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The NordicTrack GX 4.5 is one of their most affordable recumbent bikes, yet still provides you with 24 onboard workouts, a built-in sound system, and compatibility with iFit.
But how does it compare to their other recumbent bikes, such as the VR Pro and GX 5.0, and does it really represent better value for money over something like the ProForm 440 ES?
In our review we’ll take a look at the design features, console functions, workout programs, warranty coverage, and entertainment features. This should help you decide if the GX 4.5 is the best recumbent bike for your own home gym.
One of the main benefits of recumbent exercise bikes is their ability to provide an effective, low-impact workout, which places less stress on your knee and ankle joints than running.
To assist with this, the NordicTrack GX 4.5 has been designed with a Step Thru™ frame to make it easier to get on and off the seat.
This means the crossbar that joins the flywheel and pedal crank system to the seat section has been kept low to the ground, which isn’t something every recumbent bike offers (see our review of the Schwinn A20).
The distance of the seat from the foot pedals can also be adjusted using a simple lever system, making it well suited to a range of user heights, as well as family environments.
In terms of the resistance system, NordicTrack use something called Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR), for smoother transitioning between the 22 levels available.
This isn’t far off the higher priced VR Pro model, which has 26 digital resistance levels. It’s also easier to switch between these levels on the GX 4.5 than it is the GX 5.0, because the GX 5.0 is missing the 1 Step resistance controls.
In terms of comfort, the seat provides the same level of cushioning as the GX 5.0, which has been ergonomically molded to provide better lumbar support.
A 15 lb inertia-enhanced flywheel doesn’t provide quite the same cycling experience as the 23 lb design used on the VR Pro recumbent, but it’s still smooth enough to make the 24 onboard workouts enjoyable and effective.
After our review of the NordicTrack VR Pro recumbent bike, it’s hard not to make comparisons with the GX 4.5. Although they’re priced for different budgets, we wanted to highlight a few of the differences between the two exercise bikes.
In terms of entertainment options the two are quite similar, with a 3.5 mm jack, Intermix Acoustics™ 2.0 Sound System, and two 2″ speakers providing iPod and MP3. This allows you to listen to your favourite workout music, with volume controls available on the console.
Unfortunately neither model offers the same 15″ viewing screen that’s available on some of the NordicTrack Commercial treadmills, but this seems to be missing from recumbent bikes across the industry.
We don’t feel this has a negative impact on the quality of your workout, but it does mean that you can’t watch your favourite TV shows or movies while you cycle.
CardioGrip touch sensors are also built into the seat handles for both the NordicTrack GX 4.5 and their VR Pro model, but the VR Pro is the only one to also integrate resistance controls for easy access.
Despite only having a 4″ backlit LED screen, you still have a wide variety of workout information available, including all of the same stats as the VR Pro.
- Total calories burned
- Resistance level
- Calories burned per hour
- Laps completed
The ‘Lap’ stat is an indicator of how many laps of a quarter-mile track you cycled during the current workout. Both the number of laps and a visual representation of your progress around the track are shown in the display matrix on-screen.
One of the features that’s missing from the NordicTrack GX 4.5 but available on the later GX 5.0 and VR Pro recumbent bikes is the workout fan.
You still have a small storage area for a water bottle to help you stay hydrated, but without the mesh of the back support (VR Pro) or AutoBreeze cooling fan, you might find it more difficult to stay cool.
A shelf has been built into the console, but unless you want to restrict your access to the OneTouch resistance controls and iFit programs you probably won’t want to use this for anything other than your smartphone.
Workout Program Selection
Something we’ve noticed about NordicTrack during our reviews is that they tend to provide similar workout categories for each of their machines, regardless of price.
The difference comes in the number and variety of the programs, but the GX 4.5 has the same workout categories as the higher priced VR Pro and GX 5.0.
The four categories are: manual, onboard, ‘Set-A-Goal’, and iFit, although you’re getting 24 onboard workout programs on the GX 4.5, compared to the 30 that you get with the GX 5.0.
- Manual If you simply want to start a workout without following any preset profile, this is the program for you.You’re in complete control over when the resistance changes and to what degree, but this is made slightly more difficult than on the VR Pro because you don’t have resistance controls built into the seat handles.
Onboard workouts These have been tailored towards two main fitness goals, with 12 workouts focussed on calorie burning, and the other 12 focussed on performance and endurance.Each program has a different profile to follow, with the resistance adjusting automatically until your workout is complete.Unfortunately they don’t include any heart rate control programs, and heart rate isn’t one of the options for their ‘Set-A-Goal’ workout.
Providing you hold onto the touch sensors your pulse will still be displayed on the console screen, but there’s no option for the resistance to adjust automatically to keep you within a heart rate range.
- iFit workouts Similar to the onboard workouts, many of the iFit programs have been designed by a certified personal trainer.Although there’s a small amount of setup involved and an additional fee for the subscription service, iFit offers a much wider range of personalized, downloadable workout options compared to the onboard programs.
- ‘Set-A-Goal’ workouts As the name suggests, these programs allow you to set a target for the number of calories burned, distance cycled, or workout duration.’Pace’ featured as a goal on a number of NordicTrack’s Commercial treadmills, but this isn’t a goal option that’s available on any of their recumbent bikes.
Ease of Assembly / Maintenance Required
At first glance the assembly process looks more complicated for the NordicTrack GX 4.5 than it does for the VR Pro, but they’re actually almost identical.
On both bikes, the seat rail, base frame, and flywheel system arrive as a single pre-assembled unit, which definitely helps cut down on the assembly time.
Once you have the base stabilizers in place, it’s just a case of assembling the seat and console support. The only real difference is that the pedal crank and flywheel system on the VR Pro arrives fully enclosed in its casing, whereas the GX 4.5 only becomes fully enclosed once you attach the upright for the console.
This is really a very minor difference, and in each case NordicTrack provide you with clearly written instructions, accompanied by parts references, diagrams, and exploded drawings.
The GX 4.5 shouldn’t take much longer than 45 minutes to get setup, although you might want to allow some time for getting accustomed to the console functions, and connecting to a wireless network for iFit if required.
NordicTrack are fairly universal in the advice they give for cleaning and maintaining their fitness equipment, at least in terms of their treadmills and recumbent bikes.
Providing you don’t apply liquids directly to the console and only use a damp cloth and mild soap solution to clean the outer covers and seat then you’re staying within their recommendations.
For any minor issues it’s worth checking the troubleshooting guide in the user manual, but don’t forget you also have a lifetime warranty on the frame and 1 year on parts and labor.
Unfortunately the NordicTrack GX 4.5 is missing a set of transport wheels and a carry handle, making it more difficult to move around than the later GX 5.0 model.
From this perspective, the NordicTrack GX 5.0 seems to have advantages over both the GX 4.5 and the VR Pro, which has the transport wheels but doesn’t have the carry handle.
The frame weight doesn’t exactly make the GX 4.5 the heaviest recumbent bike we’ve reviewed, but it’s certainly not the lightest. Our advice is to get setup in a location where you can keep the bike without having to move it between workouts.
What’s Covered by the Warranty?
- Frame: Lifetime
- Parts and labor: 1 year
Although the NordicTrack GX 4.5 recumbent bike is slightly more affordable than the GX 5.0, it's becoming increasingly difficult to buy after being discontinued by NordicTrack.
The console design is where NordicTrack's bikes stand out above similar models from Schwinn, but the specs are actually very similar (Schwinn 230).
Nautilus also have a recumbent bike that's virtually identical to the Schwinn, with the same number of workouts and resistance levels, and clear similarities in the console design (Nautilus R614).
Both of these bikes are great alternatives to the GX 4.5 if you can't find it in stock. Our personal preference is the Schwinn 230, as the SchwinnConnect service gives you a bit more control over workout data and fitness goals than NautilusConnect.
But NordicTrack have a very distinctive design, and if you would rather upgrade to the GX 5.0, then you can enjoy a wider range of workout apps and resistance levels.
This also means you get to keep all of the benefits that come with having an iFit compatible console.
Product dimensions: 25" (L) x 53" (H) x 52" (W)
Product weight: 125 lbs
Weight capacity: 300 lbs
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