Indoor exercise bikes aren't new. They're just surging in popularity at the moment -- partly because they're smarter and internet-connected now, and because of viral ads plastered all over Instagram from companies such as Peloton.
Peloton's own bike is one of the more well-known smart exercise bikes available, but it has some shortcomings. For starters, it's super expensive. The bike's handlebar also only moves up and down, not fore and aft, which means you can't adjust it to your liking. It also has a fixed screen that can't be used to surf the web, watch YouTube videos, or connect to apps.
Many people want a smart exercise bike to help them sweat it out in the morning before work, and while they may love the idea of Peloton, it's hard to stomach that hefty up-front cost, the price of the monthly subscription service, and the other limitations we described. Luckily, there are cheaper bikes available, and they're just as effective as the Peloton.
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The NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle is the most expensive alternative on this list, but it's the most comparable to Peloton, and it's still cheaper. It's a $1,999 smart exercise bike with a 22-inch interactive touchscreen that tilts and lets you stream high-energy studio sessions with trainers (who can uniquely control your machine's decline, incline, and resistance in real-time -- something Peloton trainers can't do). Plus, a one-year membership to the classes is included.View Now at NordicTrack
NordicTrack's cheaper smart bike is still pretty fancy. It has a 14-inch HD touchscreen with iFit on-demand and live studio workouts and trainers who can control your machine's decline, incline, and resistance in real-time. The bike itself features a mechanical shaft to simulate the inclines and declines of actual bike riding. The first year of iFit is free. After that, it costs $39 a month or $33 if prepaid annually. It's not required, however.View Now at NordicTrack
Next up is the Studio Bike Pro from ProForm. It's about $1,300 cheaper than the Peloton and still comes with a 10-inch screen and a free year of live workouts. The trainers can also control your resistance, but not your incline, like with the S22i. The seat and handlebars are all adjustable, too. Honestly, this is probably the best value you can get for a Peloton-like cycling experience.View Now at ProForm
ProForm's Smart Power 10.0 is basically another version of its high-end exercise bike (above). It still has a steel body and a 10-inch HD color capacitive touch display, plus it comes with ProForm's iFit membership service enabled. ProForm said this bike offers what it calls "digital resistance", but you get 22 different resistance levels with a 250-pound user capacity. There's also full seat and handle-bar adjustability as well, along with a water bottle holder. The best part, however, is that the bike is only $999.View Now at BestBuy
Myx Fitness is a newer bike company. Some say its Myx is a true Peloton clone, as it features a 21.5-inch screen and original, in-house fitness programming. Myx costs just $1,199 (with a monthly membership fee of $29), which means it's not only comparable to Peloton but also cheaper. It also has reversible pedals (toe-cages on one side with shoe-clips on the other), handlebar height and depth adjusters, and a monitor that can tilt and pivot. NordicTrack's S15i does too -- but it costs $400 more and has a smaller screen.View Now at Myx Fitness
We're straying a bit away from the Peloton at this point, but hear us out: The Echelon Smart Connect EX3 is roughly $1,400 cheaper than the Peloton, and it still offers interactive workouts with certified trainers via your own mobile device and the Echelon app. The app serves up both live and on-demanded classes for $40 a month. Yes, there's no screen attached to the front of the bike, but there is a handy little spot on the handlebars for you to slide in a phone.View Now at Echelon
What is Peloton?
Peloton, which recently went public, is the maker of a $2,250 indoor bike with a large screen attached to the front, providing access to a $40-per-month subscription service with thousands of live and on-demand cycling classes. By the end of fiscal 2019, Peloton said it sold over half-a-million connected fitness products -- and it has just as many subscribers.
We have to mention that social media has been roasting this luxury fitness brand recently -- largely due to its ad that hit YouTube one week before Thanksgiving. It features a woman who was gifted a Peloton bike by her husband. She spends a year riding the bike and recording her workouts. And, in the end, we learn she made a video diary as a gift for her husband.
Many say there's a sexist tone to the whole commercial, but also, the wife in the ad is already physically fit when she gets the bike. Both appear to be affluent, too. The high-end stationary bike in the corner of their million-dollar house just reeks of privilege. And the video diary is seen as a way for the husband to ensure his wife doesn't get fat. Of course, that's just how critics see it.
Best indoor exercise bikes
So, let's discuss the Peloton Digital app. If you want to try Peloton's virtual classes, but with your own traditional indoor exercise bike, then just use Peloton's mobile app. It costs $20 a month, comes with a 14-day trial, and can be used with any indoor exercise bike. It offers both live and on-demand classes, though it lacks the leaderboard and on-screen stats like cadence, resistance, output, and other metrics calculated by the Peloton bike itself.
Let's also not forget YouTube, which is home to countless cycling videos. The point is, you don't need Peloton's fancy bike and 22-inch screen to burn calories. With any indoor exercise bike and a mobile device, you can get a similar experience and save yourself thousands. Here are a few of the best-rated bikes we could find:
- ProGear 100S Exercise Bike/Indoor Training Cycle for $160 at Amazon
- Sunny Health and Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike for $240 at Amazon
- Marcy Club Revolution Cycle Trainer for $250 at Amazon
- L Now Indoor Cycling Bike for $300 at Amazon
- Joroto Indoor Cycling Bike Trainer for $330 at Amazon
- Schwinn IC3 Indoor Cycling Bike for $500 at Amazon
- Bladez Fitness Master GS Indoor Cycle Trainer for $515 at Amazon
- Sunny Health and Fitness Indoor Cycling Bike for $599 at Amazon
- Sole Fitness SB700 for $800 at Amazon
- Bowflex C6 Indoor Exercise bike for $899 at Bowflex
- Keiser M3i Indoor Cycle for $1,995 at Amazon
Best cycling accessories
To get the full Peloton indoor cycling experience, but again without breaking the bank, you might want to consider investing in some exercise accessories that come with the Peloton bike. For instance, you should get a bike mat, such as this one from SuperMats. You can also pick up a media device holder (if your bike doesn't have one) like this expanding tablet mount. You might want to also consider a cadence sensor -- we recommend Wahoo's -- and perhaps a pair of dedicated cycling shoes.