Monday, 20 May 2024

Exercise Bikes

Precor RBK 615 Recumbent Exercise Bike Review

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Despite the differences in price, the Precor RBK 615 Recumbent Bike from the Assurance Series offers many of the same high quality features as the later RBK 835 model from the Experience series.

This includes the low profile step-through design, low level of maintenance, and a ventilated seat back for a cool, cushioned cycling workout.

It’s these design features, workout programs, and entertainment options that we’re going to look at in more detail. We’ll also compare the RBK 615 to recumbent bikes in the same price range, to help you find the best model for your cycling style and budget.

Assurance Series design features

The Experience and Assurance Series’ form Precor’s collection of commercial cardio equipment, which includes the same machines that you’ll find in commercial gyms, hotels, and universities worldwide.

Although their recent Energy and Precision Series’ have been designed exclusively for home fitness programs, many of the models from their commercial cardio and commercial strength lines are also ideal for home gyms.

Precor RBK 615 Recumbent Exercise Bike

However, one of the main advantages of the top elliptical and treadmill from the Precision Series and Energy Series is that you can track your workouts using the Preva app. Unfortunately building up a historical log of your workout progress and designing custom programs isn’t something that’s offered by the RBK 615.

That being said, being part of the Assurance Series means you can still enjoy a number of important features, which have been included to improve your cycling efficiency.

The low step-over height (4 in) and wide step-through frame (14 in) combines with the two sets of handles to create a bike that’s easy to mount and dismount from, which can be ideal for anyone with low mobility.

When seated, you can enjoy the feeling of ultra comfortable air flex cushioning, which uses a unique suspension system to ensure a high level of lumbar support. The simple seat adjustment then makes it easy to adjust your distance from the pedals, helping you find the point that’s best suited to your height.

If you find that the pedals the bike arrives with don’t feel the same as your road bike, the 3-piece crank assembly has actually been designed so that they can be quickly replaced if needed. Any standard road or mountain bike pedal will fit, in much the same way as the interchangeable pedals on Precor’s UBK range of upright bikes.

Also, if you’re at all worried about the noise the RBK 615 could bring to your house or apartment, the resistance system is actually belt driven with eddy current resistance. This means a smoother, quieter operation even at the highest resistance level.

Precor RBK 615 Recumbent Exercise Bike

Precor RBK 615 – Features Summary

  • Easy step-through design
  • Air Flex seat with high-ventilation seat back
  • Dual-sided pedals, or customize with your own
  • Six preset workouts: Manual, Interval, Basic Heart Rate Control, Weight Loss, Random, Hill Climb
  • Built-in touch sensor for heart rate monitoring and Polar compatible 5 KHz wireless chest strap transmitter monitoring

Display console design

One of the main differences between the entry level RBK 615 and the top-of-the-line RBK 835 is the display design. Whereas the 835 model uses Precor’s P30 console, the 615 uses their Standard design, which still provides you with many of the same benefits.

Precor RBK 615 Display Console

For example, you have the same six quick-select buttons for accessing workout program categories, a numeric keypad for entering workout information, and a central display screen for showing a matrix of your current workout profile.

The lever motion control that’s used to adjust the resistance on the RBK 835 has now been replaced with tactile dome keys, but the current resistance level is still clearly displayed in its own screen.

Workout feedback is slightly more limited than on the RBK 835, meaning you can no longer track metrics such as Time in Zone and METS. However, you can still monitor your calories burned, heart rate, RPM, distance, and more using the 5 LED display screens.

Touch and telemetry heart rate monitoring

Your heart rate is one of the most important feedback metrics to monitor when you’re taking part in a cardiovascular fitness routine, but it’s not always easy to know what to look for.

Research on the internet will lead to the discovery of various recommended formulas for calculating your maximum heart rate. A percentage of this can then be used to determine your target heart rate range for specific fitness goals.

But how do you know that the equipment you’re using bases its calculations on the most accurate formula in the first place, and how do you avoid constantly recalculating your percentage throughout your workout?

This is a problem that Precor have recognised, and is one of the reasons they developed their SmartRate system – a series of LED lights on the console that illuminate to a certain level based on your heart rate.

The number of these LEDs that light up then relates to a specific fitness goal, which is also displayed on the console for easy reference.

SmartRate’s 5 heart rate ranges:

  • 1. High
  • 2. Peak
  • 3. Cardio

  • 4. Fat burn
  • 5. Warm up

So with the console picking up your heart rate using its inbuilt receiver, you’re also going to need a transmitter to send it, which comes in the form of either a chest strap (telemetry) or touch sensors (touch).

The handles on either side of the seat are within easy reach throughout your workout, while the telemetry tracking works with any Polar® compatible 5 KHz chest strap transmitter. This is the same combination that Precor use on each of the bikes in their RBK recumbent collection.

Preset workout programs

Because of the difference in consoles, the RBK 615 has around half the preset workout programs of the later 835 model. This does however make it quicker to start your workout, as each of the 6 quick-select buttons on the console relates directly to one of the programs.

With variety being such an important part of maintaining your interest in any fitness program, the combination of preset programs and 25 resistance levels helps to ensure you always have a new workout to try.

6 Workout programs tailored to suit a variety of fitness goals
6 Workout programs are tailored to suit a variety of fitness goals

Despite the maximum watts being 500 (level 25 at 150 RPM) compared to the 750 (level 25 at 150 RPM) of the RBK 835, the resistance should still prove challenging enough to help you achieve goals of increased physical fitness, improved muscle definition, and weight loss.

6 Workout categories:

  • Manual – The only program that doesn’t follow a pre-determined profile, Manual lets you increase and decrease the resistance as your workout progresses.
  • Interval – Similar to the manual program in the sense that you can adjust the resistance whenever you need to, Interval switches between short periods of high and low intensity cycling.
  • Variety (Random) – The Precor RBK 615 includes the ‘Random’ program in its Variety category, which creates a random combination of resistance levels each time it’s selected.
  • Heart Rate (Basic HRC) – When wearing a chest strap or holding the touch sensors, a heart rate reading will be displayed on the console and you will have access to the Basic HRC program.After setting a target heart rate range the resistance system actually adjusts to keep you at your target level until the end of your workout. The numeric keypad can be used to enter your age, which is then used in Precor’s calculations to provide more accurate feedback.
  • Weight Loss – A variation on the interval program above, with lower intensity. Weight Loss has a fixed duration consisting of seven 4-minute intervals, and is designed to help improve muscle tone while reducing body fat.
  • Performance (Hill Climb) – A higher intensity program than Weight Loss, Hill Climb focuses on longer periods of cycling at higher resistance levels, and is designed to improve muscle tone and strength with its alternating profile.

For many of these programs you may want to set a target duration, which is actually fixed at 28 minutes for the Weight Loss program. But what happens if you want to switch programs mid-workout?

While Basic HRC and Weight Loss aren’t programs that offer this feature, for the other 4 workouts your statistics for the current session will actually be transferred when you select a new program.

Ease of assembly / Maintenance required

Assembly instructions include exploded diagrams and step-by-step walkthroughs

As with the majority of equipment in Precor’s Assurance, Energy, and Precision Series’, a great deal of effort has gone into making the assembly process as simple and straightforward as possible.

As with any exercise bike that offers such advanced feedback via the console, there’s inevitably going to be some more complicated steps for connecting the console wires through the seat to the touch sensors.

But for the most part, the majority of the assembly has already been done for you by the time the boxes arrive, including the base unit and pedal crank / resistance system.

With a weight of 200 lbs fully assembled, this isn’t one of Precor’s heaviest pieces of fitness equipment, but it’s certainly still possible to get setup without the need for someone to assist with the lifting.

Once you have the base stabilizers attached, the RBK 615 remains perfectly stable while you attach the seat, console, handles, and bottle holder.

As we just mentioned, routing the data and heart rate cables will probably be the most time consuming step, but even taking this into account it’s still possible to be setup and cycling within 45 minutes of getting the parts unpacked.

Maintenance routine:
Regardless of the price, when you’re buying a new piece of fitness equipment for your home gym you’re going to want to keep it in the best condition for as long as possible.

By making the pedal crank shroud removable, this means you can access the belt-driven resistance system without having to call out one of Precor’s technicians.

Cleaning the internal parts isn’t something you should have to worry about more than once every few months, whereas a wipe down of all external parts is recommended after every use.

According to Precor’s own user manual, the console and outer covers require different cleaning solutions.

Recommended cleaning solutions for Precor equipment

  • External covers – 30 parts water to 1 part Simple Green, applied with a soft cloth
  • Console screen – 91% isopropyl alcohol solution, applied with a lint-free cloth. You can usually pick up a bottle of this from your local Walgreens for around $2 per 16oz bottle.

Although this may sound like a lot of maintenance, it’s something that’s relatively inexpensive to do, and will help increase the lifespan of your equipment, and ensures the warranty coverage stays valid.

What’s covered by the warranty?

  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Parts and wear items: 10 years
  • Labor: 1 year

Related articles:

Best Recumbent Bikes of 2021
Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike Review
Exerpeutic 900XL Recumbent Bike Review
Precor RBK 815 Recumbent Bike Review

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

5 / 5

For the most part, the features for the Precor RBK 615 are very similar to their top RBK 835 model. You still benefit from the same low-profile walk-through frame design, the back support is ventilated and flexible for improved support and cushioning, and the seat uses the same easily accessible adjustment system.

Most of the differences lie in the console itself, which does offer a reduced amount of workout programs (6 instead of 12), lower maximum watt reading (500 vs. 750), reduced workout feedback, and lack of easy-to-use motion controls.

If you wanted to expand on the entertainment functions, your options for either bike remain the same, with a Personal Viewing System (PVS) and Entertainment Cap being two of the more popular choices.

Overall, the lengthy warranty coverage and high build quality make the RBK 615 an attractive option for anyone that's looking to invest in reliability and efficient cycling motion. You do miss the workout tracking, user IDs, and custom workout options of Precor's ellipticals and treadmills, but the workout variation is still enough to create challenging workouts for the majority of fitness levels.

However, if you're looking for the most challenging range of resistance levels and widest range of workouts for a Precor recumbent bike, we would recommend the RBK 835 from the Experience Series.

Product dimensions: 66"(L) x 23"(W) x 49"(H) Product weight: 200 lbs Weight capacity: 350 lbs

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