The Keiser M3 Plus Indoor Exercise Bike is currently on of the newest additions to the popular M3 range, with a number of improvements over similarly priced spinning bikes.
With Keiser being such a well respected company in the world of spin bikes, we wanted to take a closer look at the design features in our in-depth review, to help you decide if this is the best choice of bike for your own home workouts.
This review covers everything from the design features to the display console feedback, as well as making some important comparisons with another high quality spin bike from the Schwinn range.
Frame design and adjustment options
When you’re looking to design an industry-leading range of spinning bikes for use in home gyms and group cycling classes at commercial gyms, you’re going to want to put all your years of experience into combining the perfect set of features.
That’s exactly what happened with the Keiser M3 Plus, which is the result of over 10 years of research and feedback from trainers around the world.
You also get the benefit of Keiser’s 30+ years in the fitness equipment industry, during which the company has developed an impressive reputation for developing innovative and highly efficient bike designs.
Taking a closer look at the M3 Plus, it’s not long before you start to notice some of these features, including the fore and aft adjustment settings for the handlebars and seat.
These can also be adjusted vertically, helping you to find the ideal cycling position for your height and body type.
But it’s not just the fact that these adjustment options are available, but that so much thought has even gone into the way they adjust.
A ‘pull-pin’ design has been chosen over your standard hand wheel to help reduce the number of moving parts, as well as speed up the time it takes to make minor adjustments.
It’s subtle features like this and the anti-corrosive materials used in the construction of the parts that helps ensure the Keiser M3 Plus is a bike that’s virtually maintenance free.
One of the main differences between the Keiser M3 Plus and the earlier M3 model is the shape of the handlebars.
Although the M3 still provided a variety of basic grip positions, the shape of the handlebars for the M3 plus provides much greater support for your forearms.
This is particularly useful during time trialling, but can be a benefit to any of the following grip positions:
- Position 1: Extended grip
- Position 2: Overhand front grip
- Position 3: Overhand top grip
- Position 4: Time trialling
- Position 5: Hook grip
- Position 6: Parallel grip
Your choice of grip will usually be influenced by the intensity of your workout, but having so many options means the M3 Plus can cater for pretty much all of your preferred cycling positions.
Keiser M3 Plus – Features Summary
- Fore and Aft Adjustable Handlebars
- Backlit M Series Display
- Adjustable Shimano™ Combo Pedals
- Easy Transport
- Gravity Based Water Bottle Holder
Award winning display console
Although they are now becoming a more popular feature among spinning bikes due to the importance of accurate workout tracking, display consoles on a bike like this are still surprisingly rare.
In case you were wondering, this is the same console that Keiser have used on their exciting new M3i model.
The only difference is that the M3 Plus doesn’t have the Bluetooth connectivity option.
In terms of the workout feedback you can expect on the screen, the taller shape of the console provides enough room to continually show 5 lines of important workout stats.
These correspond with our image as follows:
- 1. Backlight sensor
- 2. RPM (Cadence)
- 3. Power (Watts currently being generated)
- 4. Heart rate
- 5. Elapsed time
- 6. Current gear setting
- 7. Odometer
Although Keiser have said that they may revise the computer’s algorithm in future, the odometer doesn’t currently provide feedback in standard miles or kilometers measurements. Instead, every 1.0 increase is the result of 200 turns of the crank arm, which is something to bear in mind if you want to compare cycling distances between your indoor and outdoor cycling workouts.
But as well as being able to see your up-to-the-minute feedback, you might also want to see your current averages across the duration of your workout.
Unfortunately there isn’t a simple button to press to switch between current stats and averages, but it is still possible. You just have to stop cycling for 3 seconds.
Tracking averages probably isn’t something you would want to do all that often during a workout, so this isn’t an issue that really bothered us.
One of the more unique power saving features is that the Backlight Sensor automatically detects ambient light levels in the room, only turning on the Backlit Display when needed.
Also, if you’re concerned about having to calibrate the on-board computer to start receiving accurate feedback, there’s really no need. The Keiser M3 Plus has already been calibrated at the factory using a specialist tool, allowing you to get straight on the bike and begin your workout.
One final point worth mentioning is actually something we covered in our review of the Keiser M3i – that the console for the M3 Plus is the first to pass the EN ISO 20957-1 accuracy certification.
This means that the console had to consistently provide feedback that’s within 10% (plus or minus) of accuracy.
Eddy current resistance system
Spinning style exercise bikes tend to fall into two main categories when it comes to the resistance system; friction pad, and eddy current.
It’s usually the lower priced bikes that provide the friction pad option, which actually still works very well, but you have the issue of having to find replacement pads when the set provided inevitably wears out.
In contrast, the Keiser M3 Plus uses an eddy current resistance. This means that the resistance is generated by a pair of contrasting magnets positioned inside the perimeter cover that wraps around much of the flywheel.
As you progress through your workout you may choose to adjust the resistance to be either more or less challenging.
This is controlled by the lever attached to the frame, positioned just below the handlebars.
Although the gear display will only show up to 24 possible settings, subtle adjustments in the position of the resistance lever actually reveals many more.
But having this gear level display certainly helps with identifying which resistance level you cycled at and for how long. These simple measurements can act as a useful guide when it comes to setting targets for your next cardio session.
There’s even an emergency brake option, similar to what you would find on leading treadmills.
Ease of assembly
Another great benefit of buying a spinning bike from the Keiser M3 range is the quick and easy assembly, which can also be seen in the M3 Plus.
Unlike some of the lower priced studio bikes, the flywheel isn’t already attached to the frame when you first unpack the parts.
This isn’t really a big deal, and it only takes a few seconds to get the frame attached to the base, then lift the flywheel into position.
Weighing just 85 lbs, this isn’t a particularly heavy bike, but once this part of the assembly is complete, there’s no more awkward lifting required.
As we saw with the manual for the M3i bike, each assembly step has been carefully documented using a combination of textual explanation and full colour photos.
This covers everything from the flywheel guard installation to the best and worst cycling postures to adopt when using the bike at varying resistance levels.
If you would like to read through the quick start user manual yourself before buying, feel free to view and download Keiser’s own pdf version.
With spinning being such a highly effective form of cycling in terms of improving your personal fitness level and the amount of calories they burn, it’s no wonder that they’ve proven to be incredibly popular among home gyms.
But without any preset workout programs stored in the console, what other workout options do you have with the M3 Plus?
With such readily trackable resistance levels and time periods, the obvious place to start would be HIIT workouts.
The resistance can be adjusted quickly using the lever, and important stats can be tracked directly via the LCD screen.
If interval training isn’t your preferred style of cycling, you can always plan your routine to emulate one of the standard programs found on many upright bike designs.
These include ‘hill climb’, ‘endurance’, ‘heart rate controlled’ (when combined with a Polar heart rate chest strap), and even the simple option of steady-state cardio, where you workout at close to the same level of resistance each workout.
Keiser M3 Plus vs. Schwinn AC Performance
Regardless of the price, product comparison is an important part of researching your options when it comes to buying any new piece of fitness equipment.
But in order to provide a fair comparison, it’s also important to find products that are in a similar price range, which isn’t always easy once you start comparing top of the range bikes.
This is why we’ve chosen to compare the Keiser M3 Plus with another of the high-end commercial quality spinning bikes; the Schwinn A.C. Performance Indoor Cycle.
Both bikes have opted for a belt drive system to control the flywheel movement, creating a workout that’s smoother and quieter than bikes that rely on a chain-driven system.
Another area of design that these bikes have in common is the type of resistance system.
Each bike uses a magnetic brake system (eddy current resistance), which reduces any ongoing maintenance costs by not having to replace sets of friction pads.
But the weight capacity is where we start to see the differences.
The Schwinn bike offers a weight capacity that’s 50 lb higher than the M3 Plus, although both cater to a similar range of user heights (4′ 11″ to 6′ 8″).
Another difference is in the display console, with the Keiser model offering a console as standard, while the Schwinn model does not.
This can make a big difference in weighing up which bike offers the best value for money, as each retails for around $1800, but the console for the Schwinn would cost you an additional $350. (Based on the MPower Echelon Console and Watts Meter Upgrade)
However, the additional cost does buy you the option to connect a USB device to the Schwinn console, capturing workout data that’s compatible with web-based fitness programs. (Deals are also available where you can buy the bike and console for around $2000)
This can prove useful if you want to automatically track your workouts and have a measurable record of improvements in your physical fitness over time.
With so many different online shopping sites to choose from, it can be difficult to find the one that offers the widest range of in-depth customer reviews.
In our experience, Amazon is still the greatest site for finding out what a large number of customers thought about a product, and you’ll often find reviews here for products that simply aren’t reviewed anywhere else.
Something we weren’t surprised to see when reading through these reviews ourselves was the way the ratings for the Keiser M3 Plus were distributed.
There are virtually zero ratings under 4 stars, with around 90% of the current ratings being the full 5 stars.
After reading through the reviews and customer questions, we came across a number of important pros and cons that might have an influence on whether or not this is the best choice of bike for you.
- Magnetic resistance for a smoother cycling motion
- ‘Gear’ settings are a useful way to visually monitor the current resistance level
- Drive belt instead of chain provides a quieter workout
- Wide range of seat and handlebar adjustment settings
- LCD is backlit to improve visibility of stats in low light
- Dual platform pedals
- Comfortable saddle cushioning
- Integrated water bottle holder makes for easier bottle storage
- The spinning bike of choice for commercial gym classes across the country due to its high level of build quality
- No built-in workout tracking as part of the display console
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: 10 years
- Paint, upholstery, hand grips: 90 days
- Wearable parts (pedal straps, ‘T’ handles): 6 months
- All inclusive (excluding labor and wearable parts): 3 years
It’s worth mentioning that the warranty coverage only applies to the original owner. This means that if you are thinking of buying a used or refurbished model, then the warranty coverage listed above won’t apply.