LifeSpan’s C5i offers an interesting combination of performance specs and features for a classic upright bike.
For example, it’s pretty lightweight when compared to other top options in this price range, yet it still comes with a surprisingly high weight limit of 400 lb.
Another notable feature is its self-generating power source that allows you to put this bike anywhere you like (without having to worry about plugging it in).
In terms of performance, the C5i doesn’t have the heaviest flywheel, but at 18 lb it’s still heavy enough to offer a smooth ride and with 16 resistance levels you have plenty of control over the intensity of each workout.
And speaking of which, with over 30 built-in workouts to choose from, you won’t have to worry about getting bored with your routine.
It does come with a rather simple console, so folks looking for a higher-tech exercise bike should probably consider another option, but if you’re looking for a straightforward, easy to use bike you’ll probably appreciate this.
All things considered, I think the C5i is a quality upright with a lot to offer, but it’s not going to be for everyone.
In this article, I’ll go over everything this upright bike does and doesn’t have going for it. I’ll also compare it to some of the other top bikes in this price ranges so you can see how it stacks up.
After reading, you’ll know whether or not the C5i is worth investing in.
Let’s do this.
The LifeSpan C5i Upright Bike
LifeSpan is an understated brand that probably doesn’t get the respect they deserve.
And by that, I mean they’re a quality brand, but I don’t think that many people are aware of ’em. They certainly don’t get the same kind of attention as some other home brands (that aren’t nearly as good).
Anyway, if you’re looking for easy to use cardio equipment, LifeSpan is definitely a brand worth checking out – especially when it comes to their treadmills.
But their exercise bikes are no slouch either.
They don’t have that many exercise bikes to choose from these days, but the ones they still offer are solid.
The C5i is actually only 1 of 2 bikes currently in their lineup (not counting their desk bikes), with the other being a recumbent bike (the R5i).
Anyway, let’s start things off right here by taking a look at the performance side of things.
- Compact footprint
- Easy to move
- Self-generating power source (doesn’t need to be plugged in)
- Tons of workout programs
- Easy to use
- 400 lb weight limit
- Self-balancing pedals
- Compatible with heart rate monitors
- Flywheel could be heavier
- Simple console
- Warranty could be longer
- Full asking price a bit expensive
A bike’s resistance system obviously creates the resistance you get to work against during use, but it’s also responsible for giving a bike its “feel”.
Some bikes have a smoother pedaling motion than others and if you’ve ever used a crappy exercise bike, I bet you know what I’m talking about here.
For example, have you ever seen those really affordable pedalers?
Well, not to be negative or anything, but most of ’em have a really awkward pedaling motion because there’s no flywheel and really no resistance mechanism to speak of (other than friction between a bolt and a metal rod).
I know that’s a really drastic example, but my point is still valid.
Anyway, when it comes to home exercise bikes and resistance systems, it’s a good idea to consider the weight of the flywheel.
The flywheel is the part that spins as you pedal and having a heavier flywheel is usually a good thing because they tend to offer a smoother pedaling motion.
And that’s because the extra weight builds more momentum as it spins, reducing any lag between pedal strokes.
Now upright bikes aren’t known for having massive flywheels like indoor cycles are, but you’ll still notice that they vary greatly in weight too.
The C5i we’re here to discuss now comes with an 18 lb flywheel, which is on the lighter side when compared to a lot of the uprights in this price range.
For example, Sole’s LCB comes with a 30 lb flywheel, as does Spirit’s XBU55.
The 18 lb flywheel on the C5i is still quite a bit heavier than the 13 lb flywheels found on bikes like the Schwinn 170 or Nautilus U618, but those bikes are a lot more affordable too.
Not to say everyone needs a massive flywheel to get a nice pedaling motion, but if you plan on doing higher-intensity workouts on your upright bike, having a heavier flywheel is usually a good thing.
The C5i also comes with 16 magnetic resistance levels, giving you a fair amount of control over the intensities of your workouts.
Having more resistance levels doesn’t mean more resistance, it just means you can make smaller adjustments between levels.
A lot of bikes come with more than 16 levels, especially in this price range, so I’d say the C5i is pretty average in this category.
Overall, the C5i has a lighter flywheel and fewer resistance levels than a lot of the uprights in this price range, so folks looking for higher-intensity workouts should certainly consider this.
What the C5i may lack in the resistance department, it makes up for with its frame.
The first thing that catches my attention is how compact this thing is – with a length of only 40″, the C5i takes up less floorspace than most.
It’s also very lightweight, weighing in at only 99 lb.
Being lightweight is a good thing when it comes to moving this bike around, but it can also be a bad thing when it comes to stability.
Generally speaking, heavier bikes feel more stable during workouts (because they’re harder to move).
That shouldn’t be an issue in this case though, because the C5i is designed to handle riders weighing up to 400 lb – which in itself says a lot about the structural integrity of this bike.
You’ll also notice that the base of this bike is a little wider in the front, with a “v” shaped footprint.
Having a wider stabilizing base also adds to the overall stability of the bike.
You might also notice that there aren’t any power cords with this upright- nope, don’t need ’em, the only thing powering this cycle is you.
The C5i has a self-generating power source, so you don’t have to worry about plugging it in or placing near an outlet.
Just keep in mind that if you stop pedaling, it will turn off.
Overall, the C5i comes with a compact, lightweight frame, but it still comes with a great weight limit, making it a good option for heavier riders.
LifeSpan backs their C5i Upright Bike with the following residential warranty:
- 10 year frame
- 2 year parts
- 1 year labor
Ok, not the longest warranty out there, but not embarrassing either.
This is actually the exact same warranty NordicTrack backs all of their equipment with and that doesn’t seem to stop people from investing in those machines.
Anyway, 10 years on the frame is ok, but in this price range, I like to see “lifetime” frame warranties.
And there are plenty of brands offering this, including Sole, Spirit, Life Fitness, Horizon, etc.
Two years on parts isn’t bad either, considering most brands in this price range offer somewhere between 2-5 years, but again- there are plenty of brands offering longer guarantees.
Sole offers 5 years on parts and Spirit offers an astounding 10 years… crazy.
A year on labor is standard procedure, most offer the same warranty there.
Overall, the C5i comes with a pretty average warranty – not awful, but there are much better guarantees out there in this price range.
The LifeSpan C5i Upright Bike comes with the following features:
LCD console- the console on the C5i is very simple, there aren’t any touchscreens or tons of menus to go through to get a workout going. Just a few buttons and a brightly lit screen that’s easy to see during use.
40 workout programs- don’t let the simple console fool ya though, this bike is packed with workout programs. 34 of these are pre-programmed profiles, the others include 4 heart rate guided workouts and 2 custom options.
Height adjustable seat- you can adjust the height of the seat, but you can’t adjust the horizontal (fore/aft) position. It would be nice to have a fully adjustable seat because it gives you a better chance of finding a comfortable riding position.
Self-balancing pedals- the pedals have a little weight to them, ensuring they always face the right direction for putting your foot on ’em (a small detail, but still convenient).
Heart rate monitoring- there are built-in grip monitors in the handles and the console is also compatible with chest straps (one not included with purchase).
Water bottle holder- and yes, there is a place to hold your beverage of choice.
I’ve referred to the C5i’s price range a few times so far, but let’s get a little more specific.
Now keep in mind that prices can change (especially these days), so if these numbers are a little off by the time you read this, don’t hate me.
That said, at the time of writing this the C5i is on sale through LifeSpan directly for $1699.
It looks like you can also get it through Amazon too though, and at the time of writing this, it’s about $500 cheaper on Amazon.
And I obviously like that price a lot better.
At its full retail asking price though, the C5i has some steep competition.
Sole’s LCB and Spirit’s XBU55 both come with 30 lb flywheels, more resistance levels, more sophisticated consoles, and much longer warranties.
There’s also NordicTrack’s Commercial VU29, although as a streaming bike, I’m not sure that’s in direct competition with the C5i.
At around $1700, the C5i is right up there with Life Fitness’ C1 Lifecycle too, which on paper doesn’t look like it has that much on the C5i, but that Life Fitness name is worth a lot in itself.
Now to be fair though, none of the bikes mentioned come with a self-generating power source and that feature alone usually ups the price significantly.
Ok, that’s about all I got here.
Long-story-short, I think the C5i is a fine upright bike, but I certainly think there are better options in this price range, especially if you want a bike that can handle more intense workouts.
The feature that stands out most to me is the self-generating power source because this isn’t something you see that often (even in this price range).
And not having to plug it in could really come in handy, especially if you wanted to take it outside on a nice day or something like that.
I also like how many workout programs are included – if you want a bike with tons of workout options, the C5i could make sense.
That weight capacity is really impressive too, especially for such a lightweight frame.
Overall though, I don’t think the C5i is one of the year’s best upright bikes, but I could see it making sense for people looking for a lightweight, easy to use upright with tons of workout options.
Just make sure you compare those prices.