Keiser M3 vs CycleOps – Two Top Names Go Up Against Each Other

Keiser M3 vs CycleOpsKeiser M3 vs CycleOps – two premium brands go head to head.

To help you decide which one is the right one for you.

They do look different with CycleOPs more of a traditional bike look to it.

With Keiser M3 more modern art design.

There are a number of important differences between the two besides how they look. It is surprising how much they differ, considering they are both indoor cycles..

They both give you a great training experience for those who take their training and workouts seriously, although both can be used by beginners and those in between.

But first up here’s a quick explanation of the two contenders:

Keiser M3i

The first thing you do notice that this is a good looking bike. It has a good reputation too, from people who use it in clubs and at home.

It has 24 levels of magnetic resistance that is measured on the console. It works with a 8 lbs flywheel and belt drive to give a consistent and smooth pedaling experience.

You do need to concentrate more on your pedaling to ensure you have good form and it doesn’t become more of an up/down motion as you push against the harder resistance.

It is fully adjustable with both seat and handlebars being able to be moved horizontally and vertically to fit people between the height of 4 ft 10 ins and 6 ft 5 ins.

Customers like the quality of the workouts that feel natural and smooth at all levels of intensity. You can read my full review here and my comparisons of it against the M3 & M3 Plus here.

CycleOps Phantom 5

This is a good looking bike too with the flywheel at the back of the bike out of the sweat zone and to give a closer feel to cycling.

It has plenty of adjustment too with handlebars and seat being able to be micro-adjusted vertically and horizontally to get the same set up as your road bike. It can be fit to people between 4 ft 11 ins and 6 ft 5 ins

It has a 48 lbs flywheel and friction resistance to give a riding experience to riding your bike.

It also comes with the ability to be able to have virtual training when you use a smart device and subscribe to their virtual training program to keep you on track with your training.

It doesn’t come with pedals (as you do with a premium bike) or a console you have to supply your own .

Customers like being to set the bike up as their own and the big benefit they get from the virtual training. I’ve also looked at version 1 and 3 in detail. You can read the detailed reviews of all the bikes here: Phantom 1, Phantom 3 and Phantom 5.

The Differences

To help understand the bikes I’ve provided the differences only here, along with a brief explanation of how those differences can affect the workout and training you can get from the bike. This is what you’re probably interested in know and there is a side by side comparison further down if you want see more.

Pedals. The Keiser M3i comes with dual sided pedals fitting athletic or SPD shoes whereas Cycleops don’t come with any pedals. This is you can fit your own pedals to the bike as you would with a high end road bike.

Flywheel. There is a big difference in weight here with the CycleOps flywheel 40 lbs heavier at 48 lbs compared to just 8 lbs. The combination of the heavy flywheel , chain drive and friction resistance is used to provide a closer as possible to riding a bike outside with the momentum of the flywheel feeling like you get when rolling down the road etc.

The light flywheel and magnetic resistance still provides a smooth pedaling motion but you do have to concentrate more on your pedaling as you don’t have that same momentum to pull the pedals through but you do get an increase in resistance the faster you pedal like you will get on an outdoor bike that you don’t with the friction resistance.

Resistance. Here the Keiser M3i uses magnetic resistance and the CycleOps friction resistance. The magnetic resistance is quiet and doesn’t require maintenance and is controlled by lever and reads on the console. The friction pad will make a noise as it rubs against the flywheel and will require replacement after a period of time depending on usage. With the CycleOps this can be precision controlled with the virtual training so that is adjusted to just the correct resistance for the part of the program you are on.

Height Range. There is an inch difference in height range here – with the Keiser an inch shorter at the minimum and maximum. You do need to buy an adapter if you’re height is 5 ft 1 ins and below for the CycleOps.

Drive Type. The CycleOps has a chain drive like you get on a bike whereas the Keiser has a belt drive. The belt drive is very quiet and maintenance free. Whereas the chain drive provides a more bike like riding experience with its movement over the sprockets giving that gentle pull and vibration on the pedals with the same noise too. As well as that you have to lube and adjust the tension from time to time.

Gear. CycleOps has a freewheel hub so that you can coast when you want or as appropriate with your training – virtual or otherwise. The Keiser M3i has a fixed gear so you can’t coast – when the flywheel is turning so are the pedals – there is no resting allowed!

Q Factor. The CycleOps has a Q Factor of 168 mm which is probably wider than your outdoor bike but is narrower than the the Keiser at 197 mm. It should feel more natural when riding and provide better alignment of legs thereby reducing a risk of injury for many and a more effective workout.

Dimensions. The CycleOps Phantom 5 has a much narrower footprint with it chevron style stabilizer bars with it only being 13 inches wide compared to the 26 inch width of the Keiser.

Training. The Keiser M3i doesn’t come with any training or programs. This is one of the areas where CycleOps has a distinct advantage. To get this you need to either buy a Joule GPS console separately or to get the best effect is to have a tablet (also needs to be supplied separately) that you can use with their paid virtual training program . You can then use the 1000’s of virtual training programs that control the resistance to reflect the virtual terrain – you can also use it for tracking and monitoring your performance. It is a paid subscription.

Compatibility. CycleOP Phantom 5 is also compatible with Garmin Ant+, power tap products and bluetooth plus for pairing with other devices too for more options for analysis etc. Keiser M3i although it has bluetooth is not compatible with other devices and programs.

Power. The Keiser M3i console is powered by 2 AA batteries and that is the only power requirement. The CycleOps needs to be plugged into the wall to power the bike when using the Virtual training. It also needs CR2032 and AA batteries for the sensors for measures and adjustments.

Handlebars. CycleOps have a more road bike look with drop bars and no bull horns with Keiser M3i having different design exercise bike style handlebars for various hand grips for workouts rather than indoor training – you can use them as bullhorns and aero position that you don’t have the CycleOps.

Console. Included with the Keiser M3i is a console that measures cadence, distance (not miles or kms but something in between), time, watts, resistance (gear) and heart rate (if chest strap worn not included). You can use bluetooth to upload your results to the GoInd App for tracking and analysis.

The CycleOps Phantom 5 doesn’t come with a console and is designed to work with a tablet (you can upgrade to buy a version that comes with one) or you can use a Joule GPS meter with it (needs to be bought separately).

Reliability. Some people have had issues with their CycleOps and getting it to work properly with the Virtual Training. It seems that when there has been an issue that customer support hasn’t been as useful as it should be in all circumstances. In this respect Keiser appears to have less issues and are better at responding when there is one.

What About The Price

It does depend on models. The M3i is about less than the Phantom 5 and less than the Phantom 3 at current pricing. This can change depending on deals.

Which One Should You Buy?

This comes down to what your goals and preference are. These are 2 very good indoor cycles but do have different aims I think. Keiser M3i is more a bike style exercise indoors while the Phantom 5 is for indoor training for cyclist as an alternative to using trainers and rollers.

If you are a competitive cyclist looking for a bike that you can get to be as close as possible to your outdoor bike rather than uitting your bike on a trainer then the CycleOps Phantom 5 is the best way forward – you can set it up like your bike and have training programs to help when doing your indoor training.

But if you aren’t as concerned with matching the bike set up and don’t want to have virtual training or tracking performance on a particular App then the Keiser M3i is a good option to get serious (or light) cardio training.

Both can be used by more than one person as they are adjustable but this is one where it is more likely that others will use it especially for their fitness training – which is more it’s use than specifically for cycling training.

Side By Side Comparison

In the table below I’ve lined up the features, specifications and dimensions of the bikes against each other so you can quickly see how they match up.

FeatureKeiser M3iCycleOps Phantom 5
Flywheel Weight8 lbs48 lbs
Resistance TypeMagneticFriction
PedalsDual Toe cages/SPDNone
Bike Weight85 lbs140 lbs
Max User Weight300 lbs300 lbs
Max User Height4 ft 10 ins4 ft 11 ins
Min User Height6 ft 5 ins6 ft 6 ins
Handlebars AdjustabilityHorizontal/VerticalHorizontal/Vertiical
Seat AdjustabilityHorizontal/VertiicalHorizontal/Vertiical
DimensionsHeight 45 ins
Width 26 ins
Length 49 ins
Height: 34 ins
Width: 13 ins
Length: 48 ins
Drive TypeBeltChain
Q Factor197 mm168 mm
Virutal Training NoYes

Hopefully you now have all you need to understand the two bikes and how they differ to make the decision as to which one is right for you. It would be great to know what you’re thinking is on the two indoor cycles.

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