Saturday, August 07, 2021

Schwinn IC 4 / Bowflex / Nautilus cycle trainer - review with Zwift and Peloton apps

We've used our Schwinn IC 4 cycle trainer for about 10 months now. It was a pandemic purchase in December of 2020. The same trainer is sold as a Schwinn IC4, a Bowflex and a Nautilus.

We paid $900 from Dicks sporting goods. In September 2021 it's closer to $1000. It may be the only decent trainer left that doesn't require a Peloton-style subscription.

It's worked well for us. The only crappy part was the pedals, but the manufacturer expects those to be replaced. My son likes SPD clips so we use those with an adapter for shoes. The magnetic resistance is easy to adjust and quiet. Unlike trainers that attach to a bicycle it's easy to move and adjust for different heights (in our home 4'11" to 5'11"). There's a mount for iPad and a USB power out.

The trainer connects with Zwift on my son's iPad via Bluetooth and transfers the calculated power output. So if you adjust the magnetic resistance but keep a constant pedaling cadence then the power output goes up. The power output is reflected in Zwift cycling speeds. Unlike more expensive units the resistance doesn't vary based on the Zwift simulated course -- but if you go "uphill" in the simulation your power output converts to slower speeds.  So it works.

It comes with a heart monitor that worked when we tested it but we never use it.

It weighs 106 lbs and comes with front wheels that make it easy for me to move. That turned out to be much more important than I expected, we move it around depending on what we're doing in the home gym.

Besides Zwift (my son has a subscription for $15/month) I tested connecting it to a bundled "" and "".  You can't connect to an Apple Watch. ExploreTheWorld came with 4 free videos ws not very interesting.

Peloton is all classes ... lots and lots of classes. It behaves like a real iOS app with a slick signup. You get 1 month free then it's $14/user. You have to adjust the resistance yourself, the Peloton app can't change it.

Zwift is simulated rides with an avatar and lots and lots of group rides and routes. The UI is pretty crude on an iPad, I think it's made for a giant low res display or maybe a remote monitor. You get 23KM free then it's $15/user/month. We got a Zwift account for my son, the rest of us just watch our iPad or use the trainer for intervals in our family CrossFit workouts.

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