It is important to live a healthy, active lifestyle, but it can get quite difficult to enjoy exercise when you struggle with bad knees. After all, it is understandable that you do not want to worsen your condition. There is some good news though – there are many knee strengthening activities you can do, which ultimately reduce the stress your knee goes through every day.
Part of accomplishing this is through exercise bikes, though not all of them will work for you. Recumbent bikes are the best option though, because of its design that allows low amounts of stress to apply on your knee joints. In case you are searching for the best recumbent bikes for bad knees, then this guide will hopefully help you make a wise choice.
Schwinn 270 recumbent bike – best for short people
This might be among the most expensive recumbent bikes on this list, but it certainly lives up to much of its reputation, thanks to the numerous features it comes with.
- Bluetooth connectivity, helps you sync with Schwinn apps for training and tracking progress
- 25 resistance levels
- 17 pounds flywheel
- Ability to sync with RideSocial smartphone app
- High inertia and high speed drive system
- 29 programs – 4 custom, 9 heart rate control, 12 profile, 1 quick start, 2 fitness test
- Perimeter weighted flywheel
- DualTrack LCD display, in-console speakers, media shelf, adjustable fan, USB media charging
This bike has a ton of useful features, most notable being the 29 preset workouts and 25 resistance levels that provide some extra variety when you need it.
You likely want to keep track of your heart rate as you work out, and the bike solves this need through the heart rate pulse grips that are on the seat grips. Even though it lacks a chest strap, the machine can still monitor the breathing rates due to the telemetry abilities it has. The seat itself is quite padded, which helps you stay comfortable throughout your workout, and there is plenty of back support that keeps you cool when you are exercising.
Even though the handlebars are not adjustable, you can change the console’s angle. The bike takes up quite a large footprint and is quite heavy though – it weighs 86.6 pounds and us 64 x 27.7 x 49.9 inches in dimensions (L, W. H).
The maximum user weight is 300 pounds, which is reasonable and quite common when you check out mid-level recumbent bikes. Other convenience aspects are pedal straps to keep your feet firmly on the pedals, an accessory and large water bottle holder, sealed acoustic chamber speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, and a three-speed workout fan.
In addition, you get a warranty period of 10 years on the frame, one year on electronics and two years on the mechanical parts.
- Strong construction
- Bluetooth connection and all other features are great
- 29 workout programs
- Easy adjustment of the resistance levels
- Comfortable seating
- Four user profiles, making it easy to use for the family
- High weight capacity
- The handlebars are not adjustable
- The flywheel is lightweight
- It is quite costly
- Not for tall people
This is the best recumbent bike you can choose if you want multiple user profiles, and many people choose it due to the low-impact design. It is however best for you if you are a maximum height of 6 feet tall – anything more than that, and you will struggle to get the most benefits from it.
EXERPEUTIC 400XL 300SR folding bike – our pick
This has many advantages that come with its use – not only does it meet all the expectations from a good recumbent bike, but it also has a fold-up option that makes it very easy to store and move around.
- Large seat with plenty of padding
- Adjustment of the seat to accommodate users between 5’2” and 6’2”
- Weight capacity of 300 lbs.
- Magnetic brake resistance, 8 resistance levels
- 6 programs available
- Includes transportation wheels
Thanks to the features like the padded seat, large pedals (straps included), side handlebars that are level with your hips and the full backrest, it is a safe choice that helps you remain comfortable and keeps good form as you use it. Whether you are average height or tall, it is strong enough to handle user weights of up to 300 pounds.
The bike uses a magnetic tension system, which is in 8 levels. This allows you to change the intensity of your workouts as much or as little as you want. For a quiet, smooth ride, the v-belt drive system and the precision balanced flywheel make the experience as smooth as possible.
In addition, it also includes a health monitor that keeps track of your fitness progress through its easy-to-read LCD computer screen. This will display various aspects – pulse, calories burned, speed, time, distance, and it also has an odometer. The pulse sensors are also conveniently located, right on the handlebars, to increase the accuracy.
- Very compact design and easy to fold up and store
- It is the most practical option on the list
- Very affordable
- It might be too small for bigger people
- It does not have as much intense workouts in some cases
This model has plenty of great aspects about it, and its compact nature is a major bonus. It is a good addition to your home gym and will be a great option for someone on a smaller budget.
Marcy Recumbent ME-709 – very friendly for beginners
This is among the most affordable recumbent bike on the list and is quite comfortable in order to ensure the best user experience. The handlebars that are covered with foam are quite comfortable to handle, and the padded seat ensures that the bike is quite nice to use.
- Eight resistance levels, magnetic mechanism
- Step through design of the frame
- 14-gauge steel tubing
- Computer screen that is easy to read
- Padded seat (uses high density foam)
- Counterbalanced pedal system
The high-backed seating has plenty of high-density foam, as well as counter-balanced pedals and foam-covered handlebars for a more comfortable experience. However, the disadvantage is the lack of pulse grips, so it will not work for you if you are looking for a recumbent bike that has heart rate monitoring as part of its features.
The weight limit is 300 pounds, just like the previous two, although the height limits are between 5’2” to 6’0”. The good thing is that the console screen is quite easy to read, and it displays important metrics such as calories burned, speed, and time as well as distance coverage. It will also allow you to store more than one user profile for convenience.
It also happens to be the most compact bike on the list, having measurements of 55.5 x 37.5 x 25 (L x H x W). Its weight is 60 pounds, and the addition of transport wheels makes it easier to move and store. The design is heavy-duty, and the step-through design makes it easy to jump on or off without the risk of injuries.
In addition, it is great to note that there are counterbalanced pedals, which give you added control and support, while the adjustable foot straps help you remain secure as you pedal through.
- Can adjust to fit a range of height differences
- Step-through design
- You can exercise while standing or sitting, due to the two bar placements
- Easy to assemble, use and store
- Lacks a pulse monitor
- It does not have pre-programmed workouts
The model does a good job of allowing you to do a low impact aerobic activity without hurting your legs and joints. However, it has issues with adjustment of the seat, which can be frustrating if you are not patient with it.
Marcy NS-716R recumbent bike – best budget buy
This is seen as the more affordable version of the Marcy ME-709, another highly rated model from the same manufacturer. It also includes all the basics that you require from a recumbent bike, but without the extensive extras, you would get from a premium bike.
- Foam covered handlebars that are very soft and of standard measurements
- Digital panel for tracking your progress
- Tension knob, 8 pre-set settings
- Transport wheels that make it portable
- Magnetic resistance
- Weight capacity of 300 lbs.
- Frame warranty 2 years
While the bike itself seems very lightweight with only a weight of 53 lbs., it will maintain your steadiness. It is made from heavy duty steel tubing and includes stabilizer bars that are wide in size to prevent it from unnecessary sideways movements as you exercise. Ideally, you should use it on a level floor, but you can still use the rear end caps to balance it on uneven surfaces.
When it comes to the issue of adjustments, the manufacturer does not give specifications on the exact heights that can work, although users have noted that it works best for people between 5’0” and 6’0”. The adjustment is not as seamless either – you need some strength to move the back half to your preferred position, then line up the pre-set holes and tighten the knobs.
There are 8 resistance levels, which you can control through the tension knob in the front part. This makes use of magnetic resistance, and the transitions between the levels are smooth. The lower levels are great for general fitness goals, while the higher levels are slightly tougher, even though they might not suit you if you want a very intense workout.
The drive type uses a flywheel and belt mechanism, which makes the motion quiet and smooth with little variation. This will protect it from damage, as well as prevention of injuries. On the other hand, the pedals are counterbalanced, which helps to smooth out the motion.
- Very quiet mechanism
- The console is easy to operate
- Has a water bottle holder
- Caters for different users through the resistance levels
- Easy to assemble and use
- The console display lacks backlighting
- There is insufficient guidance on adjustments
- Lacks pre-set workouts and a heart rate monitor
Many people say that the model is better than expected for its pricing, as it is easy to use and comfortable for low impact workouts.
Nautilus R616 Recumbent exercise bike – best for heavier users
This is quite similar to the Schwinn 270 in its offerings, as it offers quite a range of luxury features compared to most of the competition, though at a more affordable price. Its build makes it suitable for heavier users, as it is strong enough to offer a smooth riding experience compared to the former.
- 29 customizable workout programs
- 25 resistance levels
- Padded seat, featuring a sliding seat rail that makes it easy to adjust the seat
- Improved Bluetooth connectivity
- Track progress through the Explore the World app
Part of the appeal it has is the wide range of offerings – there are 29 workout programs, media shelf, 25 resistance levels, and many more. In terms of appearance, it does look like the Schwinn 270, but there are some differences, especially the improvement of the console, making it better when monitoring your performance.
The frame is made from steel, which will keep you steady as you pedal, regardless of the resistance you are using. In some cases, you might hear creaks from the seat, but that is only due to loose bolts – you can correct this by tightening them. In order to use the bike on uneven surfaces (which can happen), the bike has two levelers in the middle and rear areas, which you can adjust to stop the bike from rocking too much.
When you want to adjust, keep it in mind that it can accommodate heights between 4’11” and 6’3”, giving it a great range than the Schwinn 270. The seat is also easy to adjust, since it moves on an aluminum rail, and there are no pre-set positioning slots.
The bike has magnetic resistance in 25 levels, and it has a quiet working mechanism with no extra maintenance needed. The transitioning of different resistance levels is also quite smooth due to the small increments. On the other hand, it uses a perimeter weighted flywheel that gives a smooth pedaling motion, and the pedals are oversized in order to allow you to use it regardless of your shoe size.
The warranty is 1 year on electrical parts, 10 years on the frame, 90 days for labor, and 2 years for mechanical parts. Compared to some recumbent bikes, this is among the best on the market.
- Low impact workouts regardless of the specific resistance level
- You can measure your heart rate through compatible heart rate strap (comes in package) or pulse sensors
- Quiet cycling
- Easy assembly
- You can add four user profiles
- Comfortable to use
- Lacks a guest profile
- Short power cord, which will force you to buy an extension cord
Most of the features here are not really necessities, but it will still give you a good experience if you have the patience to learn using the bike and its features.
What to consider when buying recumbent bikes for bad knees
It is understandable to wonder what makes a certain recumbent bike better than the other when you are struggling with bad knees and require a bike that does not place undue pressure on your joints. The answer is not s straightforward though since it will mainly depend on your requirements, your characteristics, and the situation.
Here are some aspects to look out for.
Before you spend your money on a bike, ensure that the motion range it has is enough for your needs and supports you sufficiently. Some of the things to look at are the pedal length, the adjustments of the seat, as well as the dimensions of the frame.
The problem with many recumbent bikes is that the seat is either too close or too low in relation to the handlebar. This might be comfortable for most people, but it is a problem when you have bad knees. To ensure the seat is in an optimal position, ensure you can still see your toes and knees while sitting on the seat.
Many exercise bikes will have a feedback screen, which informs you of your heart rate, distance ridden, speed and time you are riding at, calories burnt, and so on. However, some will make this information large and easy to see, so it is important to consider whether this is important to keep in mind before buying the best bike.
If you have issues with your knees and want to use a bike, resistance is not as important, so you will need to look at the weight capacity it gives. In addition, being overweight will also determine your purchase, as many have maximum weight limits of 300 or 325 lbs.
The best recumbent bikes for users with bad knees can be tricky to get, but it is important to control the exercises and their intensity, so you will need to consider your health and lifestyle alike.