Are those expensive air bikes really worth the higher investment? Can they provide a better, more comfortable workout? Do they last longer than more affordable ones?
I like getting a better bang for my buck, and I love cool exercise equipment. So I wanted to see what some of these deluxe air bikes have to offer. An Assault AirBike Elite review is in order here. We're going to pick it apart and see what it's actually like to use it.
Consider These Things Before Buying A High-End Air Bike
By high end, I mean more than about $750. They often offer a much smoother workout. They're usually built better, are more durable and have better and more useful features to enhance your workout.
Air bikes provide resistance, not by magnets or a chain, but by a fan. You're pedaling and pumping your arms against air resistance.
That means that you get a full-body workout, at least if you do it right. In addition to your arms and legs pushing and pulling the pedals and handles, your abs and back muscles have to work overtime to stabilize you on the seat.
If you just want to burn calories, get in some cardio and maybe lose weight, you don't necessarily need an air bike at all. A treadmill or a relatively cheap magnetic-resistance bike can be better for you.
If you want to tone your whole body and incinerate calories and fat, an air bike may be best. HIIT is all the rage these days, which is probably why air bikes are so popular.
If you are willing to spend hundreds more for a smoother, more high-tech bike, check out the high-end models.
Introducing The Assault AirBike Elite
When I first seen this air bike, my thought was “1993 Cadillac.” That's really the first Caddy that combined all those useful bells and whistles with that trademark luxury feel. It was also an expensive car in those days.
Assault Fitness makes three main claims about the Elite. They say it's a step up from their AirBike Classic, made to commercial gym quality standards and ideal for interval training. We'll get into these promises below.
Here's the good and the bad:
- Impressive build quality
- Highly functional console
- Adjustable handle grips
- Reverse pedal mode
- Allows upper or lower body isolation
- Included seat is slippery
- Lengthy And difficult assembly
The Assault AirBike Elite In Detail
Here's what it's like to use it and a look at how well it's made.
You get more variety in your workout with this bike than you do with any other. And there's also that super smart bluetooth console.
Most air bikes work your arms and legs for a full-body workout, and so does the Elite. But the Elite also lets you choose to just pedal or pump the handles to isolate your lower or upper body.
For lower-body isolations, you can pedal backwards. This takes some getting used to, but it helps you target those often neglected muscle groups in your legs.
This bike really is ideal for HIIT. You can track distance, watts, RPM and calories burned on the console. But what makes it so good for HIIT is the programmable timer. Bright LEDs tell you when to go and when to rest. You don't have to watch anything.
One great improvement over the Assault AirBike Classic and many other air bikes is the bluetooth console. There won't be any wires to get in your way if you connect a heart rate sensor.
Those sensors are good for cardio. I like to get to my target heart rate and keep it up there for 10 minutes per session of long-interval cardio.
One common question I get from people who aren't familiar with air bikes is “How do you adjust the resistance?”
While there is some variation among different bikes, the Elite adjusts the easy way: the harder you push, the more it pushes back. No adjustments are necessary.
Construction And Durability
I've got to hand it to Assault Fitness. They spared no expense in the construction of the Elite.
It's made of the thickest square steel I've seen on any air bike. And all of the moving parts connected to the frame glide on maintenance-free bearings.
That makes for a smooth, solid feel that very few home gym air bikes can provide. It's incredible.
I generally don't like chain-driven air bikes. The cranks and the chain itself can pose several problems. Excess noise, a rough feel and durability issues are three of those problems. But this is no ordinary chain-drive system.
Instead of thin bell and bottom cranks on the pedal arms and fan, it has wide spline cranks and a wide, tough chain to match. That pretty well solves the three main issues I have with chain-drives.
All in all, it is an unbelievably tough and well-made air bike. Apparently, Assault Fitness thinks so too. They cover the frame for five years, parts for three and labor for one.
Comfort and Adjustability
The Assault AirBike Classic comes with a notoriously uncomfortable seat. The Elite has a wider and more comfortable seat, but it's slippery. Most people who find this slipperiness troublesome replace it with a bicycle seat.
A big improvement over the Classic is the somewhat adjustable handles. You can twist them for a better angle, which can save some strain on your wrists.
The seat is fully adjustable, even for tilt. This means that people of all sizes, and weights of up to 350 pounds, can find a comfortable position for a hard ride or HIIT workout.
The wind shield that keeps the air from blowing in your face is integrated, but it is removable for a cool breeze in a hot gym.
I hate an exercise bike that scoots around and wobbles. The combination of wide foot coasters and a weight of nearly 140 pounds means this bike will do neither of those things.
Tight tolerances between parts of the frame also aids the stability factor.
What we have here is a fully adjustable air bike that is comfortable for just about anyone to use. The seat can be a problem, though.
What People Are Saying
I scoured the internet looking for real-world opinions from real people who have actually been using this bike for a while. In general, users are impressed with the craftsmanship and usefulness of the Assault AirBike Elite.
Not many people seemed to be OK with the seat. It seems like Assault Fitness would have addressed this issue by now, as the Elite has been around for a while. For most, it wasn't a huge deal, though. The seat can be replaced for about $25.
Some have regretted spending almost $1,300 on it. They knew what they were spending and were happy with what they got at first, but later decided that the Elite is a bit overkill for a home gym.
Other than that, almost all buyers were still happy with their decision and are still working out on the Elite years after purchase.
Assault AriBike Elite Alternatives
If you think that the Elite isn't for you, it's probably because of the price tag. Or maybe it's too much bike for you. Either way, here are a couple that may be a better fit for you.
An obvious alternative is the Assault AirBike Classic. It's way cheaper, but it's missing the key features that make the Elite so special. There's no bluetooth connectivity.
The console lacks the timer LEDs. And the seat is uncomfortable. But you still have that awesome build quality. And you'll save several hundred dollars.
Compared to the Elite, the Classic is:
- Less high tech
- Less durable
- A little less comfortable
- Much more affordable
The Rogue Echo is a high-end air bike that is somewhat similar to the Elite. It's built almost as solidly, but it's really big. If you read my Rogue Echo review, you'll see that it is too big for smaller people to use comfortably.
It's also belt-driven. That's usually a plus over chain-driven bikes, but remember that the Elite has that cool splined crank system.
Compared to the Elite, the Rogue Echo is:
- Almost as smooth
- Not quite as well built
- Much less adjustable
- Less expensive
Go here to read my full Echo fan bike review
As we've seen in this Assault AirBike Elite review, a high-end exercise bike can last for years and give you some comfortable enhanced workouts.
If you're OK with spending well over $1,000 on an air bike, the Elite can give you almost everything you could ever want out of an exercise bike.
If you don't think you'll need all those cool features or don't want to spend that much, keep on looking. Check-out my AirBike round-up where I compare the top 5.