Review: NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle

Nordictrack S22i Bike

This review will cover everything you need to know about the NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle by iFIT. I have previously shared my thoughts on the S22i, but there have been several updates that are significant. Let’s see if this connected fitness bike is a good fit for your home. 

EDIT: See our new review of the 2022 version of the Nordictrack S22i Studio Cycle and new S27i bike here!

Similar to my other reviews on connected fitness equipment, I will break this review down into three parts:

  • First, I will share my thoughts on the S22i hardware, from the design and tech included with the bike, to how the bike feels and the quality. This part of the review should stay relevant unless iFIT comes out with a completely new model. 
  • Second are my thoughts on the software and integrated fitness classes. It will include the current state of the iFIT membership and what class options are available. I give my thoughts on the instructors, prebuilt programs, and other important features that iFIT includes with the S22i. This portion could become outdated overtime as iFIT continues to update their software. When more big changes happen, I will update this review as well as others. 
  • Third are my overall thoughts on the NordicTrack S22i bike and who I think it would be a great fit for.  

The most unique feature of the S22i bike that sets it apart from the competition is the power incline and decline. The incline goes up to 20 degrees and the decline goes down to negative 10 degrees. Having the ability to incline and decline are standard for treadmills. But the S22i is one of the only bikes that has this feature. 

S22i design

The incline works automatically to match the terrain of the screen so you can closely follow along during rides. Since the majority of the best programs included are outdoor rides, it really helps with the immersion.

After you have used it, you become a little spoiled. Now if I do rides with other bikes that don’t  incline on a hill in a scenic ride, I just wish I was on my S22i. This might be why we don’t see other companies focus as much on outdoor classes since the experience would just not be nearly as good.

The S22i auto incline really helps with immersion on scenic class rides

S22i magnetic resistance

The S22i uses magnetic resistance, which many of the premium bikes use. It works great and makes adjusting the resistance quick, smooth, and super quiet. 

The magnetic resistance is also controlled digitally, which means that it allows for Auto Resistance. So when you take classes, you never have to worry about changing the resistance based on instructors’ cues. It will do this automatically unless you do not want it to.

You can control the resistance with buttons located on the right side of the handlebars. You can also adjust the incline with buttons located on the left side of the handlebars. 

S22i control center

The S22i comes with a 22-inch HD rotating screen. This is great so you can take classes off the bike since the iFIT program has tons of strength and yoga classes as well.

Overall, I think the screen is great. But the one small thing I don’t like is that it never turns off. This is the only bike I have ever used where the screen does not just go black and it doesn’t have an off button. So if you have it in a room where you sleep, it will always be illuminated unless you unplug it once you’re done using it. This is not a huge deal, but it is something I didn’t think was designed well for home use. 

Integrated into the handlebars is a tray for your phone and a fan that is connected to the bike. The fan really makes a big difference on those hard rides or hotter days. 

There’s also a place to store light dumbbells for arms classes. The dumbbells come free with the S22i, which I think is really nice. It allows you to take all of their bike classes without having to worry about buying extra equipment.  

It seems NordicTrack used that same philosophy of having everything you need, ready to go, with the pedals. The S22i pedals come with cage clips. These are nice for those newer to cycling who do not want to purchase additional shoes to get started. I do suggest eventually replacing these clip-ins with actual clips, which is a pretty easy process. Riding with clips will just further improve your cycling experience. 

S22i software

The software included on the S22i is the iFIT program. iFIT offers an incredible amount of content that should please pretty much everyone at any fitness level. They offer thousands of classes that take you all over the world where you can ride at some very unique locations.

The scenic rides are really the best part of iFiT. This is where you really notice the benefit of having that auto incline/decline that matches the terrain you are riding. It really makes it a much more immersive experience. 

The studio rides, while still enjoyable, are not up to the same quality as their scenic counterparts. They are not terrible, but the scenic rides are the best I have experienced on any program. Whereas with the studio classes, there are other options that I have enjoyed more.

Part of this comes down to the music. The music on iFIT has improved quite a bit over the past several months. They now have 11 different music genres to choose from. This works well for the outdoor classes for some reason. But I think in most cases, the enjoyment of studio rides is partly built around the music. Without a set playlist designed for each class, you lose that extra touch on the studio rides. 

iFIT offers tons of programs ranging from beginner to advanced that you can follow along to. Or you can just pick out classes individually.

S22i Follow the Trainer

When you take a class, you can choose to manually adjust your resistance throughout the ride. Or, you can select “Follow the Trainer.” This feature allows the S22i bike to automatically adjust your resistance to match what the instructor is suggesting. This works well in theory, but in practice not so much.

If you drift up or down on resistance from the trainer, it stops adjusting the resistance altogether. The class would need to be built for your specific fitness level to ensure you could always follow along. This really limited the number of rides I could enjoy since a lot of the resistance was designed around beginners. However, I am happy to say that their newest update fixed all of this completely.

S22i Smart Adjust

The new Smart Adjust feature allows you to adjust the resistance up or down. Then, the rest of the class will be adjusted to those same settings. So it will still auto adjust, but in a way that makes sense for you. This has opened the door to so many more rides for me. Now, I can take beginner rides in awesome locations and know the ride will be adjusted to my personal fitness level.

Smart Adjust also remembers your results from previous classes and uses that data to adjust future workouts. I have found it works extremely well and it is hard for me to express just how important this update was. I was at the point where I really did not want to ride my S22i because of the resistance issue. Now, I am back on it and super excited again. It makes a huge difference for my overall enjoyment of the bike 

If you enjoy live classes, iFIT has a lot to choose from, and the coaches do a great job of engaging with everyone. They are not the most produced live classes, but they are well done for those who like the accountability you get with that format.

S22i Google Map routes

There is a Google Map feature that allows you to build your own routes. Then you can ride through Google images of those places and feel the exact elevation of the route.

If I was preparing for a race or a ride, I could definitely see myself using this as a preparation tool. But I don’t particularly like it compared to the actual scenic classes.

S22i stat tracking

You can view your stats after each ride, and iFIT seems to be getting better about stat tracking. A recent update now allows you to pair your info with Apple fitness, Strava, and others. Unfortunately, they do not have a great stat or badge collection on the actual bike that allows you to sort through everything. 

The iFIT membership includes access to the entire iFIT workout library. You can access all of their workouts via the app on your phone, TV, or other iFIT enabled devices, so you can jump into thousands of additional classes off of the bike.

Connect the Watts’ Take 

Right now, this is one of the best bikes on the market. If you want a good quality bike that includes an infinite amount of workouts from which to choose, this is a great bike for the price. Especially now that the Smart Adjust feature is out of beta and included on all of the bikes.

The only thing that needs to be considered is if you prefer scenic rides that take you all over the world, or if you prefer studio classes with great music and playlists. If you want the best studio class experience, iFIT is not there yet. But if you want the best scenic classes, this wins. 

In addition to the NordicTrack S22i Bike, I’ve also done reviews on the NordicTrack Vault and NordicTrack X22i Treadmill. That’s another great thing about iFIT. If you want to expand your home gym, they have an enormous amount of equipment from which to choose. Plus, they all work together under the same iFIT program and membership.

As I mentioned, my thoughts on the S22i hardware probably will not change. But the software for devices like these are always getting big updates, and sometimes they are big enough to change my thoughts. I plan on checking in on the S22i regularly and will keep this review updated.

Buy the S22i at NordicTrack here

or Buy the S22i on Amazon here

FTC: Connect The Watts is reader supported, we may earn income on affiliate links

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