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After using the Rogue Echo Bike for over a year now both in a home gym setting as well as commercial gym, we confidently stand behind our initial findings. The Echo Bike is the best air bike for most people. See the update here.
The Assault AirBike is the reigning champ in the air bike space. Although it's never been our favorite option (the Schwinn AD Pro is superior, and the Xebex Air Bike is similar at a lower price), it's been the most adopted option among the general public, especially CrossFit athletes & Affiliates.
The big difference, which I will detail further, later in the review is the drive systems. The Assault AirBike uses the drive system that has been used since the creation of the satan's tricycle (Schwinn Airdyne), and that is a chain-driven system. The Rogue Echo Bike utilizes the same drive system as our previous top pick, the Schwinn Airdyne Pro, which is a belt-drive system.
Although we prefer the weight of the Echo Bike, it does take up a bit more space than the Assault AirBike. That said, the extra space is minimal and would only matter to those who are using the machine in VERY tight quarters, which if that were the case, I'd probably suggest a different form of conditioning equipment.
In typical Rogue Fashion, everything on the Echo Bike is coated in their signature black powder-coat. This will allow the bike to fit in with most people's equipment and last a long time. However, the powder-coat also shows marks pretty easily, so be aware.
The Assault Bike was the best option, but as you'll read in this review, it's been blown away by the Echo Bike. The main reason we'd suggest to buy the Assault Bike is if you're planning on competing in the CrossFit Games, but even then, we don't foresee it being used in the games much longer considering Rogue is the Official Equipment Sponsor.
The Rogue Echo Bike is the first piece of conditioning equipment made by Rogue Fitness. Sure, they have sleds, and plyo-boxes that can be used for conditioning, but never before have they come up with their own machine for conditioning.
This decision by Rogue is much more immense than many realize.
Previous to the Rogue Echo Bike, Rogue stuck pretty close to what they did well – strength training equipment. On their marketplace, they offer all of their equipment alongside the equipment of competitors. Companies who manufactured conditioning machines didn't have much to worry about. This means companies like LifeCore Fitness (the creators of the Assault AirBike) Concept 2, TrueForm, etc. had a hold on the market and even received quite a bit of marketing directly from Rogue Fitness.
Now, I don't foresee Rogue attempting to compete with Concept 2, but I would not be surprised to see a Rogue Treadmill in the near future.
Fortunately for the consumer, Rogue Fitness' first step into the conditioning machine market is a strong one. The Rogue Echo Bike is one of the best air bikes currently available at any price, and it just so happens that it's one of the least expensive among the top of the line options. Unfortunately for the manufacturers, the Echo Bike will force greater innovation, dedication to quality control, and tighter profit margins.
Although the Rogue Echo Bike will be most oft compared to the Assault AirBike, the air bike it's actually most similar to is the Schwinn Airdyne Pro. We were big fans of the Schwinn Airdyne Pro and still are. In fact, we view the Rogue Echo Bike and Schwinn Airdyne Pro as very similar bikes with only minor differences. This said, we believe the Rogue Echo Bike wins out mainly based on its price.
The reason the Schwinn Airdyne Pro and Rogue Echo Bike are so similar is largely due to their belt-driven systems.
Nearly every air bike ever made, up to the release of the Schwinn Airdyne Pro used a chain-drive system. Chain-drives often leak energy (there's a gap between pedaling and moving the fan), require lubing and adjustment, and are much louder than the new belt-drive systems.
The belt-drive employed by Rogue Fitness uses a similar belt to what is used in automobiles. These belts can stand up to just about anything you can throw at them, and they make hardly any noise. In fact, when using the Rogue Echo Bike, the only real sound you hear is wind ripping against the fan blades, similar to a high-powered fan.
The fact that very little noise outside of the wind is produced by the Rogue Echo Bike is pretty remarkable. You have to remember, in order to make the Echo Bike as beefy and sturdy as it is, there is a lot of metal used. When using older Schwinn Airdyne's like the AD4 and the Assault AirBike, I typically gave the excuse that they creaked and produced lots of noise due to their mostly metal construction. However, the Rogue Echo Bike is made of nearly all metal and produces virtually no noise.
This metal construction leads to a beefy and stable unit that thanks to the placement of the weight, isn't all that difficult to maneuver when trying to take it from one spot in the gym to another. Weighing in at a monstrous 145 lbs, the Rogue Echo Bike dwarfs the 98 lbs Assault Air Bike. In person, the Assault Bike feels much more like a child's-toy compared to the Echo Bike.
One of the most unique features of the Rogue Echo Bike is the fan blades. Rather than using a bicycle rim with blades attached or plastic blades attached to an aluminum spine, Rogue has taken a thin gauge steel, cut out fan blades, powder-coated, and welded them to a central hub inside of the fan cage. This is absolutely unnecessary, but should keep the fan from ever experiencing any failures, and it looks pretty cool.
Another unique feature of the Echo Bike is the foot pegs. Foot pegs are used on every air bike and have been there since the beginning of time due to no freewheel and for those times that you want to use arms only.
The difference between the Rogue foot pegs and what's on the Assault Bike is the ones on the Rogue Echo Bike spin. This isn't revolutionary, but it is a nice touch. The pegs are also heavy-duty and feature a knurled pattern to grip your shoes.
In the middle of the bike, above the internals is an anodized aluminum step wrapped in rubber that both looks good and will provide the needed durability in a high foot traffic area. The cranks are heavy-duty and have the same pedals used by Assault that feature a metal construction with a rubber grip top.
The seat that is used on the Rogue Echo Bike adusts up, down, forward, and backward. This allows the user to get in the proper position and quickly thanks to the pins. The physical bicycle seat is actually the exact same seat as what is used on the Schwinn Airdyne Pro down to the color of the stitching. It would have been nice to see Rogue come up with their own seat, but I'm a fan of this seat and prefer it's size to the Assault AirBike.
Finally, the monitor tracks every metric typically measured by air bikes including intervals, target, calories, and heart rate tracking. It has a similar design as the Assault AirBike with quick select buttons on the right side of the monitor and is pretty easy to see during use.
In use, the Echo Bike feels quite a bit different from an Assault Bike or other chain-driven bikes. The resistance is different also due to the size of the fan blades. However, the calories are counted in a very similar fashion as the Assault AirBike as confirmed by Rogue Fitness. If you're someone who likes to ghostride air bikes, you're probably not going to love the belt-drive, it doesn't spin as freely as a chain drive.
Overall, we are big fans of the Rogue Echo Bike and recommend it to any CrossFit Affiliate, training facility, or garage gym.
Although we're big fans of the Rogue Echo Bike, there are a couple of improvements we'd like to see.
The first improvement is the handles. One of my favorite feature of the Schwinn AD Pro is the multiple grip options, this could easily be added to the Echo Bike without increasing the price.
The second improvement is including even more metrics with the monitor. It would have been awesome for Rogue to partner with Concept 2 and connected their Performance Monitors to the Echo Bike and used their worldwide leaderboard. Maybe something that will happen in the future.
So, I've had the Echo Bike for just over two years now. In that time, this is how it's been used:
With all that said, this is how it looks as of this writing:
As you can see, despite all of the abuse, it looks pretty much like new.
However, even more important and telling of quality equipment than it's looks is the question, "how does it perform and how much maintenance is required?"
Well, neither I or my partner at the gym has performed a single amount of maintenance on the machine other than spraying it with some disinfectant and wiping it down. We tightened the bike saddle, but it wasn't loose, we just didn't want it to be. I'm not kidding, after two years, we've yet to perform any maintenance on the drive train, pedals, handles, fan, or anything else.
If you've ever had an air bike with a chain drive like an Airdyne or Assault Air Bike, then I would be extremely surprised if you could say the same, even with half the use that we have on our Echo Bike.
If you want a bomb-proof air bike, the Echo Bike is currently, about as close as you can get.
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