Recumbent road bikes have been in existence since 1892, and they continue to be popular today due to the unique riding comfort they offer thanks to the laid back reclining position, along with the backrest, bucket seat, and front foot pedals. Recumbent bicycles are also fast, safe, and allow you to enjoy great views while riding.
This design allows your weight to be distributed effectively over a larger surface, which reduces the stress of your weight on body parts that are in constant contact with the bicycle. The best recumbent bicycles also make for a lower center of gravity, which makes them safer than normal bikes in the event of a crash.
To help you find the best recumbent bike that’s easy to use for young and old cyclists alike, we reviewed the most promising options available, and also came up with a detailed buying guide to help you make the right decision.
- 1 Why are recumbent road bikes so popular?
- 2 Our Favorite Recumbent Road Bikes
- 3 How To Find The Best Recumbent Road Bike
- 3.1 Type of Recumbent Road Bike
- 3.2 Sitting Height
- 3.3 Riding Ability
- 3.4 Bike Size
- 3.5 Tire Size
- 3.6 Gearing
- 3.7 Brakes
- 3.8 Design
- 3.9 Comfort
- 3.10 Bike Frame Material
- 3.11 Budget
- 3.12 Other Factors To Consider
- 4 FAQs
- 5 Conclusion
Why are recumbent road bikes so popular?
Like we mentioned above, recumbent road bikes are popular among cyclists for many reasons. Simply put, these bicycles are comfortable, fun, and simple to ride. For one thing, three wheel recumbent bikes require no balance, so all you need to do is pedal while enjoying nice views.
Perhaps the main reason why recumbent bikes are popular is because they allow riders to maintain a natural posture while riding, which prevents the neck and other body parts from getting sore while looking at the surroundings and riding for long hours on end.
Interestingly, recumbent bicycles can go faster than standard bikes due to their unique aerodynamics that make for superior riding speeds. In fact, the low sitting position allows the bicycle to ride faster while remaining in comfort, unlike when riding at higher elevations. And, due to proximity to the ground, there’s also less wind, which also helps make for higher speeds.
Another beauty of recumbent road bikes is that they are much safer to ride on, as compared to traditional bicycles, which can lead to fatal accidents if the rider is without the right protective gear. Due to the low riding position, falling from the bike simply means falling next to it. You won’t really land on your head or run over the handlebars, for instance.
Actually, you aren’t really all that likely to get into a crash in the first place, because the three wheel design and low seat offers more balance and shorter fall distances.
What makes riding recumbent street bikes fun is you get to enjoy nice views since you can see things you can’t easily see when you’re riding upright bicycles. Plus, you can also cover longer distances without making your neck tired and sore.
Relaxed Sitting Position
Sit down bikes are the best recumbent road bike for seniors, as well those with disabilities like limited leg mobility, and repetitive stress injuries on different body parts like the knees, back, or neck. These are the kinds of injuries that prevent people from riding a normal upright bike, but with a recumbent bike, cycling is still possible.
This is because the stress on your neck and arms are eliminated by the relaxed seating posture that recumbent road bikes are designed with.
Other Benefits of Recumbent Road Bikes
Aside from the ones we already listed above, here are other excellent advantages that recumbent road bikes offer:
- Immense help in the development of lean mass through running the cyclist’s long muscles in the buttocks, legs, and thighs
- Reconstruction therapy for seniors in order to improve sit to stand and step up movements by supporting users suffering from lack of strength or muscle damage
- Cycling alternative for cyclists with disease on the hips and knees by exerting lower physical pressure as compared to traditional bikes
- Effective yet sensitive method of achieving cardiovascular practice for individuals with spoil movement
- Less risk of long term damage or chronic injury on the neck, shoulders, and wrists due to increased riding comfort
If you want more information about recumbent bicycles, including their history and development, check out this Wikipedia article.
Our Favorite Recumbent Road Bikes
It can be quite confusing and overwhelming to look at recumbent road bikes and narrow down your options to a couple of bikes that will best suit your requirements. So, to help you with your buying decision, here are our recumbent road bicycle reviews. Read each review to get an idea of the benefits and features that each bike offers. Let’s begin!
Mobo Triton Pro Adult Tricycle
The best recumbent bicycle for touring is the Mobo Triton Pro Adult Tricycle, which is a great option for fitness rides and leisurely beach trips. This unique bike offers a superb experience for men and women alike. It’s also ideal for riders who have difficulty riding a typical bike.
Its ergonomic design makes this bike really comfortable for long rides, and the cushioned back support also helps enhance your riding comfort. Plus, the bike also features a durable steel frame construction that ensures your ride will last for several years. It’s even adjustable, so the bike can accommodate riders of different heights and still enjoy a custom fit.
All of these things, plus the maintenance-free chainless design that allows for easy bicycle maintenance, makes for an awesome ride that can be used for exercise, leisure trips, walking your pet, or running errands.
- Easy riding with comfortable seat
- Exceptional rear wheel steering
- High quality ergonomic design
- Durable and adjustable steel frame
- Custom fit for small and large riders
- Offers a great cardiovascular workout
Mobo Triton Pedal Go Kart Trike- Kids
If you’re looking for a 3 wheel recumbent bike for kids, we highly recommend the Mobo Triton Pedal Go Kart Trike, a youth cruiser tricycle that’s perfect for riding on sloping terrains and flat paved surfaces alike. It’s the best way to let your little one enjoy the outdoors thanks to its assortment of unique features.
This bicycle is designed for small and large kids and has a 200lb maximum weight capacity. Its low seating position offers maximum stability and doesn’t necessitate lots of balancing acts that may be difficult for kids.
Moreover, it also features unique rear wheel steering to boost hand-eye coordination, and the dual joystick steering makes for smooth maneuverability even with little hand movements. This design also increases leg and arm muscle strength to keep young riders fit and active while enjoying a fun low impact cardiovascular exercise.
- Durable and adjustable frame
- Innovative steering design
- Ergonomic construction with comfortable seat
- Easy to maintain chainless system
- Ideal for young riders
Mobo Shift 3-Wheel Recumbent Bicycle Trike
We also really like the Mobo Shift 3-Wheel Recumbent Bicycle Trike, which boasts of a unique reversible design in the form of a reverse gearing function that lets you pedal forward or backward. This makes the bike highly versatile and suitable for various applications.
Another feature that adds to this bike’s versatility and makes it more notable is the adjustable frame, which is a common feature of many other Mobo recumbent road bikes. This makes the bike suitable for riders 4 feet to 6 feet 3 inches in height. It even has an impressive maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds, too.
It’s also perhaps one of the best 3 wheel bikes for seniors thanks to its low impact design with a comfortable seat and backrest that makes it easy to ride, since pedaling the bike doesn’t really require significant strength.
- Adjustable high-tensile steel frame
- Reversible gear design
- Easy to maintain chainless system
- Reliable braking system
Top End Force-3 Stock Handcycle
You should also check out the Top End Force-3 Stock Handcycle, which is a compelling choice for a sit down bike for adults due to all its amazing features, including the wrap-around frame design that makes for a seamless look, especially coupled with the head-turning matte black finish. This design alone makes this bike completely worth the expensive price tag.
It’s also a highly versatile bike that can do exceptionally well under various riding conditions, thereby allowing you to ride with confidence. You also get to play with 30 different speed gearings, along with premium shifting components that let you change speeds in a snap.
More than that, you’ll also be impressed with the cable-driven parking brakes that completely and effectively put the bike into a stop once engaged. Not to mention, the well-cushioned seat does a great job in impact absorption, and the large backrest offers tremendous support.
- Versatile and stylish design
- Durable, high-quality components
- Easy and effective braking system
- Best-in-class back support
Mobo Mobito Kids 3-Wheel Bike
Last but not the least is the Mobo Mobito Kids 3-Wheel Bike, an interesting choice for kids, as well as petite adults. It’s an affordable option that features technical specs to accommodate riders upto 4’8” in height and with a 180lb maximum weight.
This one is probably the best value-for-money 3 wheel sit down bike you will find on the market today. Its cheap price doesn’t compromise quality in any way. As a matter of fact, this bike is made with a high-tensile strength steel frame, which is a long-lasting material.
Another great thing about this is the chainless design that requires much less care and maintenance efforts, which is highly beneficial for those with limited mobility, or hyperactive kids who can’t be bothered to clean up after themselves. The three wheel style also eliminates any need for balancing, and the low seat makes it easy for riders to reach the pedals.
- Adjustable back support
- Comfortable reclining seat
- Reliable hand caliper brakes
- Easy to maintain chainless system
How To Find The Best Recumbent Road Bike
Finding and selecting the right outdoor recumbent bike can be difficult for first time riders. Even after you go through the models we recommended above, you still have to understand and take into account several deciding factors when buying a recumbent road bicycle. To help you out, here’s a handy buying guide that you can use:
Type of Recumbent Road Bike
There are actually many different recumbent bikes that come with unique sets of features, although only a few of them are easily available on the market. Below is a description of the most notable types of recumbent bikes:
Mountain Bike Recumbent
Just like road bikes are different from mountain bikes, mountain bike recumbents are also different from recumbent road bikes, in such a way that mountain bikes are more suitable for downhill riding and climbing steep mountains, whereas road bikes are for flat pavement.
Many recumbent road bicycles are designed as low racers, which means they have a somewhat high backside while the front side has a bit of downhill. This type of recumbent bike is better for seniors and riders with disabilities.
On the contrary, recumbent bikes can also feature high racer designs, which involves the use of 28 inch wheels, along with higher quality rotation power. Unlike the low racer, a high racer bike has a higher front side, also called top athlete. Because of that, this type of recumbent bike can double as an upright bicycle.
There are also unique semi-recumbent bikes that are designed with a heat and torso at a 45 degree angle. This type of bike is primarily intended for pneumonia patients since it can help the patients as some form of ventilator associate.
Crank Forward Bike
Finally, you will also find some crank forward bicycles, in which case the forward crank and bottom brackets are what comes with the crank ahead. This design makes the bike seat more comfortable than other types of recumbent bikes.
Another important consideration is the sitting height. This influences your stability, riding safety, ergonomics, seating comfort, entry and exit, as well as good visibility. That said, there’s no “right” choice- it all depends on your preference.
Generally speaking, higher seating positions allow you to enjoy greater visibility (and let other riders see you on the road as well), and makes getting in and out of the bike easier, especially for those with knee or back problems. On the other hand, lower seats are more stable, comfortable, safer, and in some ways, easier.
It’s common knowledge that recumbent street bikes are a great solution for cyclists who have somewhat limited riding ability or are dealing with issues that can negatively affect the way they ride. That said, with all the many different types and designs of recumbent bikes, you still need to identify and assess your riding ability.
This includes understanding what type of riding you typically engage in, what your priorities are when it comes to riding efficiency and comfort, whether you are facing any physical challenges, and so on.
This is an important factor not just for recumbent bikes, but for all other types of bicycles. That said, space and stability are particularly special conditions when it comes to recumbent bicycles, especially in terms of exercise impact and comfort. Meaning, the seat space must be free so you have room to move your feet and hands.
What you need to remember here is that finding the right size is a must so you can enjoy a stable bike that perfectly fits your body size, since going too small or too big will pose certain effects on the way you ride.
The tire size also matters, and this can vary based on what type of recumbent bike you are looking at. To give you an idea, most recumbent road bikes come with a 16 or 20 inch front wheel and a 700c 20 inch rear wheel.
Now, if you want an easy to carry and store bike that’s foldable, you can opt for a smaller wheel, but keep in mind that smaller tires don’t handle bumps as well, so the ride won’t be as smooth.
The type of riding, terrain, riding surface, incline, speed, and the weight you’re carrying all factor in determining the gearing of a bicycle. In any case, more gears don’t necessarily make for a better bike, especially for recumbent road bicycles that are intended for relaxed and slow riding. This means that all you need are low and high ranges that you will often use.
One of the many amazing things about recumbent road bicycles is that they can easily hit speeds of 50 miles per hour. But, what this means is, you need effective brakes that won’t lose hydraulic fluid or overheat. As such, you need to look for reliable stopping power in the form of hydraulic brakes or cable operated brakes that are better for cold weathers.
Aside from the availability of different types, recumbent bikes also come in various designs that are intended for different purposes and riding conditions. These include the following:
- Long wheelbase are recruitment bikes that are ideal for riders who want to ride at low speeds, making them the best recumbent bicycle for touring and long distance riding.
- Short wheelbase recumbent bikes feature a more compact design that make them ideal for commuting and city riding. These are what you call recumbent street bikes.
- Compact long wheelbase are the best options for beginner riders since they allow for an easy learning curve and make for a comfortable ride. This recumbent bike design features a higher seating position that maximizes road visibility while also ensuring better stability as compared to the first two designs.
In essence, recumbent road bikes are more comfortable to ride than your traditional road bike. Still, not all recumbent bikes are equal, and certain factors make for better comfort, so you need to look out for these things.
The most instrumental comfort aspect of a bicycle is the seat design. Its shape should be ergonomic, and ideally offer several adjustment options to allow for customization so you can better find the right level of comfort you want. Thick cushions and padding also help in absorbing vibration and impact, especially over rough terrains.
Another bike part that is in constant contact with your body during a ride is the handlebar, so it’s just as important that you find comfortable ones with ergonomic grips to make the handlebar easy to hold in such a way that you can easily wrap your hands around the bars for a firm grip.
Cushioning and adjustability are also beneficial in finding the right comfort level. Of course, one option is to buy a bike with factory handlebars then outfit them with the best MTB bike grips.
Bike Frame Material
In terms of durability and longevity, the most important thing is the material and construction of the bicycle frame. With outdoor recumbent bikes, they are typically made with steel, aluminum, or carbon, much like traditional bikes.
Out of all the three, steel is perhaps one of the strongest and most durable, and this makes for a comfortable ride. Steel is also insanely affordable, but the major issue with it is its weight. Meanwhile, aluminum is a more lightweight option, but it’s also slightly more expensive. That said, aluminum is a durable material that will last for many years.
The strongest and most lightweight frame material, however, is carbon. However, it’s also the most expensive, and it’s not as commonly used on recumbent road bicycles.
As with any major purchase, your buying decision is also dependent on how much money you’re willing to spend on your purchase. Keep in mind that recumbent road bikes are typically more expensive than standard bikes since they aren’t as widely available, and most of them are custom made for specific riders.
Even so, you can afford a good quality beginner’s recumbent bicycle for around 800 dollars.
Of course, if you want to go for typical upright bikes, there are lots of options. Hybrid bikes, for instance, are pretty versatile, and you can find various selections of hybrid bikes under $500, or even $300 hybrid bikes. You will also find plenty of amazing mountain bikes under $300. In fact, even some of the best fat tire bikes are somewhat affordable.
Other Factors To Consider
The journey doesn’t end with buying a recumbent bike- there’s a lot that goes on afterwards. For instance, if you want to ride on faraway trails or go on trips, you need a way to transport your bike, which means investing on SUV bike racks or truck bed bike racks.
Maintenance is also a necessary thing. There are some recumbent bikes with standard chain designs, which are a little harder to maintain, and having to replace the bicycle chains every so often is an added expense. So, you might want to opt for a chainless system.
How can I ride a recumbent road bike?
It may feel awkward and confusing to ride a recumbent road bike at first, especially if you’re used to riding upright bikes. But, it’s actually easy to ride a 3-wheel bike.
- Find a large paved space or empty parking lot to practice. Position your ride, sit on the seat, and grab the brake handles to prevent the bike from rolling backwards.
- Position your foot in the one o’clock position, then push on the pedal. Feel your balance. You can also start by placing both feet on the ground or walk the bicycle back and forth.
- If possible, find a buddy who has experience in riding a recumbent bike so he can accompany you and help you find your balance, comfort, and handling.
What is the best thing about recumbent road bikes?
Perhaps the best thing about recumbent road bicycles is that they can go up to 30% faster as compared to standard bikes. That means reaching 80mph speeds on flat surfaces.
Is a recumbent road bike suitable for seniors?
Recumbent road bikes are called as such because they allow the rider to be seated in a recumbent position, which is more comfortable than sitting upright, and still allows for a great cardio workout.
Is it safe to ride a three wheel recumbent bike?
There are many reasons why we recommend 3 wheel bikes for seniors. One of these is that they are very safe to ride. Balancing and falling over aren’t really issues you’ll face with a three wheel recumbent bike.
At the end of the day, the best recumbent road bike is one that keeps you fit and helps you reach your fitness goals. You will find lots of amazing recumbent bike brands that offer promising models, so you just need to choose one that perfectly fits your needs.