Most helpful positive review
841 of 844 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2010
19July 2010: I purchased this item in mid-June, and have owned it for several weeks. I got it as a replacement for the used StairMaster PT4400 I had and loved, but it broke down on me. I paid $1200 and did not want another used one at +$4K, so I looked for other options. I never even considered a "spin" bike, because I did not know what they were! However, I wanted to keep costs under $400. One day in a Sports Chalet, I tried one---BLADEZ FITNESS JET, a solid bike. I exercised for about 5 minutes and knew the spin bike would meet my need for cardio. However, the JET was $599, over my budget.
RESEARCH: I did a LOT of research on the internet, and boy, these spin bikes have been falling like rocks! I finally found the Proform 290 SPX at a store called the Sports Authority for $299 (regularly $399). They just put one together that was not even on the floor yet, so I had to go in the back to test it. After a couple of minutes, I again saw that a spin bike would work, so I purchased it. My experience at some spin classes at 24 Hour Fitness taught me that the standard seat would be too uncomfortable, so I also purchased an old-school wide seat with jell padding, which turned out to be a good decision.
ASSEMBLY: I am NOT a mechanically inclined guy, and this thing was easy for me to put together. The only things to attach were the handlebars, peddles, and the feet, and the tools were all supplied, although I used my ratchet wrench because it was faster.
WORKING OUT: The bike is pretty stable. My weight was about 250 when I started out, and the Proform 290 SPX is rated at a max weight of 250lbs, but I know items like these have a "safety factor" and can take more weight than 250lbs. I get a great workout with this bike.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SPX 290 AND THE STAR TRAC AT 24 HOUR FITNESS: I am comparing the SPX with a more expensive bike, the STAR TRAC, because for those who are new buyers (like me) it will show one does not have to spend big money to get an effective spin bike.
The Startrek is an outstanding bike made for commercial use. The big difference is the Startrek has more resolution in changing resistance; in other words, it takes more turns to vary the resistance. On the Proform 290 SPX, as I turn the knob where I can feel resistance, I only have about a half turn to get to the maximum resistance, and I cannot turn the knob anymore. However, this is not a problem. The main point is that the user knows the "sweet spots" of resistance settings for the bike.
Once I get going, I only turn the resistance knob in one quarter to eighth inch increments throughout the entire exercise, and I easily maintain 77-81% of my heart rate. Other differences between these two bikes is the because the Star Trac is a commercial bike, it will take a 350lb person, and the cabling on the Star Trac is covered by the frame, so getting sweat on the cables and fasteners is greatly minimized. I overcame this by putting clear RTV over the screws and foot pedals (not the handlebar) and I put a hole in a small towel and put it over the resistance knob to keep my sweat off the break cabling. This is important, for water and salt from sweating will eventually corrode the fittings. On a final note, the STAR TRAC SPINNER PRO is about $1000 compared to the price of $299 I paid.
SETTING THE PACE: I have seen reviews on these bikes where people say it should have a computer. Well, that's fine, but this will add to the price. All I use is a clock, the countdown timer from my watch, and a heart-rate monitor (the most important tool). The clock I use to track my workout time. I have the countdown timer on my watch set to repeat every 90 seconds. Moreover, the heat-rate monitor I use to pace myself.
THE FIRST TEN MINUTES, I go in 90 second intervals, alternating between sitting and standing, increasing the resistance in eight-inch increments.
THE REST OF THE EXERCICE, I go in 10 minute stretches. I maintain an even pace at 70-75% of my heart rate. At the end of the 10 minutes, I do another interval standing up and pedaling (also known as a standing hill climb) for 90 seconds with more resistance and get my heart rate up to +85%, then level back down to 72-75%.
Thus, in a 45-50 minute routine, I start with a 7-10 minute segment of intervals increasing the resistance to get my heart rate going. After that, I do 2-3 segments of 10-minutes each at a constant pace, and end each of these segment with a 90 second standing hill climb. The final two minutes I wind it down.
MINOR ISSUE: The only thing about this bike (not enough to rate it lower), is that there is a high-pitched "hum" I get from the flywheel, but it disappears after after about half-way through the exercise while I maintain an even pace. The "hum" has no effect on the flywheel operation or resistance settings.
TRAINING: It benefited me to go to spin classes at 24-hour fitness to learn how to setup and ride the bike. They offer a week free trail, so it is a great low-cost way to learn. In addition, YOUTUBE has some great videos on how to ride spin bikes. Just type in "spin bike setup," and a bunch of videos will pop up.
GOOD ON THE KNEES: Although I loved my StairMaster PT4400, there were many times my knees felt a bit weak, but never enough to force me to stop using it. However, there is NO issue with the knees on the SPX 290. At my age (51), this means a lot!
CONCLUSION: This review was long because I know there are people out there seeking information. I have benefited greatly from the many reviews on various products, and wanted to get my "two-cents" in. This bike is a great buy, and one does not have to spend +$800 for the high-end bikes to get a good workout.