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  1. #1
    Forum Member kathryn's Avatar
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    Indoor Exercise Bike Recs?

    Hi all,

    My COVID weight-gain from low activity and stress eating has exceeded my tolerance level. I was really hoping that summer would bring a local situation that made me feel comfortable going back to the Y, but even though MN seems to be doing well relative to places like AZ, I am just not ready. Actually, the recent data about aerosol/droplet spread of COVID makes me even less inclined than I was a month ago.

    My favorite gym exercise equipment was the bikes. I am not a good enough biker to want to brave the city streets for exercise, even with lower traffic volumes, and anyway, my bike is crap. I am wondering if it might be worth it to buy an indoor bike for home, but the number of choices, options, and price ranges are bewildering.

    I am not in the market for Peleton-level, and I already have an exercise app I love (Aaptiv) that has great bike workouts. I am looking for something well under $1,000, and in terms of features the only things I really care about are seat height adjustments, tension control, and RPM measurements. Water bottle holder, clip in pedals, phone holder, etc. would be gravy, but aren't must haves for me.

    Anyone have Bike recommendations?

    Thanks! K
    "I'm more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares. ― Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette

  2. #2
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    You also may want to consider buying a better road bike that you can you outdoors when you want to, combined with a 'trainer' (the device that lets you use your outdoor bike indoors).
    I don't have one - so I would check out Wirecutter and then stalk the online biking communities for input...

    Regardless of which way you go, good for you for taking control and best of luck - be sure to let us know what you end up with Smilie
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

  3. #3
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    You're about to go down a journey the way I did in May, when I ordered my Bowflex C6. I would consider myself an expert at indoor cycles as I am a road cyclist of many years and also worked at an indoor cycling company for over three years.

    There are two main branches for indoor cycling, I'll call one studio bikes and the other road trainers.

    With studio bikes, they are: more stable for standing cycling, focused around a resistance knob or lever, and may be weighted for choreography moves.

    With road trainers, they are: most focused on providing a realistic road feel, may support computer-controlled resistance for computerized training, and might attach to a standard diamond-frame bicycle or be standalone. They are okay for standing cycling if you control your sway, but absolutely not usable for choreograph cycling.

    The least expensive way to get a trainer is the most basic kind, a small base that attaches to your existing bicycle with a small roller that provides cycling resistance. These are marketed as just "bike trainer" Depending on how the resistance is generated, the cost can be as low as $100 for a budget no-brand model, to about $250-300 for a name-brand model, to $500-600 for a high-tech computer-controlled model. If your bicycle does not have slick tires, you will have to buy a trainer tire for compatibility. Magnetic resistance trainers are usually the cheapest, and have a choppy feel to them. Fluid resistance trainers are more expensive, and have a smooth, more road-like feel to them. Cheap fluid trainers *might* leak, but expensive fluid trainers are expected to never fail. (Prior to the C6, I owned and still own a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine 2.0, which I highly recommend.)

    The next step up is cassette-based bike trainers. They're mostly computer-controlled and $600-1200 so I'll skip them. (You'll need a laptop or bike computer like a Garmin or Wahoo to control these.)

    At the top end are standalone road trainers that are basically stationary bikes. They differ from studio bikes in that they are designed around the cockpit feeling like a road bicycle. Skip these too, they're pricey unless you are a real roadie (use with Sufferfest, Trainerroad, Zwift).

    Studio bikes are a lot simpler to evaluate. Price strongly influences four things: frame flex, resistance method, drivetrain, sensors.

    Frame flex determines how good, or how solid the bike feels under you.

    Resistance method determines what the "road feel" of the bike is like. Less expensive resistance is in the form of replaceable felt or leather pads. More expensive resistance is in the form of magnets. Unlike bike trainers, studio bikes generate magnetic resistance in a very different way that results in the smoothest, most reliable and long-lasting resistance method.

    Drivetrain is simple. All studio bikes are chain or belt driven. Chains are easier to replace but are noisy. Belts are quiet and run very smooth but seem to often be proprietary. Both should last a similar amount of miles, provided nothing is rubbing on the belt and the chain is lubricated at least once a year.

    Sensors are complicated. The sensor package on a bike may be proprietary or derived from open standards (Ant+ and Bluetooth). If you want to connect to a phone, Bluetooth is a must. Mileage and power on studio bikes are wildly inaccurate to real-world measurements with very rare exceptions (Stages SC2, SC3). RPM is easy to measure and generally accurate across all models that offer it.

    After all is said and done, I think it sounds to me like you might like the Schwinn IC3 or IC4. The Schwinn warranty is very good. There is a *very* active community around these bikes called "Schwinn IC4 and Bowflex C6 Riders" on Facebook. The major difference between the IC3 and IC4 is felt pad vs. magnetic resistance. And the IC3 inexplicably forces you to choose between using the tablet holder or water bottle but not both at the same time.

    You could also look at the Sunny Fitness bikes. They offer a wide variety of options to suit every price.

  4. #4
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    @carrot thanks so much for sharing your insider info!

    I'm not in the market for a bike, but now I'm tempted, lol.... but I just spent a lot of money on an eBike since my theoretical European vacation in the fall for my birthday is off the table...
    Smilie
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

  5. #5
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    @G42 its funny you say that, because I have been looking at ebikes to extend my range for convenience rides.

  6. #6
    Forum Member kathryn's Avatar
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    @carrot --thank you for this wealth of information!

    I don't think I ever will be a big road bicyclist. I wish that I could psych myself up to get around on my bike for daily errands and the like, but city biking just plain scare me. Perhaps I will get over that someday--I'll confess to coveting an ebike for in-town transport, even while knowing I wouldn't end up using it. My current bike is for emergencies, I guess? Wink

    A studio bike definitely sounds like the best fit for me! In terms of computing on the bike, I really just want/need RPM. The app I use has cadence+resistance based workouts with occasional choreography and is audio only, so I can set the phone anywhere nearby and wear my bluetooth earbuds, hence no need for a device holder. I don't really care about mileage, and I already have a heart-rate monitor for keeping track of intensity and to a lesser extent calorie burn.

    Since I posted, I've been looking around online at used options, and found an Efitment IC031 on Craigslist for $200. It's belt-drive with magnetic resistance and has way more instrumentation than I'll use. For the price, I figure that it's a good starter option, assuming I can get it into my car and then into my apartment.
    "I'm more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares. ― Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette

  7. #7
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    @carrot thanks for all the great info. I am an outdoor cyclist but am thinking of getting an indoor option for bad weather days. (We have a gym membership but I’m not finding that an enticing option these days...)

    My daughter loves her peloton but it’s too rich for us. Would one of the schwinn you recommend work with the peloton app?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveltech View Post
    @carrot thanks for all the great info. I am an outdoor cyclist but am thinking of getting an indoor option for bad weather days. (We have a gym membership but I’m not finding that an enticing option these days...)

    My daughter loves her peloton but it’s too rich for us. Would one of the schwinn you recommend work with the peloton app?
    Sort of. I use the Peloton app on the Fire 4K TV Stick with the C6 (it is a rebadged Schwinn IC4) and it does not connect for metrics.

    I have tried the Peloton app on the iPhone, paired with Apple Watch, casting to an Apple TV. This will pair with the IC4/C6 for RPM or cadence, plus HR from the Apple Watch. This is the only BYOB way to get the metrics in the app at this time. The Peloton Android app does not pair with the bike, and the Peloton iPad app will pair with the bike but not the watch (there are some tricky 3rd party workarounds for the watch).

    Personally speaking, I do not care for the in-app metrics and only track using my Apple Watch. I also don't like notifications and phone calls interrupting, so I prefer the Fire 4K Stick and leaving my other devices away from the bike.

    That group that I referenced, Schwinn IC4 and Bowflex C6 Riders on Facebook, has all the experts on ways to set this up.

    The Peloton thing is complicated. If you buy the bike, it is $2,245 plus $60 a month for membership. If you BYOB it is the cost of your bike ($899 for the IC4) plus $13 a month for membership. The latter membership is "Peloton App" vs. Peloton Bike membership.

    If you have Peloton App membership, you:
    - still get all of the bike, yoga, core, run, whatever workouts, even live

    - get 1 user profile per paid account, instead of unlimited

    - cannot participate in the live workout leaderboards

    - cannot participate in group workout video chat

    - will not get milestone ride shoutouts from instructors in live classes

    - will not get personal record "PRs" for workout achievements

    I'd rather pocket the extra $47!

    If you do not care for metrics in-app, you can ride along to the Peloton workouts and track metrics any other way you please (Fitbit, Apple Watch, the screen built into some bikes).

    If you are interested in virtual cycling, you can use Zwift. If you wish to participate in virtual races, you will need to add a power meter, as the IC4's built-in meter is inaccurate and you will get banned from races.

    You might also be interested in other video class offerings like Les Mills On Demand, and SoulCycle looks to be be expanding their VOD offering at some point this year. There are some smaller VOD spin companies but the ones I checked out had very low production values.

    If I had more room in my budget at the time of buying an indoor bike I would have bought the Stages SC3 or SC4. They are high quality, studio-level bikes with built-in power meters. But they are nearly double the cost of the IC4/C6 and with economic uncertainty from coronavirus, it just seemed irresponsible.
    Last edited by carrot; 07-08-2020 at 01:22 PM.

  9. #9
    Forum Member kathryn's Avatar
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    Just wanted to pop back in and say thanks to everyone in this thread, especially @carrot !

    I was able to find a used bike on Craigslist and got it home. Ive done a couple of workouts so far, and swapped the seat and pedals from whats in this photo (the guy selling had both the OEM stuff and ones hed bought and included everything in the price).







    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    "I'm more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares. ― Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette

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