With so many models on the market it can be somewhat confusing to find the best recumbent exercise bike for your personal needs. To that end, the following are some tips to help you find that perfect piece of exercise equipment.
This is the most important consideration when buying anything. Set your budget and stick to it. Also, be realistic; if you’re only going to be spending a few hundred dollars you’re not going to be getting a high-spec machine like a Lifecycle exercise bike. Realistically, anything below $250 is not going to be of any use. An entry-level bike will cost between $250 and $400. Mid-priced models cost somewhere between $400 and $650, with high-spec models costing up to $3,000. When buying mid- to high-level bikes you will get push button resistance control, a feature-rich console, long warranties, pulse driven workouts that automatically adjust to give you the best workout and user-defined programs.
Recumbent exercise bikes are becoming more popular because they are more comfortable, especially for those with lower back problems or those who are overweight. So, it’s crazy to buy one of these if it isn’t comfortable. Look for models where the seat can be adjusted horizontally, vertically and where the incline of the seat can also be adjusted. Pay close attention to the padding used in the chair. If at all possible try one out, even if you’re eventually going to buy on the internet.
Cheaper models use a tension belt to provide resistance. This always requires manual setting, which will interrupt the flow of your workout if you need to reset it. Mid- to high-level bikes come with magnetic resistance. The advantage with this type is that they are generally quiet and can be adjusted even when you are cycling. Look for models where the resistance is adjusted by a push button on the console rather than by having to pull or push a knob. Some models offer a third alternative; I’m thinking of the Schwinn AirDyne bike which uses a fan that sucks in air as you push. The disadvantage with this type of resistance is that it is noisier, but it has the advantage that you don’t need to plug the bike into the mains in order to use it.
Heart Rate Monitor
Don’t buy a bike if it doesn’t have one. It’s important to use one during your workout as you want to push your heart rate up and without a monitor you don’t know if you’re working at your optimal best. Most bikes have pulse grips fitted into the handlebar at the side of the seat. Higher-end bikes come with pulse-driven workouts that automatically change the program to ensure your heart rate stays in the zone.
These vary tremendously from model to model. A mid-range model should have at least five, with the higher-end models having more as well as having user-defined programs.
This is the interface between you and the bike. Most of us need some sort of feedback to keep us motivated. The better the console, the more likely you are to stick to your exercise regime. Some consoles are quite Spartan whereas some, like the Tunturi exercise bike, are incredibly feature-rich. Many also come with mp3 sockets and more and more are now iFIT compatible.
The most important tip in finding the best recumbent exercise bike is to know exactly what your requirements are. That way you can quickly eliminate what doesn’t fit those requirements and be left with a much smaller selection to make comparisons before making your final choice.