Where I live on the high plains east of Denver, I consider it relatively temperate. However, my favorite mode of staying in shape, bicycle rides, isn’t always…err…comfortable. 🙂
So, I always have an indoor exercycle too. Bowflex just released their version last week, although it is an “exercise bike” versus an exercycle. (What is the difference, if any? Are exercycles recumbent?)
I’m a huge fan of Bowflex equipment, so I bought the Bowflex C6 Indoor Exercycle the first day was available and assembled it two days ago. Yesterday I exercised it (pun intended!) and a few applications that work with it. Here is my first use/first impressions review based on that positive experience:
- Well-built and sturdy (very little dependency on plastic)
- Beautiful, thoughtful, functional design (e.g. it is rubberized in all the right places)
- Doesn’t tie you to a specific riding application or require one (more below)
- Two water bottle holders (which hold a smart phone well too)
- 100 levels of tension adjustment
- Useful, two-color console (although I’ll almost always use an app instead)
- Nice forearm heartbeat monitor
- Inexpensive compared to the Peleton equivalent
- Relatively easy to assemble
- Awesome customer service
- Assembly instructions overly-concise (but, if I could put it together, you can :-))
- Customer service not available on weekends (but, I did find you could chat online)
- The pedals and levelers did not seem the same quality as the rest of the bicycle
- The Bowlfex logo wasn’t installed straight in the device holder (which would drive me up the wall if I wasn’t covering it up with my iPad Pro all the time)
- Compared to the Peleton: you have to provide your own smart device (but, it should be noted that the base price of a Peleton is $2,245 versus $899 for the C6…and it might actually be a plus that you aren’t tied to a proprietary implementation of a tablet)
The video spends a little time talking about the applications I tested with the C6. One of the biggest pluses with the C6 is that you aren’t tied into a specific app (unlike Bowflex’s main competitor). I tried Zwift, FulGaz, and Rouvy. Thumbs up on all three. Zwift is virtual:
FulGaz and Rouvy use real videos to give you a sense of not being stuck in your basement:
The picture doesn’t do FulGaz justice…the video was crisp and clear and I did feel like I was riding along with others.
Based on initial impressions, I would recommend all three services. I have already subscribed to Zwift ($14.99 per month) and will to FulGaz when my trial runs out ($12.99 per month). I know at least FulGaz is cheaper if you pay a year ahead. (Bowflex is due to come out with their Explore the World app later this month, and I am looking forward to see what that offers. If you read this review Bowflex, any chance I can beta test it? :-))
Update: I may subscribe to Rouvy instead of FulGaz, we’ll see. Rouvy and Zwift both have Android apps (although FulGaz’s is due later this month)…and I was thinking of making my Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 my “exercise tablet.) Also, Rouvy is a bit less expensive then FulGaz.
Update: Jerrod asked how to pair the C6/IC4 with the Peloton app. Bowflex Support was kind enough to send me directions, which you can find here.
Final note about the apps. The will be able to measure your speed, wattage, and heart rate, but will not control your tension for you. Oh, and remember, you don’t need an app at all…the included console is enough.
And, speaking of final notes…
As of penning this article, the Schwinn IC4 is the same bike except for two things:
- Some color differences
The Schwinn IC4 ($799) is the same bike as the Bowflex C6 ($899). Right now, both come with free shipping.
Remember how I said that Bowflex has awesome customer service? When I heard that the IC4 and C6 were the same bicycle (some seemingly grumpy person on Facebook), I first used the online chat and then called…and in both cases they were 100% honest and told me that there was no difference beyond the colors and branding. The guy on the call spent a lot of time researching to confirm.
And, they also admitted the warranty on the IC4 was better. As of publishing this article…
- IC4: “Frame: 10 years / Mechanical & Electrical: 3 years /Labor 1 year”
- C6: “2 Years Parts, 90 Days Labor”
(Update November 15, 2019: The Bowflex C6 now includes a free $99 mat.)
So, which one should you get? It’s up to you. I always buy the extended warranty on exercise equipment, so that part is moot for me. Would I have paid the $100 more if I knew ahead of time the IC4 was the same? I don’t know for sure, but there is a good chance I would have. God has blessed me with enough money to do so, even if it could be considered a vanity decision.
The same company is behind Nautilus, Bowflex, Schwinn, and Modern Movement. I can’t tell you whether you should save the money or not, but I can tell you that if you want a great deal on a tremendous piece of exercise equipment, you should get the Bowflex C6 or the Schwinn IC4.
Punch line? A big thumbs up to the C6…and to Bowflex!
Update: A Zwift image to show what it measures from the C6 for a reader/commenter:
Just in case: as mentioned above, the C6’s resistance is not controllable by apps…even though Zwift appears to believe it is.
Update: Another commenter wanted to see it in the Peloton app (here is how to connect the C6/IC4 to it):
I will admit, I am impressed by how easy it was to connect to the C6 (and heart rate monitor) and how it looks. Also, the trainer tells you what resistance to set, which works better than Zwift, FulGaz, and Rouvy, where you have to guess at values to fake the inclines.
But, I am going to limit myself to subscribing to only two services!!! 🙂
Might switch one to Peloton…hmmm….
Update: Ronika asked for a video on how to turn the Bluetooth heart monitor on and off…
If you go in about 1:10 in, I do it in a more coordinated manner. 🙂
Update: Joe asked how to pair Rouvy with the IC4/C6. It’s “General BLE FTMS trainer” under “Other Trainers” and “Other”:
Update: Someone asked for a video of the console: