Even though the Commercial VU 19 is NordicTrack’s most budget-friendly upright bike, one could make the argument that it’s actually a better buy than their higher-end model, the VU 29.
In fact, I intend to make that argument myself, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
Folks looking for a traditional upright bike with streaming capabilities should certainly consider the VU 19, not only because it has a 7″ HD touchscreen, but because it’s also packing some decent performance specs.
Highlights of this model include a 19 lb flywheel, 24 magnetic resistance levels, and 30 built-in workout programs.
It’s warranty isn’t bad either, although for the price it could be better.
All things considered, I think the VU 19 is a solid choice for a streaming bike, but there are higher performing uprights in this price range.
It really all depends on what you’re going for – but that’s what I’m here to help with.
In this review, I’ll go over all the specs and features this bike has to offer; I”ll also compare it to some of the other top uprights in its price range so you can see how it stacks up.
After reading, you’ll know everything you need to in order to decide for yourself whether or not the Commercial VU 19 is worth investing in.
Off we go.
The NordicTrack Commercial VU 19 Upright Bike
I’m sure we’re all well aware who NordicTrack is, so I don’t think we need a lengthy intro here, but I do want to say that generally speaking, they’re a pretty well-respected brand.
True, they get their fair share of complaints regarding their customer service and sometimes quality control can be an issue, but the same can be said for pretty much any large fitness brand in this price range.
One thing I do find a little annoying about NordicTrack though, is how aggressively they’re pushing iFit, their streaming service.
I realize fitness streaming is here to stay and it’s only going to get more popular and I’m ok with that – but does every single machine need to a streaming device?
Is there something wrong with having some good old fashioned basic cardio machines to choose from too?
Maybe there is…maybe everyone wants streaming devices now… maybe I’m just getting old…
Regardless, if you’re looking for streaming workouts, NordicTrack is a good brand to go with.
All of their new machines are compatible with iFit and you can use the same account with multiple machines.
When it comes to upright bikes, they’ve only got 2 models to choose from these days – the Commercial VU 19 and the more expensive Commercial VU 29.
The biggest difference between these 2 bikes is the size of the screen, but more on that in a bit.
- 7″ HD touchscreen console
- 19 lb flywheel
- 32 built-in workout programs
- 24 magnetic resistance levels
- 30 day iFit trial included
- Automatic Trainer Control feature (iFit)
- Instructor led workouts (iFit)
- Chest strap heart rate monitor included
- Compatible with bluetooth headphones
- 325 lb weight limit
- Fully adjustable seat
- AutoBreeze cooling fan
- Decent warranty
- Competitive price
- Frame could be heavier-duty
- NordicTrack’s customer service doesn’t have a great reputation
Even though spin bikes tend to get all the attention these days, good ol’ fashioned upright bikes are still around and they can still make a good option for home gyms.
Generally speaking, upright bikes are a bit more comfortable than spin bikes because the consoles are higher and you don’t have to lean forward quite as much.
They also have larger, softer seats sometimes (but this isn’t a given).
When comparing uprights, I encourage you to consider the resistance systems because regardless of which style of exercise bike you’re looking at, the resistance system is crucial.
Mostly because this is what largely determines how smooth or un-smooth your workouts are going to feel.
Most home uprights work by pairing a weighted flywheel with a magnetic resistance mechanism and just like indoor cycles, most models benefit from having a heavier flywheel.
This is because the extra weight builds more momentum, which in turn helps keep the pedals moving between pedal strokes – resulting in a smoother feel.
With all of this in mind, the VU 19 comes with a 19 lb flywheel, which isn’t bad for a bike in this price range.
For the sake of comparison, let’s check out some other similarly priced uprights.
There’s Sole’s B94, which is about $100 less and it comes with a 20 lb flywheel; there’s also the Nautilus U618, which goes for about $300 less and it comes with a 13 lb flywheel.
Schwinn’s 170 is quite a bit cheaper, costing roughly $400 less, and it too comes with a 13 lb flywheel.
Finally, there’s LifeSpan’s C5i, which is about $200 more than the VU 19, and it comes with an 18 lb flywheel.
So, long story short, the 19 lb flywheel on this upright is quite heavy compared to other bikes in this price range.
But it also comes with 24 resistance levels, which is pretty good too, considering all the bikes just mentioned offer somewhere between 16 – 25 resistance levels.
When comparing resistance levels, keep in mind that more levels doesn’t mean more overall resistance, but it does mean you get more control over the available resistance (you can smaller adjustments between levels).
Oh, I should also mention that the VU 29 uses the same 19 lb flywheel found on the VU 19.
Overall, this upright bike scores highly with its heavy flywheel and generous selection of resistance levels; it can hold its own with any upright in this price range in this category.
But let’s see how it stacks up when it comes to its frame.
All of these bikes are more less the same size, give or take a few inches, so I’m not too concerned with physical dimensions.
Instead, I like to look at assembled weights and weight capacities because I feel these specs give us a good idea as to how “heavy-duty” the bike will feel.
Which is really just another way of saying how stable the bike is.
Lighter bikes are more likely to wiggle or wobble during use, so I think being heavier is always a good thing.
True, heavier bikes might be a little more difficult to move around, but all these bikes have built-in transport wheels, so even the heavier models aren’t that bad to transport.
With all of this in mind, NordicTrack doesn’t provide us with the actual assembled weight of the VU 19 – instead, they tell us that it has an “in box weight” of 115 lb.
This means we’d have to subtract the weight of the packaging to get at the real assembled weight of the bike.
I don’t know for sure how much the packaging weighs, but I think 15 lb is a reasonable estimate, which would put the assembled weight of the VU 19 somewhere around 100 lb, give or take.
Which again, is pretty solid for a bike in this price range.
Sole’s B94 is a bit beefier, weighing somewhere around 120 lb, but the U618 only weighs in around 86 lb, the Schwinn 170’s only about 63 lb, and LifeSpan’s C5i is very similar with a weight of roughly 99 lb.
So, assuming my estimate of around 100 lb or so is fairly accurate (I hate to assume), that means the VU 19 is pretty heavy-duty compared to these other bikes.
This upright also comes with a max weight limit of 325 lb, which is pretty good considering many only top out at 300 lb.
Overall, I think the VU 19 is heavy enough to feel stable during workouts, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it wobbling around of feeling shaky during use.
NordicTrack backs their Commercial VU 19 Upright Bike with the following residential warranty:
- 10 year frame
- 2 year parts
- 1 year labor
This is the same warranty NordicTrack uses on all their products now, regardless of price range.
It isn’t bad for a bike in this price range, but it’s not great on their more expensive cycles and treadmills that cost a few times what this one does.
Anyway, 10 years on the frame is pretty good – Sole offers a lifetime warranty on their B94, but not that many brands do in this price range.
Two years on parts is pretty good too, although Sole and Nautilus both offer 3 years.
And a year on labor is standard stuff.
Overall, I think NordicTrack’s warranty works better on the VU 19 than it does for some of their more expensive products.
The Commercial VU 19 comes with the following features:
7″ HD console- this bike comes with a decent sized, HD touchscreen console that makes it easy to make all selections and see all workouts/metrics clearly.
iFit- this nice touchscreen is of course designed to pair with iFit, NordicTrack’s fitness steaming platform, which gives you access to basically unlimited instructor-led workouts, Automatic Trainer Control, metric tracking, and scenic workouts. You get a free month of iFit included with purchase, then you have to pay a monthly subscription fee to access it. Even though NordicTrack pushes it pretty hard, you don’t HAVE to sign up for iFit to use this bike (although I don’t see why you’d choose this bike if you aren’t gonna use iFit, but to each their own).
32 workouts- if you don’t choose to go with iFit, or you simply get tired of paying that monthly fee, the VU 19 still has ya covered. With this many built-in workouts, you’ll still have plenty of workout variety at your disposal.
Heart rate monitoring- this upright comes with built-in grip monitors in the handles, but it’s also compatible with bluetooth chest strap monitors for more accurate readings. And NordicTrack even includes a chest strap with purchase.
Music port- there are built-in speakers in the console, so you can always plug your mp3 player or phone up via the music port and listen to your playlists through the console if you like (do people still use mp3 players??)
Bluetooth headphone compatible- the console is also compatible with bluetooth headphones, a convenient feature if you’re trying not to disrupt other family members in the room.
Fully adjustable seat- you can adjust the height and fore/aft position of the seat, making it easier to find a comfortable riding position.
Cooling fan- there’s a built-in AutoBreeze cooling fan that can help keep ya a little more comfortable during workouts.
Water bottle holder- finally, there’s a place to store your water bottle within easy reach.
Ok, time to talk a little more about price.
At the time of writing this (keep in mind these numbers can change at any time), NordicTrack has the VU 19 on sale for $999.
Considering it comes with a 7″ HD touchscreen, I think $1k is fairly reasonable (but you could always try searching around other sites to compare prices).
Anyway, we’ve talked about a few of the top comps in this price range already, but I want to go over some of these bikes a little more here.
Sole’s B94 is a top comp and it costs around $899.
The B94 comes with a 20 lb flywheel, 20 resistance levels, a heavier-duty frame, and a much better warranty – but no HD touchscreen console and no workout streaming.
Nautilus’ U618 costs around $699, comes with a significantly lighter, 13 lb flywheel, comes with 29 workouts programs, and a similar warranty.
But again, no workout streaming.
There’s also ProForm’s Pro C10U, which costs a bit less at $599 and it comes with a 10″ HD console designed for iFit streaming.
The C10U is quite a bit lighter-duty, coming with an assembled weight around 77 lb and only a 275 lb weight limit and a flywheel I’m guessing is somewhere in the 13 – 15 lb range, but still not a bad option for smaller folks.
Finally, there’s NordicTrack’s own VU 29, which costs about $300 more – it comes with a 14″ HD console, but comes with the same flywheel, same resistance levels, same assembled weight, and same warranty.
Also, for some unknown reason, the VU 29 doesn’t come with any built-in workouts and doesn’t come with any heart rate monitoring capabilities.
See, I told ya it’s pretty easy to argue the VU 19 is a better buy than the VU 29 (especially at Amazon’s price).
Anyway, that’s about all I got when it comes to this upright bike.
I think it has a lot to offer, but is especially a good buy for people interested in an upright bike with streaming workout capabilities.
Honestly, there aren’t a lot of streaming upright bikes in this price range to begin with.
But with a nice sized screen, solid performance specs, a decent warranty, and a generous selection of on-board workouts, I think the VU 19 could make a lot of sense.
It wouldn’t surprise me if NordicTrack decides to phase this model out in the near future, so if you’re interested, you might want to decide sooner than later.