The Bowflex C6 and the NordicTrack Commercial S22i are 2 of the hottest indoor cycles on the market these days. Both come with impressive specs and features, as well as trusted brand names on their side.
Both bikes are designed with streaming in mind, even though unlike the S22i, the C6 doesn’t come with a large touchscreen console.
But unlike the S22i, the C6 can pair with multiple streaming apps through the use of your own tablet.
When it comes down to it, I think both of these bikes are pretty awesome. And it might not be that fair to compare them side by side, you know, given the huge difference in price…
But I’m going to do it anyway.
In this article, I’ll compare Bowflex’s C6 with NordicTrack’s Commercial S22i with regards to all the key performance specs and features.
After reading, you’ll know whether it makes more sense to save the cash and go with the C6 or invest in the more expensive S22i.
|NordicTrack Commercial S22i
|40 lb flywheel
100 levels of magnetic resistance
|32 lb flywheel
24 levels of magnetic resistance
|112 lb assembled weight
330 lb weight limit
|203 lb in box weight
350 lb weight limit
|10 year frame
3 year parts
1 year labor
|10 year frame
2 year parts
1 year labor
|Small LCD console
Compatible with multiple apps
Heart rate band included
Fully adjustable seat
Fully adjustable handlebars
Dual sided pedals
Pair of 3 lb dumbbells included
|22" HD touchscreen console
Compatible with iFit
Automatic trainer control
Fully adjustable seat
Toe cage pedals
Pair of 3 lb dumbbells included
Bowflex’s C6 vs The NordicTrack Commercial S22i
Above image courtesy of Bowflex
Bowflex and NordicTrack are easily 2 of the biggest names in home fitness.
We see their commercials on tv all the time and both are household names.
Popularity and brand recognition don’t necessarily make a good brand, but in this case the reputations are well earned- both brands generally make quality products.
And like most brands these days, Bowflex and NordicTrack are both jumping in on the whole streaming thing in a big way.
Well, NordicTrack has been in the streaming game for a long time now- their iFit app was the first Peloton alternative I remember.
It took Bowflex a little longer to join the game, but now they have their JRNY app (but more on these later).
When it comes to spin bikes, Bowflex only really offers 2: the VeloCore and the C6 we’re here to discuss today (although there’s also their mysterious C7 which you can find through sites like Amazon).
NordicTrack only offers 2 cycles as well: the Commercial S15i and the S22i.
When comparing bikes, especially ones with a huge difference in cost, I try to keep things as objective as possible. This way I can try to compare bikes fairly, based on the numbers.
Let’s start with the performance side of things first, then we’ll move on to the more exciting features the C6 and S22i have to offer.
I think the resistance system is the most important component of any indoor cycle because this is what determines how smooth the pedal motion is as well as how good your workouts will be.
A bike’s resistance system really boils down to the flywheel and the resistance mechanism.
All flywheels are weighted to some degree, although most indoor cycles are designed so that they benefit from a heavier flywheel.
I say “most” because there are elite cycles out there, like Keiser’s M3i, which are designed specifically for light flywheels.
Most bikes, though, benefit from the extra weight because it helps the flywheel build more momentum, which in turn helps keep the flywheel spinning between pedal strokes.
The result is a smoother feel.
When it comes to the resistance mechanism, there are 2 options to choose from: a friction brake or a magnetic resistance.
Magnetic resistances are usually preferred because they feel smoother and don’t require the replacement of a friction brake from time to time.
The C6 and S22i are both magnetic bikes, so there’s no need to go into friction brakes any further at the moment.
But back to flywheels.
The C6 comes with a 40 lb flywheel, which is heavy enough to be considered “heavy” by anyone’s standards.
Bowflex pairs this heavy flywheel with 100 levels of magnetic resistance, giving you complete control over the intensity of your workouts.
This is one of my favorite features of the C6 because it makes it really easy to follow along with Peloton’s app (if that’s something you’re interested in anyway) because this is the same resistance scale the Peloton uses.
The S22i comes with a 32 lb flywheel, which is several pounds lighter, but still heavy enough to ensure a smooth pedaling motion.
NordicTrack pairs this flywheel with 24 magnetic resistance levels.
Something I want to point out is that just because a bike has more resistance levels, it doesn’t mean that bike can necessarily provide more overall resistance.
It just means you can make smaller incremental changes to that resistance.
Which I consider an advantage in itself.
Although bikes with heavier flywheels can usually provide more overall resistance because it takes more effort to get a heavier flywheel moving, but again, this isn’t always the case.
And in terms of the drive trains, both bikes use belt drives (as opposed to chains), so both operate very quietly.
Overall, based on the resistance specs alone, I give Bowflex’s C6 the advantage. It comes with a heavier flywheel and more resistance levels to work with.
FYI, both bikes get very positive remarks from users regarding the smoothness and the amount of resistance they can offer.
The resistance system is key, but it’s also important to consider how stable or robust the bike will feel.
By this, I really mean how “heavy-duty” the bike will feel.
I know this is a term that gets used a lot, especially by fitness bloggers, and I know that more times than not it doesn’t really mean much, but when I use this term, I mean it literally.
When comparing bikes, I like to compare the assembled weights to see which bike is bigger and heavier.
And that’s because a heavier bike is more likely to feel stable and secure during use (and less likely to wobble or feel shaky).
Bowflex’s C6 comes with an assembled weight of 112 lb, which is pretty good for a bike that doesn’t have a huge console.
NordicTrack’s S22i comes with an in box weight of 203 lb.
Now this “in box” weight is the weight of the bike in its packaging, so it’s not quite the same thing as an assembled weight (which NordicTrack doesn’t offer).
So, it’s a little harder to compare.
But, if we’re conservative and subtract 50 lb of packaging, that still leaves the S22i with an assembled weight somewhere around 150 lb.
Which is very heavy for a spin bike.
Really, anything over 100 lb is likely to feel pretty secure.
But it’s safe to say the S22i is a good deal heavier than the C6.
Something else worth noting is that the S22i is a lot bigger than the C6 too.
If you compare the dimensions, you’ll notice that the S22i is about a foot longer than the C6 (63″ vs 49″). Not that this makes much difference, but if your workout space is very limited, it might.
The last thing I want to point out is that the C6 comes with a max weight limit of 330 lb and the S22i comes with a weight limit of 350 lb.
Both of these limits are great for indoor cycles, but the S22i’s is a little higher.
Overall, it’s pretty obvious that the S22i is a bigger, heavier-duty bike than the C6. Certainly something larger riders should keep in mind when choosing.
Let’s compare the warranties these 2 bikes are backed with.
Bowflex offers the following residential warranty for their C6:
- 10 year frame
- 3 year parts/electrical
- 1 year labor
And NordicTrack offers this residential warranty for their Commercial S22i:
- 10 year frame
- 2 year parts
- 1 year labor
Ok, so, very similar guarantees for both cycles.
With the C6, you get an extra year on parts, but otherwise these warranties look identical.
I want to point out that 10 years on the frame is actually really good for spin bikes. Some brands (like Sole) still offer lifetime frame guarantees, but many of the luxury bikes only offer 5 years.
And a year on labor is standard across the board.
Overall, both cycles come with good warranties, but the C6’s is just a little better.
Alright, that about does it for the performance side of things, time to move on to the features department.
The C6 comes with a fairly simple LCD console that measures all the key metrics you’d expect (speed, distance, time, calories, etc).
It also calculates cadence via a speedometer type meter at the top.
This console is bluetooth compatible with heart rate monitors and Bowflex even includes an armband monitor with purchase.
But bluetooth can also be used to connect the console with streaming apps like Bowflex’s own JRNY app as well as Peloton Digital or Zwift.
Of course, since there is no HD screen on the C6, you’d have to provide your own tablet to access these apps.
One of the biggest benefits of the C6 is that you can use it with streaming apps or without them- there’s no pressure to continue paying for streaming services.
Other than the console, the C6 also comes with a fully adjustable seat, fully adjustable handlebars, dual-sided pedals (toe cage and SPD clips), a device holder, and dual water bottle holders.
Bowflex also includes a pair of 3 lb dumbbells, which is awesome.
The S22i, on the other hand, comes with a 22″ HD touchscreen console which is pretty hard to miss.
This huge display is designed to pair with iFit, NordicTrack’s streaming service.
Through iFit, you get access to unlimited instructor-led workouts, metric tracking, scenics rides, and all that jazz.
Technically, joining iFit is optional, but without it you don’t get access to any of these features, so it doesn’t make much sense to invest in this bike if you don’t plan on joining iFit.
Last time I checked, iFit costs around $39/month.
Besides the huge screen, the S22i also comes with the ability to incline/decline (-10% – 20%), mimicking the feel of riding up and down hill.
This is a cool feature, but with iFit you can also take advantage of the automatic trainer control function that allows the instructors to control your resistance/incline settings during your workouts.
This mean you can just concentrate on keeping up, instead of having to change the settings yourself.
The S22i is also compatible with bluetooth headphones and heart rate monitors and it also comes with a built-in cooling fan (something few spin bikes offer).
Additional features on the S22i include a fully adjustable seat, toe cage pedals, built-in speakers, dual water bottle holders, and an included pair of 3 lb dumbbells.
Overall, both bikes have a lot to offer in terms of included features, but the S22i is definitely more technologically advanced.
Time to talk numbers.
I don’t particularly like to quote specific prices because these prices can change frequently and by the time you might read this these numbers might not be accurate.
But what the hell, here ya go:
Bowflex C6: $999
NordicTrack Commercial S22i: $1999
So, the S22i is $1000 more than the C6, putting it in that luxury price range.
We just mentioned all the extras that thousand bucks gets ya – most notably that 22″ HD console and the incline/decline features.
And based on the comps, namely Peloton, I think it’s actually priced pretty fairly.
Personally, I think the C6 is a great deal at a thousand bucks. It has a whole lot to offer for that price.
But which bike is the better deal?
I like to save this little area for any last minute thoughts I have before finishing the article up.
The only thing I have left to mention in this case is regarding customer service.
To put it bluntly- NordicTrack’s customer service has an awful reputation for being slow and difficult to work with.
But to be fair, most bigger companies have the same reputation.
I don’t have any first hand experience with NordicTrack’s customer service, but I do have experience with Bowflex’s and it was great.
I ordered my wife one of their benches and the back pad arrived damaged.
A 3 minute phone call was all it took to reach their customer service, discuss the problem, and have a replacement pad in the mail.
A week later the new piece arrived and we were in business.
I know plenty of people have had bad experiences with Bowflex’s customer service too, but generally speaking there reputation isn’t quite as bad as NordicTrack’s (customer service).
Ok, time to wrap this comparison up.
When it comes to performance, I have to give Bowflex’s C6 the advantage- it comes with a heavier flywheel, more resistance levels, and dual-sided pedals.
It even comes with a slightly better warranty too, although the S22i is quite a bit heavier-duty.
When it comes to features, the S22i has the advantage.
It’s hard to compete with that 22″ HD touchscreen display and the fact that it can incline and decline is unique to NordicTrack.
When choosing between these 2 cycles, it ultimately comes down to your budget and what you’re looking for.
Personally, taking into account all the specs and features, as well as price, I think Bowflex’s C6 is probably the better deal.
It costs half the price and can connect with multiple streaming apps through a tablet, but it can also stand alone as a solid indoor cycle without the apps.
I would even go as far as to say the C6 is one of the best indoor cycles $1000 can get ya.
But if you want to go all-in with iFit, the S22i is a good investment too – that incline feature is pretty cool.
Regardless of which cycle you go with, you can rest assured you’re getting a great bike.