What is the best Recumbent Exercise Bike for under $500? Recumbent Bike Review

It happens once in a great while that I buy a product which exceeds my expectations by so much that it feels like I stole it. This is one of those rare finds that proves what you pay for isn’t necessarily what you get. With the Stamina R360s, you get far more than you expected – and then some.

What is a Recumbent Exercise Bike?

Unlike traditional exercise bikes, recumbent bikes have a comfortable, adjustable reclining, full seat. My wife and I decided it would be useful to have an exercise bike for those days when the weather is too hot or too cold. Also, bikes are a great way to get aerobic exercise without putting stress on the knees, backs, hips, shins and other parts of the body that tend to give us problems as we get into our 30’s, 40’s and beyond. I’ve been a regular member of an exercise gym for the last several years, and have learned to know what I like in exercise equipment. I expected to pay $300 or more to get a low-end recumbent that would provide reasonable quality and features. From past experience, I prefer the comfortable seats of the recumbent bike over the traditional, upright bikes. For $300, I hoped the bike would come with some of the basic features that I use: Heart Rate monitoring, magnetic resistance and gauge for measuring speed, time and distance. I found exactly what I want, with one exception: The Stamina R360s does not cost $300 or more. It doesn’t cost $200 or more. It costs $108.67 at Walmart! You might ask, “Why would you pay $108.67 for a bike when your budget was for $300” The simple answer is that after reading numbers upon numbers of user reviews, all of them have a fair amount of negative feedback – even recumbent bikes costing $500 or more. So, recognizing that no bike under $500 is going to be perfect, why not save some money and buy the one that is the least expensive? The Stamina R360s had a large number of online opinions, and most of them were very favorable. Also, the Stamina R360s includes the most essential features required in a recumbent bike.

Stamina R360S Features

So, what exactly do you get for $108.67? A darn good recumbent exercise bike, built on a solid, thick, metal frame with comfortable, gray-colored seat and back support. There are lower handles at the back, with pulse sensors and touch controls for increasing or decreasing the resistance. In the front of the bike is an LCD screen with large, easy-to-read black numbers which indicate, time, speed, distance, calories burned, and pulse rate. Exercise data will scan and revolve from one to the next, as you continue your work out. Or you can lock-into one particular set of data by pressing the mode button while that feature is displayed. For example, if I want to view my pulse for a fixed amount of time, I press the Mode button while my pulse is displayed, and it becomes permanent until I press the mode button a second time. The pulse is measured by the sensors which are comfortably located on the handle-bars in the rear. If that isn’t convenient enough, these rear handle bars also have thumb-push buttons on the ends of them for controlling the resistance of your workout. The Stamina R360s uses magnetic resistance which is a technology you’d expect to find only on more expensive bikes. The left thumb-button makes the bike easier to peddle and the right thumb-button makes it more difficult. The manual was clear and well done, and assembly was a breeze. I am by no means a mechanical person and it required no more than an hour to have it fully assembled.

Stamina R360S Operation and Performance

While you’re thinking this bike seems very well equipped for the price, you are probably wondering if the actual operation and performance live up to the hype. Yes, they do – at least in the short-run. For starters, the operation of the R360s is extremely quiet – quieter than many of the bikes I’ve used at the gym. Though it is no where near as heavy as a commercial-grade exercise bike, it feels solid and doesn’t move when I am riding it, even at a high speed. At 170lbs, I feel very confident and stable using it, and have no doubt that it would handle at least another 50lbs. The bike will accommodate a large range of different sized children and adults through an adjustable knob on the base. One very minor annoyance is that there is no provision for adjusting the seating distance while you are riding. In fact, making adjustments, even when you’re off of the bike, proved to be a slightly difficult task. This is not much of a problem for me, because my wife and I are both comfortable using the same seating adjustment. I could see how this might be a bit of a drawback for several different-sized family members who want to share the bike. The touch buttons for operating the magnetic resistance are very easy to use and work quite well. I am also completely satisfied with the range of resistance, which makes it very easy to peddle at the very lightest setting and more than difficult enough to really tax your legs at it’s very highest. The pulse reading is extremely accurate. To verify this, I worked out using my Timex, TG971 Heart Rate monitor to compare. The two readings were identical. Also, the LCD screen is very easy to operate and includes very large numbers which are viewable from anywhere the bike seating is adjusted. Also, the LCD display has a small pocket for holding your MP3 player. The cushions on the seat and back support are adequate, but a little bit thin. Not a problem, because you can always buffer it with a pillow or extra cushion of your own. When I say quiet, I mean whisper quiet. You really can watch television while working out, without even adjusting your volume beyond your normal listening level.

Stamina R360S Conclusion

The only possible drawback I can see with this a bike at this price is the fear of the unknown. That is, wondering whether or not it will hold up and last over time and extended use. I was paying $39.95 a month for my health gym membership. The R360s includes a 90 day parts warranty and 1 year for the frame. That should at least cover 3 months of gym membership fees. Personally, I cannot see much going wrong with the frame. My concern would be with the moving parts, the electronics and magnetic resistance. Meanwhile, I hope to be getting many good aerobic workouts with this machine. I will report back in three to six months on how good the $108.67 investment is holding up in value.Stamina bike models have changed since this review.


4 thoughts on “What is the best Recumbent Exercise Bike for under $500? Recumbent Bike Review

  1. Yea, well, who is the moron who designed the battery faceplate so that you have to disassemble the meter from the bike frame just to replace the batteries?????

  2. Anyone have an online manual or PDF for the R360S? I just purchased a used one for 60.00 it will do the trick.. like new condition. But cant seem to locate the manual.. the website does not have anything for this model.. I assume it is discontinued.

    • I found the manual recently. It didn’t help me because it does not show the wiring which I need in order to get a few wires connected. If you have one and could take some pics of the wiring for me that would be great.

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