6 Best Peloton Alternatives: Great Indoor Cycling Bikes That Cost Less
This is the 21st century, where we don’t always have the pleasure of enjoying outdoor sporting activities all the time, and our “free” time doesn’t always fall in the daytime. That said, outdoor cycling has had to migrate to an indoor event and with the technologies of the time, you can enjoy virtual rides and undergo cycling exercises from the comfort of your own home using state-of-the-art cycling equipment.
Having said that, it’s imperative to ask, what options do I have to consider as far as these indoor exercise bikes are concerned? If you took a stab (or keyboard tap) at google, you’d find Peloton bikes riding high on the list of quality spin bikes and for good reason. On top of their sleek rugged designs, these luxurious workhorses pack a 21-inch HD touchscreen, useful for browsing Peloton classes, reviewing cycling stats or even watching virtual instructors while you exercise. The bad news, it doesn’t come cheap. The Peloton Bike+, for example, retails for $2,495 (plus the $39/month for virtual classes and workouts), and that’s pricey.
Peloton is a great bike but it is only compatible with the Peloton application which comes with a heavy subscription. Also, its huge monitor doesn’t allow the rider to stream online, watch YouTube, Netflix, or connect to another indoor cycling app other than the Peloton application. That said, it’s time to explore some less-expensive yet comparable alternatives to the Peloton indoor cycle.
The Best Peloton Alternative Bikes:
Bowflex VeloCore 22/16-Inch Bike
Starting things off, we’ll explore the new Bowflex VeloCore 16. This bike is built to entreat the users to a comfortable workout and simulate a real-life biking experience from the comfort of your home.
This bike comes with a 16/22-inch on-board HD touchscreen display that can connect to WiFi, useful for virtual personalized coaching, personalized feedback and workout plan viewing upon subscription to the Bowflex JRNY service. That’s a step up from the 21-inch Peloton display that restricts content to Peloton application. This display can also be used to stream media from virtual coaching sites, as well as popular media organs like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video. It also keeps an updated display of your workout metrics data like calories burnt, to keep you up to speed as you work out.
An interesting feature of the Bowflex VeloCore is the leaning mode (which is noticeably absent with Peloton options). What this does is it allows you on the bike to lean over to a direction as you exercise. This makes it easier to simulate a real-world biking experience when negotiating curves and bends. The bike can also be kept in a stationary straightforward mode all through the workout with ultra-comfortable padded handlebars with support for up to 6 hand positions.
With a user weight limit of 325lbs, the Bowflex VeloCore Bike packs a punch as far as quality is concerned. It comes with a pair of 3-pound dumbbells for an enhanced workout experience. It is designed to be small and compact, with minimal space occupation, ideal for any home gym setting. It also offers a two-year mechanical and electrical warranty with a one-year labour warranty, which seems like a downgrade to the 5-year frame warranty and 1-year parts and labour warranties offered by the Peloton. It is also worthy of note that the VeloCore comes with a wireless armband heart rate monitor, as well as over 100 levels of resistance setting and Bluetooth speakers, making it an all-encompassing and worthwhile alternative to the Peloton exercise bike.
The Bowflex VeloCore is a hi-tech upgrade even to the Peloton and its accessories make it a powerful competitor. With a larger 21-inch display with WiFi connectivity options for streaming media, a quiet magnetic flywheel system, incorporated leaning modes for natural biking experience, and Bluetooth connectivity, the Bowflex VeloCore truly is worth investing in and would make a suitable alternative (and upgrade too) to the Peloton indoor cycle.
- Incorporated leaning and stationary modes
- HD Touchscreen with WiFi connect facilities where you can stream (not limited to one app like Peloton)
- The extra cost for streaming training services (Not necessarily required in order to use the bike or its monitor)
NordicTrack Commercial s22i Studio Cycle
4 used from $1,686.43
When it comes to adjustability, the NordicTrack s22i studio cycle is where it’s at. This bike carries with it the boutique studio fitness feel and will help you relive your gym moments while simulating uphill and downhill in your living room.
The NordicTrack comes close to the Peloton but stands out with its incline/decline setting, cheaper Individual Membership ($140 per year), fully rotational screen, and one year of free iFit Family Membership ($400). It packs a 22-inch rotating HD smart Touchscreen display mounted to the bike with 20% live incline and 10% decline technology and 24 digital live electromagnetic resistance control, which, in my opinion, outclasses the 22-inch LCD touchscreen on the Peloton bike. And that’s not all; each bike comes with live cycling classes and cross-training options, incorporated in the iFit membership package. Using the HD touchscreen, you can conveniently stream live workouts and interact with trainers, even in real-time (true!). It is worthy of note that the NordicTrack S22i also has user ride experiences and instruction packs as the Peloton, but with the NordicTrack S22i, these ride experiences alter the incline, decline, and resistance settings on the bike to match the experience as opposed to the Peloton where only the user has control over these settings.
Now, when it comes to membership access, the NordicTrack s22i studio cycle outshines the Peloton as it offers a 1-year free membership status, and that means free access to training and coaching services for a whole year, after which a $39 monthly fee is charged for access. It is, however, not a mandatory requirement. It also comes with a pair of dumbbells for an upper-body build. That’s not a freebie you’d get with the Peloton.
The NordicTrack s22i studio cycle supports a maximum user weight of 350lbs, that’s about 45lbs more than Peloton. It utilises Silent Magnetic Resistance for smooth quiet workout. About the price, as of the time of writing this article, the official product website presents the NordicTrack s22i Studio Cycle at $1,999.00, or $57.00 per month for 39 months, still somewhat cheaper than the Peloton bike. The NordicTrack s22i presents warranty options as follows: 10-year frame warranty, 2-year parts warranty, and 1-year labour warranty upon payment, as opposed to the 5-year frame warranty and 1-year parts and labour warranties offered by Peloton. The NordicTrack s22i sets the standards high with quality and is, no doubt, a full-proof alternative to the Peloton spin bike.
The NordicTrack S22i packs a robust slim fit workhorse that packs inertia enhanced flywheel resistance mechanism, an ultrawide 22-inch HD rotatable touchscreen display with 1-year free iFit subscription. For the ones who’d enjoy being pushed to their limits by preset experiences or instructors, then the NordicTrack indoor cycling bikes are indeed great working options to consider.
- 22-inch 360-degree rotational HD touch screen
- 24 digital live resistance controls, HDMI and USB ports
- It has power incline/decline settings
- 1-year free iFit included (five-profile family package $400 worth)
- Affordable single profile iFit membership available ($149 per year)
- Hard uncomfortable seat and slow customer support from Nordictrack.
NordicTrack Commercial S15i Studio Cycle
Sticking to the NordicTrack series, we have the NordicTrack Commercial S15i Studio Cycle. This bike packs a 14-inch HD fully rotational touchscreen, with on-demand access and live training. With an iFit subscription, you could have access to trainers and training content at a small fee. It is interesting to point out that connected live trainers can access and alter your machine’s decline, incline, and resistance settings in real-time.
It is worthy of note that the NordicTrack S15i, like the NordicTrack S22i, also has user ride experiences and instruction packs as the Peloton, but with the NordicTrack S15i, these ride experiences alter the incline, decline, and resistance settings on the bike to match the experience as opposed to the Peloton where the user has full control over these controls.
Using a mechanical shaft technology, the bike can simulate actual bike riding inclines and declines, thus giving a more natural and realistic feel to the experience. The bike has a 350lb user weight capacity, with its body build made of enhanced corrosion-resistant commercial-grade steel, making this bike well-suited to meet your needs of indoor cycling. The NordicTrack Commercial S15i Studio Cycle also comes with a pair of 3lb dumbbells and a front-mounted cycle wheel. The non-slip multi-position handlebar and padded saddle give the comfort and natural feel to the sporting experience on this bike.
As far as pricing is concerned, the NordicTrack Commercial S15i Studio Cycle comes cheaper than her NordicTrack counterpart and cheaper than the Peloton. The official NordicTrack product website, as of the time of writing of this article, gives the NordicTrack Commercial S15i Studio Cycle at $1,599. This includes a 1-year free iFit subscription, after which a $39 subscription fee a month is necessary for prolonged access to iFit content. The NordicTrack s15i presents warranty options as follows: 10-year frame warranty, 2-year parts warranty, and 1-year labour warranty upon payment, as opposed to the 5-year frame warranty and 1-year parts and labour warranties offered by Peloton. The NordicTrack s22i sets the standards high with quality and is, no doubt, a full-proof alternative to the Peloton stationary bike.
Like the NordicTrack s22i, the NordicTrack Commercial S15i Studio Cycle brings standard to the table with a 14-inch HD display (though smaller than the 22-inch Peloton LCD touchscreen) as well as free iFit resources for 1year. It, therefore, stands out as a less costly and yet fully functional alternative to the Peloton bike and will sustain a natural and comfortable biking experience as well.
- 14-inch HD fully rotational touchscreen display
- 1 Year free NordicTrack iFit membership
- Access to live training and classes via touchscreen display
- Affordable iFit subscription for single profile users
- Smaller Touchscreen display to the Peloton
- No HDM or USB charging port on the monitor
Stages SC3 Indoor Cycling Bike
The Stages SC3 indoor cycling bike is relatively a new high-tech addition to the market. It packs a slick elegant design, maximized for extensive customization and entertainment, coupled with great functionality. No doubt, a great deal of effort has been invested to ensure the cyclist has a seamless experience on the Stages indoor cycling bike.
The Stages SC3 indoor cycle packs a backlit LED screen but doesn’t come with a large touch display, a slip-off from the Peloton 22-inch LCD touchscreen. As such, there are no subscription fees or restrictive resource pool as the Peloton as you are free to explore whatever apps or online resources you so choose. It also has a smartphone holder for your smart device with an adjustable tablet display add-on. It equally packs two charging ports, useful for keeping your phone juiced up while you exercise. It has a Carbon/Toothed belt (which is better than Peloton’s poly-v belt) and four-way adjustable racing drop-handlebars (which is better than Peloton’s basic two-way adjustable handlebars without racing -drops).
Coming in at 105lbs, the Stages SC3 supports user weights of up to 350 lbs; that’s 45lbs more than the Peloton. Stages SC3 has both Bluetooth and ANT+ FE-C connectivity, a step up from the Peloton Bluetooth support. It also utilises a 50-pound flywheel magnetic resistance system, that gives a smooth, luxurious experience, driven with a Gates belt drive. This makes it significantly quiet and smooth.
However, these specifications are tagged at $2,500, slightly more expensive than a Peloton. But then why, does it pack such a high price? Well, Stages SC3 doesn’t just come as hardware but is accompanied by software, incorporating different riding styles that simulate different biking experiences, as well as entertainment to keep the riders entertained during the workout, the ultimate indoor bike. This software auto updates itself regularly and presents great entertainment content that is available offline in a built-in storage unit. Also, this charge covers 15-year frame warranty, 10-year CarbonGlyde Carbon Fiber Belt warranty, 3-year Mechanical System warranty, 1-year Labour and Electronics, and 6-month Wear Items warranty, a lightyear away from the 5-year frame warranty and 1-year parts and labour warranties offered by Peloton.
Stages SC3 indoor cycling bike is an elegant masterpiece built from an extra lightweight aluminum frame with an elegant fully adjustable handlebar to fit a wide range of riding styles, as well as a simple adjustment system (FitLoc). Simply put, it is a fully commercial quality spin bike, built for class, to invoke a luxurious experience while you work out. That said if you’re not afraid to put your money where your mouth is, and get one of the best as far as indoor cycling is concerned, then you should consider Stages SC3 bikes. A couple of superior features of this Peloton alternative bike are; carbon belt (Peloton uses Poly-V which is nowhere close to Caron/Timing belt in terms of power efficiency and durability), fully customizable racing-handlebars (Peloton handlebar don’t adjust 4-way and there is no racing-grips), AND direct watt tracking (Peloton estimates the watt which is not as accurate).
- Supports Bluetooth and ANT+ protocols
- Carbon/Toothed belt and top-of-the-line spinning handlebars
- Multi-grip fully constumizable handlebars
- Direct watt reading sensor and superior power feedback tracking
- No built-in Large Touch HD display
Bowflex C7 Indoor Cycling bike
Sticking to cheap small options, I give you the Bowflex C7 spinning bike. Though greatly overshadowed by the VeloCore Bowflex indoor cycling bikes, the Bowflex C7 stands out as a suitable Peloton alternative, and for good reason.
The Bowflex C7 spinning bike packs a smaller 7-inch LCD monitor to the 22-inch Peloton LCD touchscreen. It is, however, still useful for displaying RPM, speed, distance, heart rate, resistance level, intervals, and calories. There also exists JRNY Membership options offered for the monitor, where the subscriber can enjoy personalized coaching, workouts and training services. However, the Bowflex C7 monitor doesn’t restrict access to dedicated Bowflex apps as with the Peloton, and the users can enjoy tons of their preferred apps and media like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Hulu. The display makes it possible to also connect to other fitness apps via Bluetooth, thus, setting it at a higher vantage point than the Peloton.
Coming in at 115 lbs / 53.5 kg with support for a maximum user weight of 330 lbs, the Bowflex C7 spin bike packs a magnetic resistance system with over 100 different resistance levels, adjustable manually. Unlike the NordicTrack s22i, resistance isn’t automatically adjusted when approaching hills or inclined surfaces or curves. The race-style seats and handlebars give a natural feel to the C7, and the cage-clip pedals keep feet in place as you exercise.
The Bowflex C7 sells at around $1,200, significantly cheaper than the Peloton, and its JRNY experience costs $20 a month or $150 for a year, still less costly than the Peloton counterpart. With this cost, the Bowflex C7 has a warranty that covers a 2-year frame warranty, 3-year part and labour warranties, compared to the 5-year frame warranty and 1-year parts and labour warranties offered by Peloton.
The Bowflex C7 is strangely functional, despite its smaller screen size. It is cheaper, yet has a touch monitor, compatible with most apps including Zwift, Netflix, etc, and allows streaming on the screen (unlike Peloton that you can only use its monitor with Peloton app). All these make it a viable alternative to the Peloton, especially for low-budget customers as it sits below the $1,500 benchmark.
- 7″ Touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity capable of integrating other fitness apps
- An infinite number of user-profiles and 100 resistance levels
- Cheap, compared to the Peloton
- SPD pedals and multi-grip handlebars
- Small display, compared to the Peloton
Schwinn IC4 Indoor Cycling Bike
When it comes to cost-effective functional alternatives to the Peloton bikes, it’s hard to beat the Schwinn IC4 indoor cycling bike, thanks to its quality built and multi-app compatibility.
The Schwinn IC4 lacks an integrated touch display, and for that reason, it can come off at affordable prices. However, it does feature a small LCD monitor that represents time, resistance, speed, distance, calories, and RPMs. It is Bluetooth compatible, allowing wireless connection to a Bluetooth heart-rate armband. This helps to keep track of the heartbeat, and other workout metrics during the session.
The Bluetooth support also allows for connection to other fitness apps, including Peloton. The simple design and non-complex functionality make it affordable, offering a similar user experience to the Peloton bike.
The IC4 bike utilises a quiet belt drive, with over 100 micro-adjustable magnetic resistance levels. It also comes with a pair of 3 lb dumbbells for upper-body workouts, freebies you wouldn’t see with the Peloton.
Coming in at just $799, the Schwinn IC4 stands affordable for Peloton lovers on a budget. It features a smooth-running 40-pound drive with maximum user weight up to 330lbs. Coming from a reputable spin bike brand, the IC4 also comes with 10-year frame warranty, 3-year mechanical and electrical warranty, and 1-year labour warranty, thus hinging it to a higher platform from the 5-year frame warranty and 1-year parts and labour warranties offered by Peloton.
The Schwinn IC4 stands out in its affordability, as it rides below the $1,00 benchmark. With no wide HD display, the Schwinn IC4 compensates with a small monitor with Bluetooth compatibility and over 100 resistance levels. For Peloton lovers on a budget, this indoor cycling bike by Schwinn stands out as a cheap and functional alternative.
- Affordable (well below $1,000) and no subscription required to use the bike at its full functionality
- Data monitor with Bluetooth Connectivity, compatible with most cycling apps including the Peloton and Zwift
- Device placeholder, SPD pedals, speed, RPM reading and resistance level readings.
- No Hi-tech touchscreen display
- Limited Workout Variety
- No cooling fan or built-in speakers
Indoor Exercise Bike Ultimate Buying Guide
Exercise bikes have been around for a while, taking a wildly outdoor exercise to an indoor activity. ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, certain key factors come to play when it comes to choosing the right exercise bike.
When choosing biking equipment, it is safe to consider, “what extra accessories have been added to the bike?”. Why is this important? Well, these little add-ons can go a long way to create a comfortable and enjoyable workout. For example, a wide HD display like that on the Bowflex VeloCore can bring some life and entertainment to your workout, as you can follow up training tips, coaching advice or even watch a movie while you exercise. Bluetooth connectivity with wireless heart rate sensors can also help you manage and follow-up your workout with heart rate and cardiovascular updates in Realtime.
User weight limit of the bike
An important spec of the bike is the max user weight allowance. Smaller values here indicate the bike would have little tolerance for heavier individuals, and it would be wasteful buying a bike that can’t support your weight.
Actual weight of the bike
Why is this important? Well, the heavier the bike, the more stable it’ll be. But be careful, as some heavy bikes may not be suitable for some types of floors. So, find a happy medium and you’d be all good. P.S. Ensure there are rollers present on the bike, else you’d have a hard time moving it into the house and getting it into position.
This factor is dependent on the resistance of the bike. Whilst it may not always be an issue, it is greatly convenient and significantly less annoying to have a bike that produces next to zero noise as you exercise. Think of watching an exercise tutorial video and having to deal with loud pedal noises as you work out.
If you’re a parent or are housing children, then this feature becomes somewhat primordial. You should consider how the equipment is built and how dangerous edges are covered. Imagine having a child stick a finger into an exposed spinning flywheel while pedalling (I hate those uncovered sharp flywheel edges).
This a no-brainer actually, but what you get is greatly determined by the amount of money you have to spend. So, you must carefully consider how much you are ready to spend on biking equipment. Going cheap may easily be the first choice and isn’t always wrong, but this cheap equipment doesn’t always use sustainable resistance mechanisms and can be loud and uncomfortable too. Whilst it is true that there might be financial constraints and budget cuts seem like a logical way forward, be sure not to let your budget sink too low as you might end up getting something you’d not enjoy. So be careful and very considerate in this step of the venture. In most cases (though sadly, not all), investing a little more would yield more resistance and long-lasting equipment that will serve you for a significant length of time.
Size of Equipment
Once you’ve established and settled on the dedicated budget, then it is time to consider the constraint of space: how much space do you have available to fit the equipment you seek to purchase? There is significantly bulky equipment out there as well as relatively small equipment, each with pros and cons. So, map out where the equipment will sit in the house, take measurements if necessary and head out with those measurements to buy equipment that’ll fit into that space.
Your workout goals
Next, it is important to carefully consider and map out your goals – what you hope to achieve from this equipment. Sometimes, people invest in really high quality and high priced equipment with the unrealistic goal of investing many hours a day to exercise, only to realise they can barely go a few hours a month. As such, they fail to fully utilise their investment and it comes off as somewhat wasteful.
Somewhere in between the price and space requirement is found your wants and desires in a piece of rowing equipment. Perhaps there is a certain aesthetic feel, look or functionality you desire in your rowing equipment, which should come into play to ensure you purchase equipment you’d enjoy using. Such will motivate you to “hit the gym” quite regularly as you’d develop joy in using the purchased equipment.
Having explored and presented several indoor bikes, for the ultimate home biking experience, we recommend the Bowflex VeloCore bike. Its outstanding features – 22-inch display with WiFi streaming capabilities, as well as the lean mode will give a natural and luxurious feel to your home exercise, without the full weight of the Peloton price crashing down on you. It truly is a remarkable product and will serve you well. But if leaning is not something you might like for indoor cycling, get the Stages IC3. It is a complete bike with several superior features to the Peloton spin bike.