Life Fitness IC3 Bike Review: Sturdy but Overpriced
Stepping into the realm of the Life Fitness IC3 indoor cycle, I’m immediately captivated by its sturdy construction and the promise of an exceptional workout adventure. This review is intended to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the Life Fitness IC3, considering it from the standpoint of a user in search of more than just a run-of-the-mill exercise; I’m on a quest for a cycling experience that transcends the confines of a typical fitness routine.
My aim here is to delve deep into the intricacies of this mid-priced, high-quality commercial exercise bike. It’s a machine that proudly boasts both durability and an impressive weight-bearing capacity of up to 290 pounds, making it an appealing choice for individuals of all fitness levels. Whether you’re a newcomer venturing into the world of indoor cycling or a seasoned pro in need of a reliable companion, the Life Fitness IC3 presents itself as a potential ideal fitness partner.
Beneath the surface, the Life Fitness IC3 indoor cycle seamlessly incorporates three fundamental elements that form the backbone of a comfortable and effective cycling experience: a narrow 155mm Q Factor, ergonomically designed handlebars, and advanced geometry. These elements are the cornerstones of a cycling journey that sets the IC3 apart from its competitors.
It’s worth noting that while the bike carries a list price of $1500, its current availability at around $1400, complete with fast shipping, is a significant factor that we’ll explore more thoroughly as we progress through this review.
In the subsequent sections, I’ll provide you with a comprehensive overview of the Life Fitness IC3’s features, offering a closer examination of its 40-pound perimeter-weighted flywheel, which ensures a smooth and uniform pedaling experience. We’ll also delve into the Poly-V belt drivetrain, responsible for quiet operation and minimal maintenance, and the blue backlit RPM display with ANT+ compatibility on the console, though it’s available separately.
Additionally, the Life Fitness IC3 distinguishes itself with its industry-leading 155mm q factor, a feature that holds a pivotal role in your cycling experience. We’ll explore this in greater detail as we continue with our review.
To further boost your confidence in the quality of the Life Fitness IC3 commercial exercise bike, the company stands behind it with an impressive warranty package. This includes 5 years of coverage for the frame, 3 years for technical components, 1 year for other parts, and a 1-year labor warranty, assuring users of the product’s durability and reliability.
In the ensuing paragraphs, we will take a deep dive into the Life Fitness IC3 indoor cycle, examining its evolution from previous models and comparing it to similar alternatives on the market.
We’ll scrutinize its design choices, delve into performance metrics, and uncover what truly sets it apart in the world of indoor cycling. This journey transcends mere manufacturer claims and provides you with an expert assessment, straight from the perspective of a dedicated user.
How Life Fitness IC3 Evolved From Older Models
The Life Fitness IC3 indoor cycling bike represents a notable step forward from its predecessors, the Life Fitness IC1 and IC2 models. Having personally witnessed the evolution of these Life Fitness indoor bikes, I can attest to the multitude of enhancements that make the IC3 an enticing option for fitness enthusiasts.
One of the standout improvements in the Life Fitness IC3 is the introduction of ergonomically designed, multi-position, soft PVC handlebars. These handlebars not only provide a more comfortable and versatile grip but also incorporate a dual water bottle holder seamlessly. This thoughtful design upgrade ensures convenient hydration during demanding cycling sessions.
In terms of adjustability, the IC3 takes a significant stride forward. While the Life Fitness IC2 and IC1 models offered vertical handlebar adjustment, the IC3 takes it a step further by providing both vertical and horizontal handlebar adjustment. This level of customization empowers users to fine-tune their riding position, accommodating a broader spectrum of body types and preferences.
Safety is a top priority in the IC3, as evidenced by the inclusion of an emergency brake lever. This feature offers users an added layer of assurance during their workouts, enabling swift and controlled stops when necessary.
When it comes to the cycling experience, the IC3 shines with its 40-pound perimeter-weighted flywheel, ensuring a consistently smooth pedaling motion. This enhancement elevates the realism of indoor cycling, bridging the gap between indoor and outdoor riding experiences.
Furthermore, the IC3 effectively addresses a common concern by offering a narrow 155mm q factor. This deliberate design choice significantly reduces lateral stress on the knees and ankles, promoting a more comfortable and biomechanically sound pedal stroke.
Additional enhancements include molded form-fit protection and stretch plates for warm-ups, contributing to a more comprehensive and user-focused workout experience. These features underscore a commitment to user comfort and performance.
Finally, the IC3 incorporates oversized adjustable frame stabilizer bars, further augmenting the bike’s stability during high-intensity workouts. This ensures that users can wholeheartedly concentrate on their training without fretting about unwanted wobbling or instability.
Be it the advanced handlebar design, enhanced adjustability, safety features, or the immersive cycling experience, the IC3 exemplifies Life Fitness’ unwavering commitment to addressing user concerns and enriching the indoor cycling experience. As for weather it’s worth it or not, it’s a whole different story which we will talk about it later.
Comparable Alternative Indoor Bikes to Consider
While the Life Fitness IC3 undoubtedly boasts durability, its price tag of $1500 prompts us to consider other options that may provide more bang for our buck. Let’s delve into three noteworthy alternatives, each with its own set of features to cater to diverse preferences and requirements, depending on your unique situation.
- Peloton Bike Original: The Peloton Bike Original emerges as a standout alternative, offering a slew of superior features when compared to the Life Fitness IC3. Most notably, it adopts magnetic resistance, a technology known for its advanced nature and quieter operation compared to the friction resistance found in the IC3. Additionally, the Peloton Bike Original sports an ample 22-inch touchscreen that seamlessly integrates with the Peloton app, granting access to a vast array of engaging workouts and content. If your quest is for an immersive and interactive indoor cycling experience, especially one centered around guided training programs, the Peloton Bike Original might be your ideal choice.
- Echelon EX5: Priced at $999, the Echelon EX5 brings a compelling set of advantages that sets it apart from the Life Fitness IC3. A notable standout is its electronic magnetic resistance, which automatically adjusts based on your chosen program and the simulated terrain, enhancing the authenticity of your rides. Furthermore, the Echelon EX5 boasts a practical tablet holder that can rotate, making it versatile for various applications, and includes a USB charging port for added convenience. What’s more, this bike is compatible with a wide range of apps, including Zwift, Peloton, Echelon, Kinomap, and many others. If versatility and the ability to adapt your workouts to different programs and platforms rank high on your list of priorities, the Echelon EX5 warrants your consideration.
- Niceday Bike: For those seeking an affordable option without sacrificing essential features, the Niceday Bike presents an enticing alternative at just $499. Despite its more budget-friendly price point, it surprises with valuable features, such as a rotatable screen and a convenient tablet holder. Furthermore, it utilizes magnetic resistance, celebrated for its quiet and smooth operation, ensuring an enjoyable riding experience. The Niceday Bike could be an excellent choice for individuals keen on affordability without compromising on crucial features.
While the Life Fitness IC3 holds its ground as a durable indoor bike, its current price of $1500 encourages us to explore alternative options that may better align with your specific requirements. Depending on your individual preferences, budget constraints, application of choice, and intended use, the Peloton Bike Original, Echelon EX5, and Niceday Bike each present compelling features and advantages tailored to a variety of fitness needs. I hope the evaluation of these factors empowers you to make an informed decision and select the indoor bike that harmonizes best with your goals and circumstances.
- IC3 Indoor Cycle Specs
- Powered by ICG ANT+ Monitor
- Pedals and Q-factor of IC3
- IC3, Powered by ICG flywheel
- ICG 3 resistance
- Life Fitness IC3 drivetrain
- Handlebars and seat
- IC3 bike price and warranty
- Assembly and shipping
- Life Fitness IC3 Indoor Bike Pros
- Life Fitness IC3 Indoor Bike Cons
- Height: 43.3″
- Width: 21.5″
- Length: 47.2″
- Bike Weight: 126 Pounds
- Max User Weight: 287 Pounds
- Inseam Capacity: 27″ to 38″
- Shipping Weight: 135 Pounds
- Water bottle holder: Yes, dual integrated
- Floor protection levelers: Yes, oversized adjustable
Featuring a durable steel frame and a 40-pound flywheel, the Life Fitness IC3 spin bike can support all spinning workouts. While it is no longer THE best spin bike on the market, it is still a great value exercise cycle for all riders, including avid outdoor cyclists and gym owners.
The Life Fitness exercise bike offers exceptional stability. To begin with, both its bases are equipped with adjustable levelers with oversizes rubberized pads to keep your floor unscratched and minimize rocking during intense rides.
In addition to that, the fully assembled trainer weighs 112 pounds, this weight, plus the rider’s weight, add to the overall stability. With its sleek and transport wheels, the IC3 fits nicely into any space.
The Life Fitness IC3 isn’t the most compact exercise bike and it is understandable because it is made for commercial facilities and has to accommodate all riders. So, check the dimensions above and see if you have enough floor space for this indoor cycle.
It says the IC3 bike can support up to 287 pounds but I believe the company is playing safe. Looking at the commercial quality steel frame and sturdy components, I believe the IC3 indoor bike powered by ICG can at least support 300 pounds of user weight.
Being the improved version of the first Life Fitness spin bikes, the IC3’s handlebars are fully adjustable. Therefore, almost all riders can set up the bike for a comfortable indoor cycling workout.
The ICG IC3 bike by Life Fitness’s frame is double-coated with a durable powder finish, resistant to scratching and corrosion.
Even though it’s rather heavy, the bike’s transport shouldn’t be a problem, once it is assembled. The front base has two durable wheels that facilitate its transportation. Therefore, you won’t have to handle more than 1/2 of the bike’s total weight and can easily store the bike after each use.
ICG IC3 Monitor:
- The IC3 monitor is not included with the purchase, it is sold separately.
- Life Fitness IC3 monitor is blue backlit and runs on batteries.
- IC3 spin bike computer tracks the following stats:
- RPM, distance, time, calories, and the heart rate (using digital and analog HR).
- Additionally, it shows the averages for RPM and heart rate.
- Note: This bike’s computer is wireless.
- So, unlike the IC1, it does have ANT/+ connectivity.
- But it is solely for wireless HR tracking and the bike’s sensor connectivity, NOT for app connectivity and workout tracking.
- It also doesn’t have Bluetooth or watt tracking capabilities.
The Life Fitness IC3 commercial bike provides readouts for time, distance, speed, calories burned heart rate and more importantly, the RPM. This basic computer helps you for the goals of weight loss, strength training and preparing for outdoor rides.
It is also backlit that allows you to see your spinning workout stats in the low-light conditions. Unfortunately, the computer is not included and it is sold separately. My personal recommendation is that if you want a bike with a computer for around the same price, buy the ProForm Studio Pro bike. It has Bluetooth, 10″ screen, magnetic resistance, built-in workouts and it is also iFit enabled.
Pedals and Q-factor:
- Life Fitness IC3 q-factor is 155 mm.
- It has dual-sided SPD compatible and regular toe caged pedals.
- The pedal straps are adjustable to fit all feet sizes.
One of the main selling factors of the IC3 indoor cycle powered by ICG is its top of the line narrow q factor. There is barely any other fitness brand that manufactures spin bikes with such a narrow q-factor.
In case you are new to indoor cycling, Q-factor is the horizontal distance between the two pedals. If there is too much distance between the pedals, your feet cannot stay aligned with your knees and hips.
Therefore, in the long run, you might feel ankle and knee pain, especially if you have narrow hips. Thankfully, when buying the IC3 indoor cycle, you don’t need to worry about this problem.
Starting from IC3 all the way to IC4, IC5 and one of the latest model, the IC6 bike, they all have bio-mechanically correct q-factors. Thanks to the elite cyclists and skilled engineers whose ideas lead to this awesome design.
The IC3 bike powered by ICG is equipped with a very solid crankset. It can hold the user in out of the saddle position with no problem, as long as they don’t exceed 290 pounds.
The pedals are also highly durable and thankfully, the ICG series IC3 comes with SPD compatible and toe caged pedals. They allow regular gym shoes for cross-training and clipless cycling shoes for a safe and comfortable ride. This bike has the standard 9/11″ pedal thread size. So, you can easily replace its pedals with your power pedals if you want.
- Life Fitness IC3 flywheel weighs 40 pounds.
- It features perimeter-weighted design for even pedaling and extra smooth workout.
- The flywheel is fixed and bidirectional.
The three main elements of a spin bike’s drive system are the crankset, flywheel, and the transmission. The IC3 exercise bike is equipped with a fairly heavy perimeter weighted flywheel; it weighs 40 pounds, which means it can deliver a very consistent momentum.
Unlike center-weighted flywheels, the perimeter-weighted flywheels do tend to be heavier for maximum resistance levels and more aggressive inertia. Which ultimately provides a more consistent pedal stroke.
This bike’s flywheel is bi-directional. It means you can pedal backward if you want. In fact, some spinning workouts require the riders to alternate reverse pedaling sessions with normal pedaling sessions to help stimulate the muscles in different ways and prevent the plateau.
There are freewheel and fixed-wheel (fixed-gear) bikes. And this indoor cycle is fixed-gear which means the pedals and the flywheel turn and stop turning together. So, in case of emergency, if you need to get off the bike, you will have to wait for the flywheel/pedals to completely stop turning.
The freewheel indoor cycles such as the IC8 bike allow you to get off the bike or stop pedaling for a short break while the flywheel is still turning. Their drive system works just a like a road bike (the wheel and the pedals work independently).
Unfortunately, the freewheel design is only available on indoor cycling bikes that cost more than $2000. Hopefully, in the future it will be more common and available in cheaper exercise bikes.
Note: When it comes to friction resistance spin bikes, the weight of the flywheel is an important factor. Thankfully the ICG series IC3 features a heavy flywheel that can mimic the sensation close to riding an outdoor bicycle.
ICG 3 Resistance:
- IC3 has a friction resistance system.
- IC3s resistance features a sweat protection guard.
- It has the lever push emergency stop.
I noticed some Life Fitness IC3 reviews claim this bike is magnetic which is not correct. The Life Fitness ICG IC3 cycle features felt-pad friction resistance which has its pros and cons.
The good aspect of friction system is that it offers unlimited resistance. So, no matter your fitness level, you can still get a challenging workout from the Life Fitness IC3 cycle.
The cons of friction resistance include extra noise and maintenance. Unlike magnetic resistance, the friction brakes come in contact with the flywheel which causes the brake pads to wear out and make a bit of noise.
Therefore, if you live in a small apartment or you know you will be working out early mornings or late evenings, I suggest you buy a magnetic indoor cycle. Their resistance does not wear out and they are silent.
So, you won’t be bothering your partner if he/she is resting and can also enjoy watching a movie without increasing to the maximum volume.
Note: Fortunately, the IC3 bike has durable sweat resistance guard to protect the flywheel and prolongs the life pg the resistance pads. This protection guard plus 3 years commercial use warranty indicates high-quality resistance brake pad materials.
Life Fitness IC3 drive system:
- Life Fitness IC3 features the poly-V belt drivetrain.
- It has 1:3 drivetrain gear ratio.
- Fixed-gear driven system.
There are mainly two types of transmission for spin bikes, the belt and the chain. This indoor cycling trainer uses a poly-v belt which means unlike chain drive, you won’t have to worry about lubricating it, or about locked links.
It’s also quieter and generates less vibration. So, in terms of noise generated by the drivetrain of the bike, it is safe to say that it’s almost completely silent. On top of that, the poly-v belt used in the IC3 is high-quality and not easily stretchable.
As for the gear ratio, for every turn of the belt ring, the flywheel turns 3 times which is very little compared to the current IC5 bike with 1:11 gear ratio.
But thankfully the IC3 has a heavy flywheel to make up for the little gear ratio. So, you will still get good momentum and consistent pedaling motion.
Handlebars and seat:
- There are three handlebar improvements that were missing on older models;
- IC3 has the ergo-formed, multi-position, soft PVC handlebars.
- There are dual water bottle holders integrated on the handlebars.
- ICG cycle comes with vertical and horizontal handlebar adjustment.
- Life Fitness IC3 seat is unisex and 4-way adjustable.
- The seat and handlebars have rust-resistance lightweight aluminum posts.
- This bike features the aluminum, pin-to-lock adjustment.
The Life Fitness IC3 indoor cycling bike is equipped with a padded performance seat. In other words, the seat is relatively narrow to reduce friction and prevent bike chafing for long rides.
It does have a layer of padding and works both for men and women. Also, it has a standard design, so in case you want to replace it, compatible exercise bike seats are widely available. The seat can be adjusted up, down, fore/aft. Due to its adjustment span, the IC3 bike can accommodate users most users.
The handlebar features a multi-grip ergonomic design. It integrates bottle holders like the IC7 bike, and features 4-way adjustment to provide a safe and comfortable workout without unnecessary pressure on the riders’ back.
It also has the aero bar to promote the racing posture. Handlebars have the PVC material to deliver a sure grip and minimize abrasion during long workouts.
Note: Both the handlebar and seat are equipped with a dial and lever. So, their adjustment is easier than the older Life Fitness models.
IC3 bike price and warranty:
- Life Fitness IC3 price is around $1500, assembly not included.
- IC3’s warranty inside the US includes;
- 5-Year structural frame
- 3-Year mechanical components
- 1-Year other parts
- 1-Year labor
Life Fitness is one of the good fitness equipment brands that stand with their products. With 3 years part warranty, the company proves that the phrase “high quality durable indoor cycle” is not just an advertisement.
It says a lot about how confident the company is about the ICG IC3 cycling bike. Otherwise, they could give it a 90-day warranty like many competitors on the market.
If you ever need a part for the IC3 while it is still under warranty or even after the warranty, you should first create an account on external.lifefitness.com. Then you can enter the bike’s serial number and the part number to easily find and order what you are looking for.
As for the Life Fitness IC3 price, it mainly depends on where you buy the IC3 bike and when you buy it. Currently, on Amazon, you can get one of the best deals for the IC3.
Assembly and shipping:
- Life Fitness IC3 assembly is fairly easy.
- The bike comes with the assembly tools.
- Life Fitness ICG IC3 shipping is free in certain areas.
- It comes in one box that weighs around 125 pounds.
- Life fitness IC3 manual comes with the bike, you can also download it from the website.
Buying the IC3 Life Fitness ICG exercise bike, you don’t have to pay for the shipping. However, this item is part of the heavy bulky program and is only available for local delivery and installation.
So, if Amazon says this product can not ship to your address, you might have to try the Life Fitness directly. As for the installation, it is easy and straight forward.
The bike comes mostly assembled. You will have to install the stabilizer feet, handlebars, monitor (if included), pedals, seat and the water bottle holder. It shouldn’t take you more than 40 minutes.
When assembling the bike, make sure to follow the Life Fitness IC3 indoor cycle manual. Because the company does not cover the damages caused due to the wrong assembly.
Life Fitness IC3 Exercise Bike Pros:
- Durable Poly-V Belt: The use of a durable automotive-grade belt ensures a quiet ride and efficient power transfer, leading to reduced maintenance, fewer breakdowns, and improved pedaling technique.
- Excellent Warranty: The bike comes with an impressive warranty, offering peace of mind to users. The frame is covered for five years, while parts are protected for up to three years, safeguarding your investment.
- Sturdy Construction: The Life Fitness IC3 is built with extreme sturdiness, capable of supporting users weighing up to 290 pounds, making it suitable for a wide range of individuals.
- Ergonomic Handlebars: The ergo-formed, multi-position soft PVC handlebars not only provide comfort but also feature a dual water bottle holder, ensuring hydration is easily accessible during workouts.
- Adjustability: The bike offers both vertical and horizontal handlebar adjustment, allowing users to customize their riding position for maximum comfort.
- Stretch Plates: Molded form-fit protection and stretch plates are included to aid in warm-up exercises, enhancing the overall workout experience.
- Floor Levelers: The frame is equipped with oversized levelers, ensuring stability even on uneven floors, enhancing safety during intense workouts.
- Weight Capacity: With a maximum weight capacity of 290 pounds, the IC3 can accommodate a wide range of users.
- Portability: Caster wheels are attached to the bike frame, making it easy to move the fitness machine to different locations within your home gym or workout space.
- Stability: The bike features oversized hidden bolts and adjustable frame stabilizer bars, further enhancing its stability during high-intensity workouts.
- Heavy-Duty Flywheel: A heavy-duty 40-pound perimeter-weighted flywheel provides consistent momentum and a smooth pedaling motion, contributing to a realistic cycling experience.
- Crank Durability: The heavy-duty crank is designed to support users in various riding positions, even when riding out of the saddle.
- Narrow Q-Factor: The top-of-the-line narrow Q-factor helps eliminate lateral stress on the knees and ankles, promoting a natural and comfortable pedal stroke.
- Ease of Assembly: The bike requires minimal assembly, allowing users to quickly set it up and start their workouts.
- Low Maintenance: The Life Fitness IC3 is known for its low maintenance requirements, reducing the hassle of upkeep and allowing users to focus on their fitness goals.
Life Fitness IC3 Exercise Bike Cons:
- Monitor Sold Separately: In a market where spin bikes like the ProForm Studio Pro offer 10″ touch screen monitors for less than $1000, the absence of a monitor on the Life Fitness IC3 is a notable drawback, as it limits the ability to access workout programs, track progress, or engage in interactive training sessions.
- Limited App Connectivity: While the IC3 offers an optional monitor that can be purchased separately, it does not provide comprehensive app connectivity. Even with the ANT+ monitor, users are unable to track their workouts or connect the bike to their devices, restricting the potential for data monitoring and integration with fitness apps.
- Friction Resistance: The use of a friction resistance system, while having its advantages, is generally considered inferior to magnetic resistance technology. Friction resistance can produce noise during operation and tends to wear out after a few years of use. Fortunately, Life Fitness has transitioned to magnetic resistance in newer models like the IC4, offering quieter and more durable resistance options.
- Lack of Tablet Holder: The absence of a tablet holder on the IC3 limits users’ ability to easily access entertainment, training videos, or virtual cycling apps during workouts, which is a feature commonly found on many indoor cycling bikes.
- Limited Monitoring: The monitor on the IC3 does not track wattage or power output, which can be a crucial metric for advanced cyclists looking to measure their performance and progress accurately.
The Life Fitness IC3 Indoor Cycle undeniably offers a range of attractive features that make it a compelling choice for fitness enthusiasts. With a 40-pound flywheel, customizable handlebars, SPD compatible pedals, and various ergonomic enhancements, it provides a comfortable and efficient workout experience. Its durability, as indicated by both customer reviews and a generous commercial warranty, solidifies its status as a reliable option for home gyms and commercial facilities alike. However, the one glaring issue with the Life Fitness IC3 is its price tag. At $1500, it ventures into the realm of premium indoor cycling equipment. While it does offer value for its cost, there are numerous alternatives available in the market that provide better value for money, even at half the price. Notable alternatives include the Peloton Original at $1499, the Echelon EX5 at $999, and the Niceday bike priced at $499, all of which offer compelling features and performance at more competitive price points.