The Schwinn AC Performance Plus is part of a collection that also includes the popular AC Sport bike, and most recently the Carbon Blue variations with carbon fiber belt drive.
In this review we take a look at the innovative design features that have made this spin bike such a popular choice among home gyms and health clubs.
We’ll also be looking at the options available to you if you want to monitor workout feedback and store a historical record of your performance using Schwinn’s Mpower Echelon console. The AC Performance Plus was recently featured as one of our top 10 indoor cycling bikes for home gyms.
Innovative design features
One of the things we really like about the adjustment options on Schwinn’s AC Sport and AC Performance bikes is their attention to detail.
With some spin style bikes, although they offer a wide range of height and fore / aft adjustment options, their settings aren’t always clearly numbered. This makes it much more difficult to switch back to the optimal settings for your height if more than one person will be using the bike in their workouts.
What Schwinn have done is clearly label the different height settings for the seat. With the AC Sport, they’ve even cut out a section of the metal support that the saddle rests on, so that the numbers are clearly visible for the horizontal settings.
Another subtle design feature that we really like is the way the emergency brake has been integrated into the resistance control knob.
One of the issues we noticed with the Phoenix 98623 was that because the emergency brake lever had been positioned so close to the control knob, it was easy to press against it by mistake.
Schwinn have managed to avoid this issue by applying the brake when the control knob is pushed down rather than turned, removing the need for a lever.
Despite the fact that this is a chain-driven cycle, we haven’t come across many reviews that complain about the noise.
However, if you would prefer a version that operates using a carbon fiber belt instead of a chain, then Schwinn’s Carbon Blue version may be a better option.
Available on both the Performance Plus and the Sport, Schwinn claim that because the carbon fiber belt uses curvilinear teeth, it runs at similar tension to a bike chain to feel more like a road bike.
In terms of the difference in price, you’re usually looking at paying around $200 more for the Carbon Blue model.
Magnetic resistance and enhanced comfort
Not only is this quieter than bikes that rely on air or friction pads, but it also requires less ongoing maintenance, with smoother transitions between the different intensity levels.
The AC Performance Plus uses a 6-magnet system for even distribution of braking power over the perimeter-weighted 37 lb flywheel.
With added width to the seat and foot pedals, not only can you enjoy a more comfortable seated ride, but you can also stand up and cycle at a higher intensity thanks to the toe cages and quick-adjust straps.
Schwinn AC Performance Cycle – Features Summary
- Aluminum seat slider, posts, and frame provides rust-free performance
- Resistance free, 6-magnet brake system
- Comfy seat positioning with Schwinn Fit System
- Lightweight handlebars with new adjustment system
- Fore and aft seat and handlebar adjustments
- Virtual Contact™ Resistance Technology – the magnetic brake does not contact the flywheel, eliminating friction and wear
- Dual-density saddle for comfort and performance
- Chain drive using forged steel crank and ISIS oversized bottom bracket for an authentic bike feel and easy maintenance
- Double link pedals with SPD and toe-clip combination (also compatible with Triple Link™ pedals sold separately)
- Performance handlebars with ErgoLoop™
- Dual handlebar mounted water bottle holders
- 37 lb perimeter weighted aluminum flywheel
Safety and transport
Generally speaking exercise bikes are one of the safest pieces of fitness equipment you can have in your home. This is due to their low center of gravity, limited number of moving parts, and fact that the parts that move do so entirely based on your own power.
This is completely different to some folding treadmills for example, where the belt speed can be increased without you needing to be on the machine (treadmills without safety keys).
However, to improve safety still further, Schwinn include a locking device that prevents small children from moving the pedals, which is ideal for home and family environments.
This is a simple clip that wraps around the frame and under the pedal crank that can be quickly removed and stored away when you want to workout.
You may not need to move the bike around at all once it’s assembled, but if you do then it’s reassuring to know that transport wheels have been added to the front stabilizer to make it easier.
The wheels even protrude out from the base rather than being built into a recess – an issue we found with the Sole Fitness LCR – to prevent getting slowed down when rolling over carpet.
Display console design
If you’re considering buying the Schwinn AC Performance cycle from Amazon, it’s worth checking the product listing to see if it includes Schwinn’s Mpower Echelon Console.
The last time we checked you were able to buy the Schwinn AC Performance with the chain-drive system or Carbon Blue belt drive system, but there were product listings for each model with and without the console.
Because the console alone usually retails for close to $250, you can save around $50 by buying it together with the main bike, so it’s certainly something worth bearing in mind if you’re interested in monitoring your performance.
The console itself can be fitted to a bracket that attaches to the front of the fore / aft handlebar adjustment at an angle that keeps the screen in your eye line whether you’re seated or standing.
One of the only downsides about using the console with the AC Performance Plus is that you need to make some minor modifications to the sweat guard to allow the cable to pass from the handlebars down to the brake carriage.
The console cable and speed sensor cable need to be threaded through specially designed ducts, which themselves need 24 hours to set after being attached to the frame.
Once this is done then you can remove the sweat guard, make the modifications listed in the Mpower Echelon Installation Guide, then mount the sensor to the brake carriage and re-attach the sweat guard.
Although this isn’t particularly time consuming (with the exception of letting the ducts set), it’s slightly more technical than the consoles we’ve seen attached to bikes like the Horizon M4.
The assembly of the bike itself is incredibly straightforward, but you should expect to spend at least the same amount of time on fitting the console.
The clarity of the manual and step-by-step instructions, photos, and diagrams are a huge help, but if you do need some extra assistance, Schwinn have an excellent customer service record.
With the console fitted you can track your RPM (Cadence), Stage Time, Total Time, Heart Rate, and Calories Burned (when transmitting heart rate from a telemetry chest strap). The LCD also includes a backlight, but to save battery power it only activates when the button is pressed.
A separate warranty applies to the Mpower Echelon which lasts for 2 years.
Ease of assembly / Maintenance required
If you’ve never assembled a piece of fitness equipment before, don’t worry. Indoor cycling bikes are traditionally one of the simplest types of fitness equipment to get setup, and the Schwinn AC Performance Plus is no exception.
Similar to the construction of bikes like the LifeSpan Fitness S2 and Phoenix 98623, the frame, flywheel, drive system, and pedal crank arrive already assembled as a single unit.
Once the base stabilizers are attached there’s no need for any more heavy lifting, and the seat and handlebar assembly can be completed in just a few minutes.
The exploded drawings and diagrams of how the parts fit together are probably clear enough to follow without worrying about reading the textual instructions.
While the low center of gravity and width of the base stabilizers will take care of most of the stability, Schwinn have also fitted adjustable base stabilizers so that you can compensate for any slightly uneven ground.
In terms of its level of detail, the maintenance routine for the Schwinn AC Performance Plus is even more comprehensive than for Precor’s top-of-the-line RBK collection.
Schwinn follow a similar series of recommendations to many companies that we’ve reviewed, which are broken down into daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.
Most of the checks are standard industry checks, such as monitoring the parts for any signs of damage or wear, but they also list a specific type of cleaning solution that should be used on a daily basis.
External covers and parts can be cleaned using an equipment polish or mild household cleaning product (non-petroleum based), a silicone based lubricant such as Fit Tech should be used on the handlebar and seat posts, and Teflon lubricant such as TFL 50 should be used on the chain or belt drive.
If you’re using the bike with club-level frequency, Schwinn also recommend replacing the pedals once a year.