Exercise bikes are a hugely popular home gym option, especially when you have limited space. But if you want to work your arms and torso as well you’ll also need weights or maybe a rowing machine, all of which take up extra space.
That’s where a machine like the JTX Mission AirBike comes in. Not only does it let you get your cycling fix, whatever the weather, but moving handlebars linked to the pedals also mean you can get a full-body workout at the same time.
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JTX Fitness Mission AirBike review: What do you get for your money?
The benchmark machine in this sector is the Assault AirBike Classic, which you’ve probably seen lurking in the corner at your local gym. If you buy one for your own home gym you know you’re getting a certain level of quality but they’re expensive, typically costing £749.
The JTX Mission AirBike matches the AirBike pretty much feature for feature and comes out on top in some areas, too, yet it costs £50 less.
Just like the Assault bike, build quality is excellent with a heavy-gauge steel frame and large, steel-bladed fan providing robust longevity.
Wheels at the front help you move it around (although its 65kg heft means you’ll need someone to help you carry it anywhere) and the saddle has 300mm of height adjustment and 80mm of fore-aft adjustment to help you find a comfortable position.
However, the JTX machine edges in front with a few key advantages. It uses a quiet, maintenance-free belt drive instead of a chain, its handlebars offer multiple positions instead of the one on the Assault Bike, and it has the option to connect a heart rate monitor as well. You have to step up to the £1,249 Assault Bike Elite to get that feature.
Add in a two-year in-home repair warranty (which we doubt you’ll need given how well-made the bike feels), and you have a very good value all-round package.
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JTX Fitness Mission AirBike review: How easy is it to use?
Like all air bikes the key to how this bike works is the large fan at the front, which is used to generate resistance instead of the flywheels and brakes that regular exercise bikes employ.
This generates resistance that’s directly related directly to the effort you put in, so there’s no need to fumble around with buttons to set the resistance level as you exercise – just push the pedal/handlebars harder for a more intense workout.
Another neat side benefit to using air resistance exercise bikes is they’re mostly self-powered; only a couple of AA batteries are required to power the computer and display. You don’t need to plug it into the mains or turn it on and wait for it to fire up. Just jump on and start working out. It’s simplicity itself.
If you want a more structured workout, the bike’s onboard computer and LCD display has a couple of preset interval sessions built-in: the classic 10/20 and 20/10 workouts, each lasting eight intervals and just short of four minutes long. If you want a longer interval workout, you can create your own, although this is a bit more of a pain because you have to set Work, Rest and the number of repeats each time you “turn on” the bike since it has no persistent storage.
Elsewhere, it’s also possible to use the computer to set workout targets, either distance-, time-, heartrate- or calorie-based, and there’s a wealth of metrics displayed on the monitor while you work out, including your power output in Watts, distance covered, speed, RPM and calories burned.
Once you’ve finished your workout, the computer displays a simple summary of the workout, providing average and total Watts, speed and RPM, total distance and calories.
JTX Fitness Mission AirBike review: How effective is it?
If you’ve never used an AirBike before you’ll be surprised at how intense a workout you can get from a machine like this in a relatively short period of time.
Because you’re working your legs and your upper body, you burn calories like there’s no tomorrow, and because the bike relies on a fan, resistance levels are effectively infinite.
It’s great for cardio workouts and HIIT sessions and, with a couple of large footpegs, you can forgo pedalling completely if you want to focus entirely on working your upper body.
In that sense, it’s a three in one machine, giving you the option to work your whole body, just your legs, or just your arms and upper body.
JTX Fitness Mission AirBike review: Is there anything we don’t like?
There are only a few things we’d change about the JTX Mission AirBike and the first would be to add a backlight to the display, which can be tricky to read if your home gym isn’t particularly well lit. The text indicating what all the various numbers on the LCD mean is a little small, too, although you’ll likely get used to where all the various metrics are displayed over time.
Another thing we’d like to have seen is a more detailed workout breakdown at the end of a session. I’d like to be able to see breakdowns on a per-lap basis as well as overall numbers. And it would be nice if the machine had support for a broader selection of heart rate monitors; as it is, it’s limited to the Polar H10 (£99) or the “Polar compatible” heart rate monitor (£26) JTX Fitness sells as an alternative.
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JTX Fitness Mission AirBike review: Should you buy it?
Overall, though, the JTX Mission AirBike strikes a fine balance between features and price.
It costs less than an Assault AirBike Classic and most other commercial gym AirBikes and offers comparable features and build quality.
It may not be the cheapest exercise bike you can buy but if you combine its positive points with the two-year in-home repair warranty, you have a winning combination.