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Renpho AI Smart Bike

6
£699.00

VERDICT:

6
10
Proper smart trainer for a third of what others cost, but there are compromises along the way
Cheap for a smart bike
Solid
Easy to adjust
Easy to connect
Accuracy is poor
Pedalling experience is poor
Bundled app is limited
Weight: 
35,000g
Contact: 

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Renpho's Ai Smart Bike is a functional, sub-£700 option that you can hook up to the training platform of your choice, and it'll do gradient changes and ERG training. It also comes with its own free-to-use environment that has some positives. The accuracy and the user experience can't match more expensive smart bikes, though, and if you're serious about training then a direct-drive smart trainer is probably the better option for you.

Getting it out of the box, the first thing you'll think about the Renpho bike is that it looks like a proper smart bike. It's solidly built, and the bits that need to be adjustable are adjustable. There aren't as many axes of adjustment as you'll get on more expensive bikes – you can't move the handlebar fore and aft, for example – but you should be able to get comfortable.

> Buy this online here

If you're tall like me you'll probably have to set the seat above the maximum marker; I didn't have any problems with this, but it's worth noting. One of the big pluses over a bike-based trainer setup is that more than one person can easily use it, and that's certainly the case here: everyone in the house could make it fit them. (Renpho gives a user height range of 4ft 11in to 6ft 5in; I'm 6ft 2 1/2in.)

You get flat pedals and a big squidgy saddle, and up front there's a round LCD display (with a protective cover) and a shelf for your phone or iPad.

2021 Renpho AI smart bike - cockpit.jpg

The dial around the display adjusts the resistance on the bike when it's not being controlled externally.

2021 Renpho ai smart bike display.jpeg

It's an easy bike to set up and use, and within 15 minutes I was able to hop on and give it a test ride. It was simple to link it to Zwift, RGT and Rouvy; I didn't try others but I can't imagine you'd have any issues.

Power measuring

One of the most important things a smart bike does is measure your power, so that you can muck about on your favourite training app and monitor your fitness. Obviously it's nice if it does that accurately. The Renpho has been a bit of a mixed bag there.

I've had two of these bikes. The first one consistently under-reported the power by around 10%. So, if I was putting out 300W to try to stay in a Zwift race, only 270W was actually making it to the app. I know this because I've got a pair of Garmin Rally double sided pedals that I benchmarked the Renpho against, and I know they're accurate because they agree with a bunch of other power meters I've used, including my Tacx Neo 2 and my Rotor 2InPower cranks.

> 12 reasons why you should buy, and use, a power meter

There's a certain amount of all these things being relative, but the Renpho bike is an outlier and the rest agree much more closely. And also, I was getting absolutely flattened by people I know I can keep up with in real life, which lends further credence to the argument that it was under-reporting. Anyway, as you can imagine, it didn't do my Zwift racing career any good to be suddenly 10% less fast.

After some discussion I got my hands on another bike, and it was also out by 10%, but the other way, so my 300W on the pedals translated to 330W in Zwift. Obviously, that isn't any better in numerical terms but is certainly a LOT better for staying at the pointy end of a race!

All of which is to say: I wouldn't say you can necessarily trust the bike to be objectively accurate. The reading *was* always under though (or always over the second time), so the numbers are repeatable, which means that you can track trends in your fitness using the bike. To be fair Renpho only claims 90% accuracy, which both my test bikes just about managed. Just about. There's no calibration available on the Renpho either manually or via a spindown test, so you're stuck with the reading you get out of the box.

The ride

So, you can adjust it to fit and it can measure your power and pair with things. What's it like to ride? The answer to that is a resounding 'okay'.

If you're used to a more expensive smart bike or a decent turbo then you'll be used to a nice heavy flywheel smoothing out the pedal stroke to make it easier to keep the power going. You don't really get that luxury here, which means the pedal action is very choppy, especially at higher power. You have to go hard at the pedals on the downstroke every time to make it through the dead part of the pedal cycle, which is a lot more tiring than hitting a high power on a good turbo with a heavy flywheel and keeping it turning.

2021 Renpho AI smart bike - main body.jpg

One thing it does make you do is even out your pedal stroke to try to maximise the arc where you're laying power down. This is generally considered to be a good thing, so it's not all bad news.

Renpho uses a Smart Motor Damping Resistance unit in this bike which is the same fundamental type of technology as units like the Tacx Neo and Wahoo Kickr bikes use, so it may be that there are improvements to the experience possible through firmware updates.

I mostly used the bike with Zwift, and in Zwift you can use the virtual gears to make your life harder or easier by turning the control wheel around the display. The gradient changes also feed back to the bike like they do with other smart units. It all works reasonably well, and the gradient changes are handled quickly.

> Buyer’s Guide: 10 of the best home trainers

If you're doing a workout then you can opt for ERG mode instead, where the trainer adjusts the resistance so that your chosen cadence matches the power you're aiming to hit. Again, this works well, probably better in fact than the free riding mode.

Position-wise things are okay. The cranks are a little far apart and the chunky pedals that come with the bike exacerbate that; it was much better with SPD-SL pedals on.

2021 Renpho AI smart bike - pedal.jpg

The saddle is big and squidgy and okay for shorter efforts, which is probably what the target market for a bike like this will be doing. If you're used to spending an hour in the saddle indoors, you'll probably want to swap it out for something a bit more road-bike-shaped.

2021 Renpho AI smart bike - saddle.jpg

App

If you're looking at a cheaper smart bike because your budget is limited then you'll be pleased to know that you don't necessarily need to drop £150 a year on Zwift on top of the spend on the bike, because the Renpho Ai comes with its own dedicated training app, Ai Gym. It's decent, especially given the fact that it's free: there are structured workouts, video spin classes and even a few real-life video routes baked into the app.

The first thing you'll need to do is a ramp test to set your FTP, even if you know it, because there doesn't seem to be an option to set it manually, but given that the bike's power isn't necessarily the same as your actual power, that's probably worth doing anyway.

> What is FTP? 7 key facts to learn about functional threshold power, a major training metric

The structured sessions are pretty good. There are plenty of them, they're pretty well documented and they're easy to follow.

The Video classes are less well populated and there are only a handful of outdoor videos; on top of that, both of those workout types mean downloading a huge file to your phone/tablet in order to do the workout, so it's not a spur of the moment thing. The Spin class videos are pretty well shot and structured, though they're not my kind of thing. The outdoor videos don't really work that well: there's some work to be done with translating gradients in the video with speed, based on your power. I found myself having to keep up 300W to do about 15km/h on the flat, and even the downhills at times.

Conclusion

Overall, the Renpho Ai bike is decent enough. There isn't any one thing about it that's a deal-breaker, and if you're looking for an option for immersive exercise that doesn't break the bank then it's certainly got some good points, especially if there's more than one person in your household interested in a bit of indoor cycling.

If you're a fairly competent cyclist looking at a way to get onto Zwift/Rouvy/SYSTM/Bkool/etc then it's probably not your best option: even the cheapest smart trainers have a better ride experience than the Renpho does, and you'd likely be better off with one of them.

It doesn't compete in terms of experience with the Wattbikes and Neo Bikes and Kickr bikes of this world, but then at less than a third of the price of even the cheapest of those, you wouldn't really expect it to. I guess my overriding feeling is that it's not really aimed at 'cyclists' per se, more people that want to more generally do exercise indoors, and it's a pretty well-pitched option for that market. But as a cyclist, I can't get *that* excited about it.

Verdict

Proper smart trainer for a third of what others cost, but there are compromises along the way

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Renpho AI Smartbike

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

From Renpho:

The AI technology algorithmically designs a workout to help you achieve your fitness goals based on your biometrics. Set goals and track progresses. Workout anytime at home with free access to different classes. Automatically adjusts resistance level for a smooth and effective riding experience.

The bike tailors to your biometrics and power to algorithmically create personalized training programs. It automatically alters resistance based on your level, power output, goals, and cadence to get the best results. Making this bike suitable for ages 15 to 70 years old in any fitness level.

The AI GYM app contains 70+ courses, and 5 different training modes. Coach Video Classes, Power Training Programs, HD Scenic Rides, and so much more. No membership required.

Unlike the average electromagnetic resistance technologies, Renpho uses Smart Motor Damping Resistance - a reverse-engineered electric vehicle technology. The result is a truly precise resistance and real-time power calculation with ≥90% accuracy, that adjusts automatically, smoothly and smartly.

Equipped with enclosed wheels and a smooth freewheel design, rider can coast along like a real ride, without worrying about catching its wheel on clothes, feet, pets, or children.

The larger, cushioned seating allows for longer or more intensive training with comfort. Ergonomically positioned handlebars allow riders to ride as a spinning bike or an exercise bike to suit to your specific training.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Renpho lists:

Specifications

Connectivity

Smart Technology - RENPHO AI Gym App - iOS and Android

Third-party app connectivity - FTMS Bluetooth

Third-party app control - Kinomap, FulGaz, Rouvy, XERT, The Sufferfest via BLE

Wireless firmware updates - Yes

Technology

Resistance type - Smart Motor Damping

Resistance functionality - Automatic and manual resistance

Power Accuracy - ≥90%

Power range - 0-1000W(Peak)

Gears - 80

Metrics - Real-time RPM, Power, Cadence, Resistance, Calories

Measurements

Frame Carbon structural steel

Size 49inch(Height) x 20inch(Width) x 40inch(Length)

Seat Universal Seat Cushion, Standard Dual-Rail Mounting and airflow system, 8inch(Width) x 10.5inch(Length)

Pedals - Adjustable Pedal Straps

Tablet Holder - Up to 8.46 inch

Adjustability

Handlebar: range 32.5 inch - 41.3 inch

Saddle fore/aft : range 0 - 3inch

Saddle height: range 32.5 - 41.3 inch

Crank Length - 6.7inch

Q factor - 7.3 inches

Calibration - Factory Set

Power required - Mains adaptor

Operating Temperature - 41-122°F

User Requirements

Height range: 4ft 11in - 6ft 5in

Weight maximum: 265 lbs

Age range: 15 - 70 years old

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

It's solidly made and pretty well finished.

Rate the product for performance:
 
6/10

It's okay; the riding experience isn't on a par with more expensive smart bikes or similarly priced smart trainers.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

No reason to suspect it won't last.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10

Reassuringly solid.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
6/10

Pedals a bit widely spaced, saddle a bit squishy and indistinct.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

Cheaper than other smart bikes, not as good as other smart bikes.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It was okay.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

It's cheap for a smart bike, and solid, easy to adjust and easy to connect.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Accuracy is poor, as is the pedalling experience, and the bundled app is limited.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Other smart bikes are at least three times as expensive, so on paper it's a bargain, but it's not really in the same league. You can get a good direct-drive smart trainer for this kind of money, though.

Did you enjoy using the product? Not really.

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly, but not a cycling friend.

Use this box to explain your overall score

Given the price, the performance is pretty decent. There's nothing that's a deal-breaker but keen cyclists are going to be better served by other options at the same kind of price.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 49  Height: 189cm  Weight: 92kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura, Dward Design fixed

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

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