As you know, buying any piece of home gym equipment can be a tough decision. The same applies for the decision what exercise bike to buy. The first thing to decide is whether you prefer classic, upright or recumbent exercise bikes. Only afterwards you should concentrate on finding the right model or brand for your fitness needs.
However, you should know that both upright and recumbent exercise bikes have their good and bad sides. Both types have their health benefits and risks, so in order to make the best decision, you should get a little more familiar with how each of them work.
Recumbent Exercise Bikes vs. Upright Exercise Bikes – The Design
While both types of bikes incorporate the same parts – a padded seat, pedals and handles, these elements are placed differently, so the overall design and shape is different.
Upright bikes are similar to outdoor bikes, designed for cycling, only that instead of having wheels, these are stationary. Pedals in upright bikes are placed under the seat, so your legs are straight when pedals are at their lowest position and bent from the knees when they are at their highest position.
In recumbent exercise bikes, pedals are placed in front of the seat so your legs are straight when pedals are at their farthest position and bent when pedals are at their closest position from the seat. Still, on the upright bike, your knees are bent more than on the recumbent bike, so the second one is less stressful for your joints in the knees.
Then, the seat in upright bikes, which is similar to that in classic cycling bikes, is less comfortable than the seat in recumbent models, which features a backrest for support and makes pedaling more comfortable and less painful for your back and leg muscles. In upright models, you are often tempted to bend forward or to curve your back due to the seat’s position, and this increases the risk of back pain and injuries.
Both upright and recumbent exercise bikes feature straps on the pedals, but in upright models these are often more effective as they are more stable on the dorsal part of your foot. When biking at high speed on the recumbent bike, straps on the pedals may unlock, forcing you to slow down or stop the exercise and lock the straps back.
On the other hand, pedals on recumbent bikes are slightly larger than those of the upright bikes, so they are designed for increased comfort. The risk for your feet to slip off the pedals is higher in upright bikes than in recumbent models, so this means you are more prone to ankle injuries when using classic stationary bike.
So, are recumbent exercise bikes more advantageous and comfortable than upright bikes? Well, the comparison is not over yet! Regarding seats, in both models seats are padded, so they are surely designed for comfort. However, due to the position adopted on upright bikes, exercising for more than 20 minutes can become really painful and uncomfortable.
That is one drawback of upright bikes, but recumbent exercise bikes have their disadvantages too when it comes to the seat. In recumbent models, the seat’s position can only be adjusted in the sagittal plane, which means you can only move it forward or backward to adjust the distance between the pedals and seat.
In upright bikes, you can adjust the seat height so you can find a comfortable position whether you are petite or very tall. As for the handlebars, in recumbent bikes these are usually fixed, while in upright models, they are often adjustable, allowing you to adjust a comfortable position for your back and, in some models, to work out muscles in arms and the core area while biking.
Programs, Space Requirements and Prices
Both these types usually have control panel that display the speed, traveled distance, calories and time spent on the bike. In addition, prices are quite similar, but they obviously vary depending on the producer and on how professional the bike is.
High-end models of both upright and recumbent bikes often come with preset programs that allow you to tone muscles in the legs, to burn fat, to work for building endurance or simply for relaxing muscles and recovering after a tough weight’s training session.
As for the space requirements, upright exercise bikes have the advantage of taking less space and being more lightweight compared to recumbent bikes. Therefore, if the space in your home gym is limited, perhaps it is better to opt for an upright mode than for a recumbent exercise bike.
For those who are not sure whether they need exercise bike or not, please read these reasons to buy exercise bike.