Currently available for £399.00 from Sweatband.com
NordicTrack VX 550 Exercise Bike Review
With a reputation for manufacturing some of the most compelling offerings in today’s global home fitness market, it’s fair to say that NordicTrack know a thing or two about building exercise bikes. When looking at the top end of their current range of products we’ve been seriously impressed with some of the things we’ve seen, but what about something more modestly priced from their catalogue? To find out, we got our hands on the NordicTrack VX550 – here’s what we found.
First, a quick note on the packaging. This bike comes very well packaged and while there’s a lot of materials keeping everything safe, it’s easy to see that NordicTrack are trying to do everything they can to minimise the amount of packaging, while still protecting the product. Yes, there is quite a lot of it – after all this is a heavy item, but it really has been kept to a minimum and almost all of it is recyclable which is really good to see. Assembly of the VX550 is as simple as it gets for an upright exercise bike. The instructions are well written, accompanied by clear diagrams, and there’s not a single step that is complex. The particular assembly format used for the VX550 is very common amongst manufacturers and for good reason. Granted, we’ve put a few bikes together over the years using this format (in this case it’s the if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all thing), but even so, when you can complete an assembly in less than 10 minutes, you know that the manufacturer’s got a pretty good beat on things. If you’re reasonably handy but have never built a similar bike before then assembly will probably take you around 20-30 minutes just by following the instructions. And, even if you’re not particularly handy, you’ll still get there as the instructions are so easy to follow. Most readers of this article will know that it means when instructions are poorly written and the difficulties it leads to. Thankfully there are no such problems here. Once built it’s easy to position the VX550, with built-in transport wheels making it easy to move around and leg levellers that make it simple to get it sitting dead level on the floor.
As mentioned earlier, one of the criteria for picking this particular model for this test was the fact that the pictures showed it to be white rather than one of NordicTrack’s usual greyscale affairs and we think it looks really good in reality too. The black and white design with a teeny tiny splash of orange colour looks modern and clean and highlights the lines of the bike. It’s also very neutral without being boring making this a bike that’ll look at home in pretty much any room you could think of. That being said, once you actually get on and start to pedal it very quickly becomes clear that the beauty here is more than skin deep and while this particular model doesn’t have the all singing, all dancing features of more expensive models in the range, it’s certainly not lacking in quality or function.
The gel saddle is big, wide and nicely padded and it’s unlikely that you’ll feel the need to go out and purchase a different one. The riding position is ergonomically sound too and with just a few adjustments made using the quick release knobs on the handlebars and the saddle, it’s a simple matter to get into a position that you’d be happy to spend an hour or so in. The VX550 isn’t a particularly large bike, but it’s certainly a sturdy one. Even under high loads of both rider and resistance levels, with the bike being hit hard in a sprint, there are no unwanted squeaks or creaks and the actual motion throughout the cycle is almost silent. In a quiet room, pedalling slowly it’s just about possible to hear the motor whirring when adjusting the resistance level, but other than that there’s virtually no sound at all. The action is smooth and this is no doubt down to the 9kg (19.8lbs) flywheel that NordicTrack has installed in this model. Overall the VX550 feels robust, smooth and quiet as if underlining that no corners have been cut here and that the internal components being used are quality.
The console, as expected, is one of NordicTrack’s older style affairs. A classic 5″ backlit LCD display with push-button controls. The display is easy to read however and the controls are more or less self-explanatory. While it’s advisable to always read the manual, if you have any experience at all with exercise bikes then it’s simple enough to just play around with the controls for a bit and that’ll be enough to do most of the things you’ll want to do. There are 20 preset programmes and a manual mode and all your training data such as speed, time, distance, theoretical calorie burn, pulse, RPM, resistance, Watts and so on are displayed in different segments on the screen. Unusually, the VX550 has got direct resistance keys on the console allowing you to jump straight to your desired resistance level without repeatedly pushing a button. This certainly makes things easier, though this bike isn’t really suited to short-burst high-intensity interval training as the changes don’t take place fast enough from minimum to maximum resistance levels.
There’s also a Bluetooth smart wireless heart rate receiver built-in, though it’s not supplied with a chest strap, which is a bit disappointing, but par for the course for a bike in this price range. That being said, being a NordicTrack bike, there’s a bit more than meets the eye here. There’s a tablet holder positioned at the top of the console itself but unlike on many exercise bikes that have tablet holders you can do more than watch YouTube videos. The VX550 has Bluetooth connectivity and is iFit Coach BLE enabled, so it’s possible to download the cardio fitness app and connect the bike to your tablet. This then allows you to control the bike and get all your feedback via the tablet screen instead of the LCD display. We’ve seen this sort of thing from other brands and NordicTrack’s version stands up well. You can do a heck of a lot of things on iFit such as race against other iFit members, get dietary and sleep advice, map our your cycling routes, access high-definition workout videos led by professional personal trainers and tons more. The downside? It’s a subscription service so after your free trial if you want to keep using it you’re going to need to reach into your pocket. That being said, we think iFit really is good and at around£99 a year according to the NordicTrack website at the time of writing, we think it’s pretty good value too as it really can do a lot to make your training a lot more interesting.
Other features include a music port for your mp3 player, dual 2” speakers, hand pulse sensors (though we’d always recommend using a chest belt to measure pulse) and the manufacturer’s 5 years frame, 2 years parts and labour warranty.
All in all the VX550 is a solid choice. It’s built well, has a good number of features, is comfortable and is very well put together. With the added option of using a tablet in conjunction with iFit it also allows you to spice up your training regime. When all’s said and done this is a solid bike at an affordable price that will keep you entertained and should last for years.
If you're looking for a bike that the whole family can use, and that should stand up to a good deal of punishment and that will keep you entertained, without breaking the bank then the VX550 from NordicTrack merits proper consideration. The specs speak for themselves but where it stands out is how comfortable and quiet it is. For a smaller exercise bike, it's very well built and should stand up well to a lot of use. But it's not quite that simple because muddying the waters here is another NordicTrack model, the GX4.4 Pro, which has a nicer display, more programmes, more resistance levels, a cooling fan, and a water bottle holder - and because it's on offer at the moment, you won't pay a penny more for all those extras!
NordicTrack VX 550 Specifications
- 9kg (19.8lbs) Inertia Enhanced flywheel
- 20 digital levels of SMR™ Silent Magnetic Resistance with OneTouch™ Controls
- 5″ backlit LCD display
- Feedback: Speed, time, distance, calories, pulse, RPM, resistance, Watts; scan
- 21 programmes (manual, 20 pre-set)
- iFit Coach BLE Enabled – use the iFit Smart Cardio app on compatible tablets and smartphones (subscription based after initial trial)
- Heart Rate Measurement via EKG pulse grip sensors + Bluetooth® smart wireless receiver (chest strap optional)
- Audio: Music port for iPod/mp3 player + dual 2” speakers
- Extras: tablet holder, transportation wheels
- Oversized cushioned saddle with vertical and horizontal adjustment
- Ergonomic pedals with toe clips and adjustable straps
- Slip free adjustable aerobar
- Levelling Feet: Yes
- Dimensions in use (L x W x H): 132cm (51.9”) x 61cm (24”) x 161cm (63.4”)
- Max. User Weight: 130kg (286.6lbs)
- Product Weight: 39kg (85.9lbs)
- Power Supply: Mains; 9 Volt DC 2 Amp power adapter included
- Warranty: 5 years frame, 2 years parts and labour (if registered within 28 days of purchase)
NordicTrack VX 550 Exercise Bike - Console / Display Unit
Currently available for £399.00 from Sweatband.com
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