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Cycleops Phantom 1 Stationary Bike

Inside the cycling circles, Cycleops is one of the most well-known brand names.

They have a hard-earned reputation for creating some of the most reliable equipment in the industry and stand behind their creations with a robust warranty.

Most of their products have been cycling-specific. So they would offer a line of bike trainers that you could connect your bicycle to for an indoor workout. They are also one of the last companies to still create bike rollers for those athletes that want a realistic training experience indoors.

Recently, they have been crossing over into the more mainstream fitness offerings with their line of indoor stationary bikes.

The flywheel itself is 48 pounds which substitute well for recreating real world rolling resistance. It allows you to coast, and turn up the resistance for standing climbs. You can also sprint from a stop, for those leg burning speed drills.

These machines are only offered in high-end models. You could put any of their machines inside a gym, and they would have the durability to hold up to the daily grind of sweaty gym attendees.

Which means they’ll hold up quite well to your daily workout grind.

The Phantom series has a rear-mounted flywheel. This offers a more realistic ride than front-mounted flywheels and also moves all of those critical moving parts out of your “sweat zone.”

The idea with this design is that these bikes will last longer.

The one downside with this model, compared to the other Phantom models, is that it lacks all of your workout tracking abilities. Even with the Phantom 3, you can have their Patented PowerTap wattage measurement system that hones in your workout (especially when combined with a heart rate monitor.)

However, if you do go with the optional upgrade kit, it will give you the Joule 2.0 computer and a heart rate strap for displaying your heart rate, speed, and cadence — critical measurements for tracking your workout at home, in my opinion.

The Joule 2.0 gives you a large screen display with two large buttons, making it easy to navigate even during the sweatiest part of your workout.

The joystick also lets you select the screen setting you need. It takes a little finagling to work with, but becomes intuitive on the 3rd or 4th ride.

It is a low power device and gives you about 60 hours of run time.

Many folks will want to upgrade to one of the models with more features. The ANT+ can also allow integration with many other Bluetooth devices that to create cross-platform integration with devices like Garmin and Suunto.

Many devices are of such poor quality that they shake and are unpleasant to use as part of a daily workout. You find yourself limiting your workouts simply because of the machine creaks and shimmies.

With the Phantom 1, you get a model that is designed for the intermediate to an advanced athlete in mind. Even if you prefer running or are a swimmer, this is a cardio option that can transform your winter from dreariness to beauty.

Initial reports are very positive on this machine with it being favored by road-dedicated athletes who want an off-season bike. We are also starting to see a few gyms pick them up, however at this price point; most gyms go for a front-mounted flywheel to save money.

They had some earlier models like the 100 and the 400 pros. This one is designed to address some of the earlier complaints in a similar rear-mounted flywheel package.

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Restoring A Vintage Schwinn Airdyne Exercise Bike

Every one of us had a Grandma with an old exercise bike sitting in the corner of her sewing room. If your Grandma was like my grandma, you never were allowed on it, but you’d still try to mess with it when she wasn’t looking.

Now, as the years catch up with you, you are wondering where you can find a cheap, well-built exercise bike and you start checking craigslist. Sure enough, there is one of those tanks available for $40. It’s as strong and sturdy as the day Grandma had it (turned out they liked to buy exercise equipment that they never use — just like us!)

We also see a resurgence of popularity for these machines among the Crossfit community. Unlike your standard spin bike, these also offer an upper body workout through the handles.

The neat thing about these machines is that they are chain driven and made from mostly metal parts. You can often find replacement parts online, so even if something happens to wear out, you can replace it. However, the all-metal construction makes them durable against decades of abuse.

These are going to be noisy machines. Not that you care, you are here to do battle with the flesh and its desire for donuts. But the wind resistance from the blade means that you won’t be able to hear your thoughts. So you might have to take up a meditative practice as well.

These older machines were built under the Schwinn name before they went bankrupt and sold their brand to the lowest bidder (who then, resold it, I believe). Schwinn stuff tended to weigh more since they were going for durability and longevity at a low price. The good news is, it’ll hold its own in a tornado and if you put one on each corner, it could probably secure a single-wide mobile home.

If you get one, the first thing you want to do is take it apart and check the chain. It could probably use a good degreasing and a light regreasing with some lightweight sewing machine type oil.

The cables that control the tension often get cracked and corroded and can be replaced for about $2 a foot if you measure how much you need and stop by your local bike shop. Pay attention tot he “knob” shape on the end of the cable as that matters when replacing it.

The downside is that it may be impossible to replace the speedometer system. So, if that goes, you probably will just want to strip it off. That doesn’t change the workout quality of the bike — you can always wear a stopwatch — but it does interfere with your ability to track workout distance.

While these older Airdynes look much like the newer ones, I believe that you are purchasing a better quality bike than you can get today (unless you spend close to $1,000).

So next time you are at a garage sale, don’t turn up your nose at the vintage gold color. Dust that suckers off and drags it to your home gym!

The key thing is to not over lube the chain. Use some WD-40 or brake cleaner and a toothbrush to get all of the old grease off, and then use a wax-based lube to relube it (after thoroughly drying off the old cleaning solution.

 

 

 

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Schwinn Airdyne AD3 Review – Should You Get The AD4 Instead?

What I hate about this bike is that when you search for the Schwinn Airdyne AD3, the results that come up are a list of part supplies and youtube videos on how to repair one.

That’s concerning since the Google algorithm is focused on providing customers with the best possible results for their answers.

I’m not finding any AD3’s for sale, either. It is apparently very similar to the AD4 (still available to purchase) since they both use the same owner’s manual.

If I were guessing, I’d say that the AD4 was a slightly better model and the AD3 was just provided so they could sell something at a lower price point through select box stores.

The biggest observable difference between the AD3 and the AD4 was that the AD3 had an analog display console while the AD4 used a digital one.

That is pretty common in this industry. A company like Sears will have a big brand cut a few corners and give them something they can sell that is just a little lower quality, but that looks like — and on paper it has — all of the same features.

This fitness bike does not look to be as well constructed as many of the hardcore CrossFit machines that are currently popular. So if you are a buff dude, go easy on this guy, ok? The linkages look thinner, and it appears that the arms might not hold up as well.

However, it is likely going to weigh less and, and for the stay at home mom or nerd, this could provide a decent device for a daily, low-level workout.

Really, I like the digital display, but if you run across an AD3 and can get it for a good deal, I can’t think of a reason to not do that. The only downside is that if the analog speedometer breaks, it might be harder to repair, where with the digital system it should pretty much keep working so long as you feed it new batteries regularly.

Keep in mind that even though the Schwinn name has been around for decades, they are an entirely new company today than they used to be. So I wouldn’t over pay for one of these. But you might be able to find one used and that would likely be well worth it.

If you are serious about your sport, I would upgrade to the Schwinn AD6

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Schwinn AD6 Review: Will It Work For CrossFitters?

With the advent of Crossfit, there is increased interest in these wind-powered workout bikes.

Crossfit is one of the most hardcore workouts systems that rely on using a huge volume of high-intensity reps to transform the body and increase endurance.

This means your workout equipment needs to be more robust than normal to withstand the intensity.

There is a new need for highly-durable cardio options at a budget price. And a fun subculture of bloggers who test this equipment to the limit.

The Schwinn Ad6 is one of those that consistently gets good reviews in these test. Sure, it may not be the favorite option, but, for the money, it has garnered quite a following.

The Ad6 is just what you are looking for when it comes to burning calories. The air resistance provides a more difficult workout than most other stationary bikes. The fact that it uses air instead of a magnet also means that you have fewer parts that you can break and the bike will withstand longer workout sessions without overheating.

The Air resistance is also a more natural resistance level where it increases the faster you go. This means that you aren’t at risk of overstressing your joints with a needless tough resistance level like you can end up doing on other units.

Comfort is important on these machines, especially since so many of us are hoping to use it to lose weight. This tool has a large padded seat and allows for an upright posture so even those who suffer from back pain can use it.

You also have the advantage of being able to watch TV or use the optional reading rack upgrade that can hold your book or Ipad while you workout.

The critical thing about this bike is that it is both an upper body and a lower body workout. This means that you are burning more calories and getting a complete endurance training, more so than if you were just riding a regular stationary bicycle.

The LCD screen is a major selling feature for many people. It displays your RPMs, Wattage, and Speed, so you can be motivated to keep your effort high.

The AD6 also integrates with Polar compatible chest straps which gives you a hands-free readout of your effort. Heart rate monitoring is one of the oldest and most effective ways to keep track of your effort, and this machine takes your workout to the next level by making it easy to read, even during the most intense effort.

The downside with the AD6 is that it does not have the robust build quality of some of the stronger machines. This is not a gym-quality machine, and if you are an intermediate level athlete or better, you will likely notice this drawback.

Customers have complained about issues with the quality of the assembly where parts were broken or misaligned, and the consumer had to disassemble the parts and rebuild the bike. In some cases, they had to submit a warranty request.

The upside is that you do get a 15-year warranty on the frame and three years on the parts which are better than many companies which only offer one year on the parts.

Now, even though you are getting new parts under warranty, the labor is extra, and, as you can see, for many folks, it can be hard getting the correct parts, especially if there are more internal repairs that need to be repaired.

As you can see from this video, some of these parts are very hard to remove. And sometimes you have several moments of going back and forth in trying to get the correct parts, and sometimes the repair parts cause more problems than what you had before you start.

(also note the lost arm. Bearings failing at this point is one of my most significant concerns with this bicycle as it would create an annoying “clunk.”)

The advanced athlete will likely find the Ad6 to be lacking in performance. But for the beginner and intermediate athlete, they are a good choice for most households.

To demonstrate what I mean, here is a youtube of a skinny Crossfitter (don’t punch me!) going all out on the AD6 for 5 minutes. It holds up pretty well, but you still see a tiny bit of flex in the base of the handlebars, and even with the handlebars fully raised, he has to lean forward to get a good grip on them, which is not ideal from an ergonomic standpoint.

So it could work as a daily machine for the crossfitter to use at home, but probably wouldn’t be ideal for a gym or a household of crossfitters.

Finding a reliable stationary bike for cross training is challenging when you are on a budget. Schwinn does a good job delivering a lot of value for the budget-conscious household, but those households who are serious about getting in shape need to seriously consider if they should increase their budget.

 

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