For the last few years, the Assault Airbike has been considered the gold standard for fan bikes. With a sturdy frame, large fan, and good reliability, it was a substantial improvement on the wobbly Schwinn air bikes that dominated the market at the time of its release.
Now though, Schwinn has responded. With a glistening slender frame, super-reliable belt drive, and a hefty price tag to match, the Airdyne Pro is out to reclaim Schwinn’s crown.
An Overview Of These Two Popular Air Bikes
As direct competitors on the air bike market, these two bikes make for an interesting match-up. The belt drive on the Schwinn gives it the edge in performance but do its features justify the high price tag? I’m not so sure.
Spotting a gap in the market, Assault Fitness kickstarted a war between Schwinn, Xebex, and Rogue to develop the best air bike. Well-built and well-priced, the Assault bike delivers a whole-body-burning workout to anyone who dares to take it on.
Bringing with it high levels of comfort and huge popularity, the Assault Airbike has proven itself a great investment for beginners and CrossFit experts alike.
That being said, certain design flaws and strong competition have begun to chip away at Assault’s dominance, with the Rogue Echo even replacing it in the Crossfit Games (though upon comparing the two we hardly blame them).
Schwinn Airdyne Pro
The AD Pro is Schwinns prime challenger to Assault, Xebex, and Rogue. With a resilient and smooth belt drive, multi-grip handlebars, and excellent build quality, the AD Pro is a worthy addition to any garage.
The belt drive helps deliver an intense workout, whilst clever additions such as in-built levelers and the 9 preset workout programs help you make the most of your air bike session.
It will make a significant dent in your wallet but offers premium quality in droves, going toe to toe with some of the best bikes on the market.
|Assault Airbike||Schwinn Airdyne Pro|
|Footprint||23.3″ W x 50.39″ L||20″ W x 42″ L|
|Max User Weight||350lbs||350lbs|
|Drive System||Chain drive||Belt drive|
|Where to Buy?||Rogue Fitness||Rogue Fitness|
Assault Airbike vs Airdyne Pro: Key Similarities and Differences
You’ve probably gathered from doing your due diligence that many of the top air bikes are more similar than they are different (for example, the Assault Airbike and Xebex Air Bike are almost the same bike).
In fact, I don’t think it’s out of order to suggest that Rogue based the Echo Bike’s design on the AD Pro, such are the similarities. Let’s have a look in detail.
Unlike Schwinns of the past, the AD Pro belies its slender design offering stability, durability, and quality. Previous Schwinn frames have been burdened by design flaws, leveling problems, and durability issues, but there’s no sign of any of these on the AD Pro.
The mainly steel frame offers good durability and with built-in levelers, as well as enhanced structural support, the AD Pro is stable on those flat-out sprints. Moisture-repellent technology fends off sweat during those tougher sessions too.
There are a few negatives to the Schwinn frame. Whilst the bits of plastic on the frame help reduce noise, they do offer a weaker structural spot on the bike. The seat doesn’t adjust very far either, making it tougher for users over 6ft to get a decent stride length.
The Assault can certainly match the AD Pro for durability and stability. You’ll notice very little rocking as you punish it with a flat-out sprint, no matter how heavy you are.
Yet the Assault loses out to Schwinn in this department from sheer carelessness.
Too often I come across design flaws on the frame of the Assault. Issues like the seat being wobbly or bolts coming loose, whilst not serious issues in isolation, just don’t happen on premium air bikes these days. They certainly don’t happen on the AD Pro.
One aspect where Schwinn has noticeably upped their game is the introduction of a belt drive. The chain drive system seen on most modern air bikes, including the Assault, is laden with durability problems, making the Schwinn a big winner in this category.
One key difference between the two is the maintenance. Anyone who’s owned a chain-driven air bike will roll their eyes at the sight of the word “maintenance”. Lubricating, refitting, and repairing the chain can be a time-consuming and infuriatingly common task.
The belt drive fitted on the Schwinn doesn’t require such attention. It’s more durable and much more capable of standing up to heavy sprints and long endurance slogs. Max out with a chain drive and it sometimes feels like it might snap.
The noise levels differ too. Air bikes tend to be pretty loud anyway thanks to the air rushing over the fan blades causing a racket. Throw in the groaning, roaring, and creaking of a chain drive and you have a recipe for furious neighbors and bleeding eardrums. The belt drive by contrast is much nicer on the ears.
The final key difference is the ride. Whilst the belt drive is tougher to get going, it is much smoother once you get into the workout, enhancing the relentless and intense workout an air bike can give you.
Some people do prefer the instant satisfaction a chain drive can provide. It is easier to ride, and if you’re new to air bikes or beginning a CrossFit journey this can be appealing.
That being said, chain drives simply cannot stand up to belt drives in the long run. Advantage: Schwinn.
Regular readers will be well aware of my frustrations with air bike consoles.
Compared to the high-quality consoles found on Concept2 equipment or even NordicTracks’ more basic treadmills, air bike consoles just do the bare minimum. At times they do even less.
In fairness, the Schwinn console offers substantially more than its competitors. It’s packed with useful metrics and an array of workout options that can actually come in handy as you track your progress.
There are still parts Schwinn got wrong though. For one, the console is far too long. I’ve no problem with a console being big but it doesn’t feel as though Schwinn has made the most of this space, positioning different metrics in fairly random places.
You can’t view all the metrics at once either. Again, this fails to make the most of the available space and can be irritating if you are pedaling at high speed trying to manually switch between different screens.
Granted, it’s still better than the Assault’s console. Offering little info beyond calories burned, speed, and distance traveled, the Assault console is unnecessarily basic.
The lack of a backlight is a frustration too and I still haven’t figured out why companies can’t amend this.
The upshot is that the Schwinn console is marginally better than the Assault console, but neither is that great. When deciding which air bike to buy, consoles shouldn’t be a deciding factor.
Schwinn has balanced sleek, slender design with durability and stability. The AD Pro looks the part and comes with plenty of useful aesthetic features.
The in-built levelers help with stability, keeping the bike steady as you pummel it with powerful sprints. I like the well-positioned water bottle cage and phone holder on the Schwinn too. The lack of both on the Assault becomes obvious after a few workouts.
The Airdyne Pro’s multi-grip handlebars provide a comfortable grip whether you’re tall or short, almost making up for the Schwinn’s not so adjustable seat. While the Assault offers just one grip, the seat is more adjustable allowing for a wide range of heights.
The Assault by no means looks bad, but the beefier frame means it lacks that slim look the AD Pro is rocking. The color scheme is boring too. The AD Pro comes with a few design options allowing for a bit more customization.
The Assault’s tiny wheels are another point of contention for me. Many customers complain that moving the Assault around is a problem because the mobility wheels aren’t big enough. The sturdy wheels and smaller footprint of the Schwinn prevent such problems.
The AD Pro certainly defeats the Assault on the air bike catwalk. I like its design, colorways, and useful aesthetic features.
Thanks to the tendency of air bikes to throw a stack of wind in your face as you ride, both Assault and Schwinn offer wind guards to protect you from this blast of air.
Assault also offers a protective floor mat to keep your floors from getting destroyed, as well as a water bottle holder (which the Schwinn is already equipped with).
Schwinn offers no other attachments as far as I’m aware.
Pros and Cons of the Assault Airbike
- Durable steel frame
- Previously used and tested for CrossFit games
- Stable under heavy sprints
- Offers useful aftermarket attachments
- Chain drive is loud and requires maintenance
- Parts tend to come loose
Pros and Cons of the Schwinn Airdyne Pro
- Belt drive requires less maintenance and reduces noise
- Multi-grip handlebars support many grip preferences
- 9 installed workout programs
- Sleek, slender, modern design
- Plastic parts on frame could reduce durability
Assault Bike vs Schwinn Airdyne: Calories Burned
Both bikes use different formulas for measuring calories burned, affecting CrossFitters looking to burn a specific number of calories in each round.
Generally, the Assault bike appears to be stingier on counting calories than the AD Pro. It certainly seems like the calories are harder to generate and whilst no exact conversion rate exists, I would estimate the AD Pro calculates a rate of 1.1-1.3 calories to every 1 calorie on the Assault.
Which is Better for CrossFit: Assault Airbike or Airdyne Pro?
Despite the Assault being used for CrossFit in the past, the AD Pro’s belt drive helps it deliver a more brutal and intense workout, which is a big draw for many CrossFit athletes. The drive is more durable too which is better for CrossFitters who will test the bike with some heavy usage.
There is also an issue with ghost calories on the Assault. When you stop riding the handlebars can keep going, meaning the bike counts calories you never burned. This is less prominent on the Schwinn, giving it increased accuracy for the more perfectionist CrossFitters.
Better built and with less maintenance required, I would choose the Schwinn Airdyne over the Assault bike for CrossFit.
What About the Airbike Pro and Airbike Elite?
The two upgraded models of the Assault bike come with enhanced features which allow users to customize their workouts and obtain a more powerful training experience.
An upgraded frame on each improves durability whilst the more hi-tech consoles (finally!) offer more metrics to track your workout, greater customization of existing workouts, and high levels of connectivity.
There’s no doubt that both are more suitable for ardent CrossFitters, however, both do come at a higher price than the Schwinn Airdyne.
Assault Airbike vs Schwinn Airdyne Pro: Which Should You Get?
Which is better? The Schwinn.
Which should you get? The Assault.
Both are good offerings that deliver all the benefits you want from an air bike. Both ruin your legs, both are durable, and both will leave you gasping for air. The Assault just does all this for a significantly lower price.
The Schwinn does take the edge in most of our categories, but only just. It certainly is a better machine than the Assault, but the slight edge doesn’t quite justify the higher price tag.