When Schwinn Fitness bounced back into the indoor cycling market with its own product after its split with Johnny G a couple of years ago, a number of Schwinn bike trainers were eventually born, including the Evolution SR, now the company's top-end indoor cycle with its Smart Release feature.
This is one sturdy animal that, if bought for home use, will likely last long enough to be passed on in your will to your grand-kids.
Several members of the SNEWS team rode the bike for a couple of months this summer and found it steady, simple, comfy and ready to deliver a great workout. The ability to adjust the seat and handle bars easily and quickly make it a great family workout piece to be shared by different body types. And even if you aren't Arnold, you can move the bike around for workouts or storage without much effort. The 38-pound flywheel and gearing simulates the feel of road riding so even a devout road cyclist can get a great, natural-feeling workout indoors too -- or outdoors since we often wheeled our bike onto the deck.
The resistance knob is placed front and center so no matter how much you're huffing and puffing you can conveniently adjust it during your ride and the emergency brake feature lets a rider stop the heavy flywheel on a dime with a downward push. Having ridden bikes without these â€“ and having experienced the difficultly in stopping the motion of a flywheel and getting twisted legs in the process â€“ we appreciated this feature.
However our one complaint also stems from that very resistance knob: There are no markings so a user can never simply return to a position once used either in a previous hill or speed interval, or in a previous workout. That means, one, that exercisers will have trouble assessing if they are truly progressing (an important tool for sticking to exercise) and, two, exercisers are left to guesswork during a workout to figure out what resistance feels right. Some may consider that a benefit -- to rely on feel -- but we found it annoying to fiddle about with the knob â€¦ a little heavier, a little lighter, too much, too little â€¦ all of which felt a bit like time wasted if we started too low or a leg-thrasher if we started too high. Of course, a simple dabble or two of nail polish can create your own markings to solve that. But at this price that seems sort of silly.
We also highly suggest a user go for the upgraded heavy-duty Triple Link Pedals, allowing clip-in on one side and regular shoes on the other. The pedals that come with it won't keep most users satisfied.
This bike with its sweat-protective shrouds, robotic welded steel one-piece frame, and corrosion-resistant zinc-plated and powder-coated frame also has the SR (Smart Release System) that offers the benefits of a fixed gear bike as well as adds a coasting feature for a more natural feel.
Put all this together and the Evolution SR is definitely an investment. OK, there are less expensive ones by other companies as well as in the Schwinn line (as low as $800). But you can't argue the ride you'll get on this indoor cycle.
SNEWS Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested retail: $1,299; upgraded Triple Link Pedals, $95
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