IC4-mania: Why a "Bike that Goes Nowhere" is leaving stores so fast.
The Schwinn IC4 Bike isn’t playing hard to get. It’s just hard to resist.
For a stationary bike, it’s been hard for consumers to catch before it’s gone again. It might be easy to put that kind of wild popularity to pure luck – the coincidental timing of a release date and unforeseen market demand created by the COVID pandemic. In reality, the bulk of the credit goes to the two considerations that have always made Nautilus equipment a hit with the exercising public – awareness of what they need now and anticipation of what they’ll need in the future.
Those making the lucky timing argument might choose to contrast the current fortunes of parent company Nautilus with its situation a couple of years ago. Tariffs had crimped annual profits, causing a ripple effect that impacted marketing and ultimately, sales. However, that’s when the design team went to work on a range of new products, maintaining a sharp focus on popular fitness trends. One in particular already had a long history, but with the potential to go much farther in the future.
The Joy of Spinning
Spin classes were born in the late 1980s after personal trainer Johnny Goldberg narrowly avoided being hit by a car while he was cycling. Naturally, he warmed to the then two-decades-old idea of cycling indoors, where cars shouldn’t be. However, he hoped to make current exercise bikes feel more like road bikes, which has pretty much been the philosophy guiding the evolution of indoor cycling ever since. The trainer soon to be known as Johnny G found his solution in a mass braked flywheel. “Perimeter-weighted” flywheels (with more weight concentrated on their outer edges) recreated the effort necessary to get a bike going and to slow its momentum when you wanted to slow or stop.
The spin class evolved with the spin bike – from small groups simply pedalling along with music to instructor-led, resistance-governed, rhythm-fueled adventures full of simulated sprints, hill climbs, jumps and downhill jaunts.
Big wheels keep on turning.
The spin class has outlived several contemporary fitness fads because of the concrete benefits it offers. The short bursts of high-intensity interval training are a superb way to build cardio health without feeling like you’re doing cardio, and participants strengthen their cores, back, legs, shoulders, quads and hamstrings along with their hearts. It’s a whole lot more fun and inspiring than draconian “drop and give me twenty” tests of endurance, and with less impacts on your joints, to boot.
There’s a sense of pride in training like an athlete. Spinning is uncomplicated and straightforward but never boring. It lends itself to variety in a wide array of music choices, regimens and instructor styles. It’s also a shared experience, with men and women attending in equal proportions, yet it was – until the recent pandemic – considered a safe space for attendees of all types and skill levels.
Boutique spinning classes soon became big business, with names like Flywheel and SoulCycle leading the pack. By early 2019, indoor cycling was a major contributor to a global health club industry worth 87.2 billion. It seemed there was nowhere to go but up, when membership prices suddenly came down.
Even before COVID closed down gyms, there was a formidable force impacting spin classes. The experience they’d created was coming home.
The Peloton Phenomenon
In that same year, Peloton was making colossal strides in providing on-demand, at-home indoor cycling programs, reaching a value of $4 billion. The boutiques tried following suit, which resulted in a legal suit on behalf of their upstart competitor. Meanwhile CNBC praised Peloton as, “a bona fide fitness phenomenon — it has a million impassioned users to whom its bikes and original streaming workouts are a way of life.” Some of those users were well-known figures like champion sprinter Usain Bolt, actor Hugh Jackman and Virgin Air founder Richard Branson.
The heart of Peloton’s user experience is the Peloton app. It opens the door to thousands of classes for 10+ workout types – including Cycling and Bike Bootcamp, which combines cycling with off-bike CrossFit exercises. There are currently over 20 instructors devoted to these two types of classes alone. They have backgrounds that run the gamut from athletics and dance to finance and law. Each one brings his or her unique style to the table. Whether you like philosophers, drill instructors or high-energy cheerleaders, you’ll find someone you like working out of a Peloton studio in New York or London – where instructors also lead classes in German. As appealing as this all sounds, there were two factors that make purchasing a Peloton bike prohibitive for home exercisers – and that’s where the Schwinn IC4 found an eager market.
Compact, Affordable, and Feature-Rich
There were two issues that barred many Peloton workout enthusiasts from bringing home a Peloton bike – size and price. This is where the Schwinn IC4’s design really shined. Its smaller footprint made it easy to move and store. And a price less than half of that of a Peloton made it hard to resist. But what was inside – including access to the Peloton app and all those workouts – made it impossible to pass up. And yet, the IC4 offers even more.
Built-in Bluetooth® Connectivity opens the door for:
- Apps – including Peloton, Apple Fitness+, Explore the World, Zwift, FulGaz, Sufferfest, Trainer Road ad TacX
- Fitness Tracking Software – like MyFitnessPal and Google Fit
Outstanding Design Features include:
- Easy assembly
- 4-way seat and handlebar adjustability
- 100 levels of micro-adjustable magnetic resistance
- Full-colour backlit LCD display
- Remote heart rate monitoring
- Dual-link pedals to accommodate cycling shoes or sneakers
- Heavy-duty frame
For more about the awesome features and apps that work with the IC4, check out this blog.
Not Just a Pandemic Side Effect
So how much of the IC4’s success was owed to the COVID pandemic clearing out the gyms? It’s hard to calculate, but we can look at the evidence we have at hand. A September 2020 survey indicated 60% of Canadian gym users had cancelled their memberships.In August of that year, Fortune reported that nine out of 10 Americans who exercised regularly would prefer to continue working out at home even after they felt assured that gyms were safe again. Was that due to fear of a resurgence of COVID? Not exactly.
“The demand for in-home fitness has not abated in early 2021, even in the face of a vaccine roll-out.,” said Jim Barr, Chief Executive Officer of Nautilus Inc.Another fitness CEO, Beach Body’s Carl Daikeler, offered an explanation for that trend:“Whether it be for 10 minutes or a full hour-long routine, there is something very gratifying about discovering the convenience of just rolling out of bed, enjoying a pre-workout drink, and immediately pushing ‘Play’ on a workout of your choice.”
Sound like a fitness product you know?
It’s important to remember that the impetus for creating the IC4 – a sales downturn precipitated by market conditions – came before the full realization of what the coronavirus portended for the fitness industry. Of course, what came first was the needs of the end user.
That consideration has always been the impetus for innovations like the Schwinn IC4, and it’s the force that keeps Nautilus moving forward, even after periods of adversity. The IC4’s amazing sales are the result of persistent foresight, not blind luck.
Looking to bring the Schwinn IC4 Experience Home? Talk to Flaman Fitness.
The Schwinn IC4 might be much in demand, but it’s still getable. As Canada’s largest Bowflex showroom, Flaman Fitness has an edge over the competition when it comes to securing our customers the IC4, Bowflex C6, Bowflex VeloCore or other top-quality Nautilus-designed bikes. Call or visit your nearest Flaman Fitness location to find out availability of inventory or estimated arrival times, and see what our indoor cycling experts can do for you!