The Assault AirBike Elite is the upgraded version of the highly popular Assault AirBike. You know, the fan bike used worldwide by the military, professional athletes, and in Crossfit competitions. Yeah, well as if the classic version wasn’t tough enough already, Assault Fitness decided to up the ante with the Elite model.
Improvements were made to the handlebars, display console, and seat to name a few. Not to mention this bike is heavier and more durable than the AirBike Classic.
This all sounds great, but do these improvements justify the higher asking price? Do these improvements make the Assault AirBike Elite the finest home exercise bike on the planet? I’m hoping to answer these questions for you and more with this thorough review.
What Is An Air Bike?
Air bikes, also known as fan bikes, make up their own category in the home exercise bike world. They get their name from the fact that they use air to produce the resistance you are working against. Well, more specifically, it’s the fans attached to the flywheel pushing against the air that creates the resistance.
They’ve been around for about 40 years- Schwinn created the first airdyne (their version of the air bike) bike in the late ’70s. They seemed to disappear for awhile, but have really made a comeback in the last decade or so.
This is likely due to the rising popularity of Crossfit and HIIT style workouts.
These hight intensity workout styles have started using air bikes because these types of bikes can offer unlimited resistance. That’s right, the harder you pedal, the more resistance you get. This allows you to really crank up the intensity, making them perfect for interval training.
Air bikes also offer a full body workout with the inclusion of handlebars for your arms. This is one advantage air bikes have over most other exercise bikes.
It also makes you burn a lot more calories than a traditional upright exercise bike. More calories burned means more fat burned, which leads to weight loss- one of the primary exercise goals for a lot of people.
So, to summarize, air bikes:
- Use fans and air to produce resistance
- Are great for high intensity interval style workouts
- Provide a full body workout
- Are great for burning calories and losing weight
I guess it makes sense that they are making a comeback, they really have a lot to offer. But, that doesn’t mean they are right for everyone. If you aren’t interested in intense workouts or don’t like interval training, you should probably consider another type of bike.
If you are looking for an exercise bike to mimic the feel of riding on a road bike, this isn’t the right bike for you either (you should be looking at spin bikes).
The Assault AirBike Elite
As the name implies, this is an air bike. It’s also produced by Assault Fitness, a division of the LifeCORE Fitness company that is based out of California and primarily produces bikes and rowers. Assault Fitness only makes 3 products: the 2 AirBike models and an innovative treadmill that might surprise you.
Assault Fitness’s goal is to make fitness equipment that is designed to last. Products that are built tough to withstand taking punishment from elite athletes for years. Their AirBike Elite is the perfect representation of that mission statement.
- Heavy-duty, solid steel frame
- Fully adjustable seat that ensures the proper fit regardless of your size
- Multi-grip handlebars allows you to switch up your grip during your workouts
- Removable windshield included
- Console is ANT+ and bluetooth heart rate monitor compatible
- Easy assembly
- 350 lb weight capacity- perfect for larger users
- Good warranty
- Built-in transport wheels to make moving the bike easier
- Console lacking hi-tech features
It’s been mentioned that the resistance is provided by spinning fans. This system is great because it allows for unlimited resistance. As you get stronger and are able to pedal harder, you will meet more resistance from the AirBike. It’s impossible to outgrow this bike because the resistance will grow with you.
Ball bearings have been placed at pretty much every moving joint to improve durability and to make operation smoother.
Some people like the swishing sound and cool air in their face when working out on a fan bike. Personally, I’m a fan of the fan…sorry, I couldn’t resist.
But in case you don’t like all that fresh air coming at ya, Assault Fitness included a windshield to block some of this air from crashing into you during your workout. It’s removable if you do like to feel the air.
The AirBike Elite’s frame is made out of solid steel. The seat post is solid aluminum. The cranks are solid steel as well. There’s also a coat on the frame to resist corrosion from all the sweating you will be doing on it. Long-story-short: this bike is built like a tank.
Speaking of which, this bike weighs a whopping 138 lb fully assembled! The AirBike Elite is big and heavy- and it was built like this on purpose. The extra weight gives it more durability and allows you to feel more stable on it during use.
Fan bikes, much like spin bikes, are notorious for having uncomfortable seats. They are small, hard, and just outright painful to sit on for extended rides. The seat on the AirBike Elite is nothing fancy. Users don’t seem to mind from a comfort point of view.
The important thing to know about the seat is that it is fully adjustable. You can adjust the height and horizontal position (fore/aft) of the seat easily by pulling a pin.
Having a fully adjustable seat is important to ensure proper fitting during your workout, and not all fan bikes offer this feature. For example, the AD7 is the only airdyne bike that offers a fully adjustable seat.
You’ll also notice how thick and solid the seat post is on the AirBike Elite (solid aluminum). You shouldn’t have to worry about any wobbling or unwanted movement during your workouts.
Although this bike receives very few complaints, the ones it does get are usually regarding the console. Most users are surprised by how simple it is. There really is nothing fancy here, but most people that are using this bike aren’t looking for a bunch of pointless bells and whistles. They are looking for a world class workout.
The display screen is good sized, but there are no HD colors or displays. Just good ol’ fashioned black and white text. The LCD screen shows all the normal fitness metrics you’d expect.
The console is compatible with both ANT+ and bluetooth heart rate monitors. This ensures that no matter what kind of heart rate monitor you are using, odds are it will work with the AirBike Elite.
It does have built-in workout programs for intervals, heart rate, and goal oriented results. Just keep in mind that the workout programs don’t control the resistance during the workouts, they just tell you what to do (like sprint for 20 sec, etc). The resistance is directly controlled by how hard you pedal.
Most users agree putting the AirBike Elite together is fairly straightforward. Most people are able to do so in 1-2 hrs depending on how handy you are and if you have assistance or not. It’s possible for one person to assemble by themselves, just keep in mind that this bike is heavy, so it is a little cumbersome to move until you attach the stabilizers with the transport wheels.
All of the necessary tools are included, except for a Philip’s head screwdriver. Make sure you keep all of the provided tools so you can perform the recommended maintenance (making sure everything stays tight).
Users are also happy that everything actually fits together the way it is suppose to. This is really a testament to how well built and well designed the AirBike Elite is.
This bike has a weight capacity of 350 lb. This is a great weight capacity for a home exercise bike and it actually competes with a lot of the commercial machines. High-quality bikes should have max weight limits in the 300 – 350 lb range, so well done Assault.
Plus keep in mind the kind of intense exercise you are doing on this type of bike. It has to be built like a tank to withstand a 350 lb athlete cranking on it during those HIIT workouts.
The Assault AirBike Elite comes with the following warranties:
- 5 year frame
- 3 year parts
- 1 year labor
This warranty is ok, but considering the price and quality of build I would expect a little longer on the frame and parts. I’m not saying that is the norm, but this is arguably the nicest fan bike on the market.
The Schwinn AD7 is probably the AirBike’s stiffest competition and they offer a 10 year frame warranty (only 2 year parts and 6 month labor though). Of course, Schwinn is known for their very generous warranties.
If this bike also came with a 10 year warranty on the frame, it would be very tough to deny that this is the superior bike…
AirBike Classic vs AirBike Elite
Going through that stats for the AirBike Elite, it’s hard to deny that this bike has a ton to offer. Unfortunately, all this awesomeness comes at a pretty high price. This is actually one of the most expensive air bikes I’ve come across. I want to do a quick comparison to the also awesome AirBike Classic to see if the upgrades justify the extra expense.
|AirBike Classic||AirBike Elite|
|Weight||95 lb||138 lb|
|Max Weight Capacity||300 lb||350 lb|
|Warranty||5 year frame, 2 year parts||5 year frame, 3 year parts, 1 year labor|
The first, and probably most obvious difference between the 2 bikes is how more robust the frame is on the Elite. The Elite is just thicker everywhere you look. Comparing the total weights for each bike, you see that the Elite weighs about 40 lb more than the Classic.
This means the Elite is going to be more stable and durable. It’s going to feel like a commercial machine.
The AirBike Elite has multi-grip handlebars and the Classic does not. This might not be a huge game changer, but it is a nice upgrade.
The weight capacity on the Elite is 50 lb greater than that of the Classic. This is a pretty impressive upgrade, especially for the larger folks looking for an intense workout. If you are nearing the 300 lb weight limit of the Classic, it might be a good idea to pay extra for the Elite model.
The warranty on the Elite is just a little better: you get an extra year on the parts and a 1 year labor warranty. Again, not sure this is a huge decision making difference or not.
That’s about it for the major differences between the two. The consoles are pretty comparable and so are the seats, even though the seat pole on the Elite is stronger and made out of solid aluminum.
The last big difference we should address is the $500 price difference between the 2 bikes. Now, there is no question that the AirBike Elite IS a better bike than the Classic. It is bigger and stronger with the reinforcements included in the frame and seat. But the big question remains: is the Elite worth the extra money??
In all honesty, for most users, probably not. Most folks working out recreationally in their home gyms probably aren’t going to notice the difference. I think the Elite is a smart choice for the larger athletes- the folks that are reaching that 300 lb limit.
I also think the Elite would be a smart choice for situations where there are multiple users performing intense routines regularly. Like a Crossfit gym or some other small commercial type situation. Otherwise, I think most other users would do just as well with the AirBike Classic.
We’ve taken a pretty comprehensive look at the Assault AirBike Elite. We’ve also compared it to the original AirBike to see how much of a difference there really is and whether or not those differences justify the extra cash.
The AirBike Elite is a beast of an exercise bike. It’s built tough with the extra heavy frame and reinforced ball bearings at every moving joint.
It also has a fully adjustable seat, multi-grip handlebars, an impressive weight capacity, and a solid warranty backing it up. This is a Crossfit athlete’s dream fitness bike, capable of providing the most intense workouts you can fathom.
Is it the best exercise bike in the world? Yeah, probably. It’s definitely the best fan bike on the market.
Is it the smartest buy for your home gym? Likely not. Odds are you can save yourself $500 and go with the Assault AirBike Classic or Schwinn AD7 and be just as happy. The upgrades might come in handy though if you are a larger individual or running a Crossfit group.
Overall though, it’s one hell of a bike.