NordicTrack S15i vs S22i Studio Cycles (Comparison)
NordicTrack is one of the biggest names in the world of indoor cycling, despite only having 2 spin bikes. These bikes are some of the best available, which is why the reputation of their bikes remains so high. Currently, the two bikes that NordicTrack has blessed the market with are the S15i Studio Cycle and the S22i Studio Cycle. Regardless of which bike one chooses to look at, there’s certainly a lot of quality to be found in both. Today we’re going to be comparing the two and seeing just how good they are.
The approach that NordicTrack chose to take when making these two slick indoor bikes was that of “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. Now, this approach can backfire massively when the systems in place are inherently dysfunctional or have some other sort of issues. Fortunately, that is not the case with these two bikes. They are extremely similar to one another, with only minor differences popping up here and there, primarily in the realm of their monitors (which we will get to later).
Both the S15i and the S22i have a max user weight of 350 lbs, which is a pretty good limit. Most users will fall underneath that limit and even those who don’t will find that the limit is not a hard one. It’s not as though someone who is 360 lbs will climb aboard and the bikes would instantly crumble underneath them.
That would be silly and it does not happen. As for how the bikes generally fit different people, they do a good job of allowing for people of different sizes to fit on board. There’s no explicitly given height range, but the lengths, widths, and seat accommodations all generally line up to fit the vast majority of users.
|NordicTrack S22i||350 lbs / 159 kg||5’0” - 6’10” / 152.4 cm - 208.3 cm||180 lbs / 81.6 kg||22 inches / 56 cm||55 inches / 139.7 cm||Commercial Grade Steel Frame|
|NordicTrack S15i||350 lbs / 159 kg||5’0” - 6’10” / 152.4 cm - 208.3 cm||180 lbs / 81.6 kg||22 inches / 56 cm||55.75 inches / 141.6 cm||Commercial Grade Steel Frame|
Drivetrain and Frame
The drivetrain and other specific technical information of this section isn’t quite as detailed as some other bikes have because NordicTrack simply doesn’t have it available, even in their manuals. However, there is enough information to generally get a good picture of what the S22i and S15i are capable of. Once again, the main differences between the two bikes can be seen in the monitors rather than the physical build of the bikes. That’s why they both use unnamed Poly-V transmission belts as the drivetrain, magnetic resistance systems and 32 lb flywheels. The flywheel and magnetic resistance system combine magnificently to have an extremely quiet ride. They also both have a Q-Factor of 150 mm.
For those who are unaware, the Q-Factor is the distance between pedals. Too far of a Q-Factor and the legs bend awkwardly and can lead to discomfort while exercising. However, if the Q-Factor is too narrow, then the legs can start to bend inward and actually cause injuries. That’s why it’s important to have a nice balance, which the NordicTrack indoor bikes do well.
The pedals of the NordicTrack exercise bikes are both quality, as they allow for your feet to easily slip in with tennis shoes thanks to their integrated toe cages. They make sure that your feet stay in one place while spinning around and around, but they are also easy to slide out of once you are done with the workout. These are definitely a bonus and should be praised as such. However, they are not compatible with specific studio cycling shoes which means if you want to use these clipless shoes for extra pedal efficiency, you will need to buy a pair of dual-sided spin bike pedals.
|NordicTrack S22i||Poly-V Transmission Belt||Unspecified||24 Electromagnetic Resistance Levels||32 lb flywheel||150 mm||Cage Integrated Pedals|
|NordicTrack S15i||Poly-V Transmission Belt||Unspecified||22 Electromagnetic Resistance Levels||32 lb flywheel||150 mm||Cage Integrated Pedals|
Handlebars and Saddle
The handlebars of the S15i and the S22i are both distinctly OK. This is the one area of the spin bikes that feel like it does the job and goes no further. Don’t get us wrong, these are certainly still good pieces of equipment. However, the multi-position handlebars that come with the bikes are solid. They do the job and do it well enough, but don’t go so beyond the call of duty that they deserve separate praise. Same story with the saddle of the Nordictrack S15i and S22i. It does the job well enough and is certainly more comfortable than the vast majority of spin bikes available on the market.
The pieces to notice about the handlebars and saddle that actually takes it level or even above other competitors are the little additions and extra components that come with the spin bikes. First of which to note is the water bottle holders. It’s common knowledge at this point that water should be consumed while working out. For those who didn’t know that, congrats! You have now discovered hydration. The fact that the bike comes with two water bottle holders makes it even better. Bring on all the hydration!
The next little addition that is nice to consider for these bikes are the 3 lb dumbbells that come with the bikes. They obviously aren’t going to get your upper body to look like Dwayne Johnson, but they are a good way for cyclists to get some upper body workouts in. Finally, they have an excellent little fan that will cool down anyone who has the luxury of working out on one of these bikes.
|Name||Image||Handlebar||Adjustments||Bottle Holder||Dumbbell Holder||Saddle||Notes|
|NordicTrack S22i||Non-slip, Multi-position Handlebar||Adjustable vertically and horizontally||Dual Water Bottle Holders||Two 3 lb dumbbells included||Ergonomic Padded Saddle||Comes with an AutoBreeze™ Workout Fan|
|NordicTrack S15i||Non-slip, Multi-position Handlebar||Adjustable vertically and horizontally||Dual Water Bottle Holders||Two 3 lb dumbbells included||Ergonomic Padded Saddle||Comes with an AutoBreeze™ Workout Fan|
Monitors and Power Meters
Now we come to the real highlights of the NordicTrack spin bikes. Here’s also where the two bikes differ the most in terms of their production and build. The S22i has a monitor size of 22 inches (or 55.9 cm), while the S15i has a monitor size of 15 inches (or 38.1 cm). This makes the names of the two bikes a lot more clear and rather less fun. What remains fun is the amount of content that these monitors bring to the proverbial workout table. The 22 inch monitor on the S22i does not have any buttons around the side, instead relying solely on it’s touchscreen. The S15i relies mostly on the touchscreen, but does have a few of the physical buttons on the side in order to help some of the functions of the bike.
The fact is that the monitors are what set these bikes above the rest. Coming with a one year iFit subscription, they allow you to keep track of a whole host of different workout statistics, explore the world through various workout destination videos and train in real time with a host of different professional coaches. The iFit subscription and monitor capabilities are fantastic for anyone who is seeking to use these bikes, whether they are a beginning cyclist or an experienced veteran of the game. One of the best parts about this subscription is that if you are taking a course from one these virtual coaches, you don’t actually need to try and keep up with them in regards to changing your own incline or resistance settings. The trainers change the settings and your bike follows suit without you having to touch anything.
The monitors control an incline/decline system, allowing you to simulate going up and down different terrain. This is great to go along with some of the videos of nature that we mentioned earlier, as well as adding variety to the normal workout routines. The coaches and premade workout routines often make use of this incline capability to make those exercise sessions more intense and challenging for all. Both of these incline systems can be controlled by the patented OneTouch™ Controls that come with the NordicTrack indoor cycling bikes. This is essentially a fancy way of saying that the screen is a touchscreen rather than a monitor controlled by physical buttons. The OneTouch™ control does turn out to be rather useful if you decide to make use of the 360 degree and tilting screen. We’re not entirely sure on why you would want to rotate the screen around unless you were using the iFit membership for some non-spinning coaching sessions (which is a totally valid reason), but if you desperately want to just spin it around to see that it can, then you have that ability.
As for how one actually hears the instructions being put forth from the bikes, both the S15i and the S22i come with 2 inch speakers. They are described as being “Digitally Amplified”, but we’re pretty sure that’s just promotional speech. The speakers are most certainly well made and will offer some quality sound levels for whatever you happen to be listening to on the bike. It’s not the most important aspect of the technology on display here, but we felt it should still be praised.
The biggest downside about these quality monitors is that they do require the iFit membership to continue at their highest potential. They come with a series of preprogrammed workouts that do not require the fitness service alongside the 22 levels of magnetic resistance that are already in the machines. However, without the iFit subscription, the level of enjoyment, advancement and overall benefit of the NordicTrack spin bikes both drop. For bikes that already cost upwards of (spoiler for the next section) $1600, it seems a bit of a tall ask to have people continue paying to get the most out of these machines.
|Name||Image||Monitor Size||Statistics Tracked||Incline/Decline||Ports||Speakers||Notes|
|NordicTrack S22i||22 inches / 55.9 cm||iFit tracks calories, watts, RPM, speed, time, and distance||-10% – 20% Incline||USB and HDMI||Two 2” Digitally Amplified Speakers||Includes 1 year iFit membership|
|NordicTrack S15i||15 inches / 38.1 cm||iFit tracks calories, watts, RPM, speed, time, and distance||-10% – 20% Incline||None||Two 2” Digitally Amplified Speakers||Includes 1 year iFit membership|
Prices and Warranties
The prices of the NordicTrack bikes are actually rather reasonable in comparison to many of the top tier spin bikes on the market today. The S15i costs a solid $1,600, while the S22i costs about $400 more. Both come with a reasonable 10 year warranty on the frame of the bike.
The warranties on the other parts of the bikes could be a bit more generous, as the parts warranty lasts for 2 years and the labour lasts for 1 year. Normally we would be rather critical of these warranties, since the warranty of a spin bike should be long enough to make sure that the user can see if something will actually break.
However, since the prices of the two bikes are lower than that of their competitors, it somewhat justifies having shorter warranties in the grand scheme of things (though if anyone from NordicTrack happens to be reading this, we still recommend bumping those warranties up a bit). For those who are unable to afford the entire cost of the bikes in one payment, NordicTrack offers payments over time as well.
|Name||Image||Price||Frame Warranty||Parts Warranty||Labour Warranty||Shipping|
|NordicTrack S22i||$1,999||10-year frame warranty||2-year parts warranty||1-year labour warranty||FREE Scheduled Delivery|
|NordicTrack S15i||$1,599||10-year frame warranty||2-year parts warranty||1-year labour warranty||FREE Scheduled Delivery|
Other Notable Qualities
This is the section where we discuss all the features of the NordicTrack bikes that wouldn’t fit quite so neatly in the sections listed above. As we’ve mentioned, the main difference between these two bikes comes in the form of the monitor, otherwise they are extremely similar.
Therefore, it feels more like a decision based on how much money you’re willing to spend for a 7 inch upgrade of monitor size rather than a significant upgrade in terms of bike quality. On one hand, this is great because it means that those who choose the S15i aren’t missing out on a great deal compared to the S22i. However, it also brings into question just how much the S22i is actually worth in comparison to it’s fellow NordicTrack bike.
The bikes do not come preassembled and can be somewhat difficult to actually put together. The manual is… fine. It technically tells you what to do and how to do it, but it isn’t the most straightforward manual that we’ve ever seen. Though it does do a fine job of going over every single element that has to do with the monitors and the iFit subscription.
What We Think (Conclusion)
Whichever bike you end up choosing, you really cannot lose. These are both splendid examples of what spin bikes can accomplish in the modern day, with the main difference between them coming in the form of how big their screen is. For the first year of ownership, you’ll have access to thousands of iFit workout programs, which allows you to truly integrate yourself into a regular workout routine. Once that is accomplished, Google Maps integration that comes with the bikes allows you to take a look around the globe as you ride. Whether that’s riding through the Tuscan countryside of Italy or the various streets of Amsterdam, you can take the lessons of the iFit workouts onto the streets of the world. The downside of this is that you’ll have to continue paying for an iFit subscription after the initial year’s membership is up. Although the monitors without the iFit subscription are certainly still passable.
The actual build of both bikes are fantastic. They are well made, well designed and adjustable to just about any aspiring cyclist out there. Thanks to their magnetic resistance and belt drive, you have to actively struggle in order to hear the NordicTrack bikes running. The pedals on the bike allow for anyone to keep their feet firmly in place, even during the most intense workout sessions. The handlebars and saddle are adjustable in just about any direction in order to accommodate anyone who decides to hop on and get working. The fact that it comes with a nice little fan to keep the rider cool is an even better aspect that too many other bikes seem to ignore.
Whichever bike that is picked at the end of the day, the owner has for sure got a quality bike. The only things that they’ve got to keep in mind is that the iFit subscription does eventually need to be renewed and the warranties on both bikes are not particularly good. Otherwise, these are absolutely fantastic bikes that any indoor cyclist would be proud to have.