Echelon’s Connect EX-5s is the most advanced model in their spin bike lineup. The big difference between this one and their other bikes? The EX-5s comes with something none of their other bikes does… a monitor.
And not just any monitor, the EX-5s comes with a 21.5″ HD touchscreen display.
With the addition of a large, HD display, Echelon has officially entered into a competition with the likes of Peloton and NordicTrack.
But can the Connect EX-5s cut the mustard? Does it make sense to choose this bike over the others?
Well, that’s what we’re here to figure out. In this review, we’ll take a close look at everything this spin bike has to offer. We’ll look past the large screen and dive into the performance specs that really count.
After reading, you’ll have a better understanding of what the EX-5s is all about. You should also know whether or not this is the right spin bike for your home gym.
The Echelon Connect EX-5s Bike
Echelon has made a name for themselves by offering a significantly cheaper alternative for folks looking to get into the home spinning game (or rowing game via their Smart Rower).
They’ve been able to keep their prices low because their bikes don’t come with a monitor- instead, you use your own smart phone or tablet as the bike’s console.
This game plan seems like a great idea. Folks can save literally $1000’s of dollars (depending on the model you get) and still take advantage of the streaming spin classes and all the benefits that go with it.
Echelon offers 3 models besides the EX-5s and you have to supply your own screen for all of them. They each differ a little in terms of features and price.
I got my hands on an EX-3 a while back. As a happy Peloton owner, having to use my phone as my console was a bit of a downgrade, but I was pleasantly surprised with how heavy-duty the bike itself is.
Now that Echelon has a bike with an HD touchscreen display that’s still significantly cheaper than the Peloton, people have got some decision making to do.
- 21.5″ HD touchscreen console
- Console swivels 180°
- 28.7 lb flywheel
- 32 levels of magnetic resistance
- Fully adjustable seat
- Fully adjustable handlebars
- Heavy-duty frame
- 300 lb weight capacity
- Dual compatible pedals
- Access to thousands of on-demand workouts
- Access to live courses
- Short warranty
When discussing spin bikes, we probably put too much emphasis on flywheel weight. Myself included. I know when I’m researching a new bike I always seem to check out the weight of the flywheel before anything else.
It’s generally believed that heavier flywheels provide smoother workouts. That’s because the extra weight helps the wheel keep spinning as you pedal, reducing any unwanted lag between pedal strokes.
This makes sense, but can the average person tell the difference between a 25 lb and 30 lb flywheel? Or between a 32 lb and 38 lb flywheel?
My guess is no.
Heavy flywheels are great and do make for a fluid ride, but I’m just saying flywheel weight should just be one thing to consider when looking at a bike. It shouldn’t be the end-all decision making factor for ya.
Ok, now that I got that off my chest, the EX-5s comes with a pretty heavy flywheel at 13 kgs (or 28.7 lb). You’ll feel this weight when starting from a cold start, but once you get moving it’ll make for a smooth ride.
The flywheel is pretty heavy, but you may have noticed that it’s located in the rear of the bike.
All of Echelon’s bikes are designed this way- they’re copying the sleek look of the Keiser M3i, which I believe was the first spin bike to mount the flywheel in the back.
I agree it looks cool, but it serves another purpose too- it keeps the flywheel away from any corrosive sweat.
This rear-mounted flywheel is paired with a magnetic resistance system to provide a quiet, smooth workout. The EX-5s has 32 levels of resistance to work with, giving you a lot of play when selecting your intensity.
You select your resistance by turning a knob, as you do on most high-end spin bikes.
After using my Peloton for a couple years now, I prefer using the knob over push buttons. It’s easier and faster during your workouts.
Overall, Echelon didn’t go overboard on the flywheel, but it’s heavy enough to provide a smooth and substantial workout. I also like having the flywheel positioned in the back.
Spin bikes use standard bicycle seats. This means that most people find them pretty uncomfortable (because they are pretty uncomfortable).
The good news is that with time you get used to them. And if you don’t feel like waiting, you can always get a gel seat cover to instantly soften things up (I linked to the one I use on my Diamondback).
You can also switch seats out easily since spin bikes are compatible with standard seats. If you want to switch the seat out with a premium, more comfortable seat you can without much fuss.
The important thing to note is whether or not your spin bike comes with a fully adjustable seat.
A fully adjustable seat can be adjusted vertically (height) and horizontally (fore/aft). Being able to adjust the fore/aft position ensures a more comfortable fit for any user.
The EX-5s’s seat is fully adjustable, coming with 17 height adjustments and 7 fore/aft adjustments.
There’s also a place to store your 2 lb dumbbells located on the seat. This makes it convenient to grab the weights during your combo spin/arms workouts.
P.S.- 2 lb doesn’t sound like much, but when your doing static holds and loads of reps (while pedaling), it doesn’t take much weight to get the job done.
Overall, the EX-5s’s seat isn’t particularly comfortable, but none are. The important thing is that it’s fully adjustable.
The EX-5s comes with multi-grip handlebars, which is pretty standard on all spin bikes these days. But, unlike most other bikes, these handlebars are fully adjustable.
This means you can adjust the handlebars vertically and horizontally, just like the seat.
Having fully adjustable handlebars isn’t a deal breaker for me (like a fully adjustable seat is), but it’s nice having the extra layer of personalization.
Just another way to ensure the most comfortable fit possible.
Otherwise, not much to say about the handles. They’re thick, which is nice because it makes them more comfortable to use, especially when standing.
Frame integrity is important for a spin bike, especially if you plan on doing intense workouts that include standing and pedaling at high speeds.
The last thing you want is a wobbly bike that feels like it could give out on ya.
It can be hard to determine how sturdy a frame is without sitting on it and going for a spin, but there are a few numbers you can look at to get a good idea.
The weight limit tells you a lot about how strong the frame is – bikes with higher weight limits have to have stronger frames.
Personally, I wouldn’t go with any bike with a weight limit under 300 lb.
The EX-5s comes with a 300 lb weight limit, so it meets that criteria. Most high-end spin bikes fall between 300 – 350 lb for max weight capacity, so the EX-5s is pretty standard in this category.
Another spec you can look at is the total weight. Heavier bikes will have more robust frames and feel more stable during use.
Keep in mind that flywheel weight will play a substantial part in total bike weight.
The EX-5s weighs 124 lb fully assembled. This is roughly 20 lb heavier than the EX-3 I tried, which was very stable in it’s own right.
Although the EX-5s is a little lighter than these other bikes, it’s still heavy enough to provide a stable surface for intense workouts.
Overall, this bike comes with a sturdy, heavy-duty frame. You shouldn’t have any issues with machine wobbling during use.
Spin bike pedals are usually either toe cages (designed for sneakers) or clipless (designed for use with cleats). Each has their advantages.
Others, like the EX-5s, come with dual compatible pedals. This means these pedals have a toe cage on one side and an SPD compatible clipless system on the other.
This gives you the option of using sneakers or cleats.
If you’re going to be going all out, cleats are the way to go. Being attached to the pedals makes it easier to reach those higher cadences, but it would mean you’d have to buy a pair of riding cleats (if you don’t already have your own).
With toe cages, you can wear any shoes you want.
If you don’t want to use the toe cages or want to switch the pedals out for other pedals you may have or prefer, you can easily do so. The EX-5s is compatible with any standard bike pedals.
Overall, the EX-5s scores highly with dual compatible pedals, giving users the option of what type of shoe wear they use during workouts.
We’ve taken a pretty detailed look at the EX-5s bike, but let’s be real- it’s the console that most people are probably interested in. Well, let’s take a look at that too.
Unlike all the other Echelon models, this one actually comes with a monitor. To be more specific, it comes with a 21.5″ HD touchscreen console.
This is roughly the same size as both the Peloton and the NordicTrack S22i. Any larger, and the screen would extend beyond the dimensions of the bike frame (it would also be overkill considering how close you are during your workouts).
The touchscreen makes selecting workouts and whatnot easy. It’s like having a smart tablet attached to your bike, works great.
Keep in mind, you’ll have to sign up for Echelon’s fitness app in order to take advantage of this awesome console. But that’s kinda the point of this bike- you know, getting access to studio classes from home.
Echelon membership costs about $39/month. For the cost, you get access to thousands of on demand workouts as well as up to 14 live courses a day.
There’s a ton of cycling classes to choose from, but they offer all kinds of strength training, stretching, and cross training workouts as well.
The console on the EX-5s can swivel 180 deg, allowing you to use the monitor to watch non-cycling workouts, which is a really nice touch.
In terms of workout quality, Echelon does a nice job. Professional trainers lead the workouts and the video quality is solid (although I admit I prefer Peloton).
If you sign up for a year in advance, you can save a little money on the app subscription.
For comparison’s sake, Peloton will cost you around $56/month and iFit (used with the S22i) is around $15/month (with no live courses).
Overall, the console on this bike is impressive. The Echelon app offers a huge selection of workouts to choose from, including live, interactive workouts.
The Echelon Connect EX-5s comes with the following warranty:
- 1 year guarantee
- 30 day money back guarantee
Ok, so a 1 year warranty on the bike is really short given the price range. When compared to the other top bikes in this category (Peloton and NordicTrack), the EX-5s falls short.
Based on the comps, I’d like to see at least 5 years on the frame and 2-3 years on parts.
The 30 day money back guarantee is a nice touch, but I’d prefer a longer warranty instead. But, if you get one and don’t like, send it back within the first month and get a full refund.
Overall, the warranty department is this bike’s biggest flaw.
Streaming bikes have become more and more popular. With the on-going success of Peloton, we’re likely to see more and more brands entering the market with their takes on spin bikes with streaming capabilities.
Echelon falls into a nice niche- cutting costs by having the user use their own tablet as the console.
With their EX-5s, they broke their own mold and designed a model with a huge touchscreen display. In doing so, they put this bike in direct competition with the Peloton and NordicTrack S22i.
As the bike goes, the EX-5s has a lot going for it. I like the heavy, rear-mounted flywheel. I also like the fully adjustable seat and handlebars and the dual-compatible pedals.
All high-end features we’d expect to see on a spin bike in this price range.
The console is comparable with what you’d find on the other top streaming bikes. I think the swivel feature is a nice touch, making it more convenient to access the non-spinning workouts.
The Echelon membership is extensive and getting more impressive all the time. Personally, I prefer Peloton’s workouts/trainers, but for $20/month less, Echelon offers a more affordable alternative.
The bike itself is also well priced when you look at the comps- roughly $600 cheaper than the Peloton and about $300 cheaper than the S22i.
Overall, I think the EX-5s is a winner. If you want to join the streaming spin studio revolution without having to spend Peloton level cash, this bike is a good option.