The Stationary Recumbent Exercise Bike: Gateway To Comfortable Cycling
Anyone who has been to a gym has seen them. The exercise bike has long been a fixture in fitness centers everywhere. They typically come in 2 flavors; upright and recumbent. Now you may not have heard them described that way. More than likely the recumbent exercise bikes are referred to as “the ones you can sit down on” or something like that. It’s interesting that in the context of the gym, no one questions the design of the stationary recumbent bike or why it even exists. However, I can’t tell you how many people are surprised to see me riding on the street on what is essentially a moving version of the stationary machine.
Oddly, the first question I’m usually asked by people on the street about my bike is “Is that comfortable?” A sure way to convince anyone that recumbent cycling is comfortable is to suggest they take a test ride on a stationary recumbent exercise bike. Comfort is the very reason these exercise bikes exist. Hey, maybe you’re in this camp of doubters too. If so, the next time you’re at the gym or in a store that has exercise bikes on the showroom floor, sit on a recumbent exercise bike and try it out. Any doubt about the comfort of the recumbent cycling position will soon be gone.
If you can see yourself pedaling a stationary bike in the recumbent position, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the streets, paths and trails from the same position. While it may seem counter-intuitive that anyone could actually balance on 2 wheels while sitting with legs stretched in front of them, it is actually no more difficult than balancing in the upright cycling position. If you can ride a standard bicycle, the adjustment needed to ride a recumbent bike will only take an hour or less to “get it” and maybe a week or two of daily cycling to feel confident enough to take to the streets. I’d recommend sticking to parks and paths until you master your maneuvering skills.
If you want to eliminate the balancing aspect altogether, try a recumbent trike. A trike is probably the closest thing to converting a stationary exercise bike for street use. Since you don’t have to balance a trike, you can just enjoy pedaling along. Turning corners on a trike is more car-like than bike-like, and carrying things is easier. You can load up a trike without having to worry about balancing the load when stopping, starting, or during directional changes.
So you see, the stationary recumbent exercise bike can really be a gateway to true recumbent cycling. I look at it as a bridge that connects one’s mind to something less familiar via something very common. The next time you find yourself at the gym, take a ride on “one of the ones you sit down on” and imagine pedaling through your favorite places with your head up, shoulders and arms relaxed, and a big grin on your face. What you imagine is not far from reality.