The R5i is the only recumbent bike in LifeSpan’s current lineup, but I guess if you nail it the first time around, there’s no need to repeat yourself, right?
Well, I’m not sure I’d 100% agree that LifeSpan “nailed it” with the R5i, but this recumbent bike certainly has a lot going for it – especially when it comes to comfort.
With office chair-like armrests and an adjustable backrest, the R5i is one of the more comfortable exercise bikes out there.
It’s also got a self-generating power source, meaning you don’t have to worry about placing it near an outlet.
And if you’re looking for a lot of workout variety, you’ll likely appreciate that this recumbent comes with over 30 built-in workout programs to choose from.
But with a dated console and rather lightweight flywheel (plus the fact that there’s a lot of competition in this price range), does it really make sense to invest in the R5i?
Well, that’s I’m here to help you figure out.
In this review, I’ll go over everything this recumbent bike does and doesn’t have going for it.
After reading, you’ll know everything you need to in order to decide for yourself whether or not it’s worth buying.
Let’s do this.
The LifeSpan R5i Recumbent Bike
LifeSpan’s an interesting brand.
They spit their attention by focusing on both office and home fitness products, but without committing fully to either.
That said, they do offer some legit products, especially when it comes to home and desk treadmills.
But their home fitness lineup is rather small these days and as I mentioned in the intro, the R5i is the only recumbent bike they offer (they only offer 2 exercise bikes in all, with the other being an upright model, the C5i; well, there’s also their unique CycleBoxer, if you count that).
But LifeSpan is still pretty well-respected as fitness brands go and their products can make sense depending on what you’re looking for.
Let’s start this review off with a look at how the R5i scores on the performance side of things. Then we’ll switch gears and check out the additional features and whatnot it comes with.
Finally, I’ll go over cost and some of the comps in this price range before wrapping things up.
- Self-generating power source
- Adjustable backrest
- Large arm rests
- Heavy-duty frame
- Weight limit of 400 lb
- Tons of built-in workout programs
- Bluetooth compatible
- Heart rate monitoring
- Flywheel a bit light for this price range
- Simple console
- Warranty could be longer
When it comes to home exercise bikes and performance, it’s mostly about the weight of the flywheel under the hood.
Having a heavier flywheel is usually beneficial because most home bikes are designed to benefit from that extra weight.
That extra weight builds more momentum as it spins and that momentum helps keep the flywheel and pedals moving throughout your pedal cycle.
Which results in less lag between your upstroke and downstroke, resulting in a smoother overall pedaling feel.
I said “usually” beneficial because there are some bikes, like Keiser’s M3i, that are designed specifically for lightweight flywheels and perform amazingly without the extra bulk.
But those bikes are usually a lot more expensive because they have gear ratios designed to get the flywheel spinning really fast.
Well, with all of this in mind, LifeSpan doesn’t disclose the flywheel weight of their R5i – yea, I know, disappointing.
But, if you check the owner’s manual, you’ll see the flywheel listed as weighing 18 lb, so there we go.
At 18 lb, the R5i is packing a heavier flywheel than those found on the more affordable recumbents (think Schwinn’s 270 or Nautilus’s R618, both of which use 13 lb flywheels), but it’s a lot lighter than many of the other bikes in this price range.
Not to say 18 lb isn’t heavy enough to provide a smooth feel (although personally I like to see at least a 20 flywheel), but having a heavier flywheel is still beneficial when it comes to providing more intense workouts.
But if you’re simply looking for a comfortable recumbent with a decent pedaling motion, I think the 18 lb flywheel on this model will suffice.
Speaking of intense workouts, the R5i also comes with 16 magnetic resistance levels.
This is pretty average for a recumbent bike and while there are plenty of models offering more resistance levels (40 and 26 on the bikes just mentioned, respectively), having more doesn’t necessarily mean more total resistance.
It just allows you to make smaller changes between levels.
Overall, the R5i doesn’t blow me away when it comes to its resistance system. There are plenty of similarly priced recumbents with heavier flywheels and more resistance levels to play with.
But there’s more to a recumbent bike than its resistance system, especially since most folks aren’t opting for this style of bike for intense workouts anyway.
There’s the comfort factor and the stability of the frame to consider as well.
I always like to check assembled weights and weight capacities because these numbers can give us a good idea as to how stable or robust the bike is without being able to try it out first.
And seeing higher numbers in both specs is a good thing in my book because it usually means the bike will feel more secure during use.
The R5i comes with an assembled weight of 145 lb, which is very impressive for a recumbent bike (matching the weight of the Sole LCR).
With a weight this high, you won’t have to worry about this recumbent feeling flimsy or lightweight during workouts.
It also comes with a very impressive weight capacity of 400 lb, allowing folks of all sizes to use it safely.
The R5i is also pretty long for a recumbent, taking up a footprint of roughly 70″ x 28″ – so certainly not the most compact recumbent bike around.
But I like how robust this bike is.
You’ll also notice how low the frame is between the flywheel and the seat (step-thru frame) – this makes it easy to access the seat from either direction.
Overall, I think the R5i scores highly in the frame department.
LifeSpan offers the following residential warranty on their R5i Recumbent Bike:
- 10 year frame
- 2 year parts
- 1 year labor
This isn’t a bad warranty for this price range, but there’s definitely room for improvement.
This is actually the same warranty NordicTrack offers on all of their equipment, in case you were wondering.
Anyway, 10 years on the frame is ok, but there are bikes in this price range that offer lifetime frame guarantees (like Spirit’s XBR25).
Two years on parts is pretty average too, considering most brands offer somewhere between 2- 5 years here.
A year on labor is also industry standard, so nothing special going on there.
All things considered, not a bad warranty, but could be better.
The LifeSpan R5i comes with the following features:
LCD console- the console on this bike is pretty basic looking, but it’s brightly lit and large enough to see clearly during workouts. But it’s lacking some of the higher-tech features like fans, speakers, and USB charging ports.
40 workout programs- that said, it does come with a boatload of built-in workouts to choose from, including 34 preprogrammed profiles, 4 heart rate guided programs, and 2 customers user workouts.
Self-generating power- one of the coolest features this bike has to offer if you ask me, is the self-generating power. You don’t have to plug this bike in, all you have to do is hop on and start pedaling. Just keep in mind the console will shut off if you stop pedaling.
Adjustable backrest- the adjustable backrest is another great feature and something you don’t see on many recumbents these days. With the pull of a lever, you can easily adjust the angle of the backrest to suit your needs. This is a handy feature for people dealing with back pain. The armrests are also large, mimicking the feel of an office chair.
Bluetooth- the R5i is bluetooth compatible with fitness apps, like LifeSpan’s own Club App, which allows you to track all your metrics and gauge progress toward goals.
Heart rate monitoring- there are built-in grip monitors in the armrests, but the R5i is also compatible with strap monitors (one not included).
Time to talk numbers.
At the time of writing this, the R5i is going for $1899 directly through LifeSpan’s website, which feels a bit high for me.
True, the adjustable backrest and self-generating power source might be enough to justify this much cost, but with such a simple console and lackluster resistance system, I think that’s asking a bit much.
Fortunately, at the time of writing this, Amazon has the R5i for around $1399 and I obviously like this price a lot better.
At roughly $1400, I think the R5i makes a lot more sense – again, mostly for the adjustable backrest and self-generating power source.
But there’s still some tough competition in this price range.
I’ve mentioned Sole’s LCR already, but there’s also their more affordable R92 (usually around $1100 – $1300), which comes with a 20 lb flywheel, 20 resistance levels, a more sophisticated console, and a longer warranty (lifetime frame, 3 year parts).
But, no adjustable backrest and you have to plug it in.
NordicTrack’s Commercial R35 goes for around $1500 and it comes with a 14″ HD touchscreen console, workout streaming, a 25 lb flywheel, and an identical warranty.
There’s also Spirit’s XBR55, which costs around $1600 and comes with a 24 lb flywheel, 20 resistance levels, an adjustable backrest, and one of the longest warranties on the market (lifetime frame, 10 year parts).
Again, the R5i has a lot of competition in this price range.
All that said, does it makes sense to invest in the R5i??
I generally like LifeSpan as a brand, but when it comes to the performance side of things, the R5i falls a bit short when compared to the other top recumbents in this price range.
The only real reason I see to go with the R5i is if you’re specifically looking for a bike with an adjustable backrest and a self -generating power source.
Because at the sale price of $1400, I don’t know of any other recumbent off the top of my head that offers both features in that price range.
Speaking of price, I don’t think it makes any sense to purchase the R5i at its full asking price of $1900 because there are too many other nice recumbents that are more affordable.
If the self-generating power source isn’t that important to ya, I would suggest comparing prices between the R5i and the Spirit XBR55 because they both come with the adjustable backrest.
And Spirit’s warranties are much better.
Overall though, I think the R5i is a nice recumbent bike, especially for heavier folks looking for a comfortable ride.