Recumbent and upright bikes are two of the most popular exercise bikes for home use. So, which is better recumbent or upright exercise bike?

It would depend on the needs of the user. Generally, recumbent bikes are recommended for older adults and people with mobility issues because they put less strain on the joints. Upright bikes are recommended for anyone who wants to enhance their fitness and those who want a more challenging cardiovascular workout.

Let’s find out the differences between upright and recumbent bikes to help you choose the right one for you.

Recumbent Bike Weight Limit

The Difference Between Recumbent Bike and Upright Bike

Here is a comparison to help you decide which bike is best for you.

 Recumbent BikeUpright Bike
Injury RiskLowModerate
Ease of UseGoodModerate
Best Suited For– Older Adults
– People with mobility issues
– People who are working to build endurance
– Advanced cyclists
– People who are working to boost speed and power
Fitness Benefits– Improved strength output
– Enhanced cardiovascular endurance
– Fat-burning
– Improved strength output
– Enhanced cardiovascular endurance
– Fat-burning
– Improved speed and power
Ability to ProgressModerateModerate

Injury Risk

When it comes to injury risk, you have fewer chances of getting injured on a recumbent bike compared to an upright bike. This is because the riding position on a recumbent bike allows you to transfer much of your weight to the reclined back of the seat. This, in turn, places less load on your back.

In contrast, an upright bike holds all your weight on a small seat which can result in buttocks pain. Also, since it has no back support, you will have a greater risk of back injury on an upright bike.

Ease of Use

If you want an exercise bike workout that feels like riding a road bike, choose an upright bike. An upright bike mimics the feel of riding on a regular bike.

So, riding an upright bike would be easy for you, even if you are using it for the first time.

On the other hand, riding a recumbent bike may be tricky at first because of its reclined sitting position. You need to get used to it first before you get comfortable riding it.

You’ll get the hang of it after using the bike for a few days, and you’ll discover how comfortable riding this bike is.

The supportive seat also makes it much easier to use, especially for older adults and people recovering from an injury.

Ability to Progress

When it comes to progression, both upright and recumbent bikes allow you to advance by either increasing resistance or speed.

Therefore, whether you choose an upright or recumbent bike, you should get good results from your fitness program if you focus on boosting the speed and resistance over time.

Best Suited For

The reclined position and the backrest of a recumbent bike make it more suited for older adults and people with mobility issues. The backrest of the recumbent bile provides comfort and stability, especially for people with back problems.

On the other hand, upright bikes are more suited for people who are hoping to enhance their athletic performance. Cycling athletes who want a more challenging cardiovascular workout are also best suited for upright bikes since they simulate an outdoor road bike experience.

Fitness Benefits

Both exercise bikes are excellent for boosting cardiovascular endurance, improving muscle strength and burning fat.

The upright bike, though, is more effective in building top speed and the ability to work harder against resistance than a recumbent bike.

Recumbent Bike

Below are some of the drawbacks and benefits of riding a recumbent bike.

Pros of Recumbent Bike

  • Recumbent bikes are better for older adults and people with restrained mobility than upright ones.
  • The recumbent bike’s seat is similar to a chair and much larger than other exercise bikes, so it is much easier for the rider to get on and off.
  • It provides more back support and entails less trunk engagement.
  • The workout is less intense and low-impact than upright bikes.
  • Recumbent bikes usually have higher weight capacity than upright bikes.

Cons of Recumbent Bike

  • Recumbent bikes engage fewer muscles than upright bikes.
  • They require more space because they are usually much bigger and not foldable.
Benefits of Recumbent Bikes

Here is a recommendation of the best recumbent bikes on the market today.

NordicTrack Commercial R35

The price tag may be a bit higher than the average, but this recumbent bike will be worth your money because of its amazing features. Read our review here.

The NordicTrack Commercial R35 has 26 levels of digital resistance, a self-adjusting fan, an ergonomic seat and amplified built-in speakers.

A 14-inch touchscreen lets you stream your favourite training class via the iFit app. You will truly enjoy this model, which will surely motivate you in your workout sessions.

Which Muscles Are Worked on Recumbent Bikes?

The main muscles a recumbent bike works include the quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. You can also work the muscles on your upper body if your recumbent bike has movable handles.

Upright Bike

Below are some of the benefits and downsides of riding an upright bike.

Pros of Upright Bike

  • An upright bike functions similarly to a regular outdoor bike.
  • It can offer a more intense workout than a recumbent bike.
  • Riding upright bikes requires more balance and muscle engagement.
  • Most models are lightweight and foldable.
  • They require less space because they are usually much smaller than recumbent bikes.

Cons of Upright Bike

  • They are not suited for people who have balance and mobility issues.
  • Upright bikes are less comfortable to use, especially for older adults.
  • They are more difficult to get on and off.
Exercise Bike on Carpet

Here is a recommendation of the best upright bikes on the market today.

Lifespan Fitness Exer-80 Exercise Bike

This exercise bike is one of the best exercise bikes in Australia. It may look like a basic upright bike but it utilises automatic resistance for adjustments and boasts 12 preset workout programs. The Exer-80 can also take up to 150 kg individuals. Get more information from our full review here.

Which Muscles Are Worked on Upright Bike?

The pedalling movement can work the muscles in your quads, calves and hamstrings. Moreover, it can also engage the muscles in your back, glutes and core. Since upright bikes require you to lean over the handlebars, you will also be able to work your upper body muscles, including your shoulders, biceps and triceps.

Which is Better – Recumbent Bike or Upright Bike?

Both of these exercise bikes provide low-impact exercises. As to which one is better, it is completely up to your fitness goals and abilities. They provide the same benefits, including improved strength output, enhanced cardiovascular endurance, and fat-burning benefits.

If you want a more challenging and intense workout, an upright bike can provide more than a recumbent bike. This is because it requires more coordination and balance to sit in the saddle, and you can increase speed and resistance when using an upright bike compared to a recumbent one.

In contrast, a recumbent bike is better for older individuals and those with mobility issues. If you want a bike that puts less strain on your joints, then choose a recumbent bike.

More Questions on Exercise Bikes

1. Which exercise bike burns more calories?

Upright bikes are more demanding, so they burn more calories than recumbent bikes. Upright bikes engage more muscle groups, including your arms, back, glutes and even your neck. Thus, providing a total body workout.

2. Which exercise bike is suitable for back pain?

A recumbent bike is suitable for people who are experiencing back pains. The recumbent bike’s seat is much larger and has a backrest, making it more comfortable for people with lower back conditions.