Keiser M3i Review

keiser m3iThe Keiser M3i is an upgrade to the popular Keiser M3 with fully adjustable handlebars, more ergonomic designed handlebars and a bluetooth console for uploading your workouts to an App for monitoring and tracking your performance being the noteworthy improvements.

Just like its’ predecessors it has been manufactured to the same high standards that have made the bike popular with gyms and those serious about their training and workouts (Spinning or otherwise). But there are a few things to take into consideration when buying this high end bike that I go through in my review.
As with all spin bikes and indoor cycles you want one that you can get workouts as intense and tough as you want but when buying for home you also want it to fit well into your home, your routines and not cause issues with others in the home.

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The first thing to look at is how sturdy it is and what the ride is like as this gives the right basis for your workouts

Sturdiness

The bike is popular with gym owners and they require a bike that sturdy and durable to be able to provide cycling classes to their customers, so it has passed a very demanding test in the real world and come out as being up to the job. This gives a lot of assurance that it can more than cope with use in the home.

It has a steel frame that holds everything in place while you workout hard whether in the seat or out of it or when transitioning in between. You get a stable and durable ride with no shaking or moving around.

If the floor is uneven there are levelers under the stabilizer bars to level the bike out and stop any rocking from side to side.

For safe use in the home so you can get off the bike quickly and not be a hazard to others it is advised that you have a clear space of 2 feet on the sides and front and back.

The flywheel at the reverse of the bike takes it away from sweat zone which all helps with increasing the longevity of the bikes. In addition to this the bike has a special paint coating, guards, sweat directing grooves all help to stop the corrosive properties of sweat to keep the bike in good working order and looking good.

The flywheel weighs 8lbs which is light for bikes that people want to use for spinning.

It is unlike the Schwinn AC Performance with Carbon Blue Belt Drive (and other spin bikes with heavy flywheels) which has a flywheel that weighs 37 lbs and is perimeter weighted. The advantage of this weighting is that it pulls the pedals through to give a more of an outdoor bike feel to the pedaling motion.

This makes it easier to have circular pedaling motion, which is especially good for beginners, rather than the up and down motion that can happen with light flywheels.

It reduces the impact on joints making it great for those recovering from injury and those that struggle with their cycling motion.

Having said all that reports by users is that the riding motion is smooth and they like how it feels on their legs.

There is a good reason why the bike can still give that natural feel.

Keiser used a different approach to get the momentum needed you have with a heavier perimeter weighted flywheel.

It’s to do with the belt drive set up. It has a larger front chain wheel to small back chain wheel the flywheel turns faster than on the usual spin bike or indoor cycle set up.

The faster turning speed provides the momentum or kinetic energy that assist with turning pedals to prevent too much slow down when the pedals are at the top/bottom of the pedal cycle. This helps to prevent an up down motion like you have on a stepper which you might expect with an 8 pound flywheel. Very clever!

Adjustability

keiser m3i indoor bike priceTo adjust the seat and handlebars you loosen the pull-pin knobs and slide to the correct height and tighten into place. It does have preset holes where you insert the pin, however you can adjust to a point in between the holes if you want and tighten in place. It will hold in place, however, if it hasn’t been tightened fully the seat or handlebars will only slip a little way as the pin will insert into the next hole down to hold them in place.

The bike can be adjusted to fit people between the heights 4 ft 10 ins and 7 ft 0 ins. Setting it to different heights is quick making it able to be used by people of different heights and sizes. The poles have markings on them to make it quicker to get to a previous setting. This all means you can quickly get on with your workout even if the bike has been adjusted since you used previously.

The earlier models of the M3 don’t have the ability to adjust the handlebars horizontally meaning that the handlebars could be too far away as you extended the height or too close when the height was reduced due to the diagonal direction of the adjustment pole. (The Keiser M3 Plus (not available) also had this capability)

This level of adjustability allows you to set the spin bike like your road bike or you can get it set for the best fit for proper sizing, comfort and efficiency for spinning workouts.

Resistance

keiser m3i indoor cycle displayUnlike many spin bikes this bike has marked levels with a total of 24 going from easy to very hard level of difficulty that is suitable for experienced riders – i.e. they shouldn’t find it challenging. The resistance levels are displayed on the console.

The resistance is provided by magnets situated on either side of the flywheel. The resistance is increased by moving the lever just below the handlebars which moves the magnets closer to flywheel thereby making it harder to cycle against. When the magnets are moved away the cycling gets easier.

The magnets never touch the flywheel so this gives a smooth and silent riding experience. The resistance does vary within the marked levels slightly as the faster you pedal the more resistance you experience.

The transition between the levels (gears) is smooth so there is no jerkiness in the operation going up or down.

At low speeds and low levels of resistance it can sometimes feel too easy like when you are in the wrong gear going down a hill but this is only likely to be an issue when you start your workout. Otherwise you’ll find you get a fluid and natural experience.

Drive type

The bike uses a belt drive that provides a very quiet and smooth riding experience. You’ll notice this is smoother than you get with a chain drive. It does feel different to riding an outdoor bike.

A belt drive doesn’t require day to day maintenance like you have with a chain drive.

The bike has a fixed gear which means while the flywheel is moving the pedals are moving too. You can’t coast and when getting off you need the pedals to stop moving so you can get off without risk of hurting yourself. To stop the pedals quickly you push the resistance lever away from you and this stops the flywheel and pedals from turning.

Pedals

The Keiser M3i comes with dual shimano pedals with one side being for specialist clipless shoes and the other with a toe basket and straps for tightening where you can slip in your athletic shoes. Both sides give a good grip on the pedals so you can push and pull the pedals around without worrying about your feet slipping off.

The Q Factor on M3 bikes is 7 3/4 ins which is wider than you’d find on an outdoor bike. It is the horizontal distance between the pedals. The narrower this measurement the more your hips and feet are in alignment for most people. The benefit of this is their less stress on your knees. However, this is not the case for everyone.

Keiser state that many people have wider hips than professional cyclist and will find this comfortable ride and won’t suffer from mis-alignment. From feedback, many people who ride the bike are fine with this level of alignment for comfort and don’t suffer pain or injury.

If you want a narrower q factor the Schwinn Fitness AC Performance Plus with Carbon Blue has one at 6.7 inches (but the bike doesn’t come with a console as standard).

Comfort

keiser m3i indoor studio exercise bike console different handlebarsSeat. The seat is comfortable by indoor bike standards but you may still find it not to your liking. That is the way with bike seats in general. You can try padded bike shorts or gel seat cover or replace with another seat as it fits standard size bike seats.

Noise. This is a very quiet bike. The only noise you are likely to hear is your breathing. It makes it possible to use it in apartments or when others are sleeping without disturbing them. You can get a quick workout before you go to work or if you have young children then you can workout when they are sleeping if you get the chance..

Dirt and Dust. There is not much dirt and dust given off from this bike although there maybe some lubricant dropped. The biggest problem is likely to be sweat which is corrosive, so should be cleaned off the bike on a regular basis. This can also drop on the floor so you may want to place a mat under the bike to prevent it being damaged by it.

Handlebars. The handlebars are covered for better grip and to prevent blisters. Although the handlebars look different to the traditional handlebars you can still place your hands in the positions needed for spinning and training. If you rest your forearms on the handlebars you may feel a little uncomfortable due to the angle and also they aren’t padded so your arms may start to hurt if you stay in that position for an extended period.

Storage

The bike requires an area of 58.5 ins by 25.75 ins of floor space for storage, making it able to be stored under stairs or in a cupboard. It is a great looking bike so it can be stored against a wall without being an eyesore.

To move the bike from room to room or to and from storage you tip the bike on to the transport wheels on the front stabilizer bars and wheel in to place. These wheels take most of the weight giving you an easier job – you just need to ensure you don’t overbalance the bike or yourself while you do it. The wheels are spaced far enough apart that this shouldn’t be a problem

The wheels are exposed so they should work on all surfaces including carpet as the pile won’t get jammed. If you have wooden floors it is a good idea to test it first to ensure the wheels don’t scratch or dent it.

Assembly

The bikes is relatively easy to assemble but is more involved than most spin bikes.

You are required to attach the flywheel and supply your own tools (but a kit can be bought separately with all tools or included in a bundle deal). Most other spin bikes include tools for assembly and the flywheel is attached.

The assembly is able to done within an hour even with the addtional step. You need to add the stabilizer bars, adjustment poles, saddle, handlebars, console and pedals.

The majority of customers find the assembly straightforward but as with any assembly the instructions need to be followed completely and using the correct tools for a properly working indoor cycle.

Most of the tools are standard except for the torque wrench and crow foot wrench.

The other tool requirements include wrenches, Allen keys, cutting pliers, no-rust lubricant and scissors.

Some people have successfully assembled without the torque wrench.

You can find exact requirements in the manual. It is available online if you want to get them before the bike arrives.

I checked online how much it would cost to buy all the tools I came to $160. However, I included the scissors, cloths, cutting pliers, allen keys etc as well as the wrenches. The torque wrench was $40.

You can buy a Keiser Tool kit for $100 or at times it is included in bundle deals.

I think why you need to supply your own tools and in particular the torque wrench as well as attach the flywheel is due to it being a commercial level bike supplied to gyms across the country rather than a bike designed just for home use.

Console

The big benefit with this bike compared to other spin bikes and indoor cycles is the ability to upload and monitor your performance with a fitness app. With most bikes, that do have a console (not all come with one), they only give workout data while you are cycling. There is no ability to track and record performance.

(The only other bikes I reviewed so far with this capability are the Ironman H-Class 520 and Ironman X-Class 510). But there are more that provide this

The console is a Bluetooth smart enabled device and works with Bluetooth smart ready devices – tablets, computers, cell phones etc.

They have their own App the Keiser M Series App – available on Google play and Apple and is free to use currently. You can sync with Strava, Apple Health and Training Peaks when signed in to a Keiser Metrics account. You can also produce a TCX file for uploading to other tracking apps. You can free ride – do your own work out, take and Functional Told Power Test (FTP) or take one of 11 guided traning sessions all based on your FTP result (they’re isn’t an instructor, instead there is a list of instructions to follow).

Other Apps you can connect to without a convertor are Bkool,Heart Zones Training, imPowered BeTrained and Spivi.

If you purchase the M Series Convertor App you can connect and use indoor training Apps – Zwift, Sufferfest and Paincave. You can get the workouts and road training for a more similar experience to outdoor cycling. It does not come as standard with the bike.

An alternative is to buy a Wahoo cadence or  cadence and speed sensor to pair with Zwift. They can be a little tricky to attach to the bike (may need patience to get them in the right place) and you need some strong double back tape to attach the sensor to flywheel but it is a cheaper option than the Convertor if buying separately.

It doesn’t connect to the Peloton. But, as with other indoor cycles, if you want the Peloton workouts and classes without the online community included you can use their App at a cheaper price than the full membership fee (about a third of full monthly fee).

If you want to use the Keiser App (for tracking) and Peloton for the workouts at the same time you need to have two devices connected or I have seen mentioned you can run Peloton in the background and cast it to your TV.

There is some good information, including how to convert Keiser 24 resistance levels to Peleton’s 100 levels, at the facebook group Peloton Digital App Users. It seems this is a choice quite a number of people have successfully taken to combine the two for a quality cardio workout at home.

It also continues to work with the GoInd App. This is available for iOS phones and mobile devices and required iOS 7.0 and later. It is not available for any other mobile device platforms restricting its usability. The App is available in Spanish and English.

With the App you can store and analyze your workouts. The information is uploaded using the bluetooth capability of the console. It gives you the ability to store, analyze, graph the results of heart rate, RPM, power output and overlay them. You can also do an Functional Threshold HR test with the GoInd Extended App.

The other functionality of the console is the same as you find with the Keiser M3.

The console is easy to read and comes with a backlight that comes on automatically when the light is low (it has a light sensor at the top). The numbers are easy to read and the LCD display is big enough that the measurements are displayed constantly (except Watts/Calories where it swaps through them).

There are no buttons to push to set it up which does make it easier to use except if you want to change the distance measured to miles or kilometers then you need to use the gear shifter to do this.

The measurements starting from the top are:

1. RPM (Cadence) – revolutions per minute, also known as cadence – the number of times one crank arm is turning per minute. It measures the speed you are pedalling. At 140 RPM and above the computer no longer registers and the word STOP appears because in the words of Keiser “the cyclist is pedaling faster than he or she needs to be.” At this speed most cyclists won’t have good form so they might injure themselves and won’t be working as hard as they would at a lower RPM with a higher resistance level. Conversely, when standing you should keep the cadence above 60 RPM to maintain resistance (per manual).

2. Power – this measures output in Watts currently being generated and calories burned in total for the workout. The display alternates showing Watts for 8 seconds and calories for 2 seconds. Watts are calculated by the computer using RPM and resistance level and a conversion table. Calories are calculated using the watts generated, so it is only for the work generated. It does not take into account the weight or other factors of the cyclist in the calculation, therefore, it is an estimate only and won’t be 100% accurate.

3. Heart Rate – a compatible heart rate strap needs to be worn to see readings. If you don’t have a strap the display shows a constant heart symbol and 0. If you are wearing a strap and the computer has found it you’ll see your heart rate and the heart symbol blinking.

The recommended heart rate strap required for monitoring heart rate are Polar H1 and T31 Wear Link. This needs to be bought separately although it can sometimes be included in bundle deals. Despite the buying I like the strap as a way of monitoring especially if you are using heart rate to train or tracking – it tends to be more accurate and you don’t have to keep hands in one place as you do with the alternative with pulse sensors.

4. Elapsed Time – measures the total time of the workout

5. Gear – in the bottom left hand corner this shows you  the resistance level you are cycling at. It has 24 levels, with 24 being the hardest

6. Odometer – for the first 8 seconds it displays the distance of all workouts to date, and then it monitors the distance traveled in the current workout

To reset information you can stop cycling for 60 seconds or you can quickly move the resistance/gear shifter stick up and down twice.

The distance recorded as standard is not miles or kilometres but this can be changed by following instructions in the manual by using the gear shifter to either miles or kilometers. According to the company it, is something in between. It measures the number of the revolutions of the flywheel with 200 revolutions equalling 1 unit as recorded.

You will need the manual to make the change to distance as it isn’t intuitive with moving the gear shifter up and down. It needs following closely and to be completed in the time required.

A similar process is required to set up the bluetooth so the is recognised by your smart device and fitness Apps.

If you are interested, during your workout, in the averages of RPM , power and heart rate you need to stop cycling for 3 seconds and the averages for these measurements will flash until you start pedalling again. This is a bit annoying but you probably aren’t going to be wanting to see this too often during a workout. But more annoying than that, is that after 60 seconds the computer goes to sleep and resets itself, so you lose all statistics for the workout. It doesn’t leave you much time for a water refill or bathroom stop.

It does give you the opportunity to track your workout and you can see the gear (resistance level) you are in, your power output and cadence (RPM), heart rate (the strap does not come with the bike) giving you something to target during your workout and be able to compare your workouts. The gear reading makes it easy to set resistance as you know how hard it is going to be and know how much resistance to add and how much to reduce resistance when doing a hill type workout. There is no estimating or guessing of resistance as you get with bikes that use resistance pads and knob.

Keiser M3i Dimensions

The weight and dimensions are

Height 45 inches
Width 26 inches
Length 49 inches

Bike Weight 85 lbs
Flywheel Weight 8 lbs
Max User Weight 300 lbs

Accessories

Water bottle holder. This comes with the bike. The bottle is held in place securely by gravity. This makes it easy to get to when you want some water during your workout and to return it without having to disrupt your workout – you don’t have to force it in to get into the holder you simply place it in there.

The location of the holder does put it in a place where you may find you drop sweat on it which may make the bottle a little slippery and annoying.

Stretch pads. Situated on the back support of the bike these little rubber pads (like small ridges) allow you to stretch out your calves by adding a liitle more height to the front of the foot. It can help reduce tightness and prevent injury. They pads will also protect the support bar from scratching and damage from apin bike shoes etc. They come included with the bike.

Media Tray This fits in between the handlebars and slides into place. It will fit tablets, Ipads and cell phones. (It seems it is about 8 inches wide). The tray angle is fixed. There is lip on the tray to help keep devices in place. It is in a good place for following along to training videos or programs or watching a Netflix video but not in the aero position. There is no plug-in points for media.

Dumbbell Holder. This can be bought separately direct from Keiser. It holds 2 small dumbbells up to 5 lbs each. It is a simple process to add to the bike just below the handlebar vertical adjustment knob. Tools aren’t provided – only a Phillips screwdriver,scouring pad and a rubbing alcohol. It puts the the dumbbells in easy reach for when you want some upper body exercise.

Assembly Maintenance Kit This has all the tools needed (including the torque wrench) to assemble and maintain the bike. It can be bought separately (from Keiser) or it comes as of a bundle deal they run from time to time on Amazon or their own site.

M Series Convertor. This needs to bought separately direct from Keiser and current cost is $195 (21/12/19) (sometimes included in bundle deals), this includes battery and instructions. It attaches to the back of the media trainer. It converts the data to the power profile format used by a range of cycle training Apps. The ones recommended for home use are Zwift, Sufferfest and Paincave as these don’t require any more software configuration. It seems it is the only way to be able to use Zwift with other convertor options not working at present.

Pros

  • Bike is very quiet
  • You can use it with their App and others to record and track performance
  • 24 levels of resistance marked making it easy to move up and down to your preferred amount of resistance, it also makes it easy to return to a previous level at anytime
  • Quick and easy seat and handlebar adjustment to fit to your size properly for safe and effective workouts and training
  • Suitable for a wide range of heights between 4ft 10 and 7ft so it can be used by multiple users in the same household
  • Has dual pedals for clipless (SPD) and athletic shoes
  • It is a very quiet bike allowing you to ride when you want without disturbing others or watch TV if you want
  • The LCD display is easy to read and has an automatic backlight to help with reading when the light is low
  • Built in the USA
  • Lighter weight than other indoor cycling bikes (up to 30 lbs) makes it easier to move
  • Flywheel out of sweat zone prevents damage to it
  • Uses a heart rate strap to monitor heart rate (although that needs to be bought separately unless in bundle)

Cons

  • There are limited pre-set workouts (11 plus FTP test)) if paired only with the M Series App (it does work with other Apps) and extra equipment needs to be bought if you wanted to use it with Zwift etc.
  • There is no where to plug in your MP3 player or other media
  • It requires some assembly by customer, unlike Peloton
  • Not all tools are provided for assembly except in bundle deal or pay extra for kit
  • The riding experience can be different to riding an outdoor bike with the wider q factor of 197 mm vs 160 mm (It may cause knee issues especially if you have narrow hips but form may play a bigger factor)
  • Console turns off after 60 seconds which doesn’t give you much time if you need a break for some reason such as getting a drink
  • Console turns off after 60 seconds which doesn’t give you much time if you need a break for some reason such as getting a drink
  • The price but it is a quality exercise bike
  • For road cyclist training the handlebars don’t replicate outdoor bikes in shape and feel

Keiser M3i Consumer Ratings

Keiser M3i ReviewThe most read review online doesn’t like the fact that you can only use the GoInd App with the bluetooth and that the information can’t be shared with other fitness apps.

It would be much better if this information was more prominently displayed so you knew exactly what you were getting in that respect as they do make a big thing about it having bluetooth.

Also I’ve yet to come across a spin bike that does offer more than this bike does in terms of connectivity.

Outside of this it is well received for its reliability in most reviews and the very smooth ride, how durable it is and the stable platform.

The reviews also say they like the console and its display of data while you ride.

Keiser M3i Price

The bike is more expensive than the Keiser M3 Plus by approximately $100 (when I checked) with the major difference being that the console has bluetooth and your results of your workouts can be displayed and analyzed with the GoInd App.

You can check the latest price by clicking here: Keiser M3i

Summary

Being able to upload your information to the GoInd fitness App is more than you get with most spin bikes and it allows you to track and monitor performance. It would be good if the bluetooth capability allowed you to work with other Apps too but it is useful for feedback and analyzing your stats and fitness.

It is a very quiet bike, looks good and is stable and durable. You can easily move it from room to room on the transport wheels. It doesn’t take up much room when not in use. All this and the fact you can get a great workout form this spin bike make it great for home use as well as the gym.

If you are serious about your workouts and/or training this bike is definitely going to keep up with you and provide many hours of pain and/or pleasure (depending on how you feel).

7 comments for “Keiser M3i Review

  1. Neil Beaton
    December 10, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    I’ve been reviewing spin bikes for a few weeks now and your review above was the crispest and easiest to follow. Thanks for taking the time to review!

    • Paul
      January 2, 2018 at 2:47 pm

      That’s great to hear. Thank you.

  2. Jeff
    February 4, 2018 at 10:48 pm

    Good review. I feel that Keiser could do a lot more on the software side. As someone who owns a Keiser bike, I’d like to crunch numbers in Strava and do a lot more with interactive/motivating software like Zwift. I find that even Bkool is flaky with Keiser.

    The bike itself is great.

    • Paul
      March 2, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      Thanks for these points. I agree with you its a great bike just a pity about the software – they need to spend time and effort on this.

  3. Carey
    August 19, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    Just receive ours (16 Aug 2018). Keiser now has a bluetooth app for iOS that works beautifully with our 2-3 year old mini iPad & allows workouts to be saved to each rider’s record. It shows exactly what is on the supplied display, but is much brighter & easier to read.

    There is also a weight holder option, but, like the bike, it requires tools that are not included (screw, drill guide, drill, drill bit & thread tapping tool) –> unlike the bike, which has a video that tells you everything, it comes with NO instructions and you will not know this until you google how to install it & then wonder if you _really_ want to drill a hole in your new $2000 bike!! 😀

    • Paul
      August 19, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      That’s good news on the App. Thanks for letting me know. I can see what you mean about the dumbbell holder, even if Keiser says that “installs easily in minutes.”

      • Paul
        December 18, 2019 at 7:09 pm

        In regards to the dumbbell holder they do now have instructions on their site on how to install it. It is fairly straightforward if the bike is nought after May 2016 with a Phillips screwdriver, rubbing alcohol, scouring pad and rag. Before May 2016 it is more involved with a drill and tap also needed.

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