As a physical therapist, I’m often asked about safe workout options for seniors trying to stay fit from the comfort of home and my answer is usually the same – a recumbent bike.
Recumbent bikes offer a low-impact, safe mode of exercise for seniors in most health conditions, making it a great choice for folks trying to build endurance, strength, or simply maintain joint mobility.
And since they offer an easy way to perform gentle range of motion exercise, recumbent bikes usually work well with seniors dealing with arthritis or achy joints as well.
But that said, all recumbent bikes aren’t created equal and finding the right option for you or a loved one’s home can be challenging.
But if you’re reading this, you’ve come to the right place because I’m here to help.
In this guide, I’ll not only offer my top picks regarding recumbent bikes for seniors, but I’ll also provide a quick cheat sheet that goes over the specs and features you should consider before deciding.
This way, even if you don’t care for any of the recumbents I mention here, you’ll still know what to look for when comparing recumbents on your own.
Let’s start with the buyer’s guide first, that way we’ll all be on the same page when we get to the bikes below.
|#1 Spirit XBR55
|24 lb flywheel
20 resistance levels
|139 lb assembled weight
350 lb weight limit
10 year parts
1 year labor
|#2 3G Cardio Elite RB
|Flywheel weight unknown
16 resistance levels
|115 lb assembled weight
350 lb weight limit
7 year parts
1 year labor
|#3 Nautilus R618
|13 lb flywheel
25 resistance levels
|107 lb assembled weight
325 lb weight limit
|15 year frame
3 year parts
1 year labor
|#4 Sole R92
|20 lb flywheel
20 resistance levels
|134 lb assembled weight
300 lb weight limit
3 year parts
1 year labor
|#5 Schwinn 270
|13 lb flywheel
25 resistance levels
|87 lb assembled weight
300 lb weight limit
|10 year frame
2 year parts
90 day labor
How To Choose A Recumbent Bike For Seniors
I know we shouldn’t make assumptions, but based on my experiences as a physical therapist, I assume most seniors who are looking for a recumbent bike are doing so because they’re more comfortable to use.
I mean, this is really why I’d think anybody of any age would choose a recumbent bike over any other style.
The horizontal placement of the seat on these bikes inherently puts less stress through your knees and hips as you ride.
Plus the fact these bikes come with larger seats and built-in backrests certainly makes them easier to sit on for extended periods.
There’s also the fact that recumbents are easier to access, what with the step-through frames and lower seat heights.
Add all this together, and it’s pretty easy to see why recumbent bikes are such a great exercise option for seniors, especially ones dealing with mobility issues or achy joints.
Unfortunately, a problem a lot of our seniors face is that it’s difficult to find a comfortable way to exercise.
Arthritis and other joint issues can make walking and other weight bearing activities uncomfortable to do, which usually means we start exercising less.
Which in turn, leads to more joint stiffness, weaker muscles, and eventually mobility loss.
It’s a vicious cycle, but a recumbent bike can often help.
The gentle, continuous motion that a recumbent bike set on a low resistance level can provide can be helpful for keeping stiff, achy lower body joints moving.
And this movement can help maintain joint mobility, improve circulation, and even help manage pain levels sometimes.
So, if one of the primary goals with choosing a recumbent bike is added comfort, I think it’s important to concentrate on this feature when comparing different bikes.
So, I think it’s a good idea to start with the seat when searching for a nice recumbent bike for yourself or a senior in your life…
All recumbent bike seats come with backrests, but some are cushioned more than others and some are mesh, while others are solid.
Looking for a more cushiony seat/backrest is always helpful, but personally I don’t think the whole mesh backrest really makes any difference at all.
More importantly though, is that some recumbents come with backrests that are adjustable.
If you or a loved one is dealing with back pain, opting for a recumbent bike with an adjustable backrest could make a lot of difference.
Depending on the severity of your back discomfort, even sitting on a recumbent bike may be difficult, but having the ability to adjust that angle of the backrest may make it easier to find a comfortable riding position.
There aren’t a lot of recumbents out there with this feature, but there are a few if you know where to look (as you’ll see on the list below).
As I mentioned earlier, all recumbent bikes these days come with step-through frames, which basically just means the section of frame between the seat and handlebars is really low to the ground.
This makes it easier to step over to access the seat from either direction.
But when comparing bikes, I encourage you to consider how stable or secure the bike is going to feel during use – and the easiest way to do this (without being able to test ride anything) is to look at the assembled weights.
This spec tells you exactly how much the bike weighs and heavier bikes are going to feel more secure (and less likely to wobble during workouts).
More affordable bikes usually weigh considerably less and we all have to work within the boundaries of our budgets, but when possible, I encourage you to go with a recumbent that weighs at least 100 lb.
This way, you’re more likely to get yourself a bike that’s well-built and going to feel secure during workouts.
And feeling stable is a sure fired way to improve overall comfort.
It’s also a good idea to consider the weight capacities – you need to find a bike that can safely accommodate you first and foremost, but seeing a higher weight limit is another indication of superior frame quality.
I’d recommend going with a recumbent bike with at least a 300 lb weight limit when possible.
I’ve made the assumption that most seniors are looking for a recumbent bike that’s comfortable and easy to use, but that doesn’t mean they can’t necessarily provide a great workout too.
Flywheels (the part that spins as you pedal) vary in size on recumbents and if you’re looking for a bike that can perform, you’ll want to go with a bike with a heavier flywheel.
Heavier flywheels tend to provide a smoother pedaling motion, but they also tend to provide more overall resistance.
If you’re looking for a bike that’ll feel smooth and be able to provide a challenging workout, I’d recommend going with a recumbent with at least a 20 lb flywheel.
This should put you in good hands when it comes to performance.
If you’re not as worried about working against higher resistances and are just looking for a bike to help you keep your legs moving, you can certainly get away with lighter flywheels.
More affordable recumbents tend to come with flywheels in the 11 – 13 lb range and they can still work great for range of motion exercise.
You might also want to consider how many resistance levels the recumbent comes with.
More levels doesn’t mean more resistance, it just means you can make smaller changes to the resistance between levels.
For example, a bike with 25 resistance levels and a bike with 12 levels might provide the same total output, but the one with 25 levels is going to let me make smaller adjustments to the resistance along the way.
The seat, the frame, and the flywheel are the most important specs to consider when comparing recumbent bikes for seniors, but there’s other stuff worth looking at too:
- Console features
- Price (of course)
If you’re interested in more info regarding what to look for when buying recumbent bikes in general, you might want to check out my recumbent bike guide.
Otherwise, let’s get to the good stuff already.
The 5 Best Recumbent Bikes For Seniors
#1 The Spirit XBR55 Recumbent Bike
It’s not easy to pick a top bike from this list because they all have a lot to offer, especially since I tried to represent different price ranges, but when push comes to shove, the XBR55 landed the top spot.
I love Spirit as a brand because their cardio equipment is easy to use, heavy-duty, and backed by some of the best warranties in the biz.
And all these great qualities apply to the XBR55.
One of the most notable features about this bike is that it comes with an oversized seat with an adjustable angle backrest.
But it’s also packing some impressive performance specs too, like a 24 lb flywheel, 20 levels of magnetic resistance, and a belt drive train for quiet operation.
It’s also got an impressively heavy-duty frame (assembled weight 139 lb) and a weight limit of 350 lb, so no need to worry about this thing feeling stable.
When it comes to the console, it’s pretty straightforward and easy to use.
It comes with 10 standard workout programs, is bluetooth compatible, and even comes with an included chest strap heart rate monitor.
Oh, and the warranty is one of the best parts: lifetime frame/brake, 10 year parts, and 1 year labor.
The XBR55 is actually Spirit’s mid-tier recumbent bike (the higher-end XBR95 has a few significant upgrades), but I think it offers a great combination of comfort and performance specs that seniors would appreciate.
Put it all together and you’ve got a great recumbent bike for folks of all ages. See full review.
(P.S. – if interested, you might want to compare prices, Fitness Factory tends to have it for a little cheaper than Amazon).
#2 The 3G Cardio Elite RB Recumbent Bike
3G Cardio is a smaller brand that probably doesn’t get the attention they deserve.
They only offer a couple of bikes and treadmills, but the cardio machines they do make can hold their own with the best home equipment out there.
The Elite RB is the only recumbent bike they offer at the time of writing this, but it’s rocking a stellar reputation as being one of the most comfortable recumbents around.
It’s also surprisingly compact, so if your workout space is limited, this alone could be a big perk.
But even though the frame is more compact than most, it can still hold folks between 5′ and 6’5″ tall and weighing up to 350 lb.
The Elite RB has one of the most adjustable seats on the market, allowing you to adjust the height and tilt position of the seat, as well as the angle of the backrest.
With so much control over the positioning of the seat, seniors with arthritis should still be able to find a relatively comfortable riding position.
When it comes to performance, 3G Cardio doesn’t disclose their flywheel weight (which leads me to think it’s probably pretty light), but folks don’t seem to mind – most users agree this recumbent offers a very smooth pedaling motion.
And seniors looking for a simple console will definitely appreciate the Elite RB’s bare-bones display.
This bike comes with 16 workout programs and 4 user profiles, but it doesn’t come with any higher-tech features like bluetooth, speakers, or USB charging.
Which does make it remarkably easy to operate.
3G also backs this recumbent with a great warranty: lifetime frame, 7 year parts, 1 year labor.
All things considered, seniors looking for a compact, comfortable recumbent bike will likely be pleased with what the Elite RB has to offer. See full review.
#3 The Nautilus R618 Recumbent Bike
The Nautilus name has a lot more brand recognition than either of the brands mentioned above and their R618 has gotta be one of the most popular home recumbent bikes on the market.
And for good reason.
Not only is the R618 about half the price of the 2 bikes mentioned above, but it’s surprisingly heavy-duty and backed by a great warranty for the price.
This recumbent isn’t packing as much heat under the hood as the XBR55, but with a 13 lb flywheel it can still offer a smooth pedaling motion (especially for seniors not looking to work against a ton of resistance).
It also comes with 29 built-in workout programs, 25 levels of resistance, and an impressive weight limit of 325 lb.
What’s most surprising about this recumbent though, is that it comes with an adjustable angle backrest, which is really rare for a bike in this price range.
The seat itself isn’t quite as nice as the bikes mentioned above, but the fact that you can adjust the backrest angle goes a long way.
Nautilus also backs this bike with a great warranty: 15 year frame, 3 year parts, 1 year labor.
The R618 also comes with some other higher-end features, like bluetooth, USB charging, a 3-speed fan, and an included chest strap heart rate monitor.
Overall, with an asking price well under $1k, the R618 easily earns its spot on this list. See full review.
#4 The Sole R92 Recumbent Bike
It pains me to rank a Sole bike so low on this list, especially considering realistically the R92 is a higher-end bike than the R618, but when it comes to comfort for seniors, I stand by my choice.
Sole’s a great brand though, right up there with Spirit – the 2 brands are very similar in fact (and owned by the same company).
The R92 is a great recumbent bike in its own right, but unlike the recumbents above, it doesn’t come with an adjustable backrest.
Although with a large, cushioned seat, there aren’t many complaints regarding this bike’s comfort level.
Otherwise, there isn’t much to complain about here.
This recumbent would make a great option for seniors looking for a bike that can handle more strenuous workouts because with a 20 lb flywheel and 20 resistance levels, this is one recumbent that can perform.
And with an assembled weight of 134 lb, the R92 is about as heavy-duty as they come.
The console on this bike is pretty straightforward to use and the display is large and brightly lit, making it easy to read during workouts.
Console highlights include bluetooth speakers, a USB charging port, built-in speakers, a cooling fan, and 10 built-in workout programs to choose from.
Sole also offers some of the best warranties around – the R92 is backed with a lifetime frame, 3 year parts, and 1 year labor guarantee.
Overall, the R92 would make a great choice for folks of any age, but especially those looking for a recumbent that can handle more challenging workouts. See full review.
#5 The Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike
The final recumbent on my list is from a brand that needs no introduction.
I mean Schwinn is one of the most well-known brands in the world and I don’t have any numbers to back this statement up, but I’m pretty sure the 270 is one of the best-selling recumbents on the market.
It’s not too hard to see why either.
This recumbent is affordable, packed with solid features, and easy to use – it also doesn’t hurt that it’s sportin’ the most famous name in cycling either.
The 270 is very similar to Nautilus’ R618 above, although it’s a little more affordable and not packing quite as many features.
This recumbent doesn’t have an adjustable backrest either, but most users are generally happy with how comfortable the seat is during workouts.
The 270 also uses a 13 lb flywheel, which is on the lighter side, making it better for light to moderate intensity workouts, although users agree its pedal motion feels smooth.
This is also the lightest-duty bike on this list, weighing in right around 87 lb.
But it still comes with a respectable 300 lb weight capacity, allowing it to accommodate seniors of all sizes.
This recumbent also comes loaded with 29 workout programs, USB charging, bluetooth, and a built-in fan.
The warranty on the 270 isn’t as impressive as some of the bikes mentioned above, but still not bad given the price range: 10 year frame, 2 year parts, 90 day labor.
Speaking of price, the 270 is the most affordable bike on this list with an asking price right around $600.
Overall, if you’re looking for a comfortable, easy to use recumbent that won’t break your budget, Schwinn’s 270 is a great choice. See full review.
Well, there ya have it.
When looking for a recumbent bike for yourself or a senior in your life, I think it’s helpful to have a game plan.
And that starts with thinking about what kind of workouts you want to do or why you’re looking for a recumbent bike in the first place.
If you’re more interested in range of motion and gentle workouts, flywheel weights and resistance systems might not be as important.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a bike that can provide and handle more strenuous use, I think it’s a good idea to choose a bike with a heavier flywheel and more robust frame.
If back pain or comfort is a likely issue, opting for a bike with an adjustable backrest is a good idea – and as the R618 illustrates, you don’t have to get a really expensive model to find this feature.
I chose the above bikes based on the specs and features we discussed at the beginning – the bikes that landed those top spots did so because I think they offer the best combination of comfort and performance specs, while still being reasonably priced.
No offense to some other fitness blogs, but I’ve come across quite a few sites that seem to randomly list recumbent bikes that happen to be for sale through Amazon…
Well, I promise you there was some method to my madness here when coming up with this list.
I hope you found this guide helpful – if you have any questions or comments (or know of some great recumbent bikes for seniors that should’ve made the list) please leave ’em below and I’ll get back to you soon.