While there are cheaper and more costly recumbent stationary bikes available -- some of which are good choices in their own right, at least for some users -- reviews point to the Schwinn 250 as a slam dunk for our Best Reviewed recumbent exercise bike. Thanks to a magnetic resistance system, its pedaling action is reportedly quiet and smooth, and many users say its performance is comparable to stationary bikes that are far more expensive. This recumbent model comes equipped with a Polar telemetry enabled heart rate monitoring system, 11 preset fitness programs and 26 total. It also has 16 resistance levels.
Added features are designed to make exercise more comfortable and enjoyable. These include a cooling fan and auxiliary input for use with an MP3 player, although neither is a major plus according to owners who otherwise give this bike a decided thumbs-up. Instead, they say the speakers are quiet and the fan isn't very powerful.
What is a major plus is that Schwinn has a reputation for responsive and courteous customer service. While its products might not be flawless, many owners praise Schwinn's responsiveness when troubles do arise. The warranty covers the frame for five years, mechanical and electrical parts for one year, and wear parts and labor for 90 days.
The NordicTrack GX5.0 (Est. $500) is another recumbent stationary bike worth considering in this price range. It's feature packed, including 30 workout programs and 24 resistance levels. It's also compatible with iFit Live technology, which lets users create a custom route based on terrain anywhere in the world, although an optional module is required. While durability is generally good and the frame is backed by a lifetime warranty, some owners complain about pedal straps that don't hold up well and customer service that's spotty at best. Reviews are generally positive overall, but the Schwinn 250 gets a bit more feedback and seems to leave owners more satisfied.
We recommend the Marcy ME 709 (Est. $165) as the best recumbent exercise bike for those on tighter budgets. It would be easy to write off the ME 709 as a low-quality bike because of its price, but that would be a mistake: It has plenty to offer in the way of smooth operation and comfort.
The Marcy ME 709 boasts a magnetic resistance system that's rare among stationary bikes costing less than $200, allowing for a whisper-quiet workout and smooth pedal action. Another budget-friendly option, the Phoenix 99608 (Est. $150), also uses a magnetic resistance system but appears to fall short in build quality. While the ME 709 can accommodate users of up to 300 pounds, the 99608 is recommended only for users who weigh 250 pounds or less. The latter also suffers from more user complaints regarding durability. The ME 709 has a two-year parts warranty compared to the 99608's meager 90 days.
To achieve their lower price tags, both the Marcy ME 709 and Phoenix 99608 sacrifice features that some users might consider important. For example, the ME 709 has no heart rate monitor or workout programs, but does offer eight levels of resistance. It's also a good choice for users who move their bikes into a closet or the garage between workouts. Its compact size of 55 inches long by 25 inches wide and light weight of 66 pounds makes it easy to maneuver out of storage. The Marcy ME 709 is a great option for people who want a simple, affordable, effective and maneuverable machine for light use at home.