Keiser M3i and Plus Comparison | Worth The Investment?

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image of Keiser M3 bike in black

Keiser M3 Use Patented Technology Not Found In Competing Brands

Our local gyms own mostly Cybex-branded equipment.

The Cybex is bulletproof stuff, designed for the local meatheads to test their mettle against.

But what do you use when you need something better than commercial-quality gym equipment?

You go with Keiser.

For 40 years, they have been at the top of the industry. In fact, 80% of professional sports teams use Keiser equipment.  

Keiser is the sole brand used by LA Fitness.

Welcome to the next level.

With over 225,000 of their indoor cycles sold, let’s dive in and see how they stack up.

10-second Review Summary:

Designed for commercial use, the M3 line could be one of the most durable cycles on the market with a realistic feel, infinite resistance adjustments, and possibly the quietest model and a robust warranty. The V-shape frame adjusts from 4’10” to 7′.

However, it comes up short for those riders seeking Garmin or Zwift ANT+ integration (M3i only). You are limited to one iOS app for exercise tracking. 

M3 Models Available To Purchase (October 2017)


There are several different versions available to purchase. Here is the quick side-by-side comparison chart:

M3 M3 PlusM3iM3ix

  • Basic Model

  • Handlebar does not move horizontally, only moves in 45-degree track. This is only a drawback for cyclists who need to practice an aggressive,
    aerodynamic riding position.


  • Same As Basic With 4-Way Handlebar And Seat Adjustment to offer more "aggressive"
    riding stances for pro athletes.

  • Limited Online Availability


  • Connects to M Series Fitness App or BKOOL

  • Great way to track workouts on iOS

  • 4 Way Handlebar And Seat Adjustment


  • Connects to M Series Fitness App or BKOOL

  • Great way to track workouts on iOS

  • 4 Way Handlebar And Seat Adjustment

  • Includes X-bar that allows for greater upper core workout

What Dave Loves About The Keiser M3 Line

Sturdiness

Sturdiness is one of the top features of it. The frame is constructed purely of steel and has a rear flywheel. The rear flywheel eliminates that wobbly sensation that cheaper front-flywheel bikes suffer from. The machine is tested to last 30 million cycles, guaranteeing years of training reliability.

You have basically no maintenance requirements with this machine.

For rust prevention, channels have been added to this model to deflect sweat from damaging your bike  The front side of the machine also features wheels, for easy-to-move situations. All you have to do is grab the handlebars and pull the machine.

The front side of the machine also features wheels, making it easy to move away for storage. All you have to do is grab the handlebars and pull the machine. This is further enhanced by its small size and 8lb flywheel, making it an ideal choice for the space-conscious athlete.

Revolutionary Magnetic Resistance System

The lightweight flywheel (8 lbs) makes it easier on leg joints and lets you start at a much lower resistance, making this a top choice for rehab-type situations  and arthritic patients (don’t worry, it also goes up to a professional level of difficulty)

But, from there, you have 24 different levels — on a magnetic resistance system — for an almost infinite range of workout levels. The M3 indoor cycle’s proprietary eddy magnetic system provides a smoother, quieter and more peaceful ride.

Many of the competitors also offer a magnetic system, but they are retrofitting their lower end bikes to emulate Keiser’s system. Keiser is the forerunner in the field and the end result is a quieter, more durable bike.

The Shimano combo pedals are SPD compatible for spin bike compatible shoes. So, if you prefer a cycling shoe over a tennis shoe, then you do have that option and will be able to use both sides of the pedal combo. The seat is adjustable and goes both vertically and horizontally. Seating is reportedly comfortable and feels like memory foam.

Comfort

The seat is adjustable and easily moves both vertically and horizontally, making it easy for the whole family to get the proper fit. 

Seating is reportedly comfortable and feels like memory foam. However, you can also purchase a standard bicycle seat to replace the original seat, should it not work for you.

With all of the models, the handlebars and seat adjust to help you find a comfortable, mostly upright position.

A gravity-based water bottle is also conveniently on board and does not require a cage for support. One downside is the fact that the water bottle holder is mounted in the ‘sweat zone,’ and may capture some of your salty “essence” during your workout.

Easy Home Assembly And Maintenance

You should be able to assemble this bike just fine if you have a set of wrenches. The most maintenance that you will see with this model (other than a quick wipedown after you are done exercising) is the belt replacement belt on the belt drive system.

But don’t worry, the belt will not require replacing for quite some time.

Backlit Display With Cadence (and Power!)

LCD Feature Overview From Keiser’s own sales flyer

The built-in computer is designed to monitor and display your cadence, along with resistance levels. You will notice your basic stats such as time, distance, or calories that you have burned.

The large LCD screen is easy-to-read in any light.

While most other indoor bikes feature a cycling computer, very few will track both your cadence and resistance levels. With the on-screen resistance option, you will be enabled to enter the resistance of your choosing manually.

There has been discussed through the years as to the accuracy of the power readouts. As the years have gone by, the consensus is that this unit has improved to provide a reasonably accurate

If you have ever been to a Spin class, you’ll know that the Spinner bikes have a manual tension knob and do not typically provide a clear difficulty level so you are forced to guess on how hard you are exercising, based on “perceived exertion”.

Those models are known to keep you guessing, and who wants to do that?

The M3 allows you to you easily choose the correct level. 

The data consoles on the machine are powered by D batteries but do not use electrical outlets. A wireless heart rate monitoring system gives you a more accurate reading than a cheaper indoor bicycle.

Users can also purchase chest straps separately.

Robust Warranty

One of the other beautiful things is the warranty. You are granted a 10-year warranty on the frame, a 3-year warranty for mechanical issues, 3-year brake warranty, and 3-year electronics warranty.

It does not cover a labor warranty, and if that concerns you. You should know that this model has been designed so that the owner can replace warrantied parts on their own without the need for a service technician.

Downsides

For the most part, it has very few flaws. It is designed for the fitness center who has gotten tired of constantly shelling out for more repairs on their group workout class cycles.

Few of my readers will be able to afford this model, but, for the serious athlete with deep pockets, it offers a robust, year-round exercise

Unlike the more gimmicky models you see advertised on Facebook, this one does not feature any built-in exercise programs.

There has been some discussion of the wider “Q-Factor” (that’s the distance between your feet when you are pedaling. Apparently, this one has a 7 and 3/4″ measurement between the pedals while much of the industry uses a 7 and 1/2″ measurement.

Unless you are a racer with super-narrow feet, you’ll appreciate the extra room for your wider tennis shoe width.

Shorter riders might find the handlebars a little harder to reach. The non-adjustable handlebars were Keiser’s biggest mistake in the making of the M3. (A deficiency that they correct with the M3i)

Conclusion

As I wrap up this Keiser M3 review, it is a proven, made in the USA choice. And most users have given it rave reviews. It quickly becomes a staple in the home gym and the cornerstone of the busy professional’s daily fitness routine.  With it, you’ve got a sturdy body of steel, tested to 30 million cycles and a whisper-quiet workout that lets you watch TV or listen to podcasts while you pedal (or chat with the spouse).  Many customers have enjoyed the quietness of this machine. The bike has that fantastic resistance system, which many other bikes lack.

With it, you’ve got a sturdy body of steel, tested to 30 million cycles and a whisper-quiet workout that lets you watch TV or listen to podcasts while you pedal.  Many customers have enjoyed the quietness of this machine. The bike has that fantastic resistance system, which many other bikes lack.

And, depending on how much you want to spend, you can also get power measurements and Bluetooth integration.

However, it comes up short by not offering pre-loaded workouts or Garmin integration.

Sure, there are cheaper ways to get your sweat on. But after you’ve  been on hold with tech support for the tenth time in a month, was it worth it? You’re an athlete, not a mechanic.

Top-level, gym quality with over 300,000 sold.

Brief Comparison With Other Top Brands

Versus the Keiser M3i

Both bikes have the lightweight, rear flywheel with magnetic resistance.  The M3i is also compact for easy maneuverability.

The M3i is also quiet and nearly maintenance free. It also features backlighting, the ability to monitor watts (power, RPM, the time elapsed while riding, and heart rate.

There are a few notable differences. The M3i features Bluetooth capabilities and a free app. Bluetooth allows you to pair your machine with an iOS mobile device.

You can to store your workout results and analyze them, but you might also notice that you will not have the capability to download other internet accounts and can not share your accomplishments with friends.

The M3i does have fully adjustable handlebars, unlike the M3. The water bottle holder onboard is situated in a different location. You will find the water bottle holder at the bottom of the frame, which moves it out of your sweat zone and while still keeping it within easy reach.

There is a safety feature that I appreciate about this model.

The seating area has pre-set holes on the adjustment pole. If your seat is not secure, it will only slip down to the next nearest hole.

VS. the Schwinn AC

There are not many similarities. The AC does have Virtual Contact resistance technology. Virtual Contact resistance allows the strong magnets on either side of the aluminum flywheel to apply resistance. It also uses a six magnet resistance on either side of the aluminum flywheel.

That kind of resistance frequently provides a smooth ride and consistent resistance, preventing it from slipping. The AC model has a chain-drive system, and most users do not appreciate having to deal with it. The chain-drive requires some adjusting to correct the problem, which takes time away from your working out.

The AC is designed to mimic the professional-quality indoor bike designs but is not commonly used by the flashiest of group classes. However, it has one of the best ANT+ integrations available with Garmin and other workout trackers. 

VS. the Lifefitness Lifecycle GX

Again, this machine also features a flywheel at the back, a belt drive, console, and it looks good, too. Those are the main similarities.  Lifecycle has a few differences, such as a multi-ribbed belt that provides a more secure grip for the flywheel when sprinting, which prevents slipping. The GX’s Q Factor  (width between pedals) is a little more narrow, which allows for a more comfortable fit for some riders.

A solid (and similar) competitor. Many gyms choose between this one and the Keiser M3 indoor cycle.

The handlebars are a little easier to use, with a more traditional shape.  The GX also allows a 350 lb weight limit, compared to the 300 lb limit that the M3 gives to you.

The Lifecycle also weighs more, coming in at 116 pounds to the M3’s 85 pounds. 

It also uses magnetic eddy for resistance, with a flywheel that weighs slightly more at 8.89 pounds.

VS. the Proform Tour De France

The Tour De France has had many reports of building problems, computer issues, and poor technical support. Not to mention, the Tour De France is for more serious users who are looking for high-quality training purposes. If you are in search for a great workout and weight-loss control with ease of use, you will want to stick with Keiser’s M3.

Although the Tour De France has a built-in sound system for an iPod or MP3 player, a Google Maps feature for custom trips and workouts, an Intelligent Wind Resistance System for automatically adjusting the bike’s resistance levels. The adjustments enable users to simulate the effects of hills and even wind. Unlike the M3, it also features premade workouts, or you can create one of your own with Google Maps.

VS. the CycleOps 100 Pro

The 100 Pro looks very similar. Although the M3 has a more modern design, the CycleOps looks more like a traditional bike for whatever that is worth, and it is a brand well-known to most cyclists. The 100 Pro has little to no wobble. One major similarity was the 100 Pro’s freewheel hub. While your feet keep moving as long as the flywheel is turning, you can make it easier to rest between workouts.

A louder bike, but a top pick for cycling-focused athletes due to the name recognition.