Best Recumbent Bikes with Moving Arms | From a Personal Trainer

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By Robbie Ferri, Cyclist, Personal Trainer, and Group Exercise Instructor.

Fitness is advancing quicker than ever, and we see some fantastic new products hit the market. One thing we are noticing a lot these days is the recumbent bikes with arm function. Recumbent bikes, in my opinion, are one of the most underrated pieces of fitness equipment on the market, and in this article, I want to tell you and recommend some for you.

Best Recumbent Bikes with Moving Arms

Benefits of Recumbent Bikes with Arms

  • Better position for the user: The recumbent bicycle has a unique position for the user. Instead of being seated on a small saddle and leaning forward, you are on a large seat, and correct back posture is forced.
  • Much more comfortable: Recumbent bikes are much more comfortable, as the seating position we discussed is so much better. This means you can spend much longer on it without wanting to get off. When it comes to your fitness goals, this can be very beneficial.
  • Great for Rehabilitation: As a Personal Trainer and Fitness instructor, I often face clients with poor mobility or recovering from injuries. One of the best things for people with poor mobility is a recumbent bicycle. It’s comfortable for the user and doesn’t put too much pressure on the joints.
  • Easy for positioning: Recumbents typically have only a single setting to adjust and the distance between the saddle and the pedals compared to other exercise bikes. It makes recumbents very easy to adjust and quick to get on.
  • Arm Workout: Typically when you buy an exercise bike, you don’t often get the arm workout. It can be very challenging because you need your hands to keep you stable. Recumbents don’t require this stability and frees your arms up to movement. Recumbents with Arm functionality are perfect for getting more muscles pumping and more calories burning.

Types of Arm Handles

Recumbents come with various handles, and it’s important to know what you want them for before buying the bike for you. They come in a few different shapes and sizes and work very differently. 

  • Padded Hand Pedals: These are perfect for people who don’t want a tremendous amount of intensity. These are handles that work like a bike crank. They aren’t adjustable on resistance. Generally, they are used mainly for mobility.
  • Resistance Bands: You might have heard of resistance bands before as they are commonly used in the fitness world and a great way of getting a strength workout in. You can use these bands to create concentric and eccentric resistance while on or sometimes off the bike.
  • Elliptical Handles: Elliptical handles are for a full-body workout, and you will use them in conjunction with the pedals. They will give you an extensive range of motion, and you will need to be working hard to get these moving quickly.

What makes a good Recumbent Bicycle?

When it comes to recumbent bikes, we need to look at a few different factors to ensure that they will be good. The last thing you want is to buy an awful bike and find yourself not using it at all, and it won’t be good for your wallet or your fitness

  • Design: We think an excellent recumbent bike should look the part
  • Function: The bike should function and work well no matter who’s using it
  • Data: The bike should have some form of data to see your progress or work rate.

How do we rate Recumbent Bicycles

What makes a good bike and how we rate a bike are two very different things. It’s vital that when we rate a bike, we look into the looks, functionality, data, and look at the internals, anything terrible, and any unique features you might not know about. We also need to make sure you are getting a great bike and know precisely what you are getting. So we look at;

  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Screen and Data
  • Drivetrain and Transmission
  • Unique features

Let’s look at some bikes.

Detailed Reviews

Sunny Health and Fitness Recumbent Bike Cross Trainer SF-RB4708

Best Overall
Sunny Health Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike SF-RB4708 Sunny Health Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike SF-RB4708
4.5

Purchasers describe it as "well-built" and "sturdy." It earned a 4.4 out of 5 consumer rating with almost 2,000 ratings. 

Use SAVE10 coupon code on Sunny Official Site for 10% OFF !!!

Main Features

  • Great Design
  • Elliptical Style Handles
  • Digital Monitor
  • Magnetic Drivetrain
  • Heart Rate Monitor 

Sunny Health and Fitness is a huge brand for indoor training. You will see their products everywhere, and the quality and value for money is incredible. Sunny is a go-to brand for many fitness enthusiasts, and we can see why. Let’s get straight on with the design. It’s a great-looking recumbent cycle. It has a large seat for comfort, the data screen is right in front of you, and the handles are nice and high out the way. The tubing is strong and sturdy, and the bike is solid to use. This is a commercial-grade bike, and you would see these in a gym.

The bike itself has elliptical-style handles. As you can see, they are large and designed to be used in conjunction with pedaling for a full-body workout. They sit in the perfect place and not only get into the arms but the shoulders too. The digital monitor will give you basic data such as calories, time, distance, heart rate, and many more. Everything you need for a decent workout is provided.

The drive train is magnetic, and this means it is frictionless. You will find the movement very smooth, and changing through the eight resistance levels will be seamless. It is also equipped with a belt-drive, and this is going to add to that smoothness and mean very little maintenance will ever be required on this recumbent. It will be very quiet, and your neighbor won’t hear anything. A very cool feature of this bike is the inbuilt heart rate monitor to see how hard you are working at all times. 

The Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RB4708 is an incredible bike and well worth every penny. It’s going to give you so much enjoyment and add a lot of value to any home gym.

Free step LT3 Recumbent Cross Trainer

Best Cross-Trainer Recumbent
Teeter FreeStep LT3 Recumbent Cross Trainer and Elliptical Teeter FreeStep LT3 Recumbent Cross Trainer and Elliptical
4.7

Brings a new level of ease to exercising in your own home with a stress-free, zero‑impact cardio and strength workout. FreeStep takes the load off your back and joints, elevating comfort beyond traditional ellipticals, treadmills, and steppers while delivering exceptional calorie-burning results.

Main Features

  • Great Design
  • Multi position elliptical style Handles
  • Digital Monitor
  • Magnetic Drivetrain
  • App with classes

The LT3 is a very cool recumbent bike and the choice of many people. It comes from a brand called Teeter. It’s a blend of many machines, and it will give you an incredible workout. It’s a fantastic design and looks space age compared to the Sunny. Unlike a traditional recumbent, it uses a cross-trainer pedal style to work out the legs, and the arm attachments have multiple positions. The seat is also very adjustable and has various positions.

The handles work in an elliptical fashion, and you have lots of options where you want to rest your hands. I love this because it opens the bike up to work different muscles and fit more people who might be shorter or taller. The flywheel is on the rear, unlike the Sunny, and looks great being under the user. 

Related: Teeter FreeStep LT1 Review

The screen for data on this bike is very basic and gives you everything you need to know but not too much more. Teeter fitness, which makes the bike, does have an application with some pre-recorded classes that you can do on the bike. I thought this was a lovely touch and made it a bit more interactive. The fro

The drive train is magnetic and, like the Sunny, completely frictionless. It can adjust resistance via a micro-dial for the user. It is paired with a belt-drive, and the bike is incredible when it comes to using it. It is silky smooth, enjoyable to use, tranquil, and again very little maintenance will be required on this bike. The LT3 is an entertaining bike and great value for money. 

You can find more info in our detailed review!

Stamina Recumbent Bike

Best Folding with Hand Pedals
Stamina Recumbent Exercise Bike with Upper Body Exerciser Stamina Recumbent Exercise Bike with Upper Body Exerciser
4.5

This comfortable, quiet bike utilizes magnetic resistance, so it won’t disturb you or others. Plus, you’ll build cardiovascular endurance, burn calories and strengthen your arms and legs.

Main Features

  • Space saving small design
  • Pedal handles
  • Digital Monitor
  • Magnetic Drivetrain
  • App with classes

The Stamina Recumbent Exercise bike is very different from the other bikes that we have looked at on this list already. It’s much more basic, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s something a lot of people look for in a recumbent bike. The first thing I have to mention is the size. Not only is it much smaller, but it can also fold away and will fit in a small cupboard. This is something the other two bikes on this list cannot do. 

Instead of elliptical handles, this bike has pedal handles. So instead of the elliptical back and forth push-pull, this works in a rotation. This can be beneficial for some people that might lack mobility, and it’s a lot of fun to do. The digital monitor is pretty basic but has a very cool feature in the fact you can switch the stats between the pedals on your legs or at your hands. They have a downloadable application with classes for you to do which is pretty cool.

The resistance system is a basic magnetic system, and it has eight levels of resistance that you can choose from for the lower pedals. The upper pedals only have one single level. It’s is very quiet and smooth to use. The Stamina recumbent bike is good value for money, and it’s not anywhere near as much as some of the other bikes on this list. I rate it highly, and perfect for a bit of workout at home. If you are planning on an hour a day every day, you might end up outgrowing it.

Slim Cycle Stationary and Recumbent Bicycle

Best Folding with Resistance Bands
Original  Slim Cycle (As Seen On TV) Original Slim Cycle (As Seen On TV)
4.7

Slim Cycle is a well-known brand endorsed by many famous figures. It provides a full-body workout with top-of-the-range heart rate technology to help you reach your goals. 

Main Features

  • Space saving small design
  • Resistance Handles
  • Digital Monitor
  • Magnetic Drivetrain
  • Heart Rate Monitor, two bikes in one

The Slimcycle offers something that many of these other bikes cannot. The design is excellent and is your standard recumbent style bike but uses the resistance band handles. You can adjust the seat into a few different positions to get this super comfortable. What’s very unique about this bike is that you can use it in the recumbent position or the exercise bike position. This means you’re getting two bikes in one—what a fantastic feature. I also love the fact it has multiple positions for different places to put your hands, such as the seat, on the handlebars, or the bands. 

Related:
We Tried the Slimcycle for 1 Month: This is our Honest Review

It has resistance handles, and I love this because it does offer the user the opportunity for so many different exercises such as bicep curls, back rows, back flys, and many more. These can all be done while you are riding, and it does offer an exceptional all-body workout. The data screen is plain, but it does offer everything you need from time, distance, heart rate, and a few more. 

It has a magnetic drive train and is extremely quiet and easy to use. It has eight resistance levels ready to challenge you, and switching between them is very smooth. The handlebars have an inbuilt heart rate monitor so you can see how high your heart rate is and if you’re working in the correct zones. The Slimcycle is a very cool bike and something that will offer the user a lot of variety. We can highly recommend it for the price.

Sunny Health and Fitness Recumbent Bike SF-RB4631

Best with Adjustable Arm
Sunny Recumbent Bike with Arm Exerciser (SF-RB4631) Sunny Recumbent Bike with Arm Exerciser (SF-RB4631)
4.5

This versatile and reliable recumbent bike with arm exercisers has a large seat and back cushion with adjustable inseam for users and various sizes. Control your workout intensity with 8 levels of magnetic resistance.

Main Features

  • Great Design
  • Pedal Handles
  • Digital Monitor
  • Magnetic Drivetrain
  • Heart Rate Monitor

This wouldn’t be completed unless we had the Sunny SF-RB4631. This is an excellent bike and must be spoken about. The design is similar to the other Sunny, but there are some significant differences. It has the original Sunny bottom and recumbent setup, but instead of the elliptical, it has pedal handles. It adjusts well and will fit a variety of users.

As mentioned before, it has pedal handles. These are a lot of fun and will give you an upper-body workout. I love these pedal handles because they are adjustable, and you can change the length of the crank arms. This is a very cool feature, and for anyone recovering from a shoulder injury, this is a fantastic tool. You don’t have to use these pedal handles, though, as it has standard handles by the side too.

It has a data screen in the center and what I love about what Sunny does is they put it right in front of the user so you can see all the statistics. It will give you time, distance, calories, heart rate, and many more. The drive train is the legendary Sunny magnetic set up with the belt drive, and it’s tranquil and will need practically no maintenance over its lifetime. 

I love the fact that it has an inbuilt heart rate monitor into the handles by the side of the seat, and this means you can track how hard you’re working and structure training better if required. The Sunny is an incredible bike and offers an alternative to the elliptical version above. At this price, it’s outstanding value for money.


What muscles does a Recumbent bike with Arm Exercisers work?

A lot of people ask this question, and the answer is actually quite surprising. Most people think you are only working your arms, but honestly, you work so much more when you use the arm exercisers. There are a lot of muscles that have to be part of the process.

  • Arms: In the push and pull motion, you use your biceps at the front and triceps at the rear to move the handles back and forth.
  • Chest: You will use your Pectoralis Major and Minor when pushing
  • Back: When pulling the handles towards you, the Latissimus Doris, Rhomboid Minor and Major, and the Trapezius.
  • Core: When your pull back and forward, your body has to support itself using the core. This means the Abdominis and Obliques are firing.

Recumbent vs. Upright Bike

A very common question we are asked is which is better, a Recumbent or an Upright bike? It depends on what you’re looking for when getting a bike to which one will suit you. If you are looking for a lighter workout and a machine you can sit on for a long time comfortably, then the recumbent will be the best.

If you are looking for a bike you can stand up on and something a bike less comfortable but a bit more dynamic, then the upright exercise bike is for you. A lot of people go for exercise bikes because they feel more natural being in a bike position. It all comes down to personal preference, in my opinion.

Can you lose body fat on a Recumbent Bike?

Of course, the way to lose body fat is to be in a calorie deficit. This means you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming. The recumbent bike is made to burn calories, and providing you don’t eat more than you burn, you will lose body fat.

What you should know before buying a Recumbent Bike

If none of these bikes on this list take your fancy, then it’s vital to know what to look for when buying a Recumbent bike so you can pick the correct one for you. The best way to do this is to break the bike down into sections, so you know exactly what you are getting.

Design

It’s vital when you’re looking at Recumbents to look at the design. The first thing that I think about is space. How large is the bike? If the bike is too big for where you want to keep it, it won’t be very pleasant. Big Elliptical Recumbents take up a lot of room and tend not to fold up. If you need more space, consider a fold-up which could be an idea.

Drivetrain

Modern Exercise bikes and Recumbent bikes are typically magnetic, which is the way forward. This is what they call a frictionless system meaning no moving parts touch as the resistance is made with magnets. They are lighter, require next to no maintenance, and are just so much quieter. The other type you might find is friction, and this uses a brake pad to slow the flywheel down. These do require maintenance, and they are noisier and also require a bigger flywheel.

You now have a chain or belt drive. Chain drive requires oil and maintenance over time. Then you have the belt drive that requires no maintenance and will last for thousands and thousands of miles. Do your best to find a belt drive. The best systems are magnetic belt drive systems.

Screen and Data

I believe all modern bikes should have a data screen. The only exception is studio spinning bikes. Having data like time helps because you know how long you have been on the bike. Other data fields like distance, speed, average speed, calories, and cadence can add much value to a workout. It gives you the information to see you getting fitter, riding further, and all the training is making a difference.

Unique Features

 Always look out for any special features on a Recumbent bike. You can get some great stuff which will add to the experience. For example, the Slimcycle on this list is a fantastic feature, not just to be a recumbent but an upright cycle. Things like heart rate monitors are beneficial to see how hard you’re working and resistance bands for some upper bodywork. Sometimes these make a bike worth a much higher price tag.

Price

When looking for the right bike, typically, you get what you pay for. The more money you spend, the better the experience you will get from it. Yes, there are some fantastic deals, but don’t be scared to spend a little more if you can. You will probably end up spending more time on it and making more progress.

Conclusion

All these bikes on this list are excellent, and you will get a great workout from each one. They are all excellent value for money, and you will experience proper indoor recumbent cycling. It comes down to which is going to suit your fitness needs and your budget. 

Robbie Ferri

A Personal Trainer and Ultra Cyclist living in King's Lynn in Norfolk, UK. From Ultra Cycling World Records to Bikepacking Races and a huge amount of time on the gym floor training myself and clients my experience when it comes to Health and Fitness is vast.

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