I never realized just how much strain an upright indoor bike puts on the back. A few friends at the gym who have had back injuries tell me recumbents are the best option for people with back problems. It is the only way to keep up with workouts without suffering intense pain afterwards.
My Dad’s birthday is coming up soon and I have decided to get him a recumbent bike. I know he will love it since he has always enjoyed riding but hasn’t been able to do it after an outdoor bike accident a few months ago. The upright back position on a regular bike is painful.
The doctor recommended a recumbent bike because it has a back rest to let you sit in a reclined, comfortable position. When is stated shopping around, I was surprised to find that there are so many recumbents in the market; since they all look pretty much the same to me. I don’t know what will work best for him but have no doubt he would love one.
Here is a buying guide to help you settle on the best recumbent bike for back problems.
The Best Recumbent Bike for Back Problems -A Comparison Table
Schwinn 270 recumbent bike
Nautilus R614 recumbent bike
Marcy ME-709 recumbent bike
JLL RE 100 recumbent bike
Exerpeutic 900XL recumbent bike
Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike – Our Top Pick[amazon box=”B01MS7EWR9″ template=”horizontal” ]
The Schwinn 270 recumbent bike is a sturdy durable bike with an attractive walk-through design to make it easy to mount and dismount. It is a high end product which allows you to make use of technology for a better workout.
- Sturdy durable build
- Light, perimeter weighted flywheel
- Walk-through design
- 4 user profiles
- Acoustic speakers
- Automatic shut down after use
- 3 speed fan
- Water bottle holder and media rack
It comes preloaded with 29 workout programs. These are followed using a dual track LCD screen which also displays all the basic metrics such as speed, time and distance.
4 user profiles can be used by different people in a household to keep track of individual progress. USB data transfer capability allows you to move your data from the bike’s computer to other devices.
Acoustic speakers give you great sound when you are using the fitness programs or if you prefer to listen to music as you pedal away.
It is a smooth, quiet ride thanks to a high speed, high inertia flywheel and 25 resistance levels to choose from. Comfort is guaranteed because you have a padded, adjustable seat. A strong but unpadded backrest provides sufficient and back support to make sure there is no strain and allows multiple users of different heights to work out comfortably.
To make sure you are even more comfortable, Schwinn included a 3 speed fan to cool you down when you start to sweat. A water bottle holder keeps you hydrated and a media rack lets you place your cellphone keys or any items you might want to keep near you.
When you are done, just dismount the bike and let it shut down automatically.
- 25 resistance levels
- 29 pre-loaded workout programs
- Dual LCD display
- Adjustable seat
- Bluetooth connectivity to integrate with MyFitnessPal and Schwinn Connect
- USB charging port
- Light flywheel
This is a great bike for users who like the extra technology and what it offers. Bluetooth connectivity, use of fitness apps and more than enough preloaded programs make it a top pick for many households.
Marcy ME 709 Recumbent Bike[amazon box=”B002KV1MJU” template=”horizontal” ]
The Marcy ME 709 recumbent bike is a strong, sturdy bike made with heavy duty steel tubing with a powder coated finish. It can be your exercise companion for years.
- Steel frame
- Large LCD screen
- Small footprint
It is one of the most popular options for users with back problems because it has a backrest. This back support allows you to sit and pedal away in a laid back position. It also features large, padded seats which are large enough for anyone to be comfortable regardless of their size.
A step-through design makes mounting and dismounting easy for users who may also have knee-joint problems or any other kind of mobility challenge. Space won’t be much of a challenge because it has a modest footprint of 55.5 by 25 by 37.5 inches.
There are 8 resistance levels to choose from which are delivered through eddy current therefore assuring you of a smooth, quiet ride. You can work out using this bike as you watch television or listen to music without having to increase volume or disturb other people around you. A tension knob control lets you customize your workouts depending on how fit you are.
To monitor your progress, there is a large LCD screen which displays basic information like time, distance, speed and calories burned.
For pedaling comfort and support, this bike has large, counter balanced pedals with foot straps. These give you maximum foot support and increased control for users wearing regular trainers.
One key drawback identified in this bike is that it has fairly low armrests. This doesn’t seem to bother everyone but is inconvenient for taller users.
- Backrest and large padded seat
- Step-through design
- 8 resistance levels
- Large counter balanced pedals with foot straps
- Lacks high tension settings
- Low arm rests
This is one of the most affordable recumbent bikes in the market. This makes it a good choice for users who are looking to protect their backs from strain and continue riding an indoor bike without having to spend a fortune.
JLL RE 100 Recumbent Bike
This is a favorite choice for people recovering from back-related surgeries or trying to lose weight prior to a similar procedure.
- 8 magnetic resistance levels
- Two-way flywheel
- Weight 70 lbs. (30kgs)
The JLL RE recumbent bike features are large comfortable seat with a padded back for comfort.Â It is 15 inches wide and only 16inches above the ground.
This also makes it easy to mount and dismount even for people with mobility challenges. 7 adjustment seat levels also makes it easy to find a perfect position for different users. Increased comfort allows you to work out for longer before tiring out.
There are 8 knob-operated resistance levels to choose from to simulate everything from flat ground to very steep climbs. Magnetic resistance and belt drive technology give you a smooth and quiet ride. A 4 kg two-way flywheel ensures you of a smooth ride with the option to cycle forward or backwards.
It comes with a monitor which is used to display your speed, distance, calories burned and time. Heart rate sensors are built into the handlebars so you only have to grip them to start viewing your heart rate on the monitor.
A notable drawback in this bike is that it has a relatively low weight capacity. It cannot take users who weigh more than 225 lbs.(100 kg).
- Large comfortable seat
- 7-level adjustable seat
- Easy to mount and dismount
- Heart rate sensors in handlebars
- Low weight capacity
The JLL Re 100 is a fairly basic recumbent bike with no frills. It doesn’t include features found in high end bikes. It is best for users looking to loose weight or those recovering from injuries with no need for much additional functionality.CHECK LATEST PRICE
Exerpeutic 900XL Recumbent Bike[amazon box=”B01N52MV70″ template=”horizontal” ]
If you suffer from lower back pain, the Exerpeutic 900XL is another good option for you. It has large seat able to accommodate users of any size and padded seat and backrest to make sure there is no strain whatsoever.
- Bike weight – 63 pounds
- Dimensions: 54 by 22 by 34 inches
- Weight capacity â€“ 300 pounds
- Step-through design
- 8 resistance levels with magnetic tension system
- V-belt drive
This is a strong bike which can take users weighing up to 300 pounds. A step-through design makes it easy to get on and off the bike while 8 resistance levels provided through a magnetic tension system allows you to challenge yourself continuously as your fitness levels increase.
A precision balanced flywheel and V-belt drive makes riding smooth and quiet enough to ride with a television on in the room. Large pedals give you enough surface area to pedal comfortably as well as leaves sufficient room for people with big feet to strap in comfortably.
A large easy to read LCD screen displays metrics like your riding time, speed and distance and the number of calories burned. Heart rate is monitored using hand pulse sensors. The seat can be easily and quickly adjusted for multiple users of different heights.
Transportation wheels let you move the bike from one place to another quite easily despite a hefty weight of 63 pounds. The bike comes with a foldable, waterproof PVC mat which helps to protect the floor where it sits as well as reduce noise.
- Large seat
- Padded seat and backrest
- Large LCD screen
- Hand pulse sensors for heart rate monitoring
- Precision balanced flywheel
- Large pedals
- Quick and easy seat adjustment
- Transportation wheels
- Waterproof PVC mat
- Difficult to assemble
- Seat adjustment can be difficult
A good choice for users looking for regular but basic exercise for fitness purposes. If you are a professional looking for an intense workout on a regular basis, you may grow out of the 8 resistance levels available.CHECK LATEST PRICE
Nautilus R614 Recumbent Bike[amazon box=”B00KVZM2V4″ template=”horizontal” ]
The Nautilus range of bikes are all well-built bikes to consider when you are looking for an indoor bike which can support your back.
- Dimensions: 65.3 by 28.3 by 49.6 inches
- Weight – 84.2 pounds ( 38 kg)
- Maximum weight capacity â€“ 300 pounds
- Perimeter weighted flywheel
- In-built speakers in console
- 3-speed cooling fan
- Water bottle holder and media tray
The R614 has a lot to offer. With a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds, you are sure this is a strong piece of equipment.
The seat is padded and contoured on the bottom to give you both comfort and a perfect fit while the backrest is vented to give you both sufficient back support and enough air circulation especially when you sweat. A 3 speed cooling fan is also available to cool you down.
There are 20 resistance levels to work with so you can challenge yourself continuously even as your fitness levels increase.Â A perimeter weighted flywheel with a high speed and high inertia drive system gives you a smooth and consistent pedaling. It comes pre-loaded with 22 workout programs which help you take the guesswork out of work out sessions.
To monitor your heart rate you don’t have to use a separate device. The bike has heart rate sensors on the handlebar grips which transmits the data to the monitor for display.
The console has in-built speakers with an MP3 player or iPod input port to let you listen to music of your choice throughout your workout session. USB data transfer functionality lets you send your data to other devices quickly and easily. You can also connect to Nautilus Connect or MyFitnessPal.
Accessories include a water bottle holder to keep you hydrated and a media tray which can be used to place your phone or tablet.
Moving the 84 pound bike around would be quite difficult but it is made easier using transport wheels and a bar at the rear which is used to give you a firm grip when moving it.
- 20 resistance levels
- 22 workout programs
- Transport wheel and rear bar
- Heart rate monitoring on handlebars
- USB data transfer functionality
- Narrow pedals
This is no doubt a recumbent bike to consider if you are keen on technological capability on top of comfort to prevent strain on back muscles.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Recumbent Bike for Back Problems
The main purpose of a recumbent bike is not different from other types of indoor bikes. To get a good quality workout and achieve your weight loss, fitness or other goals. The only difference is that they are designed to provide lots of support to the back, thus making them ideal for people with back problems.
These are the main aspects to look at when buying a recumbent bike.
This is probably the primary reason you opted for a recumbent bike over an upright bike. You are looking to reduce strain on your back. Look for a recumbent bike with padding on at least the bottom part of the seat. Your back and buttocks must be amply supported.
Some recumbent bikes have the backrest padded as well while others have only the lower seat section padded and the backrest made of vented plastic. If you need as much back support as you can possibly get, go for a bike with both the lower seat and backrest padded.
The size of the seat is also worth consideration. Look for a large seat which will allow for proper distribution of your weight and thus make it more comfortable.
Resistance refers to how difficult or easy it is to pedal. All bikes have an adjustable system to increase or reduce resistance. It is created using a flywheel and usually adjusted using a knob. There is not much need to understand the intricacies of how the system works, just look for a bike which has at least 8 resistance levels.
Some more superior bikes have more levels to choose from. The more you have the better, especially if there are multiple using the bike.
If you are using the bike for basic workouts for general fitness, 8 or a few more than 8 resistance levels should suffice. If you are looking for more intense workouts and have a higher than average fitness level, bikes with more resistance levels would work better for you so you never grow out of it.
We are all different in terms of height. You need a bike which can let different users adjust the seat to suit them in order to have a comfortable workout. You want to have a bike which not only allows you to adjust the seat but also lets you do so quickly and easily. You don’t want to spend half your workout time adjusting the seat.
Display and Readings
Most recumbent bikes come with a monitor which displays basics such as your speed, distance, time and calories burned. Look for a bike which comes with a large screen so you can easily read what is displayed on it without having to lean forward too much. Remember you need to protect your back muscles from strain.
If you have dealt with upright bikes, you know that some require you to wear a heart rate monitor which transmits data to the bike’s computer so you can monitor your heart rate. If you don’t have a separate heart rate monitoring device or your bike is not compatible, there is no way to know what your heart rate is.
With recumbent bikes, some have heart rate monitors built into the hand grips. All you have to do is maintain a good grip and your heart rate can be monitored throughout. Although these may cost more, it is a convenient feature to have.
The amount of noise the bike produces when you are using it is an important factor especially if you are using it at home with other members of the household going about their business as usual. A very loud bike becomes an irritation to others.
Noise levels are generally related to the resistance system used. A magnetic resistance system produces no noise so you can use the bike in a bedroom and use it as someone else sleeps or in a living room as others watch television.
Pedals and toe straps
Some bikes are made with oversized pedals. This helps to ensure your foot doesn’t slip off easily, making pedaling more comfortable. There are toe straps which are used to secure your foot in position. Look out for large pedals for comfort and also if you have large feet. Make sure the straps are adjustable.
If you are one of many people who suffer from back pain as a result of illness or injury, you don’t have to put an end to indoor bike exercises. In fact it would be a bad idea to do so since your body needs the exercise for a full body recovery.
Recumbent bikes are designed to provide support to the back and distribute your weight on a wide seat to make sure your cycling experience is a fun and comfortable one. Now you can put intense and painless in the same sentence when describing your workout despite back problems.
Do I work the same muscles on a recumbent bike compared to an upright one?
You work the same muscles on a recumbent bike as you do on an upright bike. The only difference is that your back is fully supported and your weight more evenly distributed on a larger seat. These are the quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.
Which is a good recumbent bike for a bad knee?
If you have a bad knee, look for a recumbent bike which lets you adjust it for a perfect fit for your height. Also look for bikes which are easy to mount and dismount so there will be minimal pressure on your knees.
Do I burn fewer calories on a recumbent bike than an upright bike?
Recumbent bikes don’t demand as much from you as upright bikes do. You burn more on an upright bike because it engages more muscles.