If you are in the market for a new exercise bike, two of the biggest players in the game are Peloton and Schwinn. Spin bikes have become highly sought after, as more and more people are hopping on the spinning bandwagon after trying a class and realizing how fantastic the workout it is. While Schwinn and Peloton aren’t apples-to-apples competitors, we thought we would look at the two ends of the price spectrum in the category with the intent of giving you a better gauge of what to expect if you’re on a budget versus what features come with a more premium offering. Schwinn’s more recent IC4 comes a bit closer in spec at a basic level than the prior IC3 that we once compared, but these bikes are still a good ways apart once you get away from basic mechanicals and construction.
Peloton has become acutely aware that market competition has increased dramatically since the launch of its at-home bike in 2013, and has recently announced some changes to its lineup to make themselves more competitive again. The original Peloton Bike remains on sale, now coming in at a more affordable sticker price of $1,895 compared to its original $2,245 list price. In addition the brand has developed an updated version of the bike with a host of new features which will be available soon for $2,495. This puts the new bike back into the most expensive position in the competitive pool, but it still has an upper hand due to its huge cult following in the indoor cycling world.
|Footprint||48′ long by 24′ wide||48.7″ long by 21.2″ wide|
|Weight||135 lbs.||100 lbs.|
|Frame||Welded Steel||Welded Steel|
|Resistance||Magnetic flywheel resistance system||Magnetic flywheel resistance system|
|Console Features||21.5 Full HD Touchscreen
(23.8″ for Bike+)
|LCD Multifunction Display
Multimedia Device Holder
Now that you have the basics, here is a closer look at what these differences (and similarities) mean for your actual riding/training experience.
To put it simply, the footprint is how much space your bike will take up in a room, and for the most part this shape and style of indoor cycling bike is pretty consistent from brand to brand. Both models come in right around the 4 feet by 2 feet mark.
With a 35-pound gap between the Schwinn IC4 and the Peloton, you’re probably thinking this is pretty trivial, right? Not so. Frame/bike weight plays a substantial role in riding stability—as you pedal away harder and harder, the bike is going to want to move with your motions, and the heavier the bike, the more inherently stable it will be. If you weigh less than somewhere around 200 pounds, you won’t really notice a difference, but if you’re presently a little heavier you might find the added heft and rigidity an asset. That said, if you’re going to be moving your bike to a different location when you use it, the Schwinn will be slightly easier to maneuver.
The frame on both of these bikes is made of high-strength steel, so as far as that goes, you shouldn’t have any issues. Both should hold up just fine and allow you to get a great workout in for years to come.
In its earlier guise (the discontinued IC3) the biggest stumbling block that Schwinn had was the fact that it was running friction resistance instead of magnetic. At present, that game has changed, as the brand was able to deliver a magnetic resistance system in a more affordable and entry-level indoor cycle. The Schwinn also runs a heavier flywheel than its competitor, which in turn creates an extra smooth ride and higher range of max resistance.
Back to being inherently similar, both of these bikes use a belt drive system connecting the pedals to the flywheel, creating a smooth ride all while limiting noise (compared to the chain drive found on actual bicycles).
What really sets these two bikes apart is the console. With the Schwinn, you get the fairly typical LCD console that comes with the normal outputs including heart rate, distance, time, calories, RPM’s, and so forth.
With the Peloton bike however, you get full workouts streamed right in front of you. This bike comes with full WiFi connectivity, so you are able to take part in live spin classes 24/7 that are recorded and broadcast from Peloton studios in New York. This is precisely the selling feature that has garnered Peloton significant attention in the market, and the brand has developed quite the cult following on account of it. This said, there is a fee for this service, so not only does the Peloton cost more to get into your home, but it also commits you to a $39/month membership fee to use it to its full potential. Some people are greatly put off by this, so it could cause them to lean away from this bike entirely.
The other big difference that comes with the new Peloton Bike+ is the increased focus on a total body workout. The Bike+ now has a swiveling screen, and the brand has been ramping up its training offerings for cross training, strength training, yoga, and stretching, as well as adding new Boot Camp programming to the catalog in 2020. The volume of instructor-led versatility is impressive, the quality of content is high, and quite frankly it’s worth the extra spend if you’re looking for thorough at-home training through streaming video.
The million dollar question here is really a matter of what kind of rider you are. Are you a seasoned road cyclist who’s self-motivated and wants to train in the off season? Are you a competitive individual that for whom competition is a huge motivator? Have you spent endless hours in indoor cycling classes like SoulCycle, Spin, and others, and are chasing that experience in a home bike? There are two different schools of thought behind these two bikes, and the answers to the above questions will make all the difference.
Who is the Peloton Rider?
First and foremost, those seeking the indoor cycling class feel from the comfort of their own home will be best suited going the Peloton route, whether the classic Bike or upgraded Bike+. Their instructors remain some of the best in the business, and their wide range of class offerings will satisfy your riding style and competitive spirit no matter if you’re a veteran or an eager but recent convert. This bike is designed solely for following along with instruction, so self-led rides facing a black screen are a bit of a downer, and that also means that you’re committed to the brand’s $39/month subscription for as long as you decide to keep using the bike.
As an added perk, the Bike+ (as we noted above) brings total-body workouts into the mix, which is a nice benefit for those looking for more than just indoor cycling classes. Yoga, stretching, strength training, cross training, and even new Boot Camp programming is a part of the offering, and users are able to swivel the screen to either side of the bike for a clear view while working out (a feature not found on the original Peloton Bike).
Who is the Schwinn IC4 Rider
The answer to this is a touch more open-ended, because the IC4 can satisfy quite a few needs on a budget. The self-motivated on-road cyclists will be plenty satisfied here, as the bike is very well constructed and stable. Simply clip in with your SPD-clip shoes, and you’re off to the races. With the IC4 you can also grab your tablet or iPad, and link up to apps like Zwift, and even the Peloton app for a similar experience to the Peloton on a smaller screen. It’s worth noting that with the Peloton app, metrics are more limited, and you are unable to participate in leaderboard competition (Zwift, on the other hand, has more comprehensive functionality including the leaderboards).
To put it simply, if you aren’t a tech junkie or a spin class fanatic, the Schwinn IC4 will deliver a solid enough experience that you won’t necessarily get much value by spending the additional cash on the Peloton Bike or Bike+.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when looking at which exercise bike is right for you, but hopefully this handy guide helps clear the air in regards to what value you get at either end of the exercise bike pricing spectrum.