Pros: Lots of programs, smooth and quiet, high maximum user weight.
Cons: Cheap accessory tray and in an awkward place, expensive.
My moms condo has a new, large fitness room with a lot of new equipment. I reviewed the R1-5 Lifecycle Exercise Bike by Life Fitness. I am now reviewing the Life Fitness R91 Recumbent Lifecycle Exercise Bike and will be comparing the two. For starters the R9i is a more sophisticated bike and at $3,000 is almost $2000 more. Is there $2000 more of bike to justify this expense?
Why I would buy a recumbent:
If you are new to stationary bikes you may wonder what a recumbent bike is and why I would use it over an upright bike. I use both types. Which one I choose really has more to do with how hard I want to work. I find I dont work as hard on a recumbent bike. It is more comfortable on my back because it has a seat with a back. If my back is bothering me a bit from my workout the day before, then I might choose the recumbent. Or perhaps I am in the middle of a book that I cannot put down and just want an easy workout then I will want to ride casually and read. I find this easier to do on a recumbent bike.
About the R9i:
I am a personal trainer so I have more than a casual interest in fitness equipment. There are a lot of aspects of a machine that I pay attention to. On a bike one of the first things I look at is the seat. I havent found a bike seat that has been super comfortable. The seat on the R9i is significantly more comfortable than that on the R1-5. Both the seat and the back are contoured and the back is high. Life Fitness makes other bikes with superb seats. I cant call the R9i seat superb but it is good.
The seat is easy to adjust. In fact it adjusts exactly like the R1-5 adjusts. There is a handle on the side of the bike. The seat slid easily on the frame. I made sure that there was a slight bend in my knees when fully outstretched on the pedals. I found an amazing 34 seat adjustments on the R9i. This will accommodate taller people.
The pedals have the usual adjustable straps in which I put my feet. The strap has a spring loaded clip connected to the outer edge of the pedal. All I had to do to make it tighter was pull the strap and each time I pulled it locked into place. However the pedals seemed slightly wider than what I am used to which leads me to believe that in general this is a good bike for larger people.
The R9i has two sets of handles. One set was right in front of me. They were padded and comfortable.
Rather than the plastic water bottle holder I found on the R1-5 which was mounted on the front the tray on the R9i has two water bottle/cell phone/key holders. They arent integrated into the machine though so this feature is not as durable as integrated holders. In addition they are on one side of the bike making using the holders awkward. The bike has a magazine rack on the console. There are also a set of handles on the sides of the bike. This is where I found the heart rate sensors Along with these traditional heart rate sensors the R9i also comes with a wireless heart rate monitoring system which comes with a chest strap. This helped keep me in my heart rate zone. Remember maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age.
About the bike:
The bike sits on two long horizontal poles which make it really stable. I like the quality of Life Fitness machines. This bike is marketed for home use rather than commercial use. It seemed to be holding up to its use in a fitness room in a condo. It was there for about eight months according to my mom. I was there in April before the fitness room had been moved to its much larger space.
The console showed my time, distance, speed, resistance level, calories, heart rate and calories burned. The numbers were large and easy to read. The R1-5 showed me five of the seven readouts. There are four more resistance levels on the R9i. It gave me 20 rather than 16. I think that 16 is more than enough for most people.
The console on the R9i is much nicer on this machine than on the R1-5. It is bigger and has more features. The matrix that showed me a graph of my workout is 7 x 15 LED rather than the 8 x 8 of the R1-5. In addition a graph showed me what each program looked like. For example if I chose hill I could see in graph form the ups and downs that I would be riding.
There are 19 workouts on the R91 rather than 6. That is an amazing number of choices. For those who work out on a bike a lot or get bored with just a few programs this bike is for you. I found the most unusual programs Ive ever seen. In addition to the usual manual mode which allowed me to change the resistance level whenever I wanted there was hill, random, a sport training group of programs, a series of heart rate workouts and more.
Lets use it:
Both machines work the same. I chose a program and started pedaling. After I chose hill I then hit enter and chose how long I wanted to ride. Using the up and down arrows I put in that time. I then could select the level of resistance. This may have been the smoothest and quietest recumbent bike on which Ive been.
The bike is 54 inches long by 26 inches wide by 51 inches high. It is shorter than and not as long as the R1-5. It only weighs a few pounds more than the R1-5 but the maximum user weight is 400 pounds rather than 300 pounds which brings me back to the beginning of the review when I told you that I felt this bike would be best for a larger person.
There is a lifetime warranty on the frame; 3-years on the parts and year on labor.
Your Personal Trainers Thoughts:
I rated the R1-5 3 stars and recommended it. I am going with 4 stars on the R9i. The multitude of programs amazed me. The smoothness of the ride was terrific and the significantly higher maximum weight number means that it will be geared to a market that is too heavy for the R1-5. If I had $3000 I would certainly without hesitation buy the R9i. However I dont need all the functions since I work out on many cardio vascular machines and weight 130 pounds. However if you are using this in your home and are a larger person you really might want to think about this great bike by Life Fitness.
I hope this helped you make a decision but please feel free to leave me a comment or question.
All my fitness equipment reviews can be found here. Thanks for reading.
Life Fitness R1-5 Lifecycle Recumbent • ProForm Cardio Trainer C 55 Recumbent Bike • Life Fitness LifeCycle 9500 Upright • Star Trac Recumbent Bike • Star Trac Spinner Elite Bike • Star Trac Pro Recumbent Bike 6430 • Schwinn Airdyne Bike • Precor C846 Recumbent