NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle Review
Cons: Connectivity issues (eventually resolved), incline adjustability results in slightly reduced stability, ICON Fitness has a history of poor customer service, fan is somewhat noisy
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NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle
$1,372 at Amazon
|$1,699 List||$1,599 List|
$1,599 at Amazon
$999.00 at Amazon
$309.99 at Amazon
|Pros||iFit app, adjustable incline, AutoAdjust resistance and incline, narrow Q-factor, feature-packed, swiveling touchscreen||Unique lean feature, loaded with features, capable of streaming entertainment and working with 3rd party apps, JRNY app costs less than the competition||Comes with weights and more, large swiveling touchscreen, massive user height range, assembly included, offered in 2 colors||Smart/connected features, excellent warranty, 100 levels of magnetic resistance, comes with hand weights||Affordable, smooth belt-driven weighted flywheel, infinitely adjustable resistance, stable and sturdy|
|Cons||Connectivity issues (eventually resolved), incline adjustability results in slightly reduced stability, ICON Fitness has a history of poor customer service, fan is somewhat noisy||Slightly larger footprint and heavier weight, JRNY app isn't quite as developed as some others, smaller screen (larger screen available at a higher price), screen has limited range of adjustability||Friction resistance - doesn't have preset levels, monthly app subscription cost, limited cycling workouts compared to competition||More expensive, inaccurate speed and distance readings, doesn't work perfectly with Peloton or Zwift||Basic display, no program workouts, no connectivity|
|Bottom Line||This bike's auto-adjusting speed and incline work with the excellent iFit app to simulate real-world riding||The unique lean feature and compatibility with streaming entertainment and 3rd party apps set this model apart from the competition||A moderately-priced Peloton alternative that comes with weights and more for setting up your home gym||A reasonably priced, high-quality spin bike with connected features||A simple, effective, and affordable spin bike that lacks connected features|
|Rating Categories||NordicTrack Commerc...||Bowflex VeloCore 16||MYX II Plus||Schwinn IC4||Yosuda Indoor Cycli...|
|Exercise Quality (35%)|
|Companion App/Connectivity (%)|
|User Interface (20%)|
|Setup and Portability (10%)|
|Specs||NordicTrack Commerc...||Bowflex VeloCore 16||MYX II Plus||Schwinn IC4||Yosuda Indoor Cycli...|
|Console||22" HD rotating touchscreen||16" HD tilting touchscreen||21.5" HD rotating touchscreen||LCD display, tablet holder||LCD display|
|Companion App||iFit (subscription required)||JRNY (also works with Peloton and Zwift) (subscriptions required)||Openfit (subscription required)||JRNY (subscription required) (also works with Peloton and Zwift)||N/A|
|Resistance Settings||24 levels||100 levels||Infinite||100 levels||Infinite|
|Max. Weight Capacity||350 lbs||325 lbs||350 lbs||330 lbs||270 lbs|
|Recommended Height Range||not specified (13 inches of seat height adjustment)||5'1" to 6'5"||4"11 to 6'8"||4'6" to 6'6"||25" to 35" inseam height adjustment|
|Measured Dimensions||58" L x 22" W x 60" H||59.8" L x 25.5" W x 52.5" H||54" L x 21" W x 60" H||48.75" L x 21.25" W x 52" H||40.5" L x 21.5" W x 45" H|
|Weight||203 lbs (claimed)||158.3 lbs (claimed)||150 Lbs (claimed)||106 lbs||68.8 lbs|
|Resistance type||SMR Magnetic||Magnetic||Friction||Weighted flywheel with adjustable magnetic resistance||Weighted flywheel and adjustable resistance pad|
|Resistance Adjustment type||Handlebar buttons or AutoAdjust||Knob||Knob||Knob||Knob|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth, WiFi||Bluetooth, WiFi||Bluetooth, WiFi, ethernet||Bluetooth||N/A|
|Heart Rate Sensor||Not included, but pairs with Bluetooth sensors||Bluetooth armband included||Polar OH1 hear rate armband included with Plus version, works with other Bluetooth sensors||Bluetooth armband included||No|
|Other Features||Transport wheels, 2 water bottle holders, 3 lb dumbells, adjustable fan, adjustable incline (works with AutoAdjust), Google Maps integration, two 2" speakers||Transport wheels, Bluetooth heart rate armband, 3 lb dumbells, leaning mode, dual-sided pedals, speakers, device shelf, USB port||Transport wheels, dual sided pedals, bottle holders, Plus version comes with: bike mat, activity mat, foam roller, weight set, kettlebell, stretch band, heart rate armband||Bluetooth, works with Zwift and Peloton apps, USB charging port, device shelf, 2 water bottle holders, 3 lb weights, weight cradles, Bluetooth Heart rate armband, dual sided pedals with cleats||Bottle cage, device shelf, cage pedals, flywheel brake, transport wheels|
|Warranty||Frame: 10 years, Parts: 2 years, Labor: 1 year||Frame and Parts: 2 years, Electronics: 1 year, Labor: 1 year||Frame: 5 years, Parts and Eelectronics: 1 year, Labor: 1 year||Frame: 10 years, Parts: 3 years, Labor: 1 year||1 year parts replacement|
Our Analysis and Test Results
NordicTrack released an updated version of the Commercial S22i during our test period. The photos above show the version we tested (left) and the new version (right). The bike itself is unchanged, but the console has been updated with "30W Premium Audio", front-facing speakers, and improved connectivity, along with dual-function pedals. These upgrades result in an increase in price to $1,899 but should help to enhance the user experience. Our review pertains to the version we tested which is still available.
NordicTrack has a long history in the home fitness market, and these days they make a lot more than their original cross country ski exercise machine, although they still make that too. The Commercial S22i Studio is one of their high-end exercise bikes that sets itself apart from the competition with some unique features and the iFit app. iFit is a departure from the more studio-focused workouts of the other apps, offering a simulated outdoor and immersive riding experience. Additionally, the S22i has adjustable incline and decline along with an AutoAdjust feature that automatically changes resistance and incline based on the workout and trainer you're following. While other connected bikes are more studio class focused, the NordicTrack is refreshingly different.
The NordicTrack S22i is a high-quality spin bike that provides a studio-quality cycling experience. It has a large range of smooth and quiet magnetic resistance, a 32-pound weighted flywheel, and a unique incline and decline feature to simulate real-world riding. Of course, a connected exercise bike is nothing without its app, and iFit happens to be one of our favorites.
The S22i is a quality bike that looks like it belongs in a spin studio or commercial gym. It has a sturdy and robust feel to it, and it feels relatively stable whether you're seated and spinning or out of the saddle hammering up a climb. Due to the mechanics of the adjustable incline/decline, the bike does have a small amount of side-to-side play that is noticeable when you're riding up out of the saddle. This movement is relatively subtle and doesn't affect the bike's performance or overall stability in any way. It has 24 levels of SMR (Silent Magnetic Resistance) that provide a wide range of resistance suitable for all fitness levels. The only downside to fewer levels is that the jumps between them are larger than on models with more levels. The S22i also has the unique ability to adjust incline up to 20% and decline down to -10% to simulate real-world riding and mimic the terrain of the program you're following. Additionally, both resistance and incline automatically adjust based on the terrain and trainer through the AutoAdjust feature. This provides the feeling that you're almost there on the ride with the trainer.
While it is quite different from the more studio-focused apps like Peloton and Echelon, the iFit app is very good and provides the rider with a very different, some people might say better, exercise experience. The trainer-led scenic rides take place in beautiful locations all over the world, and the bike can automatically adjust resistance and incline to match the chosen ride. The screen also tilts and rotates, so you can position it however you like to take advantage of the wealth of off-the-bike workouts on the app.
Similar to other modern high-end exercise bikes with touchscreens, the S22i requires WiFi to connect to the iFit app, and it uses Bluetooth to pair with accessories like headphones and heart rate monitors. The iFit app is relatively unique among the apps that we've tested, and it offers a different experience than the studio-centric apps of the competition. The immersive iFit rides, engaging trainers, and AutoAdjust feature may not be for everyone, but it is one of our favorites.
After receiving and assembling our test bike, we plugged it in and quickly realized that everything functioned normally, with the exception of the screen. Since the screen is the primary interface of the bike, this problem rendered our bike basically inoperable. If you look around online, there are lots of negative comments about Icon Fitness' customer service (mostly that they are hard to reach). It took a few days, but when we finally spoke to someone in customer service, they were very helpful, and a new console was shipped to us in short order. We replaced the console, and the problem was fixed. We logged on to our WiFi network, and everything seemed to be going fine, but the S22i dropped its connection on almost every ride for the first few days. After some troubleshooting and searching the internet for similar issues, we stumbled upon a thread that suggested using a 2.4Ghz wireless connection instead of 5.0GHz. Since many wireless routers provide both, it was easy for us to make the switch. Once on the 2.4Ghz WiFi, the connection issue improved, and it stopped dropping out mid-ride. Needless to say, it was a bumpy start for the S22i, but once these problems were solved, it became smooth sailing.
The S22i comes with a 30-day iFit membership included, but after 30 days, you will need to start paying a monthly or yearly fee to continue using the app. Family plans can have up to 5 user profiles and are $39 a month or $396 for a year, or you can get an individual plan for $180 a year. Your iFit membership can be used across multiple different iFit ready pieces of equipment like treadmills, ellipticals, rowers, fitness mirrors, or on a tablet for off-the-bike workouts. The iFit app would not be our recommendation for those seeking the at-home studio cycling experience, instead, it offers something completely different which may be preferred by many users. Of course, there are a modest number of live and on-demand studio classes, but iFit's specialty is the immersive, trainer-led scenic rides. These rides take place in incredible locations all over the world with enthusiastic trainers who provide prompts, tell stories, and give training tips, making the time pass quickly. Many of the trainers are recognizable athletes like Chris Davenport, Yuri Hauswald, or George Hincapie, to name a few, who are leading a series of workouts in the same geographic region or helping you work towards a goal (Couch to 40K is an example). You can filter the rides by type (road, mountain, studio), location (desert, mountains, beach, city, forest, etc), length, and instructor, and they have a variety of languages options to choose from. iFit is always creating new content, so there are new videos, challenges, and locations constantly being added to the already extensive library.
The S22i also has an AutoAdjust feature where the resistance and incline of the bike change automatically in response to terrain and trainer prompts. This feature allows you to focus on riding and really helps you feel immersed in the chosen ride. SmartAdjust will adapt the remainder of your workout should you choose to deviate from the program, or AutoAdjust can be turned off so you can control the resistance and incline yourself. The screen shows a variety of metrics including resistance level, power output, cadence, elapsed time, incline, and a leaderboard for those who like to see how they stack up (the leaderboard can also be hidden if you don't care). iFit workouts are based on your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) on a scale of 1-10, so it is up to the user to decide how hard to push themselves.
Google maps integration is another interesting feature of the iFit app. You can create a route on Google Maps, and then follow it on a ride. The bike will respond to the terrain in your route, and the screen shows Google Street View photos along the way. We toyed around with this feature, and while it is interesting, we found the jumpiness of the images (they are still photos patched together) to be a bit distracting. iFit also has a selection of TED talks to listen to while you ride, along with a big variety of strength training, pilates, yoga, and more to do off the bike as well.
The Commercial S22i is a very comfortable bike with a huge range of fit adjustments to suit a broad range of rider heights. With a maximum weight limit of 350 lbs, most users should be able to find a comfortable fit for spinning away the time on the NordicTrack. One thing that stood out about this bike compared to the competition is its impressively narrow Q-factor, the horizontal distance between the crankarms where the pedals attach, of 150mm. This measurement is very close to what you'll find on most road bikes and will feel more normal to riders who are accustomed to that width. Bikes with wider Q-factors can feel a bit odd to outdoor cyclists, although those who primarily ride indoor spin bikes may not notice the difference.
NordicTrack doesn't specify a recommended user height range for the S22i, so we took some measurements to determine the range of fit adjustment ourselves. The seat height is adjustable by a full 13-inches and can be moved fore and aft by 2-inches. With the pedal at the bottom of the pedal stroke, we measured to the top of the seat and found a range of 28 to 41-inches in its lowest and highest settings, respectively. Our six-foot-tall tester with a 35-inch inseam had several inches of seat height adjustment to spare. It has a fairly low step-over height of 21-inches, making it relatively easy to get on and off the bike. At the front of the bike, the handlebar height has a 3.5-inch adjustment range, although it doesn't feature any fore/aft adjustment like some of the other models we tested. Regardless, our testers were able to easily find a comfortable fit, and both the seat and handlebar posts have numbered adjustment lines that make it easy to find your desired fit should any of the settings get changed. The seat angle can also be adjusted with a wrench.
Like most high-end exercise bikes, the S22i comes with a fairly slim, performance-oriented seat. This seat's narrower width, medium cushioning, and shape work well for the high-intensity style of workouts you'll do on this bike, but it may not be for everyone. Those who prefer a larger, more supportive platform may be left wanting. Fortunately, you can fit virtually any other seat to this bike should you choose to swap it out. At the front of the bike, the large, rubber-coated handlebar offers a variety of hand placement options. A built-in adjustable speed fan at the bottom of the touchscreen is surprisingly effective for keeping cool, and two bottle holders positioned below the handlebar keep beverages within arm's reach for hydration while you ride.
The number 22 in S22i denotes the size of the touchscreen, which is the primary was that riders interact with this bike. NordicTrack sells several versions in the Commercial S series, with the primary difference being the size of the screen. At 22-inches, this HD screen is quite large, which makes it great for following along with the huge variety of iFit videos and feeling immersed in the ride. The screen tilts for viewing at the perfect angle while riding, plus it can be rotated for viewing any of the off-the-bike workouts (though it doesn't tilt down for floor-based exercises). The color and picture quality is generally good, although we encountered occasional pixelation that we attribute more to connectivity than the screen itself. Scrolling through the myriad options on iFit is very intuitive, although choosing what ride or workout to do could occasionally be a challenge with so many great options. We found the screen sensitivity to be relatively good, although at times perhaps a little too sensitive as it would occasionally select a ride while we were trying to scroll. Nearly everything can be controlled through the screen including resistance, incline, and speaker volume. On the side of the screen are two buttons that allow you to adjust the volume of the speakers. Below the screen, there are also two buttons to control the speed of the fan.
Unlike the other high-end exercise bikes we tested, the NordicTrack does not have a knob to control the resistance. Instead, it can be adjusted on the screen, and there are buttons on the handlebar that control both the resistance and incline/decline. The resistance controls are on the right, and the incline/decline buttons are on the left. There is, however, a large button below the handlebar that looks like a resistance knob, but it only works as the brake when you want to stop the flywheel and pedals from spinning. One of the nice things about the S22i and iFit is that it has an AutoAdjust feature that automatically changes resistance and incline based on the ride you're following. You don't even need to touch the buttons during a workout unless you choose to alter the resistance or incline from the program.
The Commercial S22i comes loaded with features that help to enhance the overall experience when riding this bike. Of course, the bike works with the iFit app, which provides a different training experience compared to the more studio-focused workouts of the competition. Working along with iFit, this bike's unique incline and decline adjustability help to simulate the real-world riding conditions and topography of the ride you're following. The bike can tilt up to a steep 20% incline or down to a -10% decline by pressing the handlebar-mounted control buttons, or the bike will automatically adjust incline and resistance based on the trainer and program you're following using the AutoAdjust feature. This provides an immersive workout experience that is quite a departure from the other bikes we tested.
The 22-inch tilting touchscreen also swivels a full 180-degrees in either direction, allowing you to orient it however you like to take advantage of the wealth of off-bike workouts on the iFit app. At the bottom of the screen is an adjustable fan that we found to be surprisingly effective at helping to keep you cool while you spin away the miles. The screen also has built-in speakers that provide decent audio, or you can connect headphones, and heart rate monitors (not included), via Bluetooth or the auxiliary plug. Below the screen between the handlebar is a device shelf to hold your phone or other items, as well as cradles for the included 3-pound hand weights. Below the handlebar are two bottle holders to keep fluids close at hand. The version of the S22i we tested came with toe cage pedals, and they can easily be swapped out for the pedal of your choice if you like to clip in with fancy cycling shoes (the latest version of the bike comes with dual-sided pedals).
Two wheels attached to the front stabilizer make it fairly easy to roll the bike around on firm surfaces. Independent levelers at all four corners also help to stabilize the bike on uneven surfaces.
Setup and Portability
Of all the bikes we tested, the NordicTrack S22i was the most time-consuming to assemble, and with a packaged weight of 205 lbs, it is also the heaviest. NordicTrack recommends two people to do the assembly, and we won't argue with that as the weight of the bike and several steps require two sets of hands. For those who are not inclined to tackle the assembly themselves, you can typically get the S22i professionally assembled for an additional fee.
At a shipped weight of 205-pounds, the Commercial S22i is quite heavy, and moving it in the box is certainly a task for two, maybe even three, people. Removing it from the box is also a bit of a challenge, and we found it easiest to open the bottom of the box and pull it off from the top. This leaves the bike standing in an upright position that makes it easy to remove the parts and the packing materials from the main body of the bike. It comes with a printed manual with written instructions and diagrams of all the steps in the assembly process, or you can scan a QR code that brings you to the BILT app where you can follow 3D instructions of all the steps. While the instruction manual is adequate, we tried the BILT app and found the 3D instructions to be very easy to follow. While there is nothing particularly difficult about the assembly of the S22i, it simply takes a bit of time and patience to put it together. We found some of the bolts to be a bit fiddly, and the heavier weight of the bike required two people for several of the steps. All told, it took us right about an hour and a half to get the bike ready for use.
Due to its 194-pound assembled weight, the S22i is the kind of bike that you'll want to assemble where you intend to use it, then leave it in your dedicated workout space. Moving this bike up and down stairs isn't impossible, but it's something that most users will likely want to avoid. Tipping the bike forward onto the transport wheels integrated into the front stabilizer makes it fairly easy to roll the bike around on firm, flat surfaces, but again, it is fairly heavy. It has very similar dimensions to most of the other models we tested at 22-inches wide x 58-inches long with a maximum height of 60-inches at the top of the touchscreen. It is hard to make it disappear when not in use, but that is the case with all of the other models of this style.
Should You Buy the NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle?
The NordicTrack S22i is a great option for riders who are interested in the unique indoor cycling experience that iFit offers, as opposed to the studio-style classes offered by the majority of the competition. The bike's narrow Q-factor, adjustable incline/decline, AutoAdjust feature, and killer trainer-led iFit rides may almost make you forget that you're riding indoors. If you want to ride at home, but don't want to feel like you're in a spin studio, then this is the bike for you.
What Other Exercise Bikes Should You Consider?
If you're more interested in live and on-demand studio classes there are better options than the NordicTrack S22i. The Peloton Bike+ is a fair bit more expensive, but it is an excellent bike and the Peloton app is second to none for the studio cycling experience. Likewise, the Echelon EX-5s and MYX II Plus are quality bikes, and their Echelon and OpenFit apps are similar to Peloton in their studio focus. If you're looking for something different, the Bowflex VeloCore offers its unique lean feature that allows you to tip the bike side to side and work a variety of muscle groups, and the JRNY app provides a wide selection of studio, scenic, and virtual coach rides along with the ability to use the Zwift and Peloton apps (through your own device) or stream entertainment on the screen.
— Jeremy Benson
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