Saturday, 18 May 2024

Exercise Bikes

NordicTrack GX 4.2 Pro Upright Bike Review

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The NordicTrack GX 4.2 Pro Upright Bike is an upgrade of the earlier GX 2.7 model, with an increase in the number of workout programs, resistance levels, weight capacity, and more.

But does it really represent the best upright bike in this price range, or can you expect better value for money with something like the Nautilus U616?

That’s one of the questions we’ll answer for you in this review, as we take an in-depth look at everything from the design features and console functions, through to the workout programs and warranty coverage.

Design features

NordicTrack GX 4.2 Pro Upright Bike

One of NordicTrack’s main goals with their GX range of upright bikes is adjustability. That’s why the GX 4.2 is fitted with a seat that can be moved both horizontally and vertically.

This is something we’re more used to seeing on spin style bikes, but it’s also something Nautilus included on their U616 and U614 upright bikes.

Having this level of adjustment makes the bike perfect for family environments with multiple users and different heights, as it allows you to position yourself in a way that creates the most efficient transfer of power to the pedals.

Unfortunately you can’t adjust the console angle on the GX 4.2 Pro, which was a feature on the earlier GX 2.7. The Nautilus bikes don’t let you change the console angle either, but they do let you change the angle of the handles.

In terms of the upgrades, you now have access to 22 resistance levels instead of 20, with a 17 lb inertia-enhanced flywheel instead of 15 lb (comparisons with the GX 2.7).

This actually sets the GX 4.2 Pro slightly behind the Nautilus U616, but the differences are minimal.

The U616 has 3 extra resistance levels (25 total) and 1 more workout program (29 total). You also have the quick select controls on the console for switching between these levels, although in our opinion the NordicTrack console is much more intuitive and easier to use.

The oversized seat features extra cushioning for added comfort during longer workouts, and NordicTrack’s Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR) helps ensure a quieter cycling experience.

One last design feature worth mentioning before we take a look at the console is the foot pedals. These have been ergonomically designed with adjustable straps and added width to help provide a stable platform for your feet at all times.

NordicTrack GX 4.2 Pro Upright Bike

NordicTrack GX 4.2 Pro – Features Summary

  • 22 digital resistance levels
  • 28 built-in workout apps
  • 17 lb. Effective Inertia-Enhanced Flywheel
  • CardioGrip™ Heart Rate Monitor
  • Polar® Wireless Chest Strap Included
  • iFit® Compatible
  • CoolAire™ console fan
  • 5″ Backlit console screen
  • iPod connectivity

Console features

NordicTrack GX 4.2 Pro Upright Bike

In upgrading from the NordicTrack GX 2.7 to the GX 4.2 Pro, the console is where you really notice the changes.

But unfortunately NordicTrack’s upright bikes seem to follow a similar pattern as their recumbent bikes, and you actually lose the OneTouch resistance controls.

We also saw this in the upgrade from the GX 4.5 recumbent bike to the GX 5.0 model, leaving you with just the basic ‘plus’ and ‘minus’ symbols for making adjustments.

This probably isn’t such a big deal if you use the onboard or iFit workouts instead of the manual and ‘Set-A-Goal’ programs. But if you’re doing any kind of interval training, it’s going to take your focus off the workout and leave you with more time spent at the console.

Workout feedback:

  • Calories burned
  • Calories burned per hour
  • Pulse
  • Resistance level

  • Time
  • Speed
  • Distance
  • My Trail

Most of the workout feedback listed above is information you’ll already be familiar with, but ‘My Trail’ may not be. It’s essentially a visual representation of a quarter mile running track, where you can view your progress around the current lap as well as the total number of laps completed.

A 5″ backlit LED display is the same as we saw on the GX 2.7, so you’re not getting a bigger screen. But what you do get is another way to measure your heart rate, as the NordicTrack GX 4.2 Pro now supports telemetry chest straps.

Heart rate monitoring
Although you still have the CardioGrip™ touch sensors built into the handles, you can now ensure a continuous signal is sent back to the console. This isn’t always possible with touch sensors, as you’ll often need to move your hands to change the resistance, workout program, fan power, or music volume.

A Polar® Wireless chest strap is also included, with a guide on how to get setup available in the user manual if you haven’t used telemetry heart rate monitoring before.

In terms of entertainment features, the console remains iPod compatible, meaning you can listen to your favourite music via the twin speakers while you exercise.

There is a shelf that could probably be used to support a tablet device, but not without reducing visibility of workout feedback and restricting access to the iFit workout programs.

Staying cool and hydrated for improved endurance
One final feature we wanted to mention is one you may have already picked up on, and that is the CoolAire™ workout fan.

This is angled towards your upper body to help keep you cool during a workout, with controls on the console for adjusting the power.

When you combine this with the water bottle holder, it’s clear that the NordicTrack GX 4.2 Pro does a better job of keeping you cool and hydrated during a workout than the earlier GX 2.7 model.

Workout program selection

While the seat adjustment settings cater for different user heights, the wide variety of onboard workouts caters for different fitness levels.

The NordicTrack GX 4.2 Pro now has 28 to choose from, which is an upgrade over the 20 that are available on the GX 2.7. This means 14 focussed on calorie burning, and another 14 performance workouts, designed to improve your cardiovascular endurance.

Each program has been designed by a certified personal trainer, but you can also choose to workout using the ‘Manual’ program, iFit, or set yourself a target with ‘Set-A-Goal’.

  • ManualIf you simply want to start cycling without having the resistance change automatically, this is your best option.You won’t be prompted to change speed at any point, and any change in resistance is entirely under your control.
  • Onboard workoutsEach of these programs follows a set profile or speed and resistance settings, which change depending on which segment of the workout you’re at.As the workout progresses you will move through the different segments and the resistance will change automatically. Changes in cycle speed are down to you, but the console does give you an indication on the screen of when to cycle faster and slower.

    Unfortunately, due to the console’s compact size, you don’t have any quick select buttons for accessing specific programs quickly. This means repeatedly pressing either the ‘Performance Workouts’ or ‘Calorie Workouts’ button until you find the desired workout.

  • iFit workoutsIf you have an iFit module, iFit subscription, and connection to a wireless network, you can download personalized workouts from iFit.Due to the backlit display, the experience isn’t as immersive as on NordicTrack’s Commercial treadmills (with full colour, web-enabled screens), but it still lets you choose from a much wider collection of programs.
  • ‘Set-A-Goal’ workoutsIf you get your motivation from setting and achieving targets, then these are the programs you’ll be interested in.Although we would like to see options for a target heart rate range and cycle pace, for now you can set a goal for the number of calories burned, distance cycled, or workout duration.

Ease of assembly / maintenance required

NordicTrack GX 4.2 Pro Upright Bike

NordicTrack are already well known for the quality of their fitness equipment, but during our reviews we’ve also noticed how concise and informative their user manuals are.

With some of the lower priced exercise bikes you’re lucky to get a clear explanation of how the parts fit together, but with NordicTrack they walk you through everything from the assembly to the warranty coverage.

The NordicTrack GX 4.2 is no different, with clearly written instructions, diagrams, exploded drawings, and parts references combining to make the process as simple and pain free as possible.

Having the entire base unit (pedal crank and resistance system) arrive pre-assembled is a huge time saver, and once you have the base stabilizers attached there’s really no more heavy lifting.

Given how well the assembly process is explained, it shouldn’t take much more than 45 minutes to get the bike setup and ready to use.

If you plan on taking advantage of the iFit workouts, we would recommend allowing some time on top of this for connecting to a wireless network and signing in to your profile.

Maintenance required
As with their recumbent bikes and treadmills, there’s actually very little ongoing maintenance required.

On some upright bikes the manufacturer makes the top cover removable so you can clean inside (Precor UBK), but all NordicTrack recommend for the GX 4.2 Pro is to clean the outer covers with a damp cloth.

You also don’t have to worry about belt lubrication or slippage the way you might on certain treadmills.

Transport options
With the NordicTrack GX 2.7 you had both the carry handle and transport wheels, which made it easier to move the bike around.

The GX 4.7 Pro still has the transport wheels, but you’ve lost the rear carry handle. This isn’t too much of a problem though, as you can tilt the bike onto its wheels by gripping the handlebars and rolling it to wherever you need to.

What’s covered by the warranty?

  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Parts: 1 year
  • Labor: 1 year

This is the same level of warranty coverage as you get with the more affordable GX 2.7 upright bike, but a big improvement over the warranties given to NordicTrack’s spin style bikes.

On models like the GX 3.0 Sport Cycle, you’re getting the same duration on the parts and labor (1 year) but the frame is only warranted for 5 years instead of lifetime.

NordicTrack Exercise Bike Guide

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

4.5 / 5

After reviewing the NordicTrack GX 4.2 Pro, it's clear you're getting some significant upgrades over the entry level GX 2.7 bike.

The weight capacity has been increased from 275 lbs up to the 300 lbs we've come to expect from our review of Nautilus and Schwinn exercise bikes in the same price range. You're also getting 8 more onboard workouts, a heavier flywheel, and improved upper body support from the ergonomically designed handles.

Considering the other upright bikes that are available at this price point, the workout variation, resistance levels, and clarity of feedback via the console are all at the top end of our expectations. But when you add iFit compatibility, this really sets the GX 4.2 Pro over the top.

However there are a couple of downsides that are worth remembering.

Firstly, if you use the tablet holder, you're going to be obstructing the iFit buttons on the console. This is something NordicTrack solved on the later GX 4.4 Pro model by affixing the tablet holder to the back of the console at the top, which also keeps the tablet screen closer to eye level.

Secondly, because the GX 4.2 Pro is classed as one of their mid-range bikes, you're not going to experience the same immersive cycling experience as on their top-of-the-line GX 4.6 Pro.

On that particular bike, you're getting the larger 7-inch web-enabled, full colour touch screen, with the same improved tablet holder position as on the GX 4.4 Pro. You'll also get a handful more workout programs and resistance levels, but the console screen is where the real upgrade is.

Overall, the NordicTrack GX 4.2 Pro is a high quality indoor cycle, back by enough workout variety and digital resistance levels to ensure challenging workouts for all fitness levels. It's also backed by one of the best exercise bike warranties in the industry.

Product dimensions: 43.5" (L) x 25" (W) x 60" (H) Weight capacity: 300 lbs

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