How does this compare with the Schwinn models? How does this compare with the Schwinn models, like the 220, 230, 231, and 240? I was going to get the Schwinn 231 but I can't find it anywhere at the moment.
I'm in the same boat as you. After doing much reading and evaluating, I've realized that there are only 3 major things that differentiate this model from the Schwinn 240:
1. Polar "direct contact" heart monitor. 2. Double warranty length. 3. $100 more in cost.
I will address each of these individually and objectively.
1. Most of the reviews on here say that the Polar heart monitor doesn't work well or work at all. This sounds logical since most users also complained that the computer on the Nautilus model isn't programmed well at all, isn't user friendly, and doesn't remember your settings. You need a lot of bright engineers from different disciplines to create a great product in this price range. It seems like the Nautilus company skimped out on the computer engineers and most likely outsourced to India for the computer component of this bike. Other bike companies will stick to US engineers or outsource to Siemens to build the computer electronic components to guarantee something that is user friendly and actually works well.
2. This is the only positive that the Nautilus model has over the Schwinn model. It had double the warranty, but let's put that into perspective. It's not like the Schwinn has a 1 yr warranty and the Nautilus' warranty is 2 yrs. The Schwinn has a 5 yr warranty and the Nautilus a 10 yr. Both models look very similar in design and construction. After reading reviews from both models, users who have owned both say that both models are solidly designed as well. Sure, it's nice to have a 10 year warranty on the frame but even if the Schwinn dies after 5 years, I'll probably want to upgrade it anyway if it didn't.
3. $100. What can you do with $100 in savings? A lot! 3a) You can buy a REAL heart monitor that actually works and is very accurate. Polar makes great heart monitors, but if the rest of the electronics was engineered in India, then that isn't going to help. 3b) You can invest it. There are many ways to invest. Even a CD will pay out 2.4% as of this writing. In 5 years, you'll have $113 (and that's a worst-case scenario). If the Schwinn breaks in 5 years, you'll get close to a 25% discount by using the money you saved and be able to upgrade it to something that most likely will have better design and technology.
In summary, I spent a lot of time debating these two models. I needed to find clear and objective reasons to choose one or the other and this is what I deduced. Bio-mechanically, they seem equal in function. Electronically, the Schwinn seems to have the edge (backlit color LCD, remembers your settings, easier to navigate, more user friendly, non-gimmicky heart rate monitor that works). Both models' owners have reported problems with shipping the product in non-damaged condition without missing parts, however, Schwinn's more recent reviews have shown that the company has improved in that department.
I test drove a few other models in the store as well and here are few quick comments:
-LiveStrong: They look great, computers seem solid, but seats are equal to Nautilus or Schwinn. However, LiveStrong models cost 2-3x as much. The reason is that Lance wants a cut for using his name. Well, that's a pretty expensive cut just for a name. I already bought a yellow bracelet, how much more money does that guy want from me? Okay, you survived cancer, we get it. Millions of people do these days and don't expect special treatment, get over it. Pass.
-ProForm: Great seats (wide, cushy), probably the best of the bunch except for the Kettler model. I also like how the height of the computer and forward hand grips are height-adjustable so your knees don't hit them. However, its computer is the worst of the bunch. Pass.
-Kettler: Money no object, this is the BMW/Lexus of the recumbent bikes. Amazingly comfortable seats, solid construction, its computer was built and programmed by Siemens (they make missile equipment too), whisper quiet and the German-inspired design is simply gorgeous to look at. This is the model you'd get if you won the lottery.
Well, I hope this helps others in making a good decision.