FIRST RIDE: CycleBar – Grand Rapids

This is my first studio review post since COVID-19 shuttered fitness studios back in March 2020…its great to be back in the saddle for another FIRST RIDE!

If you haven’t heard of CycleBar, where have you been?! In Metro Detroit there are about a half-dozen of them. Back in 2014 I had my FIRST RIDE at Go Cycle, a Royal Oak (suburban Detroit) studio that became a CycleBar in 2015 (my second visit) in the early days of this fitness franchise. Worldwide there are more than 200 of these studios operated by local entrepreneurs under the global brand. It’s great that the West Michigan community finally has easy access to the CycleBar fitness program.

It was just about ten days ago when I discovered the new CycleBar was opening… a super-sized 45-bike studio in SE Grand Rapids (at 6080 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 / (616) 378-6482). As of last Sunday, my wife and I completed six sweaty classes with the team during their GRAND OPENING celebration (continues through the 17th). Without hesitation, I have to say this is the best thing to hit the west Michigan studio cycling scene since Lunar Cycle launched their “flagship studio” in GR’s mid-town neighborhood…so glad I stumbled upon the news.

After my FIRST, second AND third RIDE at CycleBar GR, I have to say this is a destination studio for those who love the RIDE INSIDE! Other than Lunar Cycle, no other studio in the area offers a program that is 100% dedicated to indoor cycling.

Kudos to each of the Williams (studio owners Shanna and Eric), who separately returned my call about visiting their studio. What an awesome launch promo: THREE FREE RIDES during the extended studio preview February 8th – 17th! The entire team of instructors, front desk staff, and other employees are welcoming and available to answer questions and get first-timers comfortable in the saddle.

A ride recap delivered to your email right after class…complete with ride playlist.

Some notes about the CycleBar experience: a comprehensive website and mobile app (duh!), playlist sharing via Spotify links to the instructor’s playlist used for class, key stats from each ride to help track trends and improvement, clip-in cycling shoes included with your bike reservation (if you don’t have your own), two private unisex bath/changing rooms (no showers), common area with standard and oversized secure storage bins to hold your personal items while riding, filtered cold-water dispenser, fresh fruit, branded merchandise, plenty of nearby/free parking, and a spacious cycling studio with the essentials and other extras!

This new GR location has got to be one of the largest in Michigan. The bikes are my favorite…Schwinn AC Power cycles with integrated the Echelon console that display RPM, power/watts, gear/resistance, elapsed time, and distance. Data from the monitors linked to rider’s personal account for tracking AND linked to the large display screens. This is similar to the former FLYWHEEL studio experience where riders can see how their performance compares with other riders. For those not interested, you can opt-out and keep stats private and not displayed. For me (a numbers guy)…I think its so motivating and an important part of the experience! Each bike has a sweat-towel and two weighted bars for a 4-5 minute upper-body toning session in the last half class. I prefer the 2-handed bars to individual hand-weights / balls. From the paint on the wall, the flooring, the sound system to the ventilation, air-flow, and variable lighting…this is the best facility in the Grand Rapids area for a memorable boutique studio cycling experience.

A top-notch facility is nothing without a welcoming, skilled, challenging coach/instruction on the lead bike. With the 3 complementary rides, I had a good sampling of the team. My wife and I had morning classes with Nicole, Alexis, and Rachel. Gotta say third time was the charm…Sunday morning, Rachel took us into overtime with a killer Super Bowl-theme ride.

Alexis on the lead bike!

Each instructor brings something unique to the table, but the common denominator is great queuing, motivating music, high-energy spirit, interactive and engaging. I’m not going to call out each instructor individually, but will say as a group all three were ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and I’d return for another class!

CycleBar delivers a fun and challenging rhythm-based ride, but some riders may prefer to avoid contra-indicated movements: hyper-speed work (more than 120 rpm’s), tap-backs (a classic class SOUL CYCLE movement), extended out-of-saddle work, and hovers / isolations. Bottom line, regardless of whatever the instructor is coaching…each rider should make modifications appropriate to their physical limits and abilities.

If you work or live in the GR area…check out this new destination cycle studio. If you are nowhere near GR but have access to a CycleBar and haven’t been, GO! The great thing about a franchise business model is the partnership of “corporate” and local business owners to consistently deliver a signature, branded experience.

Congrats to the entire team at CycleBar Grand Rapids…and thanks for sharing the excitement of your Grand Opening event!

From their website to all the social media posts…plenty of ways to see what’s in store and connect with the team! Check it out: https://www.instagram.com/cyclebargrandrapids/

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