The Phoenix 98623 Revolution Cycle Pro II is a clear upgrade over the earlier 98622 model, and joins their 99608 recumbent bike and 98510 manual treadmill in forming part of a bestselling collection of cardio equipment from Phoenix Health and Fitness.
In this review we’ll be taking a closer look at the direct-drive system and resistance options, as well as making some important comparisons with some of the most popular bikes in the same price range.
Our recent buyer’s guide also highlights the 98623 in a list of the top ten indoor cycling bikes.
Biomechanically efficient design features
At first glance the Phoenix 98623 may seem very similar to other indoor cycling bikes, but there are actually a number of important differences.
Firstly, the heavyweight frame and 39.6 lb flywheel ensure the bike remains stable during high intensity workouts, even when you’re standing up.
The toe cages create a more efficient transfer of power from your legs to the pedals, but you don’t have SPD cleats like you would with pedals on most road bikes.
In terms of its suitability to different user heights, although the seat offers a full range of vertical as well as fore / aft adjustments, the handlebars are limited to just vertical. This allows you to drop the saddle down and out of the way to work the inner thigh, or perform other legwork off the back of the bike.
The saddle itself is a point of contention amongst reviewers, with some praising the seat post for its variety of height and fore / aft adjustment settings, and others dissatisfied with the level of comfort.
Fortunately this is interchangeable, which means you can swap it with one of the softer gel designs from Sunlite for a more comfortable workout if you enjoy being seated.
Tip: Replace the seat with a gel version, such as the Cloud-9 from Sunlite
Although we recommend assembling the bike in the location where you intend to use it, if it does need to be moved at any point, transport wheels attached to the front base stabilizer make this a much easier task.
Sturdy toe clips made of the same alloy materials used in off-road racing, a heat-treated axle, a water bottle.
Phoenix 98623 – Features Summary
- Modern exercise bike with direct-drive resistance system
- 39.6 lb precision balanced flywheel
- Direct-drive system lets the rider pedal forward or backward, with quick-stop handle brake
- 2-way adjustable seat post and handlebars move vertically and horizontally while you ride
- Heavy-duty brake pad resistance system with center-pull brake pads
- Wheels for transport
- Heat-treated axle
- Water bottle holder
Flywheel and resistance system
One of the key differences between the Phoenix 98623 and most other indoor cycling bikes is in the design of its resistance system.
Whereas models like the Schwinn IC2 and Stamina CPS 9300 use a single friction pad, the 98623 uses a dual pad system similar to that of the ProForm 315 IC.
Having a resistance system that’s based entirely on friction rather than electromagnets (Eddy Current Braking / ECB) means that you aren’t limited to a pre-configured set of levels. Essentially you have unlimited resistance options.
The fact that two pads are used instead of one also reduces the wear over time, meaning you’ll need to replace the pads less frequently. This is ideal if you intend to include high intensity workouts in your regular fitness routine.
How much pressure these friction pads apply to the perimeter of the weighted flywheel depends on how many times you choose to rotate the resistance control knob.
Attached to this you’ll also find a feature that’s not as common as you might think on spin style bikes, and that’s an emergency brake.
This is beneficial for a number of reasons, but primarily it’s used to quickly bring the flywheel to a stop either in case of emergency (similar to a safety key on a treadmill) or if you suddenly want to quickly reverse you cycling motion.
Some reviewers have mentioned the proximity of the brake to the resistance control means it can get in the way. While this is something we agree with and would like to see moved lower, provided you’re careful with moving your hands down from the handles, we can’t see any too much of an issue.
One last important feature of the direct-drive system is the flywheel.
Weighing in at close to 40 lbs, this represents one of the heaviest weights in its class, with the SF-B1002 (49 lbs) and SF-B1110 (44 lbs) from Sunny Health and Fitness being two bikes that we’ve reviewed with heavier.
This means a greater feeling of inertia, which produces a smoother motion when pedalling that feels more like riding on a road bike.
Comparison with similarly priced cycles
Before buying any new piece of fitness equipment it’s important to know what else is available, usually paying close attention to other equipment within your budget.
But for $500, this gives you a lot of options when it comes to indoor cycling bikes, and it can be extremely time consuming to search out all of them, read and analyse the feedback in reviews, and compare the various features.
That’s why we wanted to take care of this all for you. So as well as walking through the design features, we’re also going to be making comparisons to the Horizon Fitness M4, Sunny SF-B1002, and Schwinn IC2.
Starting with the Horizon Fitness M4, and despite having a lower average rating, it actually offers many similar features for virtually the same price.
The M4 itself is around 25 lbs lighter than the Phoenix, with a flywheel that’s a few pounds heavier (42 lbs).
It’s another of the spin style bikes that features a chain drive system, so there’s no real improvement in terms of a quieter workout.
The footprint for the M4 is also slightly smaller than the 98623, and a display console is included as standard for displaying feedback of your time, distance, speed, and calories burned.
Moving on to the Sunny SF-B1002, and the most noticeable difference is the price. If you’re on a tight budget then you might find this the better option, as it’s usually listed for over $150 less than the Phoenix 98623. Unfortunately this has quite a limited warranty compared to the M4, with just 1 year’s coverage on the frame.
The flywheel though is one of the heaviest we’ve come across at 49 lbs, and it’s the first belt-driven bike we’ve mentioned this review. This means a quieter workout and less ongoing maintenance compared to the chain system of the Phoenix model.
There’s no difference between the weight of the bikes, but the SF-B1002 does offer a slightly higher (275 lbs) weight capacity. As with the other bikes, it’s also lacking in fore / aft handlebar adjustment, and doesn’t include a display console.
Because of its similar price and rating, one final model we wanted to compare was the Schwinn IC2.
Although it does include a display console for feedback on your time, distance, RPM, speed, and calories burned, it also has the lightest flywheel of the three at 31 lbs.
However, the warranty is one of the best, with 5 years on the frame and 1 year on parts and electronics. The weight capacity is the same as the Phoenix 98623 at 250 lbs, but the wider range of vertical seat settings means it’s a better fit for users under 5′ 4″.
There’s no emergency brake option with the IC2, but if anything does go wrong then you’re backed up by the warranty and Schwinn’s excellent customer service record.
Ease of assembly / Maintenance required
If like many people you’re not particularly gifted when it comes to assembling new equipment, there’s no need to worry.
Due to the frame design used with indoor exercise cycles, the majority of the frame can actually be welded together at the factory and shipped virtually flat with minimal extra cost to the manufacturer.
Despite the heavyweight nature of its design (113 lbs), once you have the stabilizers attached then there’s very little heavy lifting involved. You simply need to slot in the handlebar and seat posts and attach the pedals.
Taking into account the quality of assembly instructions in the owner’s manual and fact that the tools you’ll need are included alongside the frame, the entire process shouldn’t take much more than 20-30 minutes.
After taking a look at the design features and making some important comparisons with similarly priced cycles, it makes sense to also look at the responses left by other customers who have bought this bike and used it in their own home workouts.
With some products we struggle to find enough reviews to provide feedback on, but as with some of Phoenix’s most popular recumbent bikes and treadmills, the 98623 has no shortage of customer feedback.
Although the overall rating distribution is extremely positive (over 75% rated at 4/5 stars or higher), we still wanted to track down any issues and highlight them as part of the pros and cons below.
- Half the price of the Spinner NTX and Schwinn
- A two friction pad system means twice the use before you need replacements
- Quick and easy to assemble once you have the stabilizer bars fitted
- Frame remains stable whether you’re seated or standing
- Flywheel is one of the heaviest in its class (40 lbs)
- Chain drive is enclosed in a guard to prevent risk of injury
- Includes all the tools you need for assembly
- Resistance adjustment is easy to use
- Flywheel movement is totally reliant on your pedalling – no coasting
- Quick stop lever for added safety
- Wide range of seat and handlebar settings
- Bi-directional pedalling available for increased workout variation
- Seat and handlebar adjustment settings mean quite a high minimum user height of around 5′ 4″
- Seat isn’t particularly comfortable, but this can be easily replaced if needed
- Quite a heavy design weighing in at 113 lbs, but it does have transport wheels and this is actually lighter than the same as the Sunny SF-B1002 and Sunny SF-B1002C
- Lack of clear markings on the seat adjustment can make it more time consuming to switch between settings if people of different heights use the bike on a regular basis
- Chain drive system means it’s not as quiet to use as its belt-driven counterparts
- No display console to track important workout feedback
- Height of the quick stop lever means it can sometimes get in the way of changing the resistance
- Handlebars aren’t fore/aft adjustable
- Owner’s manual and instructions for assembly not currently available on the Phoenix Health and Fitness website