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Is The Peloton Bike Worthy Of All The Hype? An Unbiased Review

the peloton bike review

I know you’ve seen the commercials on tv for the Peloton bike- young, fit individuals seeming to come of age as they sweat their butts off on this sleek indoor cycle- all conveniently located in gorgeous homes and hip NYC studio apartments. These commercials are highly effective, their goal being of course to spark interest in Peloton- selling the bike and the idea of cool luxury simultaneously.

Great marketing aside, in reality this is one of the most expensive home exercise bikes available.┬áIt’s also an exercise bike I happen to own now due to the kindness of my awesome wife.

I wanted to use the Peloton bike for a few months before I reviewed it so that I could give my honest opinion. Well, I just finished my 50th ride, so I figure the time has come.

I struggled when trying to figure out how I wanted to structure this review because I had a ton of ideas all coming together at the same time. I apologize if the end result is a little disorganized. I want to start off by describing the bike itself, the hardware. Then I want to talk about the monitor, the online classes, and the price.

Hopefully it will all make sense in the end. Here we go.

The Peloton Bike

Quick Stats:

ResistanceMagnetic
DriveBelt driven
PedalsClip-in
Weight Capacity305 lb
Warranty5 year frame
1 year parts, pedals, and labor

I just learned that the word “peloton” means the main group of cyclists in a race. I’ve always heard that when racers pack together they can save energy and work as a group to make everyone in said group a little more effective. Knowing this, it makes sense why Peloton chose this as the name of their company.

Peloton started in 2012 with the idea of creating a system that combined the excitement of a spin class with the convenience of working out at home. To do this, they designed a a high-end indoor cycle and placed a state-of-the-art touch-screen display on top.

Through this monitor, you can connect with live spin classes from Pelotons studios in New York City and London. You can also choose from a library of previously recorded classes- in total I think they have like 5,000 online workouts.

I’ll get to that in a little more detail later, let’s talk about the exercise bike itself first.

the peloton bike

At first glance, the Peloton bike is a very good looking machine. It’s sleek and modern looking, definitely not lacking in the wow factor. The bright red resistance knob is a handsome accent on the all black exterior.

Technically speakings, it’s packing a a heavy-duty welded steel frame that’s been powder coated for extra longevity. One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed between high-end bikes and less high-end bikes is the size of the components. On the Peloton for example, the frame and handlebars are thick, giving the feel of sturdiness. Comparable to what you see in the commercial gyms and spin studios.

The handlebars are also more comfortable than some of the other spin bikes I’ve used in the past (like the Diamondback 510Ic, which I still own). The thicker padding on the handlebars makes riding more comfortable- I’m not sure if it’s just me, but my hands and arms get achy sometimes from the pressure being put through them when I ride- I don’t have that problem on the Peloton.

The handlebars are also multi-grip, giving you the room to change your grip throughout your ride. This is especially important when standing to ride against higher resistances, something you will probably be doing a lot of when completing the online workouts.

You have the ability to choose between narrow and wide grips, as well as close, medium, and far distance positions. And pretty much any position in-between you that you prefer.

The Peloton bike uses a smooth, magnetic resistance system that is adjusted by turning the red dial left or right. With resistance levels adjustable in 1% increments (from 0 to 100), you have complete control over the intensity of your workout and it’s really easy to adjust during use.

I’ve never gotten above 75% resistance personally and that was when standing and going all out on an interval. The amount of resistance this bike is capable of providing is pretty astounding. It’s also amazing how smoothly the resistance increases or decreases as you adjust with the knob.

The resistance is super quiet too, almost silent because of the belt drive system. I’m usually jamming out to the music in the classes, but if you wanted to mute it and watch tv while your ride it wouldn’t be a problem.

The seat is pretty standard, but it’s more comfortable than the seat on my Diamondback. It’s fully adjustable, giving you the ability to adjust the height and horizontal position (fore/aft). The clearly labeled letters make it easy to remember your settings if you are sharing the bike with other family members.

The pedals are clip-in (or clipless), meaning you need cleats to connect to the pedals. The Peloton bike is compatible with LOOK Delta cleats and Peloton sells their own separately. If you have compatible cleats you could use those too (or buy some somewhere else separately). This is the first time I’ve used cleats to ride before- it took a little getting used to, but I like it.

I feel like it allows you to push a little harder than otherwise possible. Definitely makes it easier to achieve the faster cadences. It also makes it easier to use other muscle groups, like your hamstrings and hip flexors, as you cycle- instead of just relying on your quads. Sometimes after a hard workout it can be a little challenging to pop out of them though. I think this is more a statement on the intensity of the workouts than the pedals.

Long story short: the Peloton bike is a commercial grade spin cycle. It’s sleek, comfortable, and highly effective. It’s the nicest exercise bike I’ve personally ever used.

The Monitor

I’m not sure it’s fair to call this a “monitor”. It’s more like what you’d get if you combined a tablet and a flat-screen tv: a huge, HD touchscreen display.

Technically speaking, it’s a 22″ sweat proof HD touchscreen. The large size is important because it’s meant to put you in the position of feeling like you are part of the class. Which it does pretty successfully.

The perspective of the camera in the class makes it feel as if you are sitting in the same room with the instructor, right in the front row. You can see other riders that are actually in the same room in your periphery. It’s pretty cool.

the peloton bike review

The monitor is easy to use and the touchscreen is very sensitive, meaning you don’t have to pound on it to make your selections. The entire screen is touch-enabled and most of it is used when making your selections.

For example, when you are choosing your class, you have the option of choosing based on instructor, length of class, type of class, etc. You can quickly make these choices by pulling down different menus located at the top of the screen, simply by touching the monitor. It’s like using a huge iPad and it works very well.

Everything is controlled from the screen. The only buttons on the side of the monitor are a power button and a pair of volume control buttons.

Speaking of volume, the speakers built-into this monitor sound impressive. It also has a headphone jack if you need keep the volume down due to sleeping family members (or if you don’t want young ones hearing the explicit classes- they are the most fun by the way).

During the classes, you have a lot of info at your disposal displayed on the large screen. At the top, you have a timeline specific to your chosen workout, showing you how much time has elapsed as well as how much time is remaining. It is also divided into the warm-up and ride/weight sections of your workout.

On the left you can see what song is playing as well as check out the playlist. On the right you can see the leaderboard- this shows you how many riders are taking the class right now and shows you the top stats from riders who have taken the class in the past. It also ranks you based on your performance (total power output) so you can see where you rank on the overall list- a cool feature I use often.

This morning, I learned that if you click on one of the names on the leaderboard, you can see their workout stats- like cadence, resistance, etc. Very cool feature.

On the bottom of the screen, you have your cadence (rotations per min, RPM), your resistance level, and your power output (a combination of cadence and resistance, measured in watts).

On the top left, you can also track your heart rate in real time if you are using a chest strap monitor. Your calories and total watt output are calculated as well.

The monitor is WiFi, bluetooth, and ANT+ compatible. You can listen to music through wired or wireless headphones. Technologically speaking, this is high-end stuff.

Oh, if you’re wondering about tracking your fitness data- the Peloton program records every workout you do and keeps a history of it for ya. You can click on a workout you did from 6 months ago and see how many calories you burned, what your average resistance and cadence was, as well as see a detailed chart of your heart rate (if you are using a monitor).

Overall, the touch screen monitor on the Peloton bike is unlike any other monitor I’ve seen before. It really is like a huge tablet (or a touch screen HD tv). The streaming quality is good, but that could depend on your wifi strength. The sound and touch screen sensitivity are both awesome.

The Workouts

Ok, so the thing with Peloton is, that if you buy a bike (or treadmill) you have to sign-up for their membership. This is the monthly payment you make to have access to all the live and online classes. This is the biggest concern I had with Peloton- I didn’t want to have to make a monthly payment to use a spin bike in my own home.

I remember wondering if I could buy the Peloton without signing up for their membership. The answer is no, but in reality if you aren’t planning on using the classes it doesn’t make sense to purchase a Peloton in the first place.

The online workouts are what makes a Peloton a Peloton. The whole system is designed to allow you to take spin classes from the comfort of your home. If you don’t want to take their classes, it makes no sense to get their bike.

It would be like joining a spin studio to do your own bike workouts.

So, yes, you have to pay the membership and now it’s $39/month. For that price, you get unlimited workouts, live and previously recorded. They recently added another membership option if you don’t own their bike or treadmill- for $19/month you can access their classes through your smart devices and do them anywhere.

P.S.- if you are paying the membership fee for the bike, you also have access to the digital membership.

Looking at it now, I was wrong when I mentioned 5,000 recorded classes- apparently they have over 10,000 recorded classes. Either way, point is there are a ton of workout options. Even though if you purchase the bike you will be doing primarily spinning classes, they also offer stretching classes, upper body strengthening classes, and core workouts.

There’s a large variety of workouts to choose from. You can choose from workouts for beginners, for advanced riders, or for intervals (I like to do the HIIT workouts- they’re brutal).

You can also choose workouts based on instructor, playlist type, or length. A lot of times, I’ll lift weights for half an hour or so and then go do a 20 min HIIT ride. I can search the 20 min workouts and pick one that looks interesting.

There’s a wide variety of instructors to choose from, both male and female, and they all have their own style. If you join, you’ll find your favorites with time. My favorites are Robin (who gives the most intense workouts and has the best playlists) and Denis (who is entertaining and also selects great music).

I’ve only done it once so far, but if you aren’t in the mood for a spin class you can simply ride too. You can do scenic rides, where you see some foreign background on the display, as if you’re riding your road bike out in the Italian hillsides.

Peloton has done a great job of re-creating the spin class experience with their workouts. I like seeing the other riders in the background of the studio as I ride. It does really give you the feeling of being there with them. Technically, you’re kinda teleconferencing with a live spin class because these instructors are teaching real spin classes to real clients.

Unlike them, we can participate in our pajamas if we want to because we are still at home.

Price

I want to address the elephant in the room before I finish this review: price. There’s no getting around the fact that this is an expensive bike. If you ONLY get the bike, which includes delivery and setup, you’re looking at around $2200. If you want some of the other accessories, like heart rate monitor, cleats, and dumbbells, you’re looking at closer to $2500.

The price is high, but is it overpriced?

I’m not sure. It’s hard to answer that question because there’s nothing to really compare the Peloton to. This bike is in a league of it’s own because there really aren’t any other bikes offering the same thing (with the spin classes).

If you compare only the bike, the most likely comps would be the Schwinn AC Performance Plus and the Keiser M3i. Both of which are usually considered to be amongst the top home spin bikes on the market and both of which are priced around $2000.

The Schwinn doesn’t come with any monitor at all and the Keiser M3i comes with a small, standard monitor common amongst spin cycles. Neither of which can compare to the huge, HD wifi/bluetooth/ANT+ enabled television that comes with the Peloton bike.

The Schwinn comes with a longer frame warranty (at 10 years) and the Keiser comes with a shorter one (3 years).

Based on these comps, one could argue the Peloton is priced fairly. Personally speaking, after using the bike for the last 4 months or so, I would say the bike is priced pretty fairly. You usually get what you pay for- here, you’re getting an elite indoor cycle with a one-of-a-kind spin class experience.

Don’t forget once you purchase your bike, you’re also paying $39/month from now on to get access to all the cool classes. $39 a month for unlimited access to thousands of classes from world class trainers is a fair price.

If you joined a local spin studio, you would probably have to pay at least $150/month for unlimited classes (not to mention having to drive to and from and wear real clothes you aren’t embarrassed to be seen in public in).

Final Thoughts

After using my Peloton bike for the last few months, I’ve come to the conclusion that the hype is warranted and well earned. The Peloton bike is a spin program unlike any other on the market now. It gives you the ability to perform real spin classes, taught by world-class trainers, on a commercial grade cycle…all from your living room.

The bike itself can hold its own with any of the elite indoor cycles on the market today. The Peloton bike actually made it on my best indoor cycles of the year list.

Before we got the Peloton, I was still using my Diamondback regularly, but my workouts were getting stale. I was getting to the point where it was becoming a real chore to get my ride in. In other words, my workouts had become boring.

Peloton changed this completely for me.

Being able to join live classes and watch all the previously recorded ones added a much needed spark to my routine. The guidance and variety was a game changer for me. I’m able to ride longer and more intensely now than I ever have before.

I’m getting in better shape and having more fun in the process. I still don’t like having to wake up early to workout, but at least I get to use my Peloton when I do.

 

P.S.- I don’t mean to put down Diamondback or their 510Ic spin cycle with this review. I still own one and still use it when me and my wife ride together. It’s a great bike and still works great after a year of use. It’s just not in the same league as the Peloton.

 

 

 

 

Will

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