Bowflex C6 & Schwinn IC4 vs. Keiser M3i: Which is the Best for You?

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kathlene pierson spinning instructor and writer
By Katie Pierson

Spinning® Instructor & Personal Trainer

 Katie holds ten different fitness certifications, including Group Fitness, Spinning Elite, Rockstar Spinning, and Personal Training.

Great bike options continue to flood the market as the indoor cycling craze continues. The Bowflex C6 (which happens to be my current indoor cycle!), Schwinn IC4, and Keiser M3i are excellent at-home options, but let’s break down which one is right for you.

Comparison of C6/IC4 vs. M3i

Bowflex C6 & Schwinn IC4 vs. Keiser M3i

Before digging into the differences between these great bikes, we want to point out that Nautilus manufactures the Bowflex C6 and Schwinn IC4. These bikes are almost identical, with only a few slight differences, so we will be comparing these bikes against the Keiser M3i. If you want to learn more about the subtle differences, please check out our ultimate comparison article of the C6 and IC4.  

Flywheel Weight and Placement

One of the most significant differences between these cycle designs is the placement and weight of the flywheel. The C6 and IC4 offer a more traditional appearance with a 40-pound front flywheel than the lightweight rear flywheel on the M3i. 

Price

Another substantial difference between these indoor cycling options is the price point. The Keiser M3i retails for $2,095 compared to the $999 price tag of the Bowflex and Schwinn models.

Resistance Type and Number of Levels

These models all include magnetic resistance; however, the number of levels they provide are quite different. Like the Peloton, the Bowflex C6 & Schwinn IC4 offer 100 levels of magnetic resistance. The M3i delivers 24 resistance levels.

Consoles

Although the Nautilus and Keiser consoles display key metrics such as speed, duration, cadence, distance, and calories, only one also provides a power meter. A power meter measures a rider’s output while riding. The Keiser M3i provides a very accurate power meter.

Connectivity & Apps

The M Series group app is free for the Keiser M3i. The M Series allows riders to track their progress and metrics and shares this information with cycling apps such as Zwift, Peloton, TrainerRoad, BKool Fitness, mPaceline, and others.

keiser m app rank
Ranking in KeiserM Series group app

The Bowflex C6 and Schwinn IC4 easily pair and integrate with third-party apps such as Peloton, Sufferfest, and Zwift, in addition to Bowflex’s JRNY app. The JRNY app, which was initially only offered with the VeloCore, is now available with these models through a tablet or phone. It provides tailored workouts based on the rider’s metrics, coaching, instructor-led classes, and the ability to stream your favorite shows while still seeing metrics displayed.

streaming-services-velocore
Bowflex JRNY App

User Height Ranges

Even though the height ranges for these cycles are similar, it is essential to pay attention to the low and high range values. The C6 and IC4 accommodate riders starting as small as 4’6” compared to the M3i at 4’10”. For those above 6’6”, the M3i accommodates riders up to 7’, one of the highest max heights offered by a commercial-grade model.

Instructor Tip: If you are a shorter rider like me, I suggest trying both bikes before purchasing. Although cycling manufacturers might market they accommodate shorter riders, it doesn’t always mean that you will find the best riding position. For example, I am 5’4,” and I feel that the C6 barely allows me to get into a great riding position based on my torso and leg length.

Check out our comparison table below for a quick side-by-side look at these models.

Bowflex C6 & Schwinn IC4Keiser M3i
Magnetic Resistance Levels10024
Price$999$2,095
User Rating4.74.8
Flywheel PlacementFrontBack
Flywheel Weight40 poundsUndisclosed-lightweight
Maximum User Weight330 pounds300 pounds
Height Range4’6″- 6’6″4’10”-7′
Handlebar  Adjustability4-way4-way
Power Meter IncludedNoYes
Drive TypeBeltPoly-V
Hand Weights IncludedYesYes

Bowflex C6 & Schwinn IC4 Detailed Reviews

$300 OFF + Free Shipping!
Bowflex C6 Bike Bowflex C6 Bike
4.8

An excellent alternative option to Peloton or other streaming bikes. A quiet magnetic resistance bike, proficient enough to link with the many available streaming devices such as Peloton® and Zwift®.

$200 Off + Free Shipping!
Schwinn IC4 Bike Schwinn IC4 Bike
4.8

Comes equipped with Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to link to several apps such as Peloton® and Zwift®. The Schwinn really does offer excellent quality at a very affordable price.

Bowflex C6 & Schwinn IC4 Bike Specs

  • Flywheel weight: 40 pounds
  • User height range: 4′ 6″- 6’6″
  • Backlit LCD Metric Console
  • Magnetic Resistance with 100 Micro-Adjustable Resistance Levels
  • Height: 51.8″
  • Width: 21.2″
  • Length: 48.7″
  • Item weight: 106 pounds

These two Nautilus models offer almost identical specifications. The Bowflex C6 and Schwinn IC4 are not only affordably priced (under $1,000) but provide a fantastic value and riding experience. The front 40-pound flywheel is powered through a belt drive which offers a whisper-quiet riding experience. Also, these cycles give riders 100 levels of magnetic resistance. Bowflex also delivers excellent customer service, which I have used first-hand as a Bowflex C6 owner. 

In the following video, you can see a quick review of the Bowflex C6 bike from our expert and group fitness instructor Katie Pierson.

YouTube video

Recently, the C6 and Schwinn IC4 can now integrate with Bowflex’s JRNY app via a tablet or phone. This app allows riders to enjoy tailored workouts, real-time coaching, on-demand classes, and the ability to watch their favorite streaming services. Bowflex offers a 1-year free trial of the JRNY app, and then it costs $149 per year if you wish to continue. One feature that I really enjoy as a C6 owner is the handy USB port on the LCD console. This ensures that I can still complete my digital Peloton class without worrying that my phone will run out of power.

Things We Like

  • Affordable
  • Quality construction
  • Easily integrate with cycling apps such as Peloton, Zwift, and Sufferfest
  • Excellent customer service

Things that could be Better

  • Some riders found the graph more challenging to read the cadence bar graph.
  • Weight holders located in front

Keiser M3i Detailed Review

Keiser M3i Bike Keiser M3i Bike
4.9

The App takes the cycle to another level, and with compatibility and connectivity, the bike offers all of the latest conveniences the digital age has to offer. 

Keiser M3i Bike Specs 

  • Flywheel weight: 8 pounds
  • User height range: 4’10” -7′
  • Resistance levels: 24
  • Height: 45”, Width: 26”, Length: 49”
  • Item weight: 85 pounds
  • Max user weight: 300 pounds

The Keiser M3i (check our detailed M3i Review) offers 24 levels of magnetic resistance. The Poly-V ® belt drive is self-tightening and low maintenance. The rear flywheel spins eleven times faster than the turning pedals providing a smooth riding experience. In addition to the excellent construction, Keiser also offers its M Series app for free on this model, which monitors heart rate and power, cadence, and FTP zones. This bike is available for $2,095.

When comparing the Keiser M3i vs. the M3, the handlebars are one of the biggest differences in appearance. The handlebars of the M3 are very similar to many other cycles on the market. However, the M3i includes more of a butterfly shape handlebar system. A notable change is the connectivity of the M3i. The “i” stands for intelligence and allows this bike to link to various fitness apps using Bluetooth. The M3 also costs approximately $300 less than the M3i.

Things We Like

  • Accommodates riders up 7 feet tall
  • Free M Series App
  • Easy integration with multiple cycling applications

Things that could be Better

  • More expensive than similar models on the market

Which Bike is For Me?

You really can’t go wrong selecting the Bowflex C6, Schwinn IC4, or Keiser M3i. However, there might be a few minor details to consider to choose the perfect bike for you.

  • If you are looking for an excellent bike that is affordable, well constructed and offers excellent integration with a variety of apps, then the Bowflex C6 or Schwinn IC4 are great options.
  • For riders who enjoy tracking their progress through a power meter, then the Keiser M3i would be the better option. This bike also accommodates taller riders. If you are closer to 7’, the M3i is a clear choice. 
$300 OFF + Free Shipping!
Bowflex C6 Bike Bowflex C6 Bike
4.8

An excellent alternative option to Peloton or other streaming bikes. A quiet magnetic resistance bike, proficient enough to link with the many available streaming devices such as Peloton® and Zwift®.

$200 Off + Free Shipping!
Schwinn IC4 Bike Schwinn IC4 Bike
4.8

Comes equipped with Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to link to several apps such as Peloton® and Zwift®. The Schwinn really does offer excellent quality at a very affordable price.

Keiser M3i Bike Keiser M3i Bike
4.9

The App takes the cycle to another level, and with compatibility and connectivity, the bike offers all of the latest conveniences the digital age has to offer. 

FAQ 

Where is Keiser made?

Keiser manufactures all equipment in California.

Does Keiser M3i have a power meter?

Yes, the Keiser M3i has a very accurate power meter.

Is Bowflex C6 the Same as Peloton Resistance?

No, the resistance is different for the Bowflex C6 and Peloton. A level 5 on Peloton is a 25 of C6. Check out our Peloton vs C6 comparison for the entire conversion chart.

Does Bowflex C6 come with a mat?

The Bowflex C6 doesn’t always include a mat. Often Bowflex uses the mat incentive during sales.

The Bottom Line

The C6, IC4, and M3i all provide a great riding experience. However, the sensation of riding a heavier or lighter flywheel varies, so we recommend seeing which flywheel suits your needs best. Happy riding!

how to adjust spin bike - distance between the saddle and handlebars 2
Katie Pierson tests the Bowflex C6
Katie Pierson

Katie is the creator of MT Girl Fitness and has been a certified fitness professional for almost twenty years. She currently holds ten different fitness certifications, including Group Fitness, Spinning Elite, Rockstar Spinning, and Personal Training. Fitness is her passion, and she loves seeing her clients reach goals they never imagined.

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