If you’re looking for an elite indoor cycle, it wouldn’t be surprising if Keiser’s M3i and NordicTrack’s S22i where both on your short list of favorites.
Simply put- both of these models are top of the line spin bikes with a lot to offer.
And even though these bikes are similarly priced, they don’t have much else in common.
The M3i is sleek and minimalist, while the S22i is packing a huge HD touchscreen for video streaming. One has a heavy flywheel in the front, the other has a light flywheel in the rear.
In terms of bike matchups, this is a pretty interesting one because these bikes are so different from each other.
As we go through the different categories, you’ll see how each bike stacks up against each other and the differences will be obvious.
And although I will declare a winner at the end, I will warn ya- when choosing between the M3i and S22i, it really depends on what your preferences are.
Ok, let’s get this battle started!
|V-shaped, 350 lb weight capacity
|Traditional, 350 lb weight capacity
|10 year frame
3 year parts
90 day wearable parts
|10 year frame
2 year parts
1 year labor
Bluetooth/heart rate monitoring
Dual compatible pedals
|22" HD touchscreen display
Bluetooth/heart rate monitoring
Keiser’s M3i vs The NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle
NordicTrack is one of the most recognizable names in home fitness out there. I can’t think of another name with more brand recognition in the US.
The Keiser name isn’t nearly as well-known, although their M3i cycle is one of the most highly-regarded spin bikes around.
Check any reputable blogger’s “best of” list for spin bikes and you’ll surely find the M3 somewhere near the top of that list.
And even they we don’t tend to hear about ’em nearly as much, Keiser does offer several other cardio machines, as well as a few strength training ones.
NordicTrack, of course, has an extensive lineup of bikes, treadmills, ellipticals, and rowers to choose from. They have some interesting strength training equipment too, with their Vault and CST Fusions.
And, believe it or not, you can still get your hands on their original Pro Skiier, which started it all.
Since both of these bikes are indoor cycles, and we love to talk about flywheel weight with indoor cycles, I figure this is the perfect place to start our comparison.
By the way, the flywheel is the metal disc that spins as you pedal. This part is important because it’s responsible for providing the “feel” of your workout.
Right off the bat you’ll notice that Keiser places their flywheel on the rear of the frame and NordicTrack puts there in the more traditional front location.
I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Keiser was the first brand to do this (even though now many brands are taking a page out of their book).
Even though the rear flywheel design looks cool and futuristic, it actually helps protect the flywheel from sweat during your workouts.
With the traditional front location, sweat can easily run down and drip on the spinning flywheel.
Now unless sweat is just pouring off of ya and soaking that flywheel on a regular basis, this shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Although the sweat can be corrosive over time.
So, it terms of flywheel location, I would argue that the rear mounted design on the M3i looks cooler and protects it from sweat, but it’s no where near a deal breaker.
What’s more interesting though is the vast difference in flywheel weight.
The NordicTrack S22i comes with a 32 lb flywheel, while the M3i comes with one of the lightest on the market at only 8 lb.
Most home spin cycles are designed so that having a heavier flywheel is beneficial- more weight means more momentum, which makes for a smoother ride.
That said, Keiser has designed their M3i so that their light flywheel spins faster (11 rotations per pedal circulation), so that it can still create the needed momentum for a smooth ride.
Groom + Style sums it up perfectly in their article on the subject.
And when you read user reviews, it’s obvious that Keiser’s M3i is providing an insanely smooth ride with that light flywheel.
So, which is better- heavy or light?
If you have 2 flywheels that are spinning at the same speed, heavier is better. But since the M3i’s flywheel is spinning so fast, it makes up for the lack of weight.
Ultimately, it depends on what you prefer. But based on the sophistication of the M3i’s design necessary to get that flywheel spinning so fast, I’m giving this one to Keiser.
These 2 bikes come with significantly different frames too, which is pretty obvious with a quick glance.
The M3i comes with a sleek, lightweight, V-shaped frame.
With a total weight of only 92 lb, it’s very easy to move around, but it can still accommodate users who are up to 7′ tall, which is pretty amazing.
The M3i also comes with an impressive weight capacity of 350 lb (which is even more impressive given how light weight it is).
The S22i is significantly bigger.
Not only is the S22i a foot longer, but it’s also roughly 2x the weight of the M3i with an assembled weight of nearly 200 lb. It too has an impressive weight limit of 350 lb.
So, if space is an issue, the more compact frame of the M3i would be beneficial, but both bikes can handle larger user with their high weight capacities.
I think it’s crucial to always consider the warranty department for any bike you’re considering. Not only does the warranty give you peace of mind about a purchase, but it also gives you an idea as to the overall quality of a bike.
Better bikes tend to come with better warranties.
When it comes to the warranties, these 2 bikes are pretty evenly matched.
Keiser offers the following guarantee on the M3i:
- 10 year frame
- 3 year parts
- 90 day wearable parts
NordicTrack offers the following on their S22i:
- 10 year frame
- 2 year parts
- 1 year labor
So, as you can see, very similar guarantees. Keiser offers an extra year on parts, but NordicTrack include a year of labor. I’d say they’re tied in this department, but if I had to choose, I’d probably go with Keiser for the extra parts guarantee.
If it feels like this has been a one sided fight thus far, this is where the S22i has its come back.
The most notable feature on the S22 is its 22″ HD touchscreen display. This is designed to be paired with NordicTrack’s streaming app, iFit (paid service).
Through iFit, you get access to unlimited instructor-led workouts, as well as scenic rides and metric tracking. The S22i also has a feature where the instructors can automatically control your resistance during the workouts, so you just have to follow along.
The S22i is bluetooth compatible with headphones as is compatible with chest strap heart rate monitors too.
Other notable features include a fully adjustable seat, the ability to incline up to 20% and decline down to -10%, and an AutoBreeze fan.
The M3i comes with a very small, simple LCD screen that displays all your key workout metrics.
It too is bluetooth compatible with Keiser’s fitness app and is chest strap compatible for heart rate monitoring. The M3i also comes with a fully adjustable seat and fully adjustable handlebars.
The M3i comes with dual compatible pedals, meaning you can use sneakers or SPD compatible cleats.
Overall, the M3i comes with a pretty standard console, while the S22i comes with an advanced HD touchscreen. If you’re interested in workout streaming, this is a no-brainer.
The S22i certainly comes with a lot more features than the M3i, so this category goes to NordicTrack.
The sales price is one of the only things these 2 bikes have in common. At the time of writing this, both bikes could be purchased for a sales price of roughly $2000.
If you decide on the S22i, keep in mind you could have the additional monthly subscription fee for iFit (~$30/month), if you decided to use that feature.
NordicTrack also includes a free year with purchase, which is nice.
If you purchase the M3i through Amazon, you can get it as part of a bundle that includes a floor mat, media tray, a Polar heart rate monitor, a gel seat cover, and an assembly kit.
Overall, these 2 impressive bikes are tied when it comes to purchase price.
If you go with either of these bikes, you’ll likely be assembling yourself (unless you decide to hire professional assistance).
Luckily, both of these bikes should be pretty easy to assemble, it’s a pretty straightforward process for either. Although, you should know that Keiser doesn’t include the necessary tools.
Something else worth mentioning is that NordicTrack is part of the ICON Health & Fitness family of brands, which also includes ProForm.
If you already own any other ICON products and have an iFit membership for that, you’ll be able to use the same membership for the S22i.
Speaking of ICON, you should also know that their customer service has an awful reputation for being, well, awful.
There are tons of user complaints about how slow they are and how difficult they are to contact in the first place.
On the other hand, Keiser users praise them for their customer service- it just goes to show you the difference between going with a huge company and a smaller one.
Alrighty, that about does it for the Keiser M3i and the NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle.
Before we declare a winner, I want to point out one more time that both of these options are really nice indoor cycles. It really boils down to what you’re looking for out of your bike.
That said, based on the specs and features we discussed above, in the battle of the Keiser M3i vs the NordicTrack S22i, the winner is…
The Keiser M3i!
The sophistication of the design behind this bike really sets this model apart. Every component, from the flywheel to frame and pedals, is designed with performance in mind.
The S22i obviously makes more sense if you’re looking for a streaming bike with tons of workout options, but if you’re simply looking for an elite cycle that will feel smooth to ride, I think the M3i is a better bet.
And for those taller folks out there- I’ve never seen another spin bike that explicitly states they can fit users who are 7′ tall.