Upright Bike Vs Recumbent Bike – Pros & Cons

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Although we don’t talk about and review them quite as often as other exercise bikes like indoor cycling and air bikes, upright bikes and recumbent bikes are popular machines, too. Upright bikes and recumbent bikes offer cardio workouts that are low-impact, so they don’t put as much stress on the joints as running. You have probably seen both of them in the gym, and there are plenty of models of each type to choose from for home use.

But how are they different, what are their pros and cons, and most importantly, which one is best?

Recumbent Bike vs Upright Bike

What Is An Upright Bike?

An upright bike is a stationary bike that has higher handlebars in relation to the saddle. This places you in more of an upright position with your upper body, which is less intense than riding an indoor cycling bike in a studio spin class. Upright bikes are modeled after beach-cruiser outdoor bikes. The saddle is triangular and fairly narrow, although they can be wider than saddles on outdoor and indoor spin bikes, to offer more support.

The flywheel and drive trains are usually encased on upright bikes, so you can’t see the circular shape of the flywheel. The pedals are positioned below the saddle, and the handles are usually vertical-shaped to hang onto.

Upright Bike Pros
  • An upright bike offers a more intense workout than a recumbent bike.
  • These bikes require more muscle engagement and balance to use.
  • Upright bikes function more similarly to outdoor casual beach cruiser bikes.
  • They are typically smaller and require less floor space to use than recumbent bikes.
  • Some models fold up and are pretty lightweight.
Upright Bike Cons
  • They are harder to get on and off.
  • Upright bikes aren’t best for users who have limited mobility and balance issues.
  • They are less comfortable to use.

What Is A Recumbent Bike?

A recumbent bike is a stationary bike that has a chair as a seat with a wide base and back for support. The handles are next to the seat and the pedals are in front, to position you in a comfortable seated position. For users with limited mobility and balance issues, we recommend using a recumbent bike. Recumbent bikes are easier to use in general and are easier to get on and off of. Plus, the seat offers extra back and lumbar support.

Recumbent Bike Pros
  • Recumbent bikes are better for older folks and those with limited mobility than upright bikes.
  • They are easier to get on and off of because of the seated position that’s similar to a chair.
  • The exercise is very low-impact and less intense than upright bikes.
  • Recumbent bikes offer more back support and require less trunk engagement.
  • They usually have a higher weight capacity.
Recumbent Bike Cons
  • They engage fewer muscles than upright bikes.
  • They are usually larger and non-folding.

Which One Is Best – An Upright Bike Or A Recumbent Bike?

Both of these types of stationary bikes are popular and provide low-impact aerobic workouts. As for which one is best for you, is entirely up to you, your abilities, and your goals. An upright bike is the more challenging of the two because it requires more balance and coordination to sit in the saddle, and to get on and off the bike. It might not be best for older folks and those who have limited mobility. That’s where we recommend a recumbent bike. Recumbent bikes tend to take up more space and they don’t fold up like some lightweight upright bikes.

If you want to learn more about all types of exercise bikes, check out this article. And let us know in the comments, which one are you choosing: an upright bike or a recumbent bike?

Frequently Asked Questions: Upright Bike Vs Recumbent Bike

What are the benefits of an upright bike?

Upright bikes are great for strengthening your cardiovascular system and working your lower body. They make riding a stationary bike a little more accessible to people rather than spin bikes because they place the rider in a less intense position. Upright bikes are also low-impact machines so they are more forgiving on your joints than high-impact activities like running.

Is an upright bike or recumbent bike good for the knees?

Both types of exercise bikes are low-impact so they’re pretty forgiving on your knees. A recumbent bike might be better if you have limited mobility, especially in your knees because they’re easier to get on and off, however, both are good options for healthy knees.

What’s the point of recumbent bikes?

A recumbent bike is a great piece of equipment for folks with a limited range of motion and those who have balance issues. They’re a good option if you’re older, new to fitness, or coming back from an injury because they place you in a comfortable position that is similar to sitting in a chair but provides good aerobic exercise that can strengthen your cardiovascular system.

Is an upright bike better than a recumbent bike?

Neither bike is better than the other, it all depends on which one is better for you. A recumbent bike is a more comfortable option that provides a less intense workout. An upright bike is typically smaller and some are even foldable, however, they’re harder to get on and off of and require more balance to use. If you have less room, go with an upright bike, however, if you have balance issues and limited mobility go with a recumbent bike.

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