We've all been there: You're in your favorite SoulCycle spot (shout-out to Bike 15 at East 63rd Street in New York City), cruising along to the beat until the instructor tells you to "add two turns to the right." Those two turns slow you right down—as they should—but you can't help but notice that the rider to your left added two turns and seems unaffected.
It may have to do with fitness levels—but it may also be the bike. A quarter-turn to the right isn't the same on Bike 15 as it is on Bike 16, or on Bike 15 at a different location. That's not the case for long, though.
Starting this month, SoulCycle is rolling out brand-new bikes featuring enhanced design features and dozens of carefully calculated adjustments—all meant to guarantee you a smoother ride.
"We're always looking for ways to innovate and upgrade our riders' experiences with us," SoulCycle CEO Melanie Whelan says of the new equipment. It's part of a flurry of upgrades in the indoor cycling world—Flywheel's new energy-powered, battery-and-wire-free bikes have already popped up at its Williamsburg location, Peloton recently launched a commercial bike (which you can find in Westin hotels across the country), and Cyc's first-ever branded, customized bikes debut in studios this summer.
"We're 11 years old and many of our riders have been with us that long. It's our job to continue to surprise, delight, and up the game every time they come into the studio," Whelan says.
The last bike redesign was in 2012—and these new-and-improved rides will debut in New York City studios this month, and a 6,000-bike nationwide rollout expected to be complete within 18 months, "if not sooner," says Whelan.
So what do you need to know about SoulCycle's new bikes before you clip in? I went for a test drive to find out.
The handlebars have been tweaked to improve your workout
The first thing I notice when I walk into the instructor's lounge at SoulCycle HQ and see the new aluminum bike—dubbed Soul Bike Next Gen and designed in collaboration with Stages Indoor Cycling—is that it looks bigger than the current bikes.
It's really not. The overall dimensions are similar, but the new ergonomically designed handlebars are the most visible update. "We spent the most time on the handlebars and the different adjustments you can make with them," says Whelan.
Basically, there's no getting lazy during standing jogs now.
"They're designed for the comfort of the rider as well as the choreography of the workout," she says. "The grips and grooves are better, the positioning is better, and the angle of the front of the handlebars is better for your posture and spine."
In position one, there's a small bump to allow for wrist comfort and a more relaxed upper body. And in position two, the team added small indents for riders to settle their hands into. This is meant to provide more stability and comfort—and it does.
So, basically, there's no getting lazy during standing jogs now—you know exactly where your hands should be without the temptation to cheat them forward into a slightly more relaxed position three.
You now have more options for adjusting your seat
The current SoulCycle bikes offer three adjustments: seat height, seat depth, and handlebar height. The new bikes also let riders adjust the handlebar depth. As someone who has always struggled with wanting my seat far enough back that my hips are in alignment with my knees but not so far back that I can't reach the handlebars for seated tricep presses, this addition is key.
The seat post also features smaller adjustment increments allowing for a more precise fit. And as a rider who loathes having to pause mid-ride to re-tighten my saddle or handlebars, that shouldn't be a problem on Next Gen. The FitLoc spring-loaded levers on all four adjustment points hold everything in place using pressure points (rather than threads) for a more precise fit that locks into place.
The ride is much smoother, and more consistent
A magnetic belt system replaces the old chain-based wheel —and not only does it feel smooth, it's also much quieter. So, no more squeaky wheels in class. And the magnetic system is key to solving that Bike 15 vs. The Rest of the Room dilemma—and it should provide more bike-to-bike uniformity in the studios (AKA two turns for you is two turns for, say, SoulCycle superfan Lucy Hale).
As the bikes begin to arrive in studios, Whelan suggests arriving to class a little earlier than you normally would to figure out your new fit. And get ready to really feel the burn: "After the test rides, there were so many stories of riders being sore in new places or challenged in places they hadn't been in a while," says Whelan. (So start planning your post-sweat recovery sesh now.)
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