August 5, 2021

Recumbent bike vs upright bike

Recumbent bike vs upright bike, which one should you choose?

It’s difficult to even say that the upright bike has been around longer so you should choose that one because it wasn’t a very long time after it was made that the recumbent bike came along.

It seems we, as humans, can’t leave anything alone and as soon as one thing is made, we have to take it and create as many variations of it as we can whether they be crazy, weird or wonderful.

Recumbent bike vs upright bike Cyclorama blog
Free photo 221430184 © State Library and Archives

The main obvious difference is the position of the rider on both the upright and the recumbent bikes is completely different. With the upright bike you sitting up and your legs are going up and down and all the pressure is on your knees and your seat. This has obvious negative ramifications for your joints and other pressure points in your body.

Whereas, with the recumbent bikes that pressure is relieved as the rider is laid back in a much more comfortable position. Not only is it more comfortable, but it is also better on your joints including your knees hips ligaments wrists ankles. It also lists lifts your feet up off the floor away from the ground which helps to avoid pedal saving your toes from losing their cap.

The seating position on the recumbent bikes is the absolute advantage that these have over the upright bike and also creates and more efficient riding position. It’s more efficient because you are positioned lower and there is less drag through the air which also means you’re able to ride faster. In some cases quite a lot faster.

The lower seating position does have its downside though, as it can make you a little bit less visible to other traffic on the road and thereby making it a little more dangerous potentially. This can be overcome by the use of flags and good lights or bright-colored clothing.

Recumbent Bike vs Upright Bike

The recumbent bikes also come as a tricycle. The tricycle version of the recumbent bike has definitive advantages over both the two-wheeled recumbent bike and the upright bike as the balance has been taken care of for you. Due to their low to the ground nature and the lower seating position, recumbent bikes can be a little bit awkward to maneuver at low speeds simply by shifting your body weight.

This is where the tricycle version is advantageous and makes for a very relaxing ride in a comfortable seated position, and more efficient riding posture, and even less to think about with the balance issue taken care of for you. This then allows you to take in more scenery and enjoy the ride more than thinking about the logistics of the ride.

Braking is much better on the recumbent bikes, in particular the tricycles, but even the two-wheeled version of the recumbent bikes can be ridden harder into corners and utilize much harsher braking than with an upright bike.

Some of the direct differences when considering a recumbent bike vs an upright bike are that the recumbent is in a reclined body position while the upright is in a straight body position. So, while your posture may potentially be better in an upright bike, the reclined body position on the recumbent is much more comfortable and puts less strain on your neck and shoulders because you’re not constantly lifting your head to look up at the road and what is coming.

The recumbent bike generally has the largest seat which allows for more comfortable sitting in what is quite an important part of the body. The seats on an upright bike have been shown through research to potentially cause issues with the male reproductive system so that is definitely something to think about when making this kind of a decision.

Another thought in the recumbent bike vs upright bike world is that the recumbent has a low center of gravity which makes it more stable than the upright which has a higher center of gravity.

The recumbent bike is more comfortable and the upright bike can be less forgiving, however, the recumbents can tend to be expensive while the upright bikes do you have more budget-friendly options available.

When it comes to exercise, both bikes do focus primarily on exercising the lower body and in particular, your hamstrings, glutes, quads, and hamstrings. So they both work quite well for a good workout.

If toning your abs is something you want to do, then an upright bike will work better because they don’t offer support to your upper torso whereas the recumbent bike does. So they will strengthen your core muscles due to the different posture and will boost your lower back as well as toning your abs.

Upright bikes are a better full-body workout as far as your muscles are concerned if that’s something that you need to be thinking about. Recumbent bikes are definitely a better all-around touring bike and are much more comfortable over longer distances.

As stated previously, the downside in regard to an upright bike is that it can result in greater muscle fatigue because you have to hold your body weight over the handlebars. So if you have bad shoulders it could be an issue. They have to keep balanced and add extra stress on your back due to the hunched over position also increasing the amount of stress on your ankles and knees.

So, as the recumbent bike is working out fewer muscles than an upright bike, you are also going to end up burning fewer calories. If weight loss is something that you’re considering while looking at a recumbent bike vs upright bike, then the upright bike may be worth thinking about. But if you like may and prefer to go for longer rides, rather than just a short sharp workout, then the recumbent bike is definitely advantageous and much more comfortable.

Recumbent Bike vs Upright Bike

There is absolutely less risk of injury on a recumbent bike and you are less likely to suffer from knee pain since you’re pressing the foot pedals with a more evenly spread muscle use than an upright. The upright bike also gives you the ability to stand up stretch your legs out and standing up while riding, even though it’s not something you’re going to do all the time, it transfers the stress to the hamstrings and the glutes but still gets those quads working.

Depending on your age and level of fitness, that’s also something that is going to determine which bike you choose.

If you are a slightly more mature adult in the elderly range of life, then potentially a recumbent bike is going to be easier to get around on. In particular, the tricycle recumbent would be well worth your time taken to research and even test ride if you have the opportunity.

One of the reasons that the recumbent bike is so much better for an older person is simply because they are much lower to the ground and it’s more like climbing into a chair than getting onto a bike.

These are also perfect for those with some form of disability that would otherwise potentially make riding a bike very difficult if not virtually impossible. These are a great way to keep your mobility, exercise and freedom all in one place.

Upright bikes do offer you much better maneuverability and that is a definite advantage that they have over the recumbent bike. If you are riding in an area where you know that there are going to be lots of twists and turns and where you want to go off-road, then potentially the upright bike may be a better choice for you. There is a lot more control, or at least direct control and maneuverability with an upright bike than with the recumbent bike.

Here’s a thought though, whichever bike you choose in the recumbent bike vs upright bike war, they are both very good for the environment! You can create some much less greenhouse gas just by cycling 5 miles to work and back every year. That’s pretty amazing. It also means there’s less traffic on the road, and fewer cars at least.

Recumbents can come in different styles as well with some very low frames and these ones are generally the fastest as the more efficient and aerodynamic. The higher ones are obviously higher off the ground and are more visible in higher traffic areas but it means that they are slightly less aerodynamic due to that higher center of gravity.

When it comes to storage the two-wheeled recumbent’s definitely winning over either the upright or the tricycle version of the recumbent. But just as with the upright bike, you can buy a folding recumbent and of course then you can store your bike in your car or whichever space allows it.

Recumbents are fun and still attract a lot of attention has there not as commonly seen as the traditional upright bikes. The problem with them not being as common is that it also makes them more expensive to purchase upfront and potentially maintain when buying parts, depending of course, on the model and brand of the recumbent.

If you’re up to the scenery then the recumbent bike is hands down the winner you’ll be able to go much further and much more comfortable manner. You say more around you you’ll be able to take more in. More photo opportunities because you’ll see the moments. So definitely for the tourist version of cycling, the recumbent bike is an absolute winner.

So yes, while recumbents and not the most inexpensive of bikes they still do offer really good value for money and once you’ve got it, then you’re partaking of the benefits at no additional cost.

Recumbent Bike vs Upright Bike

Recumbent bike vs upright bike | Cyclorama
Image by Sigurd Rille from Pixabay

One thing with the recumbents being so low to the ground is that it obviously makes a fall less dangerous. While the maneuverability might not be as good, if you did take a tumble at least you’re not falling as far! This is another good news story for the disabled or elderly. Recumbent bikes and in particular the tricycles are most adept for those that need a little bit more time to get around.

So, if you are still up in the air about a recumbent bike vs upright bike, whichever way you go you will be reaping the health benefits of regular cycling with things such as increased cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, flexibility, improved joint mobility, decreased stress levels, improved posture and coordination, strength and bones, decreased body fat levels, and even prevention or management of the disease.

Cycling increases your endurance on and off the bike and exercising on a bike for at least 30 minutes a day will build up your cardiovascular and muscular endurance. With the recommended three times a week of 30 minutes exercise, the recumbent bike or an upright bike is an excellent choice for your health and well-being.

So in considering recumbent bikes vs upright bikes, the upright bikes have the advantage in building your core strength, lower back areas. Well, the recumbent bike is definitely a much better choice for touring and scenic cycling.

If it’s fitness that you’re looking for then begin to consider your options with the upright bikes. However, remember that your visibility will be less as your looking more towards the ground in the hunched-over position than if you were seated on a recumbent bike. The recumbent bike is still a good body workout and definitely offers the advantage of not putting as much pressure on your joints, ligaments, knees and arms, and can also provide higher speeds and better cornering.

Start with working out what your goals are and what you want to be doing with your time on your bike and once you have your goals set you can determine which of these will be the better choice to reach your goals.

Recumbent Bike vs Upright Bike

When it comes to the decision between a recumbent bike vs an upright bike, it all comes down to you, your personal preference and what you’re looking to achieve.

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