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NordicTrack Commercial VR21 Review

Quick Summary

For anyone seeking comfortable biking with a low upfront cost, the NordicTrack Commercial VR21 is here. Pedal through an effective workout without hurting your sensitive joints or back. Recumbent exercise bikes like the NordicTrack Commercial VR21 let you burn calories, tone your lower body, and build cardiovascular endurance. Somehow, they do all with low impact and high comfort compared with upright stationary bikes.

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The VR21 is one of the cheapest recumbent bikes of 2017, just $699 on sale, but it provides a useful mix of power and workout programming. It’s also entertainment-friendly with a tablet shelf and iPod-compatible sound system. At just $699 on sale ($999 full price) the VR21 is the lowest-priced recumbent bike in NordicTrack’s three-member series. Key features are a high-backed mesh seat, a 23-pound resistance system, 32 workout apps and an iFit Coach Ready console. Read on to see if this is the best recumbent exercise bike for your budget.


Model NordicTrack
Commercial VR21

Our custom rating considers all of the bike's features, specs, warranties, and 100's of user & expert reviews, to save you time!

List Price

Suggested retail price, typically higher than the price you'll pay with our recommended retailers.

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The flywheel in an exercise bike is what creates resistance. You can choose the level of resistance to increase your workout intensity.

25 Levels
Resistance Type

The type of resistance shows what kind of flywheel is being used (if any), and its weight if the manufacturer provides it.

Balanced Flywheel

Type refers to the style of the ride: Recumbent bikes allow you to lay back, while Upright bikes are more like road bikes (lean forward).

Drive System

The bike's drive system is how your pedaling interacts with the rest of the bike (flywheel) to give you a good workout.

23 lb. Flywheel

It's important to choose an exercise bike that will last, and the material of the frame determines how durable the bike is.


The most important part for comfortability during your workout, the seat should be adjustable and have ample cushioning.

Adjustable w/ Lumbar Support

Pedals are the driving force for an exercise bike, and should be comfortable, adjustable, and easy to control without slipping.

Extra Wide Ergonomic

Bike Programs allow you to complete a workout with changing speeds and inclines, without changing anything manually.

Heart Rate

Heart Rate programs allow you to track how many times your heart is beating per minute (bpm), and some control the workout for you.

Pulse Grips & Wireless Chest Strap

Display refers to the screen you'll look at to monitor workouts. LED and LCD displays are similar to TV screens.

5" Backlit iFit Display
Max. Weight

Max. User Weight is the amount of weight, in pounds (lbs), that the bike can safely support, which can represent durability.

350 lbs

Dimensions are included to help you figure out if this treadmill will fit properly (Length x Width x Height and Height x Depth).

59" x 22.25" x 52"
Accessory Tray

Some bikes include an accessory tray for holding items such as water bottles, wallets, keys, or MP3 players like iPods.


Cooling Fans


Some exercise bikes can fold up and/or have wheels that make it easy to roll them around for convenience and to save space.


The warranty is a very important part of your investment. The longer the warranty, the longer you can get free/discounted repairs by the manufacturer.

Frame: Lifetime
Parts: 2 Years
Labor: 1 Year

Rating: 89.5%

Pros & Cons


  • Commercial steel frame.
  • Step Thru recumbent frame design (Easy on, easy off).
  • Low impact exercise.
  • Padded seat with airflow and back support.
  • 23-pound resistance system.
  • 25 resistance settings (Digitally controlled).
  • 32 workout apps.
  • Ready for iFit Coach (Shown on your mobile device).
  • iPod-compatible (Port and 2” speakers).
  • Wireless heart rate receiver (Chest strap sold separately).
  • Grip pulse sensors on handlebars.
  • Workout fan (AutoBreeze).
  • High weight capacity (350 pounds).
  • Low sale price ($599).
  • Two-year parts warranty.


  • Not the best match for advanced cyclists.
  • Not built for long-term durability.
  • NordicTrack’s customer service frequently gets negative reviews.

Full Review

The easy-to-ride Commercial VR21 debuted as the most affordable NordicTrack recumbent bike. It’s also one of NordicTrack’s cheapest solutions for cross-training that puts minimal pressure on your joints. With the VR21, you can expect to get a year or two of comfortable workouts for calorie burn, cardio strengthening, and toning the lower body. The bike is also useful for physical therapy after an injury. It has an effectively 23-pound flywheel and lets you alternate between 25 resistance settings.

With the Commercial VR21, NordicTrack provides a drive that’s heavy enough to be respectable, yet not so heavy that it dramatically affects the price. The same goes for the electronics: You won’t pay for a flashy console, but 32 workout apps are included (plus you can add your own tablet computer to run iFit Coach and other apps).

Workout Programs

Bike with the wisdom of a pro trainer’s knowledge. The VR21 has 32 workout apps designed by a certified personal trainer. Each app controls the bike’s pedal speed and resistance. For each session you can focus on a calorie goal, cardio endurance, or performance training.

The Commercial VR21 is also ready for iFit Coach. With an iFit Coach membership you can get ever-evolving coaching not only about biking, but for your fitness-related activities around the clock. iFit Coach also lets you download new customized programs every day, access a library of HD video workouts featuring celebrity personal trainers, and virtually ride outdoors along any Google Maps route. If Google Street View is available for your route, it will stream to your tablet computer as you ride.


Special features on NordicTrack bikes can bring extra motivation and enjoyment to your fitness regime. On the VR21 you’ll get an eye-level shelf for your tablet computer, allowing your computer to serve as an iFit Coach monitor and/or run your favorite mobile apps. For the extra push that only music provides, connect your MP3 player to the bike console. A set of 2” speakers with digital amplification lets you leave headphones or earbuds behind during your workout.

To help you train in your target heart rate zone, the VR21 has grip pulse sensors on the handlebars. For better accuracy you can wear a wireless chest strap. (Chest straps are sold separately from the VR21, but are included with the VR23.)

Other console features to note are a 5” data window with crisp display, an auto-adjusting fan, and a water bottle holder.

Warranty & Guarantee

The NordicTrack Commercial VR21 recumbent bike warranty includes:

– Frame: Lifetime
– Parts: 2 Years
– Labor: 1 Year

A 30-day money back guarantee is provided for factory-direct purchases.


At this low end of the price spectrum, shoppers shouldn’t expect very long-lasting exercise bikes. The price makes the NordicTrack Commercial VR21 mighty tempting though. This model provides comfortable seating and joint-friendly pedaling, features useful  workout apps, and can integrate iFit Coach. Owing to its so-so resistance system, the VR21 is most suitable for light and moderate intensity cardio training. To get a more powerful and durable bike, you’ll need to spend at least $999.

Rating: 89.5/100


  • Michael Tourigian July 17, 2020 at 11:35 am from NJ
    I just purchased a NordicTrack commercial VR21 and find that the lowest resistance level is still to hard for me. I am 80 in good health and don't know why this bike's resistance can't be lowered. I am familiar with recumbent bikes and cannot for the life of me understand why the resistance is so hard at level 1. I am waiting for a response from their technical department.
  • Gloria January 8, 2020 at 12:21 pm from Pennsylvania
    Just purchased the VR21 from you guys. My question is how do I work the apps? I have no idea on how to read the screen. I have no interest in the Ifit coach. Is the a manual I can view on line.
    • FitRated January 15, 2020 at 10:44 am
      Hi Gloria, here's a link to the manual:

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