Monday, 20 May 2024

Exercise Bikes

Precor RBK 835 Recumbent Exercise Bike Review

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The Precor RBK 835 Recumbent bike is the top-of-the-line design in Precor’s Experience series. It features alongside the company’s top models of EFX crosstrainer, AMT, UBK upright bike, treadmill, and climber.

In our review we take a closer look at the ergonomic design features, transport options, assembly process, warranty coverage, workout programs, and the P30 console. This is to help you decide if the RBK 835 is the best recumbent exercise bike for your own home gym.

Experience Series premium design features

One of the key features to focus on with any recumbent bike, beyond the comfort of the seat, is its positioning and angle from the crank.

The posture you maintain when using a recumbent bike is completely different to that of any other cardio machine, and doesn’t allow the same level of adjustment options as upright bikes.

Precor RBK 835 Recumbent Exercise Bike

That’s is why Precor have invested time in discovering the best way to make your workouts as comfortable as possible, while still keeping your body in a position that’s efficient for cycling.

This led to the development of a system known as Knee Over Pedal Spindle (K.O.P.S.) biomechanics, and although this is something that’s also used on their UBK upright bikes, there’s similar reasoning behind the design of the seat rail for the RBK 835.

Every aspect of the seat has also been ergonomically contoured to create the optimum seated position that provides ample lower back support, without sacrificing on cycling efficiency.

For example, the front of the cushioning tapers downwards to provide greater freedom of movement in your legs, and at an angle that keeps the display screens in your eye line as you lean against the ventilated air flex back support.

The 14 inch step-through frame design with a low 4 inch step-over height will also appeal to a variety of age ranges and personal fitness levels, from young adults through to anyone needing low-impact exercise for rehab.

Precor RBK 835 Recumbent Exercise Bike

Precor RBK 835 – Features Summary

  • Air flex seat with high-ventilation seat back.
  • Suspension system allows the seat back to move with you for comfort you can feel.
  • The seat has 11 adjustment levels and can be adjusted while you are on or off the bike.
  • Step-through design with a very low step-over height (4 inches; 10 cm) so you can enter and exit easily.
  • Touch and telemetry heart rate monitoring
  • Wide, dual-sided pedals can be used without the pedal straps

P30 Display console design

The P30 Console can be upgraded using the Entertainment Cap and Personal Viewing System attachments

Being able to track your performance is an important part of any workout routine. Whether it’s to ensure your heart rate stays within a certain range during your current workout, or make comparisons with your previous workout results, accurate feedback can make a considerable difference to your results in both the short and long term.

With the RBK 835 being part of the Experience series, this means you benefit from the P30 console, which provides a wide range of feedback metrics, from METS through to RPM and average speed.

Some companies prefer to pull all this information together and display it on a single screen, or even require you to scroll through the different measurements in the case of lower priced recumbent cycles.

By having a larger display console, and grouping their workout programs into categories, Precor manage to create the space needed to split this information out into a layout that’s more intuitive and often easier to read.

Having multiple different screens actually makes it much easier to find the feedback you’re interested in mid-workout, and has been used to organise two types of performance metrics; current performance and accumulated.

Current performance metrics include feedback such as heart rate and the number of revolutions per minute, whereas accumulated metrics are running totals based on time, distance, total calories burned, and average speed.

If you’re looking to expand on the standard console and are looking for a wider range of entertainment options, the P30 also supports Precor’s Entertainment Cap and Personal Viewing System (PVS) attachments.

Preset workout programs

Together with maintaining a regular workout schedule and healthy diet, workout variation is one of the most influential factors in determining how successful you will be in achieving your fitness goals.

Although the resistance can be manually adjusted via the lever motion control on the console, remembering when to do this and to which levels can be difficult. It would also be nearly impossible to measure the type of workout that gave you the best results over time.

This is why finding a recumbent bike with a wide variety of preset programs is so important, and why Precor have 12 ready-to-use workouts built into the console for the RBK 835.

For faster access to these programs, Precor have grouped them into 6 main categories, then added a quick-select button for each onto the display console.

Because they use the same P30 console, these will be the same 12 workouts that are available with the equivalent model in their upright bike collection (UBK 835).

12 preset workout programs

  • Manual – One of the most underrated programs when custom workouts aren’t available. If you’ve been following preset programs for a while, it can be easy to continue choosing the same workouts each week.Manual does require you to make all of the adjustments to the resistance yourself, so may not be ideal for all workouts. That being said, it can be a great way to test yourself and see if you need to increase the resistance level when you switch back to the preset options.
  • Heart Rate – The handles on either side of the seat feature built-in heart rate hand sensors, which transmit your heart rate reading back to the console. (Telemetry is also an option via a Polar chest strap)As long as the console is receiving feedback of your heart rate, the resistance will automatically be adjusted to ensure you maintain your target heart rate throughout your workout. Working at specific percentages of your maximum heart rate has been shown to produce improved results for certain fitness goals.
  • Interval – If you’re not already familiar with interval training, HIIT, or the Tabata Protocol, they all essentially revolve around the idea of a workout containing a number of work and recovery periods.These periods alternate as the workout progresses, and interval programs on fitness equipment are usually assigned a ratio. For the RBK 835, these ratios are 1-1, 1-2, and 1-3. This means you will be spending one, two, or three times as much time on the work section as you are on the recovery.
  • Weight Loss – Although each of these programs will assist with weight loss to some degree (when combined with a calorie controlled diet), this program is specifically optimized for losing the most weight in the shortest time.The duration is fixed at 28 minutes, and it’s recommended that you keep your heart rate between 50% and 70% until the workout is complete.
  • Variety – Contains the ‘Random’ and Cross Country workout programs, with Random producing a different workout profile for you to follow each time it’s used.Cross Country initially creates a fixed profile, with predefined points at which the resistance level will change. This workout does allow some customization, and any changes you make to the resistance level at one hill or valley stage will be remembered for those sections until the program ends.
  • Performance – Some of the most challenging workout programs are available under the Performance category, including Hill Climb and Watts Target.As the name suggests, Hill Climb gradually increases the resistance over the duration of your workout, and is the perfect choice for anyone that wants to strengthen and tone lower body muscles.Watts Target encourages you to maintain a constant power output, which is a calculation based on the resistance setting and your current cycling speed. The target power level can be set to any 10-watt value between 30 and 400 watts, although a maximum of 750 watts is possible at 150 RPM and a resistance level of 25.

Ease of assembly / Maintenance required

Assembly instructions are the same for the UBK 835, 815, and 615 recumbent bikes

One of the most common reasons for negative reviews in the fitness equipment industry is poorly written / a complete lack of assembly instructions.

As you might expect, this isn’t the case with Precor, who provide some of the highest quality user manuals of any fitness equipment company we’ve written reviews for.

The user manual for the RBK 835 is no different, with detailed textual instructions on how to complete each step, complemented by exploded drawings for those that are slightly more complex.

With a similar frame design to the earlier 815 and 615 models, you’ll find that the instructions are identical.

As with the other bikes, the total assembly time for the 835 model is around 45 minutes, from unpacking the boxes through to enjoying your first workout.

Low level of maintenance
If you want to ensure your fitness equipment runs smoothly, a certain level of maintenance is necessary. This is true of any recumbent bike, but Precor’s design makes it easier than most, thanks mainly to its removable shroud cover over the pedal crank and resistance system.

However, not all maintenance tasks will need to be performed every day, and the majority of them shouldn’t require the shroud to be removed at all.

There are two schedules that Precor recommend you follow; one is daily, and the other quarterly.

Daily can really be considered as something to do before and after each workout, and simply involves cleaning the external covers with a soft cloth and their approved solution. This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

Quarterly maintenance isn’t that much more complex, particularly when you don’t have to worry about belt centering and tensioning the way you would with a treadmill.

For their RBK bikes, this means following the same daily tasks you usually would, but also removing the cover shroud and vacuuming out any debris that may have collected around the belt-drive.

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.

What’s included with the warranty?

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

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

5 / 5

With advanced fitness technology and an overall level of build quality that makes it suitable for Precor's commercial gym installations around the world, it's exciting to see that it's now been made available for home gyms environments as well.

Despite the resistance being the only controlled metric on recumbent bikes, the RBK 835 still manages to provide high intensity workouts through a variety of popular workout profiles.

This is a bike that also benefits from a low level of maintenance and informative error feedback via the console, as well as a high level of customer service, and comprehensive warranty coverage.

Overall, if you're looking for a high quality recumbent bike with an aesthetically attractive and modern design, yet still provides the challenging workouts and entertainment options you would hope for at this price point, the RBK 835 would make an excellent choice.

Product dimensions: 67" (L) x 23" (W) x 50" (H) Product weight: 210 lbs Weight limit: 350 lbs

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