Recumbent Bike vs. Upright Bike: What’s The Difference?

According to research from the American Council on Exercise, indoor cycling is the best option for those who are looking for a cardiovascular workout. It offers a large expenditure of energy while placing lesser stress on the hips and knees. However, tons of innovative models are already out on the market today. Furthermore, some people just don’t have a single idea about the difference between recumbent and upright exercise bikes.

These reasons often lead many to pick the wrong choice. We don’t want that, do we? So before you decide to buy, allow me to acquaint you with the advantages and disadvantages of each bike. Recumbent bike vs. upright bike, what is it going to be?

Upright Bike

Frankly speaking, an upright bike gives a more consistent workout experience like outdoor riding. Your position is the same as if you are riding a traditional bicycle. Both your hands are grabbing onto the handlebars with your body hunching forward. It is more versatile than a recumbent bike as you are free to assume more positions. For instance, doing a hill climb and spin workouts

Furthermore, it uses more muscles, like the abdominal and upper body arm since you are maintaining an upright position. This equipment offers a variety of fat-burning moves and postures.

An upright bike is more popular because this came out first in the market. However, one of its particular and prominent edges is its price. An upright bike is way cheaper than a recumbent bike. This makes it ideal for those who are on a tight budget.  Some upright bikes are also foldable, so they occupy a lesser room space.

Upright Exercise Bike

However, there are some downsides to consider when buying an upright bike. Comfort-wise, the seats are pretty small and hard for sit bones. This type of bike is also not recommended for older adults and those with chronic back pain or lower back issues. This is because upright bikes require constant balance and maintaining an upright position.

Recumbent Bike

Recumbent Bike

A recumbent bike is a perfect example of comfort while exercising. Its chair-like seat can fully support the back, and the reclined position prevents it from straining. It is also easy on the joints. However, what I love about recumbent bikes is how my hands are completely free to do other things. That’s right, I can still read a book or browse through social media while burning some fats. Hashtag workout goals.

Furthermore, its comfy seating position will surely let you go on exercising for longer hours without feeling any aches and tears that are common in upright bikes.

Recumbent bikes are good for beginners and, as mentioned earlier, for people suffering from lower back pain. It is also recommended for those with neurological conditions with different ability levels.

However, a recumbent bike burns lesser calories since fewer muscles are engaged. The butt, thighs, lower hips, and legs work the most. On the other hand, the upper body parts remain immobile. However, don’t worry though, a recumbent bike can still burn roughly the same amount of calories like its upright counterpart. You just need to work harder and longer. Also, because you don’t sweat that much, toxins are not released out of the body. It can pose a risk of toxin build-up, which can cause abdominal bloating in some cases.

One more thing, this is a friendly reminder. Proper body positioning is one of the keys to an effective exercise. In upright bikes, make sure your knees are bending between 25 and 35 degrees. They should also be in-line with the center of the pedals. Meanwhile, recumbent bikes require that the leg at the end of the pedal stroke should be bent between 10 and 15 degrees. The knee should be at around 90 degrees.


Both upright and recumbent bikes are very effective fitness tools in terms of maximizing calorie and weight loss. It is important that you carefully take each of their pros and cons into consideration before investing. Personally, I would recommend upright bikes for a more quality cardio workout. It also suits those who do not have any back or joint issues. On the other hand, a recumbent bike is best for novice and those who prefer comfort over cardio. Take note, it offers almost the same health benefits but with lower risks of knee and back injuries.

Regardless which bike you choose, it all boils down to your motivation at the end of the day. Just keep in mind that the harder you work, the better progress you will see.