Sportstech SX500 Review and Comparison
Sportstech Sx500 Overview
The Sportstech SX500 is an exceptional indoor bike and sets itself apart from anything else in its range. It’s German engineered and, like German cars, comes with some brilliant thinking and design. And yes, the design and inspection matter a lot, especially considering most of the spin bikes in the UK market are built and designed by little Chinese manufacturers who never used an indoor bike. Starting with how the bike looks, it’s a work of art, smooth lines, and that oversized tubing makes it look space age. Sportstech has five bikes in the SX range, SX100, SX200, SX400, SX500 and SX600. The higher the number, the more advanced it is and the more you will be paying. The SX500 is the second most advanced spinning bike that Sportstech has. For this spinning bike, you’re paying just over $1000. Assembly is straightforward and all the tools you need come with the spin bike. I allow an hour. The warranty is a very generous two years on all parts, which I thought is impressive compared to other spin bikes around this price range. When I first heard about the Sportstech SX500, I was excited because some marvelous things had been said. The real question is, does this indoor cycling bike live up to the hype?
Let’s start with the monitor, and the first thing you will notice is the sheer size of it. It’s vast and sits right in the middle of the bars. It runs on four AA batteries, and the screen isn’t backlit. The display will show you RPM, Time, Calories, Heart Rate and Distance. The data is primary, yes, but it’s enough to give you an excellent workout. It’s all very nicely put together, and the monitor sits nice and flushes itself between the front aero bars. It can mount a tablet in front of the screen, which is a nice touch, and if you do this, it covers the standard monitor. The bike has a heart rate monitor on the handlebars, but if you’re looking for something a bit more accurate, you can upgrade to a Sportstech chest strap at an extra cost. It doesn’t have Ant+, but it does have Bluetooth. The Bluetooth will only link to specific applications Fitshow and Kinomap, and for these, you will require a tablet or smartphone. Fitshow will save your workouts, and you can view them later. Kinomap is an interactive indoor cycling application that is pretty good. You can replicate rides that people upload and race others that have done that ride before. You could pick your favorite Tour De France climb if it was available and watch the video someone has recorded going up while racing previous users who have also done this workout. For the competitive cyclist, it’s a great training tool. It’s not free and comes in about $12 a month for Kinomap, which I think if you’re using it often enough will be worth it. If you are planning on linking to Zwift or Peloton, the bike cannot do this, and one complaint I see a lot online about this exercise bike. Sportstech does advertise the fact it can’t, so I believe it doesn’t deserve these reviews, but it’s something to make a note of.
The transmission system is very interesting and unlike most on the market. The first thing to mention is it is a belt drive. Belt drive systems are very quiet and require no lubrication and next to no maintenance. The bike has a manual friction system, so as the flywheel turns, you can use the dial in front of you to push a brake pad onto the flywheel, which will create the resistance. The pad is a heat-resistant leather pad quieter than the standard wool pads you can expect on other friction systems. Most bikes around this price use frictionless magnetic systems, so this is unique because it has a friction system. It is old technology, but it does the job. The resistance level doesn’t display on the screen, nor does it have a power meter to see where you’re at.
The pedals are excellent. They are of very high-quality metal and have a toe strap on one side and an SPD Clip in function on the other. They are a standard thread, so you can swap them out quickly. The Q Factor is the size of the bracket where the crank arms attach on an indoor bike. On the SX500, it is undisclosed by Sportstech, but from what I can gather online, it’s roughly about 180mm. A road racing bike would typically be about 150mm, and a mountain bike is about 170mm, so it will give a nice feel to it, but if you’re an avid road cyclist, you might notice it is more prominent. The flywheel on this bike is incredible. It is 25kg, and it is one of the heaviest flywheels I have seen on an exercise bike. It is also balanced, and this will give the bike a very quiet, smooth spin.
The stationary cycle itself weighs 70kg, it’s not light at all, but it’s easy enough to move around, which can be forgiven as the flywheel is big. It’s 50″ in height, 55″ in length and 22″ wide. It’s about the same as a standard spinning bike. The oversized steel tubing not only looks great but it can support 150kg on the weight limit and suit riders from 5ft 1″ to 6ft 7″. The handlebars are excellent, and I think they are probably one of the bike’s best parts. They are comfortable, come with a heart rate monitor inbuilt, and they come with an aerodynamic position and elbow pads for resting. However, these may look like a bit of a gimmick from Sportstech. This position is perfect for a triathlete or time trialist. It also, as mentioned before, has the option for a tablet too. The Saddle is of good quality, and with most spin bike saddles, it might take a few rides to get used to. The Handlebars and Saddle will move vertically and horizontally. This is great for getting the perfect position while on those longer training sessions. With the weight of this bike being quite heavy and the oversized tubing, the bike feels planted, and can be given everything and won’t move a millimeter.
Sportstech SX500 Features:
- Q-Factor: Unknown
- Pedals: Dual-sided Toe Clip in SPD
- Flywheel: 25kg
- Resistance: Friction
- Transmission: Belt
- Weight capacity: 330 Pounds
- Height capacity: 5’1″ – 6′.7″
- Bike weight: 70kg
- Bike dimension: 22″W x 50″H x 55″L
- Monitor: Non-Backlit
- Connectivity: Bluetooth Limited
- Applications: Kinomap, Fitshow
- RPM tracking: Yes
- Speed tracking: Yes
- Watt tracking: None
- Resistance tracking: None
Sportstech SX500 Bike Pros:
- Great looking compact designed
- Unique Handlebars with elbow pads
- Huge high resistance flywheel
- Big screen and tablet holder
- Dual sided SPD pedals to accommodate cycling shoes
- Amazing build quality and German design
- Heart rate monitor inbuilt
- Belt Drive mechanism
Sportstech SX500 Bike Cons:
- Limited Bluetooth Capability
- Friction Resistance System
- No flywheel safely cover for children
- Doesn’t sync with most cycling applications
My Final Verdict
The Sportstech SX500 is not like most spin bikes, and you can see they haven’t gone down the route of ticking the standard boxes. They have put a lot of time into the design and made something unique. I love the design so much it looks fantastic alongside the handlebars and the heavy flywheel. It’s just a great style, and I can see they haven’t gone for a typical concept with this bike. Although it has some fantastic features, I don’t like the fact the Bluetooth is locked to specific applications, and I’m surprised they went for a friction brake compared to magnetic systems that most bikes around this price. A bike that is similar without these drawbacks is the Schwinn IC4 as an alternative. All in all, it’s a fantastic bike, and I rate it highly. Though I think it’s excellent value for money, I would save another $400 and buy the Sportstech SX600. It’s the next model up as it’s an unbelievable bike with electronically adjustable silent magnetic resistance.