Recumbent Bike Resistance – Levels and Types of Resistance

While purchasing an indoor exercise bike, the most common thing which sellers or any other guide emphasize to mention is resistance. But the most common question that comes in the buyer’s mind is what recumbent bike resistance is and why it is so important.

Recumbent Bike Resistance levels

So as like traditional bikes feature gears to set the speed to withstand the road types. The floor-bounded bikes also need something that could maintain the pace of riding, and that is resistance.

The resistance accommodates the client to personalize the intensity of the workout. These bikes imitate the appearance and some functions like paddling of standard bikes to give the rider a joy of outdoor exercising experience.

If your bikes do not support resistance, your riding would be like cruising through the city with some effort.

What is the resistance of a recumbent bike?

The resistance of a recumbent bike is determined by the type of resistance system it has. There are two main types of resistance systems on recumbent bikes: magnetic and air.

1. Magnetic resistance

Magnetic resistance is created by magnets that are located near the flywheel. The closer the magnets are to the flywheel, the more resistance there is. Magnetic resistance is smooth and quiet, making it a good option for people who want a low-impact workout.

2. Air resistance

Air resistance is created by fans that are located in front of the flywheel. The faster you pedal, the more resistance there is. Air resistance is more challenging than magnetic resistance, making it a good option for people who want a more intense workout.

Some recumbent bikes have both magnetic and air resistance. This allows you to choose the type of resistance that is right for you.

Why Bike Need Intensity Levels (Resistance)?

In simple words, resistance does the same function as the volume button. If you want to hear the sound with the high pitch, you will choose the high volume, and if with the low pitch, you would go with low volume.

Similar to volume, resistance permits the rider to set the intensity of the workout. It lets you set the intensity of exercise, whether you want a hardcore exercise or a moderate level of exercise.

Levels of Recumbent Bike Resistance

Usually, recumbent bikes offer 1 to 10 levels of resistance, but a standard gym bike would offer you 1 to 20 levels of resistance, making it easy for you whether you want a full professional training or just want to strengthen your muscles.

The three resistance levels of the recumbent bike which are mentioned below:

Read: Importance of Resistance Levels in Recumbent Bikes

1. Low Resistance Level

The low-level resistance is ideal for those who have just started an exercise and want to retain their physical health after an injury. In this level of resistance, pedals rotate all on their selves while acquires minimal effort of you.

It does not make any difference if you choose a high or low resistance level, just choose the one that suits your health level. This level of resistance can also be warm-up exercise and can be attained by switching to level 5.

2. Moderate Resistance Level

If you want yourself to struggle a little more with your pedaling to get the most effective workout, just slightly increase the intensity by leveling up the resistance. There are many benefits of working out within a moderate level of exercise.

Often you get the workout that makes you feel like climbing small hills when you turn your dial to 9 to 8 level.

As a result of this, the pedaling gets more resistance that ultimately makes you pedal harder. The moderate level of exercise, when integrated with interval training gives you the burst of effective exercise as it burns more calories over a short period of time.

Recumbent Bike Resistance

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3. High Resistance Level

The high resistance level often works when you switch the knob from 18 to 20 levels. This is the most efficient way to tone up your muscles in less time.

For those who are into professionalized training, this level of intensity, is a great choice for them.

This level increases the added amount of resistance that makes your pedaling extremely hard.

As a result, it demands more strength and energy to make pedals move that simultaneously twice the volume of burned calories.

Read: Recumbent Bike Resistance

Types of Recumbent Bike Resistance

Understanding the types of resistance and what impact they leave on your exercise efficiency is crucial to know. Basically, there are three types of resistance. All three resistance types are distinguishable based on their functions and benefits.

1. Direct Contact Braking System Resistance

This type of mechanism you would find in many road bikes in order to cut the motion off of the wheels for braking purposes.

How does the direct contact braking system work?

The direct contact braking system functions with the help of brake pads that are directly in contact with the flywheel and sometimes the friction bands are used rather than brake pads.

As you increase the intensity of resistance level, the brake pad adds more pressure to the flywheel. As a result, the flywheel decreases the induced momentum and rotating speed generated from the pedaling.

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Hence, in this way, it adds resistance to your pedaling. The explained resistance is effective and provides multiple levels to set according to your fitness needs.


This type of resistance can be squeaky as the result of two surfaces rubbed against each other.

2. Magnetic Braking System Resistance

It is said that magnetic resistance is more beneficial in both functionality and durability as it functions more efficiently and smoothly and acquires less maintenance over time. Today many recumbent bikes find this resistance more useful than other braking systems.

Read: Best Recumbent Exercise Bikes

How does the magnetic braking system work?

In order to add resistance in your pedaling, this type of resistance uses a magnetic force to add resistance. The flywheel gets resistance through two strong and powerful magnets.

As the user pedals, there is an attractive force between flywheel and magnets that generates resistance and makes pedaling harder.

Unlike the direct contact braking system, it does not squeak while you pedal as there is no direct contact between flywheel and magnets. It tends to provide more smooth and efficient resistance than others.

The bikes with magnetic resistance come with pre-marked resistance levels, so you don’t need to worry about setting the resistance.


The bikes that come equipped with magnetic resistance prove to be pricier.

3. Air Based Braking System Resistance

This is the sole resistance that does not use flywheel for adding resistance. Instead, it uses the resistance fan in replace of a flywheel. This is the least used resistance among the three.

How does the air-based resistance system work?

The pedals are attached to the large fan through belt and pulley. When you start pedaling the air generated by fan rotation adds force on the fan and makes it moves harder.

This resistance depends directly on how much fast you pedal. If you want to work out harder you need to pedal faster in order to get more resistance.


Noisiest one among the other.

FAQs Regarding Recumbent Bike Resistance

What resistance level should I use on a stationary bike?

The resistance level you should use on a stationary bike depends on your fitness goals and desired intensity. Start with a moderate level and adjust based on your comfort and ability to maintain your desired workout intensity.

How do I fix the resistance on my recumbent bike?

To fix the resistance on a recumbent bike, follow these steps:
1. Locate the resistance adjustment knob or lever on your recumbent bike.
2. Turn the knob clockwise to increase the resistance or counterclockwise to decrease it.
3. Test the resistance level by pedaling to ensure it feels appropriate for your workout intensity. Adjust as needed until you find the desired resistance level.

What resistance should you cycle at?

For “flat ground,” aim for a cadence of 80 to 100 RPMs. On “hills,” maintain a cadence of 60 to 80 RPMs. If struggling to maintain 60 RPMs, decrease the resistance.

What is one disadvantage to riding a recumbent bike?

One disadvantage of riding a recumbent bike is that it may not engage the core muscles as much as an upright bike. The reclined position of a recumbent bike provides more support for the back, which reduces the need to engage and stabilize the core muscles to the same extent as when riding an upright bike.

Why is Resistance Level During a Cycling Workout Important?

Understanding how to adjust resistance levels on your bike is crucial for a successful ride. Insufficient resistance can hinder progress, while excessive resistance may strain muscles and pose injury risks. Finding the right balance is key, ensuring you have control, stability, and proper positioning for an effective and safe workout.


The resistance is the core component in a recumbent exercise bike. Your entire exercise efficiency and bikes quality depend on the quality and type of resistance it has equipped.

Therefore, it should cover all the integral things that users anticipate when they plan to buy a recumbent bike. We hope you would find this article useful in eliminating all your problems and misunderstandings regarding resistance.

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