If you are seriously into running, it can often be pretty hard to put in all the road hours you want to, because running can be tough on the body. Even with the best, most cushioned shoes you can buy, sometimes it just really makes more sense to get on your bike or make your way down to the local sports center to use the swimming pool. And it’s a great relief to switch to a little cross-training which is low-impact, to give your joints a rest. One good way to ease yourself into cross-training while staying at home and out of the weather is to buy a stationary exercise bike. The one I bought is the Reebok iBike 2.1, and this article will act as a general review, but also aims to give a glimmer of hope to those owners who are at their wit’s end trying to decipher the assembly instructions!
Note: the Reebok iBike is available in the UK and other parts of Europe, but I have not seen it advertised to date on the American fitness websites. If you know differently, feel free to drop other readers a comment at the end of this review. But here are some highly rated ones by reviewers on the US Amazon website.
Reebok iBike Assembly Instructions
Let’s jump straight in and talk about what to do once the big box has been delivered to your door, and how to build the iBike, because it took me three hours to do. And I needed to improvise with some extra tools – actually just a pair of sharp scissors and a sturdy nail file. I also found that there was almost nothing to help me online when I ran into difficulty, and that is what has prompted this article.
So, firstly make yourself some space to assemble your exercise bike, carefully open the box and get all the smaller boxes out – Reebok have kindly provided checklists, where somebody at the warehouse should have put a stamp next to each item to ensure everything is present and correct. But check this yourself to make sure!
Stage 1: Attaching the Stabilizer Tubes
The main unit comes with plastic protective covers for the two contact points where you are supposed to attach the stabilizer tubes. Do not worry if one or both of them are shattered into a myriad pieces – like one of mine was! These are just for preventing damage in transit, and you’ll be discarding them.
Thankfully, diagram 1 in the assembly manual is fairly straighforward. The front tube is the one with wheels on it, and you will need to get the two tubes the correct way round so that the round feet stand on the floor, rather than pointing upwards! When I assembled mine, there was still a large piece of swarf blocking the screw hole on one of the pieces, and I needed to use a screwdriver and a hammer to clear that out of the way, so I could get the screw in. Overall though, this section of the build was very easy – even easier if there’s two of you assembling, although I managed the whole operation by myself.
Stage 2: Attaching the Seat Post and Saddle
Okay, this is where the fun starts. I found that diagram 2 in the manual bore no resemblance to reality. The diagram suggests that you need to find two extra bits to attach to the bottom of the seat post; in fact, it is all a single unit. So that actually makes things easier, assuming you don’t spend 15 minutes searching for the “missing” pieces.
Insert the seat post into the frame, and then slide the plastic collar down into the frame also. You will find that the collar will not slide all the way down, and that the diagram insert in the manual indicates that you need to use a screwdriver to push in a small plastic flap in order to achieve this. There is a raised plastic nodule on the flap and I found this to be way too big, so that pushing it in and using some serious muscle still did not allow me to slide the collar all the way into the frame.
So I took a pair of scissors to the nodule – cut most of it off! You can use a nail file or sandpaper, or whatever you have to hand to wear down the height of the nodule so that it can slide down into the main bike unit.
Then you can fix the rubber O-ring to seal the seat unit to the body of the exercise bike. Finally attach the two pedals using the spanner provided.
Stage 3: Attaching the Upright Tube
This was the point when I thought there was a missing bag of nuts and bolts. The instructions show plainly that you need to connect the two plugs for the computer at the bottom of the Upright Tube. But apart from that, it seems you just slide the tube into the main body of the bike and that’s it. Pretty rattly and flimsy. In fact, there is an Allen key bolt already screwed into the main bike body, which you will have to take out first – be very careful not to drop this inside the sealed main unit! Then you can connect the electronics plugs to each other, slide in the Tube and redo the Allen key bolt. And that’s it; sturdy as you like. Just finish off by pushing the Plastic Upright Insert into the bolt hole to blank it off.
Stage 4: Attaching the Handle Bar Tube
This bit was fairly straightforward. Feed the two wires from the Handle Bar under the metal plate on top of the Upright Tube, position the Handle Bar centrally, and then hold it securely in place using the Handle Bar Cover (Front) and the Handle Bar Adjustment Knob. Then fix the cover in place with one of the prescribed screws. Easy! Still with me?
Stage 5: Attaching the Computer Console
Another point of confusion here – three electronics plugs coming from the almost completed bike, but four plugs from the computer console. Luckily, the fourth plug is on a longer wire, and this needs to be fed carefully back down the Upright Tube (more about this one in Stage 6). As for the three remaining plugs, the first was obvious as it was a female socket on the bike, so you just attach that to the male plug on the console. The other two were identical however, so I just plugged them in blindly. I put the batteries (included) into the console and it switched on and made a long beep. So obviously I had the wires attached the right way round first time. If you find something dodgy happens when you do this bit, think about trying the other combination of plugs and sockets; I’ve got a feeling that if there was any real difference, there would be different sized plugs or some kind of markings to show you which plug goes where though.
So that’s the computer sorted out. Now you just need to slide all the wires back down into the Upright Tube so that you can lay the console flush on top of the metal plate, and attach the Handle Bar Cover (Rear). Once you have screwed that piece on, the handlebars are complete.
Stage 6: Attaching the Resistance Unit
This is the final stage, and gave me more hassles than everything else put together. If you take a look at the rear of the unit, at the top is a long plastic protrusion which is where you screw it onto the bike. First time round I attached this to the resistance cable and was left with nowhere to put the small screw! Actually the circular piece underneath is where all the ‘action’ takes places, but I found it extremely difficult to attach the resistance cable to this piece, because there was a difference in the diameters of the two pieces, and as one is supposed to slide over the other, it just couldn’t be done.
So I got to work with a metal file and reduced the diameter of the plastic lower protrusion. With some force, I finally managed to get that to work. The small screw then locked the resistance cable in place on the unit, and after connecting the final electronics plugs together (the one I mentioned in Stage 5), I could screw the assembly to the Upright Tube to complete the full build of my shiny new Reebok iBike.
If you finish your build and find that turning the resistance knob doesn’t increase the difficulty of pedalling, you will need to take the unit back off and ensure the circular wheel is clicked into place properly, and that the small screw is tight enough to stop the cable slipping when you twist the resistance knob. It definitely isn’t ‘you’ though. I had to do this step three times before I got it to work properly.
So that’s it. Hopefully, this article makes it at least a little bit clearer than the diagrams that come with the product itself. Good luck!
Reebok iBike 2.1 Review
The Reebok iBike is very affordably priced compared to many other models, and comes with all the features I require of a stationary exercise bike. The saddle is comfortable, although I’m just getting into it and after two days so far, each day doing two 1-hour sessions, I’m feeling a little sore. That’s to be expected as I haven’t been in a saddle for a few years. The unit is extremely quiet, which is great. I love being able to get on and do some training while I’m watching the television!
The handle bars are adjustable and have hand pulse strips so you can measure your heart rate during exercise, and there is a nifty little ‘Fitness Test’ program on the console, which apparently puts me in the lowest level of fitness – great, just great. I’m not sure whether it is sadly mistaken, whether I just did it wrong (if you think the assembly instructions are hard, wait until you try to do anything with the computer!) Or maybe I’m just unfit and it was correct all along, even though I’ve been running a lot all year.
Anyway, while we’re on the computer, it does give a wide selection of data, including speed, cadence, time, distance, heart rate and calories burned. So I normally just leave it on its default setting and start pedalling, and then stop when the clock hits the one hour mark.
It was easily adjustable for my height, and I’ve now got a good riding position with the seat and handle bars adjusted perfectly. If you want to move it around, and store it somewhere out of the way when you are not using it, just grab the handle bars, tilt the bike forwards, and the front stabilizing bar has wheels, so you can wheel it to wherever you want.
So that’s my iBike review, and I’m very happy with it, for its features and the price tag, and recommend it. You just might need the patience of a saint to put the thing together when you first buy it, so the only downside is that the instructions are about as much use as a finger-painting done by a 4-year-old in kindergarten. If Reebok come out with a new manual, with written instructions and photographs, then this product becomes awesome.