Marcy Recumbent ME-709 Review
Cons: Basic: limited features, large footprint, limited resistance range
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Marcy makes a range of home exercise equipment, from free weights and weight machines to cardio equipment like ellipticals and exercise bikes. The ME-709 caught our attention for its reasonable price and thousands of positive consumer reviews. We put this popular recumbent up against a diverse field of reasonably priced exercise bikes of all different styles to see how it compares to the competition.
The Marcy ME-709 has a relatively good exercise quality, although we found its resistance range to be somewhat limited. This recumbent is best suited to users who seek light to moderate intensity workout and who aren't as interested in very difficult levels of resistance, or features like pre-programmed workouts. The affordable model has a simple no-frills design, and that is reflected in its overall exercise quality.
The ME-709 has a comfortable seated position, and it is very easy to get in and out of thanks to its step-through design. It features eight levels of magnetic resistance that are adjusted using the knob on the main mast below the console. The resistance levels range from very easy to moderately difficult; this model does not have as much resistance range as some of the competition. That said, it will likely provide enough range for most users, although people seeking a super high-intensity workout would be better off looking elsewhere. Our primary tester found that this bike worked best for moderate-intensity exercise. During our high-intensity interval test, he was able to max out the resistance levels for an extended period without too much difficulty. This is an extreme example, as this tester is a bike racer and a masochist, but should be considered depending on your fitness level and exercise goals. It should also be noted that at lower RPMs, the resistance felt a little inconsistent at the highest levels, and it became smoother as RPMs increased.
The Marcy ME-709 has a simple console that displays workout information like time, distance, speed, and calories, but it does not have programmed workouts or any other fancy bells and whistles. It does have the ability to set a time, distance, or calorie goal for your workout, but that is the extent of it. Controlling your workout is entirely up to the user, and making adjustments to the resistance level involves reaching forward and turning the resistance knob.
The Marcy Recumbent has a relatively basic design and limited features, but we found it to be a comfortable exercise bike. Despite its simplicity, it has a wide range of height adjustability, a comfortable padded seat, backrest, and handlebar, and that's about all you really need.
The ME-709's recumbent style allows for a step-through design that makes it easy to get into and out of the seat. Two handles on the main mast at the front of the bike along with the large padded handlebar are also convenient for support when sitting down or standing up. The large cushioned seat is 2 inches thick and 16 inches wide, and we found it to be comfortable on test rides up to 1.5 hours in length. The cushioned backrest is large and provides ample back support, and the cushioned handlebar is positioned well to comfortably rest your arms while riding. The front and rear portions of the main frame are adjustable for length and fit for your proper pedal stroke. There are 7 indexed positions that are each two inches apart for a total of 12 inches of fore/aft adjustability. Marcy claims an inseam length range of 27" to 37". Our six-foot-tall tester with a 32-inch inseam had no fit issues with this bike and plenty of adjustment range to spare.
While the display and controls of the ME-709 are quite basic and far from the best we've tested, they are adequate, reasonably intuitive, and perfectly functional. The small battery-powered computer sits at the front of the machine and is easily viewed while riding and is within arms reach if/when you want to change the information on the display. Like all of the models we tested that have eight resistance settings, the resistance level is controlled by twisting a knob situated below the display.
The ME-709 Recumbent does not come with the 2 AA batteries required to power the display; they need to be installed before it will work. While the use of the display and controls isn't all that hard to figure out through trial and error, we recommend referring to the user manual the first time. The computer has an auto-start and stop feature, and it turns on when the pedals start turning and shuts itself off after 8 minutes once exercise has stopped. The 3" wide x 1.5" tall screen has large and easy to read numbers, but it is not backlit and can be challenging to read unless there are lights on in the room. When the computer turns on, it automatically defaults to scan where it cycles through and displays each of the five modes for 4 seconds. The modes shown are elapsed time, current speed, distance, calories burned, and odometer(total accumulated miles). There are three buttons below the LCD screen, set, mode, and reset, and the user can select any of the modes to be displayed on the screen by pressing the Mode button in the center. All of the modes, distance, time, and calories, can be reset to zero by pressing and holding the Reset button. Workout goals can also be set by choosing the correct mode, time, distance, or calories, and pressing the Set button until you reach your desired goal. The display then counts down from your goal to zero as you progress through your workout.
The resistance level is changed by turning the knob at the front of the machine that is located below the computer. Turn the knob clockwise to increase the resistance and counter-clockwise to decrease it. The resistance adjustment is simple and easy to use, but you do have to bend forward to reach it while pedaling. Reaching this knob may be difficult for some users, and could be annoying for those who change their resistance setting frequently.
The ME-709 is about as no-frills as an exercise bike could be. The design is functional and straightforward, but certainly lacks the bells and whistles of the more expensive competition. That said, those on a budget or who don't ask for much other than a decent workout may find it to have everything they need.
The few features the ME-709 does have are mentioned above in the comfort section, but we'll touch on them briefly again here. The step-through design makes it easy for users to get onto the machine. The large padded handlebar helps with getting in and out of the seat and is a nice place to rest your arms while in use. Two handles at the front of the machine may also be helpful for some users when standing up and sitting down. It can also be adjusted for length up to 13 inches with the threaded pin at the middle of the machine's frame. It also has wheels in the feet at the front of the machine to make it easy to roll across firm surfaces, although we found that they didn't roll all that well.
Ease of Setup/Portability
The ME-709 is a relatively straightforward and simple machine, yet it was about average in terms of its setup but lost a little ground in this metric for its large footprint and generally awkward shape.
The ME-709 comes in a relatively small box considering its large footprint once assembled. The smaller box is a bit easier to move around than some of the other competitors that are heavier and in a box twice as big. The Marcy comes completely disassembled, except for the magnetic resistance unit with the cranks attached, and all of the parts are neatly and efficiently packed in the shipping box. Our test model arrived in excellent condition with no damage from shipping, with all of the parts individually wrapped and well protected. Everything needed to assemble the bike comes in the box, including hardware, tools, and a user manual with detailed assembly instructions. Assembly time was similar to most of the other exercise bikes we tested, and it took a full hour to complete the process. Putting this bike together wasn't particularly difficult, it just takes a bit of time and patience with the included wrenches. Using a higher quality set of wrenches or a socket set could help expedite the process and relieve a little frustration.
Once we assembled our Marcy Recumbent, we weighed and measured it before moving it into our testing space. It tipped our scales at 54.2 lbs with measured dimensions of 58" long (at max extension) x 25" wide x 38.5" high. We also measured it with its length adjustment in the fully compressed position and reduced its overall length to 46 inches. While it does take up more floor space than an upright or folding model, the ME-709 is a fair amount smaller than many other recumbents, especially when in the fully compressed position. Thanks to the moderate weight and integrated transport wheels in the front stabilizer, moving it around on firm surfaces is also quite easy. We did notice, however, that the transport wheels don't roll especially well. Due to the awkward shape, carrying this bike any distance is best done with two people.
At its retail price, it would be hard not to call the ME-709 a good value. This machine is sturdy with a simple, no-frills design that gets the job done. It is light on features, but this machine has the basics covered and provides a comfortable and user-friendly exercise experience. Those seeking a high-intensity or gym-like workout should check out the more expensive competition.
If you're looking for an affordable recumbent exercise bike for light to moderate-intensity exercise, we feel the Marcy ME-709 is an excellent option to consider. This bike is comfortable and has a nice range of resistance levels for all but the hardest of workouts. It may lack the bells and whistles of the pricier competition, but it has everything you need to burn some calories and work on your cardiovascular fitness in the privacy of your own home.
Other Version and Accessories
Marcy makes a variety of home exercise equipment, including multiple styles of exercise bikes. They make several models of recumbent style bikes, including the ME-709 reviewed here. Additionally, they make upright, fan, trainer, and folding models. Marcy also makes treadmills, ellipticals, steppers, and rowing machines.
— Jeremy Benson