When you suffer from bad knees, it can be difficult to find an exercise you can enjoy. The last thing you want is to feel like you’re making things worse. However, there are plenty of knee strengthening exercises you can do to help develop the muscles around the joint, which will help prevent injury by reducing stress on the knee.
First off, stationary bikes are an excellent option if you want to work out from home, as they provide several mental and physical health benefits. The best exercise bikes for bad knees are those that allow you to adjust the settings to fit your body perfectly; you’re looking for a model that offers flexibility.
We take a look at some of the top bikes available on the market for those suffering from bad knees.
Best Exercise Bike for Bad Knees: Our Top 4 Picks
Best Overall: Sole Fitness R92 Recumbent Bike
Runner Up: EXERPEUTIC 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike
Best for Arthritis and Bad Knees: SCHWINN 270 Recumbent Bike
Best For Your Budget: EXERPEUTIC 900XL Extended Capacity Recumbent Bike
1. SOLE FITNESS R92 RECUMBENT BIKE
While expensive, the Sole Fitness R92 is worth the price if it fits into your budget. Besides, one of the things that launched this bike into the top spot was the warranty, offering a lifetime warranty for the frame, three years for parts and one year for labor.
The design features slightly sloped inward pedals, providing you with the utmost comfort level, and the ample and cushioned adjustable seat offers buttock and back support, while the built-in sound system will allow you to listen to your music while you work out. Some of the other standout features are a water bottle holder, integrated fan, and heart rate monitor.
You can adjust both the handlebars and seat, which means it can cater to lots of different uses. It’s an excellent choice for users who experience back or knee pain since it has been designed to provide a high level of comfort, as the seat and pedals can be adjusted for a perfect posture.
This bike operates on a magnetic tension resistance, which makes it a seamless and quiet riding experience. It also has two custom and six standard programs available for use, so if you’re in the market for an extended warranty and specialized comfort, this is the bike for you.
If you’re looking for a bike that has countless workout programs, all the bells and whistles, and unbeatable comfort, this is the bike for you if it fits your budget. The machine, while heavy, isn’t too large, so you can squeeze it into your home if you are somewhat limited for space. The unique padding keeps you in style and comfort, and it is built to last for years to come.
2. EXERPEUTIC 400XL FOLDING RECUMBENT BIKE
This compact and lightweight bike weighs only 39 pounds, so it’s easy to move around and store if you have restricted space for your workouts. Despite its small stature, it has a high weight capacity, and it also features eight tension setting levels.
The large display screen gives you a wide range of data so you can track your fitness goals, including your speed, calories burnt, time, distance, and heart rate. The one downside of the display screen is the placement, as it’s a bit low on the bike, so it can be hard to see it sometimes when cycling.
It’s easy to assemble, the adjustable seats are well cushioned, and it’s foldable, meaning it’s super easy to move around and store. The magnetic resistance makes it very quiet, and it’s a great budget option, though some users found the cushion a bit uncomfortable.
While this bike may have some flaws, it still ranks as the best foldable bike on today’s market. It has a good price point, and according to user feedback, it offers good value and portability, so the Exerpeutic folding recumbent bike is definitely worth a try. This stationary bike is also an excellent option for everyone that lives in a small apartment or house and is looking for a machine that provides a good quality and low impact workout in the comfort of their own home.
BEST FOR ARTHRITIS AND BAD KNEES
3. SCHWINN 270 RECUMBENT BIKE
The Schwinn 270 recumbent bike may just be the best exercise machine for knee pain, with its 29 programs, 25 resistance levels, and extra gadgets, along with the cushioned seat, enhanced lower back support, and ergonomic pedals. The screen tracks your calories burnt, distance, and time, with the added feature of a USB port so that you can transfer your data onto your computer.
The bike comes with wheels at the bottom, making it simple to move and store if you need some extra space, and assembling it is surprisingly simple. The magnetic tension ensures you will have a quiet ride, so you can concentrate on other things (such as the music coming out of the speakers) without losing focus.
One of the only downsides is the adjustment of the seat can be a bit complicated, as the seat slides downwards while also moving forwards, therefore simultaneously decreasing the distance and height from the pedals. However, you can adjust the settings for most body types and fitness levels, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a low impact workout to rehabilitate and diminish knee pain.
All in all, this is a fantastic choice for anyone with a mid-level budget, with its impressive number of programs and the built-in amenities that will cater to users with arthritis and knee pain who want to ride in comfort.
This bike comes at a mid-price point, making it a great value when you think of all the features as well as its bells and whistles. The built-in fan will help keep you cool, you can sync your fitness data to your computer or apps to stay motivated, and the utmost customization makes it a fantastic choice if you have bad knees.
BEST FOR YOUR BUDGET
4. EXERPEUTIC 900XL EXTENDED CAPACITY RECUMBENT BIKE
Even though its a lower end model, the bike has a sleek design with a black, silver, and grey color scheme, matching almost all home decor settings. Surprisingly, considering its low price point, it has a significant number of built-in features, including an LCD screen that displays distance, calories burnt, speed, time, and heart rate, an eight-level magnetic tension control system, and an adjustable seat that can be accommodated to comfortably seat people of all heights.
The one downside that we can see is that the seat is somewhat firm, which can lead to some discomfort if you also suffer from lower back pain. Assembling it can also be somewhat complicated, so we do recommend some patience or hiring some professional assistance when it comes to assembly.
The reasonably compact size has an impressive 300 lbs maximum weight limit, and it’s relatively small, so it can easily fit most spaces. Its magnetic tension means you get a quiet workout, and while you may not get all the extensive amenities and features from more high-end bikes, you can’t really beat the price.
This bike is a sturdy bike made for people with a tight budget. There are not as many bells and whistles as with some of the other bikes, but it does have a heart rate monitor in the hand grips, so you can adjust your workout to your fitness level. However, what it lacks in features, it makes up for in a user-friendly and durable design, making it easy to get on and off the bike.
Do I Need an Exercise Bike?
The knees are one of the most injury-prone joints in your body, and the injuries commonly involve the major ligaments in the knee, including the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), the medial cruciate ligament (MCL), and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
Depending on the nature of the injury, one of these joints will be affected. For example, your ACL will be damaged when you land badly after a jump or change directions abruptly. A blow to the front of your knees will affect your PCL, and a blow to the outside of your knee will likely injure your MCL.
If you’ve had a knee injury, you’re recovering from knee surgery, or have chronic knee pain; studies show that aerobic exercise can help strengthen your knee joints and aid in your recovery.
Exercise bikes are easy to use and offer a low-impact cardio activity, so you can have a great cardio workout in your own home. There’s no need to travel to the gym; you can just jump on your bike and get your heart rate pumping while putting less stress on your knee joints. Furthermore, depending on the model or brand, it can be much more comfortable over long periods of time to be sitting down, compared to other cardio equipment.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends rehabilitating any knee injuries using bicycles, as the use of your legs will mean your knees will regain mobility and strength, as well as restored stability and flexibility.
Physical Benefits of Stationary Bikes
Exercising on a stationary bike has a lot of physical as well as mental benefits. When you exercise daily, you sleep more soundly, enhance your cardiovascular health, strengthen your heart and lungs, accelerate fat-burning and feel and look better.
Some other physical benefits include:
- Stationary bikes are easy on the joints: Sitting on an exercise bike means you will be resting your weight on your pelvic bones, instead of on your legs. Therefore, it’s an excellent option for anyone that suffers from stiffness or joint pain.
- You get an aerobic workout by pushing pedals: Aerobic exercises are great for your brain, and heart. They also trigger endorphin release, which are your body’s feel-good chemicals.
- Cycling helps with everyday activities: The physical benefits from a stationary bike carry over to stair climbing, endurance, standing, walking, and balance.
- Pedaling rebuilds bone mass: Pushing pedals, which is a resistance activity, will pull on the muscles which then pull on the bone, increasing bone density.
Types of Exercise Bikes for Bad Knees
There are currently two types of in-home use stationary bikes that anyone with knee issues can use comfortably and safely as they allow for a low-impact exercise: upright bikes and recumbent bikes. The two, while similar, also differ in some ways.
Upright Exercise Bikes resemble a regular bike, as they are upright with the pedals positioned below the hips, same as an outdoor bike. The seat on this style of bike is also similar to a regular bicycle.
Recumbent Exercise Bikes have a plusher and broader seat, which rests in a semi-reclined position, as the bike has been manufactured to also provide back support when pedaling. The pedals are also located in a different location, as they are not located below the seat, but in front of it.
A lot of users have posed themselves the question ‘Are recumbent bikes hard on knees?’, and luckily that’s not true. While the jury is still out on which bike is best for knee pain, some users feel that recumbent exercise bikes are the best choice, as the ergonomic design allows the users to exercise in a laid-back position, which can be more comfortable. That’s why all the bikes mentioned in this review are recumbent bikes.
Correct Seat Position in Recumbent Bike for Knee Pain
The best posture to have in a recumbent stationary bike is a semi-reclined position, as this will assist in redistributing your body weight while your back is also supported as you push the pedals. A study showed that the stress on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is lessened while riding a recumbent bike.
Unlike an upright exercise bike where you adjust the seat up or down, you change the seat backward or forwards in recumbent bikes. To have the best posture, relax against the back of the seat, and begin at a mid-position, as being too reclined or too straight can cause pain or discomfort. Not having proper posture can also put additional stress on your knees, resulting in an increase of knee pain.
Your leg should only have a minimal bend while riding a recumbent bike, so your legs should be completely straight to start with, and then you can adjust the seat, so your knees don’t lock while you push the pedals. Your legs shouldn’t bend too much when pedaling, as this means added pressure on your knees.
Avoiding Knee Strain
When you are just starting out, you may feel a bit of pain in your knees after riding an exercise bike, as your legs are always extended forward. To avoid any soreness, don’t lean too far back in your seat, as this will put all the stress on your legs.
Choosing the Best Recumbent Bike For You
Before taking the plunge and purchasing a recumbent bike for bad knees, you need to be well informed. First and foremost, you need to determine your needs and goals. Identify all current aspects of your situation such as your desired comfort level, the available space in your house, your budget, as well as your current and desired fitness levels.
Some other things to take into consideration include:
There are two factors that come into play when you talk about bike size: the available space in your home and the height of the people that will use it. Bear in mind that recumbent bikes are bulkier than a spin bike or an upright bike, so you will need a larger area. Furthermore, you need to make sure that the bike has an adjustable seat, so you will be able to comfortably reach the handlebars and pedals.
There are stationary bikes at very different price points, some starting as low as $100 and as high as $5,000. You can expect more quality when you spend more, but if you’re on a budget, there are still some low-end models which, while designed with fewer features, will still work just as well as a higher-end model.
Depending on the brand, the noise level of recumbent bikes can vary. Manual resistance bikes tend to be noisier than the quieter, magnetic resistant bikes.
Most recumbent bikes have an adjustable seat so that you can adjust it to your desired preferences and comfort level. Nonetheless, the seat can sometimes be too high for shorter adults, so make sure that you review the designated height range, ensuring that the bike fits your needs.
Most modern exercise bikes come with pedals that have a strap which holds your foot in place. For users with knee pain or knee problems, look for a bike with slightly inward sloped pedals, which mimics your body’s natural posture, and helps to loosen any soreness or tightness in your muscles.
Heart Rate Monitoring
Most exercise bikes have the ability to monitor your heart rate, which is essential as you can pace your exercise routine to your current fitness level. When you track your heart rate, you’re able to maintain a steady speed, so you can work out for longer without exhausting yourself, and you can also track your progress.
You want to be sure that the exercise bike you end up buying has a good manufacturers warranty. In the event that the item is defective or breaks down suddenly, that extra warranty is vital. Depending on the cost and quality, the warranty will vary, but you should look for a bike that offers at least a 1-year warranty.