Recumbent Vs. Upright Bicycles

What are the differences between recumbent and upright bicycles? Read about the pros and cons, what to look for in each, and how to decide which is right for you.

Bored with the treadmill?Try switching to the bicycle for a break.Your bicycle cardio workout can also add to your quad exercises, giving your quads a leaner look.Try setting the bike on a lower resistance and your quads will respond in a sleeker, leaner manner than they would on an intense stair climbing expedition.

You have several choices when you head for a bicycle workout - the upright bike and the incumbent bike.What do each offer? Which one should you use for your workout?


The difference between the two styles is the way they sit.The upright bike is like the bicycle you might typically ride in your neighborhood or to work.The upright bicycle has a vertical leg position, meaning you use your leg and foot in a downward motion.

The recumbent bike seats the rider usually with a backrest and feet stretched in a horizontal manner, or out in front of their torso.You can find stationary recumbent bikes alongside the stationary upright bikes at your local gym.You can also find more and more recumbent bikes out on the road.

Stationary upright riders swear they are getting a better workout than with any other cardio equipment.Better is, of course, a relative term.But it does make sense that they are working a larger number of areas than a treadmill or stair climber might tackle.The complaints about an upright have to do with handlebar placement and the fact that some models force you to lean forward a bit more than comfort might allow.

Many recumbent riders claim that the bike is more comfortable and easy to use.Others point out that the recumbent bike is a much slower workout and as a result, less intense a workout.

There does not seem to be consensus from the experts about which bike is the better one to use.It is generally felt that the choice is personal and has to do with which bike the rider is more comfortable on rather than any particular health benefit.


If you are interested in purchasing an exercise bike for your home gym, consider some of the features that might be important for you.

­- Adjustable seat height is important.Seat height should be moveable to the height of any user and should happen easily and quickly.Make sure the seat is comfortable for you and if you select a recumbent bike your back should feel completely supported.

­- Pedals should be wide and have a strap to keep your foot in place.Sounds like a no brainer, but if your foot should slip during riding you could suffer a full body injury through the shoulder down the back and the leg and even possibly slip completely off the bike depending on which model you are on.Use the strap!

­- Bikes used in a home with small children will need enclosed or shrouded spokes and chains for their protection.Enclosing these areas also cuts down on the dust and dirt to clean off the bike.

­- Make sure the reach on the bike's monitor is reachable and readable for you.You should be able to make adjustments as you ride.Look for monitoring of distance, speed, time, calories being burned and resistance level.A heart rate monitor is an added luxury but nice to have if you need to keep track.

­- Look for stability in the bike.A heavier front wheel means a stable ride, but you also want to be able to move the equipment around.The bike should have a stable feel when you get on it and off it.Ones that teeter or rock should be avoided.

­- A warranty of one-year that includes labor makes your purchase a smart one.The labor portion of the warranty is important.Loading the bike into your van or car to take it to the repair shop is not a fun activity.Instead, a warranty that includes labor means the repairperson will come to you.

Make sure you have ridden the bike before you purchase it.People tend to gravitate toward one or the other of the bike styles and generally not both.Although many trainers and experts claim the recumbent bike is great for first time exercisers and those with back pain, there are just as many users who will tell you the recumbent style bike causes lower back pain.You will need to see for yourself with not just one quick test ride but a span of time using the bike in your workouts.

© High Speed Ventures 2011