If you're anything like me, then daily bike rides were likely a huge part of your routine in the not so distant past. That is, at least, before the whole pandemic situation created a drastic shift in how we live our lives, and keep fit on the daily.
In the past, I used my GTX 3 to personally indulge in at least a two-hour bike ride as part of my regular routine.
However, since the lockdowns and the closures of most gyms around the globe, most folks have had to make the transition to finding an at-home alternative for their fitness regimen. Thankfully, being a total nerd who likes to write about home gyms, that transition came pretty darn easy to me.
Road bike to spin bike, the differences are immediately obvious if you've pedaled anything over a kilometer on both ends of the equation across the course of your life. So, it's no surprise that many folks opt to go right for the high-end category of indoor spin bikes, among which, one of the most popular options is the all-too-famed Peloton bike.
But let's face it, not everyone's got the $2,000+ to shell out on their own model!
Thankfully, you don't have to spend anywhere near that kind of money to enjoy a totally on-par experience. And that's exactly where the Bowflex C6 and the Schwinn IC4 come in handy.
Which Bike Did I Go With?
If you are curios about which one I ended up going with, I went with the Schwinn IC4.
The main reason was that they are both so close as far as specs go and although the IC4 is slightly cheaper, (only about 100 bucks) it is far more comfortable to ride.
I also always got a bit more satisfaction in the pedal strokes, if that makes any sense to you. This becomes an important factor for me because I have mine hooked up with the Peloton app and with Zwift virtual world gaming app. I ride for long periods of time with my friends so satisfaction is something that I value.
You get comparable machinery, stellar performance, exercise equipment that is great for cardio and the ability to follow along with the Peloton program without actually owning a Peloton bike (that is if you opt for their $12.99/month app subscription). And not just Peloton these bikes work with apps like Zwift, FulGaz, and others
Great, all set right? Well, almost - how exactly do you choose between the Bowflex C6 and the Schwinn IC4?
In today's brief bit of knowledge, I'm going to share all of my painstaking research and my experience with both bikes in order to see how both bikes stack up against one another and help you choose the one that's going to be the best fit for you.
Let's dive right in!
A Quick Overview Of Each Exercise Bike
First and foremost - it's important to note right from the get-go that both the C6 and the IC4 are actually made by Nautilus (the folks behind Bowflex), and as such, both of the bikes have quite a few similarities with only a couple of major differences that really set them apart.
Below, I'll give you a run-down on both options, starting with the one I ended up buying for myself, the Schwinn IC4.
I'll cover their best features, some of their kinks, as well as the biggest differences between each of the models.
When it comes to an immersive cycling experience with a tinge of some super effective cardio right in the comfort of your very own home - the Schwinn IC4 is easily one of the top bikes to put on your short-list.
Boasting a relatively small floor-space footprint (it runs just over 48" long and roughly 21" wide), as well as a heavy-duty build that comes packed with practically all the creature comforts and latest tech that you'll ever want - this bike means serious business, at a very affordable price.
From a rock-solid 40-lb flywheel and heavy-duty industrial frame to the impressive 100 levels of adjustable resistance and wealth of compatible interactive workout programs that you'll get to play with - the IC4 leaves little to be desired.
What I Like
Whether you can't be bothered to dig deeper on the bike, or simply want a quick short-list of the top feature offerings that it brings to the table - I've got you covered.
- 40-lb flywheel which adds quite a bit of realism when it comes to the feel of the ride while providing for a quiet and smooth workout.
- 100 different levels of magnetic resistance, allowing you to really fine-tune the ride for your personal fitness needs.
- Compatible with leading interactive workout programs like Peloton, Zwift, and many more.
- Dual-track LCD display console that displays all of your key fitness stats in a comprehensive and efficient manner, while allowing you to track your progress over time. This is great for people who like visual feedback of their progress that a bike with a screen would provide.
- Customizable SPD pedals & 4-way adjustable seats and handles that allow you to up the comfort of your ride, while making your exercise that much more efficient and effective.
- Seamless accurate heart telemetry, allowing you to sync with a wealth of heart rate monitors, or use the one the bike ships with for an accurate reading throughout your workouts.
- Loads of creature comforts such as dual water bottle holders, a spacious media rack, and even 2 3-lb dumbbells that come included to help you bolster up that upper body and core.
- Stellar warranty policy with 10 years on the frame, 3 years on parts, and 1 year on labor.
- Fantastic smart-device connectivity via modern BlueTooth technology that comes integrated into the console.
What I Don't Like
Now, while the Schwinn IC4 is certainly an absolutely awesome bike, it does come with a few potential drawbacks, depending on your wants and needs.
No pre-programmed workouts of any sort come shipped with this bike - you'll have to rely on apps and interactive trainers for that.
The console is a little low-tech for modern times - compared to some of the other bikes I've reviewed and owned over the years, the IC4's console feels a little more old school, it covers the essentials but fails to go beyond that.
No built-in fan or MP3 speakers - taking a few minor points away in the convenience & comfort departments, but you can just use BlueTooth headphones and a proper gym fan to get the job done anyway.
If you're in the market for an affordable alternative to the Peloton that doesn't fall behind in efficacy or feature offerings - the Bowflex C6 should definitely be on your radar.
Just like the IC4, it boasts impeccable reliability, stellar build quality, and the ability to hook up with nearly all of the most popular interactive training modules like Zwift, Sufferfest, FulGaz, as well as Peloton's own program.
The Most Notable Differences
As we've learned so far, both the Bowflex C6 and the Schwinn IC4 are practically the same bike, with a different branded sticker on either model.
However, as both brands have since taken in feedback from their loyal customers and made some iterations on the bikes - there are a few differences to cover and keep in mind when choosing between them.
1. The Looks
Obviously enough, since both brands want to market their products as competitors to one another - the aesthetics do have to be at least somewhat different between the two bikes.
In the case of the IC4 and the C6, the differences are relatively subtle - with the C6 being a little more toned down and minimalistic thanks to Bowflex losing the red accents around the pedal levers and transport wheels.
And when you factor in the different branded logos - the bikes do actually look pretty different, obvious similarities aside.
2. The Seat
Straying slightly past the aesthetics, we've got our second major difference between both models in question - the seat they come with. In fact, the seat that used to come with both models (which still ships with the Schwinn IC4) is infamously stiff, and many long-time owners find it a bit uncomfortable.
Now, since the initial release of both models onto the market, Bowflex has actually gone and upgraded the C6 by adding in an entirely different seat, which is actually a fair bit more comfortable than the original one. While it may not seem like much to some, believe me when I say that the difference is something you'll definitely feel if you use the bike for anything over a half-hour on a regular basis.
3. The Price
Given that these two bikes are basically (almost) one and the same inside and out, they should run petty close price-wise, right? Wrong!
Surprisingly, the IC4 is actually much less pricey than the Bowflex C6. How much less? You'll be able to enjoy roughly $200 in savings over its Bowflex counterpart, without losing out on all that much (pretty much nothing) either.
Bowflex C6 vs. Schwinn IC4 - Which One Is The Better Spin Bike?
Now that we've got a tad more familiar with both options, let's explore some of the categories of interest that most people have questions about before settling on their personal bike of choice.
Below, I'll compare and contrast both bikes across several categories like build quality, noise level, comfort, and others in order to help you pan out which one's really the best buy for your wants and needs.
Which Bike Is Built Better? - The IC4
Both of these bikes are built with a solid industrial-quality stainless steel frame, which is actually quite rare in the price range they're at. Companies like Peloton and others will charge you a lot more for practically the same quality.
Now, how durable is this sort of design choice? Well, it's durable enough for Schwinn to back it with a rock-solid 10-year warranty, which is practically a life-time, as very few people end up owning the same bike for over a decade.
And even with the other Schwinn bikes that I've owned over the years, I have almost never had any sort of issue with the frame - so that's a huge plus. Even the first beginner exercise bike that I got from them still works like new to this day.
Given that both bikes use the same frame, it's safe to say that either one can be the winner here - and they'll both withstand years upon years of the most intense workouts that you could possibly muster up.
So whether you're into short relaxed sessions, or a balls-to-the-wall marathon for exercise - the C6 and the IC4 are both an absolutely stellar choice.
Which One Is Quieter?
Both the Schwinn IC4 and the Bowflex C6 come equipped with a totally awesome 40-lb flywheel.
This actually gives us two very important things!
First and foremost, the bike is incredibly smooth and stable despite its compact size. Secondly, this makes the ride incredibly quiet with nearly no noise output while pedaling or braking, especially when compared to other options in the same category.
In turn, this incredibly low noise output makes both of the bikes a great fit for impromptu home gyms, crammed apartments, and even packed commercial setups alike.
Which Exercise Bike Looks Best?
One of the biggest differences between both bikes is their overall look and design. While the shape and components are largely one and the same, Bowflex did opt for a slightly more toned-down sense of minimalism with the C6. I personally like the Schwinn styling better.
And while I ended up getting the IC4, I do still think that the C6 looks darn good.
That being said, the differences here aren't all that major, and from some of the feedback I've gotten from other owners of either bike, most people don't actually pay all that much attention to them down the line.
Which Bike Is More Comfortable? - The C6, By Far..
When it comes to comfort on any exercise bike, one of the foremost things to look at is the seat. And surprisingly, that's actually also where we find perhaps the most significant difference between the Bowflex C6 and the Schwinn IC4. At least for me.
The C6 is a tad newer than its counterpart by Schwinn, and among the minor aesthetic tweaks, Bowflex actually threw a whole new seat into the newer C6 models on the market at the moment.
And having tested both bikes, I can safely say that it's a fair bit harsher on your tooshie than the seat that you'll find on the IC4 out of the box.
However, even with that being said, the IC4 uses a fairly standard 7/8" post clamp for the stem of the seat, so you can swap the default one out in favor of a custom seat of your choice at any time. And when you factor in roughly $200 in savings, it may just be the route to go down if you want it to be even more comfortable.
Which One Is The More Budget-Friendly Option?
Having just covered the different seats you get between the Schwinn IC4 and the Bowflex C6, let's talk about the second major difference between both bikes - the sticker price they run at.
Typically when comparing two bikes, going down the budget-friendly route means you'll be losing out on something or another. However, in the case of the IC4 vs. the C6 - that's totally not the case!
While both models are practically near-identical clones of one another both inside and out (save a few minor aesthetic differences), they are actually surprisingly pretty far apart when it comes to the price you'll have to shell out.
At the time of writing, the Schwinn IC4 runs a whole $200 cheaper than the Bowflex C6. And given the fact that there's no difference in warranty or any major mechanical gaps between the two bikes in question - why not save some moolah while you're at it?
How Do The Warranties Stack Up? - Exact Same
Obviously enough, the last thing you'd want to deal with is having to service your brand new bike, especially when it's out of your own pocket. Thankfully, both Schwinn and Bowflex are known for having pretty darn solid warranty policies on their products.
In the case of these two bikes, both brands offer 3 years on parts, as well as a single year on labor. However, Schwinn explicitly mentions 10 years on the frame, while that information is nowhere to be found on Bowflex's side, and I wasn't able to confirm it with one of their representatives either.
As such, in my eyes, Schwinn sort of wins out in this category thanks to the fact that they explicitly cover all ends of the equation from the get-go, rather than having you fish around for information, should you need it. But I mean we are getting pretty picky here, Well i am lol.
Which Bike Should You Get - My Recommendation
At the end of the day, both the Bowflex C6 and Schwinn IC4 are rock-solid and totally awesome bikes. And which one you choose really only depends on your personal preference when it comes to your wants and needs.
However, if you're looking for my recommendation on which one you should pick up - I definitely recommend that you go with the Schwinn Bike.
Both of the bikes are pretty much identical, save for a few minor aesthetic differences and the slightly improved seat that ships with the IC4.
But hey, if you really do find the c6''s seat that much of a bother, you can easily pick up a comfortable custom seat online.
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