Last Updated on February 10, 2021 by JP
If you’re looking for a great indoor cycle, the Keiser M3+ and Schwinn AC Performance Plus are two of the highest quality and most popular options. There’s no arguing that these are great indoor bikes. But there’s plenty to argue about when trying to determine which is better. So let us help you with your decision. We’ll tackle the major differences and advantages between the M3+ and AC Performance Plus. Take a look as we compare the main features on these bikes and give you our choice for best indoor cycle between these excellent Keiser and Schwinn models.
Indoor Cycle Frame
The Keiser M3+ (Plus) and the Schwinn AC Performance Plus (with Carbon Blue Belt Drive) are both ultra high quality machines that stand up to any Spin Bike. They both feature strong and lightweight aluminum frames. Just on design and aesthetics, we prefer the Keiser M3+. Its sleek brushed aluminum design is more attractive than the beefier white Schwinn, but we’re not about to make a decision on appearance alone.
The frame warranties on these bikes are identical at 10 years, so there’s nothing to compare there.
The maximum fully adjusted dimensions of the M3+ is about 57”x26”x51” (l x w x h) and it weighs 85 lbs. It will fit individuals from 4’10” to 6’5” and has a weight capacity of 300 lbs. The Schwinn AC Performance Plus has a smaller footprint of 50”x21”x51”, weighs 112 lbs, has a capacity of 350 lbs and will fit riders from 4’11” to 6’8”. Both of these bikes will be stable and secure during your most intense workouts, but the Schwinn has a slightly sturdier frame and allows for a wider range of users.
Advantage: Schwinn AC Performance Plus with Carbon Blue Belt because of sturdiness and ability to accommodate a wider range of users.
Flywheel, Drive & Resistance
Probably the most important feature on an indoor cycle is its flywheel. The M3+ has an 8 lb flywheel and the Schwinn AC Performance Plus has a 37 lb flywheel. The difference between the heavier and lighter flywheel is noticeable while cycling. The Schwinn has a smoother, more fluid motion. The Keiser also has a good cycling motion, but the Schwinn has a more natural outdoor cycling feel, especially when you’re in the lower resistance settings.
Both bikes utilize belt drive systems that require very little to no maintenance at all. Both bikes provide a smooth and very quiet ride. The AC Performance Plus strongly markets the Carbon Blue belt drive, which is a ribbed belt that moves over a sprocket like a chain drive bike (but smoother). This preserves the outdoor cycling feel.
Keiser and Schwinn both utilize magnetic resistance, but how you control the resistance is different on these bikes. The M3+ has a level near the handlebars that works together with the console to show you your level of resistance. The Schwinn has a more traditional set up with a tension knob that increases or decreases friction. It’s definitely nicer to see your resistance level on the M3+ and this allows you to return to previous resistance settings easily. Both bikes provide smooth and constant resistance.
The Keiser M3+ has a slightly better 3 year mechanical warranty compared to the 2 years on the Schwinn AC Performance Plus.
Advantage: Schwinn AC Performance Plus with Carbon Blue for more realistic cycling feel.
Indoor Bike Components
The Schwinn AC Performance Plus provides double link pedals with SPD and toe-clip combination and provides an optional triple link pedal. The Keiser M3 Plus provides adjustable ShimanoTM combo pedals with toe cages and straps on one side and the other side fits SPD specialist shoes with cleats.
Both bikes have fully adjustable handlebars and seats. They have horizontal and vertical adjusts for both components. The big difference is the adjustability of the vertical motions. On the Keiser M3+ all of the adjustments are micro adjustable. This means you move the handlebars and seat anywhere horizontally and vertically and you can tighten them in that position. On the Schwinn AC Performance Plus only the horizontal movements are micro adjustable. To adjust the seat and handlebars vertically on the Schwinn bike, you must use pre-determined, drilled-hole settings and pin them in place. The Schwinn allows for a larger range of users, but with the micro-adjusts on the Keiser M3+, you’re more capable of getting that perfect cycling position.
The wear items warranties on the two bikes are identical at 6 months.
Advantage: Keiser M3+for better adjustability.
Indoor Bike Console / Computer
The Keiser M3+ comes with the M Series console that provides readouts for RPM (revolutions per minute), power output in watts, heart rate, pedaling time, resistance, and odometer/trip distance. It has a backlit sensor that automatically detects ambient light levels and turns on the backlit display as needed.
The Schwinn does not come standard with a console. However, for $199 you can add the Schwinn MPower Echelon console. This will give you readouts for PRM, heart rate, stage time and total time. For $349 you can get the MPower Echlon Power console that gives you power in watts, RPM, calories and heart rate. It also gives you time, distance and power readings in stage and total. This console is backlit through button activation.
Advantage: Keiser M3+ because no upgrade needed.
Overall Winner Between Keiser M3+ and the Schwinn AC Performance Plus Indoor Cycles:
It’s very close, but our choice is the Schwinn AC Performance Plus with Carbon Blue Belt Drive. In our opinion the feel and cycling motion outweigh the Keiser’s console and slight advantage in component adjustability. Overall, the bikes are in the same general price range and you can’t go wrong with either. Click below for our full reviews of these indoor bikes.