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Schwinn 800IC review: Peloton-alternative exercise bike done right

T3 logo T3 26/09/2021 Matt Kollat
the subject of this review, the Schwinn 800IC exercise bike, placed in a busy room surrounded by home weights and furniture © Provided by T3 the subject of this review, the Schwinn 800IC exercise bike, placed in a busy room surrounded by home weights and furniture

Schwinn 800IC review TL;DR: a capable indoor bike that provides a premium home workout experience for the masses. [Please note: this exercise bike is sold as Schwinn IC4 in the US/AUS]

I know, it's terrible that nowadays you can't read a review that doesn't start with either "this is a great Peloton alternative" or "[product] is the Peloton of [product category]". Case in point, the title of our Hydrow review says it's the "rowing machine world's answer to Peloton".

The trouble is, the Schwinn 800IC is actually a decent Peloton bike alternative so there is no way I can avoid drawing comparisons with the Big P in this review. The Schwinn 800IC is one of the best exercise bikes I tried recently. It might lack the huge, 24-inch display of the Peloton Bike+, but it has its own merits and is also much, much cheaper than a new Peloton bike.

Schwinn 800IC review: price and availability

The Schwinn 800IC is available to buy through Fitness Superstore in the UK and Schwinn's own online store in the US for a recommended retail price of £949/$999.

Slightly confusingly, the model number for countries with a 110V electrical outlet (e.g US) is the Schwinn IC4 Bike. Bear this in mind.

JRNY subscription is required to access all aspects of programming.

The Schwinn 800IC is also compatible with the Explore the World app, Zwift, and the Peloton App. Subscription fees may apply.

Schwinn 800IC review: what's the difference between the 800IC and the IC8?

Those in the know might notice that the Schwinn 800IC looks eerily similar to another Schwinn model, the IC8. Indeed, the Schwinn IC8 is essentially the same indoor bike, bar the Bowflex JRNY app connectivity.

The Schwinn IC800 has access to JRNY software which is now incorporated into the bike. You can access a personal trainer program directly from the app that connects to the bike and records your efforts straight into the app (more on this in a bit).

In summary, if you already have a Schwinn IC8, it probably isn't worth upgrading the IC800, unless you're really keen on using the JRNY app.

Schwinn 800IC review: design and build quality

Assembling exercise bikes or any type of larger gym equipment can be a real hassle. Not all manufacturers are as nice as NordicTrack that delivers and assembles its products, which is exactly the experience I had when I reviewed the NordicTrack RW900.

That said, the Schwinn IC800 is not the worst when it comes to assembly. The screws fit nicely into the holes, and the overall build quality is amazing. Putting the bike together took me less than half an hour, which is really not that long at all. All the tools needed for the assembly are included in the box, although I used my own spanners and Allen keys because I have them.

The build quality of the Schwinn IC800 is great: the soldering of the tubes radiates sturdiness, and the tubes themselves look smooth and well constructed. The peripherals, such as the dual water bottle holder and the tablet holder, has an interesting, textured cover, further reinforcing the quality of the bike.

The Schwinn IC800 is an indoor bike that can be used for spin-style classes. It has a large flywheel at the front and an ergonomic handle that allows for multiple grip positions. One of my favourite details about the bike was the backlit LCD metric console that looks stunning for such a console.

Better still, it displays the magnetic resistance level (of which there are 100), which is great as you don't have to guess which level you left it on during the last workout. Since it's all digital, you can also see this information on the tablet or TV you're using to stream JRNY workouts.

The Schwinn IC800 features dual-sided pedals (SPD clips/toe cages), so if you have any cycling shoes lying around, you can use them for the IC800 workouts. Of course, the toe cage side of the pedals also allows you to use workout shoes for pedalling, whichever you prefer.

Schwinn 800IC review: performance and riding experience

Although we're halfway through this review, I have a confession to make: I don't particularly appreciate working out on exercise bikes. I never really bought into doing virtual classes and trainers trying to be motivational on a screen; I don't need that kind of motivation.

However, after setting the Schwinn 800IC up, I found myself wanting to get on the saddle and ride. Weirder still, I ended up creating a habit of jumping on the bike in the morning, after I woke up, still in a fasted state, until I burned 300 calories, which took me around 20-30 minutes. Every morning.

It was during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, so after I set my phone and heart rate monitor up to record my workout, I busted out my tablet to watch the Olympic highlights from the day before. 

It probably helped a lot that working out on the Schwinn 800IC is a near-silent process, so even though I was sweating away at half six in the morning in the living room, the rest of the flat could still sleep uninterrupted.

The flywheel was silky smooth, and the digital resistance knob worked like a charm too. The seat was comfortable, at least by indoor cycle standards. It's not one of those wide, cushioned seats, but it's certainly comfy enough for the duration of the workouts.

As mentioned above, there are 100 resistance levels, but I didn't go over 25 during my sessions (I was doing low- to moderate intensity rides mainly). There is clearly scope for progress here.

Schwinn 800IC review: the JRNY app

The JRNY app is relatively new. At least its current iteration, which has only been rolled in February 2021. The updated digital platform added adaptive workouts and trainer-led videos, the former which will recommend workouts based on your progress and fitness level.

In a nutshell, as long as you log your workouts in the JRNY app (you can use the Schwinn 800IC as a standalone exercise bike), the app will recommend workouts that match your workout load and preferred type of workouts. It's not super sophisticated, but it might help people who need a bit more guidance.

The workout library is not as extensive as ones found in similar apps (e.g. Peloton, iFit); not yet anyway. I don't think there are live workouts either (from what I can tell), but some on-demand classes are available through the app.

Better still, thanks to the Schwinn 800IC's Bluetooth connectivity, you can stream movies and whatnot into the JRNY app while seeing your stats at the bottom of the screen.

I found it slightly annoying when I opened the app, I had to go into the Bluetooth setting every single time to connect the heart rate monitor before starting the workout. When I didn't, although the bike itself found the device, the app wouldn't show my heart rate.

Even more peculiar was the fact that the bike and the app showed different calorie burned stats as usually, the app caught up with the sensor a little bit after I started the workout.

On the positive side, the JRNY app works with multiple Schwinn and Bowflex machines, so if you happen to have an elliptical trainer or a treadmill from these brands, you can record all the workouts into one place, which is admittedly a convenient thing. 

Schwinn 800IC review: verdict

The Schwinn 800IC is an awesome piece of home gym equipment. It's sleek, smart, sexy and it doesn't cost the earth either, all the while providing a premium indoor cycling experience.

Of course, it would be better if the bike came with a display and if the JRNY app was a bit meatier. If you prefer the cult-like vibe of Peloton ecosystem, you will be disappointed with the Schwinn IC800.

However, if you need an exercise bike that feels premium and enables you to train indoors without annoying the rest of the household, you'll love the Schwinn 800IC. It even convinced me, a strength training enthusiast, that cycling indoors can be an enjoyable experience.

Schwinn 800IC review: also consider

I already mentioned the Peloton Bike+ in the intro and it would be silly not to mention it here. If you have the money to splash out on a Peloton bike, admittedly, that will recreate the Peloton-like riding experience the most. Goes without saying.

The Echelon Smart Connect EX3 is a sturdy Peloton alternative for those on a tight budget. It might not have a built-in display, but if you're happy to stream workouts on your smart TV, you can save a significant amount of money getting this smart bike.

Want to train harder? Try the Wattbike Atom. It offers one of the most realistic indoor bike rides around (and looks absolutely fabulous while doing so).

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