Video Review: Work While Working Out with the FitDesk Excercise Bike

By , dealnews Media Editor

At what point does exercise and work converge? Well, for personal trainers, that's every day. For the rest of us, however, it rarely happens. But thanks to the FitDesk, we can all experience the confluence of human existence's worst activities. The FitDesk X Compact Pedal Desk is routinely offered for $229.99 with free shipping ($60 off), and it's a combination of a foldable excercise bike and a laptop desk. Dr. Moreau would be proud.

The dealnews offices recently received shipment of one of these, so we thought we'd have our very own Jeff Somogyi do a review. If you don't want to watch the thoroughly entertaining video of him talking while on a bike, we've rounded up our thoughts below as well.

So how did the FitDesk fair in our review? We break it down to its components:

The Seat
Since the seat isn't horribly uncomfortable, we're going to put that in the "pro" column. Unlike most bike seats, which are immediately uncomfortable, this one only started to make our parts ache towards the end of our workout. However, the seat also has one huge "con": At its maximum height, it was just high enough to be comfortable for me while pedaling, and I'm 5'9". Any taller, and you're probably going to feel a bit cramped.

This is where the bike is exceptional. Not only is it super quiet when in use, but the action is also super smooth. Riders/workers can change the tension quickly and easily using the tension knob from a "feels like I'm going downhill and out of control" setting to a "pedaling through honey" speed. At first, I felt like there were too many low-resistance settings and that the high-resistance setting wasn't challenging enough, but that changed after a couple of minutes of use. Overall, this bike offers a varied, sweat-inducing workout.

Workout Stats
The FitDesk comes with a tiny workout monitor that displays the time you've spent riding the bike, the virtual distance you've gone, the speed you're going, and an estimation of the calories you've burned. It shows all this on its LCD screen on a repeating cycle. Is it the perfect way to track your progress? No. But it's good enough to give you a cursory indication of how long your workout has been and what kind of goals you've accomplished. The least innovative aspect of this screen it is that it's attached to the bike with regular 'ole Velcro. It doesn't feel very secure and, in fact, is really easy to accidentally dislodge. It crashed to the floor a couple times while we were testing it, but it didn't break. Yet.

The Desk
Upon assembly, the thing that worried us the most was how the laptop desk was actually attached to the bike's handlebars by nothing more than friction and gravity. To be clear, the desk, which is nothing more than a stiff piece of foam, fits very tight onto the bike, it's just that there is nothing securing it there. We wanted to see a bolt or a clamp. After all, our very pricey and heavy laptop was about to ride this thing. That said, we think the desk itself will stay in place for a really long time (unless you get in the habit of taking the desk part on and off a lot, which would probably weaken the grip and hasten your laptop's plunge toward the Earth and into gravity's cruel arms).

Intended Use
If you choose to place your laptop where FitDesk illustrates that it should go, you may also find it too far away to comfortably type while biking. I moved my laptop forward and it became surprisingly easy to work while exercising — without having to hunch awkwardly forward. With continued use and concentration on work, the exercising faded into the background. It was like exercising without thinking about it. Which was nice. It didn't mean that I was any less exhausted, nor my legs any less wobbly once off the machine. For this reason, you might want to keep a closer eye on the time while using the FitDesk than you otherwise would.

In Conclusion
Though it looks weird and is a wholey unique experience, using the FitDesk X Compact Pedal Desk was a better experience than numerous other exercise bikes I've tried. Because I and the other dealnews staffers were able to "forget" that we were working out, we could recommend this product. It also strikes us as a great way to fit some exercise into your day without it feeling like a chore, or without replacing something else you'd rather be doing. With the FitDesk, you could fire up Facebook work, and multitask. Is it the best solution to your fitness? Maybe not, since using it in your office means your co-workers might smell your workout sweat! But it's an interesting option, particularly for those who work from home.

Jeff Somogyi is the dealnews Media Editor. This is the best sweat he's gotten since he got one to "the oldies." Hear him exercise more of his thoughts on Twitter or on his blog.

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DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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Dan de Grandpre (DealNews)
But probably not with the smoothness of this machine's pedaling?
It looks like you could go buy an exercise bike at a garage sale for $10 and take some straps and tape and attach a platform for your laptop and achieve the same result.
I purchased one last week. I concur with your review 100%. It doesn't seem like it should be the only exercise one should get but it sure works muscles I don't use with my normal workout (I do an hour on a NordicTrack per day). Also,fortunately, I'm retired so sweating at work is not a problem (I've always wondered how folks work with folks who bike/walk fast/even run at lunch and don't shower after...).
Also, it's easy to assemble, and feels quite substantial... except, as you point out, the desk attachment. Thanks for the idea of moving the laptop back, I'll try that today.