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Peloton vs Echelon: Which exercise bike is better?

Live Science logo Live Science 11/29/2021 Maddy Biddulph
Peloton vs Echelon, here's a look at which exercise bike is best for you. Image shows a close-up of a person's feet on the pedals of an exercise bike. © Provided by Live Science Peloton vs Echelon, here's a look at which exercise bike is best for you. Image shows a close-up of a person's feet on the pedals of an exercise bike.

The Peloton vs Echelon discussion is one that has taken off over the last few years, with workouts at home going from strength to strength. Both of these high-end brands are trailblazers when it comes to interactive at-home cycling classes, with the opportunity to cycle along with your favorite instructors and challenge your family and friends too. 

Peloton and Echelon are up there amongst the top-rated exercise bikes and have huge followings that are only set to grow. A-list fans from Olympic soccer star Megan Rapinoe to comedian and talk show host Ellen Degeneres have integrated Peloton into their fitness routines, while Echelon is a more affordable option with lots of similar features. Cyber Monday exercise bike deals and Cyber Monday Peloton deals can make either of these bike brands more affordable still, so catch one now whilst the sales period is still ongoing. 

With so many exercise bikes on the market and classes and instructors to choose from, it’s easy to find the whole buying process a little overwhelming. So, to help you get started, we’ve outlined the crucial differences when it comes to Peloton vs Echelon, so you can get one step closer to a motivational spin class at home. And once you have decided, if you need to shop accessories, check out our best shoes for Peloton guide for more.

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Peloton Bike+ Basics Bundle: Was $2,495.00, now $2,145.00 at Peloton This Peloton bundle marks the beginning of Peloton's Cyber Monday offerings, with a neat $150 off. Grab yours now for an immersive fitness experience at home.

Peloton vs Echelon: A closer look

Cult favorite Peloton has two bikes to choose from – the original Peloton Bike with a 22-inch HD color touchscreen, and a new ‘cardio + strength’ Peloton Bike+, which has a massive rotating 24-inch HD touchscreen.

By comparison, Echelon has four bikes - the Echelon Connect Sport and EX-3 (which don’t have screens, just device mounts so you need your own smartphone or tablet to use it), while the Echelon Sport S Smart Connect has a 10-inch inbuilt touchscreen, and the latest EX-5S, with a 21.5-inch HD screen.

With both brands, you need a monthly subscription to access their online content and live classes via an app, available on iOS and Android.

The new Peloton Bike+ costs $2,495 (plus an all-access membership for $39 a month) and comes with a 360-degree swiveling touchscreen for on and off-bike workouts. It has ‘auto-follow’ digital resistance, which you control via the screen as well as a dial, improved Apple Watch connectivity, and four speakers, which also rotate for that surround sound movie theater feel.

The original Peloton Bike has been slashed to $1495, plus the $39 per month subscription fee, while the Echelon Connect EX-5S costs $2187 with a monthly FitPass membership fee ranging between $25-40/month.

Peloton vs Echelon: Design and features

Aesthetically, the EX-5S and original Peloton Bike are pretty similar, so much so that Peloton brought a lawsuit against Echelon for copying its technology. Both bikes have steel frames and magnetic resistance dials, which you manually control. 

This differs from the more luxurious Peloton Bike+, which has a digitally controlled resistance. This means you can set it to automatically mimic what the instructor is doing, taking the stress out of having to keep changing the intensity yourself.

The Peloton bikes both use Look Delta-compatible cleats, which you can fix to the bottom of bike shoes with a 3-screw hole set-up, so you’ll need to factor in the extra cost of buying the right trainers before investing in the brand.

The Echelon range by contrast has double sided pedals - clips on one side and toe cages on the other – giving you more options with footwear.

Apart from a few minor design tweaks – hidden wires, hand weight racks, raised logo - the main difference on the Peloton Bike+ is the bigger rotating screen. This makes workouts feel even more immersive and helps with the non-spinning classes like bootcamp or stretching, when you want more space on the floor, away from the bike. 

We’ve touched on the new improved sound system, which has state-of-the-art front and back facing speakers (compared with just rear-facing audio on the original Peloton). Turn the volume up and you can almost imagine yourself right there in the class with the instructor. The excellent sound quality on the Bike+ in particular helps keep workouts engaging. 

Peloton vs Echelon: Workouts

So which bike has the best workouts in the debate of Peloton vs Echelon? Both brands have more than just spinning (indoor cycling) classes, including cardio, strength training and yoga, so users can chop and change between workouts to suit their mood or fitness level.

Saying that, it’s hard to compete with the Peloton offering, with daily live weekly classes and thousands more on-demand workouts that you can filter by type, length, music, intensity and instructor. With low impact options, Tabata rides, interval training and even live DJs, the Peloton workouts promise something for every ability and taste.

As Nathan Honess, lifestyle and fitness coach, points out: "Live classes, like those available through Peloton and Echelon, are a great way to motivate people who want the benefits of a gym environment while still working out at home. 

"Seeing other people taking part in the same class encourages us to drive through our workouts and perform to our very best."

Echelon differs from Peloton as it also has specific workouts for Pilates and boxing, as well as audio-guided workouts that mean you don’t have to look at the screen to do them.

Both brands offer scenic rides in an array of countries – extra appealing post-lockdown when traveling outside of the country is still a little complicated.

Peloton vs Echelon: Display and user experience

The EX-5S and Peloton Bike both have touchscreens – the Echelon has a 21.5-inch one that rotates 180 degrees while the Peloton Bike has a static 22-inch screen. The main benefit of having a rotating screen is when you want to do an off-bike workout like HIIT or yoga. It just means you don’t have to crane over the bike to see the instructor. 

That’s what makes the rotating 24-inch screen on the Peloton Bike+ so appealing, taking you from saddle to the mat and opening up a whole new world of online instructor-led classes. 

But to be honest, you can mimic the effect on Echelon’s cheaper Connect Sport ($1093 and a $54 monthly subscription fee) and EX-3 model ($1641 plus $54 subscription per month), because they both have moveable tablet mounts, and also offer off-bike workouts like yoga and HIIT.

When it comes to user experience, the Echelon bike has 32 levels of magnetic resistance, and the Peloton has 100 (fluid, rather than stepped levels). Realistically, 32 levels of resistance is adequate for most people, but the Peloton does make for a slightly smoother ride.

The Peloton Bike+ differs in that it has an ‘auto-follow’ digital resistance system – meaning that when the instructor tells you to change the resistance, the bike will automatically adjust it for you. You can live without it, but it’s a nice feature. But don’t worry, if you’re old school you can still manually adjust the digital resistance knob, and it takes far less effort to twist it than the dial on the original Peloton.

Bluetooth is available on all models of the Echelon so you can easily connect the FitPass app to the bike and start a workout. You can also link your Facebook, Fitbit and Strava accounts.

As expected the Peloton is slightly more advanced when it comes to connectivity. You can easily sync your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth device, including wireless heart rate monitors and smartwatches. The Peloton Bike+ has a new Apple GymKit integration, which makes pairing your watch a breeze. Just hold your Apple Watch up near the Peloton logo to sync it before your workout.

Peloton vs Echelon: The verdict

There’s a lot to take in when investing in a big bit of home fitness equipment like a Peloton or Echelon, and it’s important to think about what you need out of your exercise bike before you make your decision.

As we’ve said, both brands offer an immersive fitness experience with enough classes and instructors to keep you from getting bored. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, then Echelon won’t disappoint. 

But there’s a reason why Peloton has a cult following and the price tag to match, and if you can afford one, you won’t regret it. For once the hype lives up to the reality: Peloton is the best exercise bike in America that you won’t want to live without.


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