Bowflex VeloCore 22 Review and Comparison
Bowflex VeloCore 22 Overview
Established in 1986, Bowflex is a well-established fitness equipment brand with a broad range of home exercise products ranging from simple exercise machines to full-fledged home gym setups. Bowflex products are known for quality and durability. In 2020, Bowflex introduced a new member to its range of indoor bikes under the VeloCore name. Among the two-Velocore range of indoor cycles (Velocore 16 and Velocore 22) that Bowflex currently offers, the VeloCore 22 is the more expensive with a number of premium features and a particularly unique trick up its sleeve: it allows the rider to lean from side to side while doing workouts! (more on that feature in a minute). The other model is the Bowflex C7 which is a mid-range indoor spin bike.
On first glance, the VeloCore 22 seems to have the typical profile of most indoor spin bikes in this category, including its direct competitors like the Peloton Bike. I found the VeloCore’s aesthetics to be rather unassuming, which is generally a good thing when it comes blending in with most home interiors. It has a matte black finish with subtle red accents. The dimensions of the VeloCore 22 are 59.8″ L x 24.1″ W x 55.3″ H (151.8 x 61.2 x 140.4 cm) and it weighs in at 158.3 lbs (71.8kg) in its fully assembled form. The weight makes the VeloCore 22 one of the heavier bikes in this class, especially when comparing it to indoor bikes like the Keiser M3i that weighs less than 90-lbs. In terms of size, it has fairly standard dimensions so it takes the same amount of floor space as pretty much any other spin bike on the market, but it does need slightly more lateral space due to the lean function it offers. The construction of the VeloCore 22 reflects the premium price tag, on par with indoor bikes in the same category like the Peloton Bike and Echelon Connect EX5s, and once assembled it gives an impression of sturdiness and durability. The bike has two front wheels that allow it to be moved around with ease.
The VeloCore is shipped in two boxes: one holds the various parts of the bike itself, and the second has the large 22in LCD screen. While it is entirely possible to assemble the VeloCore 22 yourself if you are comfortable with simple tools, many parts are rather heavy and unwieldly, and if you plan on assembling it yourself might be a good idea to enlist the help of a family member or a friend. Bowflex provides a very helpful assembly instruction video (https://www.bowflex.com/video/velocore-bike-assembly.html). The bike is broken down into 17 parts, and assembly starts with putting the stabilizers on the main frame, which I personally found to be the most challenging part if working alone due to the unwieldiness of trying to handle the heavy frame while placing the stabilizers where they need to be bolted on. Once the stabilizers are on, the rest of the process wasn’t too difficult, if just time-consuming. The tools required for assembly are all included in the box.
That said, while I am personally comfortable with using tools, Bowflex is aware that do-it-yourself assembly is not for everyone, and accordingly offers a very convenient in-home assembly service for $199. If you opt to purchase this service at the time of ordering the bike, you will receive a call to schedule an assembly appointment shortly after the bike is delivered to your home. On the assembly day, the technicians from Bowflex will position the bike in the preferred location inside your home and fully assemble and setup the bike, with the only additional steps remaining being to plug in the bike, connect it to your home’s wireless network for the software to download any necessary updates then create a rider profile to start your workouts.
The VeloCore 22 offers a particularly unique feature among bikes in the same category of premium home use spin bikes, which is the ability to engage a “Lean Mode” that allows the rider to sway from side to side during workouts, which makes for a full body exercise experience. The VeloCore’s lean mode can be engaged or disengaged by pressing a large red button located on the top section of bike. Keep in mind that you will need an area of 48.4 inches in width, at minimum, to make enough room for the bike’s side-to-side movement when Lean Mode is engaged.
The bike offers 100 levels of silent magnetic resistance with a 33lbs flywheel. Resistance is controlled manually by turning a red knob on the top section of the bike right in front of the Lean Mode knob. The resistance control knob also serves as an emergency brake (by pressing down on it) to instantly stop the flywheel. There is a “media rack” right below the LCD screen that offers a convenient spot for your phone or tablet. The VeloCore 22 has fixed-length 170mm crank arms and a seatpost and handlebars with a wide range of adjustability. The pedals are dual-sided, offering choice between platform-style pedals with toe straps on one side and SPD-compatible clip-ins on the other. The pedals can be replaced with any other standard set of 9/16-in thread pedals.
The bike comes with a Bluetooth heart rate monitor (very useful for tracking heart rate on the large LCD screen) as well a set of two 3lb dumbbells that have their own on-bike storage. Also included in the price is a two-year warranty and one-year labor warranty.
Bowflex has its own fitness software platform, called JRNY. The JRNY app comes bundled with the VeloCore 22 (it requires a monthly or annual subscription, but the first two months are free) and allows riders to select from a range of streamable instructor-led workouts, as well as customize their user experience on the bike. The first time you turn the bike’s LCD screen on it will prompt you to create a user profile and select up to three fitness goals which will be used to customize your workouts. Multiple user profiles can be created so that the bike could be personalized to household members who will be using it. What I found to be slightly inconvenient, though, is the fact that every time another family member wanted to use the bike and needed to switch profiles, users need to sign-out/sign-in every time.
Your first workout will be a fitness assessment test. If you opt to skip the fitness assessment ride you can access it later by going to the “Just For You” section in the VeloCore’s start-up screen. The fitness text workout is a key feature of the JRNY platform as it allows the bike to personalize your workouts and offer you a fitness program with a progressive intensity to suit your current fitness and improvement goals.
JRNY allows you to record a number of key performance metrics including time, distance, interval, lean, resistance levels, cadence, calories burned, calorie burn rate and heart rate. The app also has a motivation-boosting feature based on rewards and achievements which is certainly useful in terms of keeping the user engaged in their workout schedule. The app also offers training sessions that display scenic riding locations from around the world, which can be a great way to mix things up and prevent boredom from eroding your motivation to stay committed to your workouts.
JRNY’s membership is not limited to adaptive workouts. It also lets you listen to radio stations, as well as watch Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+. While those streaming services require that you have your own membership and sign in using your access credentials, the VeloCore only unlocks access to the entertainment streaming apps with a JRNY membership, which I found to be rather peculiar. I’d expect to be able to use services I already pay separately for without having to have a JRNY membership if I just want to watch streaming content while I am working out on the VeloCore 22.
While you don’t necessarily need a JRNY membership to enjoy exercising on the VeloCore 22, it certainly enriches the rider experience. If you opt not to get a JRNY membership, you will only be able to do manual workouts on the bike and your workout data will not be saved after each session.
Bowflex VeloCore 22 IC Bike Features
- Q-Factor: 175mm
- Pedals: Dual-sided SPD and toe clips
- Flywheel: 33lbs
- Resistance: Magnetic
- Transmission: Belt
- Weight capacity: f 325 lbs (147.4kg)
- Height capacity: 5 feet 1 inch (154cm) to 6 feet 5 inches (195cm
- Bike weight: 158.3 lbs (71.8kg)
- Other Apps: Can synch with Zwift, Pelton and other apps via Bluetooth
- Bike dimensions: 59.8″ L x 24.1″ W x 55.3″ H (151.8 x 61.2 x 140.4 cm)
- Monitor: 22in HD Touchscreen Backlit
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Applications: JRNY platform with streaming apps
- RPM tracking: Yes
- Speed tracking: Yes
- Watt tracking: Yes (Estimation)
- Resistance level tracking: Yes
Bowflex VeloCore 22 IC Bike Pros
- Unique “Lean Mode” that offers a full-body workout experience, engaging arms and core
- Bluetooth integration for heart rate monitors and headphones
- Smooth and silent magnetic drive with 100 levels of resistance
- Large 22in LCD screen with popular streaming services integration
- Dual-sided pedals
- The bike can connect to Zwift, Peloton, and other applications (via Bluetooth and your personal tablet/phone)
Bowflex VeloCore 22 IC Bike Cons
- On the more expensive end of this category of home exercise bikes
- JRNY app membership needed to unlock most of the functionality including streaming entertainment content
- Need to login/log out every time a profile switch is needed
- I found the saddle that comes with the VeloCore 22 to be rather uncomfortable (Bowflex does sell a “comfort seat” as an upgrade)
- The VeloCore’s software platform, JRNY, is lacking in functionality compared to direct competitors like the Peloton Bike, and isn’t the most intuitive
- You can’t install Zwift, Peloton, and other none Bwflex cycling application on the monitor
The Final Verdict
The VeloCore 22 is a premium home exercise bike with solid set of features and high-quality construction. I believe it is a great option for those in the market for a high-end spin bike and are willing to invest in a subscription platform to enjoy the full set of features offered by the bike. Its most notable feature is the ability to engage “Lean Mode” which allows the rider to get a full body workout, and this is the feature I personally liked the most. The VeloCore comes with a selection of smart adaptive workout and entertainment options to keep riders motivated and engaged, but most of the features are only available with a subscription to Bowflex’s JRNY platform. The VeloCore 22 is positioned as a direct competitor to the Peloton Bike, which has a dedicated community of riders, live instructor-led workouts, a huge selection of supplementary off-bike workouts as well as competitive leaderboards. I believe the VeloCore 22 offers an attractive hardware package which is let down by the still rather rudimentary JRNY platform.