Recumbent Bike vs Upright Bike – Which is Better and Why?

Jeff Baldelli
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What is a Recumbent Exercise Bike?

Recumbent Exercise Bikes give the cycling experience you love while enjoying the comfort and accessibility of the recumbent bike you say goodbye to the hard seat, the pounding, and the neck and back pain that can accompany a regular bike.

Recumbent bikes differ from upright ones mainly by supportive backrests that help you maintain a more comfortable position while you cycle. It is a feature that can be especially valuable for people with chronic pain or sensitivity to pressure.

Recumbent bikes are becoming increasingly popular. Health clubs, community centers, workplaces and dorms are all adopting them as the seating option of choice.

What is an Upright Exercise Bike?

An upright exercise bike is pretty much exactly as it sounds. The bike frame has a horizontal position and this means that you sit on the bike very much like you would a normal bicycle. It basically lets gravity assist you in the lowering and raising of the pedals.

Most people find them to have a more natural feeling and they are also easier on the joints. This is a big advantage for people who are just starting an exercise program.

The upright exercise bike was one of the first that was ever invented. They were first used in health clubs in the late 1960’s and they have made a huge impact since that time. You can find them in any gym and also in the homes of people looking to get in shape.

Because of their popularity, there are many different varieties that are now available.

Some models are more advanced with lots of extras available. Others are fairly basic, operated by a simple console that shows heart rate, pulse, distance ran, calories burned, and computerized training programs that make it easy to follow.

The most popular model is the magnetic upright exercise bike. This features powerful magnets that influence the rotation of the flywheel so you don’t need to push down on the pedals to get the movement going.

What are the Pros and Cons of the Recumbent and the Upright Exercise Bike?

The recumbent bike is often considered to be the king of home fitness equipment, however, the upright bike will give you an equal workout for a lower price. It’s all about your fitness goals and your pocket book. So, what’s the big difference between these two types of bikes?

Here’s the deal! Recumbent bikes are generally more comfortable. The laid back riding position will allow you to comfortably stay on your bike longer and burn more calories and fat.

They also have a fully ergonomic design which supports your joints, spine and back.

And unlike the upright bike which doesn’t have a back to lean on and gives you no support, the recumbent bike has a back that comes up to your waist to rest on, depending on the size of the bike.

Additionally, recumbent exercise bikes are used to treat back pain and injuries because they allow you to sit back and relax. You can also read, watch television, or just have a conversation while riding a recumbent bike.

But, on the downside, when you are riding a recumbent bike, you are positioned farther away from your exercise equipment, which in this case, is the pedals you would be pushing. This means you are going to have to use more effort to get the same results.

The Pros of the Recumbent Exercise Bike

Ease of Cycling:

Recumbent bikes are without a doubt the most comfortable bike you are going to find. Unlike the upright bike where you have to sit with your back straight and your feet on the pedals, the recumbent bike allows you to lean back thus making it easier to find the perfect resistance that best suits your needs.

Quick Recovery:

Compared to the upright bike, recovery time is much faster when you use recumbent bikes. The reason for this is that with the upright bike, your head and back are made to withstand pressure while using the bike, and when you get done, you have to continue with your daily activities right away, while in case of the recumbent bike, it does not require much pressure, and you will be able to recover more quickly because all you need to do is rest and go to bed.

Burn More Calories:

Studies have shown that when compared to upright bikes, you will burn more calories when using a recumbent bike, and it is especially useful for people with back problems.

Decrease Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases:

This is something that quite a number of people do not know about. Studies have shown that when you use the bike, it forms a complete package that you are required to achieve a balanced exercise for both your heart and lungs.

No Pressure on Bones or Joints:

The Cons of the Recumbent Exercise Bike

It is a common misconception that the recumbent exercise bike is a better form of exercise than the upright exercise bike because it leaves your hands free, but in reality, there are many pros and cons for each.

Let’s start out with a comparison on some of the most basic capabilities of each bike. A recumbent bike can give the rider the option of having a little more comfort, whereas the upright can be a little easier to view the screen. However, both work out all of the core muscles in a similar fashion.

Other than that, here are some of the differences. The recumbent bike tends to be a good option for the elderly, those with back issues, and beginners, but for some, an upright bike is a better option because it is just easier to get on and off of as well as maneuver the pedals.

An upright bike also has a front wheel that makes it easier to turn around. The seats are also made of a less padded material, which make it easier to resist the urge to sit for longer periods.

Bikes also come with varying speed and difficulty settings, which allow the rider to workout at different intensities. This can be very important for those who have the option, because a more intense workout can help to get even better results.

The Pros of the Upright Exercise Bike

The main advantage of upright bikes is that they provide a natural form of exercise that is easily manageable and well within the comfort zone of most who are looking for something to help stay in shape or pass the time while watching TV. The fact that the weight of the rider is supported by the bike means that it is not as strenuous as other forms of pedal exercises such as running or cycling.

Upright bikes offer so much more than just a place to sit and pedal. You can sit or stand while riding it, and most models allow you to adjust the slant of the seat and the height of the handlebars to suit your exact needs. While it doesn’t amplify the push required, most users do prefer the feel of the moving motion to be dependent on their pushing alone. When riding an upright bike, users feel as if they are in control and working on their own.

One of the main advantages of using upright bikes is that they can be used by individuals who may have difficulty exercising for a variety of reasons. They are also a good option for those who are just too busy to commit to a strenuous form of exercise. Furthermore, many items of home equipment are designed to be both compact and flexible. As a result, they can be placed in the home, office, or health club with ease.

The Cons of the Upright Exercise Bike

The “old-fashioned” upright bike is known as the one that you find in your local gym. The kind that you lock into and crank your tunes while you sweat. Uprights are great for a beginner or for someone who doesn’t want to spend much money. However, there are a few downsides to the upright bike.

Some of the downfalls include:

Biking on the upright position can be uncomfortable for some people with back injuries, hamstrings issues, or other joint injuries. The upright position is the least comfortable for these types of individuals.

Uprights were made to support a large range of users. As a result, they are usually missing features that would allow for correct alignment.

Biking on an upright bike is not that challenging. Your weight is over the front wheel, and the pedals are beneath you. This is not as effective as a recumbent bike workout.

Not all upright bikes include things like a heart monitor, media hookups, or a resistance generator.

Upright bikes are also not as efficient as recumbent bikes. While you are pedaling, you are not pedaling up against gravity.

The Key Differences

Want to know the main differences between an upright bike and a recumbent bike? Check out the following comparison.

Which is Better and Why?

There are three main types of bikes, the upright, recumbent and stationary bike.

Upright bikes are easier to use, especially for people who are very fit since they have faster and smoother pedal motion.

Recumbent bikes are not as comfortable since they do not fully support the rider.

Recumbent bikes, on the other, provide more comfort while you ride them. These bikes have back seats that are about 75 cm long. They also have a backrest that you can rest on.

These bikes feature handlebars that are upholstered as well. Some have a cushion molded into them and others are covered with soft fabric.

Both upright and recumbent bikes are compact and easy to move. They are also both versatile, meaning they can be used for moderate workouts to more rigorous ones.

Upright bikes offer a variety of features even though they have one advantage over recumbent bikes. Upright bikes have a large back wheel that allows them to move quickly. Some upright bikes have pedals that move as fast as over 12 MPH. The pedals on recumbent bikes move at a speed of about 7 MPH.

Recumbent bikes have very few moving parts and have their seat back rest fully supported. As a result, they are more stable than upright bikes. Also, recumbent bikes can also accommodate larger users.


Recumbent bikes look more like a lazy recliner with a large back rest instead of a bike. This design is more comfortable, but it also requires a bit more work to use correctly.

Although you may think that a recumbent bike is not as workable as an upright bike, the advantages it provides are more than worth the extra energy and focus you need to use it. After all, this is time that you are giving health to yourself … and a little extra workout never hurt anyone!

Recumbent bikes are ideal for people who are suffering from some sort of arthritis or back pain. That’s because the recumbent bike is designed to help support your back and lower body. Need more help? Check out this list of equipment to help you boost your bike.

While this does make it the perfect bike for people suffering from lower body pain, it isn’t always the best one for you. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preferences, so here are a few things to think about that will help you to determine which bike is best for you:

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