Recumbent Bikes vs Semi Recumbent Bikes – 10 Differences To Know

In this post, I’ll explain the key difference between the recumbent bikes and semi-recumbent bikes. Hope you love this blog post.

Modern lifestyle has ripped away a lot of physical activity and mobility from our lives confining most of us to the work tables in our offices and businesses.

Therefore, a lot of lifestyle diseases have crept into our lives being promoted by our increasingly sedentary lifestyles.

Health experts have been urging for a considerable change in our life patterns and advise allocating some decent time on a regular basis to do some workouts appropriate to each one’s body and health objectives.

So, it is the time that we pay a serious thought on ways to keep us fit and also significantly improve our health. A regular and systematic workout regime can help you achieve your fitness goals faster.

Technology has done us both good and bad in the past. While technology has revolutionized every sphere of human activity, the domain of health and fitness is not an exception.

Thanks to the technological advancements that have given us a range of workout equipment, exercising has become more sophisticated and convenient experience with the possibility of measuring the outcomes in a scientific way.

A long list of advanced workout equipment we find in the market today help us work out the different parts of the body from the comfort of our homes without having to go to a gym.

Exercise bikes are simply superb gadgets that have been encouraging millions across the globe to commit to a serious exercise regime. They can make a great value addition to your workout equipment portfolio.

If you are planning to buy one, you need to take an informed decision by considering the pros and cons of the type you buy. Here is a comparison of recumbent and semi-recumbent bikes, their technology and what you can expect from them.

Why Compa​​​​re These?

Both recumbent and semi-recumbent bikes give you a good low impact cardio workout. In supporting your fitness objectives, both kinds of bikes serve the same purpose and are also meant to work out the same body parts.

However, while putting up against each other, they do have their merits and demerits. Since they have their advantages and disadvantages, in their way, they can impact the workout benefits you get out of them.

Hence knowing how they can help you decide the right one depending on your fitness goals, how much you can spend on an exercise bike and what you expect from the equipment.

Recumbent Bikes vs. Semi-Recumbent Bikes

Before diving into the showdown, let’s take a look at images of Recumbent Bikes and Semi-Recumbent Bikes

Exerpeutic 2000

Above is the best affordable Recumbent Bike – Exerpeutic 2000

Exerpeutic WORKFIT 1000

This is the best Semi-recumbent Bike – Exerpeutic WORKFIT 1000

As evident from its name, a recumbent bike is lower to the ground and is used by the exerciser seated in a recumbent position. When you rest your back on the backrest, your legs are in front of you on the pedals almost set parallel to the ground position.

Since you find a step-thru in all the versions of recumbent bikes, you will not have to lift the leg over the frame to assume the position. Therefore it is never difficult to get on and off the bike.

The semi-recumbent bike is half way between a recumbent and an upright bike. The difference is instead of positioning your feet in front of you parallel to your thighs.

You angle them a bit more down to about 40 to 60 degrees depending on which model you use. One good advantage of semi-recumbent bikes is that they are foldable in most cases.

This is due to the X-frame the manufacturer has to bring in to see that your legs are positioned in front of you and not below you as found in the case of upright bikes.

While doing workouts, you get to sit in a reasonably higher position in a large sized bike seat which also has a comfortable backrest to support your back.

Interestingly, there are several models today that come fitted with a desk letting you work out and exercise at the same time. However, these models are considered more upright.

Different manufacturers do a lot of research and introduce a lot of extras and features to see that the customers are happy with the equipment and make the most of them.

10 key differences between the two

#1. Impact on the joints

The recumbent exercise bike is gentle on the joints. Due to the position of the joints, there is less weight pushed on to joints when compared to an upright bike, and hence the user gets to do a low impact workout.

In the case, of the semi-recumbent bike, there is slightly more pressure onto the joints. However, most users find them gentle on the joints.

So, given the slight difference in the gentleness between both these bikes, this cannot be a prominent point for comparing between them unless in your typical case you find one better than the other.

So, to weigh them from this point of you, it is best to try them yourself before buying.

#2. Muscles worked

Both the bikes work your lower body including glutes, hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, and calves. The recumbent works your glutes and hamstrings more while the semi-recumbent bike works a bit more with your upper body too.

This is because while doing workouts on a semi-recumbent bike, you will have to support your upper body unlike in the case of the recumbent bikes where they enjoy full support from the backrest and due to the position you assume.

So, we can say the upper body feels more comfortable with a recumbent bike, while in the case of the semi-recumbent bike, it also gets to receive a bit of workouts along with the lower part of the body.

#3. Comfort factor

The higher up sitting position in the semi-recumbent needs you to step up onto the bike; you might need a step incorporated in the bike to get to position.

The more active seating position facilitated by a semi-recumbent bike requires you to support your upper body even when there is the back rest.

On the other hand, because you are leaning more against the back in a recumbent bike, there is more support for your back while working out and you are most likely to feel more comfortable with this set up as you are engaged in your workouts.

#4. Stability

Regarding stability, you will find both the types almost the same. Nevertheless, you are likely to feel more stable on a recumbent exercise bike since it is lower onto the ground and the seating position and the seating arrangements are more comfortable.

#5. Calories burned

While working at a similar time on both the bikes, you burn out the same calories. The point is burning calories is more a matter of the intensity of the workouts you do rather than the structure of the bike.

The more active seating position of the semi-recumbent bike means you might end up burning a bit more calories since you get to automatically engage your upper body also in the workouts.

However, since you are likely to feel more comfortable while working out on a recumbent bike enabled by the seating position as well as the comfortable back rest.

You can do workouts for a longer time on them and consequently burn more calories overall during a lengthier workout session when compared to the semi-recumbent bikes.

#6. How the prices compare

Semi-recumbent bikes, on the whole, seem to be cheaper than the recumbent bikes since they provide you only with the basics.

A good basic model under this category can be bought for under $200, which is a throwaway investment for achieving fitness.

Though it is possible to buy a recumbent bike in this price range, you will not find some additional benefits in the lower end models. So, the more you are willing to pay, the more features and comfort you can expect from the models you buy.

#7. Storage and floor space

Fully recumbent workout bikes need more floor space since your feet is positioned out in front of you. The extra length is needed to accommodate the full size of the legs.

So, they are usually lengthier than the semi-recumbent bikes. Since the legs are angled in the case of a semi-recumbent bike, they require a lesser length as the height of the bike accommodates some of it.

Also, most models of semi-recumbent bikes are foldable facilitated by the X frame they feature. Therefore they can help save space when you store them while not in use. They will easily fit within closets and also behind the doors.

#8. Comfort

The question of which bike is more comfortable is a topic related to the seating arrangement and seating position. Semi-recumbent bikes use a large sized bike seat and also a back rest.

Also, since the legs are down to an angle and not positioned completely out, some people find the seats dig into the legs while pedaling.

The seat size in the case of a recumbent bike is always larger, and the back rest is also bigger facilitating a better overall support for the back and the sit bones.  You can choose to replace the seat of a semi-recumbent bike.

However, the method is not straight forward. You will have to buy an exercise bike seat adapter to fit a standard model bike seat.

#9. Console

Most versions of semi-recumbent bikes provide you with the basic console that displays the measures when you do the workouts.

In some higher end models of recumbent exercise bikes that are priced more than $300, you will find pre-set workout programs, keeping track of your progress, free fitness accounts and also tracking more measures while you do the workouts.

#10. Back support

Both the types of bikes do come with back support. Most models of recumbent bikes feature a bit larger support, and therefore the exerciser can lean back more easily.

Also, the leg position fully in front of you parallel to the ground also supports this.

My Views – Must Read

Both the types of exercising bikes are used by people who look forward to workout that is easy on the joints and with the comfort of back support. The recumbent bike provides a gentler workout with a more seating comfort.

You do not have the stress while doing workouts for long hours. However, if you are constrained on the budget, then you will have to check whether this one will suit you since the spending you do on this is a bit more than on the semi-recumbent bikes.

The semi-recumbent is a better choice for those looking for an affordable model since it is invariably priced a bit cheaper than the recumbent bikes. However, talking of the comfort aspect, you will have to compromise a bit.

As indicated by the very name, semi-recumbent bikes provide a semi-comfortable workout experience. But if you would say after all that exercising is meant to work out the different parts of the body and there is no point sitting and relaxing.

Then it would mean you are ready to put up with the little discomfort you might have with the semi-recumbent bikes. In such case, you are most likely to find them a better option at an affordable spending.

Finally, if you would ask whether there are affordable versions of recumbent exercise bikes, the answer is certainly ‘Yes.’ However, the point is, the lesser you spend, the more you will have to compromise with the comfort aspect.

If you are prepared to spend a little more than $300 for a bike, you will find more comfortable and highly supportive seats, some good extras, pre-set workouts and some other interesting features based on the extra spending you are prepared to do.

While closing, here is an important note you must reflect on. If you are comfortable with your equipment, you are most likely to see your interest burning continuously to involve with the workouts.

At the same time, you are most likely to discard a poor one after some time complaining that it is making you weary and tiresome.

Spending on your health and fitness is a worthy investment that is going to return to you in manifold regarding keeping highly fit, increasing productivity in every sphere of real life and also avoiding that wasteful spending on medical bills.

So, never hesitate to invest in a good workout bike if you are willing to commit diligently with your fitness regime.

1 thought on “Recumbent Bikes vs Semi Recumbent Bikes – 10 Differences To Know”

  1. Good article, however you did not address the serious issue of “Blood Pooling”,
    with upright bikes.
    My “Pulmonary Specialist”, who is regarded as top shelf in the medical community, and also a exercise fitness expert, told me that everyone should avoid using an upright stationary bike, and only use a semi-recumbent or recumbent bike only.
    My cardiologist and open heart surgeon both agreed to the fullest.

    Please Respond!


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