(Pocket-lint) - The Peloton Bike reminds us of the iPhone. It's a status symbol with a growing base of rabid fans, but it has just as many critics who cry about it being overly expensive compared to the competition. Costing close to a couple thousand - not including the monthly subscription service or various accessories it works with - Peloton Bike is not exactly affordable for most people.
The truth is - if you're on a tight budget, want to stay in shape, or simply love cycling - there are dozens of exercise bikes you can get on Amazon for less than $500 instead. Schwinn, Sunny, ProGear, etc, are a few of the more popular brands, and each one of these bikes can be used with the Peloton Digitial app for iOS, Android, and Fire TV to access live and on-demand classes.
Amazingly, a membership to Peloton's app even costs less per month if you don't use it with the Peloton Bike. So, why would you get the Bike? Well, as we said, it's partly about status. But, also, it's just plain cool to use.
Peloton Bike: What is it?
- Integrated 21.5-inch HD (1920 x 1080) display for Peloton Digital only
- Adjustable handlebars and seat for ideal fit
- Solid steel construction, aluminum pedals
- Built-in adjustable resistance knob
- Weights: 135lbs / 61kgs
Peloton Bike is a smart exercise bike (or spin bike or indoor bike or whatever you want to call it). It's a stationary bike used for indoor cycling workouts. It has a welded steel frame with super-quiet wheels and an HD touchscreen display affixed to the front that allows you to virtually participate in live or pre-recorded studio classes from the comfort of home.
It weighs a hefty 135 pounds (61kgs). We learned this the hard way when we decided to move it upstairs the moment it was delivered. Don't be like us; keep it downstairs and save your back from unnecessary pain and your steps from unavoidable dings and marks. Anyway, once you get it in the space you want, the two small wheels on the front do make it easier to roll into place.
The bike is made of solid steel and has aluminum pedals. Its most distinctive feature is a 21.5-inch 1080p HD display at the front. This is used exclusively to serve up the full, premium Peloton experience. You get to stream thousands of cycling classes, pre-recorded or live. But you can't use the display for anything else, like watching YouTube or checking emails.
Other than that, there are two somewhat flimsy plastic water bottle holders at the front. You'll find even more plastic on the back wheel and a few other places - we believe the Bike would feel even more premium if it ditched plastic. There's plenty of exercise bikes that are plastic-free, so why here?
Anyway, the integrated handlebars can be adjusted for height and reach, to suit your fit preference. It's really simple to do. You can also adjust the seat's height and the seat's lateral position, meaning you can scoot closer or farther away from the handlebars. The seat is decently comfortable - sure, our butt was a bit sore the first couple weeks of use, but that's part and parcel of cycling workouts!
The Peloton Bike works like most other spin bikes out there. Think about how you'd adjust a Bowflex C6 or Kieser M3I, two of the more popular indoor bikes you can buy. The Peloton Bike even has a resistance knob like those bikes. It's in the front and controls how intense it will be for you to ride. Turn it clockwise to make it more difficult or go the other way for easier.
Peloton Bike: How much does it cost?
- Purchase price excludes Peloton membership
Peloton Bike starts at $2245 in the US ($250 of which is delivery and installation), £1990 in the UK. It works with a Peloton all-access membership for $39 (£39 / €39) a month. You don't have to pay for the membership or even take the classes if you don't really want to, but then, why buy a Peloton Bike?
Some Peloton-branded accessories - like the cycling shoes and bike mat - come with the bike if you purchase a certain Peloton Package. These are different pricing tiers that always include the bike and throw in accessories. The more expensive the tier, the more accessories you get with your bike. There are currently four packages: Basics, Essentials, Works, and Family.
- Basics Package: Includes the bike for $2245 (£1990 / €2290).
- Essentials Package: Comes with the bike, cycling shoes in your size, earbuds, and a set of hand weights for $2404 (£2129 / €2449)
- Works Package: Includes the bike and everything from Essentials, plus a bike matt and a heart rate monitor for $2494 (£2199 / 2549)
- Family Package: Comes with the bike, two cycling shoes, two water bottles, a bike matt, a set of hand weights, two earbuds, and two heart rate monitors for $2694 (£2389 / €2749)
Peloton Bike: How to set it up
Peloton can now deliver a fully assembled Peloton Bike to the threshold of your home, rather than inside. How very 2020. You know what we're talking about. We just needed to move the bike to our preferred location, plug in the power adapter, press the power button on the top of the display to get started, then follow the on-screen activation process.
You will need to fill out basic profile information, like your name and height and weight, and also hand over payment details so Peloton can sign you up for the all-access membership. The touchscreen display will show each step and walk you through the setup process. It's easy. Each bike can handle multiple profiles, too, so you can get one bike and use it with several members of your household.
Peloton Bike: How it works
You can use the Peloton Bike as a normal bike and disregard the fancy spin classes but still use the touchscreen to monitor your metrics. There's even a scenic route option if you want to feel like you're outdoors. We tend to use the all-access membership, which offers both live and on-demand classes and shows stats in real-time, including cadence or revolutions per minute (RPMs).
There's a 5-megapixel camera at the top of the screen that allows you to video chat with other Peloton riders. You can specify whether that's "riders I follow" or any "riders in class with me" who can request to video chat, or you can set your profile to private, via the Settings panel.
Every class has a leaderboard on the side that compares you to others in the class. You can see riders' usernames, locations, ages, and profile photos (if they uploaded one during setup). On-demand classes exclusively have an "all-time" leaderboard that shows the rank of whoever's taken the class. The Peloton works with Fitbit and Strava as well, so your workouts can be automatically logged.
The bike is Bluetooth-enabled, so it'll work with external heart-rate monitors, Bluetooth headphones and speakers. You name it, you got it!
One thing that's worth thinking about - and if you're not a cycling aficionado you might not know about this - is the pedals. There are standard shoes and then there are cleats, the latter which clip-into the pedals for better down/up-force and positioning. They're not just popular on the road, though, as many bike studios, such as SoulCycle, use cleats. Thing is, there are multiple types. The Peloton Bike comes with Look Delta-compatible pedals, so if you're using SPDs (which stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) then you may need to buy a new pair of shoes/cleats.
Peloton's classes are as short as five or 10 minutes, but can go up to an hour or longer. And there are thousands of them. They range in music and style and have different instructors and goals. This studio-level experience is what truly separates Peloton Bike from the competition.
But here's a thing: we also own a Sunny-branded indoor bike. We even use it with the Peloton app for Fire TV. It costs $12.99 a month and we stream it on a TV in our workout space. Not only does it serve up spin classes for us to cycle with, but also guided meditations and at-home workouts. The best part for casual riders like us is that the Sunny bike uses toe clips that work with any sneakers we own (although, long term, this isn't as good for fit, your legs/muscles or your maximum capabilities).
If you're interested in spinning at home, the Peloton Bike is the top-of-the-line indoor trainer to buy. It's like the iPhone of spin bikes. It's a gorgeous piece of equipment, with a sleek touchscreen attached to deliver live and on-demand classes. But perhaps more importantly you can say to your friends that you have a Peloton, nothing less.
Our friends and loved ones wanted to see and try it as soon as we told them about it. But our regular Sunny bike - which, by the way, sits next to the Peloton Bike and in front of a TV that serves up the Peloton app - they couldn't care less about. Well, until they heard the price difference.
If you're the kind of person who isn't that into spinning and doesn't like to spend large amounts of money, then the Peloton Bike isn't for you. You should consider something more casual. But, if you're serious about working out and love to have the latest, greatest and coolest gear, the Peloton Bike is absolutely it.