The new Bowflex C6 Bike came as a bit of a surprise from the brand, as they’ve long shied away from the segment. That said, good things come to those who wait, and the C6 Bike makes a compelling case as an affordable alternative to Peloton and other live and/or streaming training bikes on the market. Priced at a very modest $999 plus six months of the Bowflex JRNY Fitness App, the focus here was to build a sturdy indoor cycle capable of linking up to other streaming services, and in that respect they’ve executed perfectly. The Bowflex C6 Bike isn’t without its shortcomings, but depending on your needs/requirements, it’s still an option that’s worth a second look.
|Seat||Padded Road Bike Style, Adjustable|
|Pedals||Dual-sided — Toe Cages and SPD Clips|
|Programs||Multiple streaming options available|
|Heart Rate||Bluetooth Armband Sensor|
|Max. Weight||330 lbs|
|Dimensions||48.7" x 21.2" x 51.8"|
|Warranty||Frame: 10 Years|
Parts/Electronics: 3 Years
Labor: 1 Year
Rating: 85.0/100. There was a lot to take into consideration when evaluating the Bowflex C6 Bike. On one hand you have a sturdy-framed bike with good ergonomics, ample adjustability, and fitted with the usual level of niceties (thoughtful placement of water bottle and weight holders, standard toe clip pedals, smooth and quiet magnetic resistance, etc). On the other, this sort of setup isn’t without its flaws. The biggest consideration will be your tablet/iPad situation at home, as well as the Wifi quality in your workout space. Without a tablet and good Wifi you’re losing out on the biggest benefits that come as part of the Bowflex C6 Bike, but if you’ve been looking at this bike, odds are you’ve already taken that into consideration.
- Compatible with Peloton, Zwift, and several other training apps
- Purchase comes with six months of the Bowflex JRNY Fitness App free, normally priced at $19.99/month or $149/year
- Quiet magnetic flywheel system and 40 lbs flywheel
- Bluetooth armband heart rate monitor included
- Cadence tracking by way of pedal cadence sensors
- Adjustable padded saddle with universal stem
- Caged pedals; also compatible with road bike pedals
- 4-way adjustable handlebars/seat: riders at any height can find their right fit (adjustable up, down, front, and back)
- With a bike weight of 112 lbs and transport wheels the unit is to move about the home
- Set of three-pound dumbbells for upper-body exercise
- Two water bottle holders
- 330-pound user weight capacity
- Transport wheels
- Monthly carrying costs of streaming training services as most apps have a fee
- Plenty of competition in the category
- Tablet holder isn’t adjustable: some tablets may not fit if it’s in a protective case or cover
- The bike brings no built-in programs
- Users have to manually adjust resistance as opposed to automated alternatives
- The bike has a relatively small backlit LCD screen and Bowflex recommends no larger than 13″ devices be affixed
After a long wait, Bowflex has jumped into the ring as one of the affordable indoor cycles that leverage the popularity of Peloton and other programs. It’s one of the contenders in our recent “Peloton Alternatives” list, and for good reason. The C6 Bike can currently link up to a dozen different fitness apps, including both Peloton and Zwift—two of the market’s best rated streaming training apps you can download these days. While both Echelon and Horizon Fitness also have competitors in this space priced very close to the C6 Bike, so far it seems Bowflex is the candidate with the most diversity in terms of training options. That said, if you’re looking for something a little more closely aligned to the Peloton model for the same price as the C6, the new MYX Fitness bike has rapidly become our favorite (read the full review of the MYX Fitness Bike here).
While it doesn’t have its own built-in HD touchscreen, this bike is purely designed to work with a host of fitness apps that provide streaming training programming. Peloton, Zwift, FulGaz, Sufferfest, and many others will work well with the C6, meaning the world is your oyster when it comes to training diversity. Unlike the Stryde Bike, which we recently mentioned is capable of running the Zwift app so long as you use a set of speed and cadence sensors, the C6 will provide that data directly from the bike into the app. As an added bonus, the machine comes with six months of the Bowflex JRNY Fitness App for free.
Read the Zwift App Review Here
Read the Peloton App Review Here
Most of these apps offer free trials, and it won’t take long before you narrow things down to the line of training that works for you. Some will log you into a leaderboard and allow you to compete against fellow fitness enthusiasts. Others (FulGaz and Sufferfest in particular) will lead you on open-road routes, and provide useful metrics related to your performance that will help you track your progress. Thanks to the included Bluetooth armband heart rate monitor, the data captured will be more accurate than what’s typically seen from contact grip heart rate monitoring. The feature of “Explore the world” has been added into the JRNY app (50+ stunning virtual destinations users can explore).
Bowflex C6 Bike Features
At the end of the day the C6 bike isn’t particularly “feature rich” in many respects, as it lets its connection to technology do all the heavy lifting. At a basic level, we have easily adjustable ergonomics, which make a significant difference when trying to find the correct riding position. This is fairly standard across the market these days. The bike comes with a pair of 3lb weights for those occasional workouts that require them, and they’re quite thoughtfully positioned just below the handlebars. This setup is much more practical than the tail mounting we’ve seen from other manufacturers over the years. Another unique feature with this bike is that of cadence tracking, made possible by way of cadence sensors in the pedals which transmit RPM and other metrics to the console.
Featuring 100 levels of magnetic resistance, the bike’s ride is not only smooth but nearly silent. One of the reasons magnetic resistance has become all the rage in recent years is the improved manner in which resistance changes as magnets slide across the heavy 40lbs flywheel in silence. Whereas even the heaviest of friction-based systems causes some whirring, this bike can be used in the same room as a sleeping person. Also, do note, this 40lbs flywheel is a full 10 lbs heavier than the competing Peloton or NordicTrack products. The heavy-duty flywheel, which produces a smoother rotation than lighter counterparts, added to the magnetic system, makes for a great ride for sure.
Though very basic overall, the LCD backlit console on the C6 Bike provides all of the information you’ll need for your workout, and frankly some people might prefer a smaller screen. The list of metrics includes rpm, time, speed, calories, distance, resistance level, and pulse. The brand was also rather thoughtful when it came to pedal design. On one side, SPD clips are fitted for those with cycling shoes, and on the other, conventional toe cages are fitted if you’d rather ride in sneakers.
- What size of a device can the Bowflex C6 bike media shelf support?
The manufacturer recommends that devices 13″ or smaller be used. The rack opens at 3/4″ and tapers down to 5/8″ near the base with a 1/16″ pad on the bottom
- Can users pedal backwards on a Bowflex C6 bike?
Yes, and for some workout routines this becomes important.
- Does the Bowflex C6 have to be plugged in to use it?
The bike’s flywheel and magnetic resistance will work without power, but for the console to display metrics, or to utilize any apps, it must be plugged into a power source.
- Does the Bowflex C6 bike have any built-in programs?
No, but the bike is designed to work a number of different apps.
- Is the Bowflex C6 bike the same as the Schwinn IC4?
They share a parent company, that being Nautilus. Mechanically speaking the two bikes are very similar.
Warranty & Guarantee
The standard warranty for the Bowflex C6 Bike is pretty respectable, especially considering higher spec bikes like the Peloton and Flywheel bikes have shamefully short 1-year warranties for bikes that cost more than twice as much. The coverage offered on the C6 Bike is as follows:
– Frame: 10 years
– Parts and Electronics: 3 years
– Labor: 1 year
Extended warranties can be purchased along with the bike or after receipt. Though there are extended warranties available, given how basic this bike is we suspect you’ll be just fine with the standard offering. This is one benefit of running an exercise bike that’s low on built-in tech—there’s less on it to malfunction or fail.
For a first step into the indoor cycle market, the Bowflex C6 Bike is a solid start. Its programming agnostic approach makes it a much more versatile bike than those from Echelon, NordicTrack, and others, and we suspect many riders will appreciate the open-access element. If you just want to get on your new bike and ride, then going for one of the indoor cycles out there that don’t force you to research the different training apps/options (this is where Nordictrack flourishes). Again, there’s the monthly membership costs, Wifi situation, and access/ownership of an iPad or Tablet to consider before buying the C6 Bike, but realistically this is the direction the market is moving in across the board, and unlike the big built-in display bikes out there, the C6 also gives you the option to get on and ride when you don’t feel like fussing with technology. The Peloton and NordicTrack S22i will physically work without the display/programming as well, but I can’t see anyone wanting to pedal away while staring at a blank screen.