Is a Recumbent Bike good for Bad Knees?

Whether you have a knee injury and can’t put too much pressure on your joints or are struggling with osteoarthritis, a recumbent bike will significantly improve your exercise routine. 

Yes, recumbent bikes are good for bad knees because its reclined position puts less stress on your knees and joints.

Recumbent bikes place their rider in a laid-back reclining position. This allows them to distribute their rider’s weight over a large area, ensuring that their back and buttocks are supported. This ergonomic design is great for people with bad knees because it makes exercising low impact. 

After explaining each of these factors in detail, I’ll enlist a few good recumbent stationary bikes available for purchase. So, keep reading. 

Why a Recumbent Exercise Bike is Considered a Low-impact Machine 

recumbent bike in living room

Cycling generally is a low-impact sport. It puts a lot less strain on your knee joints than other cardio exercises. Cycling on a recumbent bike is an even lower-impact sport. 

Since you’re leaning on a seat and don’t need to hold yourself upright, your back remains supported throughout the workout. Your buttock gets a lot of support, and you don’t need to move your legs a lot. 

You just have to maintain a controlled, limited range of motion. 

The best part about exercising on these bikes is that even though the workout itself isn’t super strenuous, it strengthens your knee joints, the muscles surrounding it, abs, and glutes. It also helps you increase your knee joints’ range of motion slowly. 

Here’s a breakdown of all the different features of a recumbent bike that make it a low-impact sport. 

Suggested: Can you get shin splints from cycling?

1. Seat and Pedal Position Keeps Your Weight Off Your Knees

person riding stationary recumbent bike outside

The first reason is the simplest, and it has everything to do with a recumbent bike’s design. 

When you’re on the bike, your legs are extended forward and slightly bent. This is a lot less strenuous than exercising with your legs at exactly 90 degrees on an upright bike because your weight is directed away from your knees and toward the bike. 

Other exercises like weight lifting, squats, and lunges put even more pressure on your knee. The extreme flexing of your knee joint can make your knee pain a lot worse than it is right now. 

2. The Large Seat Makes These Bikes More Stable 

The second reason a recumbent bike is so great for your knees is related to your balance. 

These bikes have large seats for you to sit on and back support for you to lean on. Together, these 2 structures make the bike super stable, and it’s almost impossible to lose your balance and fall over. 

It’s super important to be careful when you have bad knees because you can’t always hold yourself up when they start hurting. So this extra support makes the bike and, therefore, you more stable. 

3. Recumbent Bikes Exercise the Muscles Surrounding Your Knees

knee and muscles around it

Recumbent bikes are great for people with bad knees because they help reinforce the knee joint

These bikes work and strengthen your quadriceps and hamstring muscles. Since these muscles surround the knee joint, doing so provides them with extra stability and support. 

Once your knees are better supported, they will hurt less, and that will make your day-to-day life a lot more comfortable. 

4. Strengthens Your Abs and Glutes 

male and female abs

As mentioned before, recumbent cycling works your abdominal and glute muscles. What’s important to know is that they do so more than other kinds of cycling. 

Since your back is still, you engage your core and glutes when moving your legs. This has 2 impacts. 

First, it directs pressure away from your knees and prevents pain. Second, it forces you to make conscious movements. 

The abs and glutes are an essential part of your knee rehab, and recumbent cycling offers a great way of squeezing in a workout targeting them. 

5. Allows You to Exercise with Limited Knee Motion 

Another reason why recumbent bikes are good for people with bad knees is that they allow you to work out without pushing your knees too far. Injuries like strains, sprains, and fractures limit your knee’s range of motion.

So you aren’t able to do a lot of other exercises. Luckily, a recumbent bike lets you work out and exercise within a safe range of motion. You don’t have to push yourself to go beyond it before you’re comfortable doing so. 

Instead, it helps you increase that range slowly. Yes, that’s true! You can increase your range of motion without pushing yourself into doing super painful and uncomfortable exercises. 

6. Prevents Sciatica Flare-ups 

A lot of people with bad knees have sciatica issues. If that sounds like you, a recumbent stationary bike is your best friend!

doctor holding up sciatica sign

Sciatica pain gets triggered when there’s pressure on your lower back. The ergonomic design of recumbent bikes prevents that from happening and keeps your knees safe. This makes them a lot safer than upright bikes, which would make your pain so much worse.

The recumbent bikes decrease lower back pain by providing good support and also prevent sciatica flare-ups, further preventing pain in your knees. 

7. Speeds Up Recovery from a Knee Injury

If you’re doing physical therapy to recover from a knee injury, exercising on a recumbent bike will speed up that recovery. 

When you suffer from knee pain, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding your knee become weakened due to inactivity. You’re supposed to be resting your knee, but you end up resting many other healthy muscles that don’t need that rest. 

This extends your period of injury and can weaken the overall strength of your knee area. This can be particularly harmful to athletes like track runners. But it is somewhat harmful to everyone. 

Recumbent bikes maintain the strength of the muscles surrounding your injury to ensure you don’t become weaker. 

Suggested: Effect of cycling on body shape

Top 3 Recumbent Exercise Bikes for People with Knee Pain

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that recumbent bikes are great for people with bad knees. The logical next question in your mind is probably related to how you can exercise on one. 

The most cost-effective way to exercise on a recumbent bike is by going to a gym. Most facilities have at least one of these machines. You can use it there and then go back home. 

However, if you’re someone who has extremely bad knees and has to stay in bed or who just doesn’t like going to a gym, you can always buy a bike for your house. 

We have 3 suggestions for you. All 3 bikes have a 300-pound weight capacity and a seat cushion. Here’s a breakdown of each. 

Schwinn Fitness 270 Recumbent Bike

The Schwinn bike is easily the best overall bike in terms of value, functionality, and workout programs. It is a bit pricey, but its features make the machine worth every dollar. 


  • Quiet operation
  • 29 pre-set workout programs
  • 25 resistance levels 
  • Sleek design


  • Resistance levels malfunction sometimes. 
  • Not suited for super tall people (5’10+)


This recumbent bike has a couple of features that I like quite a bit. First, it has 29 different programs, so you can pick what kind of exercise you want. 

Second, there are 25 resistance levels. The higher the resistance, the harder you have to push down on the pedals to make them rotate. Having a lot of levels means that this bike is suitable for a wide range of users. 

People with knee sprains and chronic knee issues can use the bike by adjusting it to whatever resistance level is most suited to them. 

Note that some users have reported that their machine’s resistance settings can be a little wonky and not work sometimes. 

Third, the bike has many supplementary features that make it stand out among other recumbent bikes. You can connect it to Bluetooth and play music. Bluetooth helps you connect your recumbent or upright bike to apps like RideSocial which can track your workout’s progress. 

The padded seat is contoured and ventilated, which ensures that your buttocks and back are super comfortable. There is a media shelf with USB media charging, an MP3 input port, and in-console speakers. 

The bike also has an in-built adjustable fan. 

When put together, each feature in this bike has been carefully selected to ensure that you have the best user experience. The manufacturer wants you to be able to enjoy yourself and have a good time while exercising. 

Their design and supplementary features help them meet this goal!

Click here to buy.

Exerpeutic 1500xl Extended Capacity Recumbent Bike

The Exerpeutic extended capacity bike is the best for the elderly (older adults) since it is easy to use.


  • Easy to set-up 
  • Adjustable seats
  • Quiet operation


  • Poor customer care


The second bike on our list is the Exerpeutic 1500xl recumbent bike. Its best quality is its user-friendliness. 

The LCD monitors give you all the information you need to know to track your workout, while the machine tracks your heart rate and prompts you to keep pushing yourself. 

More than that, the bike is easy to set up, which is super important if you’re building it by yourself. It has wheels attached at the bottom, so you can move it around if necessary. 

You probably won’t run into any trouble setting up the machine. Unfortunately, if you need help, the company’s customer care service isn’t the best. Likely, they won’t be able to help you. 

Also, the bike has a noiseless operation which means it is super quiet when in use. You don’t have to worry about disturbing other people in your house while you’re working out on it. 

Lastly, this recumbent bike has a wide seat and a large back seat, ensuring that your body is supported throughout your exercise routine. You can adjust the seat according to your height which is useful for tall and short people. 

The handgrips give you extra support and help with balance. They also help you direct your weight and pressure towards your feet and away from your knees. 

Click here to buy.

Marcy ME-709 Recumbent Exercise Bike 

The Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike is the best exercise bike for anyone looking for a budget-friendly machine. 


  • More affordable than the other bikes 
  • Padded seat 


  • No Bluetooth connectivity 
  • No pre-set workout programs


Note that this is the cheapest option on our list. As such, it also has the least features. Even so, it has enough quality characteristics for us to consider it one of the best options in the market. 

For instance, the Marcy recumbent bike has 8 resistance levels. This can’t compare to the 25 resistance levels offered by the Schwinn machine. However, it isn’t completely horrible. The bike still has a decent amount of customizability in its resistance settings. 

Also, the bike doesn’t have any pre-set workout programs, so you’ll have to configure them yourself. 

It does have a fairly decent and comfortable seat. It’s padded, much like all the other higher-end options. So your back and buttocks will have a decent amount of support. 

Some of the bike’s main supplementary features are its LCD monitor, weight capacity, adjustable handlebars, and counterbalanced pedals. 

Click here to buy.

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A recumbent bike is great for anyone with bad knees because it provides your knee joints with a lot of support. It strengthens the muscles around them and helps you build up their range of motion. So you should definitely buy a bike for bad knees.

Moreover, you don’t even need to go to a gym to exercise with one of these machines – you can buy them! I’ve reviewed the 3 best exercise bikes and provided descriptions that will help you figure out which one is the best for you.