Here is our in-depth review of the brand new NordicTrack S27i Studio Cycle and the newly updated 2022 version of the popular NordicTrack S22i. Lots of upgrades have been made to both of these iFIT-enabled bikes, and there are more differences between the two than you might think.
Table of contents
NordicTrack S27i and S22i video review
Is bigger better?
The NordicTrack S27i Studio Bike is named for its remarkably large 27” high-definition touch screen, the largest connected fitness bike tablet ever sold. With your face only a foot or two away from a screen that size, taking classes becomes a fully immersive experience.
Whenever I ride a NordicTrack bike, the part I love most is taking the instructor-led scenic rides on their iFIT platform. And with a ride focused on biking through various environments all around the world, the larger screen makes taking each class even more enjoyable.
The NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle with its 22″ screen does a good job as well, but if you are looking for the most premium home cycling experience, the S27i now holds the crown.
Improved auto incline and decline
One of the NordicTrack bike’s best and most unique features is that they automatically incline (up to 20%) and decline (down to -10%) based on the current terrain of your ride. This feature really does a great job of making the scenic rides immersive and enjoyable.
When you see a hill coming up you know you are going to feel it. Likewise, when you start to go downhill, you feel your sense of gravity shift and the resistance lower allowing you to pick up speed.
It all works really well. So I was excited to see that when I purchased the new S27i and S22i, the NordicTrack website showed the incline and decline feature having been further improved. However, the website has recently been changed to no longer state this.
But they should. At least for the S27i.
When comparing the bikes, I tested how long they took to go from a -10% decline to a 20% incline. Here were the results:
NordicTrack S22i (2021 version): 18 seconds
NordicTrack S22i (2022 version): 18 seconds
NordicTrack S27i (2022 version): 13 seconds
So, while it seems that the auto incline and decline has not been changed for the new S22i, it has been improved by almost 30% for the S27i.
This could be due to the change of where the dumbbells are now held on the S27i (now on the back of the bike). I do not think that is it though, as the new 27″ screen feels a lot more than 6 pounds heavier than the S22i’s 22″ screen.
Improved sound system and other changes
Another big upgrade for both the NordicTrack S27i and S22i bikes is a newly improved front-facing 30 watt sound system. These speakers sound a lot louder and clearer than last year’s rear facing 18-watt speakers.
Between the two speakers is a new version of the auto breeze fan. The fan is now a lot narrower than the one on the previous S22i, and the fan power is definitely weaker this year. It still is decent and a nice bonus to have included, but just not quite as good.
- a more comfortable seat
- hybrid pedals that allow for both SPD clips as well as a toe cage
- an on/off switch placed (inconveniently) at the bottom of the bike
S27i vs S22i
In addition to the difference in screen size and the improved auto incline/decline speed of the S27i, here are a few more differences between the two new bikes.
With connected fitness bikes, typically the hardest part to adjust is the handlebars because of how heavy they are with an attached screen. This would have been an even bigger issue with the NordicTrack S27i because the screen is heavier than ever.
However, the bike has a new sort of leveraged adjustment system on the handlebars. I have no idea how it works, but I can tell you that it works really well and makes it very easy to life the handlebars up.
In fact, adjusting the handlebars on the S27i is significantly easier than with the smaller S22i since that bike does not come with the improved adjustment system.
Both the S27i and S22i come with a nice set of three-pound metal dumbbells to be used for arms toning classes. Like previous models, the new S22i hold the dumbbells up front near the handlebars. On the S27i, the dumbbells have now been moved to the back of the bike.
Also like the previous models, the 2022 version of the S22i still has two large bottle holders underneath the handlebars. However, these are no longer on the S27i bike. Instead, they have been replaced by a single smaller bottle holder on the center frame.
Personally, I like the the bottle holder on the S22i a lot more since it can fit a wider variety of containers (like shaker bottles), and on longer rides I find it really useful to bring two bottles along.
Features that are still here
Features that have not changed with the new NordicTrack S27i and S22i but should be noted for those looking at this bike for the first time:
360 degree rotating screen: This is great for workouts off of the bike like strength and yoga classes.
Handlebar controls: Buttons directly on the handlebars allow you to make adjustments to the resistance and incline/decline.
Personally, I prefer the resistance knob that most other bikes use over the buttons, but it is not much of an issue, especially since with the newly implemented “Smart Adjust” feature, I rarely have to manually change the resistance or incline myself.
Both the S27i and S22i utilize the new “Smart Adjust” system, which was added to almost all iFIT-enabled bikes late last year. This feature allows you to adjust the difficulty of any workout, while still allowing the bike to automatically adjust the incline/decline and resistance level in line with the goals of the ride.
The feature is really a game-changer for iFIT-enabled bikes as it allows you to take any class (beginner or advanced) and still be able to get a workout that is designed around your current fitness level. I really enjoy “Smart Adjust” and it makes a huge difference in my enjoyment of both NordicTrack bikes and the entire iFIT program.
There is a bit more to be said about iFIT, and I go over the program in more depth in the video review above. However, I will say this about the iFIT platform: I have seen dozens of improvements made over the past year from better quality streaming to better class structure, improved filtering, the addition of a dark mode, increased cadence of new programs, the addition of some really great coaches, and more.
Based on what I have seen and experienced so far, I am excited about the future of iFIT and plan to take more iFIT classes than ever this year because of it.
Do I recommend the NordicTrack S27i or S22i Studio Cycle? Absolutely! I think they are both fantastic bikes.
The S22i is probably the best bike currently available under $2,000 (sorry Peloton), and the S27i is looking to be a contender for the best connected fitness bike in 2022.
Other articles you may enjoy:
- NordicTrack iSelect Adjustable Dumbbell Review
- NordicTrack S22i (2021) vs Peloton Bike+
- Nordictrack X22i Review