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STORIES FROM THE 44TH PARALLEL

Freelance Writer & Photographer in Michigan

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  • Marianne Kuzimski

My Possessed Exercise Bike

Updated: Feb 2

It sits stoic and bold in my living room. Just the looks of this machine promises health benefits beyond your wildest imagination. Easy to mount with a big seat and a giant, digital readout, you can pick one of the many pre-programmed rides to kick your ass, or go online

and join a virtual cycling class to have someone scream at you to pedal harder from miles away.


My NordicTrack exercise bike looks bad-ass and sits like a new car with leather seats, but it has been a big piece of shit since I bought it!


I think it is possessed.


I’m telling you what… it is really hard to find a quality piece of exercise equipment that won’t break the bank. Even if you spend extra for a name you THINK you can trust, it can be really disappointing when the equipment winds up being junk.


With a name brand, you automatically believe you will get a quality piece of equipment that will last you for years and years. You also believe you will get great service of said equipment, but that is just not the case for me.


I didn’t start out signing up for an expensive stationary bike. Believe me, I tried several units through the years trying to find one I liked. After trying a few el-cheapo’s, the first big money I spent on an exercise bike was around $300 on a unit from Dunham’s.


This one was pretty easy to get into the seat having a step through area (like my current bike) instead of having to mount it like a horse. And the seat seemed pretty comfortable when trying it in the store. It was also simple to position for riding between users, which was a bonus, so I decided to give it a try.


Like shoes and pillows, a comfy exercise bike is really hard to find. What seemed like a comfortable seat ended up not so comfortable after riding for 15 minutes. The tension on the bike also seemed a bit hard, and the program choices weren’t so great, either, but I rode it until it broke.


Deciding to go SUPER CHEAP since it would probably be another uncomfortable ride anyway, I picked up a $99 special at Walmart.


Just as uncomfortable as imagined, I hoped that the wheel tension would loosen up after putting some miles on it. After a few months of riding it still didn’t loosen up, but I had finally built up enough leg strength to ride a full 30 minutes straight. I also discovered that a fan blowing on me, full-speed, really helped.


The el-cheapo used 4 D-sized batteries in the console, which were a huge pain to switch out when they died. For an extra $50, I could order a 110V plug that would eliminate the batteries, but I didn’t want to spend another dime on this crappy bike, so I gave the bike away and decided to order a “Good Bike.” One that would last forever…


In 2017, I googled the best exercise bikes and came across a photograph of the possessed unit I now own.


“Wow, a NordicTrack!” I thought. “That’s a name you can trust.”

I got my credit card out and paid $799.00 for the bike plus shipping and tax. It was supposed to come in pieces, so I paid an additional $249.00 to have the “White Glove Expert Assembly.”


Guaranteeing my new, fancy exercise bike would be shipped within 2 weeks, I should have known what kind of trouble it would be when it didn’t show up for 2 months. It took so long to get here you would’ve thought I lived on another planet!


Finally, two guys showed up at my house taking over 2 hours to put that sucker together. It was complicated, and after they left, I felt very happy I paid extra for expert assembly.


Thinking everything checked out just fine, it wasn’t until trying the first program that I ran into problems.


Not only was the pedal tension extremely difficult from the get-go (just like my el-cheapo), when I hit the first hill in the program, the tension went from difficult to impossible… automatically climbing to the hardest setting on the bike.


“What is going on?!” I yelled at the screen, punching the minus button as fast as I could to relieve the tension.


Opting to try it without using a program, the bike did the same thing… randomly shooting the tension up to the highest intensity after just a few minutes riding. I also noticed that the blood pressure sensors in the left hand grip did not work at all, so I emailed the company and told them the problems.


The company ended up sending me a new electronic console that I now had to install myself, or pay to have someone come up to northern Michigan again… which would mean they might get to it in a couple of months.


Prior experience demanded I do it myself.


When it arrived, my husband helped disassemble the handlebars and run the new wires for the console and BP monitors into the grips. We carefully screwed it all back together without pinching any wires.


Not an easy fix, but the tension wasn’t going crazy anymore, and the BP sensors on both grips worked. However, the new console did not fix the starting tension for a free cycle mode, so using one of the cycling programs was out of the question. It is so tough to pedal, in fact, that when visitors decide to take it for a spin, the first thing they ask is how to make it pedal easier.


Instead of calling for another fix, I decided to live with the bike the way it was.


We soon realized that the new BP sensors were too long for the grooves in the handgrips. They kept popping out to hang annoyingly off the handles, so one day my husband decided to cut them shorter so they fit. This helped, but the left side continually worked its way out of the groove every couple of days like it was also wider than it should’ve been.


My husband kept saying, “I’ll glue that in there before someone gets hurt on it.”


Then one day, that someone was my husband.


He walked too close to the bike and the next thing you know, he’s gushing blood all over the house.


Yes… GUSHING! There was so much blood and it wouldn’t stop bleeding that we worried he had sliced an artery. So I made a tourniquet for his arm and rushed him to an emergency clinic for stitches.

Five of them!


Luckily, it was just a bad cut. No arteries severed.


Afterward, the BP sensor was treated with a sizable amount of heavy-duty, Gorilla Glue, and we have been using the bike nearly every day since.


Even though this fancy-schmancy bike is a bitch to pedal, I continued slogging along in an effort to get my money’s worth. But the latest b.s. involving this possessed exercise bike has just about earned it a free trip out to the road for garbage pickup. In fact, if it wasn’t so heavy I’d throw the sucker out the door myself just for the satisfaction of throwing the damn thing!


So this is what happened…


We moved the bike out of the living room for the upcoming holidays, but when we moved it back, I accidently mixed up the 110V plug from another gadget, and fried the console.

What’s ironic is that just days before this happened I had received an email from NordicTrack letting me know how important it was to keep my equipment in good working order. I could get a tune-up on my ‘investment’ for just $136.00… a super-duper, holiday special!


I signed up for the deal and let them know that I had broke the console by plugging in the wrong 110V plug. The company confirmed my payment and informed me that someone would call to schedule service within 7-10 business days. And we’ve been using Mom‘s exercise bike ever since.


After 6 weeks of emails to the company asking WHEN someone would be calling, I finally got a response saying here’s a number for you to call and schedule service if you don’t want to wait for them to call you.


I was so excited that I didn’t care anymore that I had been waiting since December 1st for service and it was the 2nd week of January. Finally, my exercise bike would be fixed and I could also have them look at the pedal tension while they were here.


It only took 4 days for the fix-it guy to show up. He let me know up front that he was NOT an employee of Icon Fitness.


Then he asked me, “So what’s the problem?”


“Don’t you already know?” I asked, feeling a little nervous and thinking, "You mean you aren't going to be able to fix my bike after all this time?"


Patiently, I explained what happened and waited for him to go ahead and get started with his tools.


Instead, he asked, “So did the company send you a new console?”


“No,” I said. “Didn’t they send you one?” I asked. My patience with this bike has been phenomenal, but it was quickly waning at this poor guys expense.


I soon found out that the fix-it guy was at the receiving end of another unhappy customer’s wrath. The brand named, high QUALITY, exercise bike I had purchased was a big piece of JUNK, and the service on said JUNK was worthless.


The guy informed me that if my bike was now out of warranty, the console replacement could cost nearly as much as I paid for the bike… plus the cost of his time to install it. Not to mention any added labor and parts for checking the pedal tension.


How frustrating.


Deciding that maybe all exercise bikes suck in one way or another, we opted to go ahead and order the new console and a 110V replacement plug (just to be safe) for $314.08 to install ourselves. Hopefully the owner’s manual can guide us through adjusting the pedal tension so it’s not so hard to pedal anymore.


I sure hope this fixes it, because I obviously don't know how to pick a good exercise bike!

So my question to you is, just how do you pick out a GOOD exercise bike? Or are they all possessed?








#exercisebikes #brandnames #equipment #nordictrack


Thanks so much for reading!


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