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Best Peloton alternative 2021: Your next exercise bike

Tired of the Peloton hype? Check out these smart bike alternatives from MYXfitness, Echelon, Bowflex, NordicTrack, and Sole.

Peloton is one of those brand names that comes to define a particular product category. Like Kleenex or Band-Aid, its moniker is often used synonymously with any connected fitness bike, even if that model happens to be made by another manufacturer. This prevalence in the public consciousness is not without reason. Peloton was one of the first companies to truly succeed in the subscription-based fitness platform market, and its trainers have such massive cult followings one even appeared on Dancing with the Stars. 

But, maybe none of these things matter to you. Maybe you don't like the cult-like reverence some people ascribe to Peloton and its trainers, or you can't stomach the nearly $40 per month subscription cost, or maybe you don't care about cost and just want to know if there might be a better option out there for your particular fitness goals. 

This list explores the best options for skipping Peloton in favor of other manufacturers and competing subscription services. All of the products listed here either come with their own companion fitness platform, or can be used with a similar platform via the machines themselves, or a connected mobile app. From casual exercisers to budding Tour-de-France participants, these models will fulfill every need without tapping the obvious choice in this product category. 

The MYXII

A near-twin to the Peloton Bike with a few perks and a slightly lower price tag

2020-02-28-at-5-03-27-pm.jpg
(Image: MYXfitness)

The MYXfitness MYXII is clearly designed to be a direct competitor to the Peloton Bike in every way. Its similar form factor, nearly identical connected platform offerings, and slightly lower price make it clear the company had Peloton firmly in its crosshairs when designing this product. That said, there are a few notable differences, including the MYXII's use of friction-based resistance rather than magnetic, its slightly wider rider height and weight ranges, and its handlebar and seat adjustments. 

While there are many competing products out there matching Peloton's hardware, the MYXII is also designed to provide a direct alternative to the company's apps and classes as well. This comes in the form of the Openfit platform, which brings with it not only live and on-demand cycling workouts, but also barre HIIT (High-intensity interval training), pilates, yoga, strength training, cardio conditioning, and more. The comprehensive $39 per month price tag supports up to five users, with all content viewable on the user's connected mobile device, or on the built-in 21.5" touchscreen that pivots around to face any corner of the user's home fitness studio.

This isn't the best option for those looking for considerable savings over Peloton, but it might be the best for those that prefer the instant feedback provided by friction-based resistance versus the often laggy-feeling changes in resistance provided by magnetic systems.


    Pros

    • Friction-based resistance more closely mirrors real world cycling. 

    • 350lb weight capacity and 4' 11"- 6' 8" height range supports nearly every cyclist

    • Versatile pedal system secures either standard sneakers or SPD clip-in shoes

    Cons

    • Friction resistance noise may annoy some

    • Subscription is just as pricey as Peloton's 

    • Official dumbbells and kettlebell required for many weight-based workouts add $200 to the price


Echelon Connect Bike EX-5s-10

A cheaper Peloton alternative with surprisingly few concessions

echelon-connect-bike-ex-5s-10.jpg
Amazon

The rather wordily-named Echelon Connect Bike EX-5s-10 provides a nearly identical ride experience to the Peloton Bike, right down to the magnetic resistance adjustability and availability of professionally led live and on-demand classes, but at a much lower entry price, with a slightly less expensive companion subscription in the Echelon fitness platform.

Of course, this does come with some slight concessions, the most important one being the downsizing of its included touchscreen display from the 21" range to just 10". While this will, of course, hurt immersion when using it for scenic rides, and it might make the various professional trainers owners will interact with a bit less present, it comes with a savings of nearly $300 without compromising anything about the riding experience itself. This makes it an ideal option for those unsure of their commitment to sticking to class-based workouts and those just as happy with audio feedback as they are with big-screen visuals. 

While it hasn't quite reached the level of Peloton, Echelon may be the second-best known name in this space, boasting a well-known fitness platform and app that even integrates streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and Samsung TV+) directly into its interface. This is on top of the cycling, yoga, functional training, and other fitness classes available across the Connect Bike, Echelon mobile app, and other Echelon-branded equipment.


    Pros

    • Digital resistance control allows for precise, repeatable resistance levels

    • Four-way adjustable handlebars fit every rider's posture

    • Versatile pedal system secures either standard sneakers or SPD clip-in shoes

    • Companion app is $5 to $10 less per month than Peloton's, depending on purchased term

    Cons

    • Smaller screen may ruin immersion for some

    • Official dumbbells and kettlebell required for many weight-based workouts add $200 to the price

    • 300lb weight limit may exclude some larger riders


Bowflex VeloCore

A more immersive and complete riding experience for just a bit more than Peloton's entry point

bowflex-velcore.jpg

For the vast majority of stationary bike rides, there's something missing: turns. The VeloCore Bike differentiates itself by allowing its riders to lean into turns with its aptly-named Leaning Mode. Not only does this increase the realism of the virtual rides available on the companion JRNY platform, but it also adds to the workout by engaging the user's core and other muscles that might traditionally be left out of a cycling routine. If you'd rather stick to a more traditional stationary bike experience, the VeloCore can also be locked in an upright position and fulfill its role just as well as the Peloton Bike thanks to its wide range of seat adjustability and 100 levels of magnetic resistance.

The VeloCore also comes with free weights designed to be stored on the bike itself and used with the numerous non-cycling classes supported by its companion JRNY app. These classes are viewable on the VeloCore's 16" touchscreen, or via the company's mobile app, providing a variety of workout experiences. Through all of these classes, users can track their progress not only via the bike's built-in hardware, but also through the included Bluetooth HR armband, which allows for heart rate monitoring and fitness tracking both on the VeloCore and off. 

Although its entry price is just a bit higher than the Peloton Bike, it's worth noting that the cost includes the first year of the JRNY companion platform, saving the user about $240 from the one-year cost, and dropping the VeloCore's total cost of ownership to nearly the same as Peloton's entry point, with the added benefit of Leaning Mode.


    Pros

    • Leaning Mode increases immersion and adds core muscles to workouts

    • First year of required service and free weights are both included

    • Included Bluetooth HR armband allows tracking of off-bike workouts as well

    • JRNY companion app is about half the price of Peloton's after the first year at $19.99 per month

    Cons

    • Screen resolution isn't as high Peloton's 

    • No live workouts, only on-demand and virtual rides

    • Smaller number of available workouts and exercise types than some competing services like Peloton and Echelon


NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle

A different take on immersion with some impressive automation and pushbutton controls

nordictrack-commercial-s22i-studio-cycle.jpg
Amazon

While the BowFlex VeloCore focuses on adding immersion by bringing tilt into the mix, the NordickTrack Commercial S22i opts instead to allow users to feel real-world incline during their virtual rides. The bike supports between -10% and +20% incline levels. It couples this with auto-adjusting resistance levels to simulate the feel of pumping your legs to climb a tough hill, or taking it easy while sailing down a steep street. With the integrated Google Maps support, users can take these virtual rides on a variety of locales around the globe.

The fully-featured package also includes dumbbells for weight training classes, and support for other exercise types like yoga and mindfulness sessions via the included 22" pivoting touchscreen. All of these are offered via the companion iFit workout platform, which includes both live and on-demand routines for on the bike and off. 

Aside from these differentiators, the S22i is every inch a Peloton clone, down to its magnetic resistance, 22" touchscreen, and selection of personality-focused fitness instructors. This makes it the best option for those seeking an equally well-established Peloton alternative with a few extra bells and whistles.


    Pros

    • Automated resistance and incline can simulate riding up and down hills

    • Google Maps compatibility provides thousands of virtual rides

    • 22" touchscreen tilts and rotates to support all types of exercise

    • On-handle controls are easy to reach and adjust

    Cons

    • iFit membership isn't included, and runs $39 per month

    • Resistance levels are less granular than some competing offerings

    • Handlebars lack horizontal adjustments


Sole SB700 Bike

A "headless" Peloton alternative for those interested in keeping track of their own progress while saving some cash

sole-sb7001.png
Amazon

Even before Peloton came along, there were many apps around that allowed users to track both their cycling and general exercise progress. Those apps are still around, and better than ever, offering connectivity with fitness trackers, smartwatches, nutrition tracking platforms, and more. For many users, especially those wishing to save some cash on equipment and avoid expensive monthly subscriptions, a unit like the Sole SB700 might be the best option. 

Also: Best fitness trackers

This bike's simple LCD readout provides the rider with all of their vital stats. Combined with something like a FitBit or an Apple Watch, it can easily provide essentially all of the same metrics as any of the models on this list that cost twice or close to three times as much. Of course, this will require more manual inputs and self-directed tracking than any of the pricier competitors, but that extra layer of control and freedom might actually be liberating for those not cut out for the class-based cycling experience. 

Although it lacks any form of connectivity, the Sole SB700 shines when it comes to hardware. Its friction-based resistance system closely mirrors the MYXII, providing consistent, realistic cycling sensation. It also includes a massive 48lb flywheel with magnetic braking for powerful momentum and quick stops.


    Pros

    • Provides all the vital stats at less than half the costs of many competitors

    • Device rack allows for real-time tracking with compatible mobile devices and fitness trackers 

    • Flywheel system combines friction resistance with magnetic braking to provide ideal riding feedback 

    Cons

    • Completely relies on the user to track their own fitness journey

    • No support for clip-in riding shoes

    • No wheels or movement assistance built in


How did we choose the best Peloton Alternatives?

From one to one Peloton Bike equivalents, to budget-friendly alternatives, to highly-realistic cycling simulators and comprehensive exercise systems that can help you stay fit on your bike and off, each of these entries is designed to provide a solidly built tentpole for your fitness journey, while also coming equipped with excellent connectivity via built-in or companion hardware. This variety ensures that 

Is biking alone enough to keep me fit?

Cycling is excellent cardio, but it doesn't necessarily fulfill every fitness need. Weight training, bodyweight exercises, and other strengthening exercises can all be great companion activities for those seeking a whole body workout. Thankfully, all but one of the options on this include either their own dumbbells/weights, or can be purchased as part of a package with weights. Moreover, all of the companion services on the list also include weight-based exercise sessions, or sessions that mix weight training with cardio. This means it's entirely up to you whether you want to stick to cycling for its cardio benefits, or you'd like to expand your fitness journey to include weight training and resistive exercises as well. 

What if I don't want to be tied to a single App/Platform?

Each of the machines here is, at the end of the day, an exercise bike. It might seem like a silly statement, but the fact is all of them can work independently of their electronic components to provide an excellent workout by simply adjusting their respective resistances and other variables. Unfortunately, nearly every bike on the market limits you to using the service for which they were designed. So, if you believe it unlikely you will want to continue with that service over the long-term, it may be the most cost-effective for you to consider a non-connected bike.

Can't I just buy a real bike for less?

Of course. Some good quality cycles, especially well-kept used models, can be had for just a few hundred bucks. But, the main reason to shell out the cost of a stationary bike, particularly a connected one, is the convenience it offers. Not only do you not have to worry about weather ever being a factor in your ability to ride, but you don't even have to journey to your local gym if you want that ride to be guided by a professional fitness instructor. This consistency of availability can't be matched, even if you live in the most temperate of climates with excellent roads or trails to ride. That said, if you prefer the great outdoors to indoor convenience, by all means, grab yourself a bike. Just don't be surprised when mother nature starts messing with your well-laid fitness plans. 

Are there alternatives worth considering?

Here are a few more top-rated bikes: