Nordictrack VR21 Exercise Bike Review – Pros & Con’s (2020)

Last Updated: January 14, 2020

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The NordicTrack VR21 is one of our Best Bikes in 2020 and designated the Best Recumbent Bike. The VR21 is the ideal bike for anyone looking for low-impact training on a comfortable, recumbent bike. With a padded seat and vented backrest, you can work hard and still stay cool and reclined.

Who It’s For: Riders looking for comfortable, low-impact conditioning with lumbar support

The VR21 is designed for users who:

  • Prefer to sit reclined rather than upright while they ride
  • Are looking for extra lumbar support
  • Want a padded seat with extra-wide pedals
  • Desire a well-rounded conditioning and recovery option
  • Want something stable that won’t rock while pedalling
  • Need equipment that is easy to get on and off
Pros
  • Recumbent bike provides a reclined body position and is good for riders with low back or knee injuries
  • Pedals are positioned in front of the body rather than underneath for less tension on knees and ankles
  • Design reduces upper body tension and muscle fatigue
  • Vented backrest reduces moisture build-up and offers good support
  • The seat reduces any “saddle soreness” typical of traditional bike seats
  • Varying levels of resistance allow for personalized exercise challenge
  • Incline settings simulate riding up and down hills
  • Excellent for injury rehabilitation
  • Workout indoors anytime
Cons
  • Chest strap not included
  • Heavier than traditional spin bikes and harder to move
FeaturesSpecifications
    • Recumbent Frame with StepThru™ Design
      • The recumbent design allows users to exercise in a comfortable, supported position. StepThru design makes it easy to get on and off the bike. This is especially helpful for those with limited mobility or who may be recovering from an injury.

 

    • Oversized, Lumbar-Supported Seat with Easy Glide Seat Adjustment
      • One of the best features on a recumbent bike is the nice, large seat! You can pedal comfortably without tension in the lower back. With Easy Glide seat adjustment you can just reach underneath the seat and slide it into the correct position. Multiple users can adjust the seat per their comfort.

 

    • Extra-wide Ergonomic Pedals with Adjustable Straps
      • The VR21 can be ridden with any athletic shoe. Wide pedals provide a stable foothold and the adjustable straps will keep your foot in the correct position.

 

    • 5” Backlit Display
      • The 5” screen is positioned directly in front of the seat, so you can read and reach the display easily. Large digital numbers offer a clear readout of workout stats. The backlit feature provides good visibility while not being overly bright.

 

    • 25 Digital Resistance Levels
      • The 25 digital resistance levels are preset so you always get the same resistance at the same level. Other indoor cycling bikes just have a tension knob that is hard to measure and regulate. Digital resistance sets the tension the same each time, so you can moderate and calibrate your workout appropriately.

 

    • 32 On-board Workouts
      • 32 onboard routines for cardio, HIIT, hills, or sprints are all available. A graph display on the screen lets you know what the routine looks like, so you know when you expect an upcoming hill or interval.

 

    • 20 Lb. Inertia-Enhanced Flywheel
      • The flywheel is weighted to produce enough inertia for a smooth pedal stroke. As you pedal, the force is transmitted into the flywheel which then gains speed and spins gently, so there is no jerkiness or heaviness in the pedal stroke.

 

    • AutoBreeze™ Workout Fan
      • A must have on any bike, it’s especially nice to have a fan on a recumbent bike! Since you are sitting back and down rather than upright, it can be hard to feel the breeze from fans in the room. The workout fan built into the console offers nice air flow with adjustable controls.

 

    • OneTouch® Controls
      • OneTouch controls feature presets for speed and resistance that are just a finger touch away. This makes managing your workout easy and provides several training variables.

 

    • Integrated Tablet Holder
      • The tablet holder on the console will hold most phones or tablets snugly with an adjustable clip. You can watch your device while the LCD screen keeps track of your stats.

 

  • NordicTrack iFit® Membership Ready
    • Should you desire an iFit membership, users can subscribe online and then download the app to a compatible device. You can then select any iFit program to watch on you device in the integrated tablet holder. iFit features several programs for cardio conditioning, strength building, and recovery classes.

Construction

  • Recumbent Frame allows you to sit lower
  • StepThru™ Design makes it easy to get on and off the bike
  • 20 Lb. Flywheel provides good motion during your pedal stroke
  • Large, Lumbar-Supported Seat provides maximum comfort
  • Easy Glide Seat Adjustment moves forward and aft
  • Wide, Flat Pedals with Adjustable Straps will work with any athletic shoe
  • Large Wheels on front stabilizer make it easy to roll the bike out of the way
  • Footprint: 61.1” L x 24.2” W x 54.6” H

Console

  • LCD Display is 5” in size
  • Workout Fan integrated into console
  • Aux Port in console
  • Two Speakers provide clear sound
  • OneTouch® Controls in console enable easy navigation
  • Attached Tablet Holder with adjustable clip design
  • EKG Grip on Handlebar for accurate Heart Rate

Functionality

  • NordicTrack iFit® Enabled (membership purchased separately)
  • 25 Levels of Digital Resistance
  • 32 Workouts preloaded on console

Warranty

  • Frame: 10-Year Warranty
  • Parts: 2-Year Warranty
  • Labor: 1-Year Warranty

In-depth Review of NordicTrack VR21 Bike


Construction

Steel Frame with protective overlay

The VR21 frame is sturdy. It will not rock when placed on a level floor. Support bars are all steel with plastic molding over the drive belt and flywheel for protection.

Two Sets of Handlebars

Vertical upright bars wrap the console and horizontal bars flank the saddle. All handlebar grips are powder-coated black with molded plastic hand-holds that are sweat and germ resistant. Handlebars won’t absorb moisture and can easily be wiped off when you are finished. EKG sensors on the upright handlebars send a readout of your heart rate to the screen. The upright bars are connected to the console. Both handlebars and console can be raised or lowered via the orange knob on the forward post. Saddle handlebars are attached to the seat, so they move in line with the position of the seat.

Saddle

The VR21 has an innovative saddle design. A wide, padded base ensures maximum comfort with no saddle soreness from riding. The vented backrest allows for airflow so even as body temp increases during riding, you don’t end up leaning against a sweaty backrest. The backrest and seat are also smooth and germ-resistant, so they clean up easily and won’t harbour bacteria.

Console/Controls

5” LCD Screen

The 5” LCD screen has a dark background with bright white digital numbers. The screen is easy to see and navigate using the console controls.

Console Layout

The LCD screen is at the top of the console. Buttons just below the screen manage onboard programs and resistance levels. Speakers sit just below this button array. You can place your phone or tablet on a thick ledge just below the speakers. A large tablet may block the number array and the lower part of the screen, but you will still be able to see most of the numbers. This ledge has an external lip on it to hold your device securely. There are also controls for speakers and fan along with numbered resistance buttons. The fan is at the bottom of the console, sitting at roughly chest-height.

Speakers

Using an auxiliary port on the side of the console, you can plug in your phone to play music through the speakers. None of the onboard programs have any sound. The speakers offer a nice option so you can ride hands-free without headphones. Volume control is on the console display.

Storage

There is a single cup-holder secured to the front post just above the flywheel. It should hold most water bottles snugly and is within easy reach.

Functionality

Benefits of Recumbent Riding

Often recumbent bikes are viewed as less challenging that upright bikes. However, when in a recumbent position, riders are working several important muscle groups.

    • Strengthen Heart and Lungs (Cardiovascular system): The heart is a muscle, so any exercise that increases heart rate strengthens the heart. Aerobic exercise also improves lung capacity, which can decrease heart rate and blood pressure.

 

  • Develop Balanced Leg Muscles: The four large muscles that make up the front of your thigh are called “quadriceps.” (Quad meaning four.) These muscles are important in knee flexion and extension. Recumbent riding engages and strengthens the quads gently without creating tension or pressure on the knee joint. Hamstring muscles which line the back of the thigh work in conjunction with quadriceps to create a full pedal stroke. Calf and shin muscles are also engaged when riding and these help with the motion and stability of the ankle.

Noise Level

The VR21 offers a quiet, smooth ride. The flywheel provides just enough resistance to really get your heart rate up while not generating too much noise. A protective casing over the flywheel and drive belt limits sound as well. Digital resistance — as opposed to friction resistance — is nearly silent, so you can ride the VR21 at any time of day without disturbing those around you.

Storage / Folding

The VR21 does not fold, but it has large wheels on the front stabilizer so you can tilt the bike forward and roll it out of the way when needed.


Items of Note

Recumbent bikes have a distinct design. As a result, the saddle and footprint of the VR21 is slightly wider than standard upright bikes. This width ensures stability and easy step-over. I recommend trying out a recumbent bike before you buy one since they do have a different feel than other bikes. Recumbent bikes offer excellent benefits and are a good low-impact option.

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Bottom Line:

The NordicTrack VR21 is our Top Recumbent Bike. This is a solid, sturdy bike that allows riders to sit low and behind the pedals for reduced joint impact. Recumbent bikes are typically more comfortable than upright bikes, but still provide great low-impact cardiovascular conditioning and leg strengthening. This is a great option to consider! Take a minute to look into all the features and benefits of NordicTrack’s VR21!

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