NordicTrack SL 728 Recumbent Exercise Bike

My paternal grandfather has been declining in his mobility for some time. Even though he has an upright stationary bike at home, but he’s been reluctant to use it due to the difficulties of swinging his leg over the bike through an effort to get on the seat.

He’s got high blood pressure and swelling in his ankles. The latter is very likely due to stasis of his blood from being extremely inactive.

I suspect he suffers from “sleep apnoea” because he has a tendency for falling asleep during the day at any time and any place, and when he snores, he can bring the house down.

A few weeks back, my dad sent me hunting for a new stationary bike for my grandfather in an effort to encourage him to start exercising again. The model that my dad had scouted out in Australia was not available in Malaysia, so I had to find an alternative with all the features that he wanted.

1. The bike had to be a recumbent bike so there was less stress on his back.

2. The bike had to have “easy entry/exit”. What he wanted was a bike that did not have the bar in the middle so my grandfather could walk in between the handle bars and the seat without having to climb over anything.

3. The seat had to be sturdy with a well supported back.

4. The back of the seat had to be made with some sort of mesh, not unlike the mesh on the back of a deuter back-pack designed to provide airflow.

5. The bicycle computer functions should have easy level exercise programs so my grandfather would not stress himself up.

6. The bicycle seat had to be adjustable by a hydrolic pump.

After much searching, I managed to find a suitable model from Fitness Concept in KLCC. The model was a NordicTrack SL 728 Recumbent exercise bike. It came with most of the features my dad wanted, except the “hydrolic pump” adjustable seat. It cost about RM1600.

My father, ever the bargainer, wanted me to get the price down by ten percent. Try as I might, I couldn’t even get the salesman to budge for five percent. Fitness Concept operates on a fixed price policy, or so they claim (anyone who discovers other wise – please tell me about it).

Luckily, they were running a special offer where they were giving away a free gift valued at RM150 with every purchase over RM500. I called my dad and triumphantly announced that even though I could not secure his required ten percent off, I did manage to twist the salesman’s arm for some freebies.

What was good and bad about the Nordic Track SL 728?

The main difference between a recumbent bike and an upright bike is that recumbent bikes are better for people who have back problems while upright bikes encourage more movement and therefore a more intensive workout. I would also venture to add that for an elderly person, the recumbent bike is a safer bet.

The Nordic Track SL 728 has movable handle bars that can be tilted forwards out of the way during entry and exit of the bike. The bar connecting the seat to the front wheel runs along the floor so there is no need to lift your leg when getting on. This feature makes it extra friendly for an elderly rider.

The seat is quite large and well-supported although my grandfather complained that it wasn’t sufficiently padded. He adds a cushion to sit on whenever he rides the bike.

The back of the seat is covered with a “mesh” which helps to keep his back cool by allowing air through, while the seat position is adjustable by releasing a latch and sliding it backwards and forwards on a diagonal axis. That may be simple enough for most people however it was still a task beyond my grandfather because the latch is difficult to release.

The computer console comes programmed with several exercise functions, though in all practicalities, I seriously doubt my grandfather would ever utilise any of those programs. My grandfather’s gripe was that the computer doesn’t allow setting a timed ride on a countdown program. Additionally, there is no option to allow the time to remain on the screen.

Generally, I was quite happy with the product and I think my grandfather was as well for he rode it for an hour on the day it was delivered. That was probably more exercise than he had had in the last month!

I did have one minor gripe with Fitness Concept. After spending RM1600 on this bike, I couldn’t believe that they were too stingy to throw in four miserable “D”-type batteries for free.

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