Exercise bikes have evolved into interactive fitness stations. Gone are the days when you had to plug in your iPod to pep up your mood while exercising indoors.
Most bikes now feature full-sized screens and come bundled with cloud-based fitness programs and virtual courses that let you ride on scenic trails and compete with buddies, all from the comfort of your home.
But they generally come with steep price tags too, which some people may find hard to justify. A case in point is the Expresso Go Upright Bike which is pricier than a used car. Not kidding!
We are pretty sure you’ve seen one of these ‘video game’ bikes in a fitness center somewhere. They are swanky and loaded with more bells and whistles than you can imagine.
The question you must ask yourself is, how many of those bells and whistles do you really need to get a great workout? Today we are going to answer that for you, along with a whole bunch of other things about the Expresso Bike.
So strap in and hop on.
What is the Expresso Go Upright Bike?
The Expresso Go Upright Bike is an interactive exercise bike that boasts of best-in-class features like a 26.5” Full HD touchscreen console, moving handle bars & seats, 30 gears and a ton of customization options.
One of the big draws is the interactive fitness bundle. The other is a breakthrough magnetic resistance system, that auto-adjusts the resistance based on the terrain on screen. Essentially, you don’t have to manually do anything. Nor does a trainer have to remotely control the resistance, as is the case with many competitor bikes.
The Expresso will automatically adjust everything.
The Different Expresso Bike Models
While writing this, there are two Expresso Bike Models available for sale.
- The Expresso Go Upright Bike
- The Expresso Recumbent Bike
The Best Features of the Expresso Bike
Gears and shifting handles apart, what are the primary features that make the Express Go Upright bike so popular and so pricey? Here’s a look.
A 26.5” Touchscreen Console
That’s a beefy console and in all probability, the biggest one that’s available in the market currently. It’s 3” larger than the console on the previous iteration of the Expresso bike. Regardless of whether you are using to stream a live workout or a studio spinning session, you are going to be up close to the action. Also, it’s a touchscreen one. So you can make changes on the fly without ever having to pause your workout.
Touchscreen consoles are not novel. But how many competitor bikes boast of moving handlebars that can simulate a real bike ride outside? Not many. The Expresso Go Upright has handlebars that move left and right, and are motion control enabled. So if you fancy riding off the trail and into a valley, you can choose to do that. Just saying!
Laser Cut Steel Frame
The Expresso Go Upright features a laser cut steel frame. We are not sure about the exact gauge of steel. But it’s a very beefy unit that weighs 165 lbs. when fully assembled. Even when you are pedaling at full steam, you won’t find the frame croaking or groaning under the weight. By the way, it has a maximum weight load recommendation of 350 lbs.
The Expresso Bike features the Velo Plush Gel Saddle with a shock-absorbing ArchTech suspension system. There are 9-horizontal-adjustable positions, as well as an adjustment lever that allows you to choose one of 20-positions for seat height. This is a great bike for tall people since regardless of how tall you are, you can find an ergonomic position without locking your knees while pedaling. You can always swap these with a saddle of your choice since the Expresso is compatible with all standard saddles, which makes it a great exercise bike for beginners who are just starting out.
The Expresso features dual function pedals. One side of the pedal features a strap adjustment mechanism while the other side is for use with SPD compatible shoes. Once again, you are not shoehorned into subscribing for a proprietary upsell. The bike works fine with any standard pedal.
The Expresso is deceptively-quiet. As you hop on the bike and start one of the high intensity spins, you expect it to create a din. Instead, that magnetic resistance drive works butter smooth. It automatically kicks in depending on the grade. There are 30-resistance levels to choose from, if you prefer doing it manually. For instance, if you pick one of the rope bridge trails, you’ll find that there’s a slope at the start, followed by a flat patch in the middle and ascend again towards the end. The resistance will automatically change whenever the trail changes.
The Expresso Bike comes bundled with an eLive Plus membership, which is an interactive fitness program. If you choose to buy the bike only, you’ll have to subscribe to this to really enjoy the workouts. It’s currently priced at $199/mo. For the price, you get access to tons of content. There’s 300+ miles of interactive trails including one in outer space. There are 43-different tours ranging from 1 to 20 miles in distance, there are 10-on-demand classes, new classes are added each week, 9 maps to play and a lot more.
Is eLive Plus worth it – Pros & Cons
The first question that pops up in your mind is, ‘Is the bike worth the price’?
To answer that, you’ll need to understand what you get with eLive Plus, because that’s the big draw here. The interactive rides, the immersive trail experience, the leaderboard, the on-demand classes, that’s what make these bikes fun.
Here’s a detailed look at what you get with an eLive Plus membership.
300+ Miles of Road Riding
Expresso claims to have nailed the on-road ride simulation to the T, with the moving handlebars and the automatic resistance levels. To add to that, you get 300+ miles of riding trails to choose from. From bustling streets to snowy mountains, you can choose your terrain and difficulty. Turn the handlebar to make turns. When clubbed with the 26.5” screen, it is an incredible experience. No doubt about it.
Competing with fellow riders
If competing with fellow riders spurs you to put up your best performance, then you’ll love the 243 time and discipline combinations that the Expresso offers. You can compete against anyone who’s using eLive Plus. So you have an extensive pool of competitors to choose from.
On the other hand, if you are a perfectionist, then you can compete against the best version of yourself. In the Ghost ride, you will try to beat your own previous best. This is one of the most popular features of the Expresso Bike.
If you have friends and family who also use Expresso Bikes, you can ride as a group. Up to 32 people can participate in group rides.
Expresso has partnered with Studio SWEAT onDemand for the In-Studio spinning classes on eLive Plus. You will be trained by Cat Kom, an ACE (American Council of Exercise) certified fitness instructor from her spinning studio called ‘Studio Sweat’
The Games are another terrific feature of the eLive Plus fitness bundle. You can choose from three worlds. There’s Treasure World, Dragon world & Explorer world. All with different terrains and topographies. Each world has 3 maps. So in total, you have 9 games to play. As you pedal through the worlds, you’ll encounter fellow riders and meet various challenging trails. All the while, the Expresso will record your vital parameters. Heart rate, speed, calories, incline %, every bit of granular data is collected.
The eLive Plus software will automatically draw comparisons with Peloton and iFit (NordicTrack’s fitness program). While it does tick most of the boxes and offer some exclusive perks, there are a few things that we don’t agree with.
eLive Plus is priced approximately at $400/year if you subscribe for the 3-year bundle. That’s roughly $34/month. The monthly subscription cost will be slightly higher though. In comparison, iFit is priced at $180/yr for the individual plan and $396/yr for a family plan. So it’s a cheaper alternative. Peloton digital costs $12.99/mo. Now, you definitely get more bang for your buck with eLive Plus. But if you are willing to let go of the fancier features, then you might find it a little expensive for a cloud-based fitness program.
Not Spinning Focused
eLive Plus offers tons of interactive features and perks to keep the home fitness buff immersed. But it’s not a studio-class focused software. A lot of fitness buffs are drawn to the idea of an interactive bike because of the Peloton Hype. If that sums you up, then you might find the on-demand classes a little lackluster.
What My Wife and I Liked About the Expresso Bike
All things said and done, there are a lot of things that the Expresso Bike gets right. But to justify that price tag, we must look at it objectively. At times, even without the eLive Plus fitness bundle. Does it manage to hold its own as a standalone exercise bike in the offline world?
Let’s find out.
Here are the things that we liked the most.
#1 –It’s fun
No matter what we try to convince ourselves, home workouts are far from fun. You stare at the console on your bike, you miss the wind, you miss the surprises, the uneven terrain & the unexpected bumps. The Expresso Bike with its road-like ride simulation reintroduces the fun into your workouts. The handlebars are an enjoyable experience. Ditto with the automated resistance levels based on the grade. You’ll have one less excuse to hop on that bike every day.
#2 – The Manual Gear Changes
There’s so much talk about automation that we tend to forget that the Expresso Bike has a full-fledged LCD control panel for manual overrides. You can manually shift gears (resistance). This adds to the authenticity of the road-ride simulation.
#3 –it’s a Sturdy & Compact Bike
At 62” tall and 47” long, the Expresso Bike is one of the most compact ones in the market currently. This makes it perfectly suited for small spaces, like a basement gym or an apartment room. But it’s built like a tank. It weighs a hefty 165 lbs. when fully assembled and you won’t find it easy to move around the house.
#4 –You’ll enjoy the games
The games and the 9 maps are a great way to introduce an HIIT workout into your routine. Also, with so many interactive options to choose from, it’s likely that your family will enjoy it too.
What We Didn’t Like About It
Despite the positives, the Expresso Bike starts to appear like a grossly overpriced fitness bike the moment you take away the eLive Plus fitness bundle. That’s one of our biggest concerns with the bike. But it’s not the only one.
The Price tag
The Expresso Go Upright Bike can cost you anywhere from $4500-7000 depending on where you buy it from. Many resellers offer huge discounts on the bike. If you are looking to buy a used one, you can probably get it at 50% of that. But even then, it’s not cheap, is it? It’s about 10x the cost of a budget-priced indoor bike. The Peloton Bike is priced at $1,895 (And people look for alternatives to the Peloton, let alone a more expensive bike like the Expresso). The NordicTrack S22i is priced roughly around $2000 as well. Most people shy away from the Expresso Bike for this reason, and it might be justified too.
For all the brouhaha about being the ‘Best Fitness Bike’ in the world, Expresso only offers a two year warranty on parts and touchscreen coverage. The warranty on labor is one year. In addition to this, you get 90-days of warranty for general wear and tear after installation. How does it compare with the competition? Peloton offers a 5-year warranty on frame, 12-months for touchscreen, 12-months for bike parts and components and 12-months for labor. So it’s definitely better than what you get for Expresso.
And that isn't the only difference between the two bikes, we have a full-detailed comparison between the Expresso bike and the Peloton bike, you can check it out here.
Warranty is tied to eLive Plus
Here’s the kicker and probably our biggest quibble with the Expresso Bike. The Warranty is tied to an ‘All Access Pass’ with eLive Plus. Your bike must be registered and have an uninterrupted subscription to eLive Plus. You get a max warranty coverage of 3-years. So, you are forced to continue with eLive Plus even if you dislike the service. Else your warranty for the bike is voided.
Should You Buy the Expresso Bike? Here’S What I Think
The Expresso Bike is a feature-rich option that costs a pretty penny. It brings road-like driving simulation, 300+ miles of trails, challenges, leaderboards, group rides, ghost rides and virtual games to the table.
That large 26.5” HD console is unlike anything you’ve seen before. It amplifies the experience of the virtual rides. But, the warranty isn’t the best, nor is the price. Are you willing to overlook these for the best exercise bike in town?
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