Recumbent bikes offer a more comfortable ride than standard stationary bicycles because you sit in a more chair-like seat with your legs out in front of you. The Galt Home buying guide states that the key to getting a good workout on a stationary bike is in the resistance you feel when pedaling. Cheaper bikes use a tension belt while more expensive models use a quieter, more consistent magnetic resistance system.
If you're looking for a stationary bicycle and don't want to spend a fortune, take a look at what Schwinn has to offer. Two recumbent bikes from Schwinn get good ratings from Galt Home, Consumer Reports magazine and the Consumer Search website. Galt recommends the Schwinn 230 Recumbent Bike and Consumer Search gives it a "best" vote. Consumer Reports likes the Schwinn 231, which is an updated version of the Schwinn 230. The bikes offer 16 levels of resistance and a variety of workout programs. Galt Home says the ride is quiet and the bike "has just enough features without going overboard on the electronic doo-dads." These Schwinn models were selling for $377 to $450 in July 2010.
If you want something more like a fitness-center quality bike and don't mind spending a little more, consider the Spirit XBR25. This recumbent exercise bike is a Consumer Reports best buy at around $1,200. It received excellent ratings across the board for ergonomics, exercise range, ease of use, construction, heart-rate monitor and safety. It also includes a chest-strap heart-rate monitor. The Lifecycle R3 and SportsArt C520R also rated highly, but they cost around $2,000. The LifeCore Fitness 900RB rated fourth in this higher-priced group of bicycles, but it retails for around $1,000. When you're shopping for an exercise bicycle, Consumer Reports suggests trying some out in the store and making sure you can adjust the bikes so the seat is comfortable and the pedals fit your feet well. Exercise bikes do have different user height and weight ranges.
Galt Home calls the Star Trac Pro Recumbent Bike "the king of exercise bikes." With a list price of around $2,800, this bike is not intended for the casual user. Galt Home says casual cyclists probably wouldn't fully appreciate all that this bike has to offer, but avid cyclists will enjoy the Star Trac's many features. There are 20 resistance levels, 11 workout programs and an armrest on the seat to keep your shoulders from getting tense. Galt Home notes the Star Trac will "surpass all your expectations" and possibly motivate you to work harder.