Recumbent vs Spin Bikes – Which Is The Best Exercise Bike?

It's a tough question but not tougher than deciding on one! Read on to find out who stood the test of time!

Exercise machines are an efficient way to target different muscles simultaneously. Once you start exercising on them, you will notice improved muscle strength. There will be more calories burned in less time. The one decision that has the most impact on your exercise routine is the type of exercise bike you will buy!

There are different types of exercise bikes to choose from. Should you go for Recumbent Bikes or Spin Bikes? Also, what is the main difference between them? Good questions! 

Recumbent Bike – The Reclined Option

Recumbent bikes as the name suggests are reclined rather than upright. 

As compared to other exercise bikes, they have a traditional seat that comes with a backrest rather than a saddle. This makes the whole experience comfortable. 

To use these bikes, you need to stretch out your legs to the pedals, the crank is in line with the seat horizontally.  If you want a leisure workout, which doesn’t have that much of an impact on your lower body then you should go for recumbent bikes, plus you can also watch TV while using them.

Recumbent Bike Reclined

4 Advantages of Recumbent Bikes

Here are some of the advantages of using these bikes:

1. Enhances Cardiovascular Health

Recumbent bikes offer many benefits that include aerobics and cardiovascular advantages. You will enhance your overall cardiovascular health. A high-intensity interval training of one hour could even result in about 800-900 calories burned. Plus a lot of muscles will be triggered during that exercise.

These exercises will improve your overall heart and lung functions. You do know this means reduced blood pressure. Right?

2. Your Muscle Strength Will Increase

A lot of big muscles also get worked on recumbent bikes including Quadriceps, Glutes, Calves, Hamstrings, and abs.

3. A Safer Way To Enjoy Cycling

Recumbent bikes are much safer and more comfortable as compared to upright bikes. The extra back support will give you more area to sit and also make you relaxed while you exercise. 

4. There Is Less Stress On The Body

Recumbent bikes lower the overall stress on the human body. The knee and hip do not flex that much with each passing rotation as compared to other bikes. In these bikes, the pedals are right in front of you which decreases the overall stress on the lower body.

If you have arthritis, you should consider recumbent exercise bikes.

Ready to take your fitness routine to the next level? Check out our blog post and discover how to convert miles to steps on your exercise bike today

Spin Bikes – The Flywheel Option

Spin Bikes are very different from stationary bikes, they have a different structure. They are also known as the “Indoor Cycle”. Although they don’t have a console where you can choose the settings, they do have an exposed flywheel. This exposed flywheel is heavier and much thicker than the one you will see on a stationary bike.

These indoor cycles have two types of resistance to offer, magnetic and friction. Magnetic resistance is very discrete and is similar to what you see in stationary bikes. Friction resistance is very different. Here the rubber pads are pressed on the flywheel to resist the motion when you start pedaling, this promotes an intense workout. You can use dials to increase or decrease resistance.

Spin Bikes Flywheel

2 Advantages of Spin Bikes 

Here are some advantages of spin bikes

1. Strong Muscle Definition

Spin bikes are great at giving a strong muscle definition for your core and legs. Have you ever wondered why people skip leg days? This is because leg exercises are more intense and dangerous, but they also contribute a lot to your leg muscles. 

Spin classes or spinning bike exercises are a great alternative for those who want to build leg muscle but are intimidated by squats and lunges.

2. There Is A Lower Risk of Injury

When doing leg exercises, seemingly squats, and lunges, there is a high risk of injury if you are not doing those exercises properly. Spinning bikes offer a very low-impact exercise where the chances of injury are almost non-existent. You don’t even have to lean forward that much while exercising.

A good pair of cycling shoes compared with an excellent spin bike will do the trick for you!

Recumbent Bikes vs Spin Bikes

Criteria Recumbent Bikes Spin Bikes
Body Position Reclined position, almost lying down Upright position, similar to outdoor cycling
Seat Type Traditional seat with backrest Typical saddle seat
Leg Position Legs stretched out in front of the body Pedals beneath the body in a cycling motion
Comfort High comfort level, suitable for leisure workouts Lower comfort level compared to recumbent bikes
Cardiovascular Health Enhances overall cardiovascular health Promotes cardiovascular health with intense workouts
Muscle Engagement Targets Quadriceps, Glutes, Calves, Hamstrings, Abs Focuses on core and leg muscles
Safety Safer and more comfortable, especially for users with back issues or arthritis Low-impact, reducing the risk of injury during exercise
Stress on Body Low stress on knee and hip joints Moderate stress on knee and hip joints
Intensity Suitable for leisure and intense workouts Intense workouts, particularly for leg muscles
Immune System General improvement in health, but not specifically targeting the immune system Promotes a stronger immune system with regular exercise
Ease of Use User-friendly, especially for beginners May require some adjustments for proper form
Versatility Suitable for a wide range of users, including those with mobility issues Emphasizes lower body, limited upper body engagement
Entertainment Allows for activities like watching TV during workouts Focus is on the exercise; may not easily accommodate external entertainment

1. Work Intensity – Which Is Better?

Recumbent bikes offer a more relaxed kind of workout as compared to spin bikes. There is more muscle activation when you are using a spin bike but you certainly cannot use them for long. There is more focus on the core and upper body and that allows you to have a very strong workout.

Spin bikes have a heavier flywheel as compared to a stationary bike, which means that you can even climb on the spin bike and do your exercises, aggressive efforts will lead to aggressive gains.

Most of the spin classes that you will attend will result in HIT (High-Intensity Training) exercises which will promote your cardiovascular health. You can also try out easy pedaling on a spin bike and then work from there.

Get the most out of your workout with our range of exercise bikes with screens with our detailed guide.

Woman Training On Exercise Bike
Woman Training on Exercise Bike

2. Comfortability and Ease of Usage

Recumbent exercise bikes are convenient. They have large reclined seats with backrests. This reduces the risk of an injury.  Elderly people, even cardiac patients can use recumbent bikes.

Spin bikes on the other hand are also easy to use but there is not that much comfort there. People are not going to love the seats and the whole structure might also feel alien to them. They feel almost like an upright bike. There is also increased stress on the user’s spine, knees, and tailbone.

3. Which One Is More Versatile?

Spin bikes are more versatile because you can try different positions. This is not possible with exercise bikes. You can exercise while standing or sitting, it is completely up to you.

Recumbent bikes allow only one kind of position (The Sitting Position). If you want more versatility, you’ll have to try recumbent bikes. 

Looking for the perfect exercise bike to help you achieve your fitness goals? Check out our top picks for the best exercise bikes and start your journey towards a healthier you today!

4. Hitting Different Muscles- Which Bike Does It Better?

You can save yourself a whole day of exercising if you work out different muscles simultaneously. Using spin bikes for exercise allows you to target different muscles at once. While using them, you can target the Biceps, Triceps, Core, Back, Glutes, Upper Body, Quadriceps, and Hamstrings.

If you use recumbent bikes, then you would only be able to target the lower body, hamstrings, and calves.

5. Programmable Exercises

If you are an exercise junkie like me, then you want different kinds of exercise. With recumbent bikes, you can choose different types of exercise modes. You can use the console however you want. These bikes also show you the calorie and distance count, alongside the heart rate monitor. 

On the other hand, you cannot program spin bikes. You have to control your workout sessions manually which is a pain most of the time.

Check out our review of the recumbent bike benefits to find a low-impact way to stay fit!

Why Should You Get An Indoor Exercise Bike?

With an exercise machine like that, you would be able to perform a more intense workout than before. Even exercise of 30-40 minutes will result in a good cardio workout. All you need to be is consistent.

Indoor Exercise Bike
Indoor Exercise Bike

Advantages Of Indoor Exercise Bikes

Here are some of the advantages that you can enjoy by getting an indoor exercise bike.

  • Cardio Fitness Is Drastically Boosted
  • Helps A Lot With Weight Loss
  • Body Fat Is Easily Burned
  • Legs and Lower Body Muscles Are Strengthened
  • Is Safer Than Actual Road Cycling

Does cycling burn belly fat? That’s a good question! Read our guide on how cycling impacts your belly fat to find out!

The Verdict 

I have to admit, this was a tough one! But the good news is that I do have a verdict! And the winner here is Spin bikes. Based on my research and experience, I would rate spin bikes 3.8/5 and recumbent bikes 3.5/5. Recumbent Bikes and Spin bikes both have different features and advantages to offer. The right choice here for you will depend on what kind of exercise bike are you looking for and what kind of workout you want.

Which bike interests you more? Let me know in the comments below!

What Might Interest You


This article was crafted by Luke Ameen, Associate Editor, a seasoned expert, bringing 8 years of experience and knowledge about all types of bikes. Our goal is to provide you with accurate, reliable, and valuable insights to help you make informed decisions and enhance your biking experience.

Should you have any questions or require further clarification on the topic, please feel free to connect with our expert author Luke Ameen by leaving a comment below. We value your engagement and are here to assist you.

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Luke Ameen

Luke Ameen

For many years, I've journeyed the world as an ardent cyclist, feeling the pulse of the road beneath two wheels. Even though competitive mountain trails might not be my battleground now, my zeal for cycling remains undiminished, pushing me to chase new escapades every chance I get.

My heart beats for everything related to cycling. Over the years, I've immersed myself in extensive research and hands-on tests of cycling equipment and enhancements, aiming to guide fellow cyclists in amplifying their riding experience. My mission is clear: deliver trustworthy insights and reliable guidance that readers can lean on. My vision is to kindle the same fervor for cycling in others, whether they're seasoned veterans or just embarking on this journey. Rest assured, I'm here to equip you with the freshest updates, advice, and perspectives to enrich every ride.

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