I had been wanting an inexpensive exercise bike with magnetic resistance since using the ones at the fitness center at work. I like the upright position since it simulates actual bicycle riding best, even though it is harder on the lower back and buttocks. Plus it saves more space than a recumbent bike.
The XP 70 looks to be a model that ProForm manufactures only for Sears, although it closely resembles the GL 35 or 36 models in style, function and price. It was on sale in the beginning of the year at Sears for $199.99 -- $50 off of the regular $249.99 price. I made the decision to buy it based on a few online reviews (including the other review here on epinions.com) that mentioned it was a great value for exercise bicycles costing under $1,000. The ProForm brand was recognizable and seemed to be pretty well recommended for most of their other home exercise equipment.
Upon unpacking and attempting to assemble it, we noticed that metal frame, where the rear stabilizer attaches to, was bent and twisted. It was surprising since it was a basically a metal box section about 1/8 thick; pretty difficult to bend in any fashion. Plus the shipping carton looked completely intact. We figured it probably happened during manufacture, as if it were dropped on the assembly line.
So we packed it up as best we could, returned it and got another one. It was a bit of a hassle, but thankfully, this next one was completely intact. Assembly is fairly easy, but definitely a two person affair as the instruction manual suggests. Care should be taken when installing the main upright piece into the base as the wiring for the console runs through it and could get pinched. Also, when attaching the console to the upright, be careful not to over-tighten the screws to the bracket or pinch the wiring at that end.
The bike seemed solidly constructed. The seat is easily adjusted by twisting the knob free of the threaded hole and pulling on it. The seat and post carry my 170 lbs without creaking or groaning. The handlebars feel nice and solid and can be leaned on, although the upright its attached to wobbles a tiny bit nothing serious. The console seemed to be the flimsiest part of the XP 70; definitely made of cheap plastic, and the book holder is best suited for magazines. No bottle or cup holder is included, which is a bit of a disappointment for those looking to have a long workout. So throw your squirt bottle on the book holder.
I was initially drawn to the XP 70 because of its advertised Silent Magnetic Resistance, ten levels of resistance, and built in exercise programs. I was disappointed with the range of the resistance, however. Level 1 is basically no added resistance beyond the initial weight of the flywheel. Going up to level 10 does increase the resistance somewhat, but not what I wouldve expected. The LifeFitness LifeCycle I used at work (similar to a LifeCycle 9500) had 12 levels of resistance, but I would max out at level 6. The equivalent effort at level 10 on the XP 70 felt like level 4 or 5 on the LifeCycle. This makes the built-in programs less than challenging. I can do the forty minute program without breaking a sweat. I also question the accuracy of the calorie counter. It had said I burned an amazing 500 calories in one session! Normally on the LifeCycle, itd take nearly an hour of continuous biking and hard breathing before Id even break 300 calories.
The Silent Magnetic Resistance feature is actually pretty good. I was very impressed with how quiet it is. You can comfortably watch television without turning up the volume at all while pedaling. When changing resistance, the XP 70 whirs a little bit without interrupting your workout. Pedal action is very smooth as well; theres no binding anywhere. The bike doesnt wobble at all ever during vigorous pedaling. Although it definitely helps to put a mat underneath it.
The console display is easy to read and it cycles through calories burned, carbs used, pace, time elapsed, RPM, and pulse (when gripping the metal contacts). And it has a target RPM indicator to tell you how fast you should be pedaling, which is a nice feature. Initially, the LCD display was crisp on the blue background, but some of the elements of the LCD have gotten faint, as if it were running low on batteries, while other remained easy to read. Viewing it at an angle helps. The console did freak out on me one day, where I had to press the power button to reset it.
Even though the resistance, to me, is weak, the programs are pretty good in varying the resistance and pace. I tried the Pulse Programs where it measures your pulse to determine the resistance and pace, but it didnt seem to vary as much as the built in programs, so I stopped using that feature. Havent had the opportunity nor inclination to use the iFit.com feature.
The best compromise for me was to vary the resistance manually during a built-in program every minute or so, going from level 1 to 10, back to 2, then back up to 10, and so on. After forty minutes or so, it was a pretty decent workout.
So, Ive had the XP 70 for about three weeks now. I was fairly content with it until it began sounding like the belt that connects the pedal crank/pulley to the flywheel was rubbing on something inside the base. The added bonus was that it increased the resistance overall! Sweet irony! The thing sounds like its going to fly apart if I try and pedal it. I am now in the midst of trying to get it repaired under warranty.
For the price I paid, it wouldnt be too bad if only it would remain in operable condition. Considering I had to return the first one and now the second one is needing repair, Im not really at all happy with the XP 70. Barring that, the frame and all the hard parts seem very solid and willing to put up with years of abuse. The console is feature packed, but flimsy and the electronics a bit flakey. The resistance is abnormally low and the calorie counter/carbs burned readout is wildly optimistic. Its very misleading for someone with weight loss goals. The built in programs are a good mix, if only the resistance was upped.
For the person who is seriously into fitness, I wouldnt recommend the XP 70. Even for someone whos not a fitness freak, but wanting to use it more than occasionally, Id say look elsewhere. I dont want to return it now because I tossed the shipping carton, and will get charged a 15% restocking fee. I might sell it, though. If you do decide to purchase the XP 70, keep the shipping carton for a while. You may want to return it.
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