Recumbent Bike with Back Support and Extra Features

NordicTrack Commercial VR21 Review

8Total Score
The NordicTrack Commercial VR21 Review

Recumbent Bike with Back Support and Extra Features

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NordicTrack Commercial VR21 Review
NordicTrack Commercial VR21 Review

The comfortable Commercial VR21 is an entry level recumbent bike with a variety of features and iFit Coach readiness.

The Commercial VR21 with high-backed seat is NordicTrack’s cheapest recumbent bike for this year. Full price is $999 and the sale price is $599 including delivery. This low-impact exercise bike was recently introduced as an entry-level model in the NordicTrack Commercial Series.

NordicTrack Commercial Series equipment is meant for home use (not commercial use) but is named for its commercial-gauge steel frames. The Commercial VR21 recumbent bike has essentially the same frame and resistance system as the VR23 ($699 on sale) but uses a smaller data screen. Both models cost significantly less than the top-of-the-line VR25, which has a touchscreen and Android web browser among other upgrades.

Compared with other very low-budget bikes, the VR21 is above average in many ways. One important point is that the resistance system is very smooth for the price class, equivalent to a 23-pound flywheel. Also key to this bike’s appeal are 34 preloaded workout apps and readiness for iFit Coach. Still, totaling just $599 the components can’t all be expected to hold up for many years… Do you want a top exercise bike for the long term, or would you be happy shopping again for an all-new model in a couple of years?

Here are some pros and cons to consider.

The Great:
  • Recumbent Frame: Compared with upright stationary bikes, recumbent bikes like the VR21 allow less stress on your back and lower body. You lean back and pedal with your legs extended in front of your body — not beneath it — for lower impact cross training.
  • Ventilated Seat with Lumbar Support: NordicTrack recumbent bike seats look similar to comfortable office chairs with high backs for support. The seat back on the VR21 is ventilated (mesh material) and whole seat can be adjusted vertically and horizontally to fit different riders.
  • 32 Workout Apps: Save time planning and get a pro workout every time. This bike console’s 32 workout apps for calorie burn, performance and endurance take the guesswork out of indoor bike training. Just choose a goal category, select a program and start riding.
  • iFit Coach Ready: NordicTrack bikes that are iFit Coach Ready can connect with iFit Coach through your own compatible tablet computer or smartphone. iFit Coach memberships bring a wide variety of fitness related benefits: customized fitness plans, simulated outdoor training with Google Maps, automated data logging, help with menu planning and much more.
  • Shelf for Mobile Device: A shelf is provided for your tablet computer or smartphone.
  • 25 Resistance Levels: This bike has the force of a 23-pound flywheel, just like the VR23, and it lets you get a precisely-tuned challenge with 25 resistance settings for physical therapy, cardio training, burning calories and keeping lean muscles toned.
  • Extra-Wide Pedals: The foot pedals are extra-wide for comfort and have shoe straps for stability.
  • Heart Rate Monitoring: The VR21 is compatible with a Bluetooth chest strap (sold separately) for wireless heart rate monitoring. It also has grip pulse sensors on the handlebars.
  • Self-Adjusting Fan: For smart climate control NordicTrack installs AutoBreeze workout fans on its cardio trainers; an AutoBreeze fan can automatically adjust to your workout intensity. You can also keep the fan breeze at a constant setting.
  • Water Bottle Holder: A water bottle holder is integrated with the bike frame.
  • Transport Wheels: Transport wheels are mounted to the frame so you can easily move the Commercial VR21 after workout time.
  • High Capacity: Each NordicTrack recumbent bike for this year has a maximum user weight capacity of 350 pounds.
  • Good Warranty: The home warranty is competitive for the Commercial VR21’s sale price ($599) but not so hot at full price ($999). It includes lifetime coverage for the recumbent frame and brake, two years for parts and one year of labor.

The Not-So-Great:
  • Maintenance Required: Names can be misleading. The NordicTrack Commercial VR21 isn’t a commercial bike; it’s a residential bike and a lower-end option at that. To keep this trainer running smoothly and quietly, you might need to occasionally tighten the bolts and add a lubricant like WD-40.
  • Customer Service: The manufacturer has a poor reputation for customer service. This could be a problem if your bike needs a replacement part or a pro check-up.

Who Should Use The NordicTrack Commercial VR21 Recumbent Bike?

The VR21 is easy to mount/dismount and can hold up to 350 pounds. Its best matches include riders seeking on-board guidance for cross-training at beginning through intermediate ability levels. It may also be a good match for physical rehabilitation exercise.

The Bottom Line

A low sale price and tech integration help make the NordicTrack Commercial VR21 a respectable option for shoppers focused on savings. In exchange for the low price though, expect to occasionally put in some time to maintain the machine.

We feel a bit more confident recommending the VR23, as it adds another year to the parts warranty (and a wireless heart rate monitor) for just $100 more.

NordicTrack Commercial VR21 Specs:

Overall Score:8
Resistance:25 Resistance Levels
Flywheel:23 LBS
Weight Capacity:350 LBS
Dimensions:59" L x 22.25" W x 52" H