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I am not the biggest fan of cycling, but I do use the static bikes in the gym as I know it is good for the legs as well as a good cardiovascular workout. I have found the normal, upright bikes to be a bit uncomfortable to sit on after a while, and they can actually make my bum a bit sore, as the seats are rigid and odd shaped.
I was quite happy to discover what is known as the "recumbent" cycle, which I had always known as the sit back bike lol. This is basically a bike where you are sat almost level with the pedals, in a seat that has a back and is more like a normal chair, rather than a bike seat.
The ones we have at the gym are made by Life Fitness, who seem to be quite a big name in the world of gym and sports equipment. They make a lot of different cardio and weights machines, among many other items. This recumbent cycle is mostly a dark shade of gray, and the seat and handles are both black. The seat has a good amount of cushioning to keep you comfortable, but it still has enough rigidity to support your back and keep you in place whilst you are pedalling away.
There are handles down by the side of the seat, and also more handles on the panel in front of you, so you can hold on, should you wish, and these handles have thick rubber coverings on them, so you can have a good grip without any rubbing or pain from them. On the panel in front of you is all the controls you need to use the bike, and a small screen which displays different information that you may need to know. The screen will display calories burned, heart rate, distance and speed. There is a seperate, much smaller screen nearer the bottom of the panel that will show you how long you have been pedalling for.
The handles which are on the front panel have heart rate sensors in them, which work by you holding your hands on them. There is not any heart rate sensors in the other handles. The speed of your heart beat will be shown on the screen, and this will allow you to work out how hard you are working during your cycling. The pedals have foot straps on them, which can be tightened and loosened so your feet will be secure on the pedals the whole time you are on the bike. The seat is adjustable, and can be moved up and down by pulling on a small knob near the seat. This is really good for the really tall and short among us.
To start using the bike, you just start pedalling and then press quick start. This will start you on the basic, easy level and you can then adjust the workout by adding more resistance to the pedalling (similiar to changing the gears on a normal bike) or adding a hill level. The basic level is level 1, and I find it quite a struggle to go up past level 8. There is also preset functions on the bike, including Hill, which will change the hill level sporadically throughout the workout to keep you working at different levels. You select the time you wish to do this for, and then away you go.
The bike will ask you for your weight in KG to calculate your exact calories burned. You can input this using the small number pad on the panel. There are other selections on the panel for different workouts, including personal trainer, fat burn and cardio but I have not used this as of yet so I can not pass judgement on them. Should you stop pedalling for too long on this bike, it will automatically pause and if you are unable to start pedalling again in what the machine dictates to be a reasonable time, it will just clear the workout and you will have to start again. There is a pause button on the panel, but again this will only give you a minute or two to start pedalling again.
The other button on the panel is the cool down button. When you hit this, it will take your workout to a lower level than what you have been on already, and slowly decrease this level back to the starting level over the period of five minutes. This is to help you bring your heart back to normal levels, allows your muscles to relax and for you to breathe at a slower rate too. At the end of the workout, you will be shown how long you have been cycling for, how far you cycled and how many calories you burned. This is great for those who like to document their workouts, or just to see how well they have done on each workout.
I really like this bike, and at times I prefer it to a normal upright static bike, as it is more comfortable to sit on, has back support and seems a little easier on the joints to pedal with. I also like the fact that the heart rate sensors are really easy to reach and use, so this helps me to know just how hard my body is working when I am on the bike.
These same bikes are available to buy for home use, as well as in a gym, and you can get the exact same model for your home as they would supply for a gym. Sadly, this is not a cheap static bike, and the cheapest I have seen them brand new is £4,985 online. You can buy them second hand or ex-demo models, so it is worth having a look around for them. They do take up a bit of space, but nothing too major, so most people would have space for it in their homes. It does not fold away though, so would need to be set up some where that would be out of the way of every day life.
I find that this bike is really easy to use, and everyone should be able to work it. It is all laid out simply and labelled in a way that everyone can understand with no problems. It does come with full usage instructions too, and some of the sites I have seen it for sale on, have offered delivery and installation as part of the package, so this will save you the hassle of having to set it up for yourself.
You can buy these on many sites online, including from Life Fitness and the Fitness Superstore. If you can afford one of these bikes, and you have the room for it at home, these are great to use, especially if back problems stop you from using a normal static bike. This will support your back whilst you workout, which I think is a brilliant idea.
I love this bike and I give it a 5 out of 5 stars, totally recommended to everyone.
*This review is also on Ciao under the user name of Hailee*