NordicTrack's S22i Studio Cycle provides a guided training session — and mini vacation — every time I work out
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- NordicTrack’s S22i is a top-of-the-line stationary bike that offers interactive workouts via iFit.
- Its 22-inch HD screen streams the workouts, which take place both in-studio and around the world.
- The bike features automatically adjusting resistance which changes according to the ride you choose.
Its latest, the NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle, is the company’s flagship. A modern at-home bike offering a suite of streaming workouts and a high-quality ride, the S22i Studio Cycle imagines the at-home spin class differently than industry competitors like Peloton. There are still plenty of coaches powering you through on-demand workouts, but there’s also a more at-your-own-pace selection of rides, as well.
To get a true sense of how it’s attempting to distance itself from the pack, I took the Studio Cycle for an at-home spin. Not only did I enjoy the high-quality ride it delivered but I was constantly drawn back to the digital rides it offers in locales around the globe. Because, who wouldn’t want to instantly transport to a sunny, tropical setting, right in the comfort of their own home?
Though this sounds like some cheesy, too-good-to-be-true infomercial, it’s exactly the experience the NordicTrack S22i delivered. And though it’s a steep initial investment at $1,999, I think it’s well worth the price. Here’s why.
What you get
The bike arrives at your door ready to be assembled and you can either put it together yourself or have an expert do the work for you for an extra $89.
The instructions were fairly easy to understand, and the assembly only takes roughly an hour or two. It’s doable with one person, although two does make it easier — especially since the bike itself weighs around 200 pounds.
The iFit experience
What truly sets this NordicTrack bike apart is that it comes with a complimentary one-year subscription to iFit, a fitness streaming service that offers more than 1,500 on-demand workouts to choose from. After the first year, there’s a $15-per-month subscription fee. If you find yourself using it often, it’s well worth the expenditure.
The iFit streaming service is impressive, too, for several reasons. First, if you find the thought of cycling to nowhere in a small room with a bunch of sweaty people torturous, iFit’s global workouts will be a breath of fresh air — literally. There’s an extensive library of workouts filmed all around the world, from Austria to Australia.
Don’t worry about them looking like Google Maps-style workouts, either (although iFit does have those, too). The global workouts are incredibly high-quality, filmed by iFit staffers whose sole job is to travel the world following both professional athletes and certified trainers with a camera — talk about a dream job.
What this means is that iFit lets you trail world-class athletes as they ride on the famous Slick Rock trails of Moab, Utah, or through the winding streets of San Francisco. They also go international, with rides in the Swiss Alps, along the beaches in Thailand, and through the streets of Rome. The levels vary from beginner rides to more intense trails for experienced cyclists. Plus, iFit regularly adds new videos to their library, so there’s always something new.
The trainers are also friendly and motivating, offering technical tips, encouraging words, and even snippets about their personal lives as you ride. On one ride I did, the trainer shared sage advice about the importance of rest in between workouts, explaining that stress plus rest equals growth. I also appreciated that they tell you exactly where your cadence should be, so there’s no guesswork as to whether you’re pacing properly.
Your bike even automatically adjusts the resistance according to the trainer’s cues and the actual terrain, so there’s no need to mess with the knob yourself. Of course, if you don’t want to go as hard as they suggest (or want to go harder) you can make adjustments yourself by overriding the trainer’s instructions.
While you’ll get plenty of cardio on the bike, iFit also makes it easy to achieve a full-body workout with cross-training sessions such as yoga classes and total-body strength training. Some classes even take you on and off the bike for a HIIT-style workout. The 22-inch screen swivels 360 degrees, allowing you to still see the trainer from your mat.
The overall goal of iFit, whether you’re biking up Mt. Fuji or doing one of its in-studio classes, is to push you to hit certain goals. Most classes are set up in a series of workouts that hope to accomplish a few different things. The first, of course, is to make it through the series. Along the way, however, the series challenges the rider to progress every aspect of their riding ability. Speed, stamina, power, all of it. The iFit dashboard does well to present your weekly stats, too, so you can see that progress in action.
A few extra perks
The NordicTrack bike provides lots of easy-to-view tracking metrics, including heart rate, elevation, intensity, and more. There’s also a new leaderboard option you can toggle on or off which shows how your ride stacks up against other riders.
The bike also comes with two three-pound weights, a fully adjustable seat and handlebars, an ergonomic saddle, and a built-in fan. Each of the add-ons improves its overall value and helps make it a well-rounded at-home workout option that’s more than just a stationary bike.
I did experience a bit of wobbling from the screen but I didn’t find it to be too bothersome. Some people may miss the high-octane nature of competitors like Peloton but I prefer not to be yelled at by an instructor and go at my own pace. Plus, iFit has recently released a leaderboard element, so you can see how your stats stack up against others who have ridden the same trail.
It’s also unfortunate you aren’t able to change the background music. You can, however, adjust the volume on the music and the trainer’s voice separately, so you could turn it down if you hated it and just stream your own elsewhere.
Should you buy it?
Yes. If you can afford the initial investment (and recurring iFit subscription after the included one-year free trial), then NordicTrack’s S22i is a great at-home workout option. The diversity of its workouts mixed with the deep well of content offered by iFit give it plenty of reusability, making it an attractive option as your go-to daily workout routine.
What are your alternatives?
Any conversation about at-home stationary bikes has to include Peloton and for good reason. Peloton’s bike costs slightly more money than NordicTrack’s S22i and also has a slightly different approach to its workouts. Instead of iFit’s location-based rides, Peloton offers a wide range of instructor-led workouts conducted in one of its workout studios.
The bottom line
The NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle is a top-of-the-line stationary bike that offers fantastic features for at-home exercisers through iFit. The rotating 22-inch HD screen streams on-demand, trainer-led workouts that take place both in-studio and in stunning locales around the world.
Overall, this is a top-of-the-line bike for your home that’s both incredibly well made and brilliantly designed. The iFit subscription brings a ton of interesting and interactive workouts, both in-studio and around the world, ensuring you’ll never get bored cycling solo. Finally, the top-notch trainers and automatic adjustments make it a pleasant riding experience.
Pros: Bike automatically adjusts resistance based on terrain and instructor cues, iFit library offers a deep well of diverse riding content, 22-inch HD screen swivels to allow for workouts off the bike, and the package comes with two three-pound weights
Cons: Expensive at $1,999 and the screen can be wobbly at times
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