How To Shop For A Recumbent Bike

*This website includes affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we will receive a commission for the referral at no additional cost to you.

3G Cardio Elite RB X Recumbent Bike

Here we go, recumbent bike review time!

Why a recumbent bike, you ask?  Well, in our humble opinion, recumbent bikes are the single most underrated piece of exercise equipment made.  They simply don’t get enough love!  Recumbent bikes are great, they check all the boxes!

  • Comfortable and easy to use: CHECK!
  • Small and compact: CHECK!
  • Easy on the knees and back: CHECK!
  • Easy to move / relocate: CHECK!

When it comes time choose a recumbent bike, this is also easy.  Comfort is king!  Now, obviously there are other factors like price and warranty but setting that aside, “comfort” is what matters most.  When you are shopping for a treadmill, “durability” is the most important factor.  When you are shopping for an elliptical, “stride quality” is the biggest factor (we will be doing elliptical reviews in the future), and comfort is everything when shopping for a recumbent bike.  And oh boy, there are a lot of different sets of criteria for recumbent bikes.  Let’s discuss a few right now.

Adjustability.  This is a huge selling point for me.  The recumbent bike seat should have multiple adjustment points.  Just like when you drive a car, you should be able to make the bike seat fit you.  Ever get in the driver seat after your wife / husband drove last.  For me, it is like cramming myself into a Houdini magic box, the struggle is real!!!  So, you need to be able to adjust the seat forward and back (every bike has this option) but you also need to be able to tilt the back rest.  I have a big stomach (muscles of course!) and don’t need to be sitting upright at a 90-degreeee angle.  I need some room, so being able to tilt the back rest backward is a big deal.  I am not a little guy and at 298lbs, I am used to stuff not fitting me correctly.  I sure as heck am not going to buy a bike that doesn’t feel good.  The next adjustment point is not very common on most bikes.  It is the ability to tilt the entire seat assembly forward and back like an office chair.  This is a very nice feature that allows you to shift your body weight back which also takes stress off the lower back.

Some other factors that matter is “ease of use”.  Recumbent bikes can accommodate a wide range of users so it stands to reason that a good recumbent bike can also challenge a wide range of users.  If you are a senior, then the bike must be easy to get on and off.  Having at least a partial step-thru height is important as well as solid metal handles to grip as you enter and exit the bike.  Recumbent bikes are the number one choice for people who have recently had knee replacements so again, the bike should not be too difficult to use.  A good recumbent bike should have a wide range of resistance levels, which is common. A good recumbent bike should also have a narrow Q Factor.  Now, Q Factor is something that is very frequently discussed in the “outdoor bike industry” but not the indoor bike industry.  Why?  Because most indoor bikes (recumbent bikes included) have awful Q Factors ratings.  A Q Factor is the width between the pedals.  The wider the Q Factor, the wider your feet.  A wide Q Factor is bad for users because it will put more stress on your IT Band, your Patellar tendon, your hips and ankles etc…  A wide Q Factor is a NO NO!  You can check out our review charts to see how our tested recumbent bikes performed.

We have a significant amount of data points in the recumbent bike review chart.  These are factual sets of data so you can decide for yourself which bike fits you best.  Another topic that we would like to discuss here is “flywheel weight”.  We hear about this all the time and would like to set the record straight why flywheel weights on an indoor bike does not matter.  Flywheel weight is talked about in many online reviews and at first glance, seems like a big deal.  This seems like an important topic in deciding which bike to buy.  But guess what?  It does not matter one bit.  Why?  Glad you asked:

When you read about a bike flywheel weight online, what you are reading is information that a review site copied from another review site who picked it up from another review site. So on and so forth for the last several decades.  Flywheel weight did matter 40 years ago.  Back in the day with the old Schwinn and / or Tunturi indoor exercise bikes that your parents had parked in their basement.  Remember that one, with the white and green striped frame?  Tiny round dial on the front of the handlebars?  Bare bones bike that was super heavy and that you probably stubbed your toe on once or twice.  Ring a bell?  These bikes had super heavy flywheels because that is how they were able to generate momentum.  There were no 3-piece aluminum crank arms at the time or sealed linear bearings.  These were bare boned basic bikes and the only way to create a smooth feel was to pack a super heavy flywheel onto it. Skip forward 40 years and things have changed.  First off, heavy flywheels only mattered on indoor bikes where there was no free wheel motion.  Today, the high-end indoor bikes have flywheels which weigh under 10lbs (brands like Life Fitness and Hoist).  And, for recumbent bikes, a heavy flywheel does not matter because these bikes have free wheel motion.  A heavy (40lbs) flywheel would cause a significant amount of unnecessary wear and tear on the bearings and would not make sense to use.

So, if you are reading a review about recumbent bikes and they talk about the weight of a flywheel, you may want to take what they say with a grain of salt.  You can always tell if a review site is legit or not by seeing if they actually have the products they are testing on hand.  If they don’t have the products available to test, then how in the world are they doing a review??? Yep.  Copy and paste.

The last main point we will discuss is to make sure the bike you are buying has a good return policy, especially if you have back issues.  If you have a lot of back issues, then you will need at least 30 days to make sure the bike will not aggravate your back.  Sometimes we tell people they need to go into their local fitness store and try out a product first.  Sometimes people have such a specific set of criteria that their best bet is to buy local.  With a recumbent bike, that may not be good enough.  Sometimes the only way to know if a recumbent bike will work for you is to have it in your home and try it out for a few weeks.  Then and only then will you know for sure that the bike will fit you and make your back happy.

There are many good brands out there at many different price points.  What we can tell you is don’t be afraid to spend a little extra to get something that works for you. The recumbent bike you are buying today, could outlast the next car you drive!  For real.  And the better quality bikes may also be more comfortable. The more comfortable the bike, the more likely you are to go back the next day and use it.  If it is not comfortable and does not fit you right, you are probably not going to consistently use it. 

Here we go, recumbent bike review time!

Why a recumbent bike, you ask?  Well, in our humble opinion, recumbent bikes are the single most underrated piece of exercise equipment made.  They simply don’t get enough love!  Recumbent bikes are great, they check all the boxes!

  • Comfortable and easy to use: CHECK!
  • Small and compact: CHECK!
  • Easy on the knees and back: CHECK!
  • Easy to move / relocate: CHECK!

When it comes time choose a recumbent bike, this is also easy.  Comfort is king!  Now, obviously there are other factors like price and warranty but setting that aside, “comfort” is what matters most.  When you are shopping for a treadmill, “durability” is the most important factor.  When you are shopping for an elliptical, “stride quality” is the biggest factor (we will be doing elliptical reviews in the future), and comfort is everything when shopping for a recumbent bike.  And oh boy, there are a lot of different sets of criteria for recumbent bikes.  Let’s discuss a few right now.

Adjustability.  This is a huge selling point for me.  The recumbent bike seat should have multiple adjustment points.  Just like when you drive a car, you should be able to make the bike seat fit you.  Ever get in the driver seat after your wife / husband drove last.  For me, it is like cramming myself into a Houdini magic box, the struggle is real!!!  So, you need to be able to adjust the seat forward and back (every bike has this option) but you also need to be able to tilt the back rest.  I have a big stomach (muscles of course!) and don’t need to be sitting upright at a 90-degreeee angle.  I need some room, so being able to tilt the back rest backward is a big deal.  I am not a little guy and at 298lbs, I am used to stuff not fitting me correctly.  I sure as heck am not going to buy a bike that doesn’t feel good.  The next adjustment point is not very common on most bikes.  It is the ability to tilt the entire seat assembly forward and back like an office chair.  This is a very nice feature that allows you to shift your body weight back which also takes stress off the lower back.

Some other factors that matter is “ease of use”.  Recumbent bikes can accommodate a wide range of users so it stands to reason that a good recumbent bike can also challenge a wide range of users.  If you are a senior, then the bike must be easy to get on and off.  Having at least a partial step-thru height is important as well as solid metal handles to grip as you enter and exit the bike.  Recumbent bikes are the number one choice for people who have recently had knee replacements so again, the bike should not be too difficult to use.  A good recumbent bike should have a wide range of resistance levels, which is common. A good recumbent bike should also have a narrow Q Factor.  Now, Q Factor is something that is very frequently discussed in the “outdoor bike industry” but not the indoor bike industry.  Why?  Because most indoor bikes (recumbent bikes included) have awful Q Factors ratings.  A Q Factor is the width between the pedals.  The wider the Q Factor, the wider your feet.  A wide Q Factor is bad for users because it will put more stress on your IT Band, your Patellar tendon, your hips and ankles etc…  A wide Q Factor is a NO NO!  You can check out our review charts to see how our tested recumbent bikes performed.

We have a significant amount of data points in the recumbent bike review chart.  These are factual sets of data so you can decide for yourself which bike fits you best.  Another topic that we would like to discuss here is “flywheel weight”.  We hear about this all the time and would like to set the record straight why flywheel weights on an indoor bike does not matter.  Flywheel weight is talked about in many online reviews and at first glance, seems like a big deal.  This seems like an important topic in deciding which bike to buy.  But guess what?  It does not matter one bit.  Why?  Glad you asked:

When you read about a bike flywheel weight online, what you are reading is information that a review site copied from another review site who picked it up from another review site. So on and so forth for the last several decades.  Flywheel weight did matter 40 years ago.  Back in the day with the old Schwinn and / or Tunturi indoor exercise bikes that your parents had parked in their basement.  Remember that one, with the white and green striped frame?  Tiny round dial on the front of the handlebars?  Bare bones bike that was super heavy and that you probably stubbed your toe on once or twice.  Ring a bell?  These bikes had super heavy flywheels because that is how they were able to generate momentum.  There were no 3-piece aluminum crank arms at the time or sealed linear bearings.  These were bare boned basic bikes and the only way to create a smooth feel was to pack a super heavy flywheel onto it. Skip forward 40 years and things have changed.  First off, heavy flywheels only mattered on indoor bikes where there was no free wheel motion.  Today, the high-end indoor bikes have flywheels which weigh under 10lbs (brands like Life Fitness and Hoist).  And, for recumbent bikes, a heavy flywheel does not matter because these bikes have free wheel motion.  A heavy (40lbs) flywheel would cause a significant amount of unnecessary wear and tear on the bearings and would not make sense to use.

So, if you are reading a review about recumbent bikes and they talk about the weight of a flywheel, you may want to take what they say with a grain of salt.  You can always tell if a review site is legit or not by seeing if they actually have the products they are testing on hand.  If they don’t have the products available to test, then how in the world are they doing a review??? Yep.  Copy and paste.

The last main point we will discuss is to make sure the bike you are buying has a good return policy, especially if you have back issues.  If you have a lot of back issues, then you will need at least 30 days to make sure the bike will not aggravate your back.  Sometimes we tell people they need to go into their local fitness store and try out a product first.  Sometimes people have such a specific set of criteria that their best bet is to buy local.  With a recumbent bike, that may not be good enough.  Sometimes the only way to know if a recumbent bike will work for you is to have it in your home and try it out for a few weeks.  Then and only then will you know for sure that the bike will fit you and make your back happy.

There are many good brands out there at many different price points.  What we can tell you is don’t be afraid to spend a little extra to get something that works for you. The recumbent bike you are buying today, could outlast the next car you drive!  For real.  And the better quality bikes may also be more comfortable. The more comfortable the bike, the more likely you are to go back the next day and use it.  If it is not comfortable and does not fit you right, you are probably not going to consistently use it. 

Here we go, recumbent bike review time!

Why a recumbent bike, you ask?  Well, in our humble opinion, recumbent bikes are the single most underrated piece of exercise equipment made.  They simply don’t get enough love!  Recumbent bikes are great, they check all the boxes!

  • Comfortable and easy to use: CHECK!
  • Small and compact: CHECK!
  • Easy on the knees and back: CHECK!
  • Easy to move / relocate: CHECK!

When it comes time choose a recumbent bike, this is also easy.  Comfort is king!  Now, obviously there are other factors like price and warranty but setting that aside, “comfort” is what matters most.  When you are shopping for a treadmill, “durability” is the most important factor.  When you are shopping for an elliptical, “stride quality” is the biggest factor (we will be doing elliptical reviews in the future), and comfort is everything when shopping for a recumbent bike.  And oh boy, there are a lot of different sets of criteria for recumbent bikes.  Let’s discuss a few right now.

Adjustability.  This is a huge selling point for me.  The recumbent bike seat should have multiple adjustment points.  Just like when you drive a car, you should be able to make the bike seat fit you.  Ever get in the driver seat after your wife / husband drove last.  For me, it is like cramming myself into a Houdini magic box, the struggle is real!!!  So, you need to be able to adjust the seat forward and back (every bike has this option) but you also need to be able to tilt the back rest.  I have a big stomach (muscles of course!) and don’t need to be sitting upright at a 90-degreeee angle.  I need some room, so being able to tilt the back rest backward is a big deal.  I am not a little guy and at 298lbs, I am used to stuff not fitting me correctly.  I sure as heck am not going to buy a bike that doesn’t feel good.  The next adjustment point is not very common on most bikes.  It is the ability to tilt the entire seat assembly forward and back like an office chair.  This is a very nice feature that allows you to shift your body weight back which also takes stress off the lower back.

Some other factors that matter is “ease of use”.  Recumbent bikes can accommodate a wide range of users so it stands to reason that a good recumbent bike can also challenge a wide range of users.  If you are a senior, then the bike must be easy to get on and off.  Having at least a partial step-thru height is important as well as solid metal handles to grip as you enter and exit the bike.  Recumbent bikes are the number one choice for people who have recently had knee replacements so again, the bike should not be too difficult to use.  A good recumbent bike should have a wide range of resistance levels, which is common. A good recumbent bike should also have a narrow Q Factor.  Now, Q Factor is something that is very frequently discussed in the “outdoor bike industry” but not the indoor bike industry.  Why?  Because most indoor bikes (recumbent bikes included) have awful Q Factors ratings.  A Q Factor is the width between the pedals.  The wider the Q Factor, the wider your feet.  A wide Q Factor is bad for users because it will put more stress on your IT Band, your Patellar tendon, your hips and ankles etc…  A wide Q Factor is a NO NO!  You can check out our review charts to see how our tested recumbent bikes performed.

We have a significant amount of data points in the recumbent bike review chart.  These are factual sets of data so you can decide for yourself which bike fits you best.  Another topic that we would like to discuss here is “flywheel weight”.  We hear about this all the time and would like to set the record straight why flywheel weights on an indoor bike does not matter.  Flywheel weight is talked about in many online reviews and at first glance, seems like a big deal.  This seems like an important topic in deciding which bike to buy.  But guess what?  It does not matter one bit.  Why?  Glad you asked:

When you read about a bike flywheel weight online, what you are reading is information that a review site copied from another review site who picked it up from another review site. So on and so forth for the last several decades.  Flywheel weight did matter 40 years ago.  Back in the day with the old Schwinn and / or Tunturi indoor exercise bikes that your parents had parked in their basement.  Remember that one, with the white and green striped frame?  Tiny round dial on the front of the handlebars?  Bare bones bike that was super heavy and that you probably stubbed your toe on once or twice.  Ring a bell?  These bikes had super heavy flywheels because that is how they were able to generate momentum.  There were no 3-piece aluminum crank arms at the time or sealed linear bearings.  These were bare boned basic bikes and the only way to create a smooth feel was to pack a super heavy flywheel onto it. Skip forward 40 years and things have changed.  First off, heavy flywheels only mattered on indoor bikes where there was no free wheel motion.  Today, the high-end indoor bikes have flywheels which weigh under 10lbs (brands like Life Fitness and Hoist).  And, for recumbent bikes, a heavy flywheel does not matter because these bikes have free wheel motion.  A heavy (40lbs) flywheel would cause a significant amount of unnecessary wear and tear on the bearings and would not make sense to use.

So, if you are reading a review about recumbent bikes and they talk about the weight of a flywheel, you may want to take what they say with a grain of salt.  You can always tell if a review site is legit or not by seeing if they actually have the products they are testing on hand.  If they don’t have the products available to test, then how in the world are they doing a review??? Yep.  Copy and paste.

The last main point we will discuss is to make sure the bike you are buying has a good return policy, especially if you have back issues.  If you have a lot of back issues, then you will need at least 30 days to make sure the bike will not aggravate your back.  Sometimes we tell people they need to go into their local fitness store and try out a product first.  Sometimes people have such a specific set of criteria that their best bet is to buy local.  With a recumbent bike, that may not be good enough.  Sometimes the only way to know if a recumbent bike will work for you is to have it in your home and try it out for a few weeks.  Then and only then will you know for sure that the bike will fit you and make your back happy.

There are many good brands out there at many different price points.  What we can tell you is don’t be afraid to spend a little extra to get something that works for you. The recumbent bike you are buying today, could outlast the next car you drive!  For real.  And the better quality bikes may also be more comfortable. The more comfortable the bike, the more likely you are to go back the next day and use it.  If it is not comfortable and does not fit you right, you are probably not going to consistently use it. 

3G Cardio
Life Fitness
Bowflex
Peloton
Echelon
OMA
NordicTrack
Sole
ProForm Treadmills Reviewed by BigGuyTreadmillReviews.com

2023 Big Guy Recumbent Bike Awards

Here’s the Winners of the Big Guy 2023 Recumbent Bike Awards!

*This website includes affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we will receive a commission for the referral at no additional cost to you.

Highest Rated Award

#1 Overall Best Buy

3G Cardio Elite RB X Recumbent Bike

3G Cardio’s Elite RB X Recumbent Bike is the #1 Overall Best Buy

Best Buy Award

Best Bike under $1000

Sole R92 Recumbent Bike

Sole R92 Recumbent Bike gets the Best Bike under $1000 Award