If you’re entering the market for an exercise bike, the great news is that there are plenty of fantastic options to choose from depending on your specific needs. Many of these bikes are incredibly well equipped, and will help take your workouts to the next level—all with the help and guidance of a virtual trainer! Two prime examples of these high-spec bikes are the NordicTrack S22i, and the Peloton. The name NordicTrack might sound familiar, as they’ve been in the business of building exercise equipment since 1975.
Peloton is by comparison a relative newcomer to the space, but one that has been a strong contender ever since launching the Peloton Bike in 2013. Since then the competition has been getting tougher and tougher, as you’ll see below, and to fight back the brand has made some changes to their lineup. The classic Peloton Bike as seen in this comparison is now priced at $1,895 rather than $2,245, and an upgraded bike with a host of new features has been added for $2,495. While the higher spec bike now offers some of the features that we love the NordicTrack S22i for, including a swiveling screen and auto-follow resistance, its higher sticker price is going to be a hangup for some. With that in mind, we’re keeping this comparison focused on the classic Peloton bike.
While the Peloton has been gaining mainstream popularity fast, it faces some serious competition in the S22i. Both have their pros and cons, we’ve crafted a thoughtful overview of each bike’s strengths and weaknesses below.
Ed. Update — Since writing this, a new contender has thrown their hat in the ring, delivering a closer-to-Peloton experience for a much more affordable sticker price. The MYX Fitness Bike has rapidly become our new favorite affordable alternative—read the full MYX Fitness Bike review here.
55 inches long by 21.9 inches wide
|48 inches long by 24 inches wide|
24-step digitally-controlled magnetic resistance system.(SMR™ Silent Magnetic Resistance)
|Manually controlled magnetic resistance system. Knob-style, fluid control rather than stepped.|
22″ HD Touchscreen
Interactive trainer-led classes through iFit (first year included)
Google Maps with route incline/resistance programming
|22″ HD Touchscreen
Interactive trainer-led classes ($39/month subscription required.
|Toe Cage Pedals||Yes||No|
|Price||$1,999||$1,895 + $39/month|
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a look at some of the key differences between these two bikes.
Shop Nordictrack S22i
When looking at the footprint of both of these machines, they aren’t particularly far apart. That being the case, there isn’t any real advantage/disadvantage here when it comes to fitting either bike in your home.
The frames of both of these bikes are made of high quality steel, so once again you can take comfort in knowing that sturdiness and durability is a non-issue. That said, regular wear and tear is par for the course with any exercise equipment, so neither bike will last for eternity, but at the very least you can assume that either option will be a good one.
Though a first glance at the NordicTrack and Peloton websites would lead you to believe the resistance systems of these two bikes are completely different from one another, they’re actually quite similar. Both systems use a set of strong magnets that are moved towards and away from a metal flywheel, making it either harder or easier to pedal. The difference between the two bikes is in how this adjustment takes place.
In the case of the NordicTrack S22i, a 24-step digital controller makes the adjustment as you press buttons on the handlebars or via the 22-inch touchscreen display. Being a digital control, this allows for another interesting function that we will cover shortly. It’s also worth noting here that the S22i also features incline adjustment that is also digitally controlled, allowing the bike to simulate 20% incline and 10% decline hills. When following along with iFit instructor-led classes, the bike’s resistance automatically adjusts to follow the guidance of the instructor.
The Peloton, on the other hand, uses a physical knob on the frame of the bike that is connected to its magnets via mechanical linkage. By rotating the knob, the magnets are moved in relation to the flywheel the same way the digital controller moves the magnets on the S22i. This type of system allows for a finer control of the bike’s resistance, but it also means the rider needs to take their eyes away from the screen and a hand off the handlebars to make the required adjustment. Sadly the Peloton Bike does not have the same automatic functionality with its resistance controls, though that feature has been added to the new and more expensive Peloton Bike+.
The consoles of these two bikes and their built-in functionality is what sets both of these apart from any of the more budget/entry-level bikes on the market right now. Rich high definition displays and quality built-in speakers are just the tip of the iceberg. With both bikes, riders are able to tune into live training classes with a real instructor as if they were in their local gyms taking a spin class in a crowded room—all from the comfort of their own home. You’d think this means these two bikes are competing at an even level, but there are some fundamental differences between the two setups to consider.
You’ll recall our mention of the digital controls on the NordicTrack, right? Well, as you participate in NordicTrack’s iFit live classes, your instructor can (and will) remotely control your bike’s resistance and incline settings, ensuring that you aren’t slacking during your workout. This is a great feature for beginners as well as veteran riders, as it allows you to stay focused on your routine rather than fussing with settings.
Though the Peloton’s adjustments are manual, the brand has developed a HUGE cult following around its classes, being touted as some of the best/most effective training regiments for this type of exercise. Live classes are being broadcast 24/7, 365 days a year, so no matter when you want to train there is a class ready and waiting for you. The unfortunate catch here is that this training doesn’t come free. On top of the $1,895 sticker price for the Peloton bike, a $39/month membership fee is required to join in on any of the classes (per Peloton’s customer service, the bike comes pre-loaded with 3 classes upon delivery). By comparison the first year of NordicTrack’s iFit classes are free, and rates are $33/month after your first year has expired. Basically, though the sticker price of the Peloton is a hair lower, by the end of the year it winds up being a touch more expensive than the S22i.
The last clever feature that NordicTrack snuck into the equation is the integration of cycling routes via Google Maps. Not only can you cycle through some of your favorite destinations around the globe, but thanks to elevation data, the S22i will alter elevation and resistance to simulate the route as you watch the scenery pass on its HD display. Pretty cool, right?
The NordicTrack features a rotating screen design, allowing users to hop off the bike and get some strength training in during a workout. This makes it possible to stay in tune with your programmed workout from start to finish.
The Peloton’s console is unfortunately fixed in place, though if your workout area is behind the bike you’ll still be able to view its 22″ screen. If you’re willing to spend the extra coin, the new Peloton Bike+ has a screen that swivels.
A first look at the sticker price of the Peloton and the NordicTrack S22i would make you think the two are pretty evenly matched, though there’s a bit of extra math to consider. Right out of the gates you’re paying $104 less for the Peloton, however that doesn’t take into account the $39/month training sessions to make this comparison equal (on account of the free year of iFit classes). This means that the real cost of the Peloton bike is $2,363 for the first year, making the difference between the two a total of $364.
Aside from some fairly straightforward math, what will make biggest difference in the purchasing decision between these two bikes is the value/interest in Peloton’s classes. The boutique fitness firm has garnered a huge fan base around the globe, and for some, access to their training classes will outweigh the clear shortcomings of the bike itself in terms of features when compared to the NordicTrack.
Personally, the combination of incline control, route mapping, and instructor-controlled resistance settings while in live classes pushes the NordicTrack ahead of the Peloton, but both are excellent bikes that will most definitely help you get in shape, have fun, and stay motivated all at the same time.