Echelon Smart Connect EX5S Review

The Echelon EX5S enters the ring as the latest competitor to the Peloton Bike and NordicTrack S22i. How does it stack up?

Echelon Smart Connect EX5S Specs

Rating7.8
TypeIndoor
Console display21.5" HD Touchscreen
Compact storageno
Resistance32
Seat typeCompetition Seat With 6'' Lever-Style Adjustment
ProgramsInteractive Training
FlywheelSpec n/a
WeightSpec n/a
Dimensions54.0" L x 20.0" W

An affordable Peloton alternative, but how good is it?

Echelon Smart Connect EX5S Review

The Echelon EX5S enters the ring as the latest competitor to the Peloton Bike and NordicTrack S22i. How does it stack up?

Echelon Smart Connect EX5S Specs

Rating7.8
TypeIndoor
Console display21.5" HD Touchscreen
Compact storageno
Resistance32
Seat typeCompetition Seat With 6'' Lever-Style Adjustment
ProgramsInteractive Training
FlywheelSpec n/a
WeightSpec n/a
Dimensions54.0" L x 20.0" W
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Editor’s Note: Echelon Fitness is giving away a free iPad Air with the purchase of an EX3 or EX5 spin bike! Click on this red box to check out the deal.

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How We Reviewed This Model

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200+ Hours of Review
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Compared Against 100+ other Indoor Bikes
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Over 5 reviewers

As the battle for interactive training suppremacy continues, the Echelon EX5S enters the ring as another contender looking to dethrone the Peloton Bike. Hanging their hat on the tag line “Never Ride Alone”this new Echelon bike offers up 14 or more daily live-broadcast spin classes played via its all-new 21.5-inch touchscreen display, unlike other echelon models that forego the screen, instead allowing users to use their own tablets for streaming services. There are also plenty of off-bike workouts to take advantage of when using Echelon’s FitPass studio app, which users can still follow along with via the bike, as its screen is designed to swivel away from riding position as needed.

This is an interesting move on the part of Echelon, as they’ve previously focused on building indoor cycles without building in the tech component—a move that previously kept their price of entry down closer to the $1,000 until unveiling the EX5S. We’re curious as to whether the response to the EX3 and EX5 (use your own hardware) models wasn’t as strong as the brand expected, or if the launch of the EX5S is more of a market test to see whether there’s a bigger buying market for built-in displays versus their past approach.

At the top of the Echelon bike food chain, it’ll cost you $1,639.98 to get the EX5S in the door of your home, not including the cost of shipping, or your monthly $39.99 FitPass membership subscription. After looking at the payment options, this doesn’t actually make a whole lot of sense, because if you add up the sticker price and a year of membership you’re up to $2,119.86 before adding the associated delivery fee. Alternatively you are able to pre-pay your first year of monthly unlimited Echelon classes with the bike purchase for $1,999.98, which then comes with free “premium delivery”. At $1,999.98 you’re still getting great value out of the equation.

Looking at that $1,999.98 price offering including the year’s membership, this bike then becomes a direct competitor for another heavy-hitter in the industry—the Nordictrack S22i. The more I compare specs, the harder it is to get onboard with Echelon’s new top-tier model. By comparison, the big selling feature of the rest of their lineup is value, but until they start throwing any discounts or promotions on this model (Black Friday/Cyber Monday perhaps?), I’d argue that the NordicTrack S22i is a better bike overall. Here’s why.


The Great

  • New HD Touchscreen: Rather than mounting your own device, the Echelon EX5S has a 21.5-inch high definition display built in. It can be tilted or swivelled for clear viewing whether you’re on or off the bike.
  • Live Training Options: Echelon’s training catalog is already a vast one, but they are currently guaranteeing at least 14 daily live training classes as part of their connected fitness offerings. Chase other users up the leaderboard as you follow along with these daily workouts.
  • Over 1k Streaming Workouts: If the live classes don’t suit your schedule, you can still find a workout to follow along with. The brand’s archive includes over 1,000 workouts to choose from.
  • Work Out Both On and Off The Bike: Echelon’s FitPass classes aren’t limited to cycling. You can try boxing, yoga, pilates, stretching, strength training, Zumba, and several other types of workouts.
  • Cage and Clip Pedals: The pedals on the EX5S have toe clips on one side, and conventional cages on the other, giving riders ample choice for how they want to strap into their workout.
  • Well-Padded Competition Seat: The complaint we often hear about indoor cycles in general (especially from new riders) is that seats are uncomfortable. Looking at this against the competition, the seat of the EX5S has better padding/support (but can still be swapped out for a conventional bike seat should one desire).
  • Magnetic Resistance: As expected at this price point, the EX5S uses a magnetic resistance system to slow down its flywheel, controlled via a knob-style dial, rather than a pressure pad. This ensures very quiet overall operation. Flywheel mass specs were unavailable at time of publishing.
  • Smartly Positioned Bottle Holders: Rather than mounting the water bottle holder down on the frame, as is the convention with most machines (and road bikes, obviously), Echelon positioned the water bottle holders of the EX5s just below the bars for quick and easy access.

The Not so Great

  • Pricey: At $2k (once you roll in delivery and the year of membership) the EX5S is a bit short on features when compared to its closest competitor, the NordicTrack S22i.
  • Lacking Key Premium Features: Further to the point above, the EX5S does not have incline/decline function, nor does it have a built-in fan—both features found on the S22i it competes with. This will be less relevant if you’re able to find the EX5S at a discounted price in the coming months.
  • No Built-In Programming: Unlike its siblings, the EX5S is entirely built to run with its live training programming. With the more affordable models you can just train and watch your iPad/tablet if you prefer, but with this particular model, you’re either following subscription classes, or staring at a black/blank screen.
  • Lacking Information on Website: Getting all the information/specifications to make an informed decision on Echelon’s website proves challenging. Their “compare models” page does give a bit of a breakdown of specs, but not to the same in-depth level you can get from its competitors (good thing we’re here to give you the straight goods!)

Who Should Use The Echelon EX5S Indoor Cycle?

At a basic level, this bike is 100% geared towards those craving the latest and greatest tech, who want to rise to the top of leaderboards while training alongside fellow spin class enthusiasts without leaving their own homes. The avid trainer who’s self-sufficient/self-reliant won’t be well served paying the premium for this bike. They’ll be better off turning to the well built and more affordable EX3 and EX5 models that don’t come with a built-in screen.

This bike is also a solid fit for those wanting a well-rounded set of workout options as well, as FitPass allows users to take advantage of a host of training options off of their bike as well. Their programming is well-led by quality instructors, and your access can also allow you to stream these other classes via your smart TV too, which opens up even more workout opportunities. We’ve heard a lot of people raving about the class quality, so that alone could make or break the deal for some people when deciding between this bike and the NordicTrack S22i

The Bottom Line

There’s a good amount to love about this latest bike from Echelon, however when you stack it up against its competition it’s not necessarily an easy sell. If you value the quality of online training/instructors over anything else, it might take the upper hand over the NordicTrack S22i, but from a features perspective there’s a few things you’re giving up in that trade that we wouldn’t necessarily want to give up. That said, if you can find this unit at a discount—something that will no doubt happen after it’s had a bit more time in the market—then it will be a much better overall value for those wanting all the Peloton tech without the hefty sticker price.

Echelon Smart Connect EX5S Specs

Rating7.8
TypeIndoor
Console display21.5" HD Touchscreen
Compact storageno
Resistance32
Seat typeCompetition Seat With 6'' Lever-Style Adjustment
ProgramsInteractive Training
FlywheelSpec n/a
WeightSpec n/a
Dimensions54.0" L x 20.0" W

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