To replace an aging recumbent bike (that had malfunctioned, I had to jerry-rig the resistance magnet to make it work) we decided to go with a regular upright bike for bike training and exercise. My preference is an upright bike, though we had gotten a good deal on the recumbent (free – someone apparently couldn’t figure out how to use it) and it had worked okay and served its purpose.
It took awhile to find a good deal but eventually my wife Jennifer (see her blog – “Jen’s Journey From PHAT to PHABULOUS”) found a model that we had been looking at for a good price.
In case you are wondering, the bike is actually manufactured by Nautilus as Schwinn is no longer a separate individual company, the regular outdoor biking part of Schwinn having been acquired by Pacific Cycle and the indoor/exercise biking part having been snapped up by Nautilus a number of years ago.
The Schwinn 130 is likely what you would call a somewhat lower mid-range indoor bike. It’s not a real cheapo, but it’s certainly not an expensive or even semi-expensive trainer either.
The box isn’t too heavy, surprisingly, and can even be carried by one person if needed, though it’s not light and is a bit cumbersome. Amazing how they can stuff it all into a box of this size. A few people on Amazon seemed to have some issues with damaged packaging and parts.
Despite the box being a little cumbersome (the box dimensions are 41 x 22 12 1/2 inches) it was fairly easy getting it around the ninety-degree turn on the upper landing of our cellar stairs and sliding it down the stairs and carrying it through the door to our exercise room.
The box is easily opened and packed pretty well with the assembly instructions/product booklet quick to access. There is an English language manual as well as a multiple-language version. At this point you probably should write down the purchase date and serial number in the space in the booklet supplied for it. You can find the serial number on the box as well as the bike frame itself.
A small piece of cardboard has the tools and hardware needed plastic wrapped to it. So you don’t really need anything else in the way of tools to get it assembled. I did use my little Cree Ultrafire flashlight to see the threaded holes to properly align the bolts a few times when things were being stubborn, and it might be handier to use a few of your own tools but not necessary.
The front and back feet have the bolts and nuts that you will be using for them partially screwed into the bolt holes, the bolts you just unthread and and screw into the brackets on the bottom of the bike frame, using the included Allen wrench. Pretty straight forward.
The assembly instructions themselves are fairly well-written and easy to understand, with illustrations. Easy especially compared to some of the partial English instructions we sometimes are used to seeing. Really, for the most part, you could get by without instructions as it’s mostly common sense assembly.
The instruction manual also has some instructions on operating the bike and using the control panel, but this part is very sparse. A better manual is here – highly recommended to get the better one after assembly; though the included manual is the same as the first section of the better manual I linked to.
The front feet have recessed wheels so when you tip the bike forward you can roll it around. On our soft carpet it didn’t roll real easily but should work better with a more conventional carpet, or floor. I think the wheels are soft enough to not leave marks on most floorings.
The rear feet have a big red knob on each side for adjusting the leveling, a nice feature there. The adjustable column on either side of the foot extends a good distance.
The handlebar/instrument panel shaft goes on next. This part you might want an extra hand with, though it’s not absolutely necessary. The shaft goes through the cowl, or shroud, and you kind of have to keep this up out of the way as you connect the quick connectors for the wiring, making sure nothing gets crimped as you slide the shaft down unto it’s receiver on the bike frame itself. Four bolts, washer, and lock washers for in the to shaft to hold it securely. This hardware is on the aforementioned piece of cardboard.
If you take a look at the hardware inside the bike frame at this point, you can see the flywheel and the magnet and solenoids that control how close the magnet rides to the flywheel. The closer the magnet hovers to the wheel the more resistance the wheel provides against your pedaling, via the magnetic field interacting with the metal of the spinning flywheel.
If you were going to add a speed sensor or cadence sensor for an exercise watch or other bike computer and it needed to attach to the wheel instead of the crank this MIGHT be the place to put it. It may or not not work/fit and you might be better off going with a crank sensor or something like that, I suppose.
Once the shaft is in place and tightened you drop the shroud down and snap it into place, and install a rubber gasket around the shaft where it enters the shroud – presumably to absorb vibration, keep the handlebar shaft/column steady, make sure nothing drops down there and what-have-you. Make sure the wiring with the connector didn’t drop down the shaft, the wire is pretty well secured in the one we got so it shouldn’t drop through on it’s own, but you can never tell.
The handlebar goes on next, a little maneuvering is needed to tie the twist tie included to the top of the shaft, around the heart rate wires coming out of the bottom of the handlebar, and carefully slip these through the opening in the bottom of the handlebar shaft, again being careful to not crimp or pinch any wire. See the photos below. Not as complicated as it sounds.
Once that is set you can install the twist handle that can be used to adjust and tighten the handlebars. A plastic cap goes over the top of the handlebar bracket, I had to give it a good squeeze to get the tabs to drop in.
The handlebars can be used in a number of hand positions, from full-upright to a more aggressive forward position. A full upright position allows your hands to hold the heart rate monitor sensors, a more forward position lets you rest down onto the handlebars at the fully forward position.
We’ve left the handlebars in a good neutral position but with a slightly upward angle, it seems to work both of us – for me, who is of average height and sometimes uses the forward position on the handlebars, as well as my wife who is a bit on the short side and rides the bike with her hands in the upright position for the most part.
The nice thing about these handlebars is that they are covered in a soft foam for the entire length from the forward ends down to the heart rate pads. Unfortunately for those who might want to use the full forward position there also should be padded elbow supports for best stability and comfort, but the padded covering works pretty well.
The console goes on next, which involves unpacking it from it’s own box and taking out the screws where they are screwed into the back of the console, using the included multi-tool (or your own screwdriver of course). Once you have the console ready you might need a hand from someone to hold it up while you carefully snap the connector into the back of the console, and position it on the panel/pedestal on top of the handlebar shaft and thread the four screws in.
The seat post slides into the frame next, an adjustment knob on the right side of the base under the seat post tightens and snaps in to secure it. Unlike some other exercise equipment where you pull the knob out, make the adjustment, and snap the knob back in; this one requires that you turn the knob to loosen it, pull the knob out and set it in the proper hole in the seat post, and then re-tighten it. So you don’t want to adjust the seat post to a new height and then let the knob snap into the hole without also tightening it, or you will have a very loose seat post.
The seat slides onto the small shaft at the very top of the seat post, and you can either use the included multitool to tighten the nuts on either side of the seat hardware, or better yet use your own tools to do this.
You’ll notice here that the seat can be tipped forward or back, or leveled – depending on the preference of the rider. And of course you want the front of the seat to be straight and pointed directly at the handlebar shaft. But one thing you might miss is that the seat can be adjusted forward and back somewhat by sliding the seat mounting hardware back and forth as needed along the rails under the seat itself, just like on a conventional bike seat. I have seen a number of reviews where people complain about the lack of adjustment forward and back and this is one way to tweak it a bit.
There’s not a LOT of adjustment here but it is the same that you would get on a regular outdoor bike and it can gain you a few inches, possibly. The Schwinn 170 has a large sliding adjustment bracket that the seat attaches to so it can be slid much further forward and back than the Schwinn 130.
Pedals go on next, like all pedals on bikes the left pedal is reverse-threaded so it won’t loosen up as it turns. The pedals are labeled conveniently left and right, and optionally you also can attach the toe clips. The toe clips have a good range of adjustments for shoe size so they should fit pretty much anything you are going to wear to ride on this bike. They snap into tabs on the pedals on either side, not the highest quality toe clips but they should do, they are just a rubbery plastic so you might want to be a bit careful with them if you do a lot of adjusting among users of the bike. Don’t make them TOO tight or you will chafe the sides of your feet.
The threading is standard so you could conceivably use other pedals and consequently alternate toe clips if you wanted to, I believe. A problem here is that the shafts for the cranks themselves are straight so there’s not a lot of clearance, unlike other bikes that usually have an outward bend. Design flaw here in that aspect. You may or may not sometimes catch the inner edge of your shoe on the shaft, this would depend on the pedal you have and more importantly your feet and normal leg positioning. See my issue with the pedals further down this entry. People with smaller feet or different leg/foot angles may not notice this problem at all.
Next unscrew the bolts where the cup holder goes and mount it, the cup holder is fine – and accommodated our large Camelback water bottles just fine. Easy to get the water bottle in, easy to get out, a bit on the cheap side but it does it’s job and the screw positioning looks standard to me. Don’t quote me on this – but it looks like any water bottle holder might work.
You probably want to take a look at whether the bike is steady and level and adjust the red thumb knobs on the rear feet if it isn’t. There’s quite a bit of adjustment so you should be able to get a steady level bike on whatever surface you have it on – carpeting, half on and half off carpeting, unlevel floors, etc.
To move the bike around grab the handlebars from the front and tip it toward you, you have to tip it at a good angle as the little wheels on the front feet are placed quite far forward. It’s not very heavy.
Once you plug the AC adapter into a wall outlet (you’re using a surge suppressor right?) and the plug from the adapter into the front of the bike (down near the base where the frame attaches to the feet) it’ll power up, with a beep.
A note here, like most stuff after a certain amount of time with no movement on the pedals and no buttons pressed it will power down by itself, going into sleep mode. There’s no off switch, but you can easily unplug it. Memory of previous workouts will be saved from what I read, but didn’t confirm this.
Before you start riding make sure everything is adjusted correctly. Very important.
The proper angle for the handlebar is a bit less important if you are just using the rear section of it, in an upright position. But eventually you may want to tweak the angle of the whole handlebar, if you want to drop down onto the forward section or use any of the length of the handlebar, or position your hands along the side or whatever way is the most comfortable. A lot of personal preference here, and if you are not very flexible you might be sticking with the upright position, and pointing the bullhorn handlebars up at a higher angle will allow those not used to being low on the handlebars, or not very flexible – to reach further along the length of it, or to get an intermediate forward position.
Also note that the heart rate monitor pads are in one location only, accessibly only in the the upright position with hands on the back of the handlebar, of course you can always use a HRM watch or other device if you are going with another hand position, or switch back and forth to check your heart rate on the built-in display.
Surprisingly the heart rate monitor pads seem to read heart rate almost exactly the same as what my Garmin Forerunner shows, and the Forerunner is exacting when it comes to monitoring heart rate (as I’ve proven many times by manually counting my heart rate and comparing it to the watch). It seems like on many of the built-in heart rate monitors on exercise equipment it’s never accurate but this bike is – at least in my case.
I’d like to add here that you can do some serious cardio with the resistance low, and you can also do some equally serious hill-climbing training. Resistance is chopped up into twenty increments, with the highest being something that is approaching the equivalent of one mother of a hill. Nice thing about the handlebars is you can actually get up on them, standing up on the pedals; without feeling like anything is flimsy, going to break, or that maybe you shouldn’t do it.
The only thing perhaps missing from the handlebars, as I mentioned above, is adjustable elbow pads like on a tri-bar or aero-bar. There’s nice cushioning, but still it would be nice to have the elbow pads like on the Schwinn 170 though my elbows have stayed steady on the included padding while using the full forward position.
If you are used to tri-bars/aero-bars the long bullhorn type of handlebars might be different than you are used to, as they open your shoulders up much more, but it still will feel familiar. For those who have never used this kind of handlebar they can stay up on at the upright position, hold onto the handlebars along the sides, or anywhere along the ‘bullhorn’ all the way up to the full forward position. I like this handlebar configuration myself.
One of the most important things is getting your seat height proper. If you’re a serious bicyclist I don’t need to tell you this, but for others – sit on the seat with one pedal at the bottom of the crank, the leg on that side should be nearly fully extended if you have your seat adjusted correctly. Make sure your knee is not ‘locked out’ and not too fully extended, but that your knee does not have a big bend in it when the pedal is at the lowest extension. You should have the balls of your feet on the pedals, and your feet should be horizontal to the ground for the full swing of the pedal. The toe clips should be adjusted so they are not too tight, nor too loose. You can take the toe clips off if you need to, or want to start out that way, but the pedals themselves don’t have that much grip so you’ll probably appreciate the toe clips.
For those not used to proper biking adjustment some of this may be different than the way that you have been riding for years, which likely is the way you learned as a kid, and may possibly be damaging your knees, legs, feet, back, neck, etc.
Also keep in mind that the seat can be slid forward or back a few inches, and the angle can be adjusted also as I mentioned above. Play around with all of these adjustments until you have a proper fit and according to proper bike-fitting methods, it’s not important for riding a few miles maybe but for anything farther or longer you really need to have a good posture and fit.
When the bike computer starts up the first time you can go through a process of setting up user(s), with your name and stats. Use the right/left and up/down buttons in the center of the console to enter your info. You can also do this later for yourself or additional people.
When the bike computer starts up normally you can select which user, press the Quick Start button (in which case you can manually adjust your resistance and press the END button to stop), select one of the pre-programmed workouts (you can also manually adjust your resistance and press the END button to stop in this mode too), look at your previous rides (the Goal Track button – which shows your last workout as the first selection and then total workout info for the next selection), go to settings, etc.
The Heart Rate Control workout programs allow you to set a target heart rate as your goal, and note here that your hands would have to be on the heart rate monitor pads so you couldn’t use any other hand position while doing the HRC programs.
In addition to the HRC programs there are other programs which allow you to set other target goals and are organized into categories – Fun, Mountains, Challenges. Pretty standard stuff. I was told (thanks Joe) that you can create your own custom programs by going through the programs until you find the custom ones, but you can only adjust the difficulty of each interval and set the time, distance, calorie goals but not the interval times. See comments at the end of this post.
The HRC programs let you select from beginner or advanced level. And at any time during any of the workouts you can manually increase or decrease the resistance, pause a workout with the Pause/End button (you can also just stop pedaling and it will eventually notice – starting to pedal again will pick up where you left off whether you just stopped or pressed the Pause/End button. After five minutes of just sitting there with no button presses or pedaling it will auto-power off).
Not much else to say about the programs – if you have ever used active exercise equipment before then it’s fairly standard fare, with a nuance here and there.
A Fitness Test Program is also included, so you can track your progress. And each of the aforementioned programs as well as quick start mode includes a Cool Down at the end. This does not count toward your mileage as shown in the display and stats, you can abort this and just save your workout if needed.
The console has an upper display and a lower display, the lower display can be slightly customized – in that you can turn things on and off, but you can not switch around which items are shown in which of the three windows. The display is not backlit.
I am going to give a try to a USB-powered book or tablet light, plugged into the USB port on the top.
The things displayed in the displays include an achievement display, various indicators as well as number displays showing things like speed, distance, time, RPM’s (cadence), resistance level (a bar graph in the upper portion as well as a number display on the lower display), current interval, intensity (a bar graph, also considered an exertion level), heart rate zone, calories.
I’d say the lack of ability to create your own programs, minimal customizable of the lower display, and a lack of a backlight are a bit of a negative here.
All control buttons are of a roughly medium size, with duplicate raising and lowering resistance buttons on either side near mid-level and preset resistance level buttons in numeric form along the lower right and left sides. The level goes from 0 to 20 – 0 being complete free-wheeling and 20 being a good little mountain.
A small fan with three speeds is included on this model, the fan will flip a bit up and down somewhat. Works well.
A pair of moderately good speakers are on either side of the fan at the bottom of the control panel on either side of the fan. A headphone plug is at the top edge of the control panel, right beside a USB port (which may or may not power your devices depending on how much juice they need – this USB is where you can save your workouts to a USB drive if you wish, see more about this below). There is also a short headphone patch cable included. The speakers worked okay but there’s no way to control any volume, and no amplification.
A shelf between the upper and lower display will hold a tablet or smartphone or maybe a book or magazine, it’s thick enough with safety ridges on the outside to hold a tablet with thick armor. This does obscure the upper display but not the lower display. Great feature here, and there’s really no way to make a shelf for tablets, phones, or books without covering something as the display/control panel is quite tall.
And just in case you get a bit bored while biking, or want to up your training – check out my blog post about using the Chromecast with the exercise bike and treadmill and my review of the Google Chromecast in this blog posting. A tablet sitting at the control panel on the bike lets you control a Google Chromecast – you can run some nice training videos or biking scenery videos off YouTube or watch tv, listen to music, or play Sufferfest training videos or Spinervals or something along those lines. In my blog post I mention a little about playing a video while listening to music or other audio at the same time with Chromecast. I mention this because I really enjoy using the Chromecast with the bike and treadmill. Great little device.
There are a few issues I have with the bike, in addition to the lack of a backlight on the control panel, and lack of display customization.
The seat is WIDE, like a cruiser seat. Riding at a good cadence for awhile started chafing my thighs right away. Fortunately before we bought it we knew that the seat could be replaced.
Unfortunately the process isn’t via a quick release. The shaft on the seatpost is a pretty standard size though, so the seat hardware underneath the seat can be disassembled fairly quickly, and a new seat attached to it. The hardware bolts onto the rail under any standard type of seat and on the two seats I attached it does seem to be a tighter fit along the rails than on the original seat, but it does fit fine.
My next project is to find some of this older style bike seat hardware and adapt a quick release skewer to it.
Here’s a picture below with my road bike’s Planet Bike 5020 men’s anatomical relief seat mounted in place of the stock seat that came on the Schwinn 130.
The other issue I have is one I mentioned above in the assembly section, once in a while the edge of my left heel will touch the crank. The crank is way too straight and the pedal is way too close, bad design but probably not something that will affect people with smaller feet, or different angles on their hips and legs, etc – in other words only certain people I believe. After looking at some reviews on Amazon I quickly saw that it was a somewhat common problem with others also, and was solved with a wider set of pedals that Nautilus would send as replacements.
So I called Nautilus but unfortunately the person at the other end said she had no idea what size the threads on the pedals are on the 130 (they’re the same size thread as on any bike) and wasn’t sure if the wider pedals would fit (even though I read her some reviews off Amazon, as well as what Nautilus customer service had written on Amazon about the pedal replacement), which did no good and she offered to send them to me for about $32. No thanks. My wife later called twice finally got someone who said they would just send the wider pedals out, no charge, but they were back-ordered. Go figure. So we’re still waiting on them.
The other problem we had was a problem with getting the seat post to go all of the way down. My wife needed one more lower position which the seat post wouldn’t quite get down to, despite lots of holes in the seat post past that point.
Looking down the steel sleeve that the seat post slides into revealed the problem. When someone was assembling the frame and welding the seat post sleeve onto the frame they dripped some welding rod material down the sleeve, obstructing movement of the seat post any further down.
We could have contacted the company again and likely they would have sent us a new frame or whole new bike, but what a PITA! I turned it over, and used a cold chisel and file to knock a bit of the weld off. It’s still there but I got enough off for the seat to go down to the next notch, and that’s all we needed. Problem semi-solved, but a little lack of quality control here.
One of the selling points for the bike is the ability to transfer workouts via a USB drive. Anyone have any luck with this?
Unfortunately this has yet to work as it is supposed to, and looking at reviews it seems to not work for very well for anyone.
Pressing the Last Workout button eventually brings you to a display where you can save your data to a USB drive. This part all seems to work just fine, and a quick look at the USB drive after getting it back to the computer showed a file saved there.
Next you are supposed to be able to upload this to the site called Schwinn Connect, not to be confused with Garmin Connect; and if you’re looking for something like Garmin Connect this is not it. The layout is fairly simple but it has the basics. At least that’s what I thought. It even connected to MyFitnessPal.
After I got registered (it wouldn’t take my regular e-mail for some reason – I had to use my backup Gmail account) I tried uploading the data from the USB drive. It seemed to upload just fine, but once I looked at the stats on the website it was nothing like the bike ride I had done right before, nor the other two before that. The data was completely incorrect.
Over the next few times using the bike I tried it again and again, and each time the data seemed to be saving from the bike and then uploading to the website successfully. And each time the website display exactly the unchanging incorrect thing – the miles and calories were nothing like what I had done and there was no other data shown.
I loaded the file that had been saved from the bike to the USB drive into a regular text editor (I use the excellent Akelpad) and there was all of my data in JSON form, readable in fairly plain text, corresponding to what had been recorded on my Garmin Forerunner.
Great, but not much use if it won’t import into the website. I couldn’t imagine that I was doing anything wrong – I saved it, uploaded it; what else would need to be done?
Seems as though some with other models of Schwinn bikes could use the site, but others couldn’t. Hopefully someday they will fix it, but from some forums I looked at it looks as though the site hasn’t worked right from it’s inception. Very disappointing. But I always use my Garmin Forerunner 405 for logging my workouts anyway, and manually enter the miles in Garmin Connect, so it’s not a huge issue for me personally.
An addendum here – Joe (Thanks Joe) mentions that after many tries of uploading the data it eventually will show up but that what is displayed is very minimal, and possibly only 8 day’s worth at a time. See comments at the end of this blog post. I attempted this and indeed it eventually it did upload.
So, time to wrap this review up.
BTW, here’s our old bike – a recumbent.
In conclusion, the Schwinn 130 / Journey 1.0 is a moderately-good exercise bike, especially for the money. It’s not the highest quality and there are some quality control problems as well as things that could be improved. It isn’t a cheapo model that is going to wear out in no time either and it has some good features. It has a few things that should be changed, fixed, and improved but for the money it’s a respectable value.
But if you are someone who rides a bit here and there to get some exercise and burn some weight off, or are trying to keep active during the off-season, or are just a more casual or amateur rider and you don’t mind a few things that need improvement here and there then the Schwinn 130 might work for you and be what you are looking for.
Here are some exercise bike reviews that a visitor sent the link to – The Indoor Cycling Bike Has Grown in Popularity Immensely.