recumbent bike vs upright bike

Recumbent Bikes Vs Upright Bikes

Recumbent bikes are certainly becoming more and more popular amongst riders and fitness enthusiasts! While they’re different from upright bikes, they’re also very similar to them.

Recumbent bikes are used for much the same purpose as regular bikes, but there are some qualities distinct to them.

If you’re wondering about the differences between upright bikes and recumbent bikes and would like to know which one would be better for you, then great news!

You’ll learn everything that you need to know about recumbent bikes right here!

What Is a Recumbent Bike?

A recumbent bike allows you to ride in a much different position than an upright bike! On an upright bike, your riding position on the seat provides no support at all for your back or spine.

You’ve got a lot of freedom of movement, and you can switch between standing and sitting with ease, but the downside is that it comes without back support.

My Teeter Recumbent Bike
My Teeter Recumbent Bike

For some people, this can make riding less pleasant than it should be, especially for long distances.

Those with existing back problems who love to ride their bikes may find it uncomfortable and painful to do so without back support, and it’s easy to understand their predicament.

If you’re using an upright exercise bike and finding that you’re not as comfortable as you used to be, then it might be time to consider a recumbent exercise bike for your home gym.

The benefits you get from a recumbent bike will be the same from riding a bike but with more support for your back and a more relaxed sitting position.

Witness the Benefits of the Teeter FreeStep LT3 in our Video:


Unlike the seat on an upright bike, which is essentially just a soft pad for you to sit on, a recumbent bike uses a seat with a back – more like a normal seat that you’d use in your home.

This immediately makes sitting more comfortable, as you’ve got something to support your back and help in taking the weight off of your own muscles.

The riding position of a recumbent bike can also be much more comfortable due to the position of the seat and the pedals, which is at the front of the seat. In an upright bike, the pedals are below your seat. If you want to dig a bit deeper jump across to my article what is a recumbent cross trainer, where I go into a lot more detail.

lady showing the difference between recumbent vs upright bike

This means of course that the seat has to be high enough that you can reach and use the pedals comfortably and so that your legs can generate the most power.

A recumbent bike instead places the pedals in front of you, rather than underneath you. This changes your seating and pedaling position so you can pedal while sitting and slightly leaning back with your legs in front of you.

These differences offer some advantages and disadvantages – so let’s go through each!

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The Pros and Cons of Recumbent Bikes

First, let’s talk about the benefits you get from recumbent bikes.

Advantages of Recumbent Bikes

  1. More comfortable – You have a much more relaxed seating position on a recumbent bike than an upright bike. Your back is constantly supported, so your muscles won’t have to work as hard just to keep you upright. It means reduced back pain and other muscle problems.
  2. More stable – As your riding position is lower, your center of gravity is also lower. This helps a lot with stability, making it less likely for you to lose balance. It means you don’t need to work hard to maintain balance and stability or expend more energy to stay upright.

    Stacey Using My Teeter Free step Recumbent Bike
    Stacey Using My Teeter Freestep Recumbent Bike
  3. Better at targeting hamstring muscles – Thanks to its sitting and riding position, a recumbent bike works out your hamstring muscles better than an upright bike does.
  4. More relaxing – If you’re using a recumbent exercise bike at home, you can easily sit back and relax while still working hard! You can even read a book or watch TV while pedaling.
  5. Good way to exercise while recovering from an injury or illness. The sitting position can be especially beneficial for someone who is trying to get fit again after a period of illness or an injury. They’re less stressful on the body, thus significantly helps in rehabilitation.

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Disadvantages of Recumbent Bikes

  1. Requires less work – They’re easier to ride and/or exercise with, and this added ease naturally corresponds to the amount of physical effort you have to put in. An exercise session on an upright bike needs the rider to use more muscle groups in order to stay upright, while a recumbent bike will not engage the core muscles in the same way that an upright bike would.lady showing muscles used on a recumbent bike vs upright
  2. One seating position – With an upright bike, you’re free to move around and change your riding position (standing and pedaling, for instance), while there’s only one seating position in a recumbent bike. You don’t get to stand up to give yourself an extra burst of speed or to work your legs harder. An upright bike will allow you to target muscle groups in a way that you can’t do on a recumbent bike.
  3. More expensive. Recumbent bikes tend to cost more than either an upright bike for outdoors or an exercise bike. Upright bikes have been around for so long that it’s cheaper and easier to produce than recumbent bikes ( read more on which is better treadmill or recumbent bike ), which are much newer by comparison.

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Which Type of Bike to Choose – Recumbent or Upright?

Of course, this is entirely up to you. Both types of bike are absolutely fantastic at their job and great choices whether you’re looking for something to get fit at home with or something to go riding outdoors on.

The choice entirely depends on your needs! Each one is unique with distinct health condition and fitness goals. Whether it’s an upright bike or a recumbent bike, make sure you consider what you need it for, and what’s going to be the best purchase for your circumstances.

If you’re looking for a bike that will help you keep fit while providing back support as you seat relaxed, then a recumbent bike will be a perfect choice for you.


Whichever type of bike you choose, as long you pick one that responds to your needs, then it’s a right decision!

This could be an upright bike or a recumbent – everyone’s exercise needs are going to be at least a little different, and the important thing when it comes to exercising is doing what works and is best for you!