Schwinn AC Performance Plus With Carbon Blue Review

Overview

The Schwinn AC Performance Plus with Carbon Blue Belt Drive is an interesting spin bike in the modern-day and age. It takes a different approach compared to many others, as it lacks some of the elements that are almost seen as a requirement elsewhere.

That said, the Schwinn AC Performance Plus with Carbon Blue Belt Drive (which we’re going to shorten to AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon) still offers a pretty good performance as a spin bike.

The most interesting aspect of the Schwinn AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon is that there are technically two different models. The AC Performance Plus with Chain as the drivetrain of the bike (we go into more depth on this in the “Drivetrain and Gear Ratio” section).

Meanwhile, the second version of the bike, which we are looking at, is called the Schwinn AC Performance Plus with the Carbon Blue Belt Drive. Unsurprisingly, this version replaces the chain of the default version with a “Carbon Blue” belt drive. Once again, we’ll go into more detail further down, but this basically means that the bike runs a little bit smoother and more quietly.

The biggest issue that pops up when talking about the Schwinn AC Performance Plus (both with and without the belt drive) is the value it offers when it comes to the price. We’ll go into that further down, but this might prove too big of a stumbling block for even Schwinn to overcome.

AC Performance Plus Comparison!

This is where I often update the Schwinn AC Performance Plus with Carbon Blue review to let you know if, for the price, there are better value indoor bikes that you can buy. Currently, in 2020, I don’t believe this Schwinn spin bike offers enough (not even a console included) to justify it’s $2400 price tag. Therefore, I think you have better options (unless by the time you read this review, the price of this bike drops) for this price tag.

With that said, if you are looking for a free-wheel system (Smart Release System), aluminum frame, and Carbon Blue belt, your best bet is the Schwinn AC Performance Plus with Carbon Blue. There is no other spin bike on the market that comes with the combination of all these three features.

However, if those three features are not important to you, there are good alternatives. One of my favorite alternatives to this Schwinn indoor cycle is the Stages SC3. It doesn’t have the “free-wheel system” but it comes with an aluminum frame, a Carbon Blue belt, a better handlebar, and an excellent Bluetooth/ANT+ monitor. Plus, it provides 100% watt accuracy, thanks to its direct watt reading sensors.

Schwinn AC Performance Plus Carbon Blue Review:

Specifications:

  • Width: 21“ / 53
  • Height: 51” / 129.5 cm
  • Length: 50” / 127 cm
  • Bike Weight: 112 lbs / 51 kg
  • Max User Weight: 350 lbs / 159 kg
  • Rider Fit Range: 4’11” – 6’8” / 150 – 203.2 cm

One of the biggest elements of the Schwinn AC Performance Plus Carbon Blue is how it is supposed to feel like an outdoor bike. In fact, that’s where the name comes from. The AC stands for “Authentic Cycling”. In search of this authentic cycling experience, Schwinn have gone all out on the build of the bike. It weighs a decent amount, though certainly isn’t the heaviest bike out there. This is partially because of the aluminum steel frame that the AC Performance Plus Carbon Blue is made of. It makes the bike roughly 30% lighter than one with a regular steel frame, thus making it easier to pick up and move around. That aluminum also makes it more resistant to rust, which is always a bonus (though you should still wipe down the bike after a particularly sweaty workout).

Schwinn have made sure to have it compatible with a large variety of different riders. To that end, anyone who is between 4’11” (150 cm) and 6’8” (203 cm) can comfortably fit onto the bike, thanks to its many adjustable components. Similarly, the bike can support up to 350 lbs (and even a bit more, as it won’t suddenly collapse once it reaches 351 lbs).

Here is where we would normally put a connectivity section or some talk about the console/monitor that comes with the bike. However, we cannot do that here, since the AC Performance Plus and the AC Performance Plus with a Carbon Blue Belt Drive come with absolutely no console or monitor whatsoever. That means that there is no Bluetooth or ANT+ connectivity, no statistic tracking, no entertainment features or any sort of technological entertainment/assistance that you might expect from a modern spin bike. This is quite disappointing, and is a major strike against the AC Performance Plus and its Belt Drive companion.

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AC Performance Digital Monitor:

Schwinn-AC Performance Plus Echolon consoles
  • There is no monitor included with the Schwinn AC Performance Plus with Carbon Blue:
  • However, the Schwinn Team has built three consoles (sold separately) for this bike:
  • Echelon2 for AC Performance Plus with Carbon Blue, no Power.
  • Echelon2 for AC Performance Plus with Carbon Blue with Power Upgrade.
  • 4iiii Crank for AC Performance with Direct Power Upgrade and Backlit (the best console by Schwinn).
  • Note: Echelon2 consoles utilize direct or estimated power and have the ANT+ connection.

A big con right out of the gate is the total lack of monitor or personal device holder. Unlike many indoor bikes on the marketplace, there’s no included digital monitor, at least not built into the bike. There are no cadence sensors, no pulse sensors, no heart rate tracking: nothing.

In order to incorporate any kind of tracking, you have two options: buy the add-on compatible fitness monitor designed to clip onto the bike or use your own tracking gear.

The compatible add-on monitors sold by Schwinn is anywhere from $200 to $700, an additional fee tacked onto the already pricey AC Fitness Performance Plus with Carbon Blue indoor cycle. Even if you choose to purchase a monitor. By Schwinn, they are relatively low-tech, offering the bare essentials of Watt, RPM, distance, cadence, time, and calories, which is simple compared to its price tag and to competitive models that come with HD touchscreen displays.

If you’re looking to track biometric statistics like heart rate or get a more accurate read on burned calories, you’ll have to rely on a smartwatch or a third-party fitness tracker that will again cost more. For a bike with such a high initial price point, it’s a bit surprising that this feature is not already built-in.

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Q-Factor and Pedals:

Performance Plus Carbon Blue pedals
  • The Schwinn AC Performance Plus Carbon Blue pedals are Triple Link compatible but they come with double link SPD pedals.
  • The Q-Factor of the Schwinn AC Performance Plus Carbon Blue is 170 mm.
  • The AC Performance Plus indoor bike with Carbon Blue has a three-piece crank system.

The pedals of Schwinn AC Performance Plus Carbon Blue are compatible with the Schwinn Triple Link pedals. These are multi-use pedals that can be used with SPD, Look, and Delta cleats or regular tennis shoes, as it has a toe-clip in order to help prevent slippage. However, the triple link pedals options (not included with the purchase). The ones that you will receive are dual-link pedals (SPD and toe cage). It keeps the foot in constant contact with the pedal, similar to that of an outdoor bike. Once again, an example of Schwinn going for the “Authentic Cycling” experience.

The Q-Factor of the Schwinn AC Performance Plus is 170 mm. This is right on the edge of being too wide and in the realm of being comfortable. Thankfully, it is within that realm and the Q-Factor ends up being right in the correct distance of being “comfy”.

For those who are unaware, the Q-Factor is the distance between your feet while sitting on the bike. Too much distance and it tends to become uncomfortable or give an unnatural feel to the ride. On the other hand, if it is too small, the knees will bend inwards and potentially cause injuries. Fortunately, this second condition is pretty rare.

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Flywheel Weight:

AC-Performance-Plus-Carbon-Blue-flywheel
  • The Schwinn AC Performance Plus with a Carbon Blue Belt Drive spin bike has a perimeter-weighted 37 lb /17 kg flywheel.
  • Similarly, the Schwinn AC Performance Plus has the same flywheel.
  • The flywheel is not fixed, it’s free and you can do casting on the bike.

The approach that Schwinn have chosen for the AC Performance Plus is to have a heavier flywheel in order to serve up that “real road” feel. While that approach has been disputed by some who prefer the lighter flywheels of Keiser, that certainly doesn’t mean it is the wrong one.

Unsurprisingly, the Schwinn AC Performance Plus with a Carbon Blue Belt Drive has the same flywheel as the chain drive one. There isn’t a whole lot else to say about the flywheel, as it does the job it’s supposed to and carries on with the day.

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Magnetic Resistance:

Schwinn-Performance-Plus-Carbon-Blue-resistance
  • The Schwinn AC Performance Plus with a Carbon Blue Belt Drive has 6 levels of magnetic resistance.
  • The Schwinn AC Performance Plus has the same system of magnetic brake resistance.

The resistance system of the Schwinn AC Performance Plus Carbon Blue is a quite nice example of how to use magnetic resistance to give it that “Authentic Cycling” experience that Schwinn seems determined to reach with these spin bikes. Fortunately, they have done a pretty good job in this regard, as the magnetic resistance that the bikes do come with provide a natural challenge without being overly complicated or extra.

Schwinn decided to take normal magnetic resistance and go for a different method. They added 6 magnets throughout the bike to more evenly distribute the braking power, in addition to aforementioned flywheel. This serves to make the overall resistance of the bike smoother and more consistent than you might find with other bikes. We’re certainly not going to complain about it, as the flywheel and resistance actually end up combining really well together. The end result for your legs will certainly be a quality one.

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Handlebars and Seat:

AC-Performance-Plus-Carbon-Blue-seat
  • The Schwinn AC Performance Plus with a Carbon Blue Belt Drive features Adjustable ErgoLoop Handlebars
  • The Schwinn AC Performance Plus has the same Adjustable ErgoLoop Handlebars
  • Both versions of the bike feature a contoured, padded seat.

The handlebars of the Schwinn AC Performance Plus with a Carbon Blue Belt Drive (and the chain drive compatriot) are both quite good. They are comfortable to hold, but more importantly are adjustable. They can be pushed up, down, forward and backwards, allowing anyone to place the handlebars where they feel would be most comfortable. Compared to many other handlebars out there, the fact that these are both comfortable and adjustable is a nice change of pace.

The seats of both Schwinn AC Performance Plus models are a bit more basic. They are both contoured, padded seats. They should be of a comfortable size for most users, though they can be easily swapped out for either a larger or smaller seat if you so please. Similar to the handlebars, the seat can be adjusted forward, backwards, up and down.

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Transmission and Gear Ratio:

Schwinn-AC-Performance-Plus-Carbon-Blue-Belt
  • The Schwinn AC Performance Plus Carbon Blue drivetrain gear ratio is 1:4.5.
  • AC Performance Plus with a Carbon Blue Belt Drive is the upgraded version of the regular AC Performance Plus, for those who don’t want a chain.
  • This Carbon Blue (Timing) system is the best transmission available on the market. It’s quiet, yet offers 100% power efficiency.

The drivetrain of the Schwinn AC Performance plus is different (better) than the vast majority of modern spin bikes. The standard of most bikes are that they have a Poly-V belt. But only the top-tier indoor bike come with the toothed (Timing) belt as the drivetrain.

Unlike the AC Performance Plus that comes with a chain as the default drivetrain, this upgraded version has a very quiet belt driven mechanism. This means that it will make less noise by default compared to another bike with a chain transmission.

The gear ratio is 1:4.5. For those who are unaware, these bikes have a small pulley belt and a big belt ring connected to the flywheel. For every turn of the big wheel, the small pulley turns 4.5 times.

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Price and Warranty:

  • The Schwinn AC Performance Plus with a Carbon Blue Belt Drive is around $2,400
  • The Schwinn AC Performance Plus bike is currently listed at around $2,000
  • Both of the Schwinn AC Performance Plus types have a warranty that includes:
    10 years on the frame
    2 years on the mechanical parts
    1 year for both the labor
    6 months for the saddle and pedals

The Schwinn AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon price is around the $2400 mark. This means that it is comparable to many other quality spin bikes. This is a bit of a problem, as it means that it costs about as much as, say, the NordicTrack 22i or the Keiser M3i.

Yet, despite being in the same realm of price, the Schwinn AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon doesn’t offer nearly as many of those same high-quality bits that those others do. The lack of any sort of monitor or console is the standout part of this, but having a chain drivetrain is similarly disturbing. The fact that one would need to pay $400 more for a belt drive and still lack any sort of console on the bike is a poor sign indeed.

Fortunately, it isn’t all doom and gloom in the realm of price and warranty. Both the Schwinn AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon and the version without the belt drive come with solid warranties. They both come with 10 years on the frame, 2 years on the mechanical parts (drive train, brake system, cranks), 1 year for the labour and a generous little addition of 6 months for the saddle and pedals. This all means that once you get the bike, it will be guaranteed for a while.

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Assembly and Shipping:

  • The Schwinn AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon does not take long to assemble and does not require any advanced knowledge or skills
  • Shipping should take 1-2 weeks, though there are a variety of factors that could affect that

There isn’t a whole lot to say about the Schwinn AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon assembly process outside of it being fairly straightforward. You just need to read the manual, put the pieces in the correct spot and then you’ll have a spin bike.

The shipping process shouldn’t take too long either. Usually it’ll be in between 1 or 2 weeks, unless some mistake or external event happens. You know, like a mail mishap or a global pandemic. Just the normal bits that everyone goes through.

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Schwinn AC Performance Plus with Carbon Blue Pros:

The Magnetic Resistance System:

The magnetic resistance system of the Schwinn AC Performance Blue Carbon and it’s belt-driven sibling is most definitely a good part of the design. It does a quality job of making you feel like you are on an outdoor bike, as it doesn’t have the “floaty” quality that some might find on some other spin bikes. This design element is certainly one of the best parts about the Schwinn AC
Performance Plus Blue Carbon.

The Level of Adjustment:

Another aspect that the Schwinn AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon isn’t lacking in is that of adjustability. Just about everything on this spin bike can be changed or adjusted in some way to make sure that you remain as comfortable as possibly while cycling. The handlebars and seat will adjust to anyone’s need and the bike is sturdy enough to hold up to 350 lbs. You will struggle to find someone who cannot get comfortable on this spin bike.

The Quality For Less Space:

Too often these days, the highest tier spin bikes have to take up the space of an entire room in order to be successful or max out their potential. Schwinn has decided that they don’t need to do this with the AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon, instead preferring to make a spin bike of quality materials without taking up too much space. This can be attributed to the lighter, aluminum frame that the AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon has, as well as the general adjustability that we just mentioned.

The Smart Release System:

The most remarkable aspect of this Schwinn indoor cycle (after it’s toothed-belt) is it’s “Smart Release System”. For someone who has been riding on the road for years, I understand how nice it is to have the ability to do casting after HIIT or Climb. Thankfully, this bike, unlike many spin bikes on the market, comes with the free-wheel (not fixed-gear) transmission to allow you to take a break (stop pedaling) while the flywheel is still turning.

The Carbon Blue Transmission:

My most favorite feature of this Indoor cycling bike is its “Toothed belt” which is very rare to find in other spin bikes. It has the ability to keep the ride smooth, quiet, and low-maintenance while making sure all your efforts reach the flywheel without the common jerky motion that comes with the flat “Poly-V belts”.

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Schwinn AC Performance Plus with Carbon Blue Cons:

Lack of Technological Capabilities:

This is probably the first issue that someone can find when looking at the Schwinn AC Performance Plus and the Carbon Belt Drive version. The fact that there is no monitor or console on a modern spin bike is already enough to raise some eyebrows, but then once you see the manufacturer, it gets even more surprising. Schwinn is renowned for their ability to make some of the most modern and impressive spin bikes available, yet these AC Performance Plus versions do not have even a statistic monitor built into them by default. Extremely disappointing.

A $400 Upgrade For A Belt Drive

Here we come to the issue of having two different bikes that are essentially the same, except for the fact that one has a belt drive and the other has one of chain. The fact that most modern spin bikes have adopted belt drives as the standard means Schwinn has something to answer for. After all, why make two seperate bikes with a chain or a belt drive with the price point of $400 being the difference? Why not add something else to make the two versions different in order to make it worth that upgrade? While the AC Performance Plus with the Blue Carbon Belt Drive is a fine bike, the $400 upgrade on it’s chain companion seems almost like a greedy move on the part of Schwinn.

A Different Price Than It’s Worth:

This is by far the biggest issue with the Schwinn AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon and it’s chain drive companion. The default price is around $2400. This is the same price as many of the top modern spin bikes, yet it doesn’t have many of the same features that are expected of such a bike. There’s absolutely no computer or monitor whatsoever, so that means you’d have to drop another $250 to even get a device that tracks statistics. In addition, it doesn’t come with dumbbells or anything else that you would expect from another spin bike in this price range. It just doesn’t seem that Schwinn understands how the value works here.

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The Final Verdict

We want to praise the Schwinn AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon and the chain version that is available alongside. We really do. They are both well-built spin bikes that can give whoever has it an excellent workout while they use them. The magnetic resistance system is great, thanks to the distance between the 6 different magnets. The level of adjustability in this bike is fantastic. You can switch it around to make just about anyone fit comfortably, regardless of their shape and size. Far too many bikes ignore this aspect these days, so Schwinn must be praised for that. As we’ve mentioned, the fact that the bike is lighter than we expected it to be is also a quite nice surprise.

It’s just… these benefits don’t seem to outweigh the negatives. When you look at the price of the Schwinn AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon, you expect a bike akin to the quality of something like the NordicTrack S22i and S15i. And you just don’t get it. The fact that there is absolutely no console or monitor whatsoever is still mind-blowing no matter how many times we write it down. It’s 2020 (as of the time of writing). Spin bikes in this price range should have some degree of technology to go along with them if only to keep track of the workout statistics.

Similarly, the fact that there are two different bikes that have a difference of $400 for a Carbon Belt is also a tad ridiculous. It’s a reality that the majority of the spin bike market that isn’t aiming for the cheaper market are using belt drives of some sort, as chain drivetrains are becoming more and more obsolete. There is simply no benefit over a belt drive. We should be clear, a chain drivetrain is not a bad system. It just isn’t one that you would expect to find in a spin bike that costs upwards of $2000.

Realistically, everything that is wrong with the AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon has to do with the price. There are other bikes that don’t have monitors and cost above what one might expect. However, those bikes also have some aspect or aspects to make them stand out from the rest of the crowd. Whether that’s a series of bonus bits like water bottle holders, USB chargers or dumbbells, there’s usually something. The AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon just doesn’t have that.

9.5 Total Score
Smart Release System!

The Schwinn AC Performance Plus Carbon Blue is a fine spin bike in regards to how it allows someone to get fit. For someone who prefers the Schwinn brand and Smart Release System, they can get a good amount of exercise from this spin bike and it’s chain drive counterpart. However, for those who prefer their bikes to be worth the value that they are paying for it and offer the amount of features that they’d expect for it, the Schwinn AC Performance Plus Blue Carbon comes disappointingly short. It’s a good bike, but they’ve blown the price way out of the range that it deserves to be in. Quite unfortunate, as Schwinn is known for putting out such quality products for generally accepted prices.

Schwinn AC Performance Plus With Carbon Blue
9.5
User Rating: 5 (2 votes)

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