Schwinn IC4 Indoor Cycling Bike Review 2021

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schwinn ic4

Peloton cycles are popular, but with a price tag of more than $2,000, they are not for everyone. Because many of us still prefer to work out at home, we asked two authors and fitness enthusiasts to tell us about their favorite Peloton alternatives. As it turns out, they both like riding the same bike. Although the Schwinn IC4 and the Bowflex C6 have distinct names, branding, and, in many cases, pricing, they are both manufactured by the same company: Nautilus. In reality, mechanically, they are the same bike. And, according to our experts, that bike is excellent.

If you don’t need the extra bells and whistles, we found a third bike that is even less costly and provides a good exercise. That review has been included at the conclusion of the story.

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The longtime spin fan

I’ve been spinning since the mid-’90s, when the little gym I frequented to acquired its first Schwinn Johnny G spin cycle. Since then, I’ve rode bikes to nowhere twice a week on average, from rusty old ones in church basements to the bikes in $40 SoulCycle sessions. Prior to the epidemic, I did the most of my spinning on a free communal Peloton cycle in my building’s exercise area. When that was no longer a possibility, I experimented with a few apps and streaming sessions in areas such as strength training and yoga. But after a few months, I realized how much I missed riding my bike and began doing some research.

Instead of spending on a Peloton, I purchased a Schwinn IC4. Aside from the significantly cheaper price, the main draw for me is that non-Peloton owners may access all of Peloton’s programming, including live courses, via the Peloton app for just $12.99 per month. (The business charges its bike owners $39 monthly for the same content: a Peloton representative said that this is because owners have access to more “performance data” because the bike interacts directly with the hardware, and several people in the home can have an account. But those factors, along with the bike’s high price tag, just weren’t worth it to me.)

Schwinn IC Bike Series

The IC4, like the Peloton, employs magnetic resistance, resulting in a very smooth and silent ride. The bike is 10 inches shorter than the Peloton, resulting in a smaller footprint. The seat and handlebars may be adjusted in four directions: up and down, forward and back. I’m five-foot-five, and my teen son is five-foot-eleven, and we both feel at ease on it.

The IC4 has 100 levels of resistance, same like the Peloton, but the levels aren’t equal – a 25 on the Peloton isn’t the same as a 25 on the IC4. Owners have calculated conversions, and entrepreneurial Etsy sellers have even created attachable conversion plates to place on the bike so you can dial in the comparable resistance when instructors call it out.

To stream lessons, you must have your own phone, iPad, or smart-TV connection. (I’m currently using an ancient, cracked iPad.) The handlebars have a built-in holder, a USB charging port, and an arm-strap heart-rate monitor. You can link the app to the bike through Bluetooth to obtain a cadence display, and there are many posts in the Facebook group discussing how to Frankenstein a setup using applications like Kinetic and Wahoo.

The IC4’s only drawback is the pedals. They’re dual-sided, allowing you to clip in with bike shoes or put ordinary shoes into cages, which is useful though clumsy and inelegant. However, some customers have complained about the pedals coming off or loosening (which the company insists is a user-assembly problem). I’ve had no problems with mine, although for what it’s worth, my husband, a biker who’s very handy, assisted with installation.

The IC4, like a lot of popular home-fitness equipment, is currently difficult to obtain. You may buy straight from Schwinn, but the wait period is months long despite the company’s 500% increase in production capacity. I got mine on Amazon for $799 due to a Facebook tip, but the IC4 hasn’t been available for weeks. At the time of publication, it appeared to be in stock at Dick’s, but only for pickup; Best Buy has the bike listed for $899, however supply may be restricted depending on where you live.

The spin convert

My daily schedule as a work-at-home parent was rigid before COVID: kid drop-off, coffee, and a dash to the Brooklyn Dodge YMCA for an HIIT or Zumba class. Then came the lockdown.

I live in New York and don’t have a backyard, garden, or deck from which to stream Zoom workouts or Instagram yoga. Because of knee issues, I can’t use treadmills, and I don’t have enough space for a big piece of equipment like an elliptical. However, a wheeled exercise bike could be readily moved from the bedroom, where it would be housed, to the living room, where I could ride it. All I had to do was locate the proper one. I had it after a couple of hours of online research: the Bowflex C7.

Bowflex IC Bike Series

Regardless of how much I admired those sleek Peloton advertisements with the joyful ladies pedaling in their glass-encased skyscrapers and French farmhouses, the price of that bike meant it was never a possibility for me. The C6, which is far less expensive, provides an open-platform, Bluetooth-connected fitness experience with a high-performance design. It includes free delivery as well as two three-pound weights for arm workouts while bicycling. [Three-pound weights are also available on the Schwinn.] While it lacks the beautiful, 22-inch touchscreen that Peloton offers, you can join and stream courses using almost any phone or tablet. The bike itself must be constructed, and despite the fact that my husband and I are not the most handy people, we were able to put it together with minimum difficulty.

You can link to a few applications, including Bowflex’s Explore the World, Zwift, and Peloton. Explore the World has beautiful pathways to follow but nothing that would make me excited to bike hard, whilst Zwift was just too complicated for me. Instead, I downloaded Peloton, which provided a 90-day free trial during the shutdown (which has since been reduced to 30 days). The app offers live and on-demand sessions in anything from strength training to yoga, stretching, and cycling.

I boldly picked a 45-minute advanced class on my first ride. I felt I could handle it after all my time at the gym. I thought I was going to die halfway through, like, have a heart attack right there on my brand-new bike. That taught me an essential lesson: I used to believe that going to the gym was the only way to get a genuinely decent exercise, but this bike proved otherwise.

Although I can now complete a 60-minute session, I like a high-energy 30-minute class that I complement with a 20-minute strength class and a 10-minute core class via the app. When I’m pressed for time (or motivation), I’ll get on my bike for a fast 15- or 20-minute ride. My children enjoy it as well. My 14-year-old prefers hip-hop rides, while my 12-year-old prefers a football before ride. They finish up as sweaty and exhausted as I do.

I haven’t even scratched the surface of the app’s capabilities after over seven months of use. It’ll surely keep me going till I can finally go back into the gym and start Zumba-ing in a safe and busy environment.

Bonus! The casual cyclist met a cycling aficionado who was looking for a method to keep fit.

When the weather is beautiful, my fiancé rides his bike everywhere. He rides his bike to work, to the grocery store, and on weekends, he goes on rides up to 20 kilometers long. My training regimen is not nearly as strenuous (a little Yoga With Adriene here, a little biking on errands or to meet friends there). After canceling our gym memberships during the lockdown, we had been depending on the outdoors for regular workout, but that couldn’t last as it started to get chilly. We were going to purchase the Schwinn IC4 when we discovered the IC3, an older but still capable indoor bike from Schwinn, for only $600.

Schwinn IC Bike Series

The IC3 is less feature-rich than the IC4, but we didn’t think the extra $300 was worth it. The IC3, like the IC4, has double-sided pedals that may be used with shoes or clips and is completely adjustable. The IC3 employs flywheel resistance instead of magnetic resistance, which is a significant distinction between the two. It’s louder, but not distractingly so, and I actually appreciate the feedback of the tiny whirring sound it produces when you really push yourself. We purchased an exercise pad to place below it, which also dampens any noise and transforms that part of our bedroom into a mini-gym. While the bike lacks Bluetooth and cannot directly link to applications, you can still follow along with the Peloton app for an amazing workout.

We have our bike positioned in front of the TV so that we can either watch a show or perform a Peloton cycle. The IC3 monitor displays RPMs, which helps you match your cadence to the instructor, however you must keep an eye on it because the screen changes between RPM and speed. There are no precise resistance measures; simply move the knob to the right to increase it and to the left to lower it. When it comes to following teachers, this means you’re flying blind. Online forums recommend testing the knob to determine how many tiny turns it takes to get from the lowest to the maximum resistance and then calculating how many of those turns you’ll need to go from, say, 20 to 30 in Peloton resistance, but that is more work than I’m prepared to put in. For the time being, I go by feel and attempt to match my effort level to that of the instructor. When he isn’t taking a Peloton bike, my fiancé enjoys watching action movies and getting pumped up by the adrenaline rush of fight scenes. He claims he enjoys the bike so much that even on nice winter days when he might go for a ride outside, the allure of the IC3 keeps him inside.

If you take your riding seriously, this is not the bike for you. However, as someone who has just recently discovered Peloton and spin in general, I have found it to be a game changer. Whether I’m riding to a Bridgerton episode or a 20-minute Beyoncé ride, I always end up burning up a nice sweat — and having a wonderful time.

— Liza Corsillo