Air bikes, they’re a love to hate kind of thing. If you’ve never ridden one, the best way to explain the feeling of going full out for a minute or so, probably resembles something like getting kicked in the legs by a bunch of Muay Thai boxers for about as long. After the lactic acid starts building up, (and it will, fast) it will be soon be followed by a “F this machine.” and a strange desire to want to do this to yourself more often.
It just hurts so good.
As a training tool, air bikes fit all types of purposes from anaerobic to recovery use. It’s no wonder why Dave Castro decided to start adding them into CrossFit™ workouts, all the way up to the Games level. Now, air bikes have been around for years, they’re definitely not a new thing according to my Schwinn™ Airdyne from the 70’s, but there just hasn’t been any that would take the abuse affiliates (no commercial warranty either) up until recently with the release of the Assault Air Bike a couple years ago. Since then, you would have thought a ton of companies would have tried to steal a piece of the market share by now, but there hasn’t been much change in this segment up until about a year ago now when GetRxd started selling the Xebex Fitness Air Bike. Xebex Fitness, who? Not a household name, so getting the word out there about this bike hasn’t been easy, but it’s definitely a hidden gem.
I remember when Assault Air Bike got that reaction too.
If you look at the two bikes side by side, you’re going to notice the differences way before you see the similarities, but there are actually more of the latter. The biggest change is the curved shape of the handle bars as opposed to the more straight ones on the Assault. I prefer this because I remember the Assault’s handles coming close to my knees when I pedaled. On top of that, the Xebex includes some thoughtful additions to the way that the bars link up to the rest of the unit in the way of a ball joint so that when the bars shift around side to side from hard pedaling, there won’t be as much stress at that area. It sounds like something minor, but considering the abuse that the bike will see in the a busy affiliate, you’ll want as much durability as you can get. You also have the option to adjust the range of motion of the bars, mainly so you can dial in exactly to where the Assault is.
Build quality otherwise is excellent, not saying the Assault’s was bad in the first place because I can’t speak to that. The steel is very heavy gauge, it’s got reinforced pieces almost all around the bike; even the liveliest pedaling doesn’t really move the bike much at all.
Another major difference between the two bikes is the monitor. Personally I wasn’t thrilled about the monitor found on the Assault, but it worked so it was never a big deal to me. I thought it could be laid out a little better and just look a bit more polished. As for the Xebex bike, size wise it’s almost double the width of the Assaults, but that leads to a more easy to read and better laid out display. I think the main reason people will continue to purchase the Assault bike over the Xebex is because they’re worried, I was too, about how the Xebex computes it’s calories and distance. GetRxd assures me that it uses the exact algorithm to measure as the Assault bike does. It’s been about a year since I’ve used an Assault bike, but to me it feels the same. It takes me about 45 seconds to gun out 15 calories, and that’s accurate cross referencing it to a friend with an Assault bike. While you won’t be able to use these for actual CrossFit™ events, you can still train for them without worrying about statistics not adding up the same.
UPDATE: I’ve been informed that you can actually plug and play the Xebex’s monitor to the Assault Air Bike and vice versa. According to this year’s CrossFit Open for workout 16.4, it states “Rower that counts calories, similar in type and calibration to a Concept 2”. This is extremely important because if CrossFit ever decides to use an air bike in the Open setting using these same stipulations, the Xebex Air Bike would most definitely be allowed to be used. In this case, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t purchase the Xebex bike over the Assault unless you really liked the handlebars or monitor.
The finish on the Xebex bike is a shinier black compared to the matte powder coating you’ll find on the Assault. This is something the Assault wins out on by far, to me. I personally hate anything of the shiny black flavor, especially something that’s going to see many hands. Where the Xebex loses there, it wins HUGE in the mobility department. One thing I absolutely detested about the Assault is the size of the wheels. You only had a teeny tiny sweet area to tip the Assault bike to move around, where on the Xebex bike you can tip it forward almost as much as you want. Do that on the Assault and the fan will drag into the ground, abruptly stopping any plans of you catching a tan outside while working on your fitness.
Visibly, those are going to be the main things you’re going to notice between the two bikes. Now for the similarities: The frame, for the most part, looks exactly the same. Honestly, it almost looks like you could pull parts off the Assault bike and put them directly on to the Xebex, and vice versa. The most similar thing, and what matters the most is the performance of bike. From the way it pedals, all the way to the seat itself, the Xebex feels exactly the same, which leads to exactly the same pain. The emotional gamut ranges from “F***, F***, F***…” to visions of a nice leisurely ride through the park. The real devil here is that when you start to push harder, the air resistance increases; pretty much automatically scaling the workout for the individual. It’s like riding on a fixie, without the need to wear a flannel and a mustache. Pair this with just about any functional fitness movement or by itself, and you’re going to get a hell of a workout.
In my experience the Schwinn AD6 (haven’t tried the ADPro yet) does not feel anything like the Assault bike, but the Xebex through and through feels the same. One might even argue that it’s the same bike, re-branded. They’re both made in Taiwan, and from my experience with barbells, that happens more often than you’d realize.
It’s been about a year since I had access to an air bike, but I when I did, I remember that it was pretty often. The versatility of the bike is perfect in both the garage gym or affiliate setting. Not many other things produce the same soul crushing feeling that going max effort on an air bike will. This is a piece that I regret not picking up sooner, but better late than never. The Xebex Air Bike retails for a little bit less than the Assault, at $850. If you contact GetRxd, you can get special affiliate deals and you possibly a lower price; if you’ve never shopped with them before, you’re in a for a hassle free experience. Of all the companies I’ve dealt with, GetRxd stands among the top of them as far as products and customer service go.
If you’re looking to pick up bikes for the first time, the Xebex air bike will suffice anyone’s fitness needs. Low impact training, post WOD recovery, anaerobic training, it does it all. If you’re an affiliate or athlete wanting an Assault bike, but not wanting to pay the price of an Assault bike ($999), you can rest assured you’ll get the same exact performance out of the Xebex Air Bike; all while getting 5 Xebex bikes for just about the price of 4 Assault bikes. My problem now isn’t the workout the Xebex bike is going to give me, but figuring out how many more I have to buy because my athletes love using them so much.