There’s a lot to like about Renpho’s indoor bike. It's a relatively cheap upright exercise bike that’s easy to set up and use, and it delivers a smooth, sturdy and quiet ride. The companion app could be more polished, but the option to pair with third-party training apps including Zwift make this a versatile good-value option.
- Great value
- Easy to set up and use
- Includes Zwift subscription
- Short power cable
- Not as good-looking as other bikes
- Companion app is limited
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If you’re in the market for a connected indoor bike, you’ll no doubt have discovered that many of the best exercise bikes from the likes of Peloton and Echelon require a costly monthly membership to make the most of your purchase. If you’re on a budget, significant ongoing costs of up to $35/£30 every month are very offputting.
Enter the Renpho AI Smart Exercise Bike. This sub-$600/£600 piece of kit comes with a free companion app which calibrates your workouts to your fitness level, but can also be used as a standalone exercise bike for self-directed workouts. It’s Bluetooth-enabled and compatible with other popular cycling apps, including Zwift which, while also a paid-for app, is much more affordable than smartbike-brand subscriptions. It can even connect to the iOS Peloton app, although the connectivity is more limited.
Renpho AI Smart Exercise Bike: Price And Availability
The Renpho AI Smart Bike costs $599.99 in the US and £599 in the UK, with free shipping and a one-year warranty. It’s available to buy online from Renpho and Amazon.
The bike is regularly discounted so if you’re not in a rush it’s worth biding your time and tracking the price. It’s gone as low as $425 on Amazon US and in the UK it was reduced to £449.99 during Black Friday 2021.
The AI Gym companion app is free, and the bike can also be paired with other third-party training apps. I tested it with Zwift, which costs $14.99/£12.99 a month, and Peloton’s app-only membership which is $12.99/£12.99.
How I Tested This Bike
I tested the Renpho AI Smart Exercise Bike for a little more than a month, connecting it both with the AI Gym app and Zwift, as well as using it for free cycle training sessions. I also connected it to the Peloton app to confirm that it worked as advertised.
The Renpho AI Smart Bike has a fairly traditional design – it’s a solidly built, upright-style exercise bike with enclosed wheels. It may not be the most stylish set-up you’ve ever seen, but the black and grey frame is fairly compact and won’t take up too much floor space.
The box is heavy, but the bike was easy to put together, taking me only 30 minutes from opening the box to hopping on for my first ride. The bike does have wheels on the frame so it can manoeuvred in and out of a corner, but the power cable isn’t the longest, so it’s best to set the bike up next to a socket or somewhere that you can tuck an extension lead away.
There’s no built-in display on the bike, which is to be expected at this price. There’s a shelf that you can slot your phone or tablet into, and a USB port on the back which you can use to charge your device while you exercise. There’s also a water bottle holder within easy reach.
The handlebar, seat height and seat distance are adjustable, and likely to accommodate most riders (the maximum user weight is 265lb/120kg). The saddle is soft, squishy and designed more for comfort than performance, which will suit beginners and casual riders but may frustrate those who favour a harder seat. The pedals are flat with adjustable straps.
In the middle of the handlebars is a round LCD touchscreen for scrolling through various metrics (RPM, power, cadence, calories). There’s also a physical dial which adjusts the resistance during free rides (this is automatically adjusted for you when paired with some third-party apps such as Zwift, but not Peloton).
The bike uses Bluetooth to connect to devices, and it paired quickly and reliably with the companion AI Gym app on my iPhone, and Zwift on my phone and laptop.
The quality of the bike was impressive, and it was sturdy and stable to ride. The freewheel is set to mimic coasting along on an outdoor bicycle and as a result feels very smooth. It’s also quiet enough that you could work out late at night and won’t wake the rest of the household.
I slotted my phone into the holder on the bike when I was using the AI Gym app and it stayed in place throughout my workout. For Zwift, I put my laptop on a table in front of the bike, which worked well even though the size of the screen inhibited the immersive effect. I imagine you’d upgrade the experience significantly by using a larger tablet or casting to a TV.
AI Gym Companion App
The free AI Gym app is pretty simple compared with the competition, but it does offer more than 70 workout options at no extra cost. There are scenic rides and pre-set workouts targeting goals such as burning fat, or building endurance or strength. There are also on-demand classes where an instructor puts you through your paces, as well as challenges where you’re paired with users of a similar capability to ride with.
When you first log in to the AI Gym app, you’ll be invited to complete a Cycling Power Test. This is used to determine your functional threshold power (FTP), which dictates the difficulty level of pre-installed workouts.
If the AI Gym app doesn’t float your boat, there are more options. The Renpho AI Smart Exercise Bike can be used with a number of third-party training platforms, the most attractive of which is Zwift. Any cyclist worth their salt knows about Zwift, but if you're not that experienced Coach’s Zwift review explains why it's a great way for anyone to get fit.
I tested the bike in late autumn, and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Zwift landscapes without having to venture out when it was wet, cold and dark. The bike automatically cranks up the resistance when you’re on an incline, as well as letting you freewheel down hills, making the experience immersive and satisfying.
I hit a few snags when first trying to connect the bike with Zwift. Although it paired immediately, the resistance wouldn’t change during my first ride and my avatar moved at a glacial pace despite my efforts. After searching on various forums, I resolved the issue by reloading the AI Gym app and enabling a wireless firmware update. Once that was done, it worked without issue.
The iOS Peloton app is listed as compatible and bargain hunters may eye the Renpho bike with a view to getting the Peloton experience on a budget. The app does connect to the bike, but it treats it as a cadence sensor. Your cadence stats will be displayed on screen and saved to your profile, but it won’t display or control the resistance on your bike as it will on Zwift.
Is The Renpho Smart Bike Worth It?
The Renpho AI Smart Exercise Bike is a great, entry-level option that’s well suited to casual riders or those just starting out. The free companion app does the job, the set-up is relatively straightforward, and the bike itself offers a smooth and sturdy experience.
Renpho’s ability to connect with a range of third-party training apps, chiefly Zwift and to a lesser extent Peloton, earns it a big thumbs-up, particularly at this price. Dedicated cyclists with more cash to splash will be better served by expensive smart exercise bikes from the likes of Wahoo or Wattbike, or the best turbo trainers, which provide a more sophisticated set-up.
For most people who just want to exercise at home, the bike offers great value, particularly to those who don’t want to be locked into monthly membership fees.
Sarah is an experienced health, fitness, nutrition and beauty writer, and was previously health editor at BBC Good Food. She has contributed reviews, interviews and features to Coach since 2019, covering exercise bikes, fitness trackers and apps, among other topics. In her free time, she can be found hiking, swimming, cycling or trying (and failing) to do a headstand on a yoga mat.