Currently available for £1999.00 from Sweatband.com
NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Indoor Cycle Review
Without a doubt one of the world leaders in home fitness, NordicTrack has been there, seen it, done it, bought the T-Shirt, burned the T-Shirt, and then created a new T-Shirt to replace the old one. If it’s been done before, NordicTrack will have done it at some point. If it’s never been done before, then it’s a good bet that NordicTrack will be the first to do it. Their products have become increasingly reflective of the connected world we live in and it’s Commercial S22i Studio indoor cycle is no exception. The specs on paper look great so we got one in to take a closer look.
While it would be nice to be able to take delivery of a pre-assembled indoor cycle, unless you’re lucky enough to both find a retailer that’s willing to undertake to build and deliver, without any protective packing, a high-value piece of equipment and to be in a position to part with a not insignificant amount of cash for the convenience, then the first thing you’ll be doing will be assembling your shiny new addition to the family. Thankfully the manual that comes with the S22i is both easy to understand and well illustrated. Typical of a NordicTrack machine the box containing our test unit also contained all the other parts, nuts, bolts and screws that it’s supposed to. Once unpacked the S22i took a little over half an hour to assemble and it’s pleasing to be able to report that there were no unexpected obstacles to completing the construction of this indoor cycle. While we shouldn’t be surprised that this is the case when discussing a NordicTrack product, it’s impossible not to notice that it’s been a very long time indeed since we opened a box from this manufacturer to find that something is amiss. Literally years. And that’s a great testament to their attention to detail throughout their entire manufacturing process.
Once assembled this is a great looking piece of equipment, with its sleek black and silver finish and thick gauge metal making it look like it’s built to last. It’s heavy-set (reassuringly so) but it also looks uber-modern with a huge 22″ full-colour touch-screen display taking centre stage and giving this model the definite air of a state-of-the-art machine.
Being able to get a proper and ergonomically sound riding position is the single most important thing when thinking about an indoor cycle. It is the essential element. A bad riding position will at best be so uncomfortable as to make you simply not want to get on and exercise, and at worst will increase the chance of pulls and strains or even cause them. Thankfully, for the vast majority of riders, the S22i has plenty enough adjustments to ensure a comfortable position. The saddle adjusts both vertically and horizontally while the handlebars adjust vertically and have several different grip positions providing the rider plenty of places to grab onto. Even though there isn’t a horizontal adjustment for the handlebars this really isn’t relevant in this instance as the handlebars have been set up to mimic a road bike and because of this, they’re already in a great position and even tall riders of up to around 6′ 3″ will not find this cycle too small. The saddle itself is long and narrow, very much like a road bike, which is bound to appeal to a good many riders but if that’s not your thing and you prefer something more comfortable it’s possible to easily change it to a larger and more padded type thanks to the fact that it uses a standard bike fitting. The pedals too also use a standard fitting so if toe-clip pedals aren’t your thing it’s a cinch to switch them to the SPD type. All this makes getting nice and comfortable on the S22i easy for just about everyone.
The console on the S22i is unlike anything we’ve seen before on an indoor cycle in terms of sheer size but it’s also probably one of the most user-friendly consoles we’ve seen on a machine like this and that includes other models with advanced touch-screen consoles. Perhaps it’s the size of the characters on the screen and the fact that they’re so large and easy to read, or perhaps it’s because it’s a touch-screen, or perhaps it’s the layout of the menus. Perhaps, in truth, it’s all of these elements combined but what’s for sure is that there’s something special about the way that you interact with the monitor on this model compared with other models we’ve tested. It really does connect you with the experience and that’s not just because it’s in your face (which it most certainly is) it’s because NordicTrack has done away with traditional preset workouts that you’d normally find on equipment like this. Gone are the heart based, calorie based, time-based et al workouts. Gone are the dull on-screen bars showing you which section or what level of difficulty setting you’re currently on. In fact, the entire way that the onboard programs work is all gone and has been replaced with over 50 high-definition videos featuring personal trainers to guide you through your workout. You can choose a road riding workout or an off-road bike trail ride, or you can select a spin class and some of the workouts even feature sections where you dismount the bike, pick up the included weights and carry out exercises under the guidance of the on-screen personal trainer, and then re-mount the bike and continue your ride. The screen also turns so if you do have to dismount during a workout it’s easy to spin the screen around so you can keep watching the class and the spin it back again to face you as you re-mount the bike. There’s a dizzying amount of options here and as if that wasn’t enough then in addition to the 50 odd preset workout videos, there’s also a daily workout video that’s automatically downloaded by the console each day which helps to keep things mixed up and interesting. There’s another reason that the experience of exercising on this bike is so utterly immersive and that’s the incline/decline function. The resistance levels are in sync with the level of incline/decline so if you’re cycling up a hill on the screen, the whole bike will tilt backwards to a max of 20 degrees and the resistance will increase or if you’re cycling downhill it’ll tilt forward to a maximum of 10 degrees and the resistance will automatically decrease. While the motor that controls the incline is a little bit on the noisy side it doesn’t detract from the experience as the videos themselves grab your full attention so that what noise there is just falls into the background. It’s hard to overstate what a completely different exercise experience these personal-trainer-led videos deliver compared with the old school way of selecting a program from a list and watching a set of bars on the screen flash to indicate your progress. In your reviewer’s opinion (one shared by everyone that participated in our test) it brings your workouts to life in a way that makes a huge difference to the whole experience and, importantly, your motivation. This is the future of working out in the comfort of your own home. There’s no doubt about it, and NordicTrack has done an outstanding job here. Given the quality of the work here it does look like it’s going to take their competitors quite some time to catch up. It’s ahead of the competition and it’s presented so smoothly and feels so slick to use that the whole experience is a joy.
And, if you’re thinking at this point that it’s all just a novelty that’ll wear off quickly enough, we can confirm that that is most definitely not the case. The workouts are genuinely engaging, challenging, fun and feel immersive due to the incline/decline function and we can’t see the novelty wearing off as it’s really not a novelty at all. Rather, this is a new way of doing things and it gets results.
This sea-change in approach does mean that unless you’re using the manual workout mode, you’ll need an internet connection at all times in order to stream the videos direct to the console as they’re streamed rather than stored in internal memory. This requirement shouldn’t pose a problem for most owners but it’s something worth keeping in mind if you’re planning to locate the bike in a garden studio where there isn’t already an operational wireless internet connection.
In addition to the preset workout videos, which are completely free of charge and don’t require a subscription, the Commercial S22i comes with a 12-month family membership subscription to iFit giving you access to roughly another 400 videos! iFit also gives you access to tailored personalised training programmes, allows you to race courses against other iFit members, lets you map out your cycling route using Google maps, provides advice on sleep and nutrition and a good deal more. For full details on everything iFit click here to visit their website.
To complete the package the S22i comes with a built-in heart rate receiver, compatible music port for your mp3 player, stereo speakers, dual water bottle holders, cooling workout fan, and two 1.4kg (3lbs) dumbbells
All in all the NordicTrack Commercial S22i indoor cycle is impressive. Really impressive. It’s not cheap, but what you get for your money is vastly more than your average indoor cycle. Vastly more. And with that iFit subscription included there’s enough content to keep you busy, well, pretty much forever.
Just because something is expensive that doesn't mean it's not great value for money. That's certainly the case with the NordicTrack Commerical S22i which we think offers outstanding value. True, it's not cheap, but right now it's a good deal cheaper than it usually is and it does give you many things that other models don't. It's a joy to use, is very comfortable and above all, it's immensely engaging thanks to that sumptuous 22-inch full-colour touch-screen and the included family membership of iFit. The whole package is put together in such a way as to draw you into an exercise session in a way that's as close to being in a gym with a personal trainer as it's possible to get without actually being in a gym with a personal trainer. This is a genuinely outstanding indoor cycle that we highly recommend.
NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Specifications
- Inertia Enhanced flywheel
- 24 levels of digital Silent Magnetic Resistance
- 22″ Full Color Touch Display
- Feedback: speed, incline, distance, heart rate, time, calories
- Programmes: above 50 coaching video sessions
- Heart rate measurement via hand pulse sensors & HR wireless receiver (Bluetooth Smart chest strap optional)
- Compatible Music Port for iPod®/MP3 player, built-in speakers
- Interactivity: iFit® Coach Enabled (1-year Family membership included)
- Cooling: AutoBreeze™ workout fan
- Power Supply: mains powered
- Product Weight: 80kg (176.4lbs)
- Max. User Weight: 135kg (297lbs)
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 140cm (55.1”) x 55cm (21.6”) x 146cm (57.5”)
- Other features: adjustable saddle; adjustable handlebar; wide ergonomic pedals with adjustable straps; water bottle holder; transport wheels front mounted, two 1.4kg (3lbs) dumbbells
- Warranty: 5 years frame, 2 years parts and labour (if registered within 28 days of purchase to get 2nd year)
NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Indoor Cycle - Console / Display Unit
NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Indoor Cycle - User Reviews
- Personal trainer led high definition videos
- Huge choice of workout types including interval sessions
- iFit family membership subscription included
- Rock solid construction
- Absolutely huge 22" touch-screen display
- Swivel display for off-bike exercises
- Incline/decline motor not the quietest we've heard
Currently available for £1999.00 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