If you are looking for the best exercise bike but also want to work your upper body, and only have space for one piece of kit, what you really want is an air bike. And the Schwinn Airdyne AD8 Dual Action Air Cycle should be top of the shortlist.
Why? Because an Air Bike uniquely delivers an intense cardio and strength workout in one devilishly challenging contraption and this particular Schwinn models offers one of the best riding experiences in one of the most robust packages.
Competing with the Assault Fitness AssaultBike, which is widely regarded as one of the original and still the best air bikes around, the Schwinn Airdyne AD8 blends great build quality with a quiet, smooth and incredibly taxing workout that's guaranteed to blast away the daily calorie count in record time.
Schwinn Airdyne AD8 Dual Action Air Cycle: price and availability
The Schwinn Airdyne AD8 Dual Action Air Cycle has a list price of £1,499 but head over to Fitness Superstore and it is currently available for £1,099.
With a seriously solid frame and grab handles that have been designed to withstand plenty of torque from hench users, the Schwinn Airdyne AD8 is one of the most resilient Air Bikes on the market today. It packs a fully adjustable seat (up, down, fore and aft), multiple grip handles, patented quiet fan technology and an on-board computer that plays nice with ANT+ heart rate monitors.
Product dimensions (in cm): 105.6L x 50W x 132.4H cm
Boxed weight: 60 kg
Max user weight: 160 kg
Schwinn Airdyne AD8 Dual Action Air Cycle : ergonomics
Opt to have the Airdyne AD8 delivered unassembled and there is some Ikea-style building to be done. Although the instructions are clear and the only real difficulty is hefting some of the chunkier components out of the box and into position.
Once assembled, the pro-spec piece of kit takes up a relatively small amount of space, proving no larger than a commercial exercise bike. The saddle is adjustable for height and forward/rearward tweaks thanks to simple twist lock mechanism. It's easy enough to find a comfortable position.
Arguably one of the greatest ergonomic triumphs here is the multi-position grab handles, which allow for standard overhand grips, as well as a lower underhand variant that takes a little strain off the front of shoulders.
Furthermore, there's a hammer-style grip that places more emphasis on the biceps and triceps during the push/pull movement. Pedal stroke feels pretty natural too, although keen cyclists may want to get rid of the flat, mountain bike-style pedals and replace with some clips ins. However, there's no free-wheeling here (like a fixie bike), so stopping suddenly could potentially lead injury. You have been warned.
I have also heard of owners swapping out the large and slightly uncomfortable saddle for something more performance-based, seeing as it's easy to start sliding off the front of the unit that's included.
Schwinn Airdyne AD8 Dual Action Air Cycle: ease of use
The on-board computer requires two D batteries (not included) to run, or it can be plugged into the mains with the supplied AC adaptor. This makes it easy to position somewhere suitable inside, even if you don't have a plug socket, while a set of caster wheels means you don't have to pick up the 60+kg frame.
There's a built-in drinks holder, which is rather shallow and leads to many bottles sticking out slightly, rather than sitting flush on the frame like with regular pedal and more more traditional static bikes.
The slot for slipping a phone or wallet is perfectly fine if you want these items out of the way, but most users would prefer to see their phone screen, especially if using a favoured third party fitness app. I ended up balancing my phone on the water bottle, which was protruding from its holder.
Aside from a couple of minor design faults, the Airdyne AD8 is otherwise extremely easy to use. Simply get on and start pedalling. The harder you push, the harder the bike pushes back and thanks to its hardcore fan technology, it's near-impossible to hit the upper end of the resistance scale.
Schwinn Airdyne AD8 Dual Action Air Cycle: working out
It is entirely possible to sit on the Schwinn Airdyne AD8 and casually rotate the legs for an hour while watching television, but it's not really advised. You're better off with a standard recumbent bike, turbo trainer or exercise bike for that sort of thing.
Instead, the Air Bike is best known for delivering punishing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts thanks to its inherent ability to spike the heart rate and have all the major muscle groups screaming in seemingly no time at all.
Because of this, the Schwinn Airdyne AD8 comes pre-programmed with several interval training programmes, which range from 20 seconds of sprinting and 10 seconds of rest, to more punishing 45 seconds or a minute of working time and slightly longer periods of rest.
Alternatively, there's the option to work to set parameters, such as a calorie burn target, distance or basic timer functionality. To help matters, it's really easy to pair up ANT+ heart rate monitors in order to get accurate calorie burn read-outs and to visualise the various heart rate or working zones.
If you're strapped for time and want a challenging all-over workout in as little as 20 minutes, there's nothing else like the Air Bike and the smooth running of the Schwinn Airdyne AD8 makes it really easy to ramp up the wattage and ease back off when instructed.
Schwinn Airdyne AD8 Dual Action Air Cycle: verdict
Unlike rival Air Bikes, that can be overly noisy and feel particularly prone to breaking under hard usage, the Schwinn Airdyne AD8 Dual Action Air Cycle feels very well built and its clever fan design results in fewer decibels emitted.
Granted, the fan might spoil an episode of Eastenders for a roommate under very hard loads but it is otherwise a silky smooth and squeak free riding experience. The arms feel particularly chunky and the bike doesn't even flinch when upwards of 750W are transferring through the cranks and belt drive system.
Although pricey, the Airdyne AD8 is still cheaper than the industry leading AssaultBike Elite, but I think it can more than hold its own in a head-to-head calorie-burning competition.
Schwinn Airdyne AD8 Dual Action Air Cycle: also consider
Take a look at the AssaultBike Elite for similar levels of build quality and a professional finish to the overall package. It arguably has a smoother ride but you'll pay extra for it.
Alternatively, the JTX Mission Air Bike is almost half the price bit is in no way half the bike. It's definitely worth a look if budgets are tighter. Similarly, Schwinn also offer an AD2 Air bike, which has some of the features of its bigger sibling but at a reduced cost.