Top Nordictrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle Exercise Bike Reviews from Amazon:

Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2019

I got this bike just a couple of weeks ago. I'm almost 50 years old, and while I've been in fairly good shape most of my life, lately I have found that I have less energy, and it's difficult to get motivated to work out. I bought this bike to jump-start my motivation.

I did as much research as I could on this bike, although there isn't much out there. I watched a few Youtube videos that included reviews of the bike as well as problems users experienced. More on that in a minute. I chose this bike over the Peloton, Echelon, and other "connected" bikes. With Peloton, I didn't like the idea of a high-priced monthly membership fee. The Nordictrack has a similar fee, but you get one year free, and the monthly fee is about half that of the Peloton. The downside with this bike compared to the Peloton is that you don't get live workouts. All of the workouts on this bike are pre-recorded. On the other hand, the workouts automatically adjust your resistance and incline, which I don't believe the Peloton workouts can do. That was the big selling point for me. I hate spinning classes where you are constantly making adjustments to the bike, and with this bike, you don't need to. I decided that was enough of an advantage to outweigh the lack of live workouts.

I had the bike drop-shipped to my house. I had to be there to sign for it. Delivery went well - they communicated closely with me to let me know when they were coming, and they showed up right at the beginning of their delivery window. The guys were willing to bring it in the house for me, but I had it left on the porch. I opened the box and brought it into the house myself, piece by piece. The heaviest piece by far was the main frame, which includes the frame, flywheel, pedal arms, and incline motors. That is a VERY heavy section. I managed to get it in the house myself, but it's really a two-person job. I then had to bring it down to my basement (since I don't have any panoramic windows looking out onto the Pacific ocean, I decided the basement would have to do). I needed a furniture dolly to get it down there - I strapped the main frame to the dolly and lowered it down, step by step. I have no idea how I will get this bike back up the stairs if/when I need to. It must weigh 200 lbs. There are wheels to move it around, but those won't help you get it up and down stairs.

Assembly was relatively easy - it probably took me less than two hours. The assembly guide was fairly well-written, although the pictures weren't the greatest. There were no poor translations - this guide was written in native English! Mostly, you are assembling components with screws and the provided hex wrenches. There is a little bit of work to feed some wires through the handlebar shaft. All in all, nothing too challenging.

Shortly after assembling the bike, I found what I thought would be a fatal flaw: the handlebars wobble badly! And when the handlebars wobble, so does the screen. I had seen this on a Youtube video so I wasn't completely surprised, but I had hoped it wouldn't be a problem with my bike. If you stand next to the bike and push gently on the side of the handlebar, it's very easy to make it wobble back and forth. It's worse when the monitor is adjusted to higher positions. I tightened everything I could find - even screws that had already been pre-tightened at the factory - but I couldn't improve the wobble noticeably. I am a mechanical engineer and I can tell you that there is no obvious source of this wobble. My conclusion is that the wobble is caused by the way the frame is mounted in the incline motor, since everything else can be tightened down but that connection. Despite the wobble, the bike is rock-solid otherwise and seems very high quality. The flywheel is completely smooth and the bike is absolutely silent during operation, except for the fan and the occasional adjustments made by the incline motors.

But back to the wobble... I was actually thinking I would be sending the bike back because of it. However, to my surprise, I found that the wobble doesn't bother me while using the bike. If you are unbalanced and your body is swaying back and forth while you lean on the handlebars, then yes, it will wobble badly. But the instructors all talk about maintaining good posture and engaging your core while you ride, and I've found that when I do that, the bike doesn't wobble at all! So it really doesn't bother me, and in fact it helps me ride more under control and it improves my technique. The only exception is during some high-resistance, high-incline intervals when I'm standing up on the bike. During those times, I can feel the handlebars and monitor wobbling, but I'm usually pushing so hard that I am not really focusing on the screen anyway! I did notice with some amusement that in the studio workouts, the bikes ridden by other people can occasionally be seen wobbling as well. This seems like a normal characteristic of the bike. This is the type of thing that would usually drive me crazy, but like I said, it isn't nearly as much of a problem as I expected.

As I said, I've had the bike only a couple of weeks, and I'm a relative newbie to spin cycling. I've completed a few of the "trail ride" workouts as well as a couple of the studio workouts. I have had trouble finding workouts that are an appropriate level for me, since they aren't really labeled according to fitness level. A few times, I've started a workout only to decide it's way too tough, and I've stopped it partway through. But I've learned that if I take a day off between workouts, my quads are better able to handle a tougher workout the next time. I'm sure I will be able to complete most of the workouts once I get myself in better shape.

The studio workouts are hit or miss. I found one instructor whose vocalizations really annoy the heck out of me, so I try to avoid her workouts (for example, she says "Yay-uhhhh" way too often!). These workouts are more like traditional spinning sessions. What I like is they often tell you to get off the bike and do some other things, like planks, jumping jacks, ab crunches, etc. It adds some nice variety, particularly when your quads need a break! The monitor swings easily around so you can stand anywhere near the bike and still see the screen. Also, you can adjust the instructor volume independently of the music, which is a good feature. While I'm on that topic, I should mention that this bike has no Bluetooth capability, which is a HUGE oversight in a $2000 bike! You can only listen through a 3.5mm audio jack or through the speakers. Fortunately, there is an easy solution to this that allows you to use your Bluetooth wireless headphones, as I do. Just buy a $20 Bluetooth transmitter, plug it into the side of the monitor where the audio connection is, and problem solved! Then you can work out in near-silence, if you are trying not to bother your co-habitants.

The trail workouts are much more fun. You are following the instructor through the woods, mountains, city, or whatever, and they tell you what your cadence and effort level should be. The resistance and incline adjust automatically, as they do with the studio workouts. The video isn't high-def, but it's realistic enough to be enjoyable, and the screen is large enough that you really feel like you're there. So far, I like the instructors. The New Zealand instructor was a little hard to understand, but you get used to it. There are a few weird anomalies. In my most recent "San Francisco" workout, the instructor said we would end our workout by riding across the Golden Gate Bridge. As it turned out, we got near the bridge in the end, but didn't ride across it. I felt cheated! The other thing I don't like is that your target cadence doesn't appear on screen, so you need to pay attention to the instructors to hear what they want you to do. There appear to be dozens of trail rides and I don't think I will get tired of them, particularly as I get more accustomed to doing longer and more challenging workouts. I noticed that my iFit account does keep track of what I've done, but I haven't done much with that yet. I also haven't tried creating my own rides around my neighborhood - supposedly that uses Google Map images. I don't know if I'll bother - why would I ride around my neighborhood when I can ride in the French Alps instead?

The touchscreen functions seems to work fairly well, though they aren't as responsive as, say, a smartphone. I've noticed when my hands are sweaty, it doesn't respond as well. The interface is OK, not great. Browsing through workouts is a bit tedious. I'm hoping there will be software updates that provide more workouts and maybe a more intuitive interface. The wi-fi seems OK. My bike is in the basement and my router is on the 2nd floor, so I'm pleased that it connects most of the time, although it has failed to connect once or twice. The video workouts play smoothly with no buffering, except a little at the beginning. The workouts sometimes start out low-res and then get better within 20 seconds or so.

I plan to add my wife to the bike at some point when she's interested. It will be a bit of a pain to adjust the bike for her, then back to me, etc. You can adjust handlebar/monitor height (which takes some effort), seat height, seat position (front to back), and seat angle. Hopefully the two of us can find similar settings so she doesn't have to change everything. Adjustments are all done manually, after loosening a big knob. The only exception is the seat angle. The seat is mounted just like a traditional bike seat, so it needs an Allen key to loosen it. Pedal-wise, I'm content with using the provided cages with normal sneakers for now. I have never ridden a bike with toe clips, so I don't really care about getting them.

After working out, you are supposed to switch off the bike and pull the power cord, which seems very odd! The instructions say this is to prevent the electronics from premature wear. That seems like a weird explanation. The bike takes 1-2 minutes to boot up each time, so it's not a trivial issue.

The fan works adequately, although it's loud and has an odd chemical smell to it. Also, when the workout is over, the fan often stops, and I have to manually re-start it every 30 seconds or so. This only happens when I'm still sitting on the bike after the workout ends. It's a minor annoyance.

I may update this review as time goes on. For now, I have no regrets about buying this bike. I'm giving this bike four stars, with the wobbling being the biggest problem and the other problems I noted being fairly minor. Feel free to ask questions and I'll try to answer them!

UPDATE: It's been a couple of months now, and I'm still enjoying the bike. The handlebar wobble hasn't gotten any worse, and I still don't really notice it when I'm on the bike. I am still using the pedal cages rather than clip-ins, and I find them to be just fine. I upgraded my wireless router and moved it closer to the bike. I've noticed that the workouts load more quickly now, but the resolution hasn't improved. There have been a few firmware/software updates so far, and I've noticed that considerably more workouts have been added - I'm sure I'll never do them all! The biggest problem I've noticed with some of the workouts is that the cadence the instructor tells you to maintain isn't always realistic - often, it's ridiculously hard to keep that cadence because of the high resistance. There are other times when you are supposed to maintain a certain effort level, but it's not possible due to the light resistance. These are exceptions rather than the rule, though - most of the time, the cadence/resistance/effort level match fairly well with what the instructor is saying. The software interface is still a little frustrating when browsing workouts. The workouts don't tell you whether you've done them before. To find that out, you need to look at your calendar, which won't be practical after you've been using the bike a few months. Also, the expected calories burned are shown on each workout, and they are a joke - there is just no way I can burn 600 calories in 30 minutes! Anyway, just wanted to update this to say I still have no regrets!

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