
The top-of-the-line models will come with just about everything. You’ll get more preset workout programs than you’ll possibly ever need, plus you’ll be able to program your own; many come with iFIT, TV, MP3 and consoles that really are more entertaining to watch than the TV. Best of all, you’ll be getting a warranty that actually means something; with a Lifecycle exercise bike you can get a lifetime warranty on the frame, 3 years on parts and 1 year on labor.
Simply put; the resistance is like going up and down gears on a real bike – the higher the gear the more effort required. There are three main types, direct tension, air and magnetic.
Direct tension is achieved by means of a belt and requires manual adjustment. This type of resistance is found only on the cheaper models.
Air resistance is found mainly on mid-range models. Basically, the faster you pedal the more air that is sucked into a fan at the front of the bike, which acts against your pedaling; hence you get a resistance when you pedal. The main advantage with this type of resistance is that it is mains-free; there’s no need to plug your bike into a socket in order to use it.
Magnetic resistance is considered to be the best. As the name suggests, a magnetic current is generated to create the resistance. This has two main advantages. Number one; it’s quiet. Number two, this type of resistance can be more easily fine-tuned. Various models change the resistance either by knob or pushbuttons; buy pushbutton if your budget can afford it.
The best recumbent exercise bike is the one that will have the features you want at the price you can afford. You must first decide on whether you want a rich, highly motivational display, air or magnetic tension, number of preset programs; user definable programs and warranty.