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To appease the question that is likely to come up most often (and already has on Instagram), I'd like first to discuss how the BikeErg compares to the air bikes we see in CrossFit Affiliates; namely the Airdyne, Assault Bike, and other brands of air bike.
First off, the BikeErg is not a typical air bike which is immediately evident when you realize there are no handles. However, despite it being different from the typical air bikes we see, that does not mean it's any less effective. The goal of the original air bike design is to provide both a stimulus to the upper and lower body. One thing that is often overlooked, however, is the fact that the majority of users spend most of their effort pushing the pedals instead of the arms.
So, although there are arms available with most air bikes, that does not mean the workout is more "total body" or "harder" for most people.
The Concept 2 BikeErg does receive its resistance from air, but it has an entirely different feeling from the air resisted Airdyne and Assault Bikes. One thing that the Concept 2 has that traditional air bikes cannot touch is a damper, the same thing that provides either more or less air flow on the Concept 2 Rowers and SkiErgs. Although the damper plays a significant role in the Rower and SkiErg, neither can compare to the importance of the damper on the BikeErg.
I say this because the damper can take the BikeErg from feeling like an Airdyne to a spin bike with lots of resistance.
Although I'll go into much more detail on this, in my opinion, the BikeErg is superior to the Airdyne and Assault Bike for most people. It has more versatility, better metrics, and will likely (based on Concept 2's history) have much fewer problems than other air bikes. If you're training for the CrossFit Games, then having an Assault Bike is necessary, but if you're just looking for a bike for conditioning, intervals, HIIT, sprints, warming up, recovery, etc., then the BikeErg is the superior option.
My neighborhood UPS Driver pulled up and with a half friendly/half why do you receive so many heavy packages honk beckoned me to help him with a box.
Thankfully for him, I love getting packages and have no problem helping him out. After dragging the box into the garage, I looked on with wonder at all the meters that were to come.
I quickly disassembled the flesh-colored corrugated fiberboard shell that wrapped what some had been dubbing the 'Assault Bike Killer.' After smashing the foam to bits and tearing the saran wrap with the same intensity a showman does in slicing a phonebook in half, the partially constructed BikeErg appeared.
With the quick turn of a wrist using Concept 2's diamond driver (that's also branded with Concept 2's logo) and a handful of stainless steel screws, the Concept 2 BikeErg was assembled and ready to punish anyone's CNS who underestimates it.
The release of the Concept 2 BikeErg was a big deal. Before I detail all of the various parts of the bike, I want to give you some history of Concept 2.
For those unaware, Concept 2 is a company that has been dedicated to rowing since their founders Peter and Dick nailed a bicycle to the floor and attached a handle to the free end of the chain. They've gone on to create many different iterations of their rowing ergs (erg is short for ergometer which means an apparatus that measures work expended during exercise) and with each improvement have created something that every other company is simply trying to mimic.
With the explosion of CrossFit, Concept 2 and their Rower has held on for one heck of a ride. If I were to create a chart showing the growth of CrossFit Affiliates compared to the increase in sales for Concept 2, their growth would likely mirror each other pretty closely. In addition to the Rower, Concept 2 sells the SkiErg, an equally effective piece of equipment as the Rower as well as different accessories and rowing implements.
What Concept 2 has done is similar to what Apple, Inc did in their early days. They weren't focused on creating hundreds of different products like their competitors; they were focused on creating a few and making them the best in the world.
Now that you understand the history of Concept 2, me writing that the release of the BikeErg being a big deal makes more sense. Due to Concept 2 rarely bringing to market a new product, there's both anticipation and excitement from everyone in the training community to see if it lives up to the standard the company has set. There's also a lot of pressure on Concept 2 to perform.
When Dell releases a new laptop, there's very little hype, but when Apple does, it's an EVENT. The same can be said, on a smaller scale of course, for Concept 2.
With so much anticipation, it would be easy for the BikeErg to come up short. But, in defying the odds, the BikeErg exceeds expectations.
One thing I'm glad Concept 2 has decided to go all in on is changing the color of their frames from drab gray to deep black. The gray made the Rower look like it belonged in a medical environment, not a training facility. The new black, white, and volt green now grace all of the Concept 2 machines including the BikeErg (and I own and regularly use and look at all of them.)
Despite the BikeErg having a great color scheme, it's not the most aesthetic piece of equipment in the gym. I do wish the housing that covers the internals was a bit sleeker. However, this is is the least important part of the bike. I'd speak more on the looks of the machine, but looks are very subjective, quality and performance are not.
The build of the BikeErg is as good as I've come to expect from Concept 2. Starting at the feet, the frame sits on four adjustable pegs that screw into the feet for adjustability based upon the slope of the floor the bike is resting on. This is standard for air bikes, and I'm glad to see they've included them in the BikeErg.
To keep the bike grounded and stable, Concept 2 uses steel feet that are bolted to the frame. On the front feet are two roller hockey wheels that are larger than what is used on the rower and provide for easy maneuvering.
Despite the feet being steel, the rest of the frame is actually lightweight, welded aluminum. This combination of steel and aluminum allows the bike to be stable enough for powerful sprints and light enough for easy movement and storage. I was honestly pretty surprised with how light the BikeErg was, especially when compared to my favorite air bike, the Schwinn AD Pro. It's not surprising seeing as the AD Pro weighs in at 113 lbs, while the slim BikeErg tops the scales at 58 lbs.
The aluminum frame is given the signature black powder-coat look that is hard-wearing and easily resists corrosion. Attached in the middle of the frame are two crank arms with black metal pedals. These can be interchanged just like a bicycle for any pedals you'd like including clipless. I would have liked to see some sort of easy pedal replacement system to go from platforms to clipless depending on the workout; the current system will prevent me from changing pedals very often. But, this isn't too big of a deal for most people.
On the front of the bike is the all too familiar fanned flywheel and damper that has caused many soul crushing, floor hugging naps. The damper on the BikeErg truly is special when compared to other fan bikes.
Similar to shifting on a bicycle, the damper can make the ride either like riding on a slight downhill or trudging up a vertical cliff. The damper affects how much air is allowed into the fan housing, and although it's similar to what's used on the Rower and Ski-Erg, each turn of the damper wheel causes a much more dramatic change to the feel of the ride than on Concept 2's other ergometers.
Someone who cycles often will likely be used to a large amount of shifting options, but the general consumer likes simplicity. The damper Concept 2 has used on the BikeErg is customizable enough to satisfy the enthusiast, yet simple enough to encourage the average user to jump on for a good sweat.
The internals of the BikeErg is yet another thing that places the BikeErg above traditional air bikes for me. If you've ever used an air bike consistently, you realize their shortcomings in quality control and complexity.
The BikeErg uses polygrooved belts rather than the traditional chain seen on Assault Bikes and Airdynes (excluding the AD Pro) which not only makes the ride quieter but also reduces maintenance and increases the life of the bike. I praised Schwinn for transitioning from a chain drive to a belt drive system and I'm glad to see Concept 2 insisted on the same, except even better is the fact that the BikeErg's belts are self-tensioning. This means you should rarely if ever have to open up the chassis.
In addition to the belts, the BikeErg utilizes a clutch that allows the flywheel fan to continue spinning despite the pedals stopping. If you've ever done intervals with another person on an air bike, you know how frustrating it is getting on and off due to the pedals having to continue progressing. This is a big advantage of the BikeErg, and I hope Schwinn and Assault take notice.
Many of the current air bikes available offer adjustment of the seat, however, it's neither intuitive or quick to switch users. The BikeErg makes it, so adjustments are a breeze. Adjusting the height of the seat is as simple as pulling up or flipping a lever and sliding it down. The handlebars do the same and can go up, down, and forwards and backward. This allows for three points of adjustment that are quick and allow for a tailored ride.
The various adjustments are done through anodized aluminum tubes that slide well and stay in place.
All parts of the bike that a cyclist would want to customize are available for such. The seat can be replaced as can the handlebars and the aforementioned pedals. I plan to leave it the way it is because both the handlebars and the seat are comfortable and versatile, while the pedals are simple metal platforms perfect for use in metcons.
The BikeErg utilizes the latest Performance Monitor, the PM5, which allows you to have access to all of the data you're used to with the Concept 2 Rowers and SkiErg, but customized for the BikeErg. This includes pace, watts, cadence (RPM) and calories. All of this information is stored in its memory, or you can use a removable USB stick to offload on your computer. Also, if you'd like, the BikeErg connects to most wireless heart rate belts.
I have no fear of the BikeErg holding up to the demands of my personal use, or even the use of a commercial facility.
The BikeErg is an absolute breeze to use. You can easily go from long distance work to high power interval sprints. The versatility of the bike is unmatched, and it's the reason I recommend it above the traditional air bikes for most people. The Assault Air Bike and Airdyne certainly have their place (I won't be getting rid of mine,) but if I had to have one, I'd take the BikeErg.
Despite the Concept 2 BikeErg being a fantastic machine, there are some things I'd like to see improved.
The first thing I'd like to see is an improvement to the aesthetics. I understand that the looks of the machine are very much secondary to the performance and construction, but I can't help but think it could be made to look more appealing to the eye.
The second improvement I'd like to see is a way to adjust the damper on the handlebars. Bikes use gearing shifters on the handlebars, so you don't have to bend down, high-performance vehicles use paddle shifters on the steering wheel, I believe the Concept 2 would benefit from this feature. One way it could be added is through the use of electronics, although that would take away from the simplicity and durability of Concept 2 machines. I honestly don't know a way other than electronics to add that feature, but it is something I would like to see.
These are minor improvements, which speak to how great of a machine the BikeErg. I'm excited to see Concept 2's continued innovation.
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