Interactive training has turned the fitness world upside down. Exercise bike brands are taking note, ensuring their new models answer the growing demand for immersive fitness classes and virtual personal training inside the home.
When you think about interactive training and exercise bikes, you probably think about spin classes. And when you think about spin classes, you’re probably reminded of the Peloton. It’s safe to say that Peloton sky-rocketed the at-home spin class trend. But that doesn’t mean they’re the only player anymore: far from it.
Although Peloton has the stellar name, it comes with a premium price tag. Other brands like Echelon are giving it a run for its money, offering users the same (or at least very similar) workout experience without breaking the bank. Peloton has become acutely aware of this change in the market, and has recently announced some big news about its lineup. The original Peloton Bike remains on sale, now coming in at a more affordable sticker price of $1,445 compared to its original $2,245 list price. In addition the brand released in September 2020 an updated version of the bike, the Peloton Bike+, with a host of new features 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.
Ed. Update — Since writing this, a new contender has thrown their hat in the ring, delivering a closer-to-Peloton experience for the price of the Echelon EX3. The MYX Fitness Bike has rapidly become our new favorite affordable alternative—read the full MYX Fitness Bike review here.
So, how do Echelon bikes stack up to the mighty Peloton?
Echelon Bikes VS the Peloton Bike
Currently, Echelon offers 4 indoor ‘Connect’ exercise bikes: the entry-level EX-1, mid-range EX-3 and EX-5, and top-of-the-line EX-5s. Here we’ll compare all the Echelon bikes’ main features to the Peloton bike to see how they stack up.
Echelon VS Peloton Comparison Table
|Price||Peloton basic package (includes delivery and setup):
$1,445 (+$39/month membership charged upon device activation)
Peloton Bike+: $2,495
|Bike + $39.99 monthly pass:
EX-3: $1,199.99 list price ($799.99 online)
EX-5: $1,499.99 list price ($999.99 online)
EX-5s: $1,799.99-$1,999.99 list price
+$150 delivery if you choose monthly membership. Free delivery with annual plans.
|Warranty||5 years frame, 1-year limited parts and labor warranty, and 30-day return policy.||12-month limited parts and labor warranty and 30-day return policy.|
|Footprint||48” L X 24” W||EX-3: 55” L X 20” W
EX-5: 58” L X 20” W
EX-5s: 58” L X 21.5” W
Bike: 135 lbs
Bike+: 140 lbs
|EX-3: 104 lbs
EX-5: 106 lbs
|Frame||Steel||All models: Steel|
|User weight capacity||297 lbs||300 lbs|
|Resistance||0-100 levels of manually controlled magnetic resistance. Fluid rather than stepped levels.||All models: 32 levels of manually controlled magnetic resistance.|
|Display||Bike: 21.5″ HD color touchscreen.
Bike+: 23.8″ HD color touchscreen.
|Bring your own tech to all models (attach to tablet holder) except the EX-5s which includes either a 10″ or 22″ HD touchscreen.|
|Interactive Training||Via Peloton membership||Via Echelon Fit|
|Console Connectivity||Connect your WiFi or Bluetooth device such as a heart rate monitor or smartwatch to use with the Peloton app.||Bluetooth is available on all models for you to connect to the Echelon Fit app and also link your Facebook, Fitbit, and Strava accounts.|
|Pedals||LOOK delta pedals which need cycling shoes with LOOK delta cleats to clip in.||All models: SPD compatible with fully adjustable toe cages.|
Let’s dig a little deeper into those comparisons so you can find the right exercise bike for you.
Price and Warranty Coverage
Price is a huge factor to take into consideration when buying a new machine. There’s no denying that the Peloton has a higher price tag. Its $1,445 basic package includes the bike, warranty, delivery and setup.
Echelon’s Connect bikes start under $1,000 with online sales frequently offered, and even the most expensive model with the touchscreen included is just $1,799.99 (both prices with the $39.99 monthly membership). That said, there are a few things to take into consideration here. If you opt for the monthly membership, you’ll get stung with a $150 delivery charge. They offer free premium delivery in the contiguous United States when a one or two year subscription is purchased with the bikes (which will bag you some savings on the membership costs too). Although assembly is easy and they say it should take no more than 15-20 minutes, if you want to get the bike assembled it will cost you another $199. This service is not included in shipping and isn’t currently available in every delivery location.
When weighing up costs, keep in mind that both monthly memberships cost the same (99 cents aside), and you’re getting the same 1-year warranty package and 30-day return policy from both brands. It’s worth noting that returns are subject to restocking and return fees which can be hundreds of dollars: so don’t think of this as a loose ‘try before you buy’ deal.
Footprint and Weight
At 48” long by 24” wide, the Peloton is slightly larger than the 42” long by 22” wide EX-1 and EX-3 models. That said, it’s shorter than the 54” long EX-5 and 5s models (which are slightly thinner at 20” wide). As a rule, the Echelon models are longer than Peloton with a larger footprint, but Peloton is wider. All models are compact enough to fit into most home gym spaces.
That said, the Echelon bikes are lighter than the Peloton. The Peloton bike weighs in at 135 pounds, whereas the Echelon bikes weigh between 105 lbs and 124 lbs so they will be easier to move around.
Frame and User Weight Capacity
Both the Peloton bike and the Echelon bikes are made from high quality steel, so there shouldn’t be much difference when it comes to overall durability. There’s basically no difference in their user weight capacities too.
A bike’s frame and user weight capacity can impact how stable and durable the bike feels when cycling, so both these bikes should have no issues with this.
Next let’s consider the resistance levels. The Peloton and the Echelon bikes both work on manually controlled (knob style) magnetic resistance systems. It’s worth noting here that both bikes don’t offer incline or decline features for extra resistance or challenge. If this is something you’re interested in, check out the NordicTrack S22i.
The difference between these bikes’ resistance is that while each Echelon bike offers 32 levels of resistance, the Peloton offers 0-100 levels. The Peloton’s essentially unlimited amount of resistance is also fluid rather than stepped. This allows for finer adjustment of the bike’s resistance so you’re always in full control of your ride.
With the Peloton Bike+, you gain the added benefit of what the brand calls Auto-Follow resistance. With this version of the bike, as the instructor calls for a resistance change, the bike will automatically adjust for you, rather than leaving you to fuss with resistance settings while riding. It’s not a ‘must have’ feature in our books, but it’s also a very nice one to have.
The resistance of the Echelon bikes is typically going to be more than enough for most people, but the Peloton does deliver a slightly smoother ride. It really depends on whether you want the more advanced resistance system of the Peloton, or the more traditional stepped levels of resistance offered by Echelon.
Winner: Tie (depending on your workout style)
Display and Interactive Training
The Peloton’s 21.5″ HD color touchscreen is a real selling point for the machine (23.8″ on the Bike+), allowing you to be fully immersed in their virtual workout classes. The $39/month membership gives you full access to the Peloton experience alongside flawless integration with your equipment. This includes 20+ live classes a day and thousands on-demand, curated training programs, unlimited accounts for all the family, and an interactive leaderboard for you to track your progress alongside your spin class buddies. You’ll also have access to their off-bike routines with this subscription which offers a mix of strength, toning, running, cycling, yoga, meditation and outdoor workouts. Live classes are being streamed all day every day, so no matter when you want to train, there’s always a class waiting for you.
The Bike+ shifts its focus towards the total body workout space, giving users access to strength training, cross training, yoga, stretching, and Boot Camp classes. Unlike its sibling, the Bike+ screen can swivel away from the bike, giving riders a clear view of instruction if they want to set up their workout mat to the left or right of the bike instead of directly behind it.
If you choose one of the first three models in Echelon’s Connect series and want to train interactively, you will have to use your own tablet or smartphone, attaching it to the integrated device holder. For some, this is a plus, as you are bringing the costs down by using the tech you already have in your home. But if you opt for the Echelon EX-5s, you get either a 22″ or 10″ HD touchscreen, while the EX-7 brings a 22″ HD touchscreen, much like the Peloton display.
Whether you bring your own device or not, subscription to the Echelon Fit app will give you access to similar live and on-demand training classes as the Peloton. New live and on-demand content is now added daily, and this is only going to grow as the Echelon cycling community grows. Like Peloton, Echelon’s $39.99 per month subscription includes unlimited access to Connect rides as well as to their Extra Mile classes which include stretching, yoga, Pilates, meditation, and more.
Echelon scores major points in this category for their 180 degrees adjustable console (on all models). This is great for if you want to mix up your routine with one of their off-bike workouts. Hop off the bike, flip around your console and try a stretching routine before you hop back on and get to it again!
That said, we have to crown Peloton as the winner of this category as they have been hailed as the best in class for this type of high-energy, spin class style exercise from home for a while now. They’ve gained a cult-like following for a reason, and users rave about everything from the class schedule to the music to the pro instructors. What’s more, you don’t need to bring your own tech to the Peloton like you do with the lower-tier Echelon bikes.
Integrated workout metrics are provided with both the Echelon Fit app and the Peloton app. You can connect to your WiFi with the Peloton console or use your Bluetooth device such as a wireless heart rate strap or smartwatch to accurately track your stats in the app.
The Echelon bikes are all Bluetooth enabled for you to connect to the Echelon Fit app. This also allows you to link your Facebook, Fitbit®, and Strava accounts to track your progress and compete with friends and family.
Echelon is the winner of this category simply for the fact of inclusivity. Peloton uses LOOK delta pedals, which means you need cycling shoes with LOOK delta cleats to clip in. You can’t flip the pedal over to use the other side with a normal sneaker.
Conversely, all the Echelon Connect bikes are SPD compatible and have fully adjustable toe cages. They have toe clips on one side, and conventional cages on the other, giving users ample choice for how they want to ride.
You can change the pedals on the Peloton bike if you would like, but this will void the warranty on the crank arm. If you don’t own cycling shoes or use a different clip-in system to the one Peloton uses, you’ll have to fork out for new shoes or cleats.
Whether you prefer to use clips while cycling or not, the fact that Peloton requires a specific shoe (or cleat, specifically) for using their bike isn’t as inclusive or simple as the Echelon bikes which could suit basically any cyclist.
The Bottom Line
As you may have gathered, Echelon bikes in general are less flash than the Peloton, but aren’t necessarily less tech savvy. Immersive, interactive training is a huge selling point for both brands. It’s important to factor in that to get the most out of either bike you will have to continue paying the monthly subscriptions. Keep this in mind when weighing up costs.
So, which one is best for you? It truly comes down to your own workout needs and budget. Weighing up these key features, Echelon can be crowned the winner in terms of overall value and versatility. The bikes are suitable for any type of cyclist, on any budget, with whatever fitness gear or tech they already own.
If you don’t want to settle for anything less than Peloton’s stellar training but you’re still put off by the high sticker price, try finding a lightly used model on an online marketplace like eBay. Want to see how the Peloton stacks up against other exercise bikes? Check out our Peloton VS NordicTrack, Peloton VS ProForm or Peloton VS Schwinn reviews to compare the models.