Nordictrack S22i Review: What You Should Know
Nordictrack S22i Overview
The Nordictrack S22i Studio cycle, I was very excited to review this exercise bike as I had heard so much about it. This bike probably has more technology than any other bike I have seen when it comes to indoor cycling. It’s got everything you could ever want in an indoor cycling bike, and more. It will replicate climbing with an incline and decline system, it’s fantastic. The bike’s front will move while you ride, tilting up and down, and even has a cooling system for the user under the screen! You’re looking at $1999 for this indoor cycle and like most high-end spin bikes comes with a subscription charge to the application they use. It’s a similar setup to Peloton and Echelon. Assembly is straightforward and can be achieved in less than two hours with the tools provided. It offers a generous five-year warranty on the frame and two years on parts and labor. In this range, Nordictrack has two bikes, the S22i and the S15i, The S22i being the top model and the S15i being the budget model. I feel they have gone in with the desire for this bike to be the best, offering more than any other exercise bike on the market. Have they done this?
Let’s start with the Monitor, it’s a 22” High Definition touchscreen and can move around and swivel for off-bike work such as yoga and stretching work. I didn’t expect it to be of such high quality when I first saw it, so this was a pleasant surprise. Not only the screen but the sound system is excellent. It works well, and even when you are sweating a little bit, the touch screen still operates correctly. When using the screen, you have a slight delay when going through options, but it’s very smooth while riding. On display, while you are either free-riding or doing a class, you have the Incline level, Watts, RPM, resistance level, and time elapsed. It is Bluetooth compatible but not ANT+, so it can be limiting when it comes to heart rate monitors, but most headphones and other devices use Bluetooth. The Nordictrack Studio bike range is intended to be used with their App IFit. The App has so much on it. Starting at Studio Classes, the instructors are excellent, and the classes are well put together. Most days, they have 10+ live classes to choose from, and new classes land on the App every day. It also has Google maps integration and can take you on virtual rides worldwide with the highest quality when it comes to film footage. You have Strength and Conditioning Classes, Yoga, and Stretching. They have over 16,000 workouts on the App altogether. Not only do you have these incredible workouts, but they have made them interactive also with this fantastic incline and decline system the bike has. You can be riding either with an instructor or on a visual trail ride and then hit a hill, and automatically, the cycle will rise at the front, and the resistance will come in heavier. If you go downhill, the bike will decline, and resistance will become lighter to pedal. It’s excellent and gives the bike such an exciting feel to it. When you buy the bike, it comes with a whole year free on the family plan for iFit, which is about $399 worth. When that’s over, it’s $39 a month, or if you decide not to renew, you have a few fundamental workouts on the system ready for you.
The screen is for the iFit App only, so Nordictrack says it will not support any other media, so Netflix and Zwift are out of the question. The screen also has a fan with different settings to keep you cool while spinning. It may seem like such a small thing, but it is so lovely not to be feeling hot or the need for a fan on the floor next to you. Under the fan, you also have a storage place for your phone and some weights on each side.
These spinning bikes are commercial grade. This means they are designed for heavy use in a gym environment, so you know they are built with quality and take a lot of use. The transmission is a simple belt drive linked to an inertia enhanced flywheel and is a frictionless magnetic system. The magnets are positioned close to the flywheel, and the closer they become, the higher the level of resistance generated. What makes this like no other bike is that you don’t dial this in as you would on a regular spinning bike. This is all done electronically with buttons on the handlebars. It has 24 levels you can choose from and is silky smooth throughout the movements. The next thing I want to mention is this system for the incline and decline. It’s also electronic and can be controlled with buttons on the handlebars. This is currently the only bike to have this system, and I think highly of it. It completely changes a workout. While flat and pedaling freely, the bike is extremely quiet, and you would struggle to hear it in the next room. Unfortunately, when the bike decides to change the resistance electronically and move up and down, that isn’t the case. You can hear the motors. Apart from that, under power, it feels smooth to ride and control under heavy power or on a sprint.
The pedals on this bike are very basic. They have the toes straps but no SPD clip-in function. On a bike this price, I would have expected that, in my opinion. You can swap them out, but it’s another cost in the future. The Q Factor is the size of the bracket where your crank’s arms attach is 150mm. I look for anything between 140mm and 170mm, a range you will find on most road and mountain bikes. 150mm for this is a great size and will feel very comfortable to ride. The flywheel is 32lbs on this bike which is a perfect weight for a home use bike. It is heavy with good technology leaving the bike feeling sturdy with a smooth feel when you’re riding it.
The bike itself, for an indoor bike, is quite large. It’s 55.0′′ in length, 29.1′′ In width, and 56.9′′ tall. It can accommodate riders up to 350lbs, and the height range is 4ft 10” to 6ft 10”, so it’s pretty accommodating. The bike weighs 204lbs in total and can be moved around via the wheels at the front pretty quickly. It has two bottle holders, which are in a great place hidden away under the tray but easy enough to reach. As I mentioned before, it comes with weights. They are three kilos each and sit just under the screen for those upper body workouts. The saddle is very firm, and many people resort to swapping it out as they struggle to get used to it. The Handlebars are nicely set up. They have a classic spinning look and feel to them and are easy to clean. Another thing to mention is that the saddle can move vertically and horizontally, but the handlebars only move vertically, which means it could be tough to get the fit right.
Nordictrack S22i Studio Bike Features:
- Q-Factor: 150mm
- Pedals: Dual-sided Toe Clips
- Flywheel: 30 Pounds
- Resistance: Magnetic
- Transmission: Belt
- Weight capacity: 350 Pounds
- Height capacity: 4ft 10″ – 6ft 10″
- Bike weight: 204 Pounds
- Power Source: Standard Power plugs
- Bike dimension: 55.0″ L x 21.9″ W x 56.9″ H
- Monitor: 22” Touchscreen with Speakers
- Connectivity: Bluetooth and WiFi
- Cooling fan: Yes
- Ports: HDMI and USB charging
- Applications: iFit
- RPM tracking: Yes
- Speed tracking: Yes
- Watt tracking: Estimation (not direct)
Nordictrack S22i Studio Cycle Pros:
- iFit App with a free year subscription
- 22” high definition touch screen computer
- Weights provided for upper body workout
- High-quality bike commercial quality
- Cooling Fan, USB charging, and HDMI ports
- Resistance on buttons for easy access
- Ability to incline and decline
- Smooth and Sturdy studio quality
Nordictrack S22i Studio Cycle Cons:
- iFit only, doesn’t synch with Peloton, Zwift, etc
- Subscription is required to save workouts or access classes
- Saddle is not really comfortable
- No horizontal handlebar adjustments
- Pedals with SPD elements
- Watt is estimated (no direct power meter)
The Final Verdict
There’s no denying that this bike is impressive. It has so much to offer and is aiming to be the best indoor bike on the market. The iFit has so much content, and riding is a new experience with the incline and decline capabilities. The screen is of such high quality, and the cooling fan is such a great idea. Its price is about the same as a Peloton, and they offer so much more for your money which is why it is the best Peloton alternative bike. In my professional opinion, they have made something incredible, but it needs fine-tuning. The motors to change the resistance and the incline are noisy, and a bit distracting, the saddle isn’t great, and it would be nice if you could adjust those handlebars a bit more. Also, the pedals are very cheap for such an expensive bike.