Echelon EX1 Review: Affordable indoor bike for Zwift & Peloton
For fitness enthusiasts looking to elevate their spin experience, the Echelon EX1 indoor cycling bike is an innovative and ergonomic model which brings out all the best qualities of indoor cycling.
The very first smart connect bike in the Echelon’s “Connect” line of Echelon indoor cycling bikes, the EX1 is a high-quality indoor bike that can easily hold its own in comparison with its competitors.
As the Echelon EX1 is one of the cheaper options among the Connect line, it will not be breaking the bank. Suitable for both the novice and the seasoned cycler, the Echelon EX1 combines ease of use with excellent technology which will stand up to the needs of most all spinners.
Not as compact as the Echelon EX15 model, the Echelon EX1 spin bike is still a space-efficient bike and will easily accommodate whatever space restrictions you may be taking into account.
But what I love the most about the Echelon Ex1 smart connect fitness bike is its smart electronic magnetic resistance. Unlike friction resistance or manual magnetic resistance, electronic resistance allows automatic adjustment.
So, when I use the Echelon EX1 with the Zwift or Peloton applications, I can set up the bike to change its intensity automatically for uphills and downhills.
On top of that, the Echelon Ex1 indoor bike has an open-source Bluetooth system which is way better than the closed system on the Peloton bike. You can pair up the bike with your smart devices and indoor cycling applications to ride online or save your progress.
All you would need is a phone or Apple watch to install the QZ application (available for ios and Android for $5 one-time purchase) and a tablet to install the Zwift or Peloton. If you prefer to use the Echelon app, you can do it without the QZ application.
You would need a Bluetooth device (tablet, phone, smart tv, or PC) to install the Echelonfit app and then pair up the bike using Bluetooth. Simple as that. I do use the “freestyle” in the Echelon app sometimes but I am not crazy about it because there are too many ads and I can’t save my daily progress unless I have a paid subscription.
The Echelon subscription costs $39 per month which I think is too expensive but it has lots of content and several live daily indoor cycling classes. So, if you can afford it, it is worth it. Otherwise, you can get the Peloton’s basic subscription (App-Access) which only costs $150 per year and has plenty of cycling content.
Before I go further into this Echelon EX1 smart connect fitness bike review, let me tell you how this model differs from the rest of the Echelon EX Series Smart Connect Fitness Bikes. Here is my Echelon Smart Fitness bike comparison.
Echelon Smart Connect Fitness Bikes
Although one of the oldest indoor cycling bikes by the Echelon, the EX1 still presents the best that affordable indoor cycling bikes have to offer, allowing for an approachable and high-quality workout within the comfort of your own home.
Today in 2022 aside from the EX1, there are 4 other Echelon smart connect bikes that have better features and sturdier structures. The best seller’s model is the Echelon EX3 indoor bike. It looks just like the EX1 but instead of knobs, it has levers for seat and handlebars adjustment which is better. It also a breathable center-cut seat which is more comfortable than the seat on the EX1.
But other than that, they are the same indoor bikes. Although built on the same frame, the Echelon EX5 fitness bike which was released later has additional improvements. Not only it has a better seat, it also has better handlebars that adjust in 4-directions (up, down, forward, and backward) unlike the EX1 and the EX3 that only adjust in 2-directions (up and down).
On top of that, the EX5 also has a set of easier-to-reach bottle holders built right into the handlebars rather than on the frame. The Incheon EX5 is my favorite choice and if you can afford it, I suggest you to consider that instead of the EX1 or EX3. It is more comfortable and you can achieve a better fit on the EX5 because of its handlebars’ vertical and horizontal adjustment.
Along with the EX5, the company also released another model called the Echelon EX5-S. The only difference between the EX5 and EX5-s is the console. The EX5-S has a 22-inch touchscreen while the EX5 doesn’t include any console.
I don’t recommend the EX5-S if you like to connect your bike with the Zwift or Peloton applications because its console can only be used with the Echelon application. So, instead of paying $1500 for an Echelon EX5-S, you can spend $1000 and buy an Echelon EX5 bike and use your own tablet, TV, PC, or/and Phone to see your stats and connect your bike online.
From the EX1 all the way to the EX5 and the EX5-S, Echelon has only built these smart connect fitness bikes for home personal use. But in 2021 the company decided to build the Echelon EX7-S with a sturdier structure for commercial use.
So, as you can imagine the Echelon EX7S is the highest quality indoor bike to this day by the brand. It is one of the top commercial quality spin bikes that has a durable crank system and 4-way adjustment to fit every type of rider from short to tall in cycling studio class. I wouldn’t buy this model because the Echelon EX5 has handled my daily use pretty well but money is not an issue, you can go with the EX7s.
|Bike Name||Echelon EX15||Echelon EX1||Echelon EX3||Echelon EX5||Echelon EX5||Echelon EX7-S|
|Resistance||Manual magnetic||Electronic magnetic||Electronic magnetic||Electronic magnetic||Electronic magnetic||Electronic magnetic|
|Console||None||None||None||None||22-inch HD||22-inch HD|
|Handlebars||Vertical Adjustment||Vertical Adjustment||Vertical Adjustment||Horizontal and Vertical Adjustment||Horizontal and Vertical Adjustment||More comfortable design + Horizontal and Vertical Adjustment|
|Pedals||Cage only||SPD and cage||SPD and cage||SPD and cage||SPD and cage||SPD and cage|
|Zwift and Peloton||Fully Syncs through QZ app||Fully Syncs through QZ app||Fully Syncs through QZ app||Fully Syncs through QZ app||Fully Syncs through QZ app||Fully Syncs through QZ app|
|Quality||For Personal Use||For Personal Use||For Personal Use||For Personal Use||For Personal Use||For Commercial use with heavy crank-system|
|Mechanism||Front drive and under sweat zone||Rear drive and away from sweat zone||Rear drive and away from sweat zone||Rear drive and away from sweat zone||Rear drive and away from sweat zone||Rear drive and away from sweat zone|
|Extras||Covered flywheel safer for kids||Needs more space but also is more stable||Needs more space but also is more stable||Needs more space but also is more stable||Needs more space but also is more stable||Needs more space but also is more stable|
Echelon EX1 Fitness Bike Alternatives
For those unable to or uncomfortable with going to the gym to work out, the importance of having your own studio-quality exercise bike within your home cannot be overstated. To perfect your home workout regimen you need the right equipment to get the job done.
The Echelon EX1 smart connect bike is a decent combination of accessibility, high quality, and best of all, affordability. Priced at $599, and offering payment plans to make purchasing even easier, the EX1 is a significantly cheaper option for your home gym than many competing spin bikes.
However, there are some pretty famous and good alternative indoor bikes to the Echelon EX1. For instance, the Schwinn IC4 bike. It has a heavier flywheel, a built-in console on the bike, and 4-way adjustable handlebars that offer a better fit than the Echelon EX1.
The only issue with the Schwinn IC4 is its manual magnetic resistance. It doesn’t adjust automatically when you are on Zwift of Peloton. If that’s not an issue for you, then I say the IC4 by Schwinn is a great alternative to the Echelon EX1 exercise bike.
The Proform Studio Bike Pro 10 is another alternative to the Echelon EX1. At $699, it is only $100 more expensive than the Echelon EX1 but it has a 10-inch touchscreen console that makes up for the extra cost. Although the screen on the bike only works with the iFit app, the bike has the ability to send workout data via Bluetooth to the QZ application on your phone and synch with third-party apps like Zwift and Peloton on your personal tablet.
With any of these three indoor bikes (Echelon EX1, Schwinn IC4, and ProForm Pro) you do need to have one device (a phone or apple watch) to install the QZ application and one device (tablet, iPad, TV., or PC) to install the third party applications like Zwift, or Peloton. Having two devices and using the QZ app allows you to fully synch and save all your workouts to your favorite app.
However, if you want to use your bike with the application of the brand (for example, Echelon bike with the Echelon app), you only need a device that has Bluetooth. I used my Echelon EX1 and Proform Pro with the Zwift so I always had to have two devices to properly synch all my workout data to the apps.
|Name||Echelon EX1||ProForm Pro||Schwinn IC4|
|Resistance||Electronic Magnetic||Electronic Magnetic||Manual Magnetic|
|Applications||Echelon (Zwift, Peloton and Strava through QZ app)||iFit (Zwift, Peloton and Strava through QZ app)||Zwift, Peloton and Strava with and without the QZ app|
|Console||None||10-inch touchscreen||3-inch LED|
|Pedals||SPD and Cage||Only Cage||SPD and Cage|
|Handlebars||Only vertical adjustment||Only vertical adjustment||Horizontal and vertical adjustment|
Echelon EX1 Review and Specifications:
EX1 Cycle Specifications:
- Width: 22”
- Length: 42″
- Height: 53”
- Bike Weight: 105 Pounds
- Recommended user height: From 4 feet 12-inches to 6 feet 4-inches
- Max User Weight: 300 Pounds
- Transportation Wheels
If the attractive and modern build of the Echelon EX1 weren’t enough to sell you, Echelon has also certainly not skimped when it comes to providing the best in stationary bike technology, even at lower prices.
The EX1 features a 28.6 lb fixed flywheel in conjunction with magnetic resistance which allows for 32 different levels of resistance to choose from. Along with the fact that Echelon’s spin bikes feature belt drivetrains, the EX1 gives you a smooth and quiet workout experience.
Offering a water bottle holder above the flywheel, ergonomic handlebars, SPD-compatible foot pedals, and horizontally and vertically adjustable saddle and handlebars, the EX1 is built to provide the perfect workout with minimum strain.
As an additional bonus, the EX1 features two seat-mounted dumbbell holders in case you want to integrate an upper-body workout with your cycling. The Echelon EX1 comes with many of the high-quality features demanded from the best indoor cycling bikes today while at an average, if not lower, price than most, making it an excellent addition to any home, workout space, personal gym, or studio.
Lack of Monitor:
One of the biggest flaws of the EX1 is its noticeable lack of a monitor, a common feature of most other top-of-the-line magnetic indoor bikes. In place of a built-in monitor, the EX1 features a mounting plate for a tablet.
This mount allows for a certain degree of angle rotation, so if you would like to use it while doing exercises on the bike you may, which is a nice touch.
Rather than having functions typical of a built-in monitor, the Echelon EX1 is able to connect to tablets, phones, smart TVs, and pcs via Bluetooth, where their Echelon Fit App can be used to access all of the features you would expect of a traditional monitor.
The Echelon Fit App offers a wide variety of on-demand classes, live classes, and scenic virtual biking routes, enough to satisfy the needs of almost any spin bike user. Various statistics are also tracked by the app, such as heart rate, distance, RPM, and resistance level.
Although you can NOT save your daily progress on the free version of the Echelon app, you can still see live your workout progress if your tablet or phone is connected to the bike via Bluetooth.
It must be noted that the EX1 is only compatible with Echelon’s app, and wasn’t meant to support any other indoor cycling apps, because the company wanted you to use their bike with their applications. It’s standard procedure in fitness equipment and especially indoor cycling industry.
However, because the Echelon smart bikes send the data via an open-source Bluetooth system, Roberto Viola, a talented Italian firmware developer was able to create the QZ application that enables every Echelon bike owner to connect their bikes properly to third applications like the Zwift or Peloton.
So, now you have the possibility to connect your Echelon EX1 to the application of your choice, not just the Echelon app. In order to do that, you will need to install the QZ app on your phone (or apple watch), then connect the app to the bike via Bluetooth. Now, you will need a tablet (or Apple TV, or PC) to install the Zwift and sync the QZ from your phone to the Zwift on your tablet. That’s it.
You know can see and save your progress on Zwift. With the Echelon Ex1, the QZ gives you the option to set automatic resistance adjustments on Zwift or Peloton when you go uphill or downhill. From cadence to watt, resistance level. speed, HR, and distance, you should be able to see all your stats on the application of your choice. All thanks to the QZ application.
As expected, to access live online spin bike classes and save your workouts on the Echelon’s Fit App, you need a paid subscription. So if you plan on purchasing the EX1 along with a one-year subscription to the Echelon Fit App the price jumps from $700 to $1000 and a two-year subscription raises the price further to $1200.
These added costs can be avoided if you use the QZ application which only costs $5 (one-time purchase). For tracking your progress, you can create a free profile on Stravas and connect your account with the QZ application.
How to connect the Echelon EX1 to Zwift, Peloton, or Strava?
Right out of the box, the Echelon EX1 bike doesn’t connect or sync with the Zwift, Peloton, Kinompa, or Strava because it’s built for the Echelon Fit application.
However, the QZ application enables the bike to connect and send stats with all the mentioned applications. Not only you can sync your stats from the Echelon EX1 to Zwift (other applications), but you can also allow Zwift to “automatically change resistance”.
Here is a step-by-step instruction on how you can connect your Echelon EX1 Smart Connect Fitness Bike to the Zwift application. You can follow the same steps to connect the Echelon EX1 to the Peloton application.
For this process, you need two devices. You can use a smartphone to install the QZ application and a tablet to install the Zwift application (for the Peloton app you need an iPad).
- Power on the Echelon bike
You need to plug in your bike to an outlet electricity source and start pedaling to wake up its Bluetooth.
- Connect the bike and the QZ app
Open the QZ application on your phone and connect the bike to the app (it should connect automatically).
- Open Zwift on your tablet and log in
You should have a Zwift account and log in on your tablet to see the “Paired Devices” screen.
- Connect Zwift with the QZ
On the “Paired Devices” screen, you can start connecting “power source”, “cadence”, “speed”, “Heart Rate”, and “Controllable”. It’s up to your which ones to sync from the QZ app. I connect them all.
If you have issues connecting the Echelon EX1 bike to Zwift, try these solutions:
- Make sure the Cycling Cadence Sensor “Peloton Compatibility” is off on the “QZ App Settings”.
- Make sure the value of the “Watt Gain” is 1 (not 0) on the “QZ App Settings”.
- Make sure your android device setting is set to visible for Bluetooth.
- Remove all the Bluetooth “paired devices” on your phone and tablet.
- In your Phone and Tablet Settings (not the App Settings), rename your devices to a “4-letter word” like “bike”.
- Those who use a PC to install the Zwift app might need a TP-Bluetooth Dongle to connect the Zwift with QZ.
- SPD-equipped pedals have toe cages
- Dual-sided pedals are compatible with both high-performance SPD cleats and traditional fitness shoes
- The Echelon EX1 smart connect fitness bike’s Q-factor of 202 mm
Recently, “clipping in” through the use of SPD cleats has become a popular trend among those seeking the most efficient workout from their stationary bike. As a result, more and more indoor cycle manufacturers are offering SPD-compatible pedals as part of their products.
Echelon is no different; the EX1 features SPD-compatible pedals on one side of the pedal and toe cages on the other, allowing maximum flexibility based on the user’s personal preferences. This makes the Echelon suitable for both those who would never cycle without SPD cleats and more casual riders who simply want to ride in their usual athletic shoes. The cage has an adjustable strap so that the cage can be tightened or loosened to your own specifications.
The Q-factor on the Echelon EX1 spin bike is 202mm, which places the EX1 among the wider stance exercise bikes on the market currently. Typically a narrower stance is preferred, as it permits ergonomic positioning of the feet and knees, allowing for a more comfortable and productive workout by reducing strain on your muscles and joints and through more efficient power transfer throughout your pedal strokes. As stated previously, 202mm is on the wider side of spin bikes currently available, but some riders with longer legs might still be able to find it comfortable.
Echelon EX1 Flywheel:
- The Echelon Fit EX1 has a 28.6 lb fixed flywheel
- Rear-mounted flywheel away from the sweat zone and more stable
- Magnetic resistance works with belt transmission to provide a smooth and quiet riding experience
Flywheels are one of the most important aspects that need to be considered when looking to purchase an indoor cycling bike, and the Echelon EX1 has not certainly not held back on this feature. The EX1 features a 28.6 lb magnetic flywheel.
An inertia-weighted flywheel, such as the one present in the EX1, provides the rider with a smoother motion while they cycle, preventing any jerking and straining. Magnetic resistance also has the added benefit of contactless braking, which will prevent wear caused by friction over the years.
The location of the EX1’s flywheel is a little unorthodox, being fixed under and behind the saddle, but this placement actually has two benefits: it keeps the exposed flywheel out of the sweat zone, helping prevent rust damage, and it helps balance the bike, further increasing the stability of your ride.
The Echelon EX1 features a belt drivetrain, and, although Echelon does not specify the exact variety, it is likely a poly-v belt, which is the industry standard and features on most bikes that use a belt instead of a chain.
Combining their magnetic flywheel with the belt drivetrain means the EX1 offers a smooth, quiet riding experience for the user. However, we do caution prospective buyers to be aware that as the flywheel is uncovered, and located where it is, it is important to be watchful if the spin bike is likely to be used around small children or pets in order to prevent any accidents from happening during use.
Echelon EX1 Resistance:
- The Echelon EX1 indoor spin bike features a hefty magnetic resistance system, which allows the user to choose between 32 different resistance levels.
- The resistance knob can be used before or during rides, allowing riders to train with their desired resistance levels at all times.
- If you don’t want to use the resistance knob for intensity adjustment, you can adjust the intensity via compatible/connected applications.
- It has electronic magnetic resistance with just means that Zwift could control your bike’s resistance automatically. Let’s say you hit a hill during a virtual ride, the bike would automatically become harder.
- You don’t need a tablet or phone to be able to adjust the bike’s resistance but to see the resistance level, you need to connect the bike a Bluetooth device with an indoor cycling application.
The Echelon EX1 spin bike uses high-quality magnetic technology for their flywheel, which allows users to select between 32 different resistance levels, meaning you can always push yourself just as much or little as you would like to during your workout.
The resistance knob is on the EX1’s down tube, making it easy to reach, and it adjusts easily so that switching resistance levels during a ride is not a hassle.
Unlike the Echelon EX15 bike which comes with manual magnetic resistance, the EX1 Echelon spin bike has an electronic magnetic system with a motor connected to the magnets. So, you can use applications to change intensity or set the bike to change its intensity when your Peloton instructor calls out a new resistance level (pre-recorded classes, not live classes).
The Echelon EX1’s magnetic flywheel means that switching between resistance levels during your ride is a simple and smooth process, not interrupt the flow of your exercise. This allows for a myriad of different uses, replicating hills or various other terrains and allowing for HIIT workouts, letting you personalize your workout.
Handlebars and Seat
- Two-way adjustable, multi-positional handlebars.
- Vertically and horizontally adjustable saddle.
- Adjustable media shelf on the handlebars.
The Echelon EX1’s handlebars are constructed with a semi-ergonomic design and are able to be adjusted vertically. Unfortnelty the handlebars can’t be adjusted horizontally like the Echelon EX5 so you may not be able to choose various cycling styles depending.
Similar knobs to the one used to adjust resistance are also used to adjust the positioning of the handlebar and seat. Positioned in the middle of the handlebars is the main console, which is equipped with a tablet mount for connecting to the web online.
Overall, while the handlebars do not offer anything particularly unique or special, their range of adjustment makes them adequate for people of many different body types, providing valuable flexibility for all riders.
The EX1’s saddle features better adjustability than the handlebars, letting users adjust both the vertical and horizontal positioning in order to be accommodating for many different heights and body types.
The saddle is wider than one you would find on a typical road cycle which will make it a little more comfortable fit for some riders. But in comparison with other Echelon fitness bikes, its seat it pretty basic without a breathable design.
The high degree of maneuverability which can be seen in both the handlebars and the saddle make the EX1 an excellent choice for buyers who are entertaining the possibility of multiple riders using the same bike, and while not particularly streamlined, the EX1 does not make it difficult to adjust either.
EX1 Belt Drivetrain:
- With the EX1 and other bikes in the series, Echelon has decided to incorporate a belt drivetrain as opposed to a chain.
- The belt on this model (and other Echelon indoor bikes) is Poly-V (not Timing/Toothed) which is good but not great.
Echelon does not specify the variety of belts that are used in their bikes, however, it’s a good bet that they feature the standard Poly-V belt which is found on many modern indoor bikes which use belts.
Spin bikes that opt for belts instead of chains will have a smoother and quieter riding experience, as they eliminate the need for clunky chains. In combination with the heavier flywheel, the belt drivetrain provides riders of the EX1 with an incredibly smooth riding experience, free from any jerking or catching. Belts also require less maintenance than chains, not having any needs such as oiling, adjusting, or tightening.
The greatest advantage presented by the Echelon EX1’s belt transmission is that it makes the bike’s performance nearly silent. This is aided by the EX1’s sturdy, all-steel build, which allows it to stand up to even the most intense workouts without creaking or groaning.
Take those two facts along with the EX1’s magnetic resistance system and the EX1 will provide you with a quiet riding experience if that is what you desire. This is ideal for anyone who may have limited time and can only ride at times when the noise may disturb others, such as very early in the morning or late at night.
Echelon EX1 Price and Warranty:
- The Echelon EX1 spin bike is currently priced at $699
- The Echelon EX1 spin bike’s warranty includes only one year of coverage on mechanical parts and labor
- Extended warranty can be purchased for 1 or 3 years for an additional fee
- If you are having troubles with your EX1 bike while it is under warranty, you can visit https://echelonfit.com/pages/register-warranty and fill out a claim there for whatever issue you are having.
Since the meager 1 year warranty that the bike comes with is likely not going to satisfy any prospective purchasers of the EX1, you will be forced to either purchase an 1 year extended warranty for $79 or a 3 year extended warranty for $199. The 1 year warranty is the major weakness of Echelon’s EX1 bike.
While the price of the EX1 initially seems to be quite reasonable, after factoring in additional necessary purchases, such as a subscription to their Echelon Fit App and an extended warranty, the Echelon quickly jumps up in price, making it quite a bit overpriced for the mid-range features that it offers.
This is not to say that the Echelon EX1 is a bad bike, it is a well-crafted piece of machinery with many great qualities that would stand up to whatever you may ask of it. Nonetheless, there are simply better offerings on the market which will offer you more bang for buck.
Assembly and Shipping:
- When purchased without a subscription plan to Echelon Fit App, premium shipping costs $199.
- If purchased with a 1 or 2-year subscription plan, premium shipping is free to contiguous US.
- All the required assembly tools are included in the Echelon EX1 box.
- The EX1 parts that require assembly are; pedals, front/rear feet, seat, and handlebars.
The assembly required for the Echelon EX1 spin bike is not particularly demanding, and if you follow the instructions included in the package it is likely that you can have your EX1 put together in as little as 20 to 30 minutes. Most of the parts, such as the flywheel and the handlebars, come pre-assembled but separately packed.
Putting these larger parts together will make up most of the construction process of the EX1. You will need a few tools, but nothing that is not commonly found in a household, and a little elbow grease, but if you stick to the instruction booklet constructing your EX1 spin bike should be a cinch.
The Echelon EX1 is a high-quality offering in the mid-range tier of spin bikes, which is suitable for any home gym workout room. It has a high-quality steel build which ensures that it will last, and the sturdy construction of the electronic magnetic flywheel and belt drivetrain ensures that the EX1 can take on whatever challenges come its way. Flexibility and comfort are also at the forefront of the EX1’s strengths, allowing for vertical and horizontal adjustment of both the saddle. Featuring SPD-compatible pedals with an optional toe cage on the other side, and offering 32 levels of magnetic resistance, making it a fitting choice for most indoor cyclists. However, the EX1 is held back by a couple of major problems, including no integrated monitor, forcing you to not only use your own tablet but specifically pay a subscription fee if to save your daily progress on the Echelon Fit app.
- Open-source Bluetooth for Echelon, Zwift, Strava, and Peloton applications
- Manual as well as electronic magnetic resistance
- Automatic resistance change for Peloton and Zwift
- Cadence, watt, resistance, speed, time, and distance readings
- SPD and Toe cage pedals for cycling shoes and gym sneakers
- Angle adjustable media tray for placing different size tablets and phone
- Affordable price and rear drive mechanism
- USB charging port and a quiet belt-driven system
- The bike doesn't have a built-in console to see your stats
- Echelon Fit App FreeStyle account doesn't allow saving daily workouts
- Handlebars are not horizontally adjustable for better bike fit
- The seat is not as comfortable as other Echelon models