LifeFitness is truly one of the giants of commercial fitness equipment and its candidate in the indoor cycle world is the ICG series bikes with the Wattrate TFT console. These bikes were originally marketed by Matrix and had a bad reputation for reliability but, under the LifeFitness umbrella, they are certainly a different animal. Fundamentally known for the coaching by colour training system, the ICG brand has heritage and a well-respected brand name going as far back as the legendary Tomahawk bikes of the 90’s.
It doesn’t take a genius to realise that a lot of the design elements of the IC 6 and 7 were taken from the Keiser M series bike. The flywheel at the back behind the seat, geometric frame, polyV belt drive and gear lever situated on the handlebars are certainly taken from the legendary American bike manufacturer and the IC bikes certainly benefit from them.
Extremely smooth adjustment mechanisms for handlebars and seat, along with the geometric frame, mean this bike offers a great fit for any rider, while the belt drive offers silent running and near maintenance-free operation. The IC bikes do have plastic panelling over the frame, which aesthetically makes the bike look very appealing.
The wattrate TFT console offers multi-functionality and onboard coaching by colour which, although it does not use a conventional strain gauge, does use a light-emitting power metre device on board to calculate your power through the pedals. This console also offers the facility to link with third-party apps with BLE Bluetooth, so you can choose various applications to train with, including CicloZone.
The on-board screen does change colour inline with with the power zone you are working in based on your FTP, which is a nice touch.
Although much improved by LifeFitness, the ICG range of bikes still has questions of unreliability/poor build quality about them. Lots of plastic and questionable durability with moving parts – such as handlebar and seat adjustment – does mean it is a question of when and not if the bike would require some sort of maintenance.
This also applies to the calibration of the power metre, which is often brought into question when comparing with a strain-gauge power system for example. Having said this, in a home environment, if looked after, these issues certainly could be reduced.
When riding the bike, the great riding position is somewhat let down by the oversized handlebars which are wider than a standard road bike handlebar and more in line with a mountain bike. As for the console, while it does offer a lot of functionality, it also requires a considerable amount of setting up prior to a ride so, when connecting to a third-party app, you might get bored with all the button pushing.
Certainly under the guidance of life Fitness this is now a much more competent bike now and the wattrate console is certainly class-leading. The bike itself is priced in the same bracket as Peloton and Keiser, and slightly cheaper than the Stages SC3 which does mean it is competitive in this market, however on any purchase of around £2000 the last thing you need is the worry of reliability and I’ve all of the bikes this is the one that would concern me.