Last Updated on February 10, 2021 by JP
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Featuring a light-weight, rust-free aluminum frame, an innovative magnetic resistance braking system, and a comfortable, ultra-adjustable design, the Schwinn A.C. Performance Plus is a contender for one of the best indoor bikes on the market. This tough indoor bike is found in spin cycle studios across the US and the world where it consistently proves its worth and longevity.
The A.C. Performance Plus is part of the Schwinn’s Authentic Cycling Series of indoor bikes. The “A.C.” in the name of this bike stands for “Authentic Cycling” and refers to Schwinn’s focus on creating an experience that mimics as closely as possible the feel of riding a bicycle outdoors on real roads. By enhancing the bike’s magnetic resistance with a 6-magnet brake system and the ability to micro-adjust the bike to fit the user, Schwinn is delivering on that promise.
Carbon Blue Belt Drive vs. Original Chain Drive
We should note here that the A.C. Performance Plus comes with two different types of drive: the Carbon Blue belt drive and a chain drive. The original chain drive works perfectly fine, though some users report some noise which is normal for chain links grabbing and moving through spokes on gears. However, more recently, and perhaps to remedy this issue, Schwinn released the A.C. Performance Plus with the “Carbon Blue” belt drive.
The Carbon Blue belt is primarily polyurethane but includes a core of carbon fiber tensile cords. Softer nylon teeth grab the gears to create a smooth and quiet indoor cycling experience. Meanwhile, the belt’s strong carbon fiber core and lack of moving parts ensure a very long and maintenance-free life to the belt. The Carbon Blue version of the A.C. Performance Plus comes in at around $1700 while you can get the original chain drive version for around $1200. These prices don’t include the MConsole computer monitor that is sold separately.
According to Schwinn/StairMaster representatives, the two versions of the A.C. Performance Pro are virtually identical beyond the drive systems. That said, the type, feel, and durability of the drive system makes a big difference and should be taken into consideration.
- Height: 51” (130cm)
- Width: 21” (53cm)
- Length: 50″ (127cm)
- Item weight: 112 lbs (51 kg)
- Max user weight: 350 lbs (159 kg)
- User size range: 4’11 to 6’8 (150 to 203 cm) tall
- Handlebars: Adjustable ErgoLoop Handlebars
- Pedals: Double Link with SPD and Triple Link Compatible
- Seat: Adjustable Seat Position (up, down, forward, backward)
- Resistance: Magnetic Brake Chain drive system uses forged steel crank
- Flywheel: 37 lbs perimeter weighted disc
- Drive Options: Chain Drive or Carbon Blue Belt Drive
- Computer: None. Compatible with MPower Consoles (sold separately)
- Transport: Front wheels provide easy transport
- Frame Color: Pearl White
- Frame: 10 years (5 years for corrosion)
- Mechanical parts: 2 years (drive train, brake system, cranks)
- Labor: 1 year
- Wear items (saddle and pedals): 6 months
Shipping and Assembly:
Customers report the A.C. Performance Plus arrives safely packed in protective styrofoam. All necessary tools (screwdrivers, wrenches, etc.) are included and assembly is relatively painless, taking only around 20 minutes.
Schwinn has been in the business of making bicycles of all types for over 100 years and with a history that extensive, you can trust they know what they are doing when it comes to things that spin. Schwinn’s line of exercise equipment, and specifically indoor bikes, is well respected and used in gyms and cycling studios worldwide. The A.C. Performance Plus Indoor Cycle is no exception.
What We Love About the Schwinn A.C. Performance Plus
#1 The 6-Magnet Resistance System
Like all indoor bikes with magnetic resistance systems, the A.C. Performance Plus offers the smooth, realistic feel of riding a road bike. But not satisfied with the status quo, Schwinn ups the ante by including 6 magnets to more evenly distribute the braking power, then takes it up a notch by adding a perimeter-weighted 37 lb flywheel disc. Like the Spin bike from Star Trac and Mad Dogg Athletics, a heavy flywheel can really serve to enhance the feeling of road momentum. The “Virtual Contact” magnetic resistance provides a maintenance free system that will not wear out. Want great-looking legs? You can get as tough a workout as you want with the continuously incremental resistance levels.
#2 Comfort and Adjustability
As far as comfort, the bike is very adjustable and can accommodate users of just about any size or weight. And if you want, you can easily replace the saddle and handlebars with those of your choice but most people love the ErgoLoop handlebars and find the adequate. With the Double Link Pedals with SPD and various toe-clip combinations you can wear cleats or normal workout shoes.
#3 Aluminum Frame
The aluminum frame is 30% lighter than a steel frame equivalent, makes the bike easy to pick up and move, and keeps it generally rust-free. That said, it’s always a good idea to towel your bike off after a sweaty workout to keep it in optimal condition.
What Isn’t So Great
The price is on the high side putting it in the neighborhood of the excellent Keiser M3+ indoor cycle, but we feel it’s a fair price for a heavy-duty bike of this calibre. The chain drive train isn’t entirely smooth and can produce some noise. As mentioned, the newer model “A.C. Performance Plus Carbon Blue” will have a polyurethane and nylon belt drive with carbon fiber core. We would lean toward going for the Carbon Blue version for the extra durability and lower noise factor, but that may not be an issue for some users.
Finally, the bike doesn’t come standard with an onboard computer to give you your data. However, if you want to track your progress mid-workout, you can purchase an MPower Echelon Console separately for around $250. The MPower Echelon Console displays measurements including RPM (cadence), calories burned, heart rate, stage time, and total time. It requires two C batteries and has a nice button-activated backlight.
Final Word on the Schwinn A.C. Performance Plus Indoor Cycle
Overall, whether you choose the Schwinn A.C. Performance Plus Indoor Cycle with original chain drive or the newer Carbon Blue belt drive, this bike stands up to the competition as a very professional, solid yet light-weight cycle that is trusted and used in cycle studios across the country. It lives up to it’s name delivering an “Authentic Cycling” feel and is a proven rugged piece of equipment. With a rock-solid and long-covering and extensive 10-year warranty, you can invest in this workhorse indoor bike with confidence. Highly recommended.
Here is Schwinn’s promo video for the A.C. Performance Plus: