Stationary Recumbent bikes usually only have foot pedals. However, some also have hand pedals. Why would you need one of those and which ones are the best? I’ve done some research and found out.
A recumbent bike with hand pedals is great for people that want a full body workout while still sitting down. Especially for seniors and people with disabilities, injuries, etc, this is a great option since you can sit down safely. For other people it’s also a good workout since you involve more muscle mass which means a tougher workout.
Read more about why you would want to use a recumbent bike and what the best options are below.
Best recumbent bikes with hand pedals
Let’s take a look at what the best options are for recumbent bikes with hand pedals. There are a few things I’ve taken into account when selecting these bikes;
- Value for money
Best of the best
You want the absolute best and you don’t care how much it costs? The HCI PhysioMax is for you. It has all the features you could possibly need and is built like a tank.
Mind you, it comes with a pretty hefty price tag.
The HCI PhysioMax (amazon link) has some pretty unique features;
- Swivel seat for easy mounting
- Adjustable arm pedal height
- Independent upper and lower body exercise
- 16 levels of resistance
- 500 lbs. user weight limit
- 9” Display
- Adjustable hand pedals
- Seat is height and inseam adjustable
- Great warranty
- Very good build quality
As you might have noticed from the features and the pictures, this machine isn’t just for you home gym. This is a machine that is specifically designed for seniors, people with disabilities and rehabilitation. If you think you fall into one of those categories this machine can be a perfect solution for your fitness needs.
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However, even if you’re just looking for a good workout, this machine is awesome because you get an incredibly well built recumbent bike with good warranty and tons of adjustability. However, if you’re looking for something with similar build quality but don’t need all the features, take a look at the next option.
Maybe you want something a little better than the value bike but the best of the best is too expensive. Here is a good option that’s in between. In my opinion, this is one of the best options if you’re willing to spend the money.
The quality is the same as the best one since it’s the same manufacturer. It’s advertised as semi-commercial so you can be sure this thing will last. It misses a few features of the most expensive one but at about 1/3rd the price it’s an awesome deal.
The bike in question is the HCI PhysioCycle XT (amazon);
- Very high build quality
- Display that shows: Time, speed, distance, calories, heart rate and torque
- Heart rate monitor
- Good warranty
- 300 lbs. user weight limit
This is an awesome machine for people that want something with good options for a workout without all the special features of the number one machine. This bike will last for a long time and be reliable for ages. However, it’s still a pricey piece of equipment.
If you’re looking for a better value proposition, the next bike might be a good option for you.
Value for money
Most people are not only looking for the best of the best but also value for money. And those two things don’t often go together. The Sunny Health SF-RB4631 (amazon link) is a relatively cheap recumbent bike with all the features and quality you want.
Do you make some sacrifices compared to the HCI? Sure, but it also only costs about 1/10th the money. That price difference makes it available for many people and it does many of the same things as the expensive model.
The Sunny Health SF-RB4631 features;
- Comfortable recumbent seat
- 8 step magnetic resistance
- Adjustable inseam length. (How far the seat is from the pedals)
- Max user weight: 350 lbs.
- Easy step through design
- Heart rate monitor
- Separately adjustable arm resistance
It also has a few drawbacks:
- Arm movement isn’t registered on display
- Arm height isn’t adjustable
- Not suitable for very tall people (+-6’4+)
This machine is a great option for people just looking for a good workout but don’t want to break the bank. Check the current price on Amazon.
If you’re interested in a recumbent bike with hand pedals, it’s worth it to take a look at an ‘air bike’ or ‘fan bike’. Instead of a metal flywheel there is a large fan connected to the pedals. This has some benefits like a different feel and airflow during your workout.
However, instead of pedals you rotate, there are levers you push back and forth like on a cross trainer. What you like better is personal preference.
One downside is that most of these don’t have a backrest. That means it’s a bit more difficult to have a relaxed seating position and you will usually have to grab the levers.
The best choice for an air bike for a reasonable price is the Schwinn AirDyne series. Especially the AD2 model (Amazon link) is great value for money. Schwinn produces great quality exercise bikes and have a long history in producing them.
The Airdyne series is no exception. All the models in the range are high quality and do exactly what they have to do.
- The AD2 comes with an LCD console that tracks basic information about your workout.
- Comfortable seat compared to other upright bikes. Recumbent bikes are more comfortable.
- Adjustable airflow
- Resistance depends on speed
Why use a recumbent bike with hand pedals?
Why would you want to use a recumbent bike with hand pedals in the first place? Aren’t the foot pedals enough?
Keep in mind; upright bikes and recumbent bikes are slightly different. Upright bikes have a much more ‘aggressive’ seating position. Recumbent bikes have a much more relaxed seating position, backrest and pedals in front of your body.
Adding hand pedals to an upright bike would be much more difficult since you use the bars to rest on. However, an upright bike is a perfect candidate for adding hand pedals.
There are a few reasons why you would want to get one;
- Upper body workout
- Tougher cardio workout
- Good for rehab
- Do different workouts
- Light full body workout
- Good for seniors
Adding a set of hand pedals to a recumbent bike does increase the features and uses and some of these features might make it very attractive for you.
Because you have the choice to move the hand pedals or not you can vary the workouts. Obviously, when moving your legs and arms you involve your upper body into the movement. This does a few things.
Involving the upper half of your body means you have to use those muscles. Pushing and pulling on the pedals makes you use your arms, shoulders, and back muscles as well as your core. For people that have a very low level of muscle development in those areas, you might see some muscle and strength gains.
Besides that, using more muscle mass means a tougher cardio workout. Or, looking at it from another side, more calories burned in the same amount of time.
This type of bike is also great for workouts during rehab. Of course it depends on the type of injury but you don’t need use of all limbs to actually be able to use one of these. Since the foot and hand pedals are connected to the same flywheel, you can use three or even only two limbs to effectively use it. That makes it a great machine to stay in shape if you temporarily (or permanently) don’t have use over all your limbs.
Recumbent bikes with hand pedals are one of the better pieces of exercise equipment for seniors. It’s very safe and you can dial in the resistance from very low to reasonably high. Because there is a seat with backrest, stability issues aren’t a huge problem. The seat of a recumbent bike is low enough (and adjustable) which makes it easy to get onto. The hand pedal addition means you can have a safe, light full body workout in a single machine.
Why not get a cross trainer?
This looks a lot like a cross trainer/elliptical trainer with a seat, why wouldn’t you just get one of those? There are a few good reasons why you would want to go for a recumbent bike with hand pedals instead.
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- Less stability required
- Puts a little less load on joints
- More flexible in use (Choose upper/lower body or both)
Largely it’ll come down to personal preference. But, there are certain groups of people that are better served by a recumbent bike with hand pedals than a cross trainer. Seniors, less able and people with injuries for example.
Favorite Cardio Machine Accessories
Check out these accessories that improve a home cardio workout:
- Equipment mat: All cardio equipment should be put on an equipment mat. The Rubber-Cal mat (Amazon) is an affordable yet very high quality choice.
- Interval timer: To time your intervals and workouts, there is no better choice than the GymNext Flex. It’s super easy to use and set up with a phone app.
- Tablet holder: Cardio can be boring. With this tablet holder (Amazon) you can follow along with on-demand workouts or just watch a movie on any cardio machine.
- Heart rate monitor: Monitoring your heart rate is very important while doing cardio. The Polar H10 (Amazon) connects to almost anything you can imagine and is very accurate.
To find which cardio machines I recommend for home gyms, click here.