As an upgrade over their earlier 315 CSX design, the ProForm 6.0 ES Recumbent Bike offers additional resistance levels and workout programs, as well as an enhanced console interface and various other improvements.
This review takes a look at these features in more detail, including the display console, workout programs, and customer reviews.
We also make some important comparisons between this bike and the similarly priced Schwinn 230 to find out which one is best suited to your specific style of training.
When buying a new recumbent exercise bike, there are a few key features to look out for. These will ensure you’re getting everything you need to make your workouts more comfortable and effective.
The first is determining whether or not a walkthrough frame is a necessity, or something that won’t affect your workouts, as this is usually a feature that offers the greatest benefits to anyone with reduced mobility.
But it’s actually an advantage to anyone using this type of equipment, as it makes it much easier to get on and off the seat.
A walkthrough frame with low instep is one of the features that the ProForm 6.0 ES offers, with another being added cushioning built into the seat and back support for extra comfort.
Unfortunately you don’t have the option to adjust the angle of the handlebars like you did with the 315 CSX, or the large transport handle at the back of the base frame.
You do however have the option to make minor adjustments to the height of the bike using the levelling feet attached at each corner of the frame.
ProForm 6.0 ES – Features Summary
- Recumbent design, the chair-like seat offers lumbar support
- Step-through design
- Backlit iFit display
- 14lb effective inertia enhanced flywheel
- Ergonomic pedals with adjustable straps
- Silent magnetic resistance
- Convenient water bottle holder
- Front mounted wheels for easy transport
- Oversized self-levellers for optimum balance
- iPod-compatible audio capability
- Two 2-in. built-in speakers
- Monitor heart rate with the EKG Grip Pulse tracker
- 20 Digital Resistance Levels
- 22 Workout Apps
Display console design
While there have certainly been improvements in the frame and seat design, it’s the console where you’ll really notice the difference between the earlier 315 CSX and the upgraded ProForm 6.0 ES.
Quick select buttons are now available for altering the resistance level, positioned just above a storage shelf which has been custom designed to hold a tablet or e-Reader while you workout.
The aesthetics of the screen and interface have also been improved, with colour coded iFit navigation buttons and options for adjusting the power of the cooling fan, and volume of the speakers.
Even your workout information is easier to read, with a sharper LCD resolution and clearly defined regions for displaying each piece of feedback.
This includes your calories burned, distance, time, speed, and a visual representation of a 1/4 mile running track, which is constantly updated with your progress as your distance increases.
With lack of variety being one of the most common reasons for people giving up on fitness routines, it’s important to find a bike that offers a good variation or preset workouts.
The 22 available with the ProForm 6.0 ES have been divided up into 2 main groups; 11 Calorie Workouts and 11 Performance Workouts.
When choosing these onboard programs, a profile of the speed settings is displayed in the matrix, split into one minute segments.
The workout profile remains on the screen as you progress through the workout, with the flashing segment used to represent your progress.
Each program uses a preset combination of speed and resistance to help you achieve your personal fitness goal.
If you prefer to have a fixed target to reach rather than following an exact profile, you can also choose to set a calorie, time, or distance goal for your current workout.
ProForm 6.0 ES vs. Schwinn 230
We’ve chosen to compare the ProForm 6.0 ES to the Schwinn 230 because of their similarities in terms of the recumbent design and price they’re currently available for.
If you’ve already started researching Schwinn recumbent bikes, or have owned a piece of Schwinn or ProForm equipment already, you’ll know that these are two companies that put a lot of technology into their consoles.
That’s why this is the first area we wanted to focus on in our comparison, including the button functions, screen size, extensible workout options, and entertainment features.
Both bikes provide a similar range of options when it comes to the variety of quick select resistance settings, with a total of 20 levels per bike.
The amount of preset workout programs that are already stored in the console computer is also exactly the same, with 22 available each.
Both the ProForm and Schwinn models also provide a maximum weight limit of 300 lbs.
But the differences start to show when we begin looking at the feedback provided through the LCD screen(s), and the level of cover provided by the warranties.
- Frame: 5 years
- Parts: 1 year
- Electrical: NA
- Labor: 1 year
Workout feedback: Calories burned (for entire workout and average per hour), distance, pulse, resistance level, speed, time, ‘My Trail’ (1/4 mile running track),
- Frame: 10 years
- Mechanical: 2 years
- Electrical: 1 year
- Labor: 90 days
Workout feedback: Time, interval time, RPM (revolutions per minute), WATTS, distance, pulse, speed, calories burned (total, not average)
But the real difference comes when comparing the additional workout programs and tracking options each bike offers with their software.
The ProForm bike uses the company’s innovative iFit technology, while the Schwinn uses their specialist SchwinnConnect system with Goal Tracker. So what’s the difference?
Unlike iFit, Schwinn Connect is completely focussed on tracking workout stats, with no additional workout programs available.
This is due to the fact that iFit uses a module that allows a two way data transfer between your computer and the machine (iFit console), while Schwinn Connect utilises a USB connection for data export.
With the data exported to their Connect site, you can also sync the same data with MyFitnessPal for a complete tracking solution of your workout, diet, and fitness goals in a single app.
iFit: Compatible vs. Enabled
If you haven’t already heard of iFit, it’s essentially a type of workout and fitness tracking software that allows you to download virtual routes and workouts to be used with select items in their fitness range.
This also allows you to set and track personal fitness goals, compete with friends, and completely customize your own workouts.
If iFit sounds like a feature that could benefit you in your workouts and create a more exciting routine, then it’s important to find out whether the equipment is classed as ‘iFit Enabled’ or simply ‘iFit Compatible’.
The ProForm 6.0 ES is actually one of the bikes that’s classed as ‘iFit Compatible’, meaning you will need to purchase the iFit wireless module separately.
These are usually available for around $100, but this does also buy you a year’s iFit subscription for full access to the collection of downloadable workouts and virtual cycling locations.
So that being said, Schwinn Connect is best if you want to track your workout progress and aren’t worried about extra workout programs.
Alternatively, ProForm’s iFit is best if you’re looking for wider variation in your training, with attractive visuals of outdoor environments and more basic stats tracking.
Ease of assembly
As with many of ProForm’s exercise bikes, if you don’t have the time to complete the assembly yourself, you can always contact one of their service technicians to get everything setup for you.
If do choose to set the bike up yourself, then it can be useful to have someone else available to hold the base frame while you get the stabilizers attached.
Once these are in place, the remainder of the assembly is fairly straightforward, although attaching the shield cover and getting the console wires connected can be quite time consuming.
Unlike entry level bikes that often require very few steps to get setup, the ProForm 6.0 ES does require a few more instructions, with a total of 15 steps making up the walkthrough in the user manual.
Fortunately each step is well annotated, with references to specific part numbers and clearly labelled exploded drawings.
Total assembly time tends to vary between reviewers, but it’s generally best to allow up to 2 hours getting the bike ready for your first workout.
Before making any final buying decisions on a new piece of fitness equipment, it’s important to do as much research as possible to find out if there are any outstanding issues.
The goal of our review is to identify these issues and suggest similarly priced alternatives if the features for the ProForm 6.0 ES don’t sound like a good match for your own workouts.
But we also like to take a look at what other reviewers are saying about the product, usually by browsing through the reviews left on ecommerce stores and online marketplaces.
Despite receiving a fairly mixed collection of review ratings, it’s important to bear in mind how many of these refer to issues with packaging or delivery, and how many refer to the actual quality of the bike.
The following collection of pros and cons has been put together as a quick summary of the full reviews you can currently find on Amazon.
- Straightforward assembly
- Range of workout programs can be extended using the optional iFit module
- Comfortable seat and back support cushioning
- Solid frame design improves stability
- Low profile instep makes it easier to get on and off the seat
- Console is kept close enough to your face to make all of the workout information easy to read, and keep buttons within easy reach
- MP3 connectivity is useful for listening to your favourite music while you cycle
- Excellent customer service
- Console shelf securely holds your tablet, which is ideal if you enjoy watching movies during your workouts
- Back support for the seat is at slightly more of an incline than similar models, which some people found uncomfortable during longer workouts
- Most of the negative reviews tend to relate to inefficient handling of the bike in transit, rather than issues with the quality of the bike itself
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: 5 years
- Parts and labor: 1 year