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Exerpeutic 900XL Extended Capacity Recumbent Bike with Pulse
Style Name: Without Equipment Mat|Change
Price:$149.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on May 11, 2013
Updated Jan23, 2016.
Still like this bike. Just noticed the comments asking for the table info. Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002VWJZ8S

Original post

I got this bike a month ago. So far I like it. Here are something I'd like to share. It might help you decide which one to buy.

1. The seat is not comfortable enough for me to stay on the bike for 40 minutes. I put a pillow on the seat and it solved the problem (see the image I uploaded).

2. Adjustable Seat: Not sure if I did it wrong, it's adjustable but after adjustment, you have to tighten the screw. It's not like the adjustable ones in the gym that you can adjust whenever you want. I'm OK with it since I'm the only person who use it.

3. Assembly: Easy enough. I assembled it by myself. No difficulties.

4. It's quiet and resistant is good. Easy to adjust.

5. I work at home more than 40 hours a week. Plus driving kids to all kinds of activities, cooking meals etc. Sometimes it's hard to take 30-40 minutes to exercise. So I want to transfer some of my working hours to fitness hours. There's no book holder on console to hold the book or iPad. To buy one, the cost is about $25-$30. I searched high and low on Amazon and found a overbed table less than $60. Bought the table and now I have a bike work station (see image uploaded). I'm typing this review while cycling :)

6. The console works fine. The pulse is accurate. It also tells you time, calories, distance which I don't care. No problem seeing the display.


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on November 27, 2015
Before purchasing this bike on Amazon I read many reviews. Some were glowing others were terrible. I decided for the low price of $169 I’d give it a try.

Delivery: My bike arrived in 6 days which was well within what was promised

Condition: The box had experienced a few bangs, styroam was somewhat broken up, but overall everything was in good condition and nothing was missing

Instructions: Pretty tough to follow. Poor English. Some parts erroneously referred to. Take your time and realize what you are trying to accomplish. The picture on the box is a big help. It took me about 2 hrs going at a very slow pace.

Result: My bike was extremely hard to pedal. At the gym I use a setting of 3 or 4 just for a warm up. This bike was much harder to pedal at a setting of 1. The pedaling was also very uneven as mentioned in other reviews.

My Assessment: Some people may exaggerate there fondness of the bike, but there are so many glowing reports that logically you have to assume that many people are indeed legitimately happy with the product. How then can so many other people, me included, have something that is so difficult and inconsistent to pedal. The answer is in the Tension Control.

Customer Service; I called and got through within a minute or two. The girl I spoke with was very polite, but didn’t seem to understand my problem. Eventually she agreed to send a video showing how to adjust the tension control. It didn’t arrive. That was Friday six days ago. I just called and she promised to immediately send it out. No adjustment for the tension control was received.

How to adjust Tension Control: (My unofficial approach)

1. Remove the screw that holds the tension control in place. Ensure that the cable is not hung up on anything. If it moves freely. Re-install and try again.
2. I felt strongly something had to be wrong and that the problem might be elsewhere so I went a step further at disassembly.
a. I first removed both pedals then
b. about 9 screws that hold the two covers together
c. I also removed the tension control by its one screw and washer
d. The whole bike was then wide open for investigation. I made sure everything was in place and working properly. To remove the two covers may require removal of the cap nuts on the front stabilizer.
e. There is a plastic piece with a groove that is intended to hold the cable in place keeping it from snapping into the cover. Mine had come free. I snapped it back in place.
f. I then adjusted the tension control by loosening the nut which hold the cable into the bracket. I then turned the bracket several turns such that the amount of thread closest to the tension control was reduced.
g. I then turned the pedals by hand to see if they would turn easier. Surprise surprise. They did. I’m not sure if my adjustment fixed the problem, or snapping the cable back in place fixed the problem, or just taking the whole thing apart and freeing up the cable was the cure.
Result: My bike is now working properly. It pedals very easily and now has smooth pedaling.

Two videos were received from customer service

Video to Install Tension control knob:


Speed Sensor Adjustment:

Neither of these addressed my situation, but the first one is of value. .

A. If you have not yet assembled: Before attempting to assemble the bike watch the video on How to assemble the tension control.
B. If you have assembled and the tension control seems way too tight: Watch the install video and ensure that your assembly is in accordance with the video. Dissassembly to check this out requires removing only 1 screw and
C. If step B doesn’t work then more disassembly may be required. See step 2 above.

Overall: Since I was able to fix its biggest problem, I now believe the bike is an excellent buy for the money.
My rating is 4 based on the somewhat tedious process of adjusting the seat, and for directions I consider less than acceptable. If the video referenced above were recommended in the instructions then I would've rated it 5.
Hope this saves others some of the aggravation I experienced
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on April 25, 2016
The bike assembled real well; it's straight-forward enough that for the most part you don't even really need directions. It took about an hour and a half to do by myself, after unpacking and laying out all the items on the floor in a fairly organized manner.
The build was good, no missing or broken parts, no scratched metal. 5 stars for that.
It's very quiet, and the tension settings are easily adjustable. The seat is fairly comfortable, and as long as you have the adjusters tightened correctly it makes no noise as you ride. If they are not very tight, there will be some wobble during the ride. Do I wish for more support or cushioning in the seat? Absolutely. Is it unbearably uncomfortable? Not at all.
The display is fairly simple; it displays the current distance, the time spent, your current heart rate, your mph, and how many calories you've burned for the workout. It also keeps a running count of your overall distance. It doesn't have any fancy programs or anything, it just comes on when you start pedaling. I like that because it's more like a real bike -- just get on and ride!
Also, less gizmos, the less things to go wrong with it. Do you need a bike with a USB charger, a cup holder, a tablet holder or a pretty display to look at if you are using it in your home, where there is probably an outlet and a TV nearby to keep you busy while pedalling? That's the real differences between a $750 bike and this one.

The Cons: When compared to a more expensive bike used at say, a PT facility, the seat is not as comfortable, and the pedaling mechanism isn't as smooth. But it's not a $750 bike either, so I guess you can't expect Mercedes seating at a Ford price.

Long story short, I've had an excellent time with this bike so far, and would highly recommend it to anyone who's looking for a relatively inexpensive bike and trying to get into a healthy workout routine. The negatives are too minor at this price point to discourage anyone from buying it.
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on July 20, 2016
Bike works great. I do wish the seat adjustment was easier. My husband is 14 inches taller than me so we have to jockey it back and forth which is a pain. You can't beat the price for this kind of bike though.
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on February 9, 2016
Took about three hours to put together alone. The instructions had one picture for paragraphs of text and I had to re-read again and again to figure out what I needed to do. It would have been easier if it was more step by step with individual photos. Some of the bolts didn't line up correctly and were extremely hard to get in and tighten. I'm missing the dark gray piece that is supposed to cover the bolts at the bottom of the handle bars.

When it was all put together I tried it out. The tension on 1 would have been way too hard for my mother, who the bike was for. I took apart the tension piece and jerry rigged a way to get the tension loser using a bolt and a washer to pull it tighter. Definitely helped, but that shouldn't have been necessary and it still isn't effortless. I've attached photos for anyone that might be having the same problem.
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on January 23, 2016
This is a nice, basic exercise bike that works exactly as advertised. Assembly took ~90 mins. I would have given the bike 5 stars except for one annoying issue that arose during assembly that caused ~15 extra mins of assembly time. In step one, you connect the two big frame pieces. One piece inserts into the other, then you bolt them together. A stray bit of welding material caused a bump inside and when I went to insert one piece into the other, it would not clear the bump of welding material, thus the bolt holes would not align. This was almost a show-stopper, but I was eventually able to get the piece I was inserting over the bump by bending the metal a little.spraying the bump with WD40, and then hammering the two pieces together. Pics attached show before assembly, after assembly, and where I had to bend the metal to facilitate assembly.
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on March 11, 2017
I've used this bike for approximately 60-120 minutes a day, 4-6 days a week for the last 4 months. While I do like the bike, I have to remember that you get what you pay for. The features are just enough for me, but my only problem with the bike is that it has never been the best quality. I have constantly had to tighten the knobs to keep it from the seat wobbling. When I peddle up to 17-18 mph, it does make a noise. In the last few days it won't allow me to tighten the knobs anymore and it looks like it is just going to shake now. :( While it's not enough that I feel like it will fall apart, it's enough to irritate me. I will continue to use it until I decide to invest in something better.
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on November 6, 2013
I've had the bike for 3 days and I love it. This is coming from someone who does NOT like to exercise :) I'm 5'8" and 228 lbs and the bike is very comfortable and actually enjoyable to use. It’s very convenient to have it in the house.

I ordered the bike on a Friday and it was delivered on the following Monday. UPS must have been very careful because there was no damage to the box or the enclosed bike at all. Whoever packed that box must have been a sadist because I found it challenging to get everything out and I can promise that I'm not returning it even if it breaks down because there is no chance in heck that I will ever be able to repack it!

You will need some kind of a mat or carpet under the bike to protect your floor.

Contrarily to the scary picture greeting you when you open the manual, there aren't that many parts to assemble because most of everything is already pre-assembled. That was a big relief because that picture really scared me! Because so many people are complaining that the instructions are hard to read, I am retyping them in detailed and clearer English at the bottom of this review.
I hope this helps someone!

I assembled it on my own, taking my time to make sure I was following all the directions properly and it took me about 90 minutes to assemble it. The tools you need are included, which is nice, although using a regular Phillips head screwdriver might be a little more comfortable, especially if you have problems gripping things. No, I have never assembled one of those before. If I did it, so can you!

The computer is packed in a square white cardboard box. The 2 tools (Allen wrench and Phillips head screwdriver/wrench) are packed with the few loose bolts/nuts/washers that you will need. The tension assembly is packed with the pedals. I’m mentioning this because I thought I was missing the tools at first.

Some reviewers have complained that the wires for the computer/heart monitor aren't color-coded and that it made the assembly difficult. Honestly, I did not find this to be a problem. Take your time and observe: each time you have to connect wires, there is 1 wire that is by itself that you will need to connect to the corresponding “lonely” wire on the other part, and 2 other wires that are either fused together or come from the same direction that you will connect to the other “group” of 2 wires on the other part (and in the case of those 2 wires it doesn't seem to matter which you plug into which. Just be careful and once again observe where the little metal teeth are and where the corresponding tiny holes are on the other wire's end so you don't jam them in the wrong way and end up bending them. It's really NOT a big deal. Most of the wires are secured with elastic bands so they don't get stuck inside the frame before assembly: just remove the rubber bands and GENTLY pull on them to extend them to their full length before connecting them. Then GENTLY tuck them back into the frame before assembling the bike parts.

The one difficulty I encountered was when it came to putting the tension assembly back into the frame of the bike and then installing the tension knob. The spring hook would only go back into the frame partway and with the big plastic knob attached to it, it was awkward to maneuver it while trying not to break anything. I found that pushing the spring hook in sideways allowed the whole hook to fit into the frame and then I also twisted the knob at a 45 degree angle so the plastic part that was supposed to fit into the frame actually had enough clearance to go in. It didn't take all that long to figure out but it was harder than it should have been, I think.

As the instructions say, be careful when assembling the pedals: they are marked L and R, both on the shaft and on the pedals themselves (and also on the straps) and the instructions clearly state that when you assemble the LEFT pedal, you need to screw the pedal on COUNTERCLOCKWISE or you will strip the threads. However, you screw in the RIGHT pedal CLOCKWISE.
Other people have mentioned having a hard time installing the computer. I think that maybe they didn't realize that you need to slide down it in place, not just force it in place. There are small groves to match. The instructions do not specify this but if you take your time, you would notice.

As many people have mentioned, adjusting the seat position is a pain if you're going to have more than 1 person using it and you are of different sizes because you need to unscrew and take out 3 different knobs, reposition the seat, and reinstall the 3 knobs. So it's feasible, but not very convenient and it’s time consuming. Luckily for me, I plan on being the only person using it.
Several people have also mentioned the creaking seat. I found that tightening the 3 knobs as much as possible took care of the problem. The bike mechanism itself is incredibly quiet (I have only used it on levels 2 and 5).

I like the computer although I’ve only used it in SCAN mode. It displays each measurement for 6 seconds before moving on to the next: time elapsed since you started pedaling (the computer turns itself off if you don’t use the bike for 4 minutes and resets all the counters except the total mileage counter), distance, odometer (since you started using the bike), your speed (which seems to vary wildly, I will say), your pulse (it will show 0 if you are not grabbing the handles bar where the sensors are) and calories burned. You cannot input your weight so the number of calories burned is just a general indication. You can set the computer to count down a certain number of minutes or certain distance, or even a certain number of calories to burn. You can also preset a target heart rate if you wish.

The only way to reset the odometer is to take the batteries out of the computer. The computer is operated by 2 AA batteries (included) and the battery case is easily accessible. As I mentioned before, there is no ON or OFF button for the computer. It turns itself on as soon as you start pedaling or if you hit a button on the computer and it turns itself off if you haven’t used the bike or the computer in 4 minutes.

The display is NOT backlit or lit at all so you can only see it in a room that is itself lit.

You can adjust the tension level from 1 to 8. I find that the knob, which is angled down, is hard to read when you’re sitting on the bike. I wear bifocals and I still had trouble determining if I was on level 5 or 6, but it is a minor design fault.

You cannot fold the bike to put it away. It needs to stay in its permanent, indoor, position. You can move it by lifting the back and rolling it on the small wheels on the top front of the front stabilizer (there’s a picture at the bottom of the Amazon description) but I haven’t tried it. I can’t imagine that those small wheels wouldn’t damage hardwood floors.

ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS (re-written by Book Enthusiast on 11/6/13) - You might want to copy and paste those in a word processing document so you can adjust the spacing and the indents for clearer reading.)

After unpacking all the part, CAREFULLY remove all the plastic wrapping. Some parts have delicate electrical wires that could be damaged if you’re not careful!

You really should read everything in the manual, especially the warnings, but for practical purposes, just open the manual to page 8.

All you need to know about page 8 is that the "(30) Bolt M8x70" is the longer kind of the loose bolts that are included in a bag with the tools. The "(70) Bolt M8x45" is the shorter kind. The bolts come already fitted with their washers and their cap nuts. When it comes time to use them (I don’t recommend doing it before so you don’t lose any pieces), you will need to unscrew the cap nuts. Leave the washers in place, though.

Now SKIP THE SCARY PICTURE ON PAGE 9 and go to page 10. The diagrams are somewhat useful, if confusing because of all the part numbers on there.

a. Locate the Rear Main Frame part: that is the part pictured on the RIGHT side of the illustration. You will see that it comes with 6 bolts already assembled in that part. Using the Allen wrench, remove the bolts. Keep the washers in place on the bolts if you can, it’ll save time.
b. Locate the Front Main Frame part: that is the part pictured on the LEFT side of the illustration, the part with the big plastic casing.
c. Position those 2 parts like in the picture but don’t join them yet. In the middle where they will join, you will see 3 wires coming out of each part. The wires are secured with elastic bands. Remove the elastic bands carefully, try not to tug on the wires.
d. On each part, observe that 1 wire is on its own whereas the other 2 wires kind of go together. Match them with the same on the other part. BEFORE connecting the wires, look at the little plugs so you fit the small metal teeth in the tiny holes the first time correctly. If you bend them, that could prevent the computer from working properly. Once you feel certain that you understand how to connect the wires properly, connect all 3 wires.
e. Now carefully connect the Rear Main Frame to the Front Main Frame. You will need to stuff the wiring into the frame as you go. Be careful.
f. Now replace the bolts and washers that you had removed, using the Allen wrench. Tighten all the bolts.

a. The Front Stabilizer is the tube-looking part that has the little wheels on top. Pay attention to the sticker on the part telling you which way is up. The little wheels need to be up in the air, not on the floor.
b. The Back Stabilizer is the other one It has your bike’s serial number on it so it might be a good time to take a picture of it or write it down on the front of your manual because you will need it if you ever need to contact the warranty provider or if you bought the Square Trade Warranty.
c. Take 2 of the LONG loose bolts and unscrew the cap off. Leave the curve washers in place on the bolts. You will need the Multi Hex tool too.
d. I found it useful to have something to rest the edge of Front Main Frame onto so I could attach the stabilizer (because of the angle in which the bolt has to go). I used one of those clear plastic shoeboxes, upside down. The bike is already heavy at that time so it cracked it, but it worked.
e. Take the Front Stabilizer (remember, see which way the UP sticker is pointing) and nest it against that curved end in the front of the Front Main Frame. The bolts go in from the bottom up, at an angle. Once one bolt is through, screw the cap back on slightly. Look under to make sure the curve washer is positioned appropriately and then tighten the nut completely using the Multi Hex tool. Repeat with the other bolt. Then you can take the bike off whatever support you used, you won’t need it anymore.
f. Take the Back Stabilizer. The stickers with the serial numbers, etc. should face OUT (i.e. NOT towards the bike). Same thing as with the Front Stabilizer, put the bolts in, secure the washers in place and tighten the nuts with the Multi Hex tool.

a. Look at the top part of the Front Main Frame, where the handle bar will go. Remove the 4 bolts that are in place, using the Allen wrench. Leave the washers in place on the bolts.
b. Find that plastic part that looks like a drink holder. That is the Front Handlebar Post Cover.
c. Find the Front Handlebar Post part. It’s the part at the top left in the illustration on p12.
d. Slide the Post Cover part up onto the Front Handlebar Post. Look at the illustration to see which way if you’re not sure.
e. Locate the Tension Cable (it’s metal and has a hook at the end) that is located in the shaft from which you just removed the bolts. Gently pull on it to extended its whole length.
f. Insert the Tension Cable through the bottom hole of the Front Handlebar Post and gently force it all the way up. You will see a RECTANGULAR opening at the top of the Post. Pull the cable through that opening.
g. Locate the 3 electric wires in the same shaft where you found the Tension Cable. Gently tug on them to extend them to their full length. Remove the elastic bands.
h. Locate the other 3 electric wires coming out from the bottom of the Front Handlebar Post. Gently tug on them to extend their full length and remove the elastic bands. Now connect the 3 wires together, just like last time. Take your time and be gentle.
i. Gently tuck the connected wires back into one of the two parts and then slide the Front Handlebar Post onto the tube of the Front Main Frame.
j. Reattach the 4 bolts that you had taken off and tighten them.
k. Slide the plastic Front Handlebar Post Cover all the way down so it covers that area with the bolts.
l. Find the Tension Control Knob (it is packed with the pedals, you might need scissors to cut the hard plastic wrapping off.) Remove the bolt from it. Leave the washer in place on the bolt.
m. At the point, look at the small illustrations A and B on top of page 12 to see how you need to connect the resistance cable from the knob with the Tension Cable hook. It’s not hard.
n. Now comes the challenging part: you need to stick that cable with the hook back into the frame. Now that it’s connected to the tension cable, though, it’s a little awkward and the hook might not want to go all the way back in. Try twisting the hook assembly on its side to make it fit into the opening. The hook should be COMPLETELY back into the frame (mine kept wanting to rest on the bottom of the rectangular opening).
o. Once the cable and hook are back into the frame, it’s time to install the Tension Control Knob in place. Once again, this is a bit awkward. Be gently because you don’t want to break that plastic part! Twist it so it’s kind of catty-corner with the opening (there is a small plastic knob on the back of the big knob and I angled that toward the right top corner of the rectangular opening and that let me put the big knob in place. Once everything is in place, reattach the bolt and washer that you had taken out.
p. Locate the 2 pedals. Notice that they are marked L and R.
q. Now pay attention because doing this wrong would be bad: make sure that you fit the L pedal onto the left Pedal Shaft (marked L) and screw it on COUNTERCLOCKWISE. Don’t screw it clockwise or you will strip the threads!
r. Now fit the R pedal onto the right Pedal Shaft (marked R) and screw it on CLOCKWISE. Same caution as above but in reverse!
s. Tighten the pedal shafts with the Multi Hex tool.
t. Attach the pedal straps. Note that they are marked L and R. When I use my sneakers, I need to have the straps on the last notch on each side (giving me the widest opening) to fit my shoes through and comfortably position my feet on the pedals.

a. Locate the Back/Seat Support Bracket part. That’s the last metal part you still have laying around.
b. Remove the 8 bolts from it (see the bottom part of it). Leave the washers in place on the bolts.
c. A long rectangular metal piece will become loose. That’s the Seat Sliding Tube. Slide it the corresponding rectangular part of the Rear Main Frame and align the holes. Then reattach the 8 bolts and washers. Tighten them with the Allen wrench.
d. Locate the 3 knobs for the seat (1 round-headed plastic knob with writing on it, 2 triangular-headed knobs).
e. Put the seat in the approximate pedaling position that you think will be comfortable for you. If you guess wrong, you can readjust it later on. Line up the holes and insert the round knob in the hole on the right side of the bike, towards the front of where the seat will be. Tighten it but not too hard yet, until you can try the position of the seat for yourself.
f. The other 2 knobs go towards the back on the left side (tighten it but not too hard yet) and also UNDER the seat assembly (that’s the one with the larger bolt size on it). Locate where that one will go so you know BUT DON’T PUT IT IN PLACE YET because you’re going to need to remove it again prior to actually installing the seat.
g. Locate that big handlebar (that’s the last part you have laying around aside from the computer). Attach it to the Back/Seat Support Bracket. It seats very low at your butt level. You will see a bracket where you can sit it before you bolt it in. Use the 2 short loose bolts that are remaining to secure it in place (the bolts go in from the top and the flat washers sit by the nuts.) Tighten the bolts with the Multi Hex tool.
h. On the back of that handlebar, you will see 3 electrical wires. Gently remove the elastic band and gently tug on the wires to extend them to their complete length.
i. Look at the bottom of the seat assembly and you will see a black corkscrew cable sticking out. Tug on it gently and as before, connect all 3 electrical wires carefully to those that you just untucked from the handlebar.

a. Locate the computer. It is in a square white cardboard box. There also should be 2 AA batteries with it.
b. Remove the 4 “bolts” (they look like screws) from the back of the computer with a Phillips head screw driver (there is one at the end of the Multi Hex tool).
c. Locate the 3 electrical wires that are coming out of the top of the Front Handlebar Post shaft, gently remove the elastic band and gently tug on them to extend their full length.
d. As in the past, connect those 3 electrical wires with the 3 wires coming out from the back of the computer. Gently tuck the wires back into the post shaft.
e. Attach the computer to the Front Handlebar Post by sliding it into place (there are groves). Reattach the screws (bolts) with the Phillips head screw driver.
f. Install the batteries. The flat part of each battery needs to rest again the spring. The computer display should turn on.

a. Remove the bolts and washers from the back of the seat cushions with the Phillips head screwdriver. I like that the groves are deep enough that it’s not that easy to strip the head of the bolts.
b. Attach the seat cushions to the frame with the bolts and washers you just removed. The larger cushion is the back cushion. For the bottom cushion, the straight side goes towards the back of the back, the more pointy side towards the front. Tighten well. Once you have attached the bottom seat, insert the last seat knob and tighten lightly.
c. Sit down and put your feet in the pedal straps. Strap pedaling slowly. You’re just testing the distance of your seat at this point. If you had guessed the position wrong, you will need to completely remove all 3 knobs and slide the seat assembly in the position that is most comfortable for you before reinserting all 3 knobs and tightening them up as much as you can (not tightening them could be dangerous AND also make the seat creak).

Now you should be ready to start using your bike! Thankfully, the rest of the manual is very clear on how to operate the computer and how to make adjustments, as well as maintenance instructions and even some troubleshooting. The last couple of pages have some warm-up exercises and a part request fax form.

I know that my instructions are way longer than the original ones, but I think they’re much clearer. I hope you agree. Good luck!
1010 comments| 129 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on August 3, 2016
I have had the product for about a week and can say it has delivered on promises at a reasonable price. It appears to be "over built" to this engineer and even so at about 65#s not all that heavy. It is sufficiently
adjustable to fit my 5'3" Asian wife and my NFL sized 6'3"s / 275 self with another inch or so available.
The seat as others reported is a little to firm and needs augmentation(more padding). The workmanship and quality seem very good again price considered. I would caution that the assembly is a bit difficult with
a couple of small details that are not easy to get done and takes from 1 to 1-1/2 hours. They provide the tools needed and are a handy set of little tools to throw in your car or desk drwr. I used a set of more professional tools which helped speed things up! A small socket set and ratcheting screw driver with asst.
"bits" will speed things up but the provided tools are sufficient to do the job. I have not used the 900XL too
many times but it works smoothly and is VERY quiet. It has some small rollers in front so if you pick up the back end you can roll it but be careful on carpets and such but was easy to push on my hardwood floors.
Priswise this cannot be beat for dollars to quality ratio. Probably a 5 starer but I never give 5 stars sorry!
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
on December 17, 2017
UPDATE: the manufacturer has been fabulous to work with and sent me a new mainframe to address the grating pedals. After switching out the old mainframe and assembling the new one, the pedaling is smooth and even. The pedaling still isn't as cushioned as what you'd get in a more expensive model, but that's to be expected in this price range. I'm happy with the pedaling experience now and can ride much more comfortably. I'm adding a star for the excellent customer service and for the value at this price range. That being said, the seat depth, handlebars, and seat hardness are things that detract from my exercise experience each time I ride. Also, other people have reported the same issues, so it seems there's a chance you might get a bike with poor pedaling, even if you think you'll be one of the lucky ones (when I ordered, I thought my chances of getting a defective one would be low lol). So if you're buying, consider whether you're up for working with customer service, disassembling the bike, then reassembling it to get the product you want. The price might make all the extra effort worth it to you, or you might consider paying a little more to avoid the issues.

There are four main problems with the bike, and they make it almost unusable for me.

1.The pedaling is NOT smooth. Even on the lowest resistance, the pedal rotation is jerky, uneven, and grating (I'm not sure how to express the grating. It's not exactly a sound, but you know how when you ride a bike, it feels like all you have to do is keep pushing, and the pedals naturally complete a rotation without you thinking about it? Like, when you pedal, the pedals just go. But not here. The pedals never just go, which makes pedaling laborious. And I'm talking about something different from resistance, which requires more effort but still allows you to cycle evenly and smoothly). I've never been on a bike (real or stationary) that does this. I have an upright Exerpeutic bike that we got from Walmart or something (same price range, manual resistance, etc.), and it pedals just fine, like you would expect a normal bike to pedal. Anyway, this makes the bike awful to use.
2. The seat is uncomfortable. Although I'm young, I have some back and muscle pain, so when I was reading reviews and deciding which recumbent to get, I specifically looked for a bike that wouldn't be uncomfortable. And this seat (the bottom part) is fine...up until 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, my butt both loses feeling and develops a throbbing pain from the hardness underneath the minimal cushioning. So I just have to power through to 30 minutes. I can't see riding much longer than that.
3. The seat is ridiculously deep, which interferes with pedaling. I think the description in some versions of this recumbent say that the seat is extra large or extra wide. It's not. It's extra DEEP. A couple other reviewers mentioned how the seat was too wide and they couldn't pedal right, so they had to add a pillow. I figured they must be small, and how could a wide seat bother anyone? What they meant was that the seat is too deep (front to back). I don't think anyone could have sit bones that length? I'm 5'7 and have medium to long legs. But I have to put a pillow behind my back to push myself forward so the front of the seat doesn't cut into the backs of my thighs and disrupt my ability to pedal. But the pillow moves around and flattens and looks...a little trashy.
4. The handlebars are in an unfortunate position. I tend to tense my shoulders, so it was important to find a bike with handles around the level of the bottom seat, so I could grip them and keep my shoulders down. But these bars are higher than the seat, which causes tension in the shoulders. Before I got the bike, I looked at the questions section, and someone had a similar concern. A customer answered and said you could just install the handlebars upside down. You Can't. That is, you can, but they point straight toward the ground and are unusable as handlebars. I know the seller isn't responsible for the customer's answer, but it would have been nice if they had answered the question themselves. If I had known I wouldn't have had a usable handle, I wouldn't have gotten the bike.

At this point, I'm not sure what I can say that is positive. I mean, it IS a bike, so that's something. The metal, structural parts seemed really sturdy and well made when I was assembling things. The cosmetic parts and plastic parts seem more cheaply made and prone to damage. There were some scrapes when I opened it, but they were small and didn't bother me. I know I can't expect a fix for the handlebars, which is unfortunate. But maybe my review can help someone with the same question. I also can't expect a seat that fits. But I DO expect to be able to pedal smoothly and evenly. That would at least make the bike usable, even if it's not perfect. I'm hoping the pedal problem is something the seller can address and fix.
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