The Proof Is in the Pedalling: Six Online Reviewers Deliver a Schwinn IC4 Bike-Build Report Card.
When the Schwinn IC4 Indoor Bike was launched back in 2019, parent company Nautilus had some great things to say about it. This wasn’t just a proud product papa talking; Nautilus had great faith in its design team, which had a long history of coming through with fitness innovations that captured and retained consumer admiration.
However, some skeptical “what have they done for me lately” types might want more to go on than repetitive historical patterns. So we’ve decided to put the IC4’s claims to the test or, more accurately, relay the findings of others who put it to the test – which is fair, considering we’re kind of partial to the IC4 ourselves.
Taking the IC4 for a Test Spin
We thought it would be a good idea to list the bike features touted by Nautilus during the IC4’s launch – then submit those features to the scrutiny of a cross-section of online review bloggers who’ve tested/used the bike. They are the Chicago Tribune, Gear Lab, Fit Rated, and three Youtube review channels - Learn with Travis, Tail Happy TV and IrixGuy’s Adventure Channel. IrixGuy is an IC4 owner who regularly updates his experience and impressions of the bike’s performance and features.
Here are those features, followed by reviewer observations:
- A slim and compact footprint, so it can fit easily in your home. The reviewers generally agreed this is an important feature – especially if some of your doorways are narrow. Smaller also means lighter when it’s time to move the bike (see below).
- The electromagnetic system (ECB) provides a smooth, quiet ride. The reviewers were unanimously impressed with how quietly the IC4 operates. It was also called “smooth” and “nice.” Some reviewers mentioned the incremental discrepancy between the IC4’s 100 resistance levels and Peloton’s, but they deemed that issue easy to resolve. Some bigger-bodied reviewers noted the IC4’s lesser resistance when they stood up to sprint, but other reviewers said they found it plenty challenging at level 70. The IC4 received good grades for the variety of users it served and how the magnetic resistance/belt drive system was less prone to breakage. The luxury of not smelling pads grinding down unevenly was also noted.
- An intuitive resistance knob, which allows for 100 micro-adjustable resistance levels to meet the needs of the individual user. Full marks were given for ease of use and for the small increments that allowed users to go through all the levels in four revolutions of the dial – as opposed to as many as 32 full turns required by other bikes.
- Flexible seat and handlebars that adjust horizontally and vertically for maximum versatility. The reviewers appreciated not only the four-way adjustment (up, down, fore and aft) of both the handlebars and seat but also the variety of users it comfortably accommodated (as proven by their tests). The height range is estimated at 4’6” to 6’6”. Some reviewers believed the bike shaved it close on the top user heights, but the bike’s arm length and inseam accommodation were deemed sufficient. The incremental changes didn’t quite match the precision of higher-end bikes but were considered superior for bikes in the IC4’s price range. One reviewer said he felt a slight wobble when the seat was fully extended, but another user of similar height noted proper tightening solved that problem. Adjustments were found to be quick, easy and secure, thanks to the lever-like, locking handles. One user noted fingers and hands could be jammed – but only as a reminder to use the care due when making adjustments in general.
- Race-style high-density foam seat, offering comfort for long rides. Schwinn opted to give the IC4 a serious racing seat, which the reviewers generally agreed was a good choice, considering the kind of performance-focused training done on this bike. They noted the harder seat might be temporarily tough on new riders but ultimately provides ideal comfort once riders get used to it. Affordable gel cushions were suggested as one way of adapting. Should a user never find comfort on the seat, the reviewers noted it is easy to replace.
- Dual-link pedals with toe cages (included) so users have the option of using standard toe cages or SPD clips. The reviewers liked the idea of pedals that could be flipped to accommodate either sneakers or cycling shoes. It accommodated more users while giving serious riders the feel they desired. To that end, one reviewer noted, both sides of the pedal employed high-quality design and construction for long life. The adjustable, sneaker-friendly toe cage was deemed easy to slip into, and the SVP clip on the cycling shoe side was found to provide a secure, one-click hold.
- A generous, full-colour backlit LCD display makes it easy to track workout progress. The reviewers were generally in favour of the display – finding it informative, intuitive, easy-to-read and in the right spot for quick referral. Some said they would prefer a simple numeric representation of cadence to the IC4’s speedometer-like range indicator. There was also a suggestion that power output be added to the readable data list. It’s all feedback Nautilus will no doubt take under advisement. Surprisingly, there was almost no complaint about the lack of a full-sized monitor. In fact, some reviewers pointed to how easily users could sync in their own monitor, and would likely appreciate being given a choice. One issue that came up in testing was a seeming discrepancy in speed indication with some apps, but it was quickly pointed out that calibration tools are available.
- An integrated device holder for phone or tablet is designed to keep users engaged during their workout. The reviewers liked the device holder's location, its slip-resistant texture, and how it left just enough space for a tight grip on your smartphone or tablet, so they didn’t wobble free and plunge to the hard floor below – which would be tragic considering how many amazing cycling apps your smart device can access. The trade-off, one reviewer noted, is that protective cases needed to be removed – a minor inconvenience, but one he suggested could be eliminated with the addition of a simple adjustment feature.
Other Custom Features
- Easy-reach cradles with 3 lb. dumbbells to provide users with instant access to a full-body workout. The reviewers admired these cradles' construction and convenience when a video trainer or the user’s own regimen called for incorporating a targeted upper-body workout into the ride.
- Heart rate armband. Easy pairing with the IC4, other apps and fitness trackers won the reviewers over easily.
- Dual water bottle holders. These received kudos for their easy accessibility - located just under the handlebars with bottle tops pointed toward the riders. However, some taller reviewers said their knees could hit the bottles during some exercises – then pointed out the problem could be solved by adjusting the cradles forward or even turning the bottles around.
But wait - there's more!
We’ve now come to the end of our original list of features. However, our reviewers still have a lot to say about the Schwinn IC4, and who are we to stifle their insights? Here are some more valuable points to ponder:
Build Quality. The consensus was that the IC4 was one sturdy and stable bike – from its 40 lb. flywheel to its quality welds to its heavy-duty frame with only one plastic component. The reviewers generally liked the bike’s design, vibrant colour scheme, seat texture, paint and coating. Special compliments were paid to the robust handlebars. Their semi-soft rubber material was said to provide an excellent grip surface that was also easy to clean. The multiple grip positions – including two upper tabs - were praised for facilitating comfortable posture and allowing riders to target upper body muscles.
Transport/Storage. It was noted the IC4’s narrow build made it easy to roll through any door on its high-quality, front stabilizer-mounted transport wheels. Users with easily scratched floors had the option of carrying the bike. IrixGuy showed how the 106 lb. bike could be quickly dissembled and lightened via those seat/handlebar adjustments and quick, convenient cable disconnections. The main frame bar was shown to make a great handle.
Stand-Alone Capability. With visions of app connectivity dancing through our heads, some reviewers thought it worthwhile to point out that subscriptions aren’t required, and the IC4 can give you a great workout on its own. The data you need to track is right on your LCD display. One reviewer noted the IC4 lacks preset workouts, but it not hard to find self-guided exercises online. Another reviewer suggested looking out a window while you pedal can be as good a mental escape as anything you’d see on your monitor. (A nice view/day will help.) “You can simply start pedalling and adjust the resistance however you like,” another reviewer observed. “You also have the option of setting a time, distance, or calorie workout goal through the bike's console.”
See More on the IC4
We’ve provided links, so you can see or read the complete reviews - including how they conducted their analyses. There are several more IC4 reviews for you to explore, as it is one of the most talked-about Indoor Bikes on the market today. If what you learn makes you want to learn more, we know the perfect place to go.
Conduct your own IC4 inspection at Flaman Fitness.
Seeing the Schwinn IC4 through someone else’s eyes can be handy, but it’s not as good as seeing it through your own. Our indoor spin bike experts can provide a guided tour of all the features along with answers to all your questions (well, the IC4-based ones, at least.) Call or visit your nearest Flaman Fitness location to finalize your 411 on the IC4.