When it comes to picking the right recumbent exercise bicycle for you, there are several things you should consider. There is no such thing as the best recumbent bike, keep that in mind.
There is a lot of variation among recumbent, so you should take everything into consideration when deciding which recumbent you are going to buy. The size, shape, road surface, and riders abilities are among several things that need to be taken into account.
There are two general types of bikes in this category: Short Wheelbase versus Long Wheelbase. They have more reactive steering and are typically lighter.
This steering is most likely going to be a bit harder to get accustomed to, but in the end many people end up preferring it. The seating position on a Short wheelbase is higher up, making this kind of bike more difficult for a rider with shorter legs to reach their legs to the ground.
This makes it easier for those with shorter legs to reach the ground, because the rider is seated lower and closer to the ground. Long wheelbase bikes also tend to feel smoother on bumpy roads. Because the steering is not as responsive, it may be a bit easier to learn to ride when just starting out.
Although, because all of the weight is placed on the back wheels, Long Wheelbase bikes tend to be more likely to skid out when turning sharp corners.
Just like with upright bikes, some of the recumbent exercise bikes are made with more attention placed on comfort and others are made with more attention placed on performance. This really is a personal preference. If you place a lot of importance on riding fast and can ride in areas that are not filled with traffic, you may want to go for a lowracer.
If you want to go fast but will be riding in a more urban environment, a highracer may be the right style for you due to it’s greater visibility. Highracers are also more efficient at going up hills. Lowracers and highracers are very aerodynamic and were designed with speed in mind.
In general the more reclined the bike’s seat, the more aerodynamic (faster) it will be. Bikes with seats that are more reclined are also more difficult to learn how to ride. If balance is an issue, a recumbent trike may be the right pick for you. The tadpole style, which has two wheels in the front, tend to be better at turning. The delta style trikes tend to be more stable at fast speeds. Overall, recumbent trikes are slower than recumbent bikes.
When your feet are placed in front of your torso, rather than right below, you are in a more aerodynamic position. The higher the crankset is, relative to the seat height, the more aerodynamic you are positioned. The tradeoff is that when the bike’s crankset is higher, it makes it more difficult when starting, stopping, and balancing. Recumbents with lower cranksets, relative to the seat height, are a compromise between a traditional upright bike and a recumbent with a very high crankset.
Like everything else, seats come in a wide variation as well. Some seats can be reclined and even fully removed from the bike.
A seat that can be unattached from the bike is helpful when attaching the bike to the outside of your car. By removing the seat you can save on gas mileage, and keep it clean from bugs and debris that may be caught on it when driving. Longer rides are generally more comfortable when the seat is reclined, because there is less pressure being placed on your bottom.
When buying a recumbent, you need to decide between Over Seat Steering or Under Seat Steering. Over Seat Steering is easier when walking with your bike. It also is easier to attach a handlebar-mounted back view reflector to than Under Chair Steering. A rear view mirror is absolutely needed because it is very difficult, if not impossible, to turn your head to look behind you when riding a recumbent.
Under Seat Steering is very smooth and simpler to ride. It is also easier to get on and off your bike with Under Seat Steering because the handle bar is not in your way.
There is nothing like what is right or wrong in recumbent bike market. Like most of other things, it’s a matter of personal preference. The best way to find out what you like is to try some out! Also, check out the Types page for a breakdown on the variation of different types of recumbent.