Many of you will be used to riding a premium commercial indoor cycle by now either in the gym or at home if you’re lucky enough to have one yourself. What we want to know is compared to the other premium bikes on the market, what is it about the Spinner ® Blade and Blade ION that makes them “the best bikes ever made for the indoor cycling world to date“ (Josh Taylor, Master Spinning ® Instructor)? This Spinner ® Blade ION Test should help explain.
Spinner ® Blade
The Spinner ® Blade, is a very bold machine that stands out from a many of the other bikes we've tested. Star Trac have finished the bike in an anti-rust, gunmetal grey colour which makes it look different to all previous Spinning machines, yet it still has the characteristic shape and ergonomics you would expect. What really makes it an aesthetically nice machine is the fact that it looks as if it has been moulded from a single piece of metal with its smooth edging and minimal joins. This solid cast and aluminium construction give it an incredible feeling of durability and build quality. Adding this single cast has actually made the frame lighter and easier to transport or move around.
A feature which has become increasingly important recently for indoor cycling instructors is the Q factor of a bike. To be honest, when we tested the Blade and Blade ION we didn’t notice a dramatic difference in the way the pedals are positioned due to the new 158mm Q factor (to closer replicate a real road bike). However, evidence suggests that even the smallest improvements to things like Q factor will have a positive effect on your biomechanical efficiency and comfort over the course of a long ride.
Star Trac have improved the drive chain system on the Blade by increasing the size of the bottom bracket and adding extra strength to the crank arm connections. Other changes include the addition of a new stabilizing bar on the inside of the chain guard to increase the strength of the frame and also the use of a track bike chain, which is far stronger and less susceptible to wear than those on other models.
Another improvement that came with the launch of the Blade ION was compatibility with Look Delta cleat/cycling shoe attachments as well as the standard SPD attachments.
There is absolutely no compromise in way the Blade has been designed and put together. Individually, you probably wouldn’t make a song and dance about all these improvements, but the result when they are all brought together in this machine is outstanding. Although we are all fairly experienced riders here in the office, there is no way that even a novice Spinner ® could fail to be impressed by the feel of the super smooth Blade.
Spinner ® Blade ION
The Blade ION represents a significant step for Spinning ® as it is their first venture into serious power measurement within the indoor cycling market. The ION is accompanied by the launch of their Spinpower programme that Spinning ® report is going to change the way that this type of group exercise is taught all around the world.
The Blade ION incorporates a cycle computer to the bike, which is nothing new, many manufacturers have done this before but the ION uses strain gauge technology to produce extremely accurate power output readings which has been a challenge for manufacturers in the past.
To power the computer console, the Blade ION uses an environmentally friendly self powering flywheel generator to keep the backlit screen turned on during the workout. The display is clear and intuitive to use with large, easy to read data on the following measurements; power (watts), time, cadence, heart rate, distance and calories. The Computer is also compatible with ANT+ and Polar technologies to allow the user to view accurate real time heart rate data.
Usability and Spinpower
Whether Spinpower ® does indeed change the way instructors teach classes or not, the fact is that being able to view this amount of data in real time is fantastic for riders either during a class or on their own. The feedback it gives makes Spinning ® bikes far more useable in a gym floor environment by offering the user motivation through monitoring. The user can see how hard they are working and it can help them get more from their time on the bike. We found that when riding the ION we were much more focussed and just seeing a wattage and cadence in front of us made us more conscious of the effort we were putting into the ride.
The Blade and the Blade ION are two incredible spin bikes which bring a host of benefits to a gym or studio looking to install them. We talk a lot when we are testing spin bikes about the strength and smoothness of a bike's ride and although it’s quite hard to explain how it feels we have, in the past, said that many different models excel in these categories. None however, quite compete with the feel of this latest creation from Spinning ®.