Bowflex C6 Exercise Bike...Or Is It a Schwinn IC4?

by Jeff Whitfield on | 10 Comments

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Lady riding on a Bowflex C6 bike
Bowflex C6 Indoor Exercise Bike
Bowflex C6 Indoor Exercise Bike
Bowflex C6 Indoor Exercise Bike

When I read on Digital Trends about the release of the Bowflex C6 Indoor Exercise Bike, I definitely was interested in learning more about it. The bold claim is that it’s half the price of a Peloton bike with all the same features.

The base price of a Peloton Bike, what they call the Basic Package, runs $2,245...and that’s before you start paying $39/mo for their membership that gives you all their online classes and such. Not exactly cheap. Plus, based on what I understand, you can’t use any other software program except theirs. That means no Zwift, TrainerRoad, and such. You’re effectively locked into their ecosystem.

By comparison, a Bowflex C6 will set you back less than half that at $899 and even comes with weights. And, just like the Peloton, it comes with pedals that have built-in SPD functionality. It doesn't have an LCD screen so you'll have to use your own tablet or phone for any online connectivity. But the good thing about that is that there’s no lock-in. With Bluetooth connectivity you can hook up the C6 to just about any third-party service out there...even Peloton’s own service! Great deal, right?

But as I researched and compared the Bowflex C5 with the Peloton, I learned some things about them that I think most people should be aware of. They’re at least things that you should think about if you’re interested in a stationary bike.

For starters, Bowflex is owned by Nautilus who also owns a bike company called Schwinn. Ever heard of them? Of course you have. What’s interesting is that Schwinn also makes fitness products including stationary bikes. Take a look at this one:

Schwinn IC4 Indoor Cycling Bike

Does this one look familiar? It should because its essentially the exact same stationary bike as the Bowflex C6. Seems to me that the C6 is nothing more than a rebranded Schwinn IC4 Indoor Cycling Bike. As far as I can tell there isn’t any difference in the two. Plus, the Schwinn is a $100 cheaper. Being that it’s backed by Nautilus I can’t see support being any different either so, if you’re interested in the C6, you might consider just picking up the IC4 instead.

Here’s the thing though that I’ve learned about both the Peloton and the C6/IC4. If all you want is a simple stationary bike that can sort of mimic your own bike then they’re good. But they do take up room and you have to remember that they will not mimic road riding all that well. They weren’t designed for that. They’re designed more for simplicity, ease-of-use, and basic interval training.

Plus, all resistance levels are applied manually which complicates the ability to get accurate power level readings. You have to turn a knob to get different resistance levels while in mid-ride. This can be problem, especially if your goal is to get on Zwift, TrainerRoad, or some other training program where power levels are measured and need to be accurate for effective training rides.

That’s not to say that these bikes don’t serve a purpose. They do. But you have to think about what your goals are and make sure they fit them. Otherwise, you could end up buying something that doesn’t cut the mustard.

I learned that myself with wheel-on smart trainers. The experience I had with them wasn’t what I expected. As such, it was a bit of a let down.

If you want to get serious with your training and want the best experience with online training programs then you might be better off with a smart trainer like the Wahoo Kickr Core which is priced right at the same price as a Bowflex C6. The benefit of a smart trainer is that you get to use your own bike with controlled resistance that matches the training program you’re on. No knob to turn either. Instead, you just shift your gears to fit the effort and power needed.

But if all you need is something that allows you to do some interval training while still allowing for some online connectivity then a C6/IC4 might just be the ticket. It’s a bike that you can put in a corner and not have to setup each time. You don’t have to drag in your bike, take off the back wheel, and set it up on a trainer each time. If ease of use is what you’re after then a C6/IC4 is likely a good buy.

The C6/IC4 is pretty tempting for me. I do like the idea of a dedicated indoor bike with little hassle. But, at the same time, I like the idea of having more accurate power readings for the indoor rides I do. I’ll probably stick with a good smart trainer but, for recommendations sake, I’ll keep the C6/IC4 in the back of my mind.



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Comments
on

Great article! Found this while researching an indoor bike. I ride outside most of the year due to good weather where I live but borrowed a spin bike during the pandemic and now I realize how much I like the convenience of having one. Narrowed it down to these too which based on yours and a couple other articles are the same bike!

on

Yep, they are indeed the same bike! Glad to be of help! Thanks for reading! :)

on

Hi apologies need to cycling as have only had class experience in a gym. To clarify would I need to buy different pedals with both the ic4 and the c6 if i want to wear spin shoes? Thanks

on

No apology needed! Questions are always welcome! :D

Both models come with pedals that accept SPD cleats. So, if your spin shoes have that type of cleat on them then you're good to go. If not then you'd need to either switch out the cleats on your shoes or get a set of pedals that work for the type of cleats that you have (ie. SPD-SL, Look Delta, etc).

I guess it depends on whether you plan on using your spin shoes elsewhere and what type of cleat is required for it. Definitely would be a pain to have to keep switching cleats every time you turn around. If that's the case, getting a set of pedals that's compatible with the cleats you need isn't a huge investment. You can get a pretty decent set of pedals for around $50 or so.

on

Good info, thanks.

on

Good read. As an avid road cyclist I picked up the IC4 a few weeks ago. Objective was to give me an indoor option, as well as offer an indoor fitness option for my family. The spin bike is easily adjustable and fits this requirement easily. I swapped the pedals for power meter pedals and the experience on Zwift is excellent.

on

Thanks for the complement! Much appreciated! Glad to hear the IC4 is working out for you! Adding a pedal-based power meter is a smart move. No doubt that makes a big difference.

I opted for a more economical approach. Gave in and got a Wahoo KICKR Snap. It's a wheel-on trainer. Does mean more wear and tear to my bike. Not as convenient as having a dedicated indoor trainer but oh well! I'll likely go with something like an IC4 at a later date. :D

on

Hi Chris, was it easy to change and if you do not mind, where did you get your power meter pedals? I appreciate your input, thank you!

on

I can probably answer that. There’s a slew of options available. Here’s a good source for power meters:

https://powermetercity.com/product-category/shop-power-meters/pedal-power-meters/

The most common options are the Garmin and PowerTap pedals but it just depends on what you’re after.

And, yes, very easy to change out. The good news is that these bikes use standardized pedal screws so super easy to take the stock ones off and add new ones.

on

Thank you so much for the info Jeff :)