There’s really no debating that Peloton is the gold standard when it comes to streaming spin classes. They started the whole streaming craze to begin with and still offer the best experience when it comes to bringing the studio straight to your home.
But let’s be real- Peloton is expensive.
Luckily, other fitness brands have jumped on the bandwagon and are offering their own, more affordable, alternatives.
This means you too can join the home spinning community, but without going bankrupt in the process.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the 3 best alternatives to the Peloton bike. I’ll discuss why I think these bikes are better than the rest as well as how much cash they’ll save you in a year when compared to Peloton.
Let’s start with a quick intro into how Peloton works.
Peloton started in 2012 with the goal of making boutique fitness readily available to everyone from the comfort of their homes. They started with their spin cycle, but have also added a treadmill to their lineup a few years ago.
Both the bike and the treadmill each have a huge, HD touchscreen display mounted to them. The consoles connect to the internet wirelessly, allowing them to stream workout classes from the Peloton fitness app.
Peloton uses professional trainers with all of their classes. Although it started out as a spin studio, the Peloton app now provides all kinds of workouts including running, strength training, stretching, and more.
The idea is that you purchase one of their machines (bike or treadmill) and then pay a monthly subscription fee to access their fitness app, where all the workouts are.
Speaking of workouts, Peloton has accrued a huge library of on-demand workouts to choose from. We’re talking thousands.
They also offer 14 live classes a day, which really gives you the experience of being in a real spin studio. There’s even a leader board where you can compete with other cyclists around the world if you want.
We have a Peloton bike at my house- my wife surprised me a couple of years ago for my birthday.
And I have to say this thing is awesome.
It’s high-end and luxurious from top to bottom and built like a tank. I’ve clocked a couple hundred rides on it and it hasn’t skipped a beat (for more info, see my full review here).
But it’s expensive to buy and expensive to keep when compared to a lot of the other streaming bikes out there.
I want to break down the cost a little for ya so you’ll have a better idea as to how the other more affordable options we’re going to talk about compare.
|Purchase Price||$2,245 - $2,404*|
|Monthly subscription fee||$39|
|Annual cost (after purchase)||$468|
|Total Cost (1st year)||$2,872|
*purchase price depends on which package you get- the more expensive quote is for the “essentials package”, which includes cleats, a pair of dumbbells, and wired headphones.
You could get away without purchasing dumbbells or the headphones, but you’re gonna need a pair of cleats to use the Peloton. You don’t have to purchase through them if you have your own compatible pair.
I should note that Peloton offers 0% APR financing for 39 months for qualified shoppers. This brings the price of the bike to roughly $60 a month (I don’t think this counts the monthly subscription fee though).
Peloton’s competitors are cutting costs in a couple different ways. Most have placed a smaller asking price on the bike itself, cutting your initial cost. After that, the subscription fee may be smaller or comparable to Peloton’s.
Others offer a similarly priced bike, but a cheaper monthly subscription fee, which will save you money in the long run.
Several companies (Echelon comes to mind) combine the two money saving strategies by offering a cheaper bike and a cheaper streaming program.
Many have started marketing that they’re compatible with the Peloton app. So instead of coming up with their own app (which is probably expensive), they just use Peloton’s (hey, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em).
I think it’s a really smart move for these other brands.
Especially since you can now get the Peloton Digital app, which gives you access to all of their workouts, without purchasing their equipment.
I think Peloton Digital is $12.99/month, which is well-priced for all you get.
If you purchase a Peloton bike or treadmill, you get access to the Peloton Digital app for free (well, definitely not free, but it’s included in your membership).
Ok, that’s how Peloton works in a nutshell. Let’s get to the good stuff.
The Bowflex C6 Bike
|Monthly subscription fee||$12.99|
|Annual cost (after purchase)||$155.88|
|Total Cost (1st year)||$1104.88|
I think Bowflex’s C6 offers what most people are looking for out of a “Peloton alternative”. This spin bike is significantly cheaper, high-end, and uses a similar resistance system making it easy to pair with Peloton’s app.
The C6 cuts costs big time by making you use your own tablet to access your fitness apps. It’s similar to many of Echelon’s bikes in this way, but unlike most Echelons, the C6 does come with its own small LCD monitor.
And this is a game changer because it means you can use this bike without the tablet. This is great because you aren’t dependent on the tablet for operation of the bike.
If your tablet is malfunctioning, you can still get a workout in.
And since you are using your own tablet, you can access any fitness app you want to. You can use Peloton digital or any other cycling app you choose.
The C6 syncs with your tablet via bluetooth and is compatible with a bunch of different fitness apps.
What also makes this bike a great alternative to Peloton is the resistance system it utilizes. Like Peloton, the C6 utilizes a magnetic resistance system with 100 different micro-adjustable levels.
Like Peloton, you can set your resistance anywhere between 1 and 100 by turning the resistance dial.
And since Peloton uses this same system, it makes it really easy to follow along with the instructors on Peloton digital.
Besides the resistance system, the C6 is high-end from top to bottom. It comes with a heavy-duty frame that can hold users up to 330 lb, a fully adjustable seat, and a fully adjustable handlebar.
It’s also backed by a great warranty (better than Peloton) and even comes with a pair of 3 lb dumbbells.
Overall, if you’re looking to join the on-demand cycling world at a fraction of the cost of Peloton, Bowflex’s C6 is a great choice. See full review.
The NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle
|Monthly subscription fee||$39|
|Annual cost (after purchase)||$468|
|Total Cost (1st year)||$2,467|
NordicTrack’s Commercial S22i is a direct competitor to Peloton and toe-to-toe, the 2 bikes are very comparable. The S22i also comes with a 22″ HD touchscreen display and also uses its own streaming system (iFit) to provide the workouts.
Looking at the chart above, you’ll notice that this bike is pretty expensive too.
You’ll save about $500 or so on the initial purchase, but the monthly subscription after that costs the same as Peloton.
Although, you should get 1 free year of iFit with your purchase, so the first year cost would actually be significantly cheaper than what I included in the above chart ($468 cheaper).
And $500 on purchase price alone is significant, especially when you see what the S22i has to offer.
I mentioned that large HD console which is comparable to what the Peloton comes with. This bike also comes with a 32 lb flywheel, a heavy-duty frame, and a fully adjustable seat.
The S22i comes with standard toe-cage pedals. This is a good thing if you don’t want to invest in a pair of riding cleats. If you already have cleats, or want to purchase some, you can easily swap the pedals out for a clipless system.
An interesting feature this bike has (and Peloton doesn’t) is an incline/decline system, designed to mimic the feel of riding up/down hill, respectively.
When you’re doing the iFit workouts, the instructor actually controls your incline, so it adjusts automatically to match the intensity the class is working at.
iFit is the streaming app NordicTrack uses. Like Peloton, you can access a huge library of on-demand workouts, including running, strength training, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
iFit also allows you to sync up for scenic rides, which can be a nice change of pace if you’re tired of the studio classes.
The S22i also comes with a pair of dumbbells, a built-in fan, and a generous warranty (longer than Peloton).
Overall, this is another luxury bike with a lot of bells and whistles. If you’re looking to mimic the Peloton feel as closely as possible, the S22i is the way to go. See full review.
The Echelon Connect EX-5s Bike
|Monthly subscription fee||$33|
|Annual cost (after purchase)||$399.99|
|Total Cost (1st year)||$1,999.98|
Next to make the list is the Connect EX-5s from Echelon. This is Echelon’s most advanced model to date. As you can see, this bike is significantly cheaper than both the Peloton and the S22i.
Not only does this bike cost less to purchase (almost a $1000 less), the monthly subscription fee is a little cheaper too.
The monthly fee I quoted in the chart above refers to the app fee when you purchase 12 months in advance. The bike price also assumes you’re bundling with a 12 month subscription to the Echelon app.
If you don’t purchase a year at a time, the monthly fee goes up to $39 and the bike price would be about $40 higher.
You can save even more if you really think long term and purchase 2 years of the app in advance. Doing this brings the monthly subscription to cost to roughly $25/month.
The EX-5s is the only Echelon bike that comes with a console. Their more affordable models cut costs by utilizing your tablet as the monitor.
If this sounds interesting, check out their Connect EX-3– you could save yourself another $500.
With a 22″ HD display, the EX-5s’s console is comparable to Peloton’s. It even does something Pelotons can’t- swivel. This is a great features because it makes it easy to perform the other non-spinning workouts.
This bike also comes with a fairly heavy, 28 lb flywheel and 32 levels of smooth magnetic resistance. Other impressive features include fully adjustable seat and handlebars and an included dumbbell rack.
If you can’t decide between sneakers or cleats, it doesn’t matter. The EX-5s comes with dual-compatible pedals, meaning it works with any shoe you own.
Echelon has their own streaming app and it’s taken a page out of Peloton’s book by offering 1000’s of on-demand workouts as well as daily live courses to choose from.
There’s a lot to choose from other than spin classes. Plenty of strength training, yoga, and running workouts. Great selection, though I must say I prefer the production value of Peloton.
Overall though, Echelon should be proud of their EX-5s. It’s a solid bike with some very respectable specs. The warranty could be a little longer, but Pelotons guarantee isn’t that great either. See full review.
The Horizon IC7.9 Indoor Cycle
|Monthly subscription fee||$12.99|
|Annual cost (after purchase)||$155.88|
|Total Cost (1st year)||$854.88|
If you’ve been waiting to see some serious budget cutting, you’ll be happy with the Horizon IC7.9. As you can see from the chart, this bike is gonna save you big cash in every category.
The purchase price is almost 1/4 of what the Peloton costs. The biggest difference? This bike doesn’t come with a huge HD screen attached.
Instead, Horizon took a page out of Echelon’s original play book and designed the IC7.9 to work with the owner’s tablet (or phone).
Unlike Echelon though, this bike does come with a small digital display that shows all the key metric you need during a workout- cadence, distance, calories, speed, etc.
There’s no bluetooth connecting to your tablet here, it’s a lot simpler.
You watch the workouts from whatever fitness app you want to on your tablet and use the included digital display to match the speeds and resistances the instructors are instructing.
This means a couple of things
First, the IC7.9 can work perfectly as a stand alone spin cycle- you don’t have to pair it with a fitness app to use it. You also don’t have to pay for an app to access your workout metrics (I’m looking at you Echelon).
Second, it means you can use any fitness app you want.
In the chart above, I priced it out with the Peloton Digital subscription in mind. But you can use any app, free or paid, you like.
The bike itself is impressive. When it comes to performance specs, the IC7.9 is packing a heavy, 35 lb flywheel, fully adjustable seat and handlebars, and dual-sided pedals.
It’s also backed by a great warranty, especially considering the price.
But the best part in my opinion is the 0-100% resistance scale it uses. Using a precision resistance lever, you can adjust the resistance to any level between 0 and 100%.
Unlike the C6, there aren’t 100 different resistance levels (only about 10), but the scale helps you with figuring out which level you should be on based on what the Peloton instructors are saying.
This makes the IC7.9 really compatible with the Peloton spin classes. When the Peloton instructors tell you to put your resistance between 30-40%, you’ll be able to do so on this bike.
I’m a fan of Horizon Fitness because they make quality equipment that’s well priced. I think the IC7.9 is a great addition to their lineup and a brilliant way to bring the world of streaming spin classes to the masses. See full review.
The Peloton bike is awesome and amazing and is still the gold standard when it comes to bringing the experience of the spin studio to your home.
But the truth is, Peloton is priced as a luxury item and is too expensive for a lot of folks.
And that’s ok.
I hope this article proves there are plenty of more affordable options out there. Whether you’re looking to save a little cash on the initial purchase or looking for a more affordable monthly commitment, there are options.
If your budget is especially tight, you can save thousands and go the route of the of IC7.9. Again, I think this bike is brilliant.
Either way, I think streaming classes is the future of home fitness. It makes working out more fun and approachable, especially now that more affordable models are coming out.