NordicTrack S15i Review: The Good and The Bad

The NordicTrack S15i studio bike is an indoor cycling bike with a “big” difference. It is the first of the NordicTrack’s Studio cycle series, followed only by the NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle. Both bikes have all the bells and whistles typical of top-performing exercise bikes. However, the S22i presents upgraded performance specs and a higher price. This S15i review will tell you everything you need to know about the S15i indoor cycle and if it is worth your money.

Valued at $1,599, the S15i indoor cycling bike costs some pretty dollars, but you bet it has the quality of a commercial-grade spin bike to show for it. Your money translates to prime performance specifications with leading-edge technology to boot. The S15i spin bike is also built like a rock, so you are certain to get some good long-lasting use out of it! In line with this, it has a relatively good warranty covering 10 years for its frame, 2 years for its parts, and a year for labor. NordicTrack typically ships the bike for free, and its assembly is quite easy. Besides, you can rely on its assembly guide for a quick and easy fix!

Cycle Specifications:

  • Q-factor: 150 mm
  • Pedals: Wide and adjustable toe clips
  • Flywheel: N/A
  • Resistance: Magnetic
  • Transmission: Poly-V belt
  • Weight capacity: 350 lbs
  • Height capacity: 5’0”-6’5”
  • Bike weight: 203 lbs in-box weight
  • Bike dimensions: 60” L × 22” W × 58” H
  • Monitor: 14” touchscreen
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and wifi
  • Applications: iFit
  • RPM Tracking: Yes
  • Watt Tracking: Yes

Bike Monitor

It was “love at first sight” with the S15i’s 14-inch tilting monitor, which screams smart, huge, and “techy.” Its quick controls, crisp and bright resolution, and its super-smart touchscreen design particularly stood out for us. The monitor’s 360° tilting orientation says you can view the screen at the most convenient angle. The S15i’s monitor works with a power plug which rules out the need for batteries.

The highly readable screen displays performance information that aids and influences your workout progress. You can track your calorie consumption, distance, time, speed, and heart rate (Note that a heart strap device is not included). You can also measure your watts and RPM directly on the spin bike console. Additionally, you can get “maximum” and “average” results for the listed stats. A highly technical console, users have access to dual 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wifi and Bluetooth headphone connectivity. Unfortunately, the bike does not include ANT+ connectivity and a USB port.

We noted the absence of pre-set workout programs on the S15i spinning bike with a measure of surprise. But we soon realized the inclusion of an expanded iFit family membership, which made up for the non-existent onboard programs in more ways than one. And yes, the bike exclusively syncs to iFit alone (no Peloton, Zwift, and whatnot). The iFit app, which five different individuals can access, is valued at about $468. The good news is, you can access the app without a subscription for a year on purchase. Whether you can afford the subsequent subscriptions is yours to decide.

Resistance and Transmission

How smooth or how jerky a bike feels is primarily determined by its resistance system. The S15i indoor bike has one of the best resistance systems on the market ─ it uses a smart electromagnetic system that is incredibly quiet and light as a feather. It feels just as good as riding on an outdoor bike. The S15i’s resistance system features a magnetic brake and a servo motor. With each change to the resistance, the motor adjusts the magnetic brake to cover a smaller or larger flywheel area, thus increasing or decreasing pedaling challenge.

As with most smart electromagnetic resistance systems, it is fitted with a mechanical emergency brake which is simply a push-down knob. The knob is located on the bike’s main frame alongside a brake pad that maintains contact with the flywheel. So if you get carried away by the bike’s smooth sensation and pedal too fast, you can bring the bike and flywheel to an instant stop by pushing down on the knob. The S15i indoor cycling bike provides 22 digital resistance settings that you can control from the console and grips.

Where transmission is concerned, the S15i shines brightly. Its drive system uses a high-quality poly-v belt which has several benefits. For one, it can fully function with zero lubrication. Secondly, it produces less friction and noise as opposed to a chain-drive. This significantly contributes to the bike’s all-around smooth consistency and minimal noise volume. We might also add that the S15i indoor bike has a remarkable 20% incline and 10% decline system, which is a rare and laudable feature for an indoor bike.

Pedals, Q-factor and Flywheel

The comfort that comes with riding on the S15i’s large, adjustable bike pedals is one to look forward to. Judging by the articulation and design, the S15i’s pedals will be your riding buddy for many years. To be more descriptive, they feature a toe clip design with the common 16/9” pedal straps (common 9/16” pedal thread). Besides durability and comfort, they are also plenty stable, so the chance of losing your footing mid-ride is zero to nil. Plus, they are compatible with standard road bike pedals.

Compared to SPD cleats, they can be comfortably used during cross-training exercises when you have to train off the bike using dumbbells (it is no coincidence that NordicTrack includes two 3Ibs dumbbells for this bike). However, if you are more inclined to do spinning exercises only, you will find dual-sided SPD compatible pedals more favorable. The S15i’s pedals run off a three-piece crank arm system with a narrow 150mm Q-factor. The Q-factor refers to the horizontal distance between the pedals, and the narrower the measurement, the better for your legs.

For some reason, the S15i’s flywheel weight is unspecified (32 pounds). The only thing we know for sure is that it has an inertia enhanced flywheel with a fantastic drive and resistance system. In other words, you shouldn’t be overly bothered about the weight of the S15i’s flywheel because you get an extremely smooth and jerk-free ride regardless.

Specifications and Accessories

It is worth mentioning that the S15i isn’t your regular cheap and wobbly indoor exercise bike. It is draped in a commercial steel construction that can handle a 350-pound maximum user weight capacity. Its dimensions are 60” L × 22” W × 58” H. A bottle holder is also provided to maximize refreshment options.

The S15i’s saddle is reminiscent of a race-style bike seat which optimizes comfort. It is well-cushioned and contoured for added breathability and comfort. The S15i’s seat is four-way adjustable; up, down, forward and backward. You can make several adjustments to its upright post and horizontal slider. As such, users between 5’0”-6’5” can sit comfortably on the bike and extend their legs to their desired comfort. To avoid wearing the seat out workout after workout, consider adding a comfortable padded bike seat cover.

Unlike the seat, the S15i’s handlebar only allows two-way adjustability, up and down. You can adjust the handlebar vertically at a few inches to match your arms’ comfort. Additionally, the handles are multi-gripped with two long side grips and a small loop bar, giving you room to switch hand positions and enable a closer grip. The rear of the handlebar includes a dumbbell rack that houses the aforementioned 3-lb dumbbells. Finally, the side grips integrate incline/decline and resistance controls.

NordicTrack S15i Pros:

  • Features a solid steel construction that can support users that weigh up to 350-pounds
  • Its silent magnetic resistance system, flywheel, and belt drive transmission deliver a quiet, smooth and consistent ride.
  • Presents 14-inches, large-sized, swiveling monitor with high-resolution and readability
  • Its petals are wide and adjustable with a narrow Q-factor that allows natural and comfortable foot positioning.
  • The seat and handlebars are adjustable, thus improving user comfort and experience.
  • The smart screen displays vital performance metrics, including accurate direct watt readings.
  • Syncs with the notable iFit app, which comes free for the first year following purchase
  • It has automatic decline and incline capabilities which is a rare find on indoor exercise bikes.
  • Requires minimal maintenance, thanks to its Poly-V belt transmission
  • Offers BlueTooth connectivity for a seamless app and device pairing
  • Includes 3Ibs dumbbells to aid cross-training exercises

NordicTrack S15i Cons:

  • It lacks a tablet holder and reading rack for keeping phones, books, and the like
  • Once your free 1-year iFit membership expires, you have to pay a subscription fee which may be necessary considering the lack of onboard workout programs.
  • The warranty could be better, especially where labor and parts are concerned.

Purchasing the NordicTrack S15i indoor cycling bike might be the best decision you’d make (if the spec-sheet meets your approval, that is). Its riding sensation closely mimics a real road biking experience, so you don’t have to step outdoors or deal with inclement weather conditions when you need to or feel like cycling. The super-sturdy commercial construction lends its weight to a 350-pound maximum weight capacity which is quite impressive.

And you don’t need to run a gym to buy this bike, as it is suitable for residential settings on account of its minimal noise output. Each member of the family can also customize their workout as the iFit app allows five user profiles. Its monster monitor provides one of the best resolutions and details your performance statistics to the tee. You also get to gauge your power and watts output directly on the monitor. With 22 digital resistance levels, it is a good fit for beginner and intermediate cyclists. Comfort and convenience amenities are also abundant so that you can look forward to each training session with glee.

Sayed Hamed Hosseiny Author at cyclingindoor.co.uk

About The Author: Sayed Hamed Hosseiny

Hi, I'm Sayed Hamed Hosseiny, a seasoned semi-professional indoor cyclist with nearly two decades of experience in fitness equipment. Though retired from competitive cycling and rowing, I'm passionate about sharing my coaching expertise. Join me as I explore the world of indoor bikes and rowing machines in the UK, offering valuable insights to maximize your fitness journey.

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