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Pro-form Carbon CX Review

A simple, effective, and affordable spin bike that pairs with iFit for connected workouts
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Pro-form Carbon CX Review
Credit: Joshua Hutchens
Price:  $599 List
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Manufacturer:   Pro-form
By Joshua Hutchens ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 5, 2023
69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 17
  • Exercise Quality - 30% 8.0
  • Comfort - 20% 6.0
  • User Interface - 20% 6.0
  • Features - 20% 8.0
  • Setup and Portability - 10% 5.0

Our Verdict

The Pro-form Carbon CX is a quality budget exercise bike with a minimalist appeal and iFit connectivity. iFit is one of our favorite connected apps, and this is an affordable bike that allows you to experience their quality workouts. The bike is simple yet functional; it works with or without the app and doesn't need to be plugged into AC power. The weighted flywheel provides a realistic pedaling feel, and the magnetic resistance is more than adequate for great workouts. The bike has features similar to other bikes at twice the price, and our only real gripe with the bike is the saddle's comfort.
REASONS TO BUY
Affordable
Smooth belt-driven weighted flywheel
Infinitely adjustable resistance
IFit compatible
REASONS TO AVOID
Basic display
No programmed workouts
Only iFit connectivity
Uncomfortable saddle

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Star Rating
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Bottom Line This affordable spin bike has a weighted flywheel and a gym-like workout feel with the ability to connect to iFit for connected workoutsA reasonably priced upright model with connected featuresThis affordable spin bike has a weighted flywheel and a gym-like workout feel but lacks any connectivityThis folding model is affordable, convenient, and best for light to moderate intensity exerciseThis simple and affordable recumbent bike is best suited for light to moderate intensity exercise
Rating Categories Pro-form Carbon CX Schwinn 130 Upright... Yosuda Indoor Cycli... Exerpeutic Folding... Marcy Recumbent ME-709
Exercise Quality (30%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Comfort (20%)
6.0
7.0
8.0
5.0
8.0
User Interface (20%)
6.0
7.0
5.0
5.0
4.0
Features (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
Setup and Portability (10%)
5.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Specs Pro-form Carbon CX Schwinn 130 Upright... Yosuda Indoor Cycli... Exerpeutic Folding... Marcy Recumbent ME-709
Max. Weight Capacity 250 lbs 300 lbs 270 lbs 300 lbs 300 lbs
Display LCD display: 2" W x 1.5" H LCD display: 5" W x 3" H LCD display LCD display: 3.3" W x 1.5" H LCD display: 3" W x 1.5" H
Resistance Settings 16 levels 16 levels Unlimited 8 levels 8 levels
Recommended Height Range 4'11" to 6'5" not specified, 13" of seat height adjustment not specified, 10" of seat height adjustment 5'3" to 6'1" not specified, 12" of seat height adjustment
Style Upright Upright Upright Upright/semi-recumbent Recumbent
Resistance type Magnetic Magnetic Weighted flywheel and adjustable resistance pad Magnetic Magnetic
Companion App time, speed, distance, calories, odometer Resistance level, course for the program, speed, distance, elapsed time, rpm, calories, and heart rate time, speed, distance, calories, odometer distance, calories burned, time, speed, odometer, scan, and heart rate monitor time, speed, distance, calories, odometer, and scan
Measured Dimensions 50" L x 22" W x 48.75" H 42" L x 21.25" W x 51.5" H 40.5" L x 21.5" W x 45" H 33" L x 22" W x 46.5" H 58"- 46" L x 24.75" W x 38.5" H
Measured Weight 109 lbs 61 lbs 68.8 lbs 41 lbs 54.2 lbs
Resistance Adjustment type Buttons Buttons Knob Knob Knob
Connectivity None 13, 1 HIIT Interval, Profile, Heart rate Control None None None
Heart Rate Sensor No Yes No Integrated in handlebar No
Other Features Bluetooth works with iFit, water bottle holder, 3 lb weights, weight cradles, pedals with straps, transport wheels Bluetooth, works with Zwift and Explore the World, bottle cage, pedals with adjustable straps, heart rate sensors, adjustable handlebars, transport wheels, device shelf Bottle cage, device shelf, cage pedals, flywheel brake, transport wheels pedals with straps, cell phone holder, transport wheels, folding for storage Recumbent handlebar, transport wheels, adjustable seat, digital display, pedals with straps
Warranty Frame: 10 years, Parts, electronics: 1 year Frame: 10 years, Parts: 2 years, Electronics: 1 year 1 year parts replacement Frame: 1 year, All other parts: 90 days Frame: 2 years

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Pro-form Carbon CX is an outstanding value for those wanting to utilize iFit fitness classes. This bike stands out from others by giving us a great value bike and making their top-notch workout classes optional. Resistance and adjustability are all adequate for most levels of riders, and the weighted flywheel and magnetic resistance provide a realistic pedaling experience. This bike has the look and feel of a gym-quality spin bike in a no-frills package and an affordable price tag. If you choose to utilize iFit, you'll have entertaining and exciting classes with scenery from around the world.

Performance Comparison


The dumbbells stash beneath the saddle and are easy to grab when you need them.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Exercise Quality


The Carbon CX has similar exercise quality to other, higher-end studio spin bikes. The bike's frame is supportive and doesn't move beneath you, even in all-out efforts. The feel of the resistance is realistic, which helps you to immerse yourself in the experience of the classes. The bike's positioning is adjustable but has a generally athletic feel that is likely better suited for people already comfortable on bikes. The belt-driven 27.5 lb flywheel provides inertia and a large magnet provides 16 levels of resistance to recreate the feel of riding outdoors. Resistance is adjusted manually through small buttons on the tablet holder, which aren't incredibly convenient, but if you're using iFit, resistance is adjusted automatically based on the terrain you're riding. The bike has no pre-programmed workouts or fancy features but remains usable and will hold your tablet for whatever entertainment you prefer. If you're using a tablet for something other than iFit, you'll have to move the tablet to adjust the resistance, as the buttons are located in the center of the tablet holder.

The athletic positioning of the Carbon CX puts the rider in a sporty body position similar to a regular road bike. While the overall position is adjustable, the general positioning of this bike is best suited for cyclists and those already comfortable in a riding position. The heavy flywheel is impressively smooth and creates realistic momentum at all resistance levels. Should you stop pedaling, the belt-driven flywheel keeps the cranks turning like riding a fixed-gear bicycle. Riders needing to stop immediately can use the brake, a large red knob that most would mistake for a resistance adjustment knob. The resistance is adjusted through two small buttons on the console or automatically while using the iFit app. The magnetic resistance is smooth and never feels like mechanical friction; out-of-the-saddle efforts were no problem in its power range. The pedals feature toe cages and straps to keep you secure while pedaling, which is fairly standard on models like this. The weight limit for this bike is a fairly low 250 pounds.

pro-form carbon cx - simple, effective, and smooth. if you're looking for an...
Simple, effective, and smooth. If you're looking for an iFit-compatible bike, there aren't many reasons to spend more.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Companion App/Connectivity


The Carbon CX is a very basic budget exercise bike at first glance. Pairing the bike with a tablet and the iFit app gives way to an immersive workout experience that can go head-to-head with any of the best exercise bikes on the market.

The iFit experience is one of the best-connected workouts we've experienced.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Comfort


The Carbon CX isn't the most comfortable exercise bike we've tested, but that's largely due to the saddle that was universally disliked by our testers. Finding a more comfortable seat is simple and generally not very costly (see our favorite bike seats here. The large increments of adjustment aren't ideal, and serious cyclists will be unable to dial in their exact saddle height as the seat moves up and down in 1-inch increments for a total of nine positions.

The sporty style of the Carbon CX requires a more athletic position than some other exercise bikes. While similar to a spin bike you might ride at the gym, this bike feels better suited toward flexible athletes than those at the beginning of a fitness journey. Even with the handlebars in the highest position, they adjust 3.75 inches up and down your body positioning, leaving a bit of your weight resting on your hands. The handlebar is coated with a coarse rubberized grip material that doesn't get slippery when wet but doesn't have the silicone softness that we've appreciated on other bikes. The handlebar shape allows for multiple different positions and should be comfortable for the vast majority of riders.

The Carbon CX features adjustable height and fore/aft adjustability on the saddle.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

User Interface


The console of the Carbon CX could easily be mistaken for a tablet holder. The center of the tablet holder features a small LCD and four buttons. The buttons change the display field, connect to iFit and adjust resistance. Using this bike without a tablet is totally possible but boredom-inducing. Any tablet or reading material you place on the tablet holder blocks access to the display and resistance adjustment buttons.

The interface of the Carbon CX is quite basic compared to the more complex displays on other models tested. To properly discuss the user interface, we must also talk about iFit. The user interface through iFit is one of the best we've experienced, with interactive rides worldwide led by world-class athletes. The workouts are fantastic, the scenery spectacular, and the bike resistance integration is a nice bonus that lets you focus on the ride instead of adjusting knobs or buttons. The bike includes a free trial for iFit; if you choose to maintain an iFit account, it will cost several hundred dollars per year. The price of connected fitness classes isn't cheap.

pro-form carbon cx - using the tablet holder blocks the functions of the display buttons...
Using the tablet holder blocks the functions of the display buttons. If you're using iFit you won't need any of the buttons.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Features


The Carbon CX is a simple exercise bike with few features. The features it does have enhance its usability and help it pair well with iFit. A water bottle cage holds a standard cycling bottle water bottle and is easy to reach while spinning. 3 lb dumbbells are included and rest in their carrier under the saddle, accessing them while spinning is effortless and transport wheels give the bike some user-friendliness.

While exercising, our most appreciated feature was the bottle cage. Attached to the main frame just below the resistance adjustment knob, the bottle cage ensured we always had water at close reach. The pedals feature toe clips and straps that keep your foot in the proper position for spinning out the miles. The ends of the stabilizer bars feature adjustable feet that allow you to level the bike on uneven surfaces.

pro-form carbon cx - the transport wheels are handy anytime you want to move the bike...
The transport wheels are handy anytime you want to move the bike more than a scoot or two.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Setup/Portability


The Carbon CX exercise bike was not complicated to assemble but does require a bit more time and muscle than others. The shipping box it arrived in weighed just over 125 pounds, so moving it around isn't easy. The assembly instructions were clear, and all of the necessary tools were provided. Packaging was styrofoam intensive, but all parts were in good condition. Almost half of the assembly time was simply unwrapping packaging. The total assembly time was 51 minutes, and once assembled, the bike can be rolled on its transport wheels. The final assembly involves installing 2 AA batteries to power the console, as the bike itself doesn't require electricity.

Our Carbon CX arrived with the laminate cover separating from the flywheel. They quickly sent a replacement flywheel that had no problems with the laminated cover.

Pro-form Carbon CX assembly wasn't too daunting, the sticker was delaminating from our front wheel and Pro-form quickly sent a replacement.
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

Should You Buy the Pro-form Carbon CX?


The Carbon CX offers a gym-quality workout and pairs with iFit for a seamless workout experience. This bike feels high quality but lacks the comfort of our favorite exercise bikes. The steel frame, heavy flywheel, and minimal electronics bode well for its durability, but the long-term cost of the iFit membership should be a major factor in deciding if this is the bike for you. If iFit is compelling to you, this bike is an inexpensive way to facilitate your workouts and should be on your shortlist. If iFit wouldn't be your dominant workout app, then you'd be better off on a bike with better adjustability.

What Other Exercise Bikes Should You Consider?


There are many great bikes available in this price range, and many of them limit you to an app or brand of workout class. This affordable model is ideal for a particular app but not as well suited for using a competitor's app. This is very common for most models as the majority of exercise bikes are designed to tether to an app where the real cost of ownership comes through the app fees. If you want a great bike that won't limit you to one app or can be used without any connectivity, we recommend the Schwinn IC4. The bike has excellent mechanics and adjustability, and it won't leave you dependent on any particular subscription. The Renpho AI Smart Exercise Bike is another value option offering a connected cycling experience in a very user-friendly package.

Joshua Hutchens
 

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