Life Fitness C3 Exercise Bike (Track Console) Review

The new C3 Lifecycle is available with either a ‘Go Console’ or the more advanced Track console. Before now, older versions of these Life cycles had a similar option of Basic or advanced consoles; the main difference being that the ‘Basic’ was so basic that it really only left the advanced upgrade as a worthwhile buy!  Now the choice is a lot tougher as both consoles offer plenty of great features. We gave the top notch C3 with Track console a thorough going over!…

Before we have a brief overview of the console, let’s start with the C3 bike itself as it’s certainly not a model to be overlooked! Looks wise it has a substantial and stylish, club style appearance. Best of all, it feels like it has the sturdiness and durability of a commercial bike too. The C3 is built to withstand serious sessions, and serious weight too. With a maximum user capacity of just under 28 and a half stone this is an ideal choice for heavier users seeking to lose weight through cycling. In the unlikely event that there’s any problems, the home warranty of 3 years parts and labour provides a good back up.

Whatever your size or shape, the C3 has plenty of adjustments to ensure you of a comfortable and biomechanically correct riding position. The seat adjusts vertically all the way up to about 43” with 14 holes of adjustment, plus there’s plenty of range of adjustment for the seat to travel back or forth.

Once you’ve set up the seat, you can secure your feet into the pedals and here you find another nice design detail. There is a spring clip on the outer edge of each pedal strap which acts like a mini ratchet, so it’s not only quick to adjust the straps, it also tightens nice and securely around any size of footwear.

In terms of comfort, the saddle is second to none! Made from a hardwearing vinyl, it has the look of real leather and has been superbly stitched too. It’s also as big as it is sumptuous – Perfect for the longest of bike rides!

Talking of rides, this is another all-important aspect that earns the C3 full marks. The 11 kg flywheel delivers a silky smooth pedal motion that reaffirms the feeling of sheer quality.

As we stated earlier, this bike is designed for serious sessions and that means LOADS of resistance! There are 20 levels and even at the maximum the ride is whisper quite and intensely tough!

The chunky handlebars allow for various hand positions. The angles allow the user to rest their forearms whilst in a tucked up aero style or if you slow the pace down and adopt the ‘sit-up-and-beg’ position there are pulse grip sensors conveniently located to take heart rate readings. Pulse sensors are always a bit hit-or-miss in terms of accuracy so fortunately the C3 has an inbuilt receiver to take super-accurate readings from any compatible chest strap transmitter. Wearing one is also must if you wish to utilize the heart rate controlled programs.

Speaking of programs, we were impressed by the 14 on offer as standard.

Plus the console was remarkably easy to use and well laid out. There are 3 clearly labeled buttons either side of the display screen. Press ‘Classic Workouts’ to access 3 standard sessions of ‘Manual’, ‘Hills’ (which is based around interval training) or ‘Random’ (which are unique courses taken form over 1 million possible combinations of course patterns).

‘Advanced Workouts’ has a further 3 including a Fit Test which scores you based upon your heart rate readings during the session.

Heart rate controlled programs are accessed in Life Fitness’ trademarked HeartSyncTM Workouts: There are 5 pre-set programs( FAT BURN, CARDIO, HEART RATE HILL, HEART RATE INTERVAL, and EXTREME HEART RATE workouts.) but you can also create your own HRC custom session too in the Custom Workouts feature. Here it’s possible to create and save up to 3 customised sessions for a specific user. Better yet, the computer allows up to 4 people to store their personal details so that’s a total of 12 custom sessions!

There are also Goal Workouts too. You can choose a CALORIE GOAL, DISTANCE GOAL, and TARGET HEART RATE GOAL workouts which is a great idea to motivate and encourage a consistent routine.

The C3 with Go Console has an option to be self-generating but this model with the Track console needs to be plugged in to give adequate power to some exciting extra features. Where it really starts deserving the extra investment over the Go Console is via a unique USB connection. The addition of the USB port and it’s connectivity with Life Fitness’ Virtual Trainer software makes the range of programs available almost limitless! The USB port is used to upload goal-based programs and customized workouts from the Life Fitness website and their ‘Virtual Trainer’ feature also allows users to upload the results from their workouts and track their progress on a monthly graph on the website.

In terms of motivation, music is an important factor too and iPod compatibility provides another unique draw to the Track console. There is a sweat-resistant control pad with keys to play/pause, skip back and forward and adjust the volume. Unfortunately there are no inbuilt speakers or MP3 input but you can at least charge your apple player in the dock whilst listening through headphones via the jack plug in the console.

The track console also has two good-sized storage holders on either side of the console to keep your drinks bottle and accessories close at hand. Plus, if you want to cycle whilst reading, there is a handy ledge to prop a magazine, book or tablet device.

As is clear from this brief overview, the C3 is a superbly built machine for the discerning home user or serious cyclist. The upgraded Track console primarily benefits from having iPod compatibility and a USB port that allows you to use Life Fitness Virtual trainer, but such innovative technology comes at an extra £300. If you’re budget is stretched already, then rest assured that the ‘Go Console’ still packs a punch! But if you have the extra funds, the Track console is a knockout!

Best Price

The Life Fitness C3 (Track Console) 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

Whilst spending over £1,000 on any upright exercise bike may seem over the top, this Life Fitness model does tick all the boxes for those seeking the ultimate combination of quality construction, good design and interactive technology. If you can afford one, an investment in the top of the range C3 with track console will yield many years of pleasurable exercise!

Life Fitness C3 (Track Console) Specifications

    • 11kg (24.2lbs) flywheel weight
    • 20 levels of magnetic resistance
    • TRACK console with LCD display
    • LFconnect app available to download from Life Fitness website
    • Feedback: time, speed, pace, distance, calories, METs, heart rate, target heart rate, level/incline
    • 14 workout programmes
    • Heart rate measurement via pulse grips and a wireless receiver (chest strap included)
    • Conveniences: transportation wheels, Polar compatibility, iPod/iPhone compatibility, Virtual Trainer accessibility, USB connectivity, seat adjustment, jack plug in the console
    • Size (L x W x H): 114cm (44.9”) x 69cm (27.2”) x 142cm (55.9”)
    • Weight of the product: 53kg (116.8lbs)
    • 180kg (396.8lbs) maxiumum user weight
    • Guarantee: 3 years

Life Fitness C3 (Track Console) - Console / Display Unit

Life Fitness C3 (Track Console) - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Superb build quality
  • Suitable for heavy users (over 28 stone)
  • VERY comfortable saddle
  • Enough resistance for serious athletes
  • Great variation in programmes, especially the heart rate controlled workouts
  • Virtual Trainer accessibility
  • iPhone/iPod compatibility – iPod dock charges too!

The Cons

  • No speakers or MP3 input (Headphones needed)
  • A high price tag… But you get what you pay for!
Life Fitness C3 (Track Console) Reviewer Ratings

 

Appearance - 9
Smoothness - 9
Comfort - 8
Programmes - 9
Ease Of Use - 8
Warranty - 9.5
Value for Money - 8
Best Price

The Life Fitness C3 (Track Console) 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

Exercise Bikes We Like

Under £250

£251 - £500

Over £500