Cycling is a fantastic cardiovascular exercise that uses the legs, as well as the core and lower. It tones the lower and upper body, and the core, and produces better overall muscle definition than other cardio activities like running. Cycling regularly can help increase your stamina and endurance, as well as overall aerobic and cardiovascular fitness.
What Is a Recumbent Road Bike?
A recumbent road bike is a bike that has the rider sitting in a reclined position instead of a narrow bike seat, allowing the rider to sit upright instead of bending their body towards the handlebar and ride with their legs in a forward position.
These types of bikes are extremely ergonomic as the rider’s weight is distributed over a larger area than on an upright bike and the rider is comfortably supported by the back and buttocks.
Another ergonomic advantage of a recumbent bike is that they create a smaller frontal profile of the rider due to the reclined, legs-forward position of the rider’s body.
Recumbent road bikes are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes, including bikes with small, medium, and large wheels, short and long wheelbases, overseat, underseat, or no-hands steering, and front or rear-wheel drive. Recumbent tricycles have three wheels.
Recumbent road bikes are a great way to exercise for all levels of fitness as they have several features that allow the rider to adjust the resistance, vary the pedaling speed, and cycle backward for more of a challenge. They allow riders to tailor-make their cycling workouts according to their fitness levels and needs.
World Human Powered Vehicle Association 2010 World Championship by Man Vyi / Wiki Commons
Recumbent Road Bikes vs. Regular Road Bikes
|Recumbent Bikes||Regular Road Bikes|
|Reclined body position||Upright body position|
|Pedals positioned in front of the body||Pedals positioned under the body|
|Larger seat||Smaller seat|
|Full back support||Limited upper body support|
|Comfortable sitting position||Upright seated position may cause upper body fatigue/tension|
|Reduced upper body tension and muscle fatigue||More consistent workout similar to outdoor riding|
|Focused lower body and cardiovascular exercise||Whole-body and cardiovascular exercise|
Why Are Recumbent Road Bikes So Popular?
Recumbent road bikes have become more popular among cyclists for several reasons from being comfortable and easy to ride to being ergonomic and aerodynamic for speed.
Recumbent bikes are far more comfortable to ride than regular bikes and this is probably the main reason why many people choose to ride them. They are great alternatives for both young and senior riders who want to ride with a natural posture and enjoy the views.
Recumbent road bikes can go faster than standard bikes due to their aerodynamics and ergonomic design. The low seating position makes the bikes ride faster as there is less wind and the proximity to the ground is closer.
Recumbent road bikes are safer than regular bikes as you are closer to the ground so the fall isn’t as bad.
4. Great Views
Recumbent road bikes are great for enjoying your surroundings while riding as you are in a seated position and don’t have to twist and turn your neck and head to see everything while bent over the handlebars.
5. Great for People with Disabilities or Stress Injuries
Recumbent bikes are more comfortable to ride and therefore less impactive on the joints than regular upright bikes. This means they are a great option for people who suffer from repetitive stress injuries in areas like the arms, back, neck, or knees. They can also be specifically designed for people with disabilities or those who have issues using their legs.
What to Look for in a Recumbent Road Bike
There are several factors to consider when shopping for a recumbent road bike.
- Height/Weight of the Rider
- Riding Style of the Rider
- Level of Fitness of the Rider
- Price Range
1. Height and Weight of the Rider
Most recumbent road bikes are designed for a specific range of rider heights. Bikes with a smaller front wheel are better suited for short riders, while taller riders can ride any size or style of a recumbent road bike. Long-wheel base (LWB) recumbent road bikes with lower bottom brackets are better suited for riders who are on the heavy side or have circulatory issues in their legs.
Riders with circulatory issues in their arms can buy a recumbent bike with underseat steering which will be easier on the arms. Short wheelbase (SWB) recumbent road bikes with above- or overseat steering are more aerodynamic and ideal for sporty, fit riders.
2. Riding Style of the Rider
Some recumbent bikes are designed for performance, while others are designed for comfort. Low-racer / quasi-low racer recumbent bikes with a high bottom bracket (low, recline seat) are the most aerodynamic bikes and best suited for racing in low-traffic areas.
High-racer recumbent bikes with lower bottom brackets and more upright seats are easy to ride and a good choice for hilly or high-traffic areas as they have a more visible position and a drive train with higher efficiency for getting up those hills.
3. Fitness Level of the Rider
Riders with good fitness levels would be best suited to low-racer / quasi-low racer recumbent bikes with a high bottom bracket (low, recline seat) as they are the most aerodynamic bikes and best suited for racing. If you want to ride for leisure, a high-racer recumbent bike with a lower bottom bracket and a more upright seat is your best bet.
4. Price Range
Recumbent road bikes range in price from about $500 for an entry-level bike to up to about $7000 for a high-performance bike. Higher priced bikes generally equate to better quality, lighter weight, better suspension, space-age components, and imported materials.
Best Recumbent Road Bike
We hit the saddle to test some of the top recumbent road bikes on the market and came up with this list of the best recumbent road bikes.
Best Overall: Mobo Triton Pro For Men & Women
The Mobo Triton Pro for Men & Women is designed for cruising and exercise on flat paved surfaces and gently sloping terrain. It’s great for low impact, cardiovascular workouts with minimal stress on your back and knees. The bike has a low center of gravity that provides excellent stability and a reclined seat that provides evenly cushioned support.
The Mobo Triton Pro for Men & Women has a Hi-Ten steel frame and a no-maintenance chainless design with a free-wheel single gear hub with caliper brakes and a safety flag. Dual-joystick steering offers smooth maneuverability with simple hand movements and the bike can be adjusted to fit both adult and youth riders – weighing up to 250 lbs.
- Low center of gravity
- Excellent stability
- Caliper brakes for safety
- Dual-joystick steering
- Adjustable for various heights and weights
- Low weight capacity
Best Value: Performer JC26X Recumbent Trike 27S FRP
The Performer JC26X Recumbent Trike 27S FRP offers outstanding performance and is a great value for money. This trike-style recumbent bike is super comfortable with suspension seating and a headrest for maximizing comfort levels.
The bike has a strong aluminum frame construction which makes it very durable and able to accommodate all heights and weights of users. The bike is equipped with Tektro disc brakes as well as quality Shimano rear and front derailleur.
- Designed with a strong aluminum frame
- Hardshell seat with mesh cushion
- Tektro NOVELA CS disc brakes
- Superior front and rear wheels
- Rear rack and fender for gear
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Best for Performance: Artifice Adult Recumbent Tricycle
The Artifice Adult Recumbent Tricycle is a fast, foldable tadpole recumbent trike with a sturdy, foldable chrome-moly frame. It has a comfortable mesh reclining seat, a large 26-inch rear wheel with aluminum rims and stainless-steel spokes, and intercrossing steering linkages that enable stability while high-speed riding.
The Artifice Adult Recumbent Tricycle has very low turn resistance, similar to that of automobile steering, and a brake lever with a lock that makes it convenient and easy to park. The front wheel of the bike can be easily detached for transporting and storing.
The advanced models of this recumbent bike have additional gears that provide precise speed control and optimum derailleurs that provide less mechanical resistance.
- Comfortable mesh reclining seat
- Easy to transport and store
- Aluminum rims and stainless-steel spokes
Best for Kids: Mobo Triton Pedal Go Kart Trike
The Mobo Triton Pedal Go Kart Trike is a great youth cruiser tricycle for kids who love riding on flat paved surfaces and sloping terrains. Designed to suit young riders with a weight capacity of up to 200 lb, the bike is close to the ground, providing maximum stability and making it very safe for children to ride.
The bike has an adjustable frame that accommodates riders with heights of between three and five feet and unique rear-wheel steering that boosts eye and hand coordination. Dual-joystick steering provides smooth maneuverability and a comfortable seat allows many hours of comfortable rides.
- Durable adjustable frame
- Innovative steering design
- Ergonomic design and chainless system
- Designed with a comfortable seat
- Doesn’t require balance
- Very small in size
Best for All-Round Performance: KMX Cobra Recumbent Trike
The KMX Cobra Recumbent Trike is a high-performance bike with a welded steel box frame with an aluminum front boom that allows for leg adjustment for tall riders. Multiple-position handlebars allow for direct steering and responsive handling.
Premium features of this recumbent bike include a larger rear wheel, independent rear brake, linked front brakes, extra gears, and treaded tires. It is simple and quick to assemble and requires very low maintenance.
- KMX Hardshell bucket seat with adjustable lumbar help
- Tools and instructional videos included
- Easy to upgrade
- 24 gears
Best for Seniors: Performer JC26X Recumbent Trike 27S FRP
The Performer JC26X Recumbent Trike 27S FRP is an ideal recumbent exercise bike for seniors with a large, adjustable, ergonomic seat that helps to reduce strain on the knees, and a comfortable backrest.
The bike has an aluminum frame with a hard-shell seat with mesh cushioning and a headrest. It has nine speeds and a microshift bar end shifter, Tektro NOVELA CS disc brakes, Shimano derailleurs, and Michelin tires.
- Adjustable, ergonomic seat
- Aluminum frame
- Tektro NOVELA CS disc brakes
- Shimano derailleurs
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do recumbent road bikes require special tools and expertise?
A: Recumbent road bikes may look different from regular road bikes, but they are easy to maintain with parts that are readily accessible at any bike shop.
Q: How do I get it around in my car?
A: It depends on the type of recumbent road bike you have – if you have a long-wheelbase model, you might require a hitch- or roof-type vehicle rack. You can also transport the bike in the back of a pick-up truck or van, or you can remove the wheel on the bike to make it fit into smaller spaces.
Q: How do I store my recumbent road bike?
A: Recumbent road bikes can be stored as easily as regular bikes – you can use bike hooks screwed into a stud or joist and hang them in your garage or storage cupboard. Even long-wheelbase models won’t take up much more room than a regular two-wheeler.
Q: Can I carry gear on the bike?
A: Yes – it is possible to install a rack and panniers and some bikes even offer custom bags for more carrying capacity.
Q: What are the benefits of using a recumbent road bike?
- Burns Calories
Cycling combines cardiovascular and strength training and burns large amounts of calories depending on your body weight and the effort you put in. Cycling can burn between 600-700 calories per hour.
- Reduces Stress
Physical activity, like cycling, helps produce endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in your brain. Endorphins help with insomnia and help you to sleep better; they act as natural relaxants and painkillers; and generally, make you feel great! Regular sessions on your recumbent bike will lift your mood, reduce stress, and improve your self-esteem.
- Improves Cardiovascular Fitness
Cycling is a cardiovascular exercise that uses the legs, as well as the core and lower. It tones the lower and upper body, and the core, and produces better overall muscle definition than other cardio activities like running. Cycling regularly can help increase your stamina and endurance, as well as overall aerobic and cardiovascular fitness.
- Heart Healthy
Cycling is a cardiovascular exercise and one of the best exercises for maintaining a happy and healthy heart. Cardiovascular exercise helps to get the heart pumping, muscles working, and sweat flowing and helps make the heart stronger. The heart is the engine of the body and the core of the complex and hard-working cardiovascular system, which also includes the vast network of arteries, veins, and other blood vessels that run throughout the body, taking oxygenated blood to every cell.
- Tones Muscles
Cycling works the muscles in the legs, back, and core, building lean muscle, as well as toning, and tightening flabby muscles, leaving the body looking lean and mean. Cycling builds and strengthens muscles without putting any strain on the musculoskeletal structure and helps to target muscle groups that wouldn’t normally be used in other exercises. It also helps flex and stretch the muscles, which is great for people of all ages to fend off the stiffening effects of aging.
- Strengthens Your Core
Cycling makes your core stronger by working the neutralizer and stabilizer muscles, which are the same muscles that create balance within the body and prevent you from injuring your back when you pick up something heavy.
- Improves Flexibility and Mobility
A 20 to 30-minute session of moderate cycling will loosen joints and muscles and increase flexibility. The repetitive stretching actions of cycling help keep the body flexible and also helps to reduce stiffness post-exercise.
- Low Impact on the Joints
Cycling is a low-impact form of exercise, using fluid motions that are non-weight bearing on the joints and tendons.
- Good Cross-Training Exercise for Other Sports
Cycling is a great cross-training exercise that benefits an array of other sports like swimming, running, tennis, and squash. Because it works so many muscle groups in the body, cycling strengthens and tones the arms, legs, back, and core and helps most forms of other training.
- Recumbent Exercise Bikes are Easy to Use
Have you ever walked into a gym and felt overwhelmed by all the different types of equipment? Or even worse, started on a machine, only to be told halfway through that you are back to front and upside down? A cycling machine is easy to use from setting it up for your body and exercise requirements to using the machine.
- Good for Arthritis and Osteoarthritis
For anyone who suffers from osteoarthritis or arthritis, cycling is an excellent way to stay in shape. It’s also a good form of exercise if you’re recovering from an injury or battling with other aches and pains. A cycling machine will help you strengthen your joints and increase mobility without causing more damage.
- Cycling is Beginner-Friendly
Cycling is an easy way to start working out in the gym or at home as it is easy to perform and can be built up to varying levels of resistance. Cycling can show results in a short time for both beginners and more advanced rowers, so stick with it and you’ll see the results.
- Improves Posture
Cycling is an excellent form of exercise to improve posture if done correctly without slouching or over-compressing when you pull back. It requires a straight strong back and core and this can lead to a marked improvement in posture over time.
- Cycling is Versatile
Cycling is a very versatile form of exercise that combines cardiovascular, strength, and fat-burning training. Cycling at lower intensities for a longer period can build endurance and stamina while cycling at high intensities for short periods with set intervals is great for building speed, increasing heart rate, and overall fitness.
- Improves Circulation
Cycling improves circulation and helps the heart to pump oxygenated blood to all parts of the body, move nutrients around for cell repair, and remove cell waste quickly and efficiently. A healthy circulatory system reduces the risk of embolisms, blockages caused by blood clots that typically form in the veins in the legs and travel to the heart and the lungs, which can be deadly. Improved circulation can also reduce the risk of strokes and other circulatory problems.
- Helps with Brain Functioning
Regular exercise, such as cycling, improves cognitive functioning, memory, and thinking skills. Cycling increases the heart rate, which increases the blood flow to the brain, and reduces inflammation and insulin resistance in the brain, which supports the growth of new brain cells.
- Challenging and Motivating
Cycling is a great form of exercise in which you see fast results, which is also a great motivator to train harder.
Jacky has a degree in Sports Science and is a Certified Sports and Conditioning Coach. He has also worked with clients around the world as a personal trainer.
He has been fortunate enough to work with a wide range of people from very different ends of the fitness spectrum. Through promoting positive health changes with diet and exercise, he has helped patients recover from aging-related and other otherwise debilitating diseases.
He spends most of his time these days writing fitness-related content of some form or another. He still likes to work with people on a one-to-one basis – he just doesn’t get up at 5am to see clients anymore.