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Is The Peloton Bike Still A Smart Buy? [An Up Close And Personal 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, this used to be one of the most expensive indoor cycles around (although that’s no longer the case).

It’s also an exercise bike I happen to own now due to the kindness of my awesome wife.

But with so many streaming options available now, is the Peloton Bike really worth the money?

Well, I’ve been using my Peloton Bike since 2018 and I’m still on it at least 2x/week, so as a happy customer, I would say most certainly.

But just because I love it doesn’t mean it’s the right bike for you.

In this up close and personal review, I’ll go over everything this cycle has to offer, as well as provide all the intimate info you could want from a firsthand user.

After reading, I think you’ll have a better understanding as to whether or not the Peloton Bike is the right option for your home gym.

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 – so 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

the peloton bike

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 Peloton’s studios in New York City and London (as well as several other cities now).

But you can also choose from a library of previously recorded on-demand classes- put all this together and there are thousands of workouts to choose from.

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

Pros

  • 35 lb flywheel
  • 100 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Belt drive
  • Heavy-duty frame
  • 21.5″ HD touchscreen console
  • Thousands of live/on-demand workouts
  • Great production value
  • Bluetooth headphone compatible
  • Heart rate monitor compatible
  • Fully adjustable seat
  • Dumbbell holders
  • Competitively priced

Cons

  • Warranty could be longer
  • Dumbbells not included
  • Monthly streaming fee a bit pricey

Frame/Resistance

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 (assembled weight of 135 lb) that’s been powder coated for extra longevity.

Like most indoor cycles, it only takes up a footprint of roughly 4′ x 2′ and comes with an oddly specific weight limit of 297 lb.

Why 297 lb and not 300 lb, don’t ask me.

Anyway, 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.

We see a lot of newer bikes these days using this 100 level resistance system and I think it’s smart of them to do so – having this many resistance levels is great.

You can make tiny resistance changes when you want to, but you can also rapidly make large adjustments as well.

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 smooth and quiet too, almost silent because of the belt drive system and 35 lb flywheel under the hood.

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.

According to Peloton, folks who are between 4’11” and 6’4″ should be able to ride comfortably.

The Peloton Bike comes standard with clipless pedals, 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 and 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 owned.

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.

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).

It’s also compatible with bluetooth headphones for added convenience.

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’s 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 for motivation.

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, it’s pretty high-end.

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 wonderful and it’s no wonder it’s inspired so many other brands to come out with streaming cycles too.

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 the all access option.

For that price, you get unlimited workouts, live and previously recorded; as well as all non-cycling workouts and use of their Digital App.

Of which there are a ton – they’ve got every kind of strengthening, stretching, cardio workout you can think of.

I enjoy their 5 and 10 min core workouts, but there’s all kinds of stuff 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).

Alex Toussaint is also awesome, great energy.

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.

Overall, I think Peloton has done a great job of re-creating the spin class experience with their at home workouts.

I still think Peloton workouts have the best production value, and I’ve been able to try out a few other competitors throughout the years (Echelon, iFit).

Long story short, Peloton workouts are legit.


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, but it’s a whole lot more affordable now than it used to be.

When my wife bought ours back in 2018, before the days of the Peloton Bike+ and all the other competitors, the Peloton Bike cost around $2200… and that was just for the bike itself.

Add in the cleats, the dumbbells, and the heart rate monitor and you were looking at more like $2500.

Well, luckily Peloton has dropped that price significantly.

As I’m editing this review now, the Peloton Bike is going for $1,195.

Which is an amazing price for this bike if you ask me, especially considering NordicTrack still has their Commercial S22i  listed at around $1800.

The reality is, Peloton had to start bringing their prices down, what with so many competitors to deal with these days.

NordicTrack, Echelon, ProForm, Bowflex, Stryde… the list continues to grow.

Plus, there’s also their newer Peloton Bike+, which comes with a larger, more advanced console which can rotate out making it easier to see while doing non-cycling workouts.

Which I’m pretty sure NordicTrack came out with first, but I can’t remember (brands are always stealing ideas from each other, making it hard to keep track).

When thinking about price, keep in mind you have to think about that monthly streaming fee too.

At $39/month, Peloton’s fee is about as high as they come, but I think it’s a pretty fair deal considering how much material you get access too

And how sharp and professionally done all workouts are.

Overall, I think it’s smart that Peloton has dropped the price on their classic bike so much and I think it’s a steal at just over $1k.

I still can’t believe we had to drop over $2k on it…

Final Thoughts

After using my Peloton Bike for the last few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that the hype is warranted and well earned.

The Peloton Bike is the OG when it comes to streaming spin bikes and I think one could make an argument that they’re still the top dog in this category.

When you look at the bike itself, it can hold its own with any of the elite indoor cycles on the market today.

Heavy-duty frame, 35 lb flywheel, 100 levels of magnetic resistance, quiet belt drive…what else could you need.

Add in that gorgeous HD console and I think the Peloton has it all.

I forgot to mention it earlier, but the biggest downside I see to Peloton and their bikes is their warranty.

Peloton only backs this cycle with a 5 year frame and 12 month parts warranty, which is pretty short when compared to other similarly priced cycles (especially at its original price).

That said, I’ve had this bike for years now and it hasn’t skipped a beat.

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.

So, to answer my original question, yes, I think the Peloton Bike is still a smart buy, especially at its new low price.

Even with so many new streaming bikes to choose from, I still think the Peloton is one of the best indoor cycles on the market. Highly recommended.

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 still a great bike in its own right.

 

 

 

 

Will

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