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Last Updated: August 9, 2021
Looking for something different? Do you want to mimic an outdoor riding experience in the safety of your home? The Bowflex Velocore indoor bike allows users to lean from side to side while riding which requires greater core strength and balance. Think you are up for the challenge? Let’s take a look at the Velocore to see what it has to offer in our detailed review.
The Velocore design is an interesting concept. Can a leaning bike recreate the balance challenge of riding outdoors? The theory behind the Velocore is that by engaging the leaning feature, riders can activate the external obliques and recruit core muscles more than would otherwise be required on a stationary bike. While it certainly seems like this is the case, we found the leaning feature to be more effective for some riders than others while reviewing and testing the Velocore in our studio.
Who It’s For: Cyclists who want more engagement on an indoor exercise bike
This bike is well-suited for those who:
- Have good balance and core strength sufficient to allow for leaning side to side
- Can climb up on a bike to exercise
- Want a fully integrated experience with an attached touchscreen and content
- Have a bit of cycling experience and/or are comfortable trying something new
- Can afford the $2200 sticker price plus a monthly subscription
- Have a strong wifi connection since it is required to fully operate the bike
Our Video Review
- Frame: Corrosion-resistant reinforced steel
- Stabilizers: Front and rear stabilizers hold bike securely
- Saddle: Racing style, narrow design, light padding
- Pedals: Hybrid flat pedal + SPD clip
- Flywheel: Iighted, rear placed under saddle
- Footprint: 60” L x 24” W 55” H
- Bike weight: 175 lbs
- Max weight: 325 lbs
- Ceiling Height: Rider + 16”
- Screen: 16” or 22” Touchscreen, adjustable
- Subscription: Bowflex JRNY
- WiFi: Required for use
- Bluetooth: Enabled to sync with included HR armband
- Speakers: Yes
- Fan: No
- Resistance: Magnetic Resistance; Resistance Knob
- Levels: Digital Resistance levels 1-100
- Adjustment: Three adjustment points:
- Seat up/down and forward/aft, Handlebars up/down
- Weights: 3lb weights included
- Frame & Parts: 2 Year Warranty
- Labor: 1 Year Warranty
Bowflex Velocore In-Depth Review
Bowflex Velocore Frame Design
The Velocore frame wraps under the drive system and secures the bike to the floor. The internal section of the bike (drive system, pedals, seat and handlebars) can be unlocked to lean side to side. The main beam supporting the screen is connected to the frame and does not move.
The bike frame sits firmly on the floor while a hinging mechanism allows the seat, pedals and drive system to shift side to side. The touchscreen, frame, and stabilizers all remain stationary. This design enhances the safety of the Velocore so the whole frame doesn’t lean. Also, maintaining a set position for the touchscreen reduces the likelihood of dizziness or screen wobble. I am impressed with the innovative engineering that allows for both stability and a side-leaning option on the Velocore. I’m not sure this design will work for everyone, but it is new and innovative.
Leaning Mode vs. Non-Leaning Mode
The Velocore is designed to allow for both Leaning Mode and Locked Mode. In leaning mode the internal lock detaches from the frame so it can lean from side to side. In locked mode, the bike is secured within the frame and will not move.
The Bowflex Velocore has quickly become known as the “bike that leans”. Having both a leaning and non-leaning option allows different riders to customize their experience as desired. Users who don’t want to lean have the option to ride as they would on a regular bike. For those who want a greater challenge and a more realistic feel while riding, the leaning mode opens up these options.
The total footprint of the Velocore is 60” L x 24” W 55” H. This is roughly the same length as the Peloton bike (59”) and the Nordictrack s22i (55”), so the bike doesn’t take up much more space with the added functionality. The bike is the same width as other indoor cycles (Peloton: 23”, Nordictrack s22i: 22”). But, you will need to leave lateral space on either side of the Velocore to allow for the leaning feature. In general you get a lot of functionality in a compact piece of exercise equipment.
The Velocore has hybrid pedals with an SPD clip on one side and a standard, flat pedal on the other that has a cage and adjustable strap. This allows riders who already own or prefer SPD cycling shoes to use those – or you can ride with any athletic shoe using the flat side of the pedal. This opens up options for different riders so you don’t have to have cycling shoes, but you have that option if desired.
16” or 22” Touchscreen
The Velocore offers two different touchscreen options. For $1699 you can get the 16” screen and for $2199 you can upgrade to the 22” screen. Otherwise, all other functionality on the bike remains the same. It’s nice that buyers have the option to select the screen they want without downgrading bike functionality as Ill.
Regardless of screen size, both screens tilt up and down gently so riders can find the right angle for visibility.
Resistance Knob with 100 Resistance Levels
The Velocore uses a resistance knob which many riders prefer. It is placed on the top tube of the frame for easy reach. The Velocore has silent magnetic resistance which I would expect on a bike at this price point. Magnetic resistance doesn’t require any contact or friction, so it is quiet and low-maintenance. You also get 100 resistance levels which just makes sense. It is easy to estimate your work-rate in relation to resistance since level 25 is 25% resistance and level 50 is 50%, etc.
The screen does have Bluetooth speakers and you can also connect via wireless headphones.
The Velocore comes with weight which can be used on NON-leaning classes that incorporate upper body work. The weights sit on the stationary support arm that holds the touchscreen. These are included in the price of the bike. The inclusion of weights is a good indication that upper body work is incorporated into the programming.
There is a tablet ledge just in front of the screen where you can place a phone or tablet if desired. It will block the screen a little, so be aware of this. Since the bike shifts from side to side and the screen tilts forward and back, a tablet may not be entirely stable here. There is also a small pocket for a phone inside the handlebars.
Water Bottle Holders
There are two cup holders on either side of the handlebar post. These are a bit flimsy and lightweight – they may not hold a hydroflask or other heavy water bottle, but they’ll support plastic bottles. This is an important safety feature on a bike because it is not a good idea to reach down off the bike to pick up a water bottle off the floor. Even though you’re exercising at home, having water bottles close by and within a safe reach is valuable.
Bowflex Velocore JRNY App
JRNY App & User Interface
Frankly, I was surprised by both the content and quality of the JRNY app. There are several innovative features that make the Velocore distinct in a field of competing studio-ride apps. First, if you subscribe to JRNY at $20/month, you have access to a few 3rd party apps. Netflix, HULU, Disney+ and PrimeVideo come preloaded. In order to use any of these, you have to have your own subscription – it is not included in the JRNY app. However, once you login to your personal account (let’s say it’s Netflix), you then have the option to select a preprogrammed ride to use while watching a program. This means that you can do more than just a manual ride while watching Bridgerton!
Riders can respond to the vocal cues of the audio trainer as they ride along to lean left, lean right, power up hills, adjust the resistance, etc. This makes it so you get a challenging workout while enjoying your favorite program. Most apps don’t allow access to 3rd party options at all, and those that do simply allow you to watch in manual mode.
This is the first app I’ve used that allows riders to use a preformatted workout while watching a video. A small bar appears at the bottom of your screen that provides ride metrics throughout the workout. The programs themselves may only be 30 minutes long, so you may need to load another program and then resume your Netflix video if you want a programmed ride that matches the length of your show.
The other feature that pleasantly surprises me is the quality of the graphics. This is a high-def screen. The graphics are crisp with bright colors and clear images. I love the Explore the World feature with locations all over the globe. These are filmed live so you see people and cars pass by as you ride. Locations include the Alps in Germany, a gorgeous countryside through
Bowflex radio also has a good mix of music you can select prior to beginning your ride. There’s an option for 80’s, 90’s, country, classic rock, easy listening, etc.
JRNY Programming Overview:
The JRNY library is divided into the following categories:
- Just for You
- Workouts you may have completed in the past but not favorited.
- Workouts similar to one you just completed
- Basic workouts for intervals, hills, sprints you may like
- Graph-based programs that provide vocal cues while riding.
- Option to superimpose the program while watching a 3rd party app
- Organized by length
- Overview of Focus and Difficulty
- Explore the World
- Gorgeous outdoor routes all over the world
- Some of these have an adaptive workout pre-programmed
- Others are available for use with a program of your choice
- Many are just drone-filmed landscape shots that you can ride at your own pace
- Indoor studio rides led by an instructor
- Strength & Stretching
- Any program or route you’ve favorited
- Simple 3min or less videos on How to Lean, bike setup, Bluetooth, creating a JRNY profile and using JRNY entertainment
- Bottom of Screen:
- Workouts – App library
- Journal – Workouts completed & data history
- Profile – Personal profile
- Time (10min – 60min)
- Difficulty (Easy – Just Right – Hard)
The programs range in length from 10 minutes to 60 minutes. You can select options based on difficulty or length. The instructors are good. I found them to be engaging and provide good cues. Even though you can use a workout with vocal cues while watching Netlflix, I found the studio rides to be a bit more motivating and engaging simply because you don’t get distracted or lose focus. The only drawback to selecting your own music is it isn’t integrated into the programming itself. Whereas Peloton rides are designed around the music, the JRNY app features good music, but it’s more of a background component.
Bowflex Velocore Leaning Bike Ride Experience
If, like me, you presumed the lean feature to be a bit of a gimmick, be prepared to be pleasantly surprised. There are a few things I like about how Bowflex has designed the Velocore. The first is, the bike is equally functional with the lean feature locked or engaged. If you keep the frame locked to limit lean, you get a great ride on a stable bike. If you unlock the frame which allows it to lean, you get a more realistic riding experience. The lean feature really doesn’t create a feeling of imbalance. While this may not be ideal for anyone with balance or vertigo issues, I didn’t find it made me feel dizzy while watching the screen. The lean feature is more pronounced for taller, larger riders since it is weighted at the bottom. Those who have more weight to shift side to side will find a greater amount of lateral lean during the ride. I found the frame just kind of shifted a bit as I rode. In order to get it to really lean, I had to shift all my body weight to one side and even then, it restabilizes in a vertical position pretty quickly.
The lean feature does make riding more interesting and realistic – and, it doesn’t require a separate motor! This means there is less to break or wear out over time. The lean feature is just a release mechanism that allows the frame to sway gently side to side. It doesn’t create any noise. This really is an innovative design that makes the bike fun and functional without adding something else to break.