When it comes to making exercise bikes lots of brands pop up to mind, Peloton, Nordictrack, Echelon and many others. And it can get pretty hard to make a decision on which bike to choose.
Today we have two bikes from two brands that are well known for making awesome exercise equipment whether it's treadmills, exercise bikes, or whatever else, Schwinn and Nautilus have been consistent in making great exercise bikes.
Which Bike Did I Go With?
I personally ended up going with the Schwinn 170, mainly because it is just more comfortable to ride, by quite a large margin. To add to this, it edges out over the U616. Its quite a bit cheaper.. I mean honestly, it's just a whole step ahead of the U616 in just about every category.
Whether you're a fitness nut, a total beginner taking the first steps on their fitness journey, or just an average person looking for a good cardio exercise machine to lose weight and stay fit - both brands have got an amazing lineup of bikes that offer a stellar experience to anyone on either end of the spectrum, and that can compete with each other within the same brand like the Schwinn IC2 and IC3 that we recently compared and reviewed.
And here's the best bit - the majority of their models are not only beginner friendly but also totally affordable, so forget about having to shell out an arm and a leg to get one of their bikes for your home gym.
However, among all of the bikes that either brand offers, the Schwinn 170 and the Nautilus U616 are two incredibly comparable options, which many people have a pretty darn hard time deciding between.
That's why to save you hours of painstaking research and a whole lot of trial and error - I've decided to share my experience and knowledge with you in order to help you pick out the best bike for yourself.
Keep reading to get a deeper overview of either bike, learn about their pros and cons, and get some clear-cut answers on which one might be the better option for your home gym.
Let's get started!
A Quick & Dirty Overview Of Both Exercise Bikes
Before we dive deep into the key differences between each bike and discuss where either contender may win out - let's take a minute to get up close and personal with both models.
Below, I'll be covering what each exercise bike brings to the table, as well as some of the key features that I like and dislike from personal experience with both machines.
Both brands are easily recognizable leaders in the affordable higher-end exercise bike space. However, it's important to note that at the end of the day, both of these models are actually made by Nautilus, the folks behind BowFlex.
As such, there isn't an overwhelming amount of difference between the Schwinn 170 and the Nautilus U616, and the distinctions really boil down to a few minute details that push one model slightly ahead of the other.
And the Schwinn 170 is no exception, as one of the most popular indoor exercise bikes in both commercial and at-home settings, the Schwinn 170 brings quite the stellar feature-kit to the table at a very affordable price compared to many other options on the market.
This bike is built around a super functional and reliable magnetic resistance system, working in 25 resistance levels, a solid 13-lb flywheel, and 29 pre-programmed workouts alongside 4 customizable user profiles for you to enjoy.
In addition to all this, prospective users will also get to play around with 8 different RideSocial routes that come built into the console.
This particular model also features upgraded heart telemetry, an on-board MP3 sound system, as well as smart-device connectivity over their new and improved BlueTooth platform among a fairly huge set of features that set this bike leagues ahead of other popular competitor models.
And while it undeniably accommodates a very diverse range of users, with a nice and sturdy build and a maximum weight capacity of 300-lbs, it's still a relatively compact bike, making it a great choice for those of us dealing with spatial constraints when picking out home exercise equipment.
The Best Features Of The Schwinn 170
Now that we've gotten a tad more familiar with the bike, here's a quick birds-eye view of all of the best features that the Schwinn 170 brings to the table.
- Quiet magnetic resistance system with 25 levels of resistance built-in around a solid 13-lb flywheel.
- Sturdy frame with a relatively compact footprint that measures roughly 41" by 21".
- Adjustable seating with a universal stem, allowing the seat to be upgraded down the line for total comfort.
- Built-in heart telemetry and wireless smart device connectivity.
- Compatibility with RunSocial, including 8 pre-programmed routes that you can enjoy out of the box.
- Well-designed media dock with device holders, a USB charging port, built-in MP3 speakers, a 3-speed fan, bottle holder, and more.
- Easy trouble-free assembly and a comprehensive 2-year warranty on parts & electronics.
Where Does The Schwinn 170 Fall Short?
As with all great things, there are a few points of critique - here's a quick list of the areas where the Schwinn 170 may fall a little short.
- The flywheel is quite light, being only 13-lbs, which can kill the "realism" of riding the bike compared to a road bike, while also not being the most efficient resistance setup on the market.
- The heart-rate sensors on the bike's grips tend to not be all that accurate, so you'll have to rely on a Polar monitor to really get accurate readings during your workouts.
- The console is feature-rich, but it isn't laid out in a very user-friendly way, so less tech-savvy riders may find it a bit confusing to navigate out of the box. Another downside is it lacks compatibility with apps like Zwift, so if you like Zwift don't get this bike.
The Nautilus U616
If you're in the market for a low-cost home exercise bike that packs a feature-rich kit alongside solid quality and decade-long reliability, it's hard to pass by the Nautilus U616 without giving it a fair bit of consideration.
This bike is built around a solid balanced perimeter-weighted flywheel that offers 25 levels of ECB magnetic resistance, providing for a quiet, smooth, and effective workout.
Just as with the Schwinn 170, the Nautilus U616 offers 29 pre-programmed workouts alongside seamless connectivity with the RunSocial, Nautilus Connect, Nautilus Trainer, and MyFitnessPal apps, allowing you to really tailor your workouts around your needs and kick things up a notch whenever you feel like it.
Alongside all of the awesome creature comforts (such as the media dock, seamless smart-device connectivity, and heart telemetry) that we've covered above with the Schwinn 170.
The Nautilus U616 also comes with the awesome Nautilus DualTrack LCD display console which features up to 13 different metrics of choice and gives you a huge level of depth when it comes to monitoring your performance and key fitness data.
This is great for people who like exercise bikes with screens.
Build-wise, the bike relies on a very sturdy steel mid-frame and integrated levelers for perfect stability, which also offers near-unbeatable reliability as the years pass by. So, if you're looking for a rock-solid exercise bike that can withstand some truly intense workouts, this one is definitely worth your time to check out.
The Best Features Of The Nautilus U616
Here's a quick short-list of the best features that the Nautilus U616 brings to the comparison table.
- 25 levels of magnetic resistance built around a reliable and efficient ECB resistance system overtop of a 13-lb flywheel.
- 29 pre-programmed workouts alongside 4 customizable user-profiles and built-in compatibility with apps that offer additional workouts for you to enjoy.
- Stellar data-rich dual-track LCD display console that features seamless smart device connectivity and heart telemetry.
- Adjustable seating with a universal stem,4-way adjustable handle grips, and comfortable pedals with built-in toe straps to keep you nice and secure during your workouts.
- Great build quality with a solid steel center frame, allowing for a maximum user weight of around 300-lbs.
- Lots of creature comforts such as a built-in media deck, 3-speed fan, MP3 speakers, a properly-sized bottle holder, and compatibility with a plethora of apps like RunSocial, Nautilus Trainer, and more.
Where Does The Nautilus U616 Fall Short?
While the U616 is an amazing bike, there are some areas where it falls short - here's a brief list of the most notable "drawbacks" to picking this bike over some other options available in today's day and age.
- The lighter flywheel can make the bike feel a little weird at higher intensity levels, and the realism of the ride isn't quite there.
- Some users complain about the fact that the seat isn't all too comfortable, though the universal stem allows you to swap the seat to something you'd enjoy more.
- The Nautilus App pack that comes with the bike only works on devices with iOS8 or later installed onto them, sorry Android users.
- The LCD display backlight isn't adjustable and can feel a little too dim in brightly-lit spaces.
- There's only a single year of warranty on the electronic components of the bike.
What Are The Most Notable Differences?
Now that we've looked at both bikes in detail, it's time to get a tad deeper with them in order to really compare and contrast both options. After all, at a first glance, both bikes can seem pretty close to one another, which isn't all too surprising given that they're both made by Nautilus.
Size & Space-Wise Footprint
The first notable difference between the two bikes is the fact that the U616 is actually a bit larger than the Schwinn 170. It's got an extra inch on its counterpart when it comes to both the length and the width of the machine.
In addition to this, the U616 is also around 6.2-lbs heavier than the 170, given it's somewhat larger build, which can be a bit annoying while setting the bike up or moving it around down the line.
Apps & Connectivity
While both bikes work with MyFitnessPal and feature BlueTooth connectivity, the U616 offers integration with Nautilus' proprietary suite of apps. However, those apps are only compatible with devices that run on iOS8 or higher, and in my experience - they don't really offer all that much either.
As of the time of writing - the Nautilus U616 is actually a bit more pricey than the Schwinn 170, which is surprising as they offer a near-identical feature kit, with the updated 170 actually coming out slightly ahead of the U616.
Nautilus U616 vs. Schwinn 170 - Which Is The Better Bike?
Now that we've gotten a tad more familiar with both of these popular exercise bikes, let's take a quick peek at some of the different aspects where one bike wins over the other.
Rather than listing out every little nifty perk and con again, I thought it would be more practical to give you a comprehensive overview of how each model stacks up against the other in some of the most important areas of day-to-day usability to help you pick the one that best suits your needs, budget, space, and lifestyle.
Which One Is Built Better?
Both the Schwinn 170 and Nautilus U616 are built around a solid steel center frame. However, despite being slightly lighter - some owners have mentioned online that the Schwinn 170 seems to be a little more reliable and durable than the U616 which makes a bit more suitable for people who are more heavy or tall.
Which One Is Quieter?
In this area there's no clear winner due to the fact that both bikes employ an identical magnetic resistance setup, so you should have roughly the same experience with either option when it comes to how quiet your workouts will be.
Which One Is More Comfortable?
The Schwinn 170 and the Nautilus U616 both feature adjustable seats and 4-way adjustable handle grips. And while there are some complaints about the seats lacking in the comfort department out of the box, you can easily upgrade them down the line with a custom seat that suits your build the best.
Which One Offers The Best Feature-Kit?
Despite the fact that the U616 offers connectivity with Nautilus' suite of apps - I have to pick the Schwinn 170 as the winner here due to the fact that for some reason, the reliability of the connectivity
Which One Offers More Bang For Your Buck?
Given the difference in price between both bikes, the Schwinn 170 is the clear winner as it offers the same features (and more post-update), at a lower price than the U616.
Schwinn wins out here again due to the fact that they offer an extra year on the electronic components of the bike, whereas Nautilus only offers a single year in the same department.
The Setup Process
Both bikes are set up in roughly the same manner. However, I definitely have to tip my hat to Schwinn here as they ship the 170 with some incredibly clear instructions and even video guides to boot. The instructions for setting up the U616, on the other hand, can seem a little obfuscated and confusing, so the whole process may take a bit longer than usual.
Public Opinion & Reviews
At the time of writing, the Schwinn 170 has a slightly better rating across the board, and the online sentiment from owners seems to lean significantly towards the updated 170.
Which Exercise Spin Bike Should You Get - My Recommendation
Given that both bikes are made by Nautilus, and taking into account the fact that they offer a near-identical set of features, it can be hard to differentiate between them and pick one option over the other.
However, despite their similarities, the updated Schwinn 170 is a pretty clear-cut winner in my books.
Firstly, Schwinn offers a far better warranty policy with an extra year on electronic components. In addition to this, the 170 is also a bit smaller and lighter than the U616, making it a better fit for most modern dwellings. And while it may lack compatibility with Nautilus' suite of apps - Schwinn's apps don't fall behind in any way.
It's also important to note that the Schwinn 170 is actually a fair bit less expensive than the U616 - offering the same set of features, and even some solid updates that push it ahead of its counterpart.
At the end of the day, after strenuous research, the Schwinn 170 is the bike I chose for myself. And after just over a year of ownership - I'm still as in love with it as I was on day one.
So with that being said, I definitely recommend that you follow in my footsteps and pick the 170 over the U616.