Today we’re looking at the FitDesk X2.0.
As the name suggests, this is the second iteration of the FitDesk. The FitDesk is a standout piece in an emerging category of office minded gadgets that allow you to work without sitting in an office chair for 8 hours a day. Standing desks, multilevel adjustable desks, portable stands, seating enhancers (like the backjoy) and more. Studies are emerging that show that sitting around is taking years off of your life. Plenty of people are happy living out the time they do have in a barcalounger, but plenty more would be receptive to a better way, we just need a change of culture. Will you're next job allow you to take conference calls on an exercise bike? READ ON...
Main advantage: HEALTH!!! compact design, seat with backrest allows longer rides, built-in extras like resistance bands and massage rollers.
Main concern: price is about double that of comparable compact exercise bikes without a desk.
Unique features: included digital meter gives real time distance, time, and estimated burnt calorie readouts, included seat extension for taller riders, built in adjustable desk to work while you work.
We'll start with a walk through of the FitDesk X2.0 experience from install to the first ride. Installation is both simple and frustrating. The great news is that the majority of the bike is per-assembled in the box. You'll install all of the peripheral bits and pieces including the namesake desk. Everything is relatively straightforward, but you will need directions here. Unfortunately, the directions can be a bit of a jumble. The first image you'll see is an exploded diagram of every part included in the bike. Text is microscopic and each piece is individually numbered. Some people might be comforted by that, but to my brain it was extremely overwhelming and it made me feel as if I was in for a lot more work than I actually was. A multitool is included in the box. It's a simple screwdriver on one end and a trio of wrenches on the other. It did it's job well enough, but it was a bit clumsy at times. If you have your own tools, save yourself the hassle. When I finally got into the groove of installation things moved well enough aside from a few hiccups. There were a few hard to access screws that nearly drove me insane while knocking my knuckles, most notably one screw in the seat installation. Exercise (hehe) a little patience here, I assure you that there is a way to assemble the machine in the end.
Now that you've assembled your faithful steed, it's time to set out on your maiden voyage. The first thing you'll need to do is adjust the seat to your body. The bike is rated to fit users starting at 4'10” tall up to above 6'. Adjusting is simple and secure. You first unscrew the knob to a certain point and then it allows you to pull it out as you adjust. When you find the correct height, simply screw the knob back in and you have a secure adjustment that WILL NOT move during use. Next, the seat, it's a wide three point saddle that will fit most anyone comfortably. With any bike seat though, prolonged use can mean sore buns. Stick with the riding though and you'll adjust with time. If you are just too sensitive, standard seat covers will fit the FitDesk's seat. As you sit you can lean forward or relax back into the built in back rest. Find which position is most comfortable to you ride. I lean while working and I rest back while watching TV or Movies while riding. As you lean forward, the massage roller arm rests are surrounded with different patterns of bumps designed to enhance circulation and relieve daily typing strain. I don't know if they necessary added any relief from typing, but they are a nice soft landing spot for my wrists and forearms.
Here is the first snag, the arm rest bar has two knobs on either side, you'll loosen and adjust the angle but the entire process is too loose and just doesn't stay secure. You can find an angle that works well enough, but it's far too unstable for the price of the unit. The desk itself slides forward and backward at an angle, but again, it suffers from a loose connection. Even at its tightest, the desk can slide back and forth. Additionally the desk needs a vertical adjustment. My arms don't naturally sit at there most comfortable position at the desks furthest extension. It also forces me to slouch which isn't sustainable over time. We are here to work though so we press on. First thing you'll want to do is lighten up your pockets, your keys, phone, etc. can be stored in the included slide out drawer. It's a slip in plastic drawer that sits at an angle and, you guessed it, has trouble staying in place. It would constantly poke it's little head out to greet me while I rode the bike more aggressively. The bad news is that shortcuts were taken on the desk, the good news is that they don't necessarily affect the bike portion of the experience and can be easily fixed in future models (which you might need to wait for)
As you start to pedal, the digital Performance Meter automatically starts up. It will automatically cycle through mileage, calories, time, and an all time odometer. There are three buttons on the meter itself; set, mode, and reset. Mode allows you to manually cycle through the choices, set will allow you to stay fixed on one category, and reset will do just what it says. The meter will automatically turn itself off after a period of non-use. It's powered by two included AAA batteries. One oversight, the meter sits at the very head of the desk, when you place your laptop down to work, the meter is obstructed completely. Just a nag, but some might be upset there. The machine is whisper quiet. The internal twin belt mechanism glides along smoothly even during intense riding. You can adjust resistance with a control knob between your legs. A simple twist to the left or right to lower or increase resistance. There is a clicking noise to indicate adjustment and it works well. When you finally finish up, you can fold up the bike with a quick tug on a knob. The back support bar has two integrated wheels to help you move it around the house. There is also a resistance band integrated below the seat, a nice option but the placement was a bit uncomfortable as the bands would rub on the side of my hips during use.
The desk portion has some problems in its build that I've mentioned, the biggest flaw though was a lack of stability. Unfortunately, the bike would not stay stable enough to allow me to focus on a screen while riding. I'd hoped for an entirely new way to work, but even the slightest vibration of a screen during riding will cause frustration and even a headache over time. Even while barely pedaling, the screen would move slightly during use. One solution would be to just use a wireless keyboard and mouse on the desk and have your desktop monitor or laptop on it's own shelf, table, or wall mount in front of the bike. This way the screen stays stable while you work. In any event, the FitDesk 2.0 wasn't everything I'd hoped it be, but it was a great way to start the conversation. Stability needs to be actively addressed for the idea to really work. Even though it isn't explicitly stated as such, the desk is exclusively designed for a laptop. That's the ideal use scenario. The whole surface is non-slip, there is a nylon strap to hold down your machine, and the arm rests are designed to relieve typing stress. You can't release to the public if the product can't perform under stressful riding let alone an easy simple turning of the pedals.
Thank you again to FitDesk for supplying their product for review.
FitDesk X2.0 by FitDesk
Is it worth buying: The FitDesk is an EXTREMELY exciting idea. It's the definition of what I look for in my coverage, a better way to do something that we already do. The most exciting thing is how broad of an application that the idea has. You could literally be doing most everything you do in your daily lives while pedaling away. Sitting at your work desk, surfing the internet, watching TV, skyping with relatives, practicing calligraphy; it's all improved by the idea of the FitDesk.
You'll notice the word idea used a great deal in that last paragraph. The reason I make the distinction of idea vs. reality is because during use the FitDesk still does have a few kinks to work out in my eyes. My chief concern is stability. The compact design becomes a double edged sword here. It's lightweight and easily folded for storage, but it doesn't stay as stable as needed during use. The bike is rated for riders up to 250 lbs. I am 6'5” tall and I'm well within the weight range of the bike. I asked FitDesk if they felt the X2.0 was appropriate for my size (I'd originally inquired about the larger and more solid looking FitDesk Executive trainer) and I was assured that the X2.0 would suffice. It feels like a more realistic weight limit is 200 lbs and under perhaps and even then I can't be sure it wouldn't wobble the screen. In addition to that, even with the 4” seat extension installed, I still find my knees bumping the handle bars on the X2.0. Rather than poor design, I feel like the product is just packaged a bit poorly and the company might need to revisit its height/weight rating per model. In the end, I probably should have just been sent the Executive Trainer for review as it seems much more suited to my frame.
I want to be very clear that the FitDesk is a great idea and I feel it's a perfect solution to things like childhood obesity and the severely over diagnosed ADD/ADHD. Integration in schools is such a hopeful thought. Not mandatory use of course, but as an option that could even be framed as a reward. I picture a row or two of FitDesks in the center of each class where kids can choose to listen to a lecture and take notes or even write an essay while pedaling. Even if they aren't working, just listening while pedaling is probably a near perfect way to combat the excess energy that kids seem to have today. Parents like to shift blame on sugary sodas and things like “Jimmy's bored in class because he's so smart.” Isn't it more likely due to the fact that America regularly allows its kids to melt into the couch and play video games for 6 hours a day which might lead to an antsy morning in class? This is low impact exercise that allows you to more or less “fool yourself” into working out. I would have loved a FitDesk for homework time as a kid. All of those hours of sitting still doing math homework would drive any kid crazy.
FitDesk is a great company with a vision to improve the world around them. Not enough companies consider much beyond profits these days, luckily FitDesk wants more. Their FitStudent program donates FitDesk systems to classrooms to promote a healthier lifestyle among the nation's eager young minds. In addition to their normal efforts, the company has pledged to donate one more fitdesk to a school for every 10 reviews of the product on Amazon.com. Take a minute and go leave your thoughts over on the page to do a little good for the world. Thank you to FitDesk for their selfless actions to make the world a healthier place.
This review was researched, written, and posted to the site while riding the FitDesk X2.0
ENJOY YOUR GADGETS!