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The ProForm 440 ES Recumbent Bike joins the 740 ES model in forming their 2015 collection, with more than 30 workout apps and iFit compatibility.
But how does it compare to other recumbent bikes in the same price category, and would you actually be getting better value for money with the 740 ES?
In this review we’ll be answering these questions as well as taking a closer look at the design features, console functions, and what to expect from the workout programs.
One of the main benefits of recumbent bikes is that they’re engineered for increased comfort, with a frame design that makes it easier to get on and off the seat.
While ProForm have traditionally kept their recumbent bike frames very low profile – the 4.0 ES being a good example – for the 440 ES the base frame is a little higher off the ground.
However, it still manages to maintain a low step-over height and a wide enough space between the seat and console to be classed as a Step-Thru™ design.
This change in design is part of the reason why we’ve seen an increase in weight capacity, from a maximum of 300 lbs for their 6.0 ES, up to 350 lbs for this 440 ES model.
Although the seat doesn’t have quite the same level of ergonomic contouring as the Schwinn 270, the oversized design and additional lumbar support helps you maintain a comfortable posture throughout your workout.
Touch and telemetry heart rate monitoring is also available via the Grip Pulse EKG™ Heart Rate Monitor, with touch sensors built into the handles.
Having 25 resistance levels is another of the upgrades over ProForm’s earlier recumbent bikes, and brings it level with the popular Schwinn 270 and Nautilus R616 models.
One last important feature we wanted to mention was the water bottle holder. Staying hydrated during a workout is fundamentally important for achieving your best performance, but in spite of this there are still many companies who don’t include this as a feature on their bikes.
But why place the bottle holder on the upright instead of by the seat?
If you’ve already taken a look at bikes like the Nautilus R614 and Schwinn 230, then you’re probably used to seeing a storage area attached to the handlebars by the seat.
However, in both these situations the heart rate touch sensors have been built into the seat handlebars, rather than the set by the console.
This means you’re more likely to have your hands by your sides, where the water bottle will be within easy reach.
In contrast, the heart rate touch sensors for the ProForm 440 ES are built into the handles by the console, which means the water would be better placed closer to the console.
ProForm 440 ES – Features Summary
- 32 Built-In Workouts
- 5″ Backlit Display
- Adjustable Levelling Feet
- Grip Pulse EKG™ Heart Rate Monitor
- Transport Wheels
- Water Bottle Holder
- AC Adapter Included
- 25 Digital Resistance Levels
- Compatible Music Port for iPod® + USB Charging Station
- CoolAire™ Workout Fan
- Integrated Tablet Holder
- 3-Piece Crank for a smoother, more comfortable ride
- Freewheel clutch for a smooth and natural cycling experience that emulates cycling outside
- Extra Wide Ergonomic Foot Pedals with Straps
Best-in-class display console design
If you compare ProForm’s earlier recumbent bikes – such as their 315 CSX – to their more recent ES collection, one of the biggest improvements you’ll see is with the display console.
The fact that these two bikes are so similar in price shows just how much more value ProForm are adding t their newest generation of bikes, which is partly due to the addition of iFit.
By increasing the size of their display screens and offering a wider selection of workout programs through their iFit software, ProForm and other companies under the ICON Fitness banner have a major advantage over their competitors.
Although the ProForm 440 ES is the earlier model in a collection of recumbent bikes that also features the 740 ES, the console still provides support for tablets as a type of second viewing screen.
This is particularly useful if you choose to purchase the iFit module, as you can keep track of your workout information via the built-in LCD, while following a virtual route on your tablet.
Unfortunately this isn’t the case with bikes like the Schwinn 270. Although it’s an incredibly popular recumbent for this price range, the positioning of the tablet shelf means that you have to choose between watching your favourite movie and monitoring important workout feedback.
Quick-select programs and resistance settings
In terms of the actual console layout, ProForm have done a good job of organizing a large number of button functions into an interface that’s actually highly intuitive and easy to use.
Controls for the CoolAire™ Workout Fan and speakers are grouped together under the screen, followed by a number of buttons for navigating iFit’s workout programs, maps, and goal setting options.
You then have a similar line of buttons for accessing the workout apps that are pre-programmed into the console, which don’t require an iFit module.
Finally you have your quick-select resistance options, which make it much easier to switch between pre-defined levels during interval training, and reduce the amount of time your hands are away from the heart rate touch sensors built into the handles.
The 5 inch screen provides direct feedback on a number of important workout metrics, including distance, calories burned, speed, resistance level, time, and a 1/4 mile lap indicator known as ‘My Trail’. You also have a display matrix which shows a profile of your current workout together with your progress.
Compatible Music Port for iPod® + USB Charging Station
In addition to the support shelf for your tablet, the 440 ES console features an Intermix Acoustics 2.0 Sound System, complete with two 2-inch speakers. You can also use the integrated USB charging station for your phone or MP3 player.
Preset workout programs
In the next section of our review We’ll take a look at some of the iFit workouts available, but for now we wanted to put together a quick guide for what to expect from the 32 onboard workout apps.
Before you get started with any workout, it can be useful to gain an insight into what to expect, so that you can make the right decision based on your current fitness level and training goals.
Pressing on the Calorie, Intense, Speed, and Incline buttons allows you to do just that. Each button cycles through a number of workout programs, where you’ll see a quick summary of the workout profile, maximum resistance level, and maximum speed, as well as the duration.
Many of these programs are designed around encouraging you to maintain a set speed while the resistance at the pedals automatically changes. The display matrix gives you a good idea of what to expect and when to expect it, but you’ll also see prompts to increase or decrease your cycling speed if you go outside of the target range for each segment.
You can also set a calorie, distance, or time goal via their ‘Set A Goal’ option. For goal setting programs you’re in complete control of changes in resistance level and cycling speed, and your target will gradually begin to countdown until it’s achieved.
Speed up your results with iFit
iFit is a type of workout software that’s now built into much of the fitness equipment produced by Reebok, ProForm, and NordicTrack.
Most machines will either be classed as compatible or enabled, with compatible (440 ES) requiring the purchase of a separate module.
iFit offers a comprehensive suite of fitness and nutrition tools, as well as personal fitness trackers
Although it’s not the first type of workout syncing and performance tracking software we’ve seen – a few others being SchwinnConnect from Schwinn, ViaFit from Horizon Fitness, and the Preva app for Precor – it’s one that offers some of the greatest benefits. This includes compatibility with MyFitnessPal, its own range of wearable personal fitness trackers, and an online library of workout videos.
For the full range of features and benefits, we would recommend paying a quick visit to the iFit website.
Ease of assembly / Maintenance required
One of the things we like about ProForm as a company is that they always provide very clear and informative user manuals, making the assembly process that much easier.
Before you start, ProForm provide you with a parts identification chart, which clearly lists all of the bolts and washers you should expect to find in the hardware kit.
You’ll be pleased to know that the majority of the setup has actually already been done for you before the bike was packaged, including the resistance system, base frame, and seat support.
Once you have the base stabilizers attached there’s not a lot of heavy lifting involved, although it can be useful to have someone available to help you connect up the console wires and attach the front upright.
There’s a few more steps to the console assembly than we’re used to seeing, especially on bikes like the RBK 835, but it’s not particularly complex and shouldn’t add much to the assembly time.
With the console connected, all that remains is to attach the handlebar and seat, which if you’ve assembled a recumbent bike before, should be a very familiar process.
Levelling feet have been built into the base to help compensate for any slightly uneven flooring, with a large handle and transport wheels being useful additions if you need to move the bike once it’s setup.
Due to the way the process has been broken down into smaller steps, the clarity of written instructions and the high quality exploded drawings showing how everything fits together, it shouldn’t take much longer than 45 minutes to get everything ready for your first workout.
If you encounter any issues with assembling the bike, you can also call an authorized service technician on 1-800-445-2480.
The adjustment of belts is usually a task that’s reserved for treadmills, but it’s actually something that may be necessary with the ProForm 440 ES.
Fortunately there’s no need to take anything apart and you shouldn’t need to call out a technician. There’s actually a hex nut on the underside of the frame that can be used to adjust the belt positioning if it starts to slip while cycling.
Apart from belt adjustments, you really only have the same advice as any recumbent bike or piece of fitness equipment. This is to clean down external parts with a damp cloth and mild soap solution to prevent discolouring of the frame due to a build up of perspiration.
It’s also advisable to check for loose bolts or worn parts on a regular basis.
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: Lifetime
- Parts: 2 years
- Labor: 1 year
As the parent company to ProForm, NordicTrack, and Reebok amongst others, ICON Health and Fitness offers a collection of extended service plans for the 440 ES.
Ranging from a standard 1-year plan that covers parts and labor through to a 5-year plan with annual performance checks, ICON have everything you need to protect your new equipment.
For the ProForm 440 ES, you have options in both the Standard and Preventative Maintenance service plans.
There’s a special bracket in the Preventative Maintenance plans for 3 years coverage of bikes. Unfortunately 5 year plans aren’t available.
In terms of cost efficiency, your best option is to choose the 3-year Preventative Maintenance plan for $139.99. This is available for a lower price than the Standard 3-year service plan ($149.99) but has the added benefit of the annual performance checks.
For more information on warranty coverage, delivery info, and assembly, you can actually request a free telephone consultation with ProForm via their website.
If you just bought the 440 ES, the first thing you’ll want to do is activate your warranty by registering the bike, which you can do here.
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