Schwinn Spin Bikes Reviews and Comparisons
Schwinn is one of the most renowned names in the indoor cycling market thanks to their regular output of some of the highest quality spin bikes available. Whether it’s one of the IC series or the somewhat rarer AC series, these bikes are sure to allow any cyclist to feel like they are at the top of their game. However, these bikes can’t all be the best that Schwinn makes. So we’re here to figure out just which of the Schwinn bikes come out on top in a head to head comparison.
- Schwinn IC2 Indoor Cycling Bike
- Schwinn IC3 Indoor Cycling Bike
- Schwinn IC4 Indoor Cycling Bike (AKA IC8)
- AC Sport Indoor Cycling Bike w/ Chain Drive
- AC Sport Indoor Cycling Bike w/ Carbon Drive
- AC Performance Plus Indoor Cycle w/ Chain Drive
- AC Performance Plus Indoor Cycle w/ Carbon Drive
- Schwinn AC Power Indoor Cycling Bike w/ Carbon Drive
|Schwinn IC2 Indoor Cycle||Overpriced||Distance, Time, Calories, not backlit||Cage-integrated pedals||Fixed||Friction, Chain Transmission||None|
|Schwinn IC3 Indoor Cycle||Overpriced||RPM, heart rate, distance, time, calories, not backlit||SPD clipless and cage||Fixed||Friction, Poly-V Belt Transmission||None|
|Schwinn IC4 Indoor Cycle||Great Value||Bluetooth, Resistance, RPM, distance, time, HR, Calories||SPD clipless and cage||Fixed||Magnetic, Poly-V Belt Transmission||Bluetooth & Dumbbell holder|
|AC Sport Indoor Cycling Bike w/ Chain Drive||Overpriced||Mpower Echelon2 and Cadence Pro Compatible (not included)||SPD clipless and cage||Fixed||Magnetic, Chain Transmission||Aluminum frame|
|AC Sport Indoor Cycling Bike w/ Carbon Drive||Overpriced||Mpower Echelon2 and Cadence Pro Compatible (not included)||SPD clipless and cage||Fixed||Magnetic, Carbon Belt Transmission||Aluminum frame & Toothed Transmission|
|Schwinn AC Performance Plus w/ Chin Drive||Overpriced||MPower Echelon Compatible (not included)||SPD clipless and cage||Free (Smart Release System)||Magnetic, Chain Transmission||Aluminum frame|
|Schwinn AC Performance Plus w/ Carbon Drive||Overpriced||MPower Echelon Compatible (not included)||SPD clipless and cage||Free (Smart Release System)||Magnetic, Carbon Belt Transmission||Aluminum frame & Toothed Transmission|
|Schwinn AC Power w/ Carbon Drive||Good Value||MPower Echelon 2G Comes Included||SPD clipless and cage||Free (Smart Release System)||Magnetic, Carbon Belt Transmission||Aluminum frame & Toothed Transmission|
Up first are the technical bits of information that comes along with all of these bikes. This means their general build, the material, the size and who can fit comfortably onto the bikes. The interesting thing about the Schwinn bikes is that you can clearly see an improvement in the IC series, as they obviously go up in quality as they go up in number. However, the AC Performance Plus series of bikes are somewhat difficult to judge because they are not quite as straightforward in their quality.
The AC Performance Plus series are the largest of the bikes that we are comparing here, at least in terms of their width and weight. They also have the largest maximum user weight and height attached to them, allowing for a larger variety of people to comfortably fit on them. Meanwhile the IC series makes a clear increase in weight, weight and height capacity, and general size as the model number increases. The only part that remains the same in terms of the technical information about the IC series is the steel frame. It is technically less powerful than the aluminum steel frame of the AC Performance series, but they still do an excellent job of feeling solid and stable while exercising on them.
As can be seen from the chart below, all of the bikes have a pretty good range of who can fit comfortably on them. The only one that comes close to having a narrow range is the IC3, which has a significantly higher minimum height requirement compared to the rest of the bikes.
This does seem a bit random, as we can’t find any real reason as to why it has that bump and then goes directly back down on both the IC2 and IC4. Fortunately, this is the only “random” element about the builds of these bikes, as they are all pretty straightforward otherwise. The steel frames of the IC series and the aluminum steel of the AC series both hold up quite well.
|Schwinn IC2||250 lbs / 113.4 kg||83 lbs / 37.6 kg||23 inches / 58.4 cm||45 inches / 114.3 cm||4’9” - 6’5” / 145 - 195.6 cm||Steel Frame|
|Schwinn IC3||300 lbs / 136 kg||100 lbs / 45.4 kg||21.2 inches / 53.9 cm||45 inches / 114.3 cm||5’1” - 6’0” / 155 - 183 cm||Steel Frame|
|Schwinn IC4||330 lbs / 150 kg||106 lbs / 48 kg||21.2 inches / 53.9 cm||48.7 inches / 123.7 cm||4’6” - 6’6” / 137 - 198 cm||Steel Frame|
|AC Performance Plus||350 lbs / 158.8 kg||112 lbs / 51 kg||20 inches / 50.8 cm||43 inches / 109.2 cm||4’11” - 6’8” / 149.9 - 203.2 cm||Aluminum Steel Frame|
|AC Performance Plus w/ Carbon||350 lbs / 158.8 kg||112 lbs / 51 kg||38 inches / 96.5 cm||44.3 inches / 112.5 cm||4’11” - 6’8” / 149.9 - 203.2 cm||Aluminum Steel Frame|
Drivetrain and Frame
The drivetrains and frames are where you can see a bit more of a difference between the various bikes. The biggest part of this section that you’ll want to take note of is the resistance system of the IC2 and IC3 bike. These are both friction resistance types. This is considered a somewhat outdated method and keeps the maintenance of the bike extremely high. For the AC Performance Plus, you’ll constantly have to check on the chains to make sure they aren’t coming loose and the friction resistance systems on the IC2 and IC3 just aren’t as smooth as magnetic ones. Fortunately, the IC4 and AC series are all magnetic resistance types.
The gear ratio of all of these Schwinn bikes are pretty solid. It’s always nice to know just what sort of gear ratio is on the bike. The gear ratio of a bike, for those who are unaware, is how often the crank turns and makes the rear wheel of the gear rotate. For example, if the gear ratio is measured at 3.25, then for every rotation of the crank, the rear wheel will rotate 3.25 times.
The Q-Factor on all of the bikes are also pretty acceptable, with the IC4 probably being the best. It falls right into that ideal range of being in between 140 mm and 170 mm. For those who don’t know, the Q-Factor is the distance between your feet while sitting on the bike. Generally, the narrower the Q-Factor, the more comfortable the bike is considered to be. If your feet are too far apart, then they will likely become uncomfortable after a while.
In terms of the flywheels and pedals, both the IC series and the AC series both do pretty well in this regard. The flywheels aren’t so heavy as to be unwieldy and generate less power, but they are heavy enough to provide an optimal amount of energy as you spin. There is a clear difference between the IC2 and the rest of the bikes, being a minimum 6 lbs lighter than the next closest. As for the pedals on each of the bikes, they are generally pretty compatible with a bunch of different pedals. Specifically the AC series are compatible with Look, Delta and SPD style cleats to simulate an outdoor riding experience, while also fitting regular athletic shoes thanks to their toe clips. The IC3 and IC4 both allow for athletic shoes to fit with the toe cages and are compatible with SPD cleats.
|Name||Image||Drivetrain||Gear Ratio||Resistance System||Flywheel||Q-Factor||Notes|
|Schwinn IC2||Chain||1:3||Friction||31 lbs, Fixed||173 mm||Toe Cages|
|Schwinn IC3||Poly-V Belt||1:3||Friction||40 lbs, Fixed||177 mm||Dual-Sided Toe Cages and SPD|
|Schwinn IC4||Poly-V Belt||1:10||Magnetic||40 lbs, Fixed||190 mm||Dual-Sided Toe Cages and SPD|
|AC Performance Plus||Chain||1:4.5||Magnetic||37 lbs, Free-Wheel||170 mm||Dual-Sided Toe Cages and SPD|
|AC Performance Plus w/ Carbon||Carbon Blue Belt||1:A||Magnetic||37 lbs, Free-Wheel||170 mm||Dual-Sided Toe Cages and SPD|
Handlebars and Saddles
Now we come to the handlebars and the saddles, the two parts that you will most likely be interacting with (at least physically) the most. That’s why it is important that these pieces of the bikes are comfortable and adjustable, in order to accommodate the wide variety of people that could possibly be using them. Fortunately, just about all of the Schwinn bikes do a good job of this. All of the handlebars except for the ones on the IC2 can be adjusted both vertically and horizontally, which gives a wider degree of comfort that you can make use of.
Similarly, all of the saddles that are available on both the IC series and the AC Performance Plus series are adjustable both horizontally and vertically. This is a point to be noted as it means that more people should be able to comfortably fit onto the bikes. However, we should point out that Schwinn aren’t exactly doing anything above and beyond in this regard. Just about all modern spin bikes have adjustable saddles in both vertical and horizontal directions. So congrats to them for maintaining the standard that supports a wider variety of cyclists.
In terms of entertainment, both the IC3 and IC4 offer media trays where you can fit various tablets, phones or any other device that you believe would keep you entertained while you exercise on one of these two bikes. Whether that’s what Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Twitch or anything else you can possibly think of, this will allow the time to absolutely fly while you workout. Unfortunately, these are the only two of the bikes that we’re looking over today that have such a media tray. These media trays also allow you to independently track statistics of the workout session, which is desperately needed (more on that in a bit).
For those who are looking to keep hydrated during their workout, the IC series can certainly accommodate this want (or need, however desperate it is). The IC2 only has a single place for a water bottle, located on the frame right in front of the seat. On the IC3 and IC4, they both have 2 places for the water bottles to go. These are located on the handlebars, giving nice convenient access even during the most intense sections of the exercise session. If you like to stay hydrated during workouts, but prefer the AC Performance Plus bikes, then you’ll have to find a spot to keep your water bottle, as they do not come equipped with these handy water bottle holders.
Finally, we get to the little add-ons and additional bits that each of the bikes come with. For the IC2, there isn’t much to see. There’s some sweat protection along the frame in order to protect the flywheel from deterioration Unfortunately, there isn’t anything else that is very notable that comes with the bike. With the IC3, it comes with a nice little pair of cleats that can fit into the compatible pedals of the bike. This allows for some truly vicious pedalling without the fear of your feet coming away. The IC4 is where the goodie bag truly opens up. It comes with a heart rate strap for those who want to keep track of the heart rate, 2 3-lb dumbbells and a holder for those dumbbells for those who want to get some upper body workouts in, a USB charging port to keep those devices in the media tray charged and the cleats that come with the IC3. Basically, you get an entire package of extras with the IC4. Unfortunately, the AC Performance Plus bikes get no such additional goodies and are just left as they are.
|Name||Image||Handlebars||Handle Adjustability||Saddle Adjustability||Media Tray||Water Bottle Holders||Notes|
|Schwinn IC2||Multi-position, PVC||Vertical||Horizontal and Vertical||None||Single, integrated on the handlebars||Sweat Guard|
|Schwinn IC3||Ergo-formed multi-position, soft PVC||Horizontal and Vertical||Horizontal and Vertical||Yes||Dual, integrated on the handlebars||Non-coded HR compatibility|
|Schwinn IC4||Ergo-formed multi-position, soft PVC||Horizontal and Vertical||Horizontal and Vertical||Yes||Dual, integrated on the handlebars||HR Strap compatible,
3 lb dumbbell
USB Charging Port
|AC Performance Plus||Adjustable ErgoLoop Handlebars||Horizontal and Vertical||Horizontal and Vertical||None||Dual, integrated on the handlebars||N/A|
|AC Performance Plus w/ Carbon||Adjustable ErgoLoop Handlebars||Horizontal and Vertical||Horizontal and Vertical||None||Dual, integrated on the handlebars||N/A|
Monitors and Power Meters
Here are where these series of bikes from Schwinn falter quite a bit. The AC Performance Plus bikes (except for AC Power which comes with Schwinn’s best spin bike screen, the Echelon 2G) don’t come with monitors by default. Even the most basic type of monitor that can be found on some of the cheapest bikes available are not here, meaning you cannot track statistics like distance travelled, time exercising, calories burnt or any other helpful guides on just how well you are doing on the bike.
We wish that there was more to say in this section. Unfortunately, outside of the optional add-ons that Schwinn offers, there just isn’t too much to actually speak of. Just nothing. The optional add-ons aren’t even really talked about all that much, so we can’t even go into any sort of detail on what they do.
It’s quite maddening actually. Let’s just say that if you are looking for a spin bike with some sort of advanced technological integration, you most certainly want to look at other options than these ones. They simply will not fulfill that requirement. Thankfully, the IC series indoor bikes do come with monitors. They are not the best consoles but they are relatively good for the price, especially the LED monitor that comes with the IC4.
|Name||Image||Monitor||Statistics Tracked||Connections||Power Measurement||Additional Notes|
|Schwinn IC2||Not Backlit||Speed, time, HR, distance||None||None||None|
|Schwinn IC3||Not Backlit||RPM, Speed, time, HR, distance||None||None||Compatible with non-coded HR readers|
|Schwinn IC4||Backlit||Resistance, RPM, Speed, time, HR, distance||Bluetooth||None||Compatible with Zwift and Peloton apps|
|AC Performance Plus||N/A||N/A||None||None||None|
|AC Performance Plus w/ Carbon||N/A||N/A||None||None||None|
Prices and Warranties
Now we get to the section that many people will be keen to look at, as it can make the difference between ordering one of these spin bikes or going for a different one. Fortunately, as these are not the top end of Schwinn’s catalogue, it means that you will not be looking at the highest and most absurd prices that have ever been assigned to such pieces of exercise equipment before. Another important factor to consider when looking at these spin bikes are the warranties that come with them. Nobody should have to pay thousands of dollars only to have their bike break and it not being covered by a warranty. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Starting with the IC2, we have a pretty simple case of the price and the warranties that come with it. Costing a mere $300, the IC2 is extremely cheap in comparison to many of the most modern spin bikes; from Schwinn or otherwise. It comes with a 5 year warranty on the frame, 2 year warranty on the mechanical parts and 1 year warranty on the labour. It also comes with the option to extend the mechanical and labour warranties to 3 or 5 years.
It is a similar case with the IC3. It costs only $200 more than the IC2, right at $500. It has an identical set of warranties, with 5 years on the frame, 2 years on the mechanical parts and 1 year on the labour. Similarly, it comes with the options to extend those mechanical and labour warranties. The IC3’s price is actually rather good value, as it offers significantly more than the IC2, yet only costs $200 more.
The IC4 is where the prices start to approach more modern prices. It is $300 more expensive than the IC3, coming in right at $800. Once again, it comes with a frame warranty of 5 years, warranty of 2 years on the mechanical parts and a 1 year warranty of the labour. And once again, there is the option to extend those warranties if you so choose to invest in that coverage. The IC4 probably deserves the price increase compared to the IC3 and IC2, as it does offer many more features and is much closer to the more modern IC8 than either of the two previous builds.
Now we get into the realm of the truly expensive bikes. The AC Performance Plus takes a massive jump in price compared to the IC series. Which, to be fair, is somewhat warranted based on some of the features that it comes with. The AC Performance Plus without the Carbon Drive costs $2,000, while the version that does come with the Carbon drive costs $2,400. This bike (or bikes, if you prefer) comes with a warranty of 10 years on the frame, 2 years on the mechanical parts, 1-year warranty on the labor, and an interesting 6-month warranty on the saddle. We’re not really sure why they needed an extra warranty on the saddle, but there are no complaints here. The question marks around the AC Performance Plus, both with and without the Carbon Drive, are about whether or not it delivers enough features to be worth such a large amount of money. But we’ll talk about that in the appropriate section.
|Name||Image||Price||Frame Warranty||Saddle Warranty||Parts Warranty||Labour Warranty||Additional Notes|
|Schwinn IC2||$300||5 years||N/A||2 years||1 year||There are additional coverage plans that expand labour and parts to 3 or 5 years.|
|Schwinn IC3||$500||5 years||N/A||2 years||1 year||There are additional coverage plans that expand labour and parts to 3 or 5 years.|
|Schwinn IC4||$900||5 years||N/A||2 years||1 year||There are additional coverage plans that expand labour and parts to 3 or 5 years.|
|AC Performance Plus||$1800||10 years||6 Months||2 years||1 year||Smart Release System|
|AC Performance Plus w/ Carbon||$2200||10 years||6 Months||2 years||1 year||Smart Release System|
Other Notable Parts
Here’s where we talk about the main difference between the AC Performance Plus and the AC Performance Plus with the “Carbon Blue” belt drive. The original chain drive that’s on the AC Performance Plus does fine, though as we mentioned earlier, it is louder and can require much more maintenance than belt drives.
This Carbon Blue belt drive is primarily made from polyurethane but includes a core of carbon fiber tensile cords. The belt has a series of teeth that are made of soft nylon, which grab the gears in order to make the whole thing run.
This, in turn, makes the entire experience of working out on the Carbon Blue version of the AC Performance Plus much quieter and generally smoother than the default version. Certainly, if we were to solely recommend one over the other based on the performance aspects, the belt drive version of the AC Performance Plus wins it.
What We Think (Conclusion)
Now that we have gone over just about every aspect of these bikes that we can think of, we’re going to give our opinion on these bikes. We’ll take into consideration all of the aspects and give our evaluation on just how much these bikes offer in terms of their value for money.
Let’s start with the IC series. These bikes are pretty good for beginner riders or for those who think that they will only occasionally use such equipment. Especially the IC2, which offers little more than the basic experience of riding a spin bike. The $300 cost of the IC2 is probably fair, as it offers a more stable and durable experience than many of the cheaper spin bikes out there, but still doesn’t offer the magnetic resistance that you’d want to see. It is a similar case with the IC3, which has a friction resistance system as well. The IC3 costs $200 more than the IC2 and that’s fairly justified. There are major (SPD-pedals vs toe-cage | RPM reading vs no RPM reading) and some minor differences between the two bikes, mostly in the form of the handlebar and seat adjustments, as well as the water bottle holders. As for whether or not all of those tiny additions are worth the hundred dollars, we’d say yes. If it were any more, it would be significantly less worth the upgrade.
The IC4 is where things start to get much closer to the quality expected of modern Schwinn bikes. It does come with an LED Bluetooth screen that synchs with most indoor cycling applications including the Zwift and Peloton. It has the desired magnetic resistance system and the belt drive that makes the experience so much smoother. It also comes with a host of different add-ons, like water bottle holders, dumbbells and holders for them, SPD-compatible pedals, and so on. The unfortunate side of this upgrade in quality is that it also hikes up the price by quite a bit in comparison with the previous two iterations. Featuring universal Bluetooth technology that sends data to all major cycling applications and coming in at $900, it becomes very easy to give this a recommendation. The quality of this bike also remains extremely high, so if you are determined to get a magnetic spin bike under $1000 that ticks many of the necessary boxes for what a modern indoor bike needs, then that $900 price might look like a bargain.
Now we get to the AC Performance Plus and it’s Carbon Blue upgrade. It’s truly hard to recommend these, despite their quality build. They are made from good material, have magnetic drives, and are highly adjustable. However, the fact that one of them costs $2,000 and comes without a belt drive is ridiculous. That’s not even mentioning the fact that neither of them comes with any sort of monitor. You can easily find other bike such as Nordictrack S15i and S22i that worth a similar amount and have a much higher value for money, simply because they have more features that are expected of a modern spin bike. It’s nice that they have longer warranties, but the AC Performance Plus bikes are a no-go. As for the AC Power, I would say it’s a good deal if it’s under $2500 and that’s only if direct watt reading, Smart Release flywheel, and Carbon drive are important for you. If those are something you don’t care, then I would say go for Nordictrack bikes or my favourite indoor bike, the Keiser M3i. It is designed AND made in the US and has been upgraded with an excellent backlit monitor seamlessly synchs with all major cycling applications including Peloton and Zwift.
That’s our comparison about this set of Schwinn bikes. Hopefully, we provided some in-depth points and gave some solid guidance on where you should look, regardless of whether you are looking to enter the world of indoor cycling or are an experienced veteran. As always, we recommend doing your own research along with our guide in order to find out which of these bikes (or other bikes) would truly fit you and your home.
I’m both enjoying and frustrated by this review. First: The IC series is fully documented in each section (until—out of the blue—you mention the existence of an IC8, which is bafflingly excluded from the review). The AC series includes Sport, Performance Plus, and Power models in the first section (and the Power model shows up as a good but), yet the remainder of the review mysteriously excludes all but the Performance Plus models, so there’s not a whisper more about the initially-recommended Power model.
Finally, and most frustrating to me, the Monitor section says the IC4 has one, yet the Conclusions section laments that it doesn’t have one. This post—which probably should have left out the AC reviews entirely in favor of including whatever the IC8 is—really needs editing. Im left more baffled than enlightened.
Sorry for the confusion, the power model was added recently to the tablet but didn’t have the chance to add it to the post. IC8 and IC4 are the same bike, they are named differently in the US and European markets (I will edit and mention that asap). As for the IC4 monitor, it’s an honest error. As you can see in the IC4 review, in several paragraphs we talk about the monitor and its features.