Technology

Can’t afford a Peloton bike? These 5 alternatives cost a lot less





Indoor biking is all the fad, particularly in these stay-at-home, gyms-are-closed instances. Biking is less complicated in your knees and requires much less house than a treadmill. You possibly can get pleasure from digital rides and cycling classes by way of an interactive display screen. And you’ll skip the dear fitness center memberships and high-pressure in-person spin lessons. However this is the rub: As you most likely discovered from that now-infamous Peloton commercial, a Peloton bike begins at $2,200, and a category subscription will run you one other $39 monthly. Present of arms: Who’d wish to see a Peloton different for much less cash?

Meeee! Fortunately, there are many extra reasonably priced indoor biking choices. Beneath I’ve rounded up a number of the newest and best (together with one which’s “free,” type of) so you’ll be able to see simply how a lot you stand to avoid wasting. I’ve firsthand expertise with most of those bikes, and will likely be updating this submit as I can strive others. (Within the meantime, if you need the most cost effective attainable possibility, see my story on a DIY Peloton bike, or how to build your own smart spin bike on the cheap.)

For now, let’s discuss two key options that impression an indoor cycle’s value: the display screen and the subscription.

Learn extra: Best smart home gym: Peloton, Mirror, Tonal and others    

The display screen: Constructed-in or BYO?

The sexiest side of the Peloton bike is, with out query, its built-in 21-inch HD touchscreen. It feels actually luxurious to work together with such a spacious show, whether or not for shopping Peloton lessons, viewing your biking stats or simply watching your onscreen instructors such as you’re proper there within the studio with them. In fact, that is additionally an enormous motive the bike is so costly; most rivals include a smaller display screen or none in any respect.


Tyler Lizenby/CNET

For instance, the Bowflex C6’s price ticket is simply $900, however does not include any sort of show. As a substitute, it has a mount in your pill, which connects to third-party apps by way of Bluetooth. The smaller display screen might not draw you in as a lot, however a pill permits you to do issues aside from watch class movies, like learn books, stream Netflix and even go on digital outside rides.

I am not saying one is definitively higher than one other — there are execs and cons to built-in and BYO screens.

Learn extra: Best home exercise equipment in 2020

The subscription: Obligatory or optionally available?

If the objective of buying a chunk of home-fitness tools is to keep away from dear fitness center or class memberships, a few of these bikes might depart you scratching your head. As famous, Peloton prices $39 monthly; Myx Health runs a bit of cheaper at $29, whereas Echelon’s plans vary from $20 to $40.

For those who purchase a NordicTrack cycle, you get your first 12 months of the companion iFit service at no further cost. After that, it prices $39 a month, or about $33 for those who prepay yearly. Bowflex is the outlier right here, with no required membership: Its biking bike is designed to work with varied third-party providers that provide biking lessons, together with Peloton Digital ($13 a month) and Zwift ($15 a month).

You need to use any of those bikes independently, in fact — you do not have to take a category (although Peloton does require a minimal one-year subscription as a part of your buy). However for those who resolve to not pay for a membership, some bikes will not acquire or show knowledge, reminiscent of pace and distance, about your rides, which is likely one of the causes somebody may select an indoor bike over a highway bike.

What’s extra, as a lot as you may dislike the concept of yet one more month-to-month subscription, even $40 is lower than what you’d usually pay for simply two or three drop-in lessons at your favourite indoor cycle studio. Simply you’ll want to issue that price into the general expenditure and, the place attainable, search for reductions on the pay as you go, annual subscriptions that take this train tools to the following degree.

Anyway, let’s check out the indoor bikes and see which one is the appropriate one to get your coronary heart charge up and your legs pumping!

Indoor bikes in contrast

Bowflex C6 Echelon Join EX3 NordicTrack S15i Myx Health Myx Peloton Bike ProForm Studio Bike Restricted
Value $999 $1,040 $1,599 $1,199 $2,245 $0
Month-to-month charge N/A $40 $39 $29 $39 $39
Subscription requirement N/A Elective Elective Required Required Required for three years
Display dimension (inches) BYO BYO 14 21.5 21.5 10

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Peloton’s cycle is, with out query, the Bentley of dwelling train bikes — a sturdy and exquisite machine that feels each inch like a premium product. In fact, it has a price ticket to match: $2,245 (which incorporates supply and setup) and $39 a month for on-demand and stay lessons.

As a result of I examined solely the cheaper options, I will flip you over to CNET colleague Megan Wollerton’s Peloton assessment. Even with the necessity to buy particular clip-in biking footwear, she discovered the Peloton cycle a “worthy splurge,” so far as indoor train bikes go.

Read our Peloton Bike review.

Echelon

In order for you one thing near the Peloton indoor bike expertise with out the worth, look to Echelon. The corporate affords a really comparable class construction, each stay and on-demand, but it surely’s obtainable by way of cheaper {hardware}. The EX3, for instance, prices $1,040, or you may get it with a one-year subscription for $1,400.

Echelon’s new EX5s ($1,640) comes mighty near matching the precise Peloton {hardware}, due to its large 21.5-inch display screen. Different fashions within the lineup, together with the EX3, require you to deliver your individual display screen, within the type of an iPad or comparable pill. Meaning a smaller show, but it surely additionally opens the door to actions like studying books or streaming Netflix, choices unavailable on the Peloton.

Nevertheless, you’ll be able to’t use an Echelon bike with any third-party biking apps — not if you need real-time stats. For the second, the bikes can pair solely with the Echelon app. As famous, that app delivers a really Peloton-like expertise, but in addition has roughly the identical subscription charges.

To seek out out extra, learn my Echelon EX3 hands-on first take from a couple of months in the past.

NordicTrack

NordicTrack’s bike makes use of a mechanical shaft to simulate the inclines and declines of precise bike driving, in order that while you’re pedaling a digital hill, it feels extra like a hill. What’s extra, class instructors and virtual-ride leaders can remotely modify your bike’s incline and resistance ranges, that means you are not continually futzing with controls.

That is fairly cool, and one motive the S15i stands out among the many bikes on this roundup. Nevertheless, whereas the flywheel itself is all however silent, the remainder of the equipment will get loud each time there’s an adjustment to your exercise. Likewise, the built-in fan is noisy to the purpose of distraction, even on the bottom pace.

My greater grievance is in regards to the built-in iFit software program, which offers entry to a large assortment of lessons, digital rides and off-bike exercises like high-intensity interval coaching and kickboxing, all by way of a 14-inch touchscreen. Sadly, it is marred by an aggravating interface. Scrolling is gradual and jerky, and there is not any method to kind and even search the content material, which is not categorized in any significant approach. So for those who needed to seek out, say, a yoga class, you’d need to scroll-scroll-scroll down the record till you ultimately discovered the yoga part. Fortunately, along with prerecorded bike lessons, iFit now affords stay classes as properly.

And the primary 12 months is free. After that, it will price you $39 a month or $33 if pay as you go yearly. You do not have to make use of it, however there’s nowhere on the bike to relaxation a pill for those who’d reasonably, say, watch Hulu.

The bike itself is snug to experience, simple to regulate and pretty enticing, save for the the chunky-looking arm-mounted display screen. On the plus facet, the display screen can rotate for any off-bike lessons you may need to take (although it will probably’t tilt down, so it is exhausting to see throughout flooring workouts).

{Hardware} and iFit points apart, I actually favored driving on digital world roads and trails and letting instructors management the bike’s incline and resistance. If that sort of train expertise appeals to you, there is not any higher possibility than the S15i.

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Bowflex

Nearly all the other bikes here have one thing in common: They effectively rope you into their ecosystems, requiring a membership to fully take advantage of the hardware. Not so the Bowflex C6 — it can pair via Bluetooth with a variety of different exercise apps, including Peloton’s. Add to that one of the lowest prices of any “connected” bike and you’ve got a serious contender.

The included assembly manual provides very little actual instruction; it’s mostly just a few diagrams. Using these, I was able to assemble the bike in about 45 minutes, with only a few head-scratching moments along the way. But Bowflex really should include a printed version of the more complete manual that’s available online. That guide also covers using the control panel, which is barely mentioned in the print version. Even then, there’s not nearly enough instruction on Bluetooth pairing.

The C6 spin bike looks a little skinnier, and therefore less substantial, than bikes costing more, but it feels mostly sturdy while you’re riding and makes virtually no noise. The pedals have toe cages, but can also be used with clip-in cycling shoes. I did encounter one mechanical issue: My handlebar post wobbled just a bit, even after being fully tightened, though thankfully it didn’t bother me while riding.

What did bother me was the tablet mount, which puts the screen at a very shallow angle and can’t be adjusted. That mount sits just beyond the bike’s control panel, which comes to life as soon as you start pedaling and displays six key metrics: time, calories, speed, distance, resistance level and pulse. Pulse readings come from an included rechargeable forearm monitor. Also included: a pair of 3-pound weights and two roomy water bottle holders. 

As noted above, the C6 works with a wide variety of third-party apps. I tried it with a few, including Peloton and Bowflex’s own Explore the World. The latter takes you on virtual rides around the world, matching the video playback to your pedaling speed, but it’s nowhere near as good as one called FulGaz. What’s great, though, is you can try these and other apps to find whatever you like best during your indoor workout sessions.

That flexibility, coupled with the relatively low price of the machine itself, makes the C6 a great choice for the budget-minded biker.

MYX Fitness

A newcomer to the market, Myx Fitness offers the closest thing I’ve seen yet to a straight-up Peloton clone: a bike with a 21.5-inch screen and original, in-house fitness programming. The pricing is decidedly different, however, as the Myx costs just $1,199, with a monthly membership fee of $29. So while it’s not the least expensive option in the roundup, it offers considerable value. 

I’d skip the $1,499 Myx Plus, however, which adds only accessories like mats and weights that, frankly, aren’t worth the money for an indoor cycling bike. You could buy the same gear piecemeal for the same or less.

The bike itself is as solid as they come, with reversible pedals (toe-cages on one side, shoe-clips on the other), handlebar height and depth adjusters and a monitor that can tilt and pivot. This last represents a huge advantage over Peloton, as it allows you to point the screen in different directions for off-bike classes. NordicTrack’s S15i does likewise — but costs $400 more and has a smaller screen.

Although the bike can track your heart rate (courtesy of an included Polar armband monitor), it doesn’t collect or display cycling data such as speed, distance or resistance. That means instructors don’t throw out numbers (“Speed up to 22!”) during classes; instead, the guidance is more along the lines of, “OK, let’s increase the resistance a little.” You’ll have to decide whether or not those metrics are important to the experience.

You’ll also have to decide if live classes are something you want; Myx offers only on-demand sessions, with no plans to match Peloton’s live ones. This is largely a matter of personal preference, but I liked the prerecorded Myx workouts I tried: It felt like I was one-on-one with a personal trainer instead of being just a random person in a big group. Similarly, I liked the metrics-free approach to cycling better than constantly chasing and checking speed and resistance numbers.

Finally, Myx’s touchscreen user interface is excellent: clean, responsive and easy to navigate. It’s currently home to hundreds of classes (not just biking, but also weight training, meditation, yoga and so on), with more added weekly. Virtual trail rides are coming soon, according to a Myx representative.

Peloton and some other bikes feel like they’re about competition: stats, leaderboards and all that. If you don’t want to compete but do want a great cycling experience paired with an extra-large screen, the Myx bike feels like a steal. It’s sure to turn a lot of Peloton shoppers’ heads.

Update, August 11: The earlier $150 discount on this product is no longer in effect.

ProForm

It sounds almost too good to be true, but ProForm’s deal is real — and awesome: Pay $39 a month for an iFit subscription and the bike is yours for free. You have to keep that subscription for three years, but that brings your total out-of-pocket cost to right around $1,400. That’s what you’d pay up front for a lot bikes, and then you’d still be paying a monthly fee on top.

I haven’t tried the Studio Bike Limited myself, but it resembles the NordicTrack S15i. No surprise there: Parent company Icon Health and Fitness owns both NordicTrack and ProForm, as well as iFit, among other brands.

The bike features a silent flywheel, height-adjustable seat and handlebars, digital resistance settings, 3-pound hand weights and a 10-inch touchscreen that can turn 180 degrees in either direction — helpful for any off-bike classes you want to take.

Speaking of classes, iFit here is the same as iFit above. It serves up a wide variety of classes — not just biking, but also high-intensity interval training, strength training, yoga and so on. Two things I particularly like: the virtual rides (in which you follow your instructor on gorgeous real-world trails) and the “live” resistance control, meaning the instructor changes your bike’s resistance settings during your class or ride.

Note that ProForm also offers its Carbon E7 elliptical on the same terms ($0 down, $39 a month for 36 months).

Stay tuned for additional listings as I’m able to evaluate more bikes. In the meantime, if you’ve already used one of these models yourself, hit the comments and share what you like or don’t like!

Up your health game in 2020 

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.






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Author

Rick Broida