Recumbent VS Upright Bike -- which is better?

Oct 20, 2020

I get these questions all of the time:

Is a recumbent bike or upright bike better?  What's the difference?

The big difference that is very obvious is that in a recumbent you are sitting on a seat that is more like a chair.


But do the 2 bikes work the muscles in the same way?

When pushing down on pedals, you primarily use your butt muscle and front of thigh muscles during this most powerful phase of pedaling.

When lifting up on the pedals (can only be done if you are strapped to the pedal) you use your back of thigh (hamstrings) and front of hip flexor muscles.

I had a question about hip angle and the potential to use your gluteus maximus (biggest butt muscle that works to extend the hip joint)  at the same extent as when seated on a recumbent as you do on an upright bike.  And the answer is...yes, as far as angles go. 

Whether you can produce as much power when your legs are out front as you can when they are below you is another research project.

SO, YES, you use the same muscles.


The other big difference in the bike is their mechanical structure.  I have yet to fine a recumbent bike that is a "spinning" bike - meaning that there are no pre-set programs to it and you are in total control of the tension. 

So I prefer the upright bike because you can control the resistance and that makes it easier to pedal at the intensity you want.  

Also, on many recumbent bikes, I have found that the pedals are set just a little bit wider than on a typical bicycle and that bothered my knees.

BUT any bike is better than no bike!  As long as you can adjust the seat and have the ability to set the tension.

 To get the full lowdown on the bike comparison, please watch the video!






To your Healthy & Happy Knees!

~Coach Robin

Robin Robertson
Founder: Healthy Knees Coach
Author: Healthy Knees Cycling, Healthy Knees Strength, Healthy Knees Total Knee Replacement

Owner/Manager:  Bellingham Training & Tennis Club



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