Cycling is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise going. You can approach it with different energy levels and systems, going from sedate, steady state cycling over long distance, all the way up to short, sharp sprints that can bring your heartrate up close to 100% of its maximum capacity.
Either way will burn plenty of calories, making it a perfect addition to any wellness programme built around a caloric deficit, aiming at weight loss. You will also build up strong quads and glutes, making it a great conditioning component of any lower body focussed regime. With the strain you can put into your heart and lungs, it is also a fantastic cardiovascular training option, making it perfect for any athlete, no matter their goals.
I would always suggest indoor cycling on an upright or spin bike. It gives you safety, convenience, and a broad, broad range of training options and classes. And, if you’re going with an indoor, upright cycle, few companies will serve you as well as NordicTrack. Few quality bikes will serve you as well as their S15i.
The NordicTrack S15i Commercial Studio Cycle isn’t the top of their range, but it’s still high-end. Without any deals, it will set you back a little over a grand. However, though it’s pricey, it’s by no means expensive – it represents fantastic value for money, giving you a plethora of gadgets and training options, and an incredibly smooth, well planted, comfortable ride. We took it on a test ride or two in order to bring you our full NordicTrack S15i review – and here it is…
First Impressions Of The NordicTrack S15i
Firstly, the NordicTrack Commercial S15i Studio Cycle is built to last. It has a durable frame, which you can see immediately. It’s also quite stylish, all black and red moulded plastic, with an incredibly smart looking screen.
This screen is where the magic lies. If you’re into gadgets, media, and incredibly diverse training options, the NordicTrack S15i will blow you away. The list of add-ons is quite something – you can make use of live streamed workouts or use the Google Maps feature for trails all over the world, whilst there is all sorts of extra gadgetry to enhance your training (more on this below) – and the 14 inch Smart HD Touchscreen really is a piece of digital engineering wonderment.
Everything is quite lightweight, the footprint is relatively small, and the bike itself is surprisingly portable. It won’t take up much room if you leave it in place, and it can be packed away with no drama.
NordicTrack S15i Specs & Key Features
As above, a large part of the NordicTrack S15i Studio Cycle’s appeal is in its gadgetry and tech.
First up, you get a 30-day iFIT membership included with your purchase (you have to subscribe for a monthly payment thereafter). This means that you get access to essentially limitless personal training and group classes at home, on demand, with a choice of either live or pre-recorded workouts available.
Your iFIT Trainers automatically adjust your resistance, incline, and decline, so you really don’t need to worry about anything bar pedalling. These incline and decline capabilities are also some of the best I’ve ever come across. They are continuous and smooth, delivered with the help of an improved incline and decline motor for speed and softness.
The 14-inch Smart HD Touchscreen is also top of the range, upgraded from NordicTrack’s previous (and also impressive) design.
It has an enhanced graphics card and faster WIFI connectivity, so everything really is seamless. Added processor cooling enables improved graphics performance, so you really do get a first-hand, crisp view of the vistas and scenes through which iFIT will be taking you. The touch screen works incredibly well, allowing NordicTrack to deliver those iFIT classes perfectly.
Bluetooth connectivity can be a bit of an issue in cardio machines, which is becoming more and more of an issue as we all switch to earbuds over traditional headphones. However, the Bluetooth capabilities built into the NordicTrack Commercial S15i Studio Cycle are very fast, and easy to use and set up.
It isn’t just about the software, however (for which I’m grateful – I don’t care how smart a machine is if it can’t deliver a quality workout!).
As above, iFIT Trainers will automatically adjust your resistance, incline, and decline, thus optimizing your training. You can also manually control everything. Incline and decline run between a -10 to 20 percent grade, and 22 digital resistance levels offer a great range of workout control, with decent resistance at the upper end.
The NordicTrack Commercial S15i also uses SMR technology (Silent Magnetic Resistance) to give you a smooth, quiet workout. Your feet will be stable and at a perfect Q-angle thanks to adjustable levelling.
The S15i Studio Cycle has a generous 159kg user weight capacity, making it suitable for even larger athletes.
NordicTrack are no slouch on their warranties. You get two years on parts and labour, with a five-year frame guarantee.
Using The NordicTrack S15i Studio Cycle
All of this comes good when you’re using the NordicTrack Commercial S15i Studio Cycle. This attention to detail really shows.
Firstly, I like iFIT. I generally prefer it when somebody else is paying the bills, as it can be north of thirty quid a month to subscribe. This is a bit steep on top of a thousand pound plus investment in a bike. However, it’s also about the same as most gym memberships (and a lot cheaper than some!), whilst giving you oodles of utility. The classes are great, both on-demand and live, and will offer something for everybody, no matter your goals or fitness level.
The touch screen is also terrific. The graphics are next level – I can’t believe you can get something this good for this price, without it being the year 2050! All the programming, apps, and connectivity components are intuitive and smooth. The haptic tech works well no matter how sweaty you get (which is very, in my case!).
I’m not the biggest fan of techy gizmos, however. If they are there to be flash, I’ll leave them be. I would rather a solid, decent workout over any amount of playing on a computer (after all, we’ve all got smart phones, so media isn’t an issue). Therefore, though I celebrate the tech you get with the NordicTrack S15i, it isn’t everything. I need a good ride.
Happily, the NordicTrack Commercial S15i Studio Cycle gives you everything you want and more from its base engineering.
The frame is solid, despite being quite lightweight. As above, it has a very generous upper weight limit, which is demonstrative of its sturdiness and durability. There is no shake or wobble as you train, no matter how hard you push yourself (and trust me, I tried this out – funnily enough, in the same workout that showed me how well the touchscreen stands up to sweat!). It really will last you a lifetime, too – good luck beating it up.
It’s a delight to use, too. The SMR tech keeps each pedal even and smooth, with no harsh jankiness and no extra pressure into the joints. This is backed up by the wide range of resistance levels, which give you small increments between each one, resulting in a soft transition. The wide range of incline and decline options also serve you well – they keep the iFIT trails realistic whilst giving you fantastic options for varying up resistance and workload.
Upright cycles can be uncomfortable to use, especially for more than ten minutes or so at a go. The S15i Studio Cycle’s seat is soft and ergonomically moulded, and the pedals are fully adjustable. This means that you can keep going hour after hour without bruising your posterior (a real concern on many models!), or ruining your knees by pushing them through any unnatural range of motion.
It’s smart and it’s a delight to use – what more could you ask of an upright cycle?
As I’ve mentioned, I’m never going to be sold exclusively on tech. If I could be, I would buy the NordicTrack Commercial S15i Studio Cycle without hesitation. It’s an exercise nerd’s dream, with more software than you will know what to do with, and better designed hardware than any equivalently priced model on the market.
Good ride quality and a decent workout will get me every time, however – I’m all in if I enjoy using a piece of kit, can blow my lungs out, and come away with my legs feeling like they’ve worked hard for the sweat pouring from my body. The NordicTrack Commercial S15i Studio Cycle delivers here, and then some – it is one of the smoothest, most optimisable, most intuitive, most comfortable upright cycles I’ve ever had the pleasure of using.
It isn’t cheap, but nothing good ever is. All you need to know is that it is fantastic value for money. If you have the budget to pay over a grand for a bike, and then commit to monthly payments for your iFIT membership, I would thoroughly encourage you to go all in on this one. It’s among the best of the best.