Spirit CU800 Upright Bike Review

The CU800 bike is a commercial grade machine but that’s not to say that it isn’t ideally suited for home use. This bike is really neither aimed at intensive health club usage or an occasional user with a fleeting fancy for fitness! If you have the budget and are seeking a durable, high quality fitness machine then you are wise to include the Spirit Fitness brand in your search… The question is, how wise an investment is this particular model? We put the CU800 cycle through a thorough test to find out…

The assembly process was nice and simple following the clearly illustrated instructions provided. The steps follow the usual sequence of exercise bike assembly: bolt on the stabilizers to give a solid base… Fix the console mast on… Attach the handlebar assembly and then on goes the console, seat, pedals and beauty covers.

There are 2 words contained within that last paragraph that sum up the CU800 at first glance – “solid” and “beauty”! In the looks department, that’s no overstatement.  Sure ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ BUT we can’t think that the contemporary styling and the tasteful blends of grey and silver would not appeal to the majority.

One aspect that is beyond dispute is just how solid this machine really is! The CU800 has a maximum user capacity of over 32 stone. Need we say more? Perhaps only to reaffirm the point by adding that with the home warranty you get a Lifetime guarantee on the frame, motor, braking and parts with 3 years on-site labour!

A make-or-break factor of exercise bike design has to be comfort. Regardless of all other functions and features, there’s little chance a user will get to truly ‘enjoy’ their workout if riding it is a pain in the posterior! The seat of the CU800 has dual springs to cushion the ride and the high durometer foam pads are contoured for support. In terms of comfort, it’s like settling into a bed of roses in comparison with many upright cycles! – A sensation only surpassed by the ‘armchair’ type feel of a recumbent cycle (and this will probably take up less room!)

Obviously a saddle is only one part of the comfort equation so Spirit have ensured there is plenty of scope for adjustment to the position of the seat too.  The mechanism for the seat to adjust back and forth is a simple screw threaded bolt that protrudes upwards closely behind the saddle; it’s easy to operate albeit slightly unrefined in design.

The height adjustment benefits from a twist/pull pin however, as we raised and lowered the height, the attention to design detail left us feeling marginally disappointed. Spirit describe it as an ‘easy ratchet’ system but to us it felt a bit crude with a slight grating sound of metal against metal. Plus the entire seat stem can be pulled completely from it’s housing if pulled 2 holes past ‘maximum’. These are certainly only trivial observations but the mechanisms just didn’t have the smoothness and precision that we expected from a machine brandishing the Spirit badge.

Once set up and ready for use, those paltry gripes are soon forgotten as the CU800 once again exceeds all expectation! As soon as you commence pedalling the console bursts into life and our faith in the CU800’s quality and design was instantly restored! The bike is self-generating meaning that it needs no mains power (so there’s no power cord to trip over and no restrictions on where in the home it can be positioned).

Now before we dive into the deep blue LED console, let’s take a moment to reflect upon the pedalling motion. By using a heavyweight 14kg flywheel, the smoothness is comparable to a summer lake at dawn! The flywheel itself is the same used in the Spirit CE800 Elliptical so it’s clearly man enough for this application! In fact, we can see a few familiar similarities between the two models – They both have the same console and they’ve incorporated the same 2-degree inward tilt on the pedals as well. The latter seems to be universal design feature throughout Spirit’s pedal operated machines to “put you in a more ergonomically correct position”. Biomechanically this makes sense although it’s hard to quantify the effect this has with the CU800 as it just seems that EVERYTHING comes together to give a delightful riding experience.

The electromagnetic system has forty levels of resistance (Yes 40!) and so the user is able to adjust their workload in tiny increments. De-conditioned users should find the first 10 levels to be nice and manageable. Levels 10-20 are obviously more challenging yet the intensity increases remain small throughout the levels. From 20-30 we started to really feel the resistance kicking in and noticed that the effort levels jumped more dramatically between each level. Finally, levels 30 through to 40 will cater to the hardcore cyclists or complete masochists!

The CU800 comes with a fantastically informative user manual that takes you through all of the many functions and features that the console is capable of. Although the console is intuitive enough to easily get by without it, it’s a refreshing change to see a manufacturer pour their expertise into print in such a clear and ‘human’ fashion.

Having read through the manual it shows how feature-rich the bike is (and how much text it takes to adequately convey it’s capabilities!) but we’ll give you an overview and try to do it justice!….

The console is roughly divided in half with a large Profile window at the top and a strip of 5 buttons either side giving you instant access to the various programs.

Further down, the console body protrudes out slightly to form a small ledge, wish we assumed is to perch a magazine or an iPad. This lower section displays the message window giving you a clear view of your time and distance in bright orange LED text.  With a press of the ‘display’ button you can see your Pulse and Calories data….press ‘display’ again and see your speed in RPM and MPH….then WATTS and METs. If you press the ‘display’ button during this METs display then the computer will start to cycle through the feedback in a continuous loop keeping each set of data on screen for 4 seconds before skipping to the next.

To view your heart rate readings is as simple as grasping the pulse grip sensors on the horizontal section of the handlebars. We always recommend utilizing the inbuilt heart rate receiver by using an optional compatible chest strap. This is beneficial in 2 ways. Mainly, a wireless transmitter will give you far more accurate and reliable readings. But also, if you are not relying on the pulse grip sensors, you can keep your hands further up with the forearms resting on the comfy, angled handlebars and enjoy one of the most comfortable and perfectly designed riding positions that the CU800 has to offer.

When using the heart rate controlled program the resistance will automatically adjust to keep you in your pre-selected training zone. Viewing your heart rate percentage is made effortlessly clear thanks to the clever gauge beneath the profile window.  The LED lights up in amber for 50-60%, green for 65-80% and if you go past 85% the red glow will hopefully remind you to ease up before your heart does! Plus for complete control you can adjust your target heart rate at any time during the program with the up and down program arrow keys. If you find an ideally suited session you can save it as a custom user program too!

We would normally hope for 2 heart rate controlled programs to be present so that typically one program can be targeted towards ‘fat burning’ and one to be aimed at an endurance pace. However, the CU800 has one single standard HR program and a second program that is far more adaptable – it’s called ‘Auto-pilot’! If at any point whilst using any program, you want to keep your heart rate at the current level, just press the ‘Auto-pilot’ button and the computer will automatically adjust the ongoing intensity level to keep you there – Fantastic for ‘on the fly’ control!

Another unique function albeit slightly less simple to comprehend is the ‘Fit Test’. By entering your age and weight and keeping in contact with the heart rate sensors (or wearing a chest belt) it will take you through a test which lasts anywhere between 6 and 15 minutes depending on your fitness level.

If you are looking for more familiar features which still offer personal appeal, there are the 2 user defined programs. These allow you to set up your own programs and your personal data (and even your name) can be saved for future use.

Aside from the ‘Manual’ function, the 5 pre-set programs couldn’t be any simpler to operate. There are 5 buttons either side of the profile window that share the selection of programs, clearly labelled with the title of each profile.

This handful of pre-set programs is the ‘usual’ limited offering, as seen on most (if not all) Spirit machines. Although adequate we did feel slightly disgruntled that a model of this calibre would not offer a greater selection of profiles.

However, on the very rare occasions that we managed to find fault with the CU800, it quickly managed to redeem itself! Earlier in the review we had a moment’s grumbling at the adjustment mechanism of the seat, but the smiles returned as soon as we experienced the comfort of it! It was a similar scenario here…. When the limited number of pre-set programs had us exploring the console’s buttons for more extras, we stumbled upon the ‘fan’ button and any feeling of disappointment dissipated in the cool breeze!
The single turbo-cooling fan is certainly another nice touch, but overall what really ‘blew us away’ is the overall outstanding build quality and comfort offered with the CU800 bike.

Best Price

The Spirit CU800 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 Spirit CU800 is certainly not a cheap bike! However, being solid as a rock, it's actually rather good value for light commercial environments such as offices and hotels. If you can afford it, it's clearly an excellent machine for home usage too!

Spirit CU800 Specifications

    • 13.5kg (30lbs) Flywheel
    •  40 levels of resistance
    • Size: (LxWxH) 108cm/ 42.5” x 55cm/ 21.7” x 136cm/ 54.3”
    • Weight of the bike: 52kg (114lbs)
    • Max.  user weight: 200kg (441lbs)
    • 10 Programmes including 1 manual, 5 pre-set, 1 user defined, 1 fitness test, 2 HRC
    • Computer feedback: Time, distance, calories, watts, speed, RPM, pulse, METs
    • Computer: Large Blue-LED Matrix
    • Pulse measurement via hand sensors and wireless receiver chest strap optional
    • oversized, 2 degree inversion pedals
    • Turbo cooling fan
    • Guarantee (full commercial use): Lifetime frame; 2 years parts and labour

Spirit CU800 Upright Bike - Console / Display Unit

Spirit CU800 Upright Bike - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Outstanding build quality
  • Silky smooth pedal motion
  • Very comfortable ride
  • *Lifetime guarantee on the frame, motor, braking and parts with 3 years on-site labour! * Home use

The Cons

  • Limited number of pre-set programmes
Spirit CU800 Upright Bike Reviewer Ratings

 

Appearance - 9
Smoothness - 9
Comfort - 9
Programmes - 7
Ease Of Use - 8
Warranty - 10
Value for Money - 7
Best Price

The Spirit CU800 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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