John Lewis EB3 Exercise Bike Review

The instruction manual takes you through the 12-step assembly process with fairly clear illustrations, detailed instructional notes and even some close up exploded diagrams.  If you take your time to follow each stage with care, getting the bike up and running is fairly easy.

Once built, you can at last admire your handy work and what is undoubtedly a great looking bike! Perhaps one of the best aspects is its compact size.  Being considerably shorter in length compared with many similarly priced models, the EB3 is ideal if space is an issue. Plus, being lightweight and featuring transport wheels mounted on the front stabiliser allows the bike to be easily manoeuvred around the home.

Though compact, the EB3 benefits from good-sized stabilisers and the levelling pads that can be adjusted at the rear combines to give a stable base that feels fairly solid in use.  It has a maximum user weight of 21 stone and John Lewis have sufficient faith in the build quality to back it up with a very generous 5 year parts and labour warranty.

This ant of a bike can not only carry nearly 4 times it’s own weight, but it’s also fully adjustable to cater to users of all different shapes and sizes. The seat rises to about 41” from the floor at maximum height with 9 holes of adjustment so taller users (over 6’) will have no issues. In addition there’s about 4” of track on the seat assembly to adjust it back and forth. Plus to ensure your arms are positioned at the correct angle and distance, the handlebars can be tilted and locked at various angles.

The handlebars themselves have a nice chunky design with pulse grip sensors inlaid for heart rate monitoring (Although it is widely recognised that this type of feature can be woefully inaccurate). Though pulse sensors may be ok for basic albeit unreliable readings, it doesn’t bode well for the heart rate controlled programs. It’s such a shame that although the EB3 boasts a great selection of HRC options, there is no inbuilt polar chip receiver to ensure accurate feedback.

That said, we have to be realistic that there will be compromises with a bike costing under £350, and we must give credit for variety, as there are 4 heart rate controlled programs. One is set at 55% of your maximum heart rate (ideal for weight loss), there’s one at 75% for improving fitness and one at 90% for sports performance, or you have the option of setting your own percentage heart rate. Whatever the program, the computer will automatically adjust the resistance to keep you within the preset heart rate zone.

The pulse sensors can also be utilized with a fitness test and to monitor body fat levels. The Heart rate recovery test is performed immediately after a workout by holding onto the pulse sensors and the computer gives you a score from 1(Excellent) to 6(Poor) based upon the rate at which your heart rate drops over a 60 second recovery period.

As well as monitoring body fat levels, the computer can also calculate your Body Mass Index (a measure of body fat based upon height and weight) as well as your Basal Metabolic Rate (the number of calories you burn at rest) As we’ve established, the feedback from pulse sensors should be viewed as a rough guide rather than scientific proof BUT any extra motivation these features could provide is always welcome!

There is also a WATTS program, whereby the resistance level varies automatically to maintain the preset energy value according to the pedal speed. The default value is set at 120 but this can be manually adjusted anywhere from 10 up to 350!

The computer allows up to 4 users to store their personal data. Inputting your gender, age, height and weight helps the computer to make certain calculations which is invaluable for obtaining more accurate calorie consumption figures.

Unfortunately, all these things only partly helps you feel ‘connected’ to the overall console, but too often things feel rather vague and un-engaging. A typical example of this occurs during the ‘Manual’ options. You can set targets for time, distance, calories burnt or target heart rate. It’s possible to set just one of these or multiple targets. When one target is reached the console makes a faint ‘beep’ sound and suddenly stops?! On more than one occasion we were left wondering ‘Is that it then?!’ as the display offers no advice or instructions at any point.

Fortunately, the ‘mysteries’ behind the console can be overcome by reading the manual. Once familiar with it, the console has a certain charm. The display screen is fairly large and brightly lit with a 3 colour LCD giving a clear view of all the basic feedback, separated up into dedicated windows. Below the screen is a handy menu of profile pictures which helps when making a selection from the 12 pre-set programs.

Control wise, there is a large scroll dial that makes easy work of adjusting things like the resistance and setting up the columns of intensity in the Custom program. To either side of the dial are buttons to reset, plus and minus as well as ones to access the recovery and body fat features. Though they have a pretty blue glow, the buttons themselves feel cheap, ‘clicky’ and rather fragile.

Grumbles over, we’ve saved the best parts until last! The 9 kg flywheel delivered a surprisingly smooth pedal action. An even bigger surprise came when we tested the resistance! There are 16 levels in total and the top ones are harder than coffin nails! Perhaps this may pose some issues for more deconditioned users during certain programs, but overall we consider it a huge bonus that such a little bike can pack such a punch!

So what’s the verdict? The XB3 does have its shortcomings but often these are balanced out by other redeeming qualities. The console isn’t particularly engaging or intuitive but it can grow on you with a little understanding (Consult the manual!). The absence of wireless heart rate monitoring renders the HRC programs unreliable but on the flipside, they offer plenty of variety. In comparison to many similarly priced cycles, the XB3 seems a touch overpriced, but there are also aspects that will make it a good value option for some people. For those who want a compact, lightweight and easy to move cycle, it’s hard to beat. All too often, budget to mid-priced bikes are woefully limited in terms of resistance – the XB3 however, has the scope to keep things challenging for many years to come AND you have the peace of mind of knowing that 5 of them will be covered by the John Lewis warranty.

Best Price

The John Lewis EB3 is not currently available from any retailers we're aware of in the UK.
It may be worth looking for a used machine on ebay

Review Summary - In Brief

The EB3 from John Lewis is a well made exercise bike that is compact and offers a good deal of resistance, as well as a top notch warranty. However, there are some key features missing (such a wireless heart rate receiver) and at the price point being offered, it simply doesn't represent particularly good value for money.

John Lewis EB3 Specifications

    • 9kg (19.8lbs) flywheel weight
    • 16 levels of computer controlled resistance
    • Console with LCD display
    • Feedback: time, speed, watts, distance, calories, RPM and heart rate
    • 19 workout programmes
    • Heart rate measurement via pulse grips
    • Conveniences: transportation wheels, adjustable seat and handlebars
    • Size (L x W x H): 86cm (33.9”) x 55cm (21.7”) x 149cm (58.7”)
    • 136kg (300lbs) maxiumum user weight
    • Guarantee: 5 years

John Lewis EB3 - Console / Display Unit

John Lewis EB3 - User Reviews

The Pros

  • 9 Kg flywheel delivers a smooth pedal motion
  • Very adjustable to ensure the perfect riding position (even for taller users – over 6”)
  • Vibrant 3 colour LCD console
  • LOADS of resistance for long-term challenges!
  • Some useful programs (Watts, Body Fat, Recovery Test)
  • The 5 year parts and labour warranty is a huge incentive

The Cons

  • No wireless heart rate monitoring, so the HRC programs are unreliable
  • The console offers basic feedback but no guidance at any stage
John Lewis EB3 Reviewer Ratings

 

Appearance - 8
Smoothness - 8
Comfort - 8
Programmes - 6
Ease Of Use - 6
Warranty - 10
Value for Money - 5
Best Price

The John Lewis EB3 is not currently available from any retailers we're aware of in the UK.
It may be worth looking for a used machine on ebay

Also see our Exercise Bike Comparison Table

Whilst every effort is made to give you accurate information we cannot guarantee the technical specification. Models change on a regular basis and may differ slightly from the above review. We recommend you contact the retailer if you have a question regarding technical data. Please read our Legal Disclaimer

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