Some of the most efficient cardio you can get is on a spin bike, both because of their notorious low-impact design, and the minimal floor space they take up. So when the SPY team heard about a new spin bike, The CAROL Bike 2.0, made in a lab and backed by science to be as efficient as possible, we knew we had to try it out.
The short of it? We were impressed, both in how user-friendly this bike is and how tailored it is for people who want to hop on a bike, pedal, and let the machine do the rest. This made us think of older users or folks with mobility issues.
Keep reading for our full review, but if you’re a person who hates the overwhelming environment that is a typical spin class but still wants expert-led training through a cycling workout, The CAROL Bike 2.0 is worth considering.
Read More: The Best Spin Shoes for Cycling in 2022
The CAROL Bike 2.0 vs. Other Spin Bikes
The biggest takeaway from our CAROL bike review? Other spin bikes are made for younger users. The CAROL bike 2.0 is perfect for older folks who just want to ride, hate the fast pace of other spin classes, and don’t want to spend hours on a bike each week. Younger people may want all of these things as well, but we’re guessing for the most part users above the age of 50 are going to prefer The CAROL’s style.
The Peloton bike, NordicTrack spin bike and Equinox+ bike from SoulCycle have all been at the top of our list of the best spin bikes for years because of their high-quality designs, energetic instructors, pumped-up music and streamable classes where you pedal to the beat. The CAROL bike has almost none of these things, and we liked it just as much.
The CAROL 2.0: Key Bike Specs
The CAROL Bike feels like a high-quality, gym-grade bike complete with an 11″ touchscreen, dual SPD clip and toe cage pedals, transport wheels, and adjustable everything.
- Automatic, AI-controlled resistance
- Ergonomic handlebars with 5 different positions
- Silent poly-V belt
- Composite flywheel with a steel core and brushed aluminum outer ring
Key Tech Specs:
- 11-inch IPS touchscreen with 2K resolution
- 4 GB RAM and 64 GB internal storage
- Dolby Atmos quad speakers
- Android 11OS with Google Playstore
The CAROL Bike Review: Our Criteria
There are a few key criteria we were looking for during our CAROL bike review, which we’ve used to judge other major pieces of fitness equipment like fitness mirrors, adjustable dumbbells, weighted jump ropes, and more.
Setup + Usage
First impressions matter, which is why we’re always looking for an easy setup and user-friendly interface. If your very expensive piece of new fitness equipment doesn’t work as it should, isn’t intuitive, and takes a seasoned professional to setup (and you’re not provided with one) that’s a problem.
Rides + Workouts
Did we enjoy the workout? Was it effective given the shorter length? Are the classes motivating? Did we want to return for more?
Bike Design + Storage
How much space does this bike take up? Is it easy to store between uses? Is it an efficient use of space?
How Does The CAROL Bike Work?
The design of the CAROL bike 2.0 is centered on giving you the most efficient workout in the shortest amount of time. Many of their rides are between 5-15 minutes, involve short sprints, and are guided by a softer voice rather than an instructor yelling orders at you.
There are a few different types of classes the CAROL bike offers including re-HIIT, Free Rides, Zone Rides, and more. Free rides are not timed but enable you to set a certain resistance or power goal and pedal until you’re done. Zone rides keep you within a certain fat burning and/or challenge zone, similar to Power Zone rides on the Peloton bike.
They all fall under a few different categories in the dashboard: Intense, Intermediate, Energiser, Fat Burn, Free & Custom, and Fitness Tests.
Many of the rides include 10, 15, or 20-second sprints accompanied by relaxed pedaling in between. When it’s time to sprint the whole screen turns red, alerting you that it’s time to work. As soon as the countdown is over it returns to its regular dashboard so you know when to stop.
Setting Up and Using The CAROL Bike
The CAROL Bike was very easy to set up and intuitive to put together. The tablet comes pre-installed on the bike, and all it takes is plugging it in and setting up an account to get going. In total, the setup took less than 30 minutes, including a firmware update the bike had to do as soon as we turned it on.
One of the first things we noticed is the dashboard has a bunch of information on it, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed. If you’re really into performance science, health analytics, and data in general, you will definitely like this part.
Taking a Class
The bike leads you through the first few introductory classes, all of which are short and easy to follow. The bike is stable, well put together, and secure to ride on. It doesn’t feel like a bike that’s made to be ridden out of the saddle and the seat is very large, which again pointed us to an older user base.
You get to pick a general genre of music for your class but the music just plays in the background. You’re not pedaling to the beat, climbing, completing intervals, or sprinting to any sort of BPM, it’s just there to enhance the experience.
The bike feels like a slightly more guided version of what you would do if you hopped on a bike at the gym and just pedaled.
The CAROL Bike is not very large, it’s about as long and wide as a Peloton without the giant screen. It would be easy to fit into most homes, as you don’t need a lot of space to ride it and store it. It’s also built with transport wheels so you can move it from place to place, and there’s an optional mat you can purchase for protecting your floors.
- Total Dimensions: 45.5′ x 22′
- Bike Weight: 120 pounds
- Rider Requirements: 4’7″ – 6’7″ Height, Max Weight 330 pounds
The CAROL Bike Review Verdict: Should You Buy It?
If you’re a low-touch rider who doesn’t want to have to do a lot during your classes? Yes.
If you hate regular spin classes because of the constantly-switching resistance and yelling instructor? Yes.
If you love being in control, choosing your resistance and pedaling to music? No.
If you’re into regular spin classes and are in the market for an at-home spin bike? I’d recommend another option.
The CAROL is not like a regular spin bike. But because it’s well-made, I could see the classes working well for certain users. As someone who loves Peloton classes, it’s too big of a shift to justify the price tag.
The CAROL Bike is more expensive than most at-home spin bikes, a lot of which I’m assuming has to do with the AI resistance adjusting system. I don’t mind changing my own resistance, and actually prefer it in most instances.
However, if you just want to get on a bike, set your resistance, and pedal until you’re done, this is a great option.
- Solid, stable bike frame with adjustable seat and handlebars
- Automatic resistance adjustment
- Comes with an 11″ tablet for selecting classes
- Large class library that’s easy to navigate
- Clear instructions during class and timer
- Android OS may not be as familiar to some users
- Expensive price tag