When it comes to premium quality home exercise equipment, it’s hard to bypass Schwinn and Nautilus. They are after all, two of the most popular and highly regarded brands on the planet. In this article, we put these two industry giants head-to-head to discover which one comes out on top. We’ll focus in on the best that Nautilus and Schwinn have to offer in terms of . . .
- Upright Bikes
- Elliptical Trainers
- Recumbent Bikes
Schwinn Up Close
For more than 100 years, Schwinn have been a market leader in the outdoor cycle market. Schwinn bikes are among the most highly acclaimed in the world and are the go to cycle for many professional and competitive cyclists. When they moved into the hone exercise market, therefore, they had an excellent pedigree to work from.
Very quickly Schwinn exercise bikes established themselves as a powerful force in the home fitness market. They have taken a position in the mid to high price range. During the 2000’s Schwinn steadily extended their home fitness bike market. Among their most popular models are the Schwinn 430 Elliptical and the 231 Upright bike.
The Schwinn brand is owned, and marketed by Nautilus, Inc. based in Vancouver, Washington.
A Closer Look at Nautilus
Since 1970, Nautilus have been innovators in the exercise industry. Nautilus started life as the ‘Blue Machine’. This was a gym weight training machine that made use of a Nautilus shaped elliptical cam to accommodate human movement. This was a breakthrough in the fitness industry which put the company on the map. Over the last half a century, Nautilus have built one innovation upon the next to extend their reach into every area of the commercial and home fitness market.
In 2011, Nautilus stopped manufacturing equipment to focus on the promotion of it’s umbrella of brands. The manufacture of Nautilus equipment is now outsourced. Within the Nautilus family of brands are included Nautilus Schwinn, Bowflex and Universal.
Ellipticals: Schwinn 430 vs Nautilus E614
A home elliptical machine is a great addition to any home gym. It allows you to get a great cardio session in to burn calories. At the same time, you’re able to work your upper body. The stride motion of the elliptical machine also gives a very effective workout to the muscles of your glutes, thighs and hamstrings (typical problem areas for women).
Let’s consider these two machines one at a time.
The Schwinn 430 Ellitpical
The Schwinn 430 is a front driven elliptical, meaning that the ‘motor’ of the unit sits right up front. It gives you an impressive 20-inch stride, dual display window and a very handy charging station for your mobile devices.
The high speed inertia perimeter weighted flywheel of the 430 ensures a very smooth, natural striding action. You won’t experience any stuttering or jerkiness on this machine.
Lots of Training Options
With 22 workout programs and 20 levels of resistance, the 430 provides you with all of the training options you need to get in an effective, progressive cardio workout.
The fact that this is a front driven elliptical makes it easy to get on and off without impediment. You’ll find the pedal height also makes it a breeze to mount and dismount.
Spacious foot pedals
You don’t want your foot to be jammed into the foot pedal when you’re exercising. The 430 provides you with generously sized foot pedals. The width prevents your toes from hitting up against the sides.
The Schwinn Connect app allows you to collect, store and analyze your training data. You will also be able to set, track and monitor your goal progress, which is a vital step in achieving success.
Dual Handle Bars
The 430 provides you with stationary handle bars directly below the console panel. The movable arms also have handles that allow you to engage your upper body as you re striding.
The 430 provides you with the ability to view two displays at the same time. This means that you can keep an eye on your vital training stats while also enjoying entertainment.
The 430 allows you to adjust the angle on the running mat. To do so, however, you have to get off the machine at reset the incline manually. Of course, you can set it before you begin but doing so mid workout will interrupt the flow of your training.
Unreliable Pulse Monitor
The 430 makes use of sensors in the handle bars to read your pulse. This is not a very accurate method and can lead to some large discrepancies.
Nautilus E614 Up Close
Like the Schwinn 430, the Nautilus E614 is a front driven elliptical. It also features a similar number of programs and resistance levels as the Schwinn bike. Let drill down on the benefits and drawbacks . . .
The dual window function on the E614 allows you to cover one window but still be able to view your workout data on the other window. This means that you’ll be able to place your tablet or phone on the console and still track your exercise progress.
The large footplates and 20 inch stride motion provide you with a very natural motion. The footplates are not cramped, allowing for a comfortable training experience. The large, articulated footplates are fully cushioned.
Plenty of Resistance Options
With 20 levels of eddy current resistance, you have plenty of scope to progress your training intensity. This machine is also versatile enough to suit all members of the family. The high speed inertia perimeter weighted flywheel provides you with a very smooth stride motion.
Very Solid and Stable
The frame and body of the E614 is very solid and durable. A pair of integrated levers along with two center supports ensure the rigidity of the central unit. The oversized crossbar tubing enhances the strength of this machine even further.
Limited Data Readout
The E614 provides you with quite limited training data. It does not give you elapsed time, incline stride minutes or a workout summary.
No Accessory Tray
While not a major, the lack of an accessory tray means that you are unable to easily store your workout gloves or other accessories while on the machine.
As can be seen from our breakdown, the Schwinn 430 and the Nautilus E614 have very similar features. Both are excellent home elliptical trainers that will give you many years of service. However, there re a few factors that give one the edge. The Schwinn 430 provides you with more complete training data on the console. It also provides a slightly more fluid striding action. You’ll also generally find it to be about $50 cheaper than the Nautilus E614.
For these reasons we recommend the Schwinn 430 over the Nautilus E614.
Upright Bikes: Schwinn 170 vs Nautilus U616
Schwinn 170 Up Close
The Schwinn 170 is the flagship upright exercise bike from Schwinn. Recently upgraded in line with customer feedback, this impressive bike delivers style and performance, doing so at an impressive price point.
Huge Resistance Options
With the 170 you get 25 levels of eddy current resistance. Not only does this provide you with a whole lot of progressive resistance, it does so by way of smooth transitions. The high inertia perimeter weighted flywheel ensures that the cycle motion is natural and jerk free.
Lots of Program Options
The Schwinn 170 provides you with 29 workout programs. This includes two fitness tests, nine heart rate control programs, and a recovery test. You also get 4 user defined programs so you can personalize your workout.
The dual display console allows you to access a lot of information about the progression of your workout. One one display screen you have a readout of your training diagnostics, while on the other you can see your progression through the training session.
The display provides you a readout of your elapsed time, heart rate, resistance, ROM, Speed, calories, distance and time.
The 170 features extra large pedals. The seat is contoured and padded for extra comfort. A problem with the previous version has been corrected, with Schwinn increasing the foot width and bringing the pedals slightly forward.
With the benefit of a 3-speed fan, you can keep cool while you sweat.
The seat is adjustable both fore/aft and up/down, allowing you to get just the right fit.
The Schwinn 170 syncs directly to the Schwinn Connect app. This provides you with detailed analysis of your training data. It also connects you to MyFitnessPal, which allows you to track your nutrition.
Not iPod Compatible
The monitor does not allow you to plug in your iPod for playback through the speaker system.
TheU616 is the top of the line upright model from Nautilus. This high powered unit provides you with 29 workout programs, 25 levels of eddy current resistance and goal tracking and data export via the LE Nautilus Connect app.
Very Solid Build
The body of the U616 provides you with two integrated levelers to ensure that you are always working out on a solid surface. The bike also features oversized crossbar tubing and transport wheels for ease of portability.
Comfortable Riding Position
The handlebars have been ergonomically designed to provide you with an ideal seating position for your upper body. The oversized saddle has added padding to ensure a hassle free ride. The pedals are oversized deluxe, delivering an excellent contour fitting level of comfort.
Plenty of Workout Options
This bike provides you with a total of 29 programs. These include 1 quick start, 12 profile, 9 heart rate, 2 fitness tests, 1 recovery test and 4 custom programs. That makes this an ideal bike for every fitness level and every member of the family.
Lots of Resistance Variation
With 25 levels of eddy current resistance, you are able to progressively increase the intensity of your workout as you get stronger. Transitioning between resistance levels is smooth and efficient.
The data display is quite limited, only providing you with your calories, distance and time readouts.
The Schwinn 170 and the Nautilus U616 match up almost point for point in terms of their specs, features and capabilities. The glaring difference is in the display data. The Schwinn bike provides you with a lot more diagnostic training information than the Nautilus. If that is a priority for you, then you should opt for Schwinn.
On the other hand, the Nautilus U616 allows you to plug in your iPod, while the Schwinn 170 does not. With nearly every other feature being interchangeable, if you value your customized music, you may want to opt for the U616.
Recumbent Bikes: Schwinn 250 vs Nautilus U616
Recumbent Bikes are ideal for people with lower back issues who need that extra lumbar support. The horizontal positioning of the leg muscles also works them differently from the upright bike, allowing for more rounded development. Both Schwinn and Nautilus offer top of the range cycles in this category. But which is best?
The Schwinn 270 Up Close
The Schwinn 270 is the top of the line Schwinn recumbent model. This is a very impressive and solid machine. It offers all of the features of the 430 upright bike with the added benefit of enhanced back support.
A Large Workout Inventory
The 270 recumbent offers you the full 29 workout programs that you get in the 430 Upright. These include 12 profile programs, 9 heart rate control, 4 custom user defined, 2 fitness tests, 1 recovery test and a quick-start program.
The dual display and blue backlit LCD window allows you to monitor up to 13 training parameters at any one time.
Lots of Resistance Potential
You get 25 levels of eddy current resistance to allow for lots of dialing up of the intensity level. It also makes this bike suitable for all age groups and fitness levels.
Chest Strap Ready
When it comes to monitoring your heart rate, this bike provides you with hand hold sensors. But it is also telemetry strap ready. Though the chest strap is not provided, the machine is ready to go when you get one. This will give you the most accurate pulse monitoring.
Very Good Back Support
The seat bottom is padded and you get a contoured leg area for enhanced comfort. The back pad is well supported and vented to provide coolness and comfort.
The sealed acoustic chamber speakers provide you with top quality sounds.
You only get a 5-year warranty on the frame. The Mechanical and electrical warranty is for 1 year.
The Nautilus R514c Recumbent Bike in Detail
The R514c from Nautilus has been anatomically designed to contour to the body, allowing for the ideal positioning to ensure proper spinal alignment when pedaling. This impressive recumbent bike has some impressive features. Let’s check them out . . .
Range of Programs
The R514c provides you with 20 exercise programs, across the full gamut of fitness levels. This includes fitness tests, recovery programs and custom user programs.
Easy On / Off
The R514c features a comfort step-through design to make it easy to get on and off the machine. The lumbar support is fully adjustable so you can customize your level of support. You also get multi-point seat adjustments for pin-point positioning.
Advanced Pulse Monitoring Compatible
This bike is Polar telemetry heart rate monitoring system compatible. This allows for very accurate pulse rate monitoring with the purchase of a polar chest strap.
Extra Comfort Level
The pedals and seat on the R514c are both oversized for enhanced comfort levels. You also get a very good level of back support by way of the ventilated back pad.
Limited Display Options
It appears to be a bit of a trend with Nautilus bikes that the training data provided via the monitor display is rather limited. Unfortunately, the same is true of the R514c. The display is very basic, with no monitoring of RPM, Interval Times or watts.
The Nautilus R514c will cost you approximately $100 more than the Schwinn 270.
Although many of the features of these two recumbent bikes are very similar, the Schwinn 270 nudges ahead thanks to its greater range of workout programs, more in depth data feedback and lower price.
The Final Analysis
Schwinn and Nautilus are two of the leading home fitness brands on the market. They are both manufactured and marketed under the Nautilus umbrella, so naturally share many similar features. However, the 100 years o experience that Schwinn have under their belt gives them the slight edge when it comes to performance and functionality. Their bikes also have a more complete data display.
For these reasons, we recommend Schwinn as our home exercise bike winner.