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Last Updated: January 12, 2022
Life Fitness is a popular commercial gym brand and has been around since 1968. Their expertise is definitely reflected in the Ride CX exercise bike with its thoughtful features and solid construction.
Many pieces of home fitness equipment nowadays require monthly subscriptions to use them, but the Ride CX does not. You can simply hop on and start pedaling, connect through Bluetooth to the ICG Training App, or use your phone/tablet and consume content of your choice.
In this Life Fitness Ride CX exercise bike review, I’ll tell you everything you need to know so you can decide if you want to take one home.
Why You Should Trust Our Review Of The Life Fitness Ride CX
Our team tests out several of the best exercise bikes on the market. During this process, we rely on our experience as indoor cycling instructors, as well as our unique opportunity to have several bikes to hop back and forth from.
From riding one bike after another, we can get really acquainted with how the bikes all compare and contrast, as well as the individual experience they provide. When reviewing the Life Fitness Ride CX Exercise Bike, we compared it to the Bowflex C6, Sole SB900, NordicTrack S22i Inclining Bike, and the Peloton Bike.
Who The Life Fitness Ride CX Is For:
- Users who don’t want to be tied into a monthly subscription.
- Road cyclists looking to put in lots of miles indoors.
- Fitness enthusiasts who want options for how they can use their indoor cycling bike.
- Users who want extra motivation when riding, but not necessarily from a virtual instructor. The Coach By Color Training Concept is subtle, yet encouraging.
- Cyclists who want a sturdy bike that uses magnetic resistance so they can see their metrics like their resistance level and watt output.
- Users who want a solid, lightweight bike that is easy to move around their home.
Our Video Review of the Ride CX
- The “Coach By Color Training Concept” from ICG uses a small colored light to motivate and inform you of your intensity level
- The handlebars offer a wide variety of grip options, including drop handles
- The interface is an LCD battery-powered screen
- The bike uses the “WattRate” power meter from ICG to calculate your power output
- Has two pedal options: SPD compatible clip ins and toe cages for athletic shoes
- There are 2 front wheels and a rear handle for easy transporting
- The resistance knob is a 300-degree precision dial for easy adjusting
- Bluetooth enabled to connect to thrid-[arty apps like Zwift and
- Frame: Commercial Grade Steel/Aluminum
- Bike Dimensions: 52″ L x 20.5″ W x 47″H
- Bike Weight: 112 lbs
- Weight Capacity: 330 lbs
- Flywheel Weight: 7.6 lbs
- Magnetic Resistance Knob/Brake
- Poly-V Belt Drive System
- 4 Leveling Feet
- Unisex Padded Sport Saddle
- 2 Water Bottle Holders
- Adjustable Entertainment Tray
- Q-Factor: 155 mm
- Warranty: 5-years on the frame, 3-years on mechanical components, 1-year on other parts, and 1-year for labor
In-depth Review of The Life Fitness Ride CX Exercise Bike
Interface, Content, and the ICG Training App
The interface on the Ride CX is small and straightforward. It’s battery-powered so the metrics are displayed when you start pedaling and it will turn off after a few minutes of not using the bike.
Our team likes that you can select the quick start mode and begin a workout on your own. As mentioned above, there’s no required monthly subscription fee to use the Ride CX and it doesn’t have trainer-led classes integrated into the console like on the Peloton Bike and NordicTrack S22i.
The Ride CX bike from Life Fitness displays your metrics like cadence in rpm, watt output, resistance level, kilocalories, distance, and speed in mph.
What I really like about this bike is its “Coach By Color Training Concept” which uses 5 colors to rate your intensity level. It’s similar to heart rate training, but instead of using your heart rate, it uses your power measured in watts.
The LCD screen is powered by the brand ICG “Indoor Cycling Group”, to use the patented color training technology and “WattRate” power meter.
Calculating Your FTP
To start using this feature, you select the power training mode and from there you’ll be asked to rate your fitness level and input your weight and gender. The bike will then give your estimated FTP, “Functional Threshold Power”. This is a number that represents an estimated watt output that is difficult for you to maintain based on the stats that you input.
From there, percentages of your FTP are calculated to be divided into ranges that are color-coded to show you your effort throughout your ride. There is a small light at the top of the console that lights up for whichever color zone you are in. White is the lowest intensity and generally the zone you warm-up and recover in. From there, your watts and effort increase as you ride through the other zones. After white, blue is slightly harder, then green, then yellow, and finally red is your maximum power zone.
You can also take one of the FTP tests to determine your FTP and monitor your individual progress as you become more fit. Additional metrics are shown when you use the power training mode, take an FTP test, and use the heart rate training mode.
Directions for taking the tests are displayed on the screen too, which is nice. I do wish an overview of all the color training zones was shown on the screen though.
Even though the Ride CX utilizes heart rate training, it doesn’t come with a heart rate monitor. We were a bit disappointed by this. You can find a list of compatible monitors to buy in the manual.
ICG Training App
The Ride CX from Life Fitness is Bluetooth enabled to connect to third-party apps like Zwift and the ICG Training App on your phone/tablet. The ICG Training App is $9.99 per month and is completely optional to use with the Ride CX bike.
The app offers some scenic rides, trainer-led studio classes, and music classes. These all utilize the “Coach By Color” training by suggesting which zones to be in throughout your ride. You can also take an FTP test through the app on the bike and record your workouts and save them on the ICG app.
The console on the Life Fitness Ride CX bike consists of a small LCD screen and an entertainment tray. There is a navigation bar on the bottom of the screen which makes using the interface on the console easy. The console also has a backlight that can be turned on for a short period of time to see your metrics more easily.
My phone is a little thicker when its case and PopSocket are on, so I had some trouble fitting my phone in the bottom lip and top strap on the entertainment tray. You might need to take your device out of the case to secure it.
The tray adjusts and can also be removed. The Ride CX gives you lots of options for entertainment, which we like.
Construction Quality & Durability
The Life Fitness Ride CX exercise bike is very sturdy and solid. It has 2 stabilizers, one on the front and one on the back. It also has 4 leveling feet to keep it securely in place and prevent any rocking of the bike.
The Ride CX has a rear flywheel. This placement of the flywheel helps to avoid getting sweat on it while in use. Over time, sweat can corrode the flywheel and cause damage. A rear flywheel helps minimize this and offers a bit less maintenance than front flywheels. So, this is just something to consider. The NordicTrack S22i, Peloton, Bowflex C6, and Sole SB900 all have front flywheels.
The Ride CX bike’s flywheel is also really lightweight. It only weighs 7.6 lbs compared to the Sole SB900 which weighs 48 lbs and the Bowflex C6 which weighs 40 lbs. Lighter flywheels (10 lbs and under) are typically easier to start and stop when pedaling and therefore can be a little bit gentler on the joints because they require less effort to get the flywheel to move.
We did notice that the flywheel does make a little bit of noise when you’re pedaling. It is not excessive, but it is a little bit louder than the other bikes, even the NordicTrack S22i which has an incline motor as well. Our team did not find it bothersome at all, just more as something to be aware of.
Resistance Type/Resistance Knob
The Ride CX uses magnetic resistance and so do all of the bikes that we compared it to. The 100 levels on the Ride CX seem to be an ample amount of resistance for all levels of riders, so you shouldn’t worry about not having enough.
The resistance knob is where you increase/decrease your resistance. As you turn the knob to the right, you can feel every increment as you add it on. This makes it easier to get to an exact resistance level.
When you push down on the resistance knob, it engages the brake which is very effective at quickly stopping the pedals.
The Ride CX has hybrid pedals which I really like. They are compatible with SPD clip-in cleats and you can flip the pedal over and use the toe cages with regular athletic shoes.
This makes it a little bit more user-friendly. The NordicTrack S22i only has toe cages on the pedals, and the Peloton bike uses Delta LOOK clip-ins which aren’t very common so you usually have to buy shoes for the bike separately.
On the Ride CX bike, there is a plastic panel that covers the drive system which would need to be removed for repairs. It uses a Poly-V belt drive system and has a smooth and consistent pedal stroke.
The Q-Factor (distance between the pedals) is also within an optimal range at 155 mm. You shouldn’t have any issues with your knees and joints being out of alignment when you ride the Ride CX.
I really like the handlebars on the Life Fitness Ride CX bike. The coating is smooth and feels of high quality. The NordicTrack S22i and Peloton both have grittier textured and thicker handles when compared to the Ride CX. Texture and handlebar thickness tends to be personal preferences.
While the handles do feel firm, they don’t feel quite as hard as the Sole SB900 handles. You could place a towel over the handles to prevent your hands from getting sore, but this wasn’t necessary for me when I was riding the Ride CX bike.
The Ride CX handles have the most grip options out of all the bikes that we compared them to.
The 2 cupholders are attached under the handles for easy access. They held my 22oz water bottle in place. They are also covered in the same coating as the handlebars, which make them feel sturdy and of high quality as well.
Performance & Functionality
Overall, our team really enjoyed the Life Fitness Ride CX exercise bike and found it to be really comfortable for all of us. The saddle is narrow and lightly padded, which is great for long rides.
The Ride CX has 4 adjustment points so the seat can move up/down and forward/back. The handles can be adjusted this way as well. For the seat and handlebar height, dials are used and there are small levers that adjust the handles and seat forward and back. The poles and rails at the adjustment points slide really easily, making adjusting this bike fast and simple.
With the 4 adjustment points, this bike has a pretty wide leg span and reach span. The leg span is measured from the top of the saddle to the top of the lowest pedal. With the seat lowered all the way, it measures about 28 inches. Raised it measures about 41 inches.
The reach is measured from the nose of the saddle to the handlebars. The Ride CX bike has a maximum reach of about 23 inches and a minimum reach of about 14 inches. All of this means that the bike can accommodate taller and shorter riders.
The Life Fitness Ride CX has a weight capacity of 330 lbs, so it can handle a good amount of weight as well.
This bike is pretty light at 112 lbs. It’s very similar in weight to the Bowflex C6. This makes it easy to transport. There are 2 wheels on the front stabilizer on the Ride CX as well as a handle on the back stabilizer to make moving the bike around handy.
Within the United States, the Ride CX has a 5-year warranty on the frame, a 3-year warranty on mechanical parts, and 1-year warranties on other parts and labor. It’s mentioned on the Life Fitness website that warranties outside of the U.S. may differ.
When delivered, the Ride CX comes unassembled, so just something to be aware of.