I wonder what the future holds for traditional fitness gyms. With connected fitness equipment, many are opting to work out at home. The time commuting to the gym and back is replaced by a home workout. Could this be the missing puzzle in helping you reach your fitness and weight loss goals?
I’m reviewing the Bowflex 22 VeloCore exercise bike. This is a connected spin bike with a built-in 22-inch console, personalized workouts, and access to streaming services like Netflix. It also has Lean Mode, a feature not seen in other spin bikes. If you want to lose weight while watching your favourite shows, this review is for you.
Notable specs of the Bowflex 22 VeloCore
- 100 Silent Magnetic Resistance levels
- 22-inch console for workouts, coaching, and streaming entertainment
- Includes a set of 3-pound dumbbells and wrist heart rate monitor
- Compatible with third-party apps like Peloton or Zwift from your smartphone or tablet
Design of the Bowflex 22 VeloCore
The Bowflex 22 VeloCore sports a familiar colour combination with a matte black frame and red accents. Compared to other spin bikes I’ve reviewed, it sits wider and lower. The dimensions are approximately 60”x24”x55” (LWH). You’ll need additional space on either side for Lean Mode. This allows you to lean the bike left and right like a real bike. More about that a little later.
The VeloCore comes with dual-sided pedals. One side has an adjustable toe cage for regular shoes. The other side is made for Shimano SPD clips. This makes it suitable for casual riders like myself, or the serious spin class veteran.
The overall frame is sturdy and can accommodate a max user weight of 325 lbs. The seat, handlebars, and screen can be adjusted to accommodate a variety of heights and preferences. The resistance level is adjusted by the resistance knob under the handlebars. There are two small wheels located in the front, and the back features a handle. This makes it easy to move, as the bike weighs a staggering 158lbs.
The VeloCore bike has a variety of storage compartments. It has two water bottle holders, smartphone storage under the handlebars, a media rack, and dumbbell storage under the screen. It comes with a pair of 3lb dumbbells and a wrist heart rate monitor.
JRNY Membership with the Bowflex 22 VeloCore
The 22-inch console is where you see all your ride metrics. This includes time, distance, cadence, heart rate, resistance etc. With a JRNY membership, users get access to adaptive workouts, scenic destinations, virtual coaching, and trainer-led videos. Missing are live classes. That means no leaderboards to climb against other riders.
User can use their smartphone or tablet and connect the VeloCore bike to third-party apps like Peloton. The bike cadence will sync up to the app but users will not be included in the live leaderboard. Again, if you want a leaderboard, this bike is not for you.
What the JRNY membership does offer is entertainment options. Popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ can be played on the large 22-inch console. Surprisingly, this is the first spin bike where I’ve seen this feature. I can’t think of a more anti-leaderboard feature than this. However, this will definitely appeal to a lot of people. More on that later.
Another great membership feature is picking your own riding music. BowFlex radio is a built-in streaming service with playlists organized by genre. Built-in speakers are located under the screen and volume can be adjusted on-screen, or by buttons located on the back.
Using the Bowflex 22 VeloCore
I went to the Best Buy headquarters to review the Bowflex 22 VeloCore. Before setting up an account, I adjusted the bike to suit my size and riding preference. Everything from the seat, handlebars, and console screen can be adjusted. Once that was done, I connected it to the Wifi network and created an account.
To provide adaptive workouts, the Velocore bike requested a 14-minute fitness assessment. During this test, it asked me to stay within a certain zone of effort. Once completed, it gave me a fitness summary. I then toggled through the console interface to try out the different features.
To get the most out of this bike, you need a JRNY membership. Everything from the scenic destination rides, Netflix streaming, to music requires a JRNY membership. It costs $200 a year or $30 per month. I tried to set up a membership but it doesn’t happen instantaneously. It can take about an hour for the whole process to go through. Therefore I was unable to get access to it for this review. Trust me, we tried.
Lean Mode on the Bowflex 22 VeloCore
The one feature that I really wanted to test was Lean Mode. If someone is going to buy this bike over another, it’s likely for this feature. Users can use the VeloCore locked upright, or push the locking knob down to enable lean mode at any time. The fact that you can enable or disable it on the fly is awesome.
For me, Lean Mode made stationary spin biking more enjoyable. With access to scenic bike rides on the 22-inch console, the big question is this. Does Lean Mode simulate riding a real bike?
The short answer is kind of. One of the reasons I never got into spin bikes is I get bored. Being able to sway left and right reminded me of biking as a kid. That said, it’s not the same experience as a real bike. The leans seem overexaggerated, especially when you ride off the seat. Lean mode and uphill climbing don’t go together, at all. I tried, it’s not possible. That said, I still prefer lean mode over stationary riding.
Who is the Bowflex 22 VelocCore for?
I’m not a spin biker per se, but I’ve reviewed connected spin bikes before. Compared to the competition, the VeloCore is different. That’s a good thing because it gives consumers choice.
If you’re not into live classes and leaderboards but love spin bikes, check this bike out. With adaptive workouts, it’s just you and the bike. You can track your progress and build towards your fitness goals individually.
This is also a great choice for someone looking to replicate the experience of outdoor bike riding indoors. Lean mode is fun and feels natural. Whenever you get bored, click on lean mode and go for a casual stroll on a trail. I think if anyone chooses this bike over another, it’s likely for this feature. To my knowledge, no other spin bike has it.
Lastly, this is a great spin bike for someone who wants to pair cardio with watching TV shows and movies. One of the best ways to adopt a new behaviour is to pair it with something that you find enjoyable. Make a rule to yourself that you will only watch Netflix on the bike. If that’s something you could see yourself doing, you’ll love this option.
That said, remember one thing. To get the most out of this exercise bike, you’ll need a JRNY membership. I wish you could access Netflix and other streaming services on the 22″ console without the membership, but you can’t.
If you’re in the market for a connected spin bike and looking for something a little different, give the Bowflex 22 VeloCore exercise bike a try.