When it comes to choosing your next home exercise bike, chances are you'll go with a familiar brand. A NordicTrack bike is most likely one of your top choices. Although expensive, the NordicTrack brand has been a staple in the fitness market for a long time.
In today's age, adding some technological wizardry to an exercise bike is fairly simple. Most of the big makers are doing it, and almost all customers expect it. Whether it's a digital display and Bluetooth connectivity or an app that can help you work out, even the lower-cost bikes come loaded with features. A NordicTrack bike isn't the cheapest option, but it's also not the most advanced one, either. They don't have many bells and whistles, which begs the question: Are they still relevant?
All About the NordicTrack Bike
The first thing you should know is that there isn't just one NordicTrack bike. In fact, the company has a dozen different bikes in three "series," or models. NordicTrack, sometimes spelled Nordictrack, started their exercise empire in 1975. That's when their famous skier machines started popping up in people's living rooms.
Today, NordicTrack creates and sells dozens of fitness machines. They have both a consumer market and a commercial club-grade market. You've probably seen NordicTrack machines at your local gym. The NordicTrack bike you're most likely to find for sale is for your home. In that, they have three different series, or grades, of exercise bikes to choose from.
Many of the exercises featured on the video will be familiar to individuals who have done other workout routines. These exercises include in-and-outs, bicycles, crunchy frogs, cross-leg and wide-leg situps, scissors, hip rock-and-raises, pulse-ups, V-ups, leg climbs, and Mason twists. Unlike other videos, this video does not require the use of expensive or unwieldy equipment. Users need only recline on a mat or towel.
Grand Tour Series
If you want adventure while you spin, or you need the motivation of a world-renowned trainer to keep you going, the Grand Tour Series bikes may be for you. These bikes come with a touchscreen LCD panel where you can live-stream spin classes with famous coaches and gurus.
Another feature of the Grand Tour Series bike is the ability to adjust the incline by 10-percent, using controls built into the handlebars. There are 26 workouts you can choose from, using a silent knob selector. Cycle through them during your workout for added fun. To top it all off, there's a fan built right into the console, keeping you cool as you ride. This NordicTrack bike costs between $900 and $1500.
Recumbent bike series
If you prefer comfort over grit, then a recumbent bike may be a better choice for you. NordicTrack has two of these reclining bicycles for you to enjoy. There's the VR21 and the VR25. The difference isn't that big. The VR 21 has a 5-inch display and 20-pounds of inertia resistance, while the VR25 comes equipped with a 7-inch HD touchscreen display and a 25-pound resistance.
Both of these recumbent bikes are more likely to be found in a club than in your home, although NordicTrack does offer zero-percent financing if you want one. They cost between $650 and $1000.
Upright stationary bike series
Finally, we have the NordicTrack bike most likely to be found in your home. These upright stationary bikes have a tablet holder right in the center console, so you can pop in your iPad and be entertained while you work out. Each bike has a heart rate monitor built in so you can keep track. These bikes are fairly standard, and there's not much that separates them from other exercise bikes out there. However, they do come with a one-year iFit membership
Expect to pay between $600 and $900 for one of these NordicTrack bikes.
How We Reviewed
Because it's important that you have all the information you need before you make an expensive purchase, we scoured the internet for everything we could find about the NordicTrack bike. We first checked out NordicTrack's website to see what they had to say about their own bikes. Then we checked out customer reviews to see what real people thought. That gave us a great idea of how these bikes actually perform in the real world.
Finally, we looked at some of NordicTrack's competitors. We wanted to see if there were better bikes out there, at lower prices.
Once we had all that information, we felt confident in our decision. Do we recommend the NordicTrack bike or not?
We love to read customer reviews. These tell us how any given product will hold up in real-world conditions. Usually, we'll hit up Amazon for the most comprehensive customer reviews on the internet. When it comes to the NordicTrack bike, we had to look elsewhere. There just were not enough customers who purchased a NordicTrack bike on Amazon to make for reliable reviews. So we turned to Consumer Affairs, which is our go-to when Amazon fails us. Consumer Affairs verifies whether or not a reviewer has actually purchased a product. Then they let us know by way of a checkmark next to the review.
Customers on Consumer Affairs rated the NordicTrack bike 3.5 out of 5.0 stars. Most people said the bike was comfortable to sit on, thanks to the NordicTrack bike's extra large leather-padded seat. Other than that, everyone said the bike works "nicely," meaning that it does what it's supposed to do. That is, the wheel spins when you pedal, and there are various resistances available. That's where the positive reviews end. Next came a flurry of negative reviews
Quite a few people had trouble with various parts of their NordicTrack bike breaking down. For some, the LCD panel refused to function, while for others, the belt driving the wheel broke or fell off constantly. That is where things got interesting for a lot of people. There are too many complaints about NordicTrack customer service to ignore. It seems the company is unable or unwilling to provide post-purchase support and a lot of customers were frustrated with how the company handled their warranties.
NordicTrack Bike Pros and Cons
So, if most of the NordicTrack bikes are basic, and their customer service leaves a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths, what are their good points? Of course it's not all bad, and every NordicTrack bike has both its pros and cons to consider.
How Do They Compare?
Because buying a NordicTrack bike is a rather big hit to your bank account, we wanted to see how well they compare to other exercise bikes before you buy one. Only by comparing these bikes to more affordable options were we able to ascertain whether or not they're worth the price. After all, if a Sunny Health and Fitness bike can do everything that a NordicTrack bike can do, but for three hundred dollars less, then that's worth taking a look. Here is where Amazon came to the rescue with a wide selection of decent exercise bikes
- Goal Track capability enables users to set individual exercise goals
- 20 levels of resistance for a wide range of workout intensity options
- High speed, high inertia drive system with a perimeter weighted flywheel for easy start up and smooth, consistent workouts
- DualTrack LCD displays
- In-console speakers with an MP3 input port
First up in our comparison is the Nautilus U614 upright bike. Nautilus is another one of those famous fitness brands, like NordicTrack. You've most likely seen their machines in gyms. This Vancouver, WA company owns both Bowflex and Schwinn, two other leading fitness brands. When it comes to exercise bikes, the U614 is rather barebones. In fact, when you compare it to a NordicTrack bike, it looks tiny and a little silly. However, that's where the fun stops. The U614 features two LCD panels and in-console speakers where you can plug in your phone and blast MP3s. Also, the bike features 20 different resistance settings.
The Nautilus U614 upright bike costs between $200 and $350. Customers on Amazon rated it 3.8 out of 5 stars. Almost everyone loved how quiet the machine is. One person called it "whisper quiet" and said that if you live in an apartment or condo, the people below you will appreciate it. On the other hand, many customers complained that the seat was too small and too hard, and several people had problems with the LCD screens breaking down shortly after buying the bike.
- Bluetooth connectivity, syncs with the Schwinn Trainer App and other apps for fitness tracking
- Sync with free downloadable RideSocial App and see the world as you virtually ride alongside friends in real time
- 29 programs: 12 profile, 9 heart rate control, 4 custom, 2 fitness test, 1 quick start. Plugs into any standard electrical wall outlet on a 110V-120V circuit. 120V 60Hz AC input; 1.5A output. 90-240V, 50-60Hz adapter included
- 25 levels of resistance for a wide range of workout intensity options
- High speed, high inertia drive system with a perimeter weighted flywheel for easy start up and smooth, consistent workouts
Next up is the recumbent bike from Swchinn. The 270 goes head-to-head with the super-pricey NordicTrack recumbent bikes. Although it's not that important, we like to remind you that Schwinn is a Nautilus-owned brand. However, unlike Nautilus, Schwinn doesn't have a large footprint in commercial gyms. Instead, they're famous for producing bicycles. Schwinn manufactures both traditional outdoor bikes and indoor exercise bikes. The Schwinn 270 is one of the latter. It features a bevy of neat features, such as the ability to connect to RideSocial and pretend to ride through various cities around the world with your friends. There are massive dual-track LCDs to guide you on your ride. It comes with 29 programs and 25 levels of resistance.
You can buy this recumbent for between $375 and $474. On Amazon, customers gave it 4.1 out of 5 stars. People praised the comfortable seating and the easy operation of this bike. Several customers said they were either elderly or had suffered knee injuries, and found this machine to be a great way for them to exercise. There were a few complaints, but most of them had to do with shipping issues. When something did break, such as one woman who had ball bearings fall out, Schwinn's customer service provided excellent and immediate help.
- Bikes with magnetic resistance never come in contact with the flywheel, resulting in a silent, stable and virtually low maintenance experience. The closer the magnet the greater the resistance will be
- Features 8 adjustable levels of magnetic resistance and fore/aft adjustable seat
- Features Pulse grip heart RATE monitoring
- 10.5 L x 7.5H adjustable tablet holder with suction cup lining holds your favorite device in place while you exercise
Finally, we have an upright bike from Sunny Health and Fitness. We love the name of this Los Angeles company, but we didn't let that influence our review. The Sunny Health and Fitness upright bike uses innovative magnetic resistance, so the flywheel never comes in contact with anything. That makes it super-quiet to use. Also, this bike features a tablet holder and a built-in heart rate monitor in the grips. There's an LCD which displays information such as speed, heart rate, calories burned, and other pertinent information. Also, it features an extra-large cushioned seat and wide foot pedals. It makes for a comfortable ride.
Best of all, the Sunny Health and Fitness upright bike only costs between $175 and $225. That's significantly less than the NordicTrack bike, yet it has almost all the same functions. Customers rated it 4.1 out of 5.0 stars on Amazon. They loved how quiet and smooth this bike was. Also, many people praised the small size of the bike. That is a great choice if you live in an apartment or have a small space to work with. On the other hand, a couple of customers were unhappy with the resistance levels, which they said were not high enough. They were looking for something with a lot more resistance to it, and this bike didn't offer that.
To Buy or Not to Buy?
Which brings us to the final question: should you buy a NordicTrack bike or not? After reviewing what NordicTrack has to offer, and then reading through customer reviews, we were unconvinced that a NordicTrack is any better than a cheaper option. The only thing NordicTrack has going for it is brand recognition. Forty years is a respectable amount of time to survive in the crowded fitness market. However, that brand name alone isn't worth the inflated prices of their exercise bikes.
Instead, we found that the Schwinn recumbent bike offered so much more than the NordicTrack recumbent bikes for a lot less. And if you're looking for a standard upright bike, you can't go wrong with the super-silent Sunny Health and Fitness upright bike. You'll save a significant amount of money over the NordicTrack bikes by going with either of these. Sure, you might miss out on a built-in fan and a tablet holder, but are those things really worth an additional $200 to $300? We don't think so.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!