The Schwinn AC Performance Plus and Spinner NXT are spin bikes are for those who take or want to take their training and workouts seriously. They can be used by beginners too as you can adjust the workout intensity to suit your ability and experience.
Both bikes are highly rated by users for their durability and performance. They do both deliver as spin bikes and indoor training cycles.
In this comparison I’ll be looking at the important features and comparing them in depth to provide a deeper understanding of the differences and benefits of each of the bike. In doing so I’ve spent a number of hours going through their specifications, owner manuals, customer reviews, the product listings and asked questions of the suppliers for further information.
If you want just the facts and data you can see a comparison table here, which includes the 2 bikes as well other spin bikes that have been reviewed to date.
Before I start the comparison here is a quick overview of each of the bikes:
The Spinner NXT is a commercial grade bike from the originator of spin bikes. It is popular in gyms across the country. This is a good sign that the bikes can take a lot of workout punishment.
It doesn’t come with too many frills coming with dual pedals, DVDs and a double water bottle holder. It does mean there is less to go wrong plus it seems the money has been spent on making it deliver on tough workouts for beginners and the experienced too.
It has a heavy perimeter weighted flywheel to promote a 360 degree pedal stroke, friction resistance for upping the intensity of workouts and a chain drive to keep the feel of the bike similar to that of an outdoor bike.
The bike is fully adjustable to fit a variety of heights correctly to maximise workout benefits with both the handlebars and saddle able to be moved horizontally and vertically.
Schwinn AC Performance Plus
The Schwinn AC Performance Plus is also highly regarded by gyms around the country with it being designed to stand up to high amounts of use and to be low maintenance.
The handlebars and seat can be moved vertically and horizontally making it easy and quick to fit the bike properly for a range of heights.
It has magnetic resistance which is very quiet and very low maintenance.
This version of the bike has a chain drive but it is possible to get a different model – with Carbon Blue Belt Drive – that as the name says comes with a belt drive for a very quiet ride.
The 37 lbs flywheel on the bike is perimeter weighted giving the momentum to pull the pedals through a full 360 degree cycle giving a natural road bike feel which promotes the best cycle stroke. This reduces any impact that might occur through poor pedaling form and can help people with joint injury recover.
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The Spinner NXT is made from heavy duty steel, weighs140 lbs and has a 41 lbs flywheel, whereas the Schwinn AC Performance Plus has an aluminum frame, weighs 111 lbs and a 37 lbs flywheel which makes it lighter and more resistance to rust.
Both bikes are durable and long lasting. They hold you steady while you workout whether in the saddle or standing on the pedals. The Spinner NXT’s flywheel does provide more inertia to turn the pedals around the full cycle which helps out at higher resistance levels reducing the slowing of pedals at the top and bottom of the pedal cycle.
Both bikes are low impact on joints and do have a natural and fluid riding motion.
The maintenance on the NXT is greater due to the friction resistance which will involve replacing the pads as they wear down. This isn’t necessary on the Schwinn as it has magnetic resistance with no touching parts to wear down.
Both bikes are fully adjustable to provide the best fit for users. The NXT is suitable for a wider range of heights as it can be adjusted for people between 4 ft 10 ins and 6 ft 10 ins. The Schwinn accommodates between the heights of 4ft 11 ins and 6 ft 8 ins.
With the Schwinn and NXT the vertical adjustments uses pre-set holes in the adjustment poles and a knob with a pop-pin to hold the seat/handlebars in position. The horizontal adjustment are continuous and you put in the exact position you want and then tighten up the knobs to hold them in place.
It is quick and easy to position the seat/handlebars correctly for various heights making them suitable for multiple users.
Both bikes have levels marked on the poles making it a simple job to return to your setting if it has been moved since you set the bike up.
Resistance is one of the main areas these bikes differ. The NXT has friction resistance and the AC Performance Plus has magnetic resistance.
Magnetic resistance has some advantages over friction. It is silent, requires less maintenance (nothing to wear down) and there is no dust given off. Some people also note that it provides a better feel to push against than friction resistance which can feel like you are pedaling with the brake on in comparison.
Magnetic resistance is more expensive than friction resistance and that is reflected in the prices of the bikes.
If something does go wrong with magnetic resistance (which is unlikely) it is more difficult to fix than an issue with the friction resistance where most issues are fixed by replacing the pad or lubricating it.
Both bikes have the same chain drive for turning the flywheel. It is similar to the one you get on a road bike giving the same feel and sound as it moves over the sprockets unlike a belt drive.
It does require similar type of maintenance in keeping in top condition – that is tightening it if it becomes loose and lubricating as required. This is straightforward and can be done by most people.
Both bikes also have a fixed gear which means when the flywheel is turning the pedals are turning also and vice versa. This helps in giving it the fluid riding motion and feel but can take a little getting used to when you want to stop and get off in particular.
To stop the pedals turning you can gently push back or push down hard on tension knob which act as a brake to stop the flywheel and pedals.
The Schwinn does come with a safety accessory to help keep the pedals and flywheel secure when not in use – a strap that goes through a pedal. This can help prevent children hurting themselves on the bike on the pedals or flywheel.
Both bikes come with dual pedals with one side have toe cages and straps for use with athletic shoes. The other side is for specialist schimano shoes that you can clip into place. You can get a good grip on both sides of the pedals so you can push and pull sitting down or standing without worrying about your feet slipping.
The NXT has a better Q-Factor of 158 mm which is good for spin bikes as the Schwinn 170 mm which is also good. A narrower Q-Factor, which is the horizontal distance between the pedals allows the feet, knees and hips to be more aligned . This results in less stress on them thereby leading to less injuries and more efficient riding motion in most cases but it is dependent on the person’s body make up.
The Schwinn AC Performance Plus is the quieter bike due to the magnetic resistance being silent whereas the Spinner NXT’s has friction resistance which gives out a shushing sound as it rubs on the flywheel. Neither bike is loud and are quiet enough to be used in homes without upsetting other people at home while you use it.
The comfort of the seat is a personal thing. There are no real complaints about the seat from people who use them. However, if you struggle with either bike’s seat you can try a gel seat cover or padded bike shorts. If they don’t work you can change the seat for any standard bike size seat that your prefer.
Both sets of handlebars have a rubberized coating to make them easier to grip and prevent blisters. The Spinner NXT handlebars are the standard spinning design to cater for the spinning hand positions.
The AC Performance Plus has a longer central handlebar loop that can be used when in the aero position, the bars have been curved and the cross bar flattened and padded to help in supporting your arms when in that position. The ends of the handlebars have also been flattened to make them easier to grip too when out of the saddle.
Of the 2 bikes the AC Performance Plus is going to give off less dust as it has magnetic resistance (no resistance pad to wear down).
Having said that there isn’t too much dirt given off or dust from either bike but there will be some lubricant dropping, dust and sweat that needs to be cleaned up to keep the bike looking good and performing well. You may want to protect your floor with a rubber mat.
Both bikes are designed to support a maximum user weight of 350 lbs.
They both have rubber guards on the back stabilizer bars and the bottom of the frame to prevent marking and scratching when you’re stretching and getting on and off the bike. The aluminum frame of the AC Performance Plus prevents corrosion whereas the Spinner NXT has a paint coating to inhibit rust from the salt and water from sweat dropping on the bike.
Both bikes have two transport wheels on the front stabilizer bar that you tip the bike onto when you want to move it to a new location or to and from storage. These take most of the weight of the bike leaving you to roll the bike. The Schwinn is going to be easier to moves as it weighs about 28 lbs less.
The AC Performance Plus needs less room for storage with a footprint of 20.5 by 42 ins compared to the NXT footprint being 21 by 54 ins.
They both come partially assembled on delivery. The tools required for the assembly are included. It can be completed by most people within 60 minutes. They are much easier to assemble than putting together kitset furniture.
The most difficult part is likely to be the weight of the bikes particularly when moving it in the box and attaching the frame to the stabilizer bars. You may need 2 people to do this.
Neither bike comes with a console which is not unusual for spin bikes. Both companies do sell consoles that you can buy separately. It seems it is a traditional thing not include them but I like to have one myself as I like numbers.
Many people don’t need this information to workout and progress which I guess is why they don’t include as it would increase cost.
Along the lines of their approach to the console the bikes don’t come with much in the way of accessories. They both provide a gravity held double water bottle holder on the handlebars. They make it easy to grab a bottle while pedaling and they’re out of the way of sweat.
However, the NXT is ahead here with it coming with 4 Spinning DVDs that provide you with spinning workouts and instructions on how to set the bike up correctly. You do need to put them into your own DVD player and watch them on your TV or computer. You don’t get anything like this with the AC Performance Plus
Both bikes have high customer ratings. They appreciate the stable and natural riding motion of both. They like not having to spend money on the gym and saving on the travel. It is mentioned that there is some noise from the chain drive but this is to be expected. It isn’t loud but not silent when properly adjusted.
A couple of reviewers would like to see some information for beginners with the AC Performance Plus but do say you can get the information online at YouTube. The NXT does have this information included in their user manual and the DVDs.
The Schwinn AC Performance Plus was priced more than the Spinner NXT when I checked. For this extra you are getting the magnetic resistance that provides a quieter, cleaner and lower maintenance bike. It also has an aluminum frame which is strong, robust and lighter. It makes it easier to move and is more resistance to rust. The Spinner NXT has special paint coating to inhibit corrosion. Included in the Spinner NXT is slightly heavier flywheel and 4 DVDs.
As stated at the beginning these are 2 very good bikes. Overall the Schwinn AC Performance Plus has the better features but you are paying extra for this.
The Schwinn has handlebars that cater for more riding styles in particular the aero position with longer inner bars that are shaped and a flattened cross bar for resting the arms on. The end of handlebars are shaped to help with gripping when out of the saddle.
It also has magnetic resistance which is silent and low maintenance. The Spinner NXT has friction resistance which is quiet but not silent and has a pad that will need replacing when it wears down.
The Schwinn is also a smaller and lighter bike which help with storage and moving from location to location within a home especially if you are tight for space (you’ll also need slightly less space when in use).
The Spinner NXT pluses are the 4 DVDs that come as extra which give you 4 workouts to follow along to and also instruction on how to set up, use the bike and care for it. It also has a heavier flywheel that provides more inertia to pull the legs through the cycling motion evenly reducing impact on joints further.
So there it is 2 very good bikes that you can use as often and for a long time to give you as intense workouts as you want.