This is a review of the new Thrasher Air Bike by Vulcan Strength. a heavy-duty, affordable alternative to the Schwinn Airdyne Pro and Assault Air Bikes; and a feature-rich, similarly-priced alternative to the Rogue Echo.
In this review I am going to go into pretty good detail on the specifications, dimensions, and features of the Vulcan Thrasher. I’m then going to follow that up with a comprehensive side-by-side comparison with the Rogue Echo.
Why so much attention to the Echo? Because ever since its release a year or two back, it is basically the only air bike anyone considers buying. It’s a $795 bike with a near-5-star rating based on over 2000 reviews. I mean, who wants to pay $999 – $1299 for the Airdyne Pro or one of the Assault Bikes when the Echo (and now the Thrasher) is an option? Not too many of y’all, obviously.
- Vulcan Thrasher Air Bike – Specifications
- Rundown on the Thrasher – Features, Benefits, Pros and Cons
- Vulcan Thrasher vs the Rogue Echo
- Vulcan Thrasher Review Summary
Vulcan Thrasher Air Bike – Specifications
Basic specifications and dimensions are given below. Many more detailed specifications will be given as I side-by-side compare the Thrasher and Echo.
- Footprint (base): 22″ x 44″
- Effective Footprint: 27″ x 48″
- Weight: 137-lbs (all steel frame)
- Rider Weight Limit: 350-lbs
- Seat Height: 32″ – 42″
- Handle Height: 55½”
- belt driven
- dual handles
- strapped pedals
- mobility wheels / handle
- leveling feet
- bottle holder included
- LCD Console (batteries included)
- heart rate supported (transmitter included)
- Price: $779.99 – $859.99 (includes freight shipping)
Some of the measurements may contradict the measurements given on the Vulcan website just slightly. This is because Vulcan’s specs are listed as approximations, while I took these measurements myself.
The Vulcan Thrasher Air Bike – The Rundown
The Vulcan Thrasher is marketed as a commercial-grade air bike. That is, it was developed to withstand the constant and daily abuse of a high-traffic commercial gym or affiliate. Beefy as the Thrasher may be, it’s still priced competitively enough to be considered for purchase on a home gym budget; which is one of the reasons I wanted to review it.
What makes an air bike a commercial piece of equipment versus a light-duty piece? Well, a number of things, but mostly it’s the strength, stability and durability of the frame, and at no less than 137-lbs, the Thrasher is a very heavy, strong bike; made almost entirely of heavy-duty, 11-gauge steel. As a matter of fact, outside of the fairing and the LCD console, there’s almost no plastic to be found on the Thrasher. Not only that, the frame is almost completely welded; there’s very little hardware except for where the feet attach to the main frame.
It comes in a big box! No part of the frame requires assembly. It’s all welded; save for the feet.
Of all the other air bikes on the market, only the Assault Airbike Elite can match the overall weight and frame strength of the Vulcan Thrasher; however it should be mentioned that the Elite is a $1299 bike while the Vulcan can be had for under $800 when it’s on sale, and still for well under $900 when not on sale. So while the Vulcan is not alone when it comes to its high strength and stability, it is the most affordable.
Also, I do not want to be unfair. The Echo comes in close at only 10-lbs shy of the Thrasher. The Echo is still a very heavy bike… undoubtedly heavier than all of the light-duty bikes out there.
In terms of functionality of the console, the Vulcan does what all other air bikes does. It has all of the same features and programs. It has 20/10, 10/20, and custom interval, can target time, distance, watts, calories, and heart rate, and the heart rate transmitter is included with the Thrasher. The screen isn’t backlit; which sucks; but I don’t think any of these bikes have a backlit screen anyway (how hard would that be to add, right?)
The Thrasher shares a multi-grip handle feature with the Schwinn Airdyne Pro. All the other air bikes have single (horizontal) grip handles only. This just offers you an additional way to mix things up (though I personally haven’t found myself straying from a standard, horizontal grip). The Vulcan also comes standard with pedal straps; something no other air bike ships with (though to be fair, it’s an easy thing to add to any air bike if that’s something you want.)
Vulcan’s seat is just as adjustable as any other bike. Matter of fact, while the range isn’t that different than that of the Echo, Airdyne or Assault, the Thrasher allows for many more micro adjustments over that same range; especially as it pertains to vertical seat adjustments.
Speaking of the seat, the Vulcan has a huge, 12″ x 12½” seat; one of the largest available. I find this seat to be incredibly comfortable. It’s firm yet soft and it’s large enough for even the largest of rumps. I do not think this seat is interchangeable though; if that matters to you.
Honestly, of the four major air bike options out there right now, all four are great bikes. Now, I would probably not recommend Assault’s basic Airbike. At $999 retail it just doesn’t feel as substantial as the upgraded Assault Elite, Airdyne Pro, the Echo, or the Thrasher. All four of these other air bikes are solid options though. What sets the Thrasher apart from the others is the stability and strength, the many extra features, and its super low price. Actually, there is one other thing about the Thrasher that sets is apart, and that’s how compact it is. I’ll talk more about that here in a minute.
So okay, the Thrasher has a lot going for it. What’s wrong with it though? It can’t be perfect, can it?
Does Fan Size Matter?
I wouldn’t say this is wrong, per se, but the Thrasher has the smallest diameter fan blade of any of these air bikes. At 21″ in diameter, the Vulcan’s blade is 4″ smaller than Assault’s air bikes and 6″ smaller than that of the Echo. The Thrasher does have more blades than both the Echo and Assault (12, that is; versus 10 on the Echo and six on the Assault), but I don’t know how much impact blade count truly has on overall resistance.
Does this matter? Honestly, I’m not so sure. I can wear myself out sufficiently well on any of these air bikes regardless of how large the fan is or how many blades said fan has. I’d have to assume that as the diameter of the fan gets larger it must get more challenging just as I’d assume that as the diameter of the fan gets smaller it should get easier, but I just don’t think that the Vulcan’s fan is quite small enough to eliminate the challenge of training on it. To put that another way, The Vulcan still kicks my ass without any problem.
The fact is, again, that all of these bikes are difficult and challenging. What I personally care about is the bike’s overall durability and stability. I do not want a lightweight bike that moves and rocks around when I’m riding it; I want the bike to feel heavy and substantial, not cheap and plasticky. The Vulcan makes the cut in this regard.
Any Other Cons?
Honestly, there really isn’t anything wrong with the Thrasher. It’s loaded with features that it doesn’t have to come standard with; the frame is overbuilt and strong; it fits athletes of any shape and size; it’s easy to move around your gym; and it’s priced very aggressively. It isn’t even an unattractive bike, though I suppose some of the more established bikes have more of a refined look to them; a nicer fit and finish… again, if that even matters.
But hey, it’s possible that I’m overlooking something, and that’s what the comments are for. Feel free to leave your two cents below.
The Vulcan Thrasher vs the Rogue Echo
Obviously, no air bike review would be complete if that bike was not pitted against the best-selling air bike on the market, the infamous Rogue Echo. To help with that comparison, I’ve included a side-by-side specification chart and a feature chart below. Take a look at both of these, and refer back to them as needed.
Specifications & Dimensions Chart
|Vulcan Thrasher||Rogue Echo|
|Footprint (base)||44″ x 22″||44½ x 23¾”|
|Effective Footprint||48″ x 27″||59″ x 30″|
|Seat Height||32″ – 42″||32″ – 42″|
|Seat Lateral Range||3″||5″|
|Seat Dimensions||12″ x 12½”||10½” x 10½”|
|Vulcan Thrasher||Rogue Echo|
|Bike Pedal Compatibility||yes||yes|
|Wheels & Handle||both||wheels|
|Heart Rate Compatible||yes||yes|
Thrasher vs Echo – Overall Bike Size
The Thrasher and the Echo have a lot of similarities. They have a number of differences as well. There are pros and cons to both bikes; all of which I’ll go over in the following sections. Before I do that though, I want to point out one very significant difference between these air bikes that could make all the other differences irrelevant.
The Vulcan Thrasher has a fairly large advantage over the Echo in that it takes up way less floor space. It’s a smaller and more compact bike. They have the same footprint; that is, the dimensions of the bike’s base are nearly identical; however, when you factor in the compon-ents that extend beyond the perimeter of the base like the handles and the fan, you will see that these bikes take up significantly more actual space than the footprint suggests. This is especially true when it comes to the Rogue Echo with its massive, 27″-diameter fan.
So, how much larger is the Echo? The Echo is only about 3″ wider than the Thrasher; which isn’t so bad (27″ vs 30″); but it’s also a whopping 11″ longer (48″ vs 59″.) To put that another way, the Echo takes up over 12-square feet of precious floor space, and the Thrasher takes up exactly 9-square feet. That makes the Echo 33% larger than the Thrasher. Keep in mind that this doesn’t include the space required around each bike in order to actually ride it.
As you can see, the Rogue Echo is indeed a fairly large air bike.
If you’re not putting your bike in the garage gym where space is obviously limited, then this difference in size probably won’t matter to you. However, if you do value every square foot of space in your gym then the difference in size may make all the difference to you.
Is The Vulcan Too Small?
You may be wondering if the Vulcan should be avoided by tall individuals. Does this smaller and more compact bike not work well with bigger riders?
Turns out that the answer is no in both cases. The Thrasher is more than big enough for tall and large riders. Both bikes have seat posts that are 22″ from the console, and both have a maximum seat height of 42″. At well over 6′ tall myself, my knees aren’t even close to hitting the frame or console (of either bike). I don’t think anyone is so tall they couldn’t use either of these air bikes.
Interestingly enough, the way the seats are mounted to the seat posts and the way in which the seats adjust laterally on their respective post, it is the Echo that appears to be too large for shorter riders. Reviews left on the Echo product page suggest that anyone in the low 5’s or shorter should worry about having to lean unnaturally far forward to use the bike. *
* I’m not anywhere near 5’4″ so this isn’t really something I can test, so if you are anywhere near that height and you own an Echo Bike, leave a comment and tell us how the bike feels to you. Is it too big for you? Do you have to lean forward? Do you feel stretched?
Thrasher vs Echo – LCD Console Features
The consoles on both of these air bikes are basically the same. They offer the same pre-set programs (listed in the chart below) and they both support heart rate monitoring.
|Vulcan Thrasher||Rogue Echo|
|Target – Time||yes||yes|
|Target – Distance||yes||yes|
|Target – Calories||yes||yes|
|Target – Heart Rate||yes||yes|
|Heart Rate Transmitter||included||supported|
|Batteries||(2) AA||(2) AA|
As you can see in my chart, console functionality is more or less identical on both the Echo and Thrasher. Now I’d say that the Rogue has a slightly nicer looking display with more of a graphical interface look to it, but they are both simple, monochromatic LCD screens that are tracking all the same things – time, distance, calories, heart rate, and watts.
The Rogue Echo does have a nicer looking LCD screen. More graphical and refined; shinier even!
Now when it comes to heart rate monitoring, the Rogue requires that you own a Polar Heart Rate Transmitter, while the Thrasher includes its own transmitter as part of the bike’s cost.
Having your heart rate on the bike’s LCD screen is convenient, as it is easier to look at then your Polar or Apple Watch while pedaling. I don’t know how accurate the calorie reporting is considering these bikes don’t have any rider stats (age, height, weight, etc), but I’ve noticed that both the Thrasher and the Echo report about the same calories-burned for the time and effort, so they are at least consistent.
Thrasher vs Echo – Difficulty Differences
I talked about the difference in fan sizes and blade counts among the various air bikes for a minute or two in the Rundown on the Thrasher section. After having ridden both the Rogue and the Vulcan; back and forth; for many hours; I have come to the conclusion that any real difference in difficulty based on design and bike size is negligible. There is literally no doubt in my mind that you can wear yourself out in no time at all on any air bike, be it the Assault, Thrasher, Echo, Airdyne, or what have you.
That said, the Rogue Echo; being the largest bike of those I’ve used; is probably marginally more challenging than the others. If you’re looking to get every, possible, ounce of difficulty and exhaustion that you can possibly get out of your air bike (because you’re just that much of a human machine), I would say lean on the Echo. Then again; and I haven’t tried this air bike yet; but the Schwinn Airdyne Pro has a 26-blade, progressive resistance performance fan that may be even more challenging than the Echo.
Do you own the Schwinn Airdyne Pro? What do you think about it? Leave a comment.
In any case, I’ve never met an air bike that I liked; if you know what I mean. I think they are all real pains in the ass, and they’ll all make you tired. Knowing that, you get to choose your bike based on size, features, brand, aesthetics, and so on.
Thrasher vs Echo – Final Thoughts
The Rogue Echo is a very high value air bike. It’s no accident that it has over 2000 reviews with a 4.9-star average rating. If it was a piece of crap, that would have been made evident in those reviews and reflected in the overall rating. Wouldn’t you think so?
And why is that rating so high? For one, the price tag; when compared to Assault, Schwinn and Concept2; is indisputably the lowest. It’s not just an affordable bike option, though.. the Echo is built like a tank; constructed with far more metal components than plastic. It’s heavy and stable, comfortable, and highly adjustable. It’s been the bike to own ever since its initial release.
The situation has changed somewhat, though, with the introduction of the Vulcan Thrasher. Vulcan took a great air bike and made it arguably better simply by making it more compact, and they did this without taking away from the bike’s function or performance.
Remember, the Thrasher is heavier than the Rogue despite taking up 33% less floor space, and it’s heavier because it’s constructed with very heavy duty steel. The base, frame, crank, handles, and even the seat locking mechanisms are all metal, and with that weight comes a ton of stability, and commercial-grade durability.
Just look at this thing (below). I removed the plastic to take a gander under the hood of the Thrasher when I first got it, and it really is thick, heavy-gauge metal in there. Seriously, just look at how thick everything is. This is not a light-duty bike. You won’t break this thing.
There’s more to the Vulcan than just stability and space-saving. There are many other small upgrades as well, such as a very large and comfortable seat, dual-handles, pedal straps for when you really want to get at it, and an included heart rate transmitter. About the only thing that the Echo has that the Thrasher does not is the step between the pedals, and the option to add a phone holder and off-road tires. There is also the optional wind guard for the Echo, but the Thrasher doesn’t really need one like the Echo does.
Of course, if I was being fair, I would mention that the Echo is a really nice looking bike. The fit and finish is top-notch for sure. The Vulcan definitely has that utilitarian look going for it.
At the end of the day I dig the Vulcan Thrasher. It’s a great air bike. I really think that once it gets more reviews on the product page to reinforce this (it has only two as I write this) you’ll start to see more Thrashers around. I don’t think there can ever be as many Thrasher Bikes as there are Echo Bikes, but I do think you’ll start to see more of the Thrashers pop up.
Vulcan Thrasher Review – Summary
I can’t think of anything to add that wasn’t in the above section. I like the Vulcan Thrasher. I would be willing to bet that if you’re looking for an air bike that will adjust to your height and size, kick your ass for years to come, and take up the least amount of space necessary, you will like the Vulcan Thrasher too. But if not, there are many other to choose from, so go pick something and get riding.