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  • The Bowflex VeloCore Bike is a unique stationary bike that adds an exciting new twist to the workout experience.
  • In addition to all the features one might expect from a premium exercise bike, the VeloCore has a special “Leaning Mode” that’s unlike anything you’ve used before.
  • We tested the VeloCore to see if the high-end bike’s new design is just a gimmick, or if it truly lives up to the hype.

The additions of displays and internet connectivity completely changed the game for home workout gear. From stationary bikes and rowers to treadmills and more, everything is better when it’s interactive. There’s certainly nothing wrong with pedaling leisurely in place while you watch TV or read a book. But by adding an interactive element to your home workouts, you’re inevitably pushed to work harder and burn more calories. Whether you’re in a gym, outside on real roads and trails, or at home with equipment that supports interactive virtual workouts, you can’t help but feel extra motivation when a trainer is driving you to dig deeper and push harder.

At this point, there’s nothing new about a display on a stationary bike. Peloton might’ve popularized the design, but every major home gym equipment company now offers stationary bikes with nice big displays. Now, there’s one new exercise bike that has something the rest do not, and I recently put the exciting Bowflex VeloCore Bike to the test.

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Before we get to what sets the VeloCore Bike apart, let’s get something important out of the way: This Bowflex stationary bike does it all.

If you were worried that the VeloCore might be a one-trick pony, I can assure you that’s not the case at all. This is, first and foremost, a high-end exercise bike that packs all the functionality and premium features you might be looking for. The bike itself is exceptionally well-constructed, offering a smooth, comfortable ride and 100 different levels of magnetic resistance. Whether you’re just looking to get your heart rate up for 45 minutes or you’re training for the race of your life, this stationary bike has you covered. It’s also worth noting that everything you could possibly want to adjust is indeed adjustable.

The focal point while you’re riding is the display, and there are two different sizes to choose from. The entry-level model features a 16-inch high-definition touchscreen display and costs $1,699 on the Bowflex website. The pricier $2,199 model comes with a gorgeous 22-inch touchscreen. The upgrade almost doubles the VeloCore’s display real estate, but $500 is a bit pricey when you consider how inexpensive display panels are.

Another feature I love about the VeloCore Bike is the fact that you’re not locked into the built-in workout experience on the display, as is the case with some home gym gear like the otherwise-awesome NordicTrack RW900 Rower I reviewed not too long ago. If you want to stream the next episode of your favorite TV series instead of following a trainer or winding your way through one of 25 virtual destinations, you’ll find support for top streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+.

Image source: Nautilus, Inc

Beyond the screens themselves, the two VeloCore Bike models are identical. You get the same frame, the same hardware, and all the same accessories, including 3 lb dumbells and a Bluetooth armband that monitors your heart rate. You also get a free 2-month trial to JRNY, which is Bowflex’s digital experience that combines adaptive workouts, interactive virtual destinations, trainer-led videos, virtual coaching, fitness assessments, and more. JRNY does not include live classes like Peloton, which is by design according to the Bowflex site.

“All those fancy live classes and leaderboards can trigger your motivation for a couple weeks,” Bowflex’s website says. “But once the honeymoon’s over, most machines (especially the cultish status symbol ones) tend to fairy-godmother themselves into avant-garde clothing racks.”

The site continues, “The JRNY experience creates custom workouts for every bod, personalized and tailor-made to measure. It’s adaptive and addictive. Keeping you on track for an insanely long time. And it’s all available from your touchscreen or smart device with a JRNY Membership.”

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of live remote classes and prefer privacy when I exercise at home. But if you find that “fancy live classes and leaderboards” motivate you more than virtual trainers, this could be a deal-breaker for you. Of course, this Bowflex bike also has a tablet mount, so you could always fire up the Peloton app on your iPad or Android tablet and still have access to the VeloCore’s signature feature.

That’s right, I’m talking about “Leaning Mode.” Let’s take a quick look:

For those who might be unfamiliar with this model, the Bowflex VeloCore Bike has a special Leaning Mode that does exactly what it says. Hit the center-mounted button to unlock the bike and you can lean from side to side as you pedal. The result is a far more immersive experience than you would ever enjoy on another bike — it’s so awesome to be able to lean into turns as you virtually pedal your way down winding mountain roads. You also get a better workout since you introduce your core, arms, and shoulders into the exercise.

Those wondering about the feel of Leaning Mode will be pleasantly surprised if and when you try it. The ride on this bike is incredibly smooth, which came as no surprise to me since I’m familiar with the Bowflex C6 Bike. With Leaning Mode engaged, the bike still feels wonderfully sturdy and secure. At no point did I feel like I might topple over.

Where downsides are concerned, there really isn’t much to speak of. I’ve seen some people mention having to pay for a JRNY subscription to get most of the VeloCore’s on-screen features as a strike against this model, but I disagree. First of all, this is standard across the industry: you have to pay to play. Second, I think Bowflex’s JRNY subscription is quite reasonable at $19.99 per month or just $12.42 per month if you buy an annual subscription ($149).

For me, the only real downside is the VeloCore’s warranty. The design and construction are top-notch, as I mentioned, but Bowflex only offers a 2-year warranty on the hardware and electronics, and a 1-year warranty on labor. The much less expensive Bowflex C6 Bike includes a 10-year warranty on the frame with 3 years of coverage on the electronics and 1 year of labor.

PROS

  • Leaning Mode
  • Delightfully smooth ride
  • Whisper-quiet operation
  • Everything is adjustable
  • Big, beautiful touchscreen display
  • Feature-rich JRNY subscription
  • Ability to stream Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Disney+
  • Included Bluetooth armband to monitor heart rate
  • Compatible with standard bike seats and road bike pedals

CONS

  • Larger display option costs an extra $500
  • Warranty
Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.