Top positive review
143 people found this helpful
Wins by a nose.
on January 17, 2015
After riding and considering several of the top spin bikes, I chose the GX. It has the best combination of features and quality for my purposes.
First, as a triathlete residing in the great Northeast, I have to include indoor training as the worst of winter rolls in. The classic indoor trainers that you fit your bike into are frustrating to me in a few ways. They tend to be noisy. They burn through tires. They stress your bike fame when you really stand up and crank. The inertia of the flywheel tends to be too low. Also, they are a bit of a pain to share with family members (switching out bike, skewer, more worn tires, etc). So I wanted a good spin bike that I could get to match my tri bike geometry, would operate smoothly and silently, would have a nice heavy flywheel for natural feeling inertia, and be easy to share with the other triathletes in the house.
I rode the PelotonCycle, the Keiser M3, and the Schwinn AC Performance Plus. All terrific bikes. All offer something a little different. I was intrigued by the CycleOps bikes as they seem the most "road-like", but was turned off by lack of magnetic resistance. At this price point, I'm NOT going to get a friction pad bike.
The Peloton Cycle is a unique product. It includes a large tablet computer that links the rider to live and recorded spin classes (for a subscription fee). I love the concept, but the price is a bit steep and the included computer is locked so that you can't view other content such as YouTube or TV shows. But what really ruined it for me was that this otherwise excellent bike had no fore-aft handlebar adjustment and no aerobar. So despite it being a very well built machine with heavy flywheel, belt drive, and magnetic resistance, I just could not make it fit like a tri bike. Deal breaker.
The Keiser M3 is quite nice. It is the bike that my local spin studio uses. It looks beautiful. It has silent belt drive and magnetic resistance and an elegant "gear" lever for adjusting said resistance -- which I prefer to the clunky knob found on most bikes -- a holdover from the old friction pad design. It is a solid bike, though like the Peloton, it lacks fore-aft handlebar adjustment. The M3+ adds this feature, but in doing so, loses the classic handlebar with aeros for an awkward design that is not aerobar-like at all. Fine for a spin class. Not so good for endurance training. Additional notes; the flywheel is somewhat light compared to the competition and the Q-factor (distance between the pedals) is especially wide on the Keiser. Next...
The Schwinn AC Perf Plus. So close to perfection. I very nearly bought this bike. I've ridden it at Flywheel spin studios. It is rock solid. Heavy flywheel. Magnetic resistance. Great handlebars with fore-aft adjustment. But... I didn't want a chain driven drive-train. The silence and maintenance free operation of a belt drive are important. Schwinn has answered this need with their Carbon Blue belt drive. I never got a chance to try one out. But after reading all the user reviews I could find, it seems clear that the Carbon Blue belt, which has teeth to simulate the "grab" of a chain, makes an audible buzz as it operates. I really wish I could have tried it first hand to see if the noise is truly bothersome. This is a fine, fine machine. But for lack of knowing, I kept my options open and finally tried the GX.
I am fortunate that a local shop had the Lifecycle GX on the floor for me to try. I hopped on and got a feel. Hopped off and made a few fit adjustments. In a brief moment, I got it close to my tri bike fit. Plus it has a check in every box; belt drive, magnetic resistance with lever adjust, aerobars, fore-aft adjustable bars, built like a tank, great flywheel inertia, backed by an industry leader. The included computer is great, though I wish there were a true power reading in watts (the Schwinn offers this for extra$$). I am a new owner, but will update this review as necessary. I would give the Schwinn ACPerf+ the edge in terms of ruggedness, but not by much. This is a solid bike. The GX is much better looking than the Schwinn, but that is a very minor consideration. Finally, the GX was delivered to my driveway with computer and extended warranty for the same $$ as the Schwinn Carbon Blue with no computer. So it is a better value.