Wednesday, 24 July 2024

Exercise Bikes

Precor UBK 615 Upright Exercise Bike Review

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The Precor UBK 615 features alongside the UBK 815 and UBK 835 models as part of the company’s latest generation of commercial fitness equipment that’s now available for the home.

In this review we take a look at what you can expect from the display console and preset workout programs, as well as the optional entertainment features, KOPS cycling geometry, and ease of assembly to help you decide whether this is the best choice of stationary bike for your own home workouts.

Assurance Series design features

Fitness equipment in Precor’s Assurance Series combines essential reliability and a low level of ongoing maintenance with the smooth and efficient cycling motion we’ve come to expect from one of the world’s leading fitness companies.

Precor UBK 615 Upright Exercise Bike

With over 30 years experience in designing equipment to meet the frequent and high intensity workouts of hotels, health clubs, universities, and commercial gyms around the world, it’s exciting to see that this innovation and level of build quality is now available for home gyms as well.

The Precor UBK 615 Upright Bike is self-powered, with intuitive seat adjustment for a wide range of user heights, and uses touch sensors to accurately measure and display your heart rate on the console and SmartRate scale.

But with advanced forearm support and ergonomically contoured handles for a more comfortable grip, you may not always want to be holding the sensors.

This is why telemetry heart rate monitoring is also available (ideally with a Polar compatible 5 KHz wireless chest strap), which lets you adjust your grip position – upright, cruising, or racing – to suit the intensity of your cycle, without losing access to the heart rate feedback or Heart Rate workout program.

The improved saddle design has been specially constructed to allow greater freedom of movement in your legs, while still providing a high level of comfort during both long and short workouts.

Specialist KOPS ergonomics

Whether you’re rowing down a river or cycling on a stationary bike, how your body moves during the exercise (biomechanics) plays a major role in how efficiently you’re able to transfer energy. So why is this important?

The goal of most workouts is to perform at a level of intensity that safely delivers optimal results in the shortest time. With upright exercise bikes this means your feet moving through a range of motion that maintains a constant driving force on the pedals. Knee Over Pedal Spindle (KOPS) is a principle that’s based on exactly that.

As the name suggests, this means when the pedal cranks are horizontal, your knee should be directly above the pedal spindle. Not only will this ensure an efficient cardio and muscle-toning workout that makes the best use of your time, but also that this will be true for anyone that uses the bike, thanks to the wide range of seat adjustment settings.

Precor UBK 615 Upright Exercise Bike

Precor UBK 615 – Features Summary

  • Custom-designed, ergonomic, over-molded handlebars with three riding positions
  • Adjustable ergonomic saddle
  • Wide, dual-sided pedals
  • Built-in touch sensor for heart rate monitoring and Polar compatible 5 KHz wireless chest strap transmitter monitoring
  • Console displays calories, distance, speed, watts, heart rate, profile, Smart Rate, resistance, RPM, time, percent complete

Display console design

Precor UBK 615 Upright Exercise Bike

The UBK 615 features Precor’s Standard Console, which is the earliest in a collection that also includes the P10, P30, and Preva™ Network Capable P80.

As a general guide, the P30 consoles tend to be found on the top models in Precor’s fitness equipment collections, such as the TRM 447, RBK 835, and UBK 835. P80 consoles will usually only be found attached to 880 line equipment in commercial gyms, and offers IPTV compatibility.

The Standard Console is provided with equipment that’s part of the Assurance Series, and despite being one of their earlier generations in terms of design, still manages to maintain a streamlined look with access to advanced electronic readouts.

This includes your heart rate, resistance setting, workout duration, and progress through your current workout program via the central display screen.

In fact, if you were to compare the features of these consoles, you would find that the Standard design offers many of the same benefits as the P80 and P30 (same optional entertainment upgrades, reading rack, and iPod / iPhone compatibility).

Unfortunately one of the biggest drawbacks is the fact that there is no Preva fitness app integration or Preva® Network Capability like there is with equipment in their 830 line.

This is a feature that Precor have only introduced on the top model from each collection, which in terms of upright exercise bikes, would be the UBK 835.

Preset workout programs

One of the main differences between the Precor UBK 615 and the other upright bikes in the series is the quantity of preset workout programs.

But despite having just half the programs of the UBK 835, you can still enjoy much of the same variation due to the same 6 categories being used. So whereas the Interval category of programs provided you with several different variations on the UBK 835, you have access to only one of these variations on the UBK 615.

Preventing muscle adaptation and finding interesting new workout ideas are two of the most important things you can do to achieve your fitness goals in a shorter timeframe.

That’s why having this number and variety of workout programs is still considered a major benefit.

Workout program with the UBK 615 upright bike
Workout programs for the UBK 615 allow you to improve your cardiovascular fitness,
muscle tone, definition, and lose weight

Below you’ll find a list of each category, together with the workout programs they contain and what fitness benefits you can expect to see in the short and long term.

6 preset workout programs

  • Manual – Resistance can be manually adjusted using the arrows on the console. This is the only program not to follow a preset profile or have a fixed duration.
  • Interval – The resistance will automatically switch between higher and lower settings, affecting the intensity of your workout.
  • Variety (Random) – Almost the exact opposite of the structure provided by the Interval program is the mix of resistance levels offered by the Variety program.
  • Heart Rate – The UBK 615 includes touch and telemetry heart rate monitoring, using Precor’s own SmartRate system to convert this reading into a more meaningful and actionable piece of workout data on the console.The Heart Rate program takes this a step further by automatically adjusting the resistance level to keep you within a target range.
  • Weight Loss – The only program to have a fixed duration (28 minutes), Weight Loss is specifically designed to optimize fat burning and muscle toning through a variation of the Interval program.In this case, your heart rate will be kept at a lower range, so that it falls closer to the 70% recommended level for fat burning. This will be achieved through the resistance automatically adjusting based on your current performance.
  • Performance (Hill Climb) – The alternating profile of the program in the Performance category helps to prevent muscle adaptation by frequently varying its high and low intensity sections.

Ease of assembly / Maintenance required

Assembly instructions include a number of useful parts diagrams

When you have a busy schedule, it’s often difficult enough to find time to workout, without having to worry about the additional time that maintenance of the equipment can require.

That’s why Precor have designed the UBK 615 and RBK 615 bikes to be very low maintenance, requiring just 2 minutes of your time after each use.

This 2 minutes is simply to wipe down the equipment using one of their recommended solutions (one for the console and one for the equipment covers and frame).

These solutions are quick to mix up, inexpensive, and can be bought from any number of local stores. As long as you can find a bottle of Simple Green and some 91% Isopropyl Alcohol (both available from Walmart), then you should have no problem.

It’s worth mentioning that every few months an additional step of cleaning inside the cover panels is recommended, and should be followed if you want to ensure the warranty coverage remains valid.

The cover panels are designed to be easily removable, allowing you to vacuum around any moving parts and prevent any dirt or dust from affecting the smooth running of the pedal crank system.

Assembly process and instruction quality
As with many of Precor’s modern bike designs, the majority of the assembly for the UBK 615 has already been done for you by the time the boxes arrive.

With larger equipment like their AMT trainers we may recommend looking into Precor’s professional home delivery service, but in this case it’s probably not necessary.

The main body of the bike containing the pedal crank and resistance system arrives pre-assembled, requiring only a few bolts to get it setup on the base stabilizers so you can complete the remaining steps.

Although the user manual does offer clear diagrams and explanations of each stage, you only really need these to know which bolts to use, and the process itself is fairly self-explanatory.

There is one step that requires a bit more explanation, which is the connection of the console wires. This can be a bit more difficult, but it’s really just a case of feeding the wires through the monitor bracket and connecting them to the correct sockets in the back panel of the console.

Overall this shouldn’t take much more than 30 minutes to assemble, from having the parts unpacked on the floor to setting up your first workout. With an overall weight of 155 lbs, you also don’t have to deal with any heavy lifting in the way you might with a treadmill or elliptical.

Optional entertainment upgrades

Precor's Personal Viewing System from Cardio Theater

Unlike some fitness equipment companies, when it comes to entertainment features and optional functionality like cooling fans and speakers, these aren’t things that you’ll usually find on a Precor machine.

Instead, rather than consuming console space with features that are often low quality, Precor have placed the majority of their focus on aesthetically attractive designs that offer the greatest benefit to your workouts.

However, if you’re looking for a more immersive cycling experience, or simply want to listen to music from your iPhone, you still have several options.

Personal Viewing System
The first is the Personal Viewing System (PVS) from Cardio Theater. This lets you watch a variety of TV channels via buttons on the supplied CNTE controller.

This controller also features a jack for your headphones, and gives you complete control over the channel and volume settings.

It’s worth mentioning that the PVS isn’t covered under Precor’s own warranty, but under a limited warranty offered by Cardio Theater on Precor products. This means you’re covered for 1 year’s parts and labor cover on the 15″ Non-integrated PVS.

Entertainment Cap / Wireless Receiver
The second entertainment feature is the Entertainment Cap. This is really designed more for audio, and offers a number of simple button functions for switching between audio channels and adjusting the volume.

Each of these entertainment options does require a small amount of work to get it installed. But in much the same way as the user manual for the bike, each step is explained clearly using a combination of text and diagrams.

If you’re interested in upgrading your equipment with either of the options we’ve just talked about, it’s probably best to contact Precor directly, as it’s difficult to find a vendor that has these available for sale.

Much like Precor, Cardio Theater is actually a brand that’s part of Amer Sports, so it could also be worth getting in touch with a sales manager there and seeing if they have any available.

What’s covered by the warranty?

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

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

4 / 5

For most people, the Precor UBK 615 probably won't be considered an entry level upright bike due to its price point.

However, this is actually a surprisingly competitive range for upright and recumbent bikes alike, with models from True Fitness and Life Fitness standing out as the closest matches in terms of their features and functions.

Although models like the ES900 from True Fitness offered a wider range of preset workout programs (22 in this case), in our opinion the Precor continued to stand out for its aesthetic design, biomechanics, extensive warranty coverage, ease of maintenance, and optional entertainment features.

Overall, when you're paying this kind of money for an upright bike to use at home, you're going to want something with a high level of build quality, comfort, and workout variation. That's exactly what we feel Precor have achieved with this bike.

While we would have liked to see some custom workout programs or historical workout tracking, these are both features that have been included in the later UBK 835 model.

Product dimensions: 46"(L) x 21"(W) x 57"(H) Product weight: 155 lbs Weight limit: 350 lbs

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