The ProForm 290 SPX is a basic, affordable alternative to gym-grade exercise bikes. It provides an effective means of cardiovascular training, calorie burning and endurance training, but the 290 SPX falls short of commercial quality due to comfort and noise issues.
Quiet for a chain-drive system. While many owners say the ProForm 290 SPX offers performance on par with the spinning bikes found at many gyms, and does so without breaking the bank, there are plenty who wish it had a better resistance system. The bike offers smooth pedaling and quiet operation for using a chain drive and friction pad resistance, but it's noisy compared to magnetic resistance systems and reports indicate that it may get noisier over time. Despite its low price tag and 250-pound weight capacity, users say the bike seems well balanced with a sturdy, durable frame.
Simplicity is key. With only six bolts to tighten, the 290 SPX is easy to assemble; like a real bike, it comes with no digital display or on-board electronics. The seat and handlebar height are adjustable, but a few shorter owners say they couldn't adjust the bike to fit them well. If the seat is uncomfortable, users can simply swap it out using the included tool for one of several common bicycle seats that fit the 290 SPX. Pedaling resistance is adjustable with a short turn of a knob found on the frame, and the pedals include toe cages to increase stability and efficiency while riding. The bike comes with a bottle holder and wheels to easily maneuver it from storage.
Easy maintenance. While some owners report noise coming from the drive chain cover, this doesn't appear to be a serious problem or affect function; chain-driven bikes just tend to make more noise than their belt-driven counterparts. However, a few users say the chain falls off the sprockets and others claim the bike develops a squeal or hum, which is common with friction pad resistance systems. Yet unlike many exercise bikes that use magnetic or viscoelastic fluid resistance systems, the 290 SPX's drive components can easily be maintained or replaced by the owner. Over time, the resistance pads will wear out and need replacement; it's a simple matter and pads are readily available.
Hello, is anyone home? Owner reviews of ProForm's customer service aren't flattering, with many calling it poor to nonexistent. Among the typical negative posts we found, one Amazon.com customer says, "I've yet to reach their customer service department. I was on hold one evening for over an hour (yes an hour!!) before finally giving up." Overall, most issues are resolved through the retailer rather than the manufacturer. The warranty covers the 290 SPX frame for five years, and 90 days for parts and labor.
The ProForm 290 SPX gets 3.6 stars out of 5 after more than 200 reviews at Amazon.com. While most user posts are brief, the large number of contributors gives potential buyers a great picture of what to expect from the bike. Reviewers are disappointed in the chain drive system, with several claiming it falls off frequently, but most agree that for $300 the bike is a decent -- but not great -- deal.
Review: ProForm 290 SPX Indoor Cycle Trainer, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2013
At Buzzillions.com, which adds customer reviews from other sites to original posts, more than 50 users give the 290 SPX an overall rating of 4.2 stars out of 5. The most typical comments call the bike easy to use, easy to set up and adjustable. However, several owners make note of the noisy chain drive.
Review: ProForm 290 SPX Indoor Cycling Bike, Contributors to Buzzillions.com, As of October 2013
This certified personal trainer formerly ranked the ProForm 290 SPX as the best exercise bike for less than $500, but it has since dropped out of the top spot. Thares' review is just a paragraph long and notes only vague positive points; there's no information on how exercise bikes are evaluated.
Review: ProForm 290 SPX Indoor Cycle Trainer, Arthur Thares, Jan. 16, 2012