Ultimate Guide of Recumbent Bike vs. Compact Upright Bike

1). Conclusion First:

As old proverb say: Time is money. I don’t want to spend too much of your time. Let’s see the conclusion first here:

Sedentary / Beginner✔✔✔
Moderate Workout✔✔✔✔✔
Vigorous Workout✔✔✔✔
Injured / Recovery✔✔✔
Home / Indoor✔✔✔✔✔✔
  • Recumbent Exercise Bike is more friendly to comfortable training, recovering and keep vitality. It has less stress, low risk to your body and joint.
  • Upright Exercise Bike is better for normal adult with average health status.
  • Note: This is only based on the assumption of decide Recumbent or Upright. There are always many other alternatives available in the market if you want more, such as Treadmill, Cycling Bike or Elliptical, etc.
  • If you already know which to buy, here are some top choices for you. If you want to know deeper review or to know more about this, check below content.

2). Detail Analysis:

1. What is a Recumbent Exercise Bike?
Recumbent Definition: a: suggestive of repose: leaning, resting; b: lying down; representing a person lying down. a recumbent statue”, for example: The Egyptian sphinx has the body of a recumbent lion. —- from Merriam-Webster;

Check the right one, Rider is sitting on the saddle and her leg is horizontally extend forward, the upper body and lower body become nearly right angle. There is a support back and handle, so she can lean back to it. There is a prototype called Recumbent Bike that can ride on the road outdoor.

2. What is an Upright Exercise Bike?
Upright Definition: a : perpendicular, vertical ; b : erect in carriage or posture c : having the main axis or a main part perpendicular upright freezer positioned to be straight up; For example: Put your seat back in the upright position; the fox’s upright ears —–From Merriam-Webster

So check the left one, when “upright” applied on an exercise bike, Rider’s upper body is up straight just like a normal city bike on the road. Factory applied this theory to Fitness Stationary Exercise Bike, that’s what you see in the left model. They remove the two wheels and make it stationary to fit for Home & Indoor circumstance.

3. Detail Comparison:
A recumbent bicycle is a bicycle that places the rider in a laid-back reclining position. Most recumbent riders choose this type of design for ergonomic reasons; the rider’s weight is distributed comfortably over a larger area, supported by back and buttocks. On a traditional upright bicycle, the body weight rests entirely on a small portion of the sitting bones, the feet, and the hands.—– Quoted from Wikipedia
And they all belong to Stationary Bicycle.

From the above, we can see the biggest differences is the rider’s body position. Recumbent is nearly horizontal, upright bike is like vertical. Now Let’s check detail similarities and differences between them.

Saddle: Normally Recumbent has more than twice of the upright bike’s saddle. It also has a large  support back to provide extra support on your back to help you lean back comfortably. In the opposite, Upright exercise bike has a smaller one like a traditional bicycle.



Mechanical: Inside the plastic decorative shell, mainly including crank with belt pulley, magnet, flywheel, durable belt and some sensors; The flywheel’s weight may differ from each brand’s model to provide different training level. Except that, the only factor that matters is the quality of these spare parts. Some factory uses good one, some factory uses normal one, and some factory uses cheap one.

Ergonomic: Rider on recumbent exercise bike has a more comfortable and natural reclined body position which is help reduce body stress and eliminate muscle pressure in the upper body and more gentle on your leg joint. Rider on upright exercise bike has a straight but slightly hunched over with a slight bend in the neck and back. But don’t lean forward to much as picture, this may causes muscle soreness and fatigue.

Handle: Recumbent exercise bike has back handrail, and upright exercise bike has front handrail as normal bicycle. All of them has heart rate sensor embed.

Monitor: For basic model, they have similar monitor like the first two in the picture, it has Time, Speed, Pulse, Distance and Calories data shows on the screen. Some advanced recumbent exercise bike has computer-like monitor with more function available. It has dual track LCD window to show up to 13 different display feedback. It’s a bit like the monitor in the Treadmill, and of course their price maybe hundreds more expensive.

Tension: Most of them offer 8 levels resistance adjustment by a simple turning knob.






Mobility: They all equipped transportation wheels for you to move the machine. But, as you can see from the picture, Recumbent exercise bike is not foldable, and you have to lift the whole bike to move it, and upright exercise bike is more compact and lightweight design for mobility feature.



Durable: Despite the different frame structure, both have long term durability on the main frame and most spare parts. The easily worn parts include plastic pedal, cushion, handle wrappage and belt inside the decorative shell.

Target Audience: Recumbent exercise bike has longer history and big market, it has wide accepted commercial model you can find it in Gym. This kind of upright exercise bike was released later and due to it’s compact and lightweight design, it’s like amateur fitness machine and mostly for home user.

4. Pros Cons

Recumbent Exercise Bike Summary:

A Recumbent Exercise Bike has pros for its bigger seat and back, ergonomic body position and horizontally leg. People can have easy to hard cardio training with low risk. The cons are relatively expensive price, heavy weight and complicated assembly.

Compact Upright Exercise Bike Summary:

An Upright Exercise Bike has pros for its compact and lightweight design, easy-to-use structure, space saving storage dimension. People can enjoy a moderate cardiovascular activity at home or office without any limitation. Think about bad weather like hot summer, cold winter or big snow, you are unable to ride outdoor, this indoor stationary exercise bike has a similar ride position. The cons are relatively basic function, low training effect and less ergonomic than recumbent model.

3). P.S.:

In recent years, merchants are also start to sell compact recumbent exercise bike as this picture shows. They cut some functions or make it smaller and simpler than normal one, the result is the cost is decreased and so the sales prices is cheaper than before.  For example, you can check below two models, one from Exerpeutic, and one from Ancheer.