Difference Between Recumbent & Upright Exercise Bikes


Cardiovascular exercise involves the major muscle groups moving with little to no resistance. Exercise bikes are designed to give you a cardiovascular workout from the comfort of your home or local gym. Recumbent and upright exercise bikes can be used, and there are differences between them.


The body position is completely different between a recumbent and upright exercise bike. On a recumbent bike, you are in a more horizontal position, with the pedals out in front of you. This causes you to work your glutes and legs harder than an upright bike. But this can limit your variations. For example, when you use an upright bike, you can stand up in the pedals to simulate the action of climbing hills on an outdoor bike.

Size and Price

Upright exercise bikes tend to be smaller than recumbent bikes, due to the fact that uprights take less material to make. The bikes vary in price. Recumbent bikes generally are more expensive because more material is involved in their manufacture. A basic upright bike for home use can be as inexpensive as $150; a basic recumbent bike can run around $450.


Both types of bikes are effective at giving you results if you are looking to lose weight. However, a big difference between them is the comfort level while you are achieving this goal. Being that you are in a reclined position with your back supported and legs out in front of you, recumbent bikes are much more comfortable. When you ride on an upright bike for long time periods, your lower back and butt can start to hurt. If you are a male, the genital area also can start to experience pain from continuous use.


When you sit on an upright bike and start pedaling, your body should be upright as well. This means you should maintain good posture, and your back should be kept as straight as possible. Another difference between the two bikes is that you can lean forward easily when you are working out on an upright bike and slip into a slouched position. This can cause upper body postural distortions from muscle imbalances. When you are using a recumbent bike, you are forced to sit in an upright position due to the position of the seat and back rest.

Back Pain

People with back pain often look to cardiovascular exercise to lose weight around their stomachs, which can be causing their pain. Exercise bikes are non-impact, being that you are in a stationary position. When it comes to safety, the recumbent style is the better choice for those with back pain because it has a full seat with a back rest to support you while you exercise. Upright bikes can put too much stress on the back.