A recumbent bike offers a similar workout to a traditional bicycle, but is lower to the ground and has a seat with a back. This makes it a good choice for people with physical limitations that make regular cycling difficult. It is also a good form of exercise for anyone who wants to burn calories and build muscle. Taking proper safety precautions is important for maximizing your workout and preventing injuries.
As with an upright bike, wearing a helmet is important. Though the risk of falling off the bike might be lower, hitting your head if it happens could result in serious injuries. Generally, a fall from a recumbent bike results in scrapes and cuts, rather than broken bones or head injuries, though stopping yourself with your feet could cause a broken ankle. Wearing elbow, wrist and knee pads helps protect you from road rash and may lower your risk of a sprain, should you fall.
Failing to prepare your recumbent bike before a ride could result in malfunctions or problems that may cause an injury. Check your tire pressure before hitting the path with a pressure gauge. Ensure that the front tire release lever is in place to prevent losing a wheel as you ride. Oil your gears and chain regularly to ensure they work properly each time you take a ride on your recumbent bike. Add a rear-facing mirror to your bike so you can watch for cars and other bikers coming up from behind you. This allows you to stay clear of faster vehicles without having to take your eyes off the path in front of you.
Recumbent bikes sit lower to the ground than an upright bike, which means some drivers may have trouble seeing you, particularly if they are driving a vehicle that sits high off the ground. Stay in marked bike lanes or on park trails to prevent an accident. If you ride at night, apply reflective strips to your clothing and a light to your bike. This allows cars and other bikers to see you, which dramatically reduces the chance that you'll be hit. A high flag attached to the back of your recumbent bike is another good way to alert cars to your presence.
As with any type of bicycle, awareness is key when riding your recumbent bike. Stay aware of the traffic around you so you can stop or steer in a different direction if needed. Before changing lanes or turning, check your mirrors for cars or other bikes and use hand signals so others are aware of what direction you are heading. Keep your feet planted firmly on the recumbent bike's pedals to prevent a foot from being sucked behind you, which can cause injuries. Recumbent bikes often go faster than upright bikes, but watch the speed limit in your area and avoid going too fast, which increases the risk of injury if you fall or crash.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.