3 “Little” Things Most Buyers Don’t Think About – Until It’s Too Late


nordic track GX 5.0 Pro Recumbent CycleBuying a recumbent bike is a great decision – you’ll get a low impact, ultra-comfortable workout in the privacy of your own home.

But chances are that when you go to shop, you may be overwhelmed with choices. There are so many recumbent options out there these days it can be confusing.

That’s why you want to go with a good name, strong construction and high expert ratings (my personal favorite in this category is the Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro, for example).

However beyond these things, you also want to look at some of the little details that will contribute to your workout comfort. These are details that most buyers miss – until it’s too late. And they can make a major difference to your workout time.

So to save you that frustration, here are 3 of the “little things” to look for when you go shopping that most buyers usually miss:


#1 The Seat Back


nordictrack commercialvr siderailsSeats come in all shapes and sizes. You want a seat to be extremely comfortable – because the comfort of the seat is one of the main things that will determine how much you enjoy your workout (and how long you stay on the bike.)

You want to look for a seat that is well padded and offers lumbar support in the back.

Another thing to consider is the seat back material. Most recumbent bikes have a solid back. And some people like that.

However you’ll notice that some of the higher end bikes have mesh-back type seats that let air circulate through to your back as you cycle.

nordictrack commercial vr pro seat backThe advantage to this is that you stay cooler during your workouts.

So if you tend to sweat a lot during workouts, this is something you might want to consider getting on your bike.


#2 Footpedal Straps


livestrong 5.0 upright pedalsThis may seem obvious but surprisingly, many people miss it. A lot of cheaper bikes do not come with straps to anchor your feet to the pedals.

A cheap, poorly made bike without straps may cause your feet to slip off the pedals in the heat of the workout (especially since many cheaper bikes don’t have great ergonomics to begin with).

While straps aren’t essential – and you may be ok without them, if you’re planning to really pick up the pace, you’ll probably want them on.


#3 Backlit Console


schwinn airdyne consoleAgain, this is something that many people miss. Schwinn used to be famous for having non-backlit consoles (although their newer models are getting better).

People would get these bikes home, start to use them, and then complain they couldn’t read the workout stats on the consoles because it was too hard to see.

Make sure you buy a bike with a bright, backlit console. Even starter bikes (like the Proform 320 CX seen below) are now coming with backlit consoles so it really won’t cost you any extra to go with a backlit console.


proform 320 cx exercise bike console


So those are 3 things to make sure you consider when buying a recumbent bike. The good news is that there a lot of great, well made bikes out there. And unlike other equipment like treadmills or elliptical trainers, bikes don’t cost as much (plus there’s not as much that can go wrong!)

If you want to get started shopping online – check out the Where To Shop page with a list of online discount recumbent bike stores.



Pros and Cons of the Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro Recumbent Bike



The Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro recumbent bike is currently Nordic track’s premium recumbent model.

It’s fairly new (upgraded actually) for this year and fairly popular judging by how much Nordictrack is promoting it with sales and premium space on their website.

So how does it measure up? Is it a good buy?

Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons – along with how it compares to the very similar Nordictrack Commercial VR recumbent.



Price: $899 + Free Shipping

Resistance: 26 Levels

Built-In Workouts: 32

User Weight Capacity: 350 lbs

iPod Dock

Warranty: Lifetime Frame & Brake, 3 year parts, 1 year labor


nordictrack commercial vr pro console


Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro Review – Pros:


Resistance Controls on the Handrails

You can change your resistance from the side handrails (just above where the heart rate sensors are). This is super convenient because you don’t have to keep reaching up to the front console to change your resistance.


Padded Mesh-Back Style Seat For Cooler, More Comfortable Workouts

The seat on the VR Pro bike is made for extra comfort. It is molded with extra padding and offers lumbar support to support your lower back.

nordictrack commercial vr pro seat backIt’s a mesh-type back style which lets the air circulate in and around your back to keep you cooler when you’re working out.

Many people prefer a mesh back and you usually only get is with higher end bikes.

Plus, this is only a mesh-style, not fabric mesh, which is a plus. Why?

Because oftentimes, the mesh-fabric seats can get tight with use and eventually end up splitting (this has been a problem with the Livestrong 6.0 for example). Then you have to pay to replace the seat – which is a huge pain. However this seat is not made of fabric mesh but is all one piece, so chances are higher that you’re going to avoid that problem.



iFit is a one-of-a-kind fitness training feature that basically turns your bike into your own personal fitness entertainment studio. It gives you a lot of ways to reach new goals and fight exercise boredom.


ifit live

iFit basically connects your bike to the Internet. From there you can plot out new paths to cycle using Googlemaps or ride pre-planned routes as well.

You can also download new weight-loss workouts from Jillian Michaels where she coaches you through your workout through the built-in speakers. You can also track your fitness activity online to set new goals and see how far you’ve come. Basically there’s a lot you can do with iFit that you just can’t do with other bikes.


Wireless Heart Rate Monitor

heart rate monitorThe Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro comes with both a hand-grip heart rate sensor and a wireless heart rate monitor (included with the bike).

A lot of people prefer the wireless monitor because it’s more accurate and convenient (you don’t have to keep grasping the heart rate sensors).

And while many bikes today do come with the wireless tracking capability – they don’t include the wireless monitor itself – which you DO get with the Commercial VR Pro.



23 lb Flywheel For Super-Smooth Ride

Heavier flywheels tend to give you a smoother ride. And at this price point, this kind of flywheel is almost unheard of (most brands give you about 8 – 15 pound flywheels).

This helps to add to the smooth ride feel – especially when you are transitioning between resistance levels or slowing down. You don’t get that jump start-and-stop motion you sometimes get with cheaper bikes.

Plus the Commercial VR Pro is manufactured with a 3-piece crank system. This separates the spindle from the crank and creates a stronger, more durable bike that can take harder, longer workouts and hold up well in the long run



Extra-Large Backlit Console with Racetrack Display

This is one of the largest consoles at this price point. You can easily see your workout stats like  speed, time, distance, resistance, pulse and calories burned without having to squint at a tiny console window.

nordictrack commercial vr pro bike consoleNordictrack has some of the most sophisticated consoles at this price point with graphics, racetrack displays and quick, intuitive buttons (you don’t need a manual to figure out how to use them).



Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro Review – Cons


So what are the drawbacks to this bike? Well frankly, there’s not a lot.

You should be aware that in order to use the iFit LIVE, you have to purchase the iFit LIVE module (around $99 as of this writing). However if you get it at the Manufacturer’s site, they will include a free year subscription to iFit (around a $100 value).

ifit bikesSo it’s a great way to try it out first to see if you like it. You don’t have to have iFit to use this bike – you still get a whopping 32 workout programs and 26 resistance levels – which should keep you challenged for quite a while.

The other downside is that people get confused between the Nordictrack Commercial VR and the Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro (the one we’re talking about here is the Pro. Click here for a review of the Commercial VR).

What’s the difference? The VR Pro is really the next model up from the VR - but here’s a quick rundown of what the VR Pro gives you that the VR does not:



Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro vs Nordictrack Commercial VR


- Mesh back – you don’t get the upgraded mesh back seat with the Commercial VR bike

- Heavier Flywheel – 20 vs 23 lbs which is not a huge difference, it just gives you a smoother, more gym-like feel. They’re still both pretty good.

- Water Bottle Holder – Nordictrack listened to user complaints it seems and finally added a water bottle holder to the VR Pro – the VR model does not have one

- More Resistance Levels – 26 vs 24

- Step-Through Design makes it easier to get on the VR Pro vs the VR bike.

Overall the Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro has a nicer finish and sleeker look.


Nordictrack VR Pro:

nordictrack commercial vr pro recumbent bike review


Nordictrack VR:

nordictrack commercial vr exercise bike review


Bottom Line?

If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line recumbent bike without the top-of-the-line price tag, you’ll probably love the Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro. Compared to other bikes at this price point it’s really tough to beat because it just gives you so much.

It improves on a lot of the issues with other recumbent bikes out there - and gives you a very sleek “commercial” look to boot.

Bottom Line: One of the best new models this year.


How To Save

You can get the Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro by going direct through the Manufacturer and skipping the middleman. Plus they are also offering Free Shipping and you can get the iFit module with Free iFit deal all in one shot.

Click Here for More on the Nordictrack Commercial VR Pro Exercise Bike


nordictrack commercial vr pro recumbent bike review




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