The Nautilus U616 is the top-of-the-line upright bike from their 2015 collection, and an upgrade over the entry level U614 model.
Both of these Nautilus exercise bikes form part of their 600 series, which offer more workout programs and resistance levels than bikes in their 500 series (U514, now discontinued).
In our Nautilus U616 review we take a closer look at the design features, console functions, and workout tracking options, to help you decide if this is the best upright bike for your own fitness goals and budget.
Ergonomic design features
If you’re looking for a low-impact cardiovascular workout but don’t have the space or budget for an elliptical trainer, an indoor exercise bike could be the best solution.
This is one of the reasons the Nautilus U616 is gaining in popularity, with a high strength frame design, angle adjustable handlebars, and fully adjustable seat.
The horizontal seat adjustment isn’t something that’s available on the earlier U614 model, and helps create the optimum cycling position for your height. This is also helped by the ability to change the angle of the handles, which promotes good posture and eases the pressure on your lower back.
With the seat and handles adjusted, you’re ready to start your workout, which can be set to any one of 25 different intensity settings, making the bike suitable for all levels of personal fitness.
This is controlled by a high-inertia drive system and perimeter-weighted flywheel, with an electromagnet applying the resistance via a system called ECB (Eddy Current Braking). Because the U616 uses ECB resistance, your cycling workouts are quieter and smoother than those that rely on a large fan, such as the Airdyne collection from Schwinn.
Another set of features to be upgraded from the U614 is the seat and handles, with both rated by Nautilus as ‘oversized’. This provides an extra level of comfort for longer workouts, and combines with a set of toe straps on the pedals to keep your feet secure at all resistance levels.
The seat itself remains contoured and ergonomically molded to provide high levels of support and comfort, and helps emulate the feeling of riding outdoors on a road bike.
So what about the console functions? What can you keep track of during your workout and does the U616 offer any kind of performance tracking?
Nautilus U616 Upright Bike – Features Summary
- Blue backlit Dual Track LCD display – two LCD windows display the status up to 13 workout details
- Bluetooth LE connectivity and Charging USB port
- 29 programs
- 25 levels of resistance
- 4 user profiles
- Acoustic chambered speakers for big sound
- Grip heart rate or telemetry enabled for chest strap
- Sync your data with Nautilus Connect™, the Nautilus Trainer™ App and MyFitnessPal
Display console design
The Nautilus U616 display console features an identical design to the console on the R616 recumbent bike, with acoustic speakers and a 3-speed cooling fan built into the base.
You can also spend more time focussing on your workout and less time at the console thanks to the 10 quick-select resistance keys and intuitive workout program selection.
As well as controlling the resistance settings, buttons on the console allow you to quickly switch between workout programs, fitness goals, and user profiles, of which there are 4 to choose from.
Your current selections are shown on the backlit DualTrack™ display, using two high-resolution LCD monitors that also keep you updated with important workout feedback. This includes the time, distance, speed, resistance level, and number of calories burned.
Heart rate is also included if you’re holding the touch sensors built into the handles, or wearing a telemetry chest strap. This wireless form of heart rate monitoring isn’t available on the U614 model, and provides more consistent heart rate feedback when paired with a Polar chest strap or similar device.
The reason for the dual monitor system is to ensure your workout feedback is always visible, even when taking advantage of the integrated media shelf, which can hold your MP3 player, smartphone, or tablet device.
This can be a convenient way to listen to your favorite music while cycling, with the shelf providing a secure platform for your media player, and the console speakers preventing the need for headphones.
One final convenience feature worth mentioning is the water bottle holder, which can help keep you hydrated and boost your performance during longer workouts.
Workout programs and user profiles
An important part of sticking with any home fitness routine is to develop a program that’s maintainable, realistic, and that holds your interest.
If it’s not maintainable or realistic then you’re setting yourself up to fail, which can decrease motivation and slow or prevent future progress.
The workouts also have to be varied to prevent plateaus and see more consistent progress, but also to keep you motivated to step back on the bike and start your next cycle.
That’s why Nautilus has significantly upgraded the range of programs since its 500 series bikes, so that the Nautilus U616 now offers 29 customizable workouts.
4 types of workout program:
- Quick Start (Manual)
If you’re simply looking to start cycling and have full control over the duration and resistance variation, this is the program for you.
After selecting your user profile, you’re then free to cycle for as long as you want, following no preset resistance profile and with no goal selected.
- Profile Programs (12)
If you already have a target workout intensity in mind, the preset Profile Programs can be a great way to ensure you achieve your goal.
Organized into three categories of varying intensity levels; Fun Rides, Mountains, and Challenges, these are designed to improve endurance for all fitness levels, ranging from experienced cyclist through to someone starting their first fitness program.
As the name suggests, Fun Ride programs are designed to be more low intensity, while the Challenges have profiles that emulate stair climbing, interval training, and hill ascents.
- Heart Rate Control (9)
If you have a chest belt or are happy to hold the touch sensors for the duration of your workout, the HRC programs can be a great way to monitor your exertion level.
After performing a basic calculation based on your age from the selected user profile, you can select a workout level of either ‘Beginner’ or ‘Advanced’, depending on how challenging you would like the workout to be.
From here you can select your target heart rate range, which is shown as a percentage of your maximum heart rate – 50% to 60%, 60% to 70%, 70% to 80%, or 80% to 90%.
Your current heart rate is then displayed along with your target heart rate range, and the bike will automatically adjust the resistance during your workout to keep you at your target level.
- Fitness Tests (3)
Nautilus have built in several ways to track your progress and fitness level, including the data sync to NautilusConnect, Goal Track workout statistics, and two levels of fitness test; Beginner and Advanced.
The Fitness Test measures improvements in fitness level by comparing your power output to your heart rate. The idea is that as your fitness improves, you will be able to maintain a higher power output with a lower heart rate (less exertion).
You can also choose a third fitness test, which works on the recovery principle, where the console measures how quickly your heart rate returns to normal after exercise. The shorter the recovery time, the higher your fitness level.
The Nautilus U616 includes twice as many user profiles as the U614 model, with 4 in total. These allow you to store basic information such as age, name, weight, height, and preferred workout values, which can be used to personalize your workout and improve the accuracy of feedback.
Having a profile associated with a specific user also means you can review historical workout data and look for ways to improve your performance.
Goal Track Statistics and Achievements
Being able to create user profiles is an incredibly valuable tool, not least because it allows more accurate feedback for your heart rate and number of calories burned, but also in terms of tracking your progress and achievements.
If you select a user profile before starting your workout, the Nautilus U616 will display Goal Track statistics in the lower screen, shown as both totals and averages. This includes your time, distance, RPM, and number of calories burned.
When you return to the bike to start your next workout, you’ll be able to view these statistics from the previous workout, with lights on the console used to indicator any achievements.
This isn’t something that’s restricted to your previous workout performance, and you can view statistics from the last 7 days, last 30 days, or all time records for the longest workout and most calories burned in a single session.
New achievements are earned when the existing records are surpassed, and all data can be synced to a USB device for uploading to NautilusConnect.
Ease of assembly
When you buy a new piece of fitness equipment, after waiting for it to be delivered the last thing you want to do is spend hours putting it together.
Fortunately, the Nautilus U616 upright bike arrives mostly pre-assembled, with the pedal crank and resistance system included as a single unit.
Once you have the base stabilizers attached, it’s simply a case of building the uprights for the seat and console, then attaching the pedals.
The user manual does an excellent job of explaining every step clearly, using a combination of exploded diagrams and parts references, with all the tools you need included.
With the AC adapter connected you’re somewhat limited in where you can position the bike, in that it has to be near a power outlet. But if you do need to move it between rooms, front-mounted transport wheels and a relatively low product weight (68 lbs) make it easier to handle.
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: 10 years
- Mechanical: 2 years
- Electrical: 1 year
- Labor: 90 days