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You've seen the ads, and you may have even seen the small shops in local malls telling you to buy a Peloton bike. Almost overnight, Peloton became a big name in indoor bikes because they look nice and the included software helped you feel included in a group workout without having to actually go to a spin class. Indoor bikes are an amazing way to stay healthy, but there are so many affordable alternatives to the Peloton experience worth considering before you sign up for the thing in all the ads.
Most people looking at a Peloton don't know you aren't just paying $1,445 for a Peloton Bike or $2,495 for a Bike Plus. There's also a staggering $44 a month for Peloton workout classes, which is just unnecessary for a lot of people. There are plenty of indoor cycling bike options which range from only charging you a monthly fee with no upfront cost for the bike itself to bikes with no monthly fee at all and only a hardware cost.
Let's take a look at the best indoor exercise bike options and see which is the right one to get your heart rate up and your legs pumping. The best Peloton alternative for you could be a scroll away. Options for an outstanding indoor bike experience are nearly endless, but I have done the work to highlight some of my favorites so you can find the best exercise bike for your needs. Note that these prices are accurate at the time of this writing and subject to change. Also, note that many of these fitness equipment sellers offer financing.
Peloton vs. best Peloton alternatives
||Bowflex C6||Bowflex VeloCore||Echelon Connect EX3||NordicTrack S15i||Myx Fitness Myx||Peloton Bike Plus||ProForm Studio Bike Limited|
|Subscription requirement||N/A||Optional||Optional||Optional||Required||Required||Required for 3 years|
|Screen size (inches)||BYO||16-in. and 22-in.||BYO||14-in.||21.5-in.||21.5-in.||10-in.|
Most indoor bike platforms now ask you to pay at least some monthly fee for software. The Bowflex C6 is currently my favorite exception to this -- it can pair via Bluetooth with a variety of different exercise apps, including Peloton's. Add to that one of the lowest prices of any "connected" bike and you've got a serious contender.
The included assembly manual provides very little actual instruction, but I was still able to assemble the bike in about 45 minutes. The only thing I really found missing was details on Bluetooth connection to my iPad, which allowed me to use a ton of different apps for indoor cycling. For something that's half the cost of a Peloton, that minor annoyance passes quickly.
The C6 spin bike looks a little skinnier, and therefore less substantial, than bikes costing more, but it feels mostly sturdy while you're riding and makes virtually no noise. The pedals have toe cages, but can also be used with clip-in cycling shoes. My handlebar post wobbled just a bit, even after being fully tightened, but was resolved shortly after with a set of aftermarket stabilizers.
The included tablet mount puts the screen at a very shallow angle and can't be adjusted, which isn't my favorite thing ever. That mount sits just beyond the bike's control panel, which comes to life as soon as you start pedaling and displays six key metrics: time, calories, speed, distance, resistance level and pulse. Pulse readings come from an included rechargeable forearm monitor. Also included: a pair of 3-pound weights and two roomy water bottle holders.
As noted above, the C6 works with a wide variety of third-party apps. I tried it with a few, including Peloton and Bowflex's own Explore the World. The latter takes you on virtual rides around the world, matching the video playback to your pedaling speed, but it's nowhere near as good as one called Zwift which allows me to ride virtually with friends and participate in competitions.
That flexibility, coupled with the relatively low cost of the machine itself compared to Peloton, makes the C6 a solid choice for the budget-minded biker.
At $1,799, the VeloCore indoor cycling bike barely qualifies as an "affordable Peloton bike alternative" -- and if you opt for the model with the 22-inch screen, now you're up to $2,199. However, there's one very good reason to consider the VeloCore and it's right there in the name: your core.
Whereas the NordicTrack S15i can tilt forward and back to help simulate going up and down hills, the VeloCore actually lets you lean side to side: The whole bike chassis can unlock to swing left and right, which makes the biking experience feel much more realistic when you're up in the saddle and pedaling hard. And if you hold that lean (as instructed in some classes, or whenever you want to amp up your ride), you feel it in your arms and abs.
This may seem at first glance like a gimmick, but I left every workout on this thing with a fantastic burn in my abs. That leaning capability, when done correctly, really does add something. Riding this way has a more natural feel than the mechanically adjusted (and noisy) inclines afforded by the NordicTrack. And of course, neither feature can be replicated on a Peloton.
Bowflex's software, called Jrny, is a combination entertainment hub and workout studio. The UI is fairly intuitive, offering a mix of prerecorded trainer-led and virtual-coach classes, scenic virtual rides, streaming radio stations and so on. You can also sign into streaming services like Amazon, Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu and Disney Plus, a capability I wish other bike platforms would allow. The software even supports syncing ride data with other cycling apps, like Peloton and Zwift, on your phone or tablet.
Jrny's workout features are $20 a month or $149 annually, which costs far less than Peloton and gives you quite a bit more. If you don't need that "in-person" virtual class feeling and are interested in occasionally cycling at your own pace while enjoying a show or movie, this is my favorite Peloton alternative.
If you want a Peloton alternative at the lowest possible price without losing important features, look to Echelon. The company offers a similar class structure, both live and on-demand, but the hardware and subscription cost considerably less than anything from Peloton. The EX3, for example, currently costs $800, or you can get it with a one-year subscription for $1,200. That price frequently drops to around $600 or less when it's on sale, which happens frequently.
Echelon's newer EX5s ($1,600) comes mighty close to matching the actual Peloton hardware, thanks to its massive 22-inch screen. Other models in the lineup, including the EX3, require you to bring your own screen, in the form of an iPad or similar tablet. That means a smaller display, but it also opens the door to activities like reading books or streaming Netflix, options unavailable on the Peloton.
However, you can't use an Echelon bike with any third-party cycling apps -- not if you want real-time stats. For the moment, the bikes can pair only with the Echelon app. As noted, that app delivers a Peloton-like experience, but also has roughly the same subscription rates.
To find out more, read this Echelon EX3 hands-on first take.
You'll notice this recommendation isn't exactly more affordable than Peloton, but it's still on the list because this bike does way more. NordicTrack's bike uses a mechanical shaft to simulate the inclines and declines of actual bike riding, so when you're pedaling a virtual hill, it feels more like a hill. What's more, cycling class instructors and virtual-ride leaders can remotely adjust your bike's incline and resistance levels, meaning you're not constantly futzing with controls.
That's pretty cool and one reason the S15i stands out among the bikes in this roundup. However, while the flywheel itself is all but silent, the rest of the machinery gets loud every time there's an adjustment to your workout. Likewise, the built-in fan is noisy to the point of distraction, even on the lowest speed.
My bigger complaint is about the integrated iFit software, which provides access to a wide assortment of classes, virtual rides and off-bike workouts like high-intensity interval training and kickboxing, all via a 15-inch touchscreen. Unfortunately, it's marred by an aggravating interface. Scrolling is slow and jerky and there's no way to sort or even search the content, which isn't categorized in any meaningful way. So if you wanted to find, say, a yoga class, you'd have to scroll-scroll-scroll down the list until you eventually found the yoga section. Thankfully, in addition to prerecorded bike classes, iFit now offers live sessions as well.
And the first year is free. After that, it would cost you $39 a month or $33 if prepaid annually. You don't have to use it, but there's nowhere on the bike to rest a tablet if you'd rather, say, watch Hulu.
The bike itself is comfortable to ride, easy to adjust and fairly attractive, save for the chunky-looking arm-mounted screen. On the plus side, the screen can rotate for any off-bike classes you might want to take (though it can't tilt down, so it's hard to see during floor exercises).
Hardware and iFit issues aside, I really liked riding on virtual global roads and trails and letting instructors control the bike's incline and resistance. If that kind of exercise experience appeals to you, there's no better option than the S15i.
Myx Fitness isn't shy about what you get with this Peloton alternative, it's a bike with a 21.5-inch screen and original, in-house fitness programming for the whole body. The pricing is decidedly different, however, as the Myx II stationary bike costs just $1,399, with a monthly membership fee starting at $29. So while it's not the least expensive option in the roundup, it offers considerable value.
I'd skip the $1,599 Myx II Plus, however, which adds only accessories like mats and weights that, frankly, aren't worth the money for an indoor cycling bike. You could buy the same gear piecemeal for the same or less.
The bike itself is as solid as they come, with reversible pedals (toe cages on one side, shoe clips on the other), handlebar height and depth adjusters and a monitor that can tilt and pivot. This last represents a huge advantage over Peloton, as it allows you to point the screen in different directions for full-body off-bike classes. NordicTrack's S15i does likewise -- but costs more and has a smaller screen.
Although the bike can track your heart rate (courtesy of an included Polar armband monitor or syncing with your Apple Watch), it doesn't collect or display cycling data such as speed, distance or resistance. That means instructors don't throw out numbers ("Speed up to 22!") during classes; instead, the guidance is more along the lines of, "OK, let's increase the resistance a little." You'll have to decide whether or not those metrics are important to the experience.
You'll also have to decide if live classes are something you want; Myx offers only on-demand sessions through its standard Openfit subscription, and it charges extra for live workouts through the BeachBody's Bodi service. This is largely a matter of personal preference, but I liked the prerecorded Myx workouts I tried: It felt like I was one-on-one with a personal trainer instead of being just a random person in a big group. Similarly, I liked the metrics-free approach to cycling better than constantly chasing and checking speed and resistance numbers.
Finally, Myx's touchscreen user interface is excellent: clean, responsive and easy to navigate. It's currently home to hundreds of classes (not just biking, but also weight training, meditation, yoga and so on), with more added weekly. Virtual trail rides are now available as well, along with Myx Media content such as news and coach diaries.
Peloton and some other bikes feel like they're about competition: stats, leaderboards and all that. If you don't want to compete but do want a great cycling experience paired with an extra-large screen, the Myx bike feels like a steal. Check out my full review for more details.
It sounds almost too good to be true, but ProForm's deal is real -- and awesome: Pay $39 a month for an iFit subscription and the bike is yours for free. You have to keep that subscription for three years, but that brings your total out-of-pocket cost to right around $1,400. That's what you'd pay up front for a lot of bikes and then you'd still be paying a monthly fee on top. If you're ready for the indoor bike life and want an affordable alternative to Peloton, it's difficult to imagine a better deal.
I haven't tried the Studio Bike Limited myself, but it resembles the NordicTrack S15i. No surprise there: Parent company Icon Health and Fitness owns both NordicTrack and ProForm, as well as iFit, among other brands.
The bike features a silent flywheel, height-adjustable seat and handlebars, digital resistance settings, 3-pound hand weights and a 10-inch touchscreen that can turn 180 degrees in either direction -- helpful for any off-bike classes you want to take.
Speaking of classes, iFit here is the same as iFit above. It serves up a wide variety of classes -- not just biking, but also high-intensity interval training, strength training, yoga and so on. Two things I particularly like: the virtual rides (in which you follow your instructor on gorgeous real-world trails) and the "live" resistance control, meaning the instructor changes your bike's resistance settings during your class or ride.
Recommended, with reservations
Peloton's cycle is, without question, the Bentley of home exercise bikes -- a sturdy and beautiful machine that feels every inch like a premium product. Of course, it has a price tag to match the Peloton experience: $1,445, delivery and setup included, plus $44 a month for on-demand and live classes. And that's just for the original bike; the newer Peloton Bike Plus runs $2,495.
Although I didn't love having to purchase (and use) special clip-in cycle shoes, I did enjoy the overall Peloton experience. The high-energy cycling classes are fun and engaging, with a huge variety of instructors, music genres and difficulty levels -- something for everyone.
To look at the Stryde bike is to see a Peloton alternative with a similarly dazzling 21.5-inch screen but lower price tag: $1,495, plus a completely optional $30 monthly subscription. Unlike virtually every other bike with an integrated display, this one doesn't lock you into a custom ecosystem. Instead, it runs stock Android, so it's like having an oversized tablet at your fingertips, one capable of running not just Stryde's own app, but also a browser, Netflix and so on.
Unfortunately, this blessing is also a curse. This version of Android doesn't support Google Play Services, meaning there are certain apps -- HBO Max and Zwift, to name just two -- that won't run, period. And while Netflix comes preinstalled, other streaming apps (such as Hulu and Disney Plus) must be sideloaded. That's not a novice-friendly option.
Another disappointment: The screen doesn't rotate, so you can't easily use it for off-bike classes. Speaking of which, you'd have to find those elsewhere, as Stryde's membership plan currently includes cycling classes only. I also found the built-in speakers very tinny, and barely loud enough for me to hear my Netflix show. Thankfully, class volume was much louder, and it's easy enough to plug in wired headphones or pair any Bluetooth set.
One thing you can't work around is the meaty cable that dangles from the bottom of the tablet instead of running through the frame of the bike -- not a good look. It has Velcro straps, but there's no place to adequately secure the cord. What's more, about 20 minutes into my second workout, I noticed a squeaking sound coming from one side of the bike -- not something you want to hear from a brand new machine.
Instead of creating its own classes à la Peloton or Echelon, Stryde links you to around half a dozen different studios around the country, the idea being to give you a broader range of options and instructors. Using the Stryde app's simple pull-down menus, you can filter by studio, instructor, class length, music genre and so on (though not skill level). However, I found no classes designed to introduce you to the bike itself, and the "beginner ride" class I tried was anything but.
Much as I admire the sturdy design of the Stryde bike and versatility of its tablet, I don't think it's a good fit for all riders. If you're a studio-cycling novice or someone who's not comfortable tinkering with Android settings, I'd consider another machine.
How we test Peloton alternatives
Every indoor bike has the same basic feature set, but testing any bike as a viable Peloton alternative means the bike needs to meet a few basic benchmarks. When testing any indoor bike, we're primarily interested in measuring the following:
- Size, Stability and Comfort: How well this bike fits in your home and how comfortable it is to ride in a home. This includes ease of assembly, how much noise the bike makes and how well it tucks away when not in use if that's what you need in your space.
- Software features: If this is a Peloton alternative, it needs to be able to deliver a lot of different things all at once. This includes heart-rate monitoring and reporting, access to a wide variety of workout types and the ability to use your bike in a competitive workout environment (real or virtual)
- Cycling flexibility: It's important that the indoor bikes we consider as Peloton alternatives be able to challenge a wide variety of skill levels. This means something on this list allows for clearly defined difficulty levels and allows for someone with preferred cycling shoes to comfortably use the bike.
Each bike we have access to is thoroughly tested by riding in three different situations -- Included HIIT workouts, 20-mile performance rides, and more casual 30-minute cycling sessions. If we have not yet had access to the bike but find its features interesting, this detail is called out in the section.
Factors to consider when choosing a Peloton alternative
- Consider how much you're willing to spend on an indoor cycling bike. Some less popular brands may cost only a few hundred dollars, whereas bigger brands like Peloton can cost thousands.
- Many smart bikes now include a subscription to access their classes. Decide if a member subscription is important to your indoor cycling experience or if you want an option to just ride.
- If you do want a member subscription, determine if you'd like the ability to create additional profiles for other family members.
- Consider if you want the bike's screen to be built-in or if you're okay with a tablet or phone holder.
- Make sure the bike you're eyeing fits in your home as they can take up a decent amount of space.
Which bike is Peloton's biggest competitor?
This is a tough question to answer, because it depends on what kind of cyclist you are. If you're new to cycling and want the gym experience at home, the biggest competition to Peloton would be the NordicTrack S22i referenced above. If you're a more advanced cyclist looking for a way to get in a variety of workouts at home without needing to go to a scheduled spin class, the competition to Peloton would likely look more like an indoor trainer where you're using your own road bike hooked up to a Wahoo Kickr Smart Trainer.
Because indoor bikes like Peloton reach such a broad audience of cyclists, your personal level of enthusiasm has a ton of weight on your choice.
What should I look for when buying an indoor exercise bike?
Before you decide which indoor exercise to buy, you'll want to consider several things including cost, size, display screen and whether or not you'll need a monthly subscription. If your main goal is to simulate the experience of riding outdoors, for instance, you'll want a bike like NordicTrack's S15, which offers a realistic road feel and can mimic the incline and decline of hills. However, if your main goal is to get the most bang for your buck, you'll want to consider something like the ProForm Studio Bike Pro.
Which muscles does indoor cycling work?
Indoor cycling is a full-body workout. It targets your core, upper body, back, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and lower legs.
Which bike is most similar to Peloton?
With its 21.5-inch screen and extensive selection of fitness classes, the $1,399 Myx II stationary bike is the closest thing to a Peloton that you can get. But if you're looking to cut costs even further, the $800 Echelon EX3 is an excellent alternative with Peloton-like classes and a premium design -- but keep in mind that you'll need to bring your own screen.
Is a built-in or BYO screen better?
The sexiest aspect of the Peloton exercise bike is, without question, its big HD touchscreen. Of course, that's also a big reason the bike is so expensive; many indoor spin bike competitors come with a smaller screen or none at all. The Bowflex C6, for example, doesn't come with any kind of display. Instead, it has a mount for your tablet. The smaller screen may not draw you in as much, but a tablet lets you do things other than watch indoor cycling class videos, like read books, stream Netflix or even go on virtual outdoor scenic rides. I'm not saying one is definitively better than another -- there are pros and cons to built-in and BYO screens.
Is a subscription necessary?
If the goal of purchasing a piece of home-fitness equipment is to avoid pricey gym or class memberships, some of these bikes may leave you scratching your head. As noted, Peloton charges $39 a month; Myx Fitness runs a little cheaper at $29, while Echelon's plans range from $20 to $40. If you buy a NordicTrack cycle, you get your first year of the iFit service free and after that, it costs $39 a month.
You can use any of these bikes independently, of course; you don't have to take a class (though Peloton does require a minimum one-year subscription as part of your purchase). But if you decide not to pay for a membership and fitness app, some bikes will no longer collect or display data, such as speed and distance, about your rides, which is one of the reasons someone might choose an indoor bike over a road bike.
Much as you might dislike the idea of yet another monthly subscription, even $40 is less than what you'd typically pay for just two or three drop-in cardio workout classes at your favorite indoor cycle studio (and it's worth it if you find a particular Peloton instructor particularly motivating). Just be sure to factor that cost into the overall expenditure and, where possible, look for discounts on the prepaid, annual subscriptions.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.