In today's day and age, the exercise bike is practically a cemented staple in just about any respectable home gym setup.
There are mainly two types of bikes elliptical bikes and stationary bikes. And there are big, well-known names when it comes to manufacturing these bikes; we have Peloton, Nordictrack, Echelon, Schwinn, and others.
Which Bike Did I End Up Going With?
I ended up going with the IC3 as it is a few steps ahead of the IC2 and even if it wasn't I would still pick it based on comfort alone. I tested both of these bikes personally and found the IC3 to be quite a bit more comfortable to ride and i got more satisfaction in the pedal strokes.
I don't know if that makes sense, but when you ride alot like myself, satisfaction becomes a big factor. I ride my IC3 with Peloton and Zwift for several hours a day and I want my bike to give me the best experience possible.
At first glance, both bikes may seem pretty well stacked up against one another, but there are a few key differences that can help us pinpoint a clear-cut winner.
Today, I'll be giving you a quick walkthrough on what both bikes have got to offer, and cover some of the differences, advantages, and minute details that should help you make the best decision when choosing between them in order to pick out the best affordable exercise bike for yourself.
Let's dive right in!
How Different Are Both Exercise Bikes?
Schwinn has always been known to make great bikes overall; whether these bikes were outdoor elliptical bikes or normal outdoor cycling bikes(ask me I owned The GTX3 for years and I love it) or their IC (indoor cycling) bike lineup definitely boasts a solid reputation in the affordable and high-end categories.
From their stellar functionality to rock-solid reliability and durability that comes backed by a relatively comprehensive warranty policy - both the IC2 and IC3 are seen by many fitness enthusiasts as a practical and affordable go-to option for decking out your home gym.
However, while both models may seem incredibly similar to one another, they actually feature their fair share of differences, making either model geared slightly toward a different demographic.
There are 5 main things that you'll need to keep in mind when comparing these bikes:
Resistance Levels Comparison
Both exercise bikes have comparable levels of resistance, and they use the same wool pad setup, which may require a bit more maintenance than the average exercise bike. The build quality is also stellar on both bikes which makes them great for heavy users and also makes them great bikes for tall people.
Each of the models employs a solid perimeter-weighing setup for the flywheel - however, the IC3 features a slightly heavier flywheel, which adds more realism to the feel, and provides for a smoother ride overall.
Screen & Display Info
Both bikes come with a screen. The LCD display consoles on either bike are practically the same, but the IC3's display does offer a tad more data while also integrating connectivity features with some wireless heart rate monitors. Also no need to mention that this makes these bikes great for apps like Zwift
The IC3 offers more creature comforts such as a roomy media tray, more adjustability options for the handles and seat, as well as proper Shimano pedals with a foot cage and clips.
Compared to the IC2, the IC3 offers somewhat better warranty conditions with an extra year of warranty on mechanical and electrical components, as well as a year of labor warranty instead of the previous model's 90-day term.
All in all, both the IC2 and IC3 have quite a stellar reputation and offer a relatively comparable set of features, with some nifty improvements and cool extras available to users with the later model.
So, now that we've got a better feel for the main similarities and differences between the IC2 and IC3, let's get familiar with what each of the bikes brings to the table.
A Quick Overview Of The Schwinn IC2
First and foremost, let's cover the IC2. Starting things off with a solid steel frame and a wholesome package of creature comforts alongside the standard higher-end lineup of features you'd see in most bikes of this caliber, the IC2 sweetens the deal by offering a few cool extras.
Some of the more notable highlights include adjustable handlebars, smooth variable resistance, and a smart console to help you stay on top of your fitness progress.
Out of the box, the bike comes pre-assembled with the handles and seat installed prior to shipping. Additionally, Schwinn has really thought ahead by working in some adjustable feet to help you keep your bike steady no matter how flush or wobbly your floors may be.
The ride itself is quiet, efficient, and smooth thanks to a wool pad resistance setup in combination with a well-designed 31-lb flywheel. Although, this does bring up our first two "drawbacks."
For the first one, the flywheel might feel a touch too light at higher spin-speeds.
On the other hand, for the second, the wool pads that create the resistance on this bike definitely do wear down over time - this means you'll need to replace them every once in a while to keep the bike running smoothly.
How Does The IC3 Improve Upon The IC2?
It's no secret that the IC3 is seen by many as a fairly successful iteration on the awesome foundation that Schwinn's IC2 exercise bike boasts.
While many of the keystone features stayed the same, there's a good deal of improvements that make the IC3 a superb bike - one that's definitely worth every penny of its fairly affordable price tag.
First and foremost, the IC3 improves upon the well-known 31-lb flywheel system, upping its weight to a solid 40-lbs.
This helps make the feel of the bike far more realistic and actually makes the whole experience relatively comparable to riding a real road-bike across most speeds and resistance levels, this great for many reasons but it mainly makes this a better cardio workout machine.
Overtop of this, Schwinn added some nifty Shimano pedals that feature shoe cages and clips to keep your feet firmly in place during even the most intense cycling sessions.
It's also worthwhile to mention the fact that the adjustable grips on the IC3 feature a few more grip positions than you'd find on the IC2, while also giving you the ability to adjust them horizontally, which the IC2 also lacks.
Now, let's talk about the console!
While there may not be a whopping treasure trove of changes at first glance, the IC3 finally features a media tray, which was a big red strike against the IC2 for many of the casual folks who use these sorts of creature comforts.
In addition to this, Schwinn added some cool compatibility features in order to allow you to connect your IC3 bike with wireless heart rate monitors, such as the Polar lineup.
And of course, it's also important to mention the fact that while the IC2's console only reads out a single selected parameter at any given time, the IC3 allows you to get several readouts all at once - some examples of these would be the RPM (revolutions per minute), heart rate, speed, resistance level, distance, the time elapsed, and calories burned during your workout.
Lastly, when it comes to the convenience and usability department, the Schwinn IC3 also features a marginally higher maximum weight rating than its predecessor. This exercise bike is rated for up to 300-lbs of user weight, in comparison to the IC2's weight rating of 250-lbs, making the newer IC3 a little better suited for a much broader range of users.
What Does The Schwinn IC3 Lack?
Now that we've covered some of the biggest changes that you'll need to keep in mind - what are the biggest cons that you'll see with the IC3?
Well, first off, Schwinn decided to keep the good old wool pad resistance setup around for this iteration in their lineup of exercise bikes. And while there aren't any major drawbacks to the system, it definitely requires a bit of extra upkeep in order to keep your bike running smoothly in tip-top shape.
When it comes to maintenance, many users have reported having to use some form of lubricant to keep the pads from getting too squeaky (which takes away from the whole "silent exercise bike" concept).
And obviously enough, you'll need to replace the wool pads themselves once they wear down - otherwise, the resistance you'll be seeing during your workouts will be practically nill to none.
In addition to this, it's also kind of disappointing to see the fact that the Schwinn IC3 doesn't actually feature any sort of smart-device compatibility or pre-programmed workouts that you can follow.
And if you're a fan of continuously tracking your progress across workouts, you'll probably need to keep track of things manually, because the IC3 doesn't record your previous data, nor does it offer any sort of comparison or progress-tracking features in the console that it's shipped with.
All in all, as with most good things - the bike definitely has some drawbacks. But, while you might be missing some creature comforts, or minute convenience features, given this bike's awesome price-to-value ratio, you're actually getting a whole lot of bang for your buck in comparison to other popular models in the same price category.
The Bottom Line - Which Bike Should You Get?
At the end of the day, both of these options are absolutely fantastic. They're super solid, highly functional, and are both relatively affordable too.
However, the IC3 is a pretty clear-cut winner.
You get a slightly heftier flywheel, a significantly stronger overall build, some sexy aesthetic improvements, functional heart telemetry, an improved LCD display console, and a nice assortment of added creature comforts over the IC2.
Given the relatively minuscule ($150 or so) price difference between the two models, you're actually getting a whole lot of upgrade value for your money with the newer model. And in my experience, the upgrades definitely help take the experience to an entirely new level, making them totally worth it in the long-run.
With these upgrades, the new model can even be a viable alternative to more pricey bikes like Peloton for example.
With that being said, if the upgrades that we have covered so far don't particularly appeal to you, the Schwinn IC2 is still an excellent (and very affordable) exercise bike to add to your collection of home exercise equipment or even a great bike to order-in for your fitness business.
Compared to the IC2, the Schwinn IC3 caters to a somewhat more diverse crowd with the wealth of comfort and adjustability improvements it boasts. Though, on the other hand, if you're a fitness nut on a tight budget - the IC2 may just be the perfect safe bet for you as it doesn't track all that far behind the IC3 in terms of effectiveness or usability.
However, you'd have to be willing to give up a smoother (and reportedly quieter) ride, more realistic road-bike-like feel, 4-way adjustability on handlebars and seats, and proper pedals (which actually make a world of difference when cycling regularly).
If you've kept up with me this far, we've covered the ins and outs to bear in mind when comparing both options, what the IC3 has over its predecessor, and I've even provided my personal recommendation on which bike wins out - all with the hope that my extensive research and experience with both bikes help you pick the best option for yourself.
With that, I wish you luck and some solid gains on your fitness journey!
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