You definitely don't need a fancy, high-end connected workout bike to get a decent home workout in—a basic spin bike and YouTube on your phone does the trick pretty well if you're on a budget. But there's definitely something about a $2,000 bike with an enormous touchscreen and various interactive features that might give you the extra motivation you need to work out on a regular basis. And when it comes to the best exercise bikes, the choice often comes down to Peleton vs. NordicTrack.
But before you put a deposit down on that Peloton Bike (or the new Bike+), you might want to consider your options. Peloton isn't the only company that makes home fitness equipment; other companies, such as the well-established NordicTrack, also have fancy connected exercise bikes with live and on-demand classes designed to give you the true "studio" experience.
We’re going to take a look at both the bikes and the classes that both Peleton and NordicTrack offer to help you make the best decision.
Peloton vs. NordicTrack: The bikes compared
While NordicTrack has six exercise bikes in its lineup, for the purposes of this story, I'll be comparing the NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle against the Peloton Bike and Peloton Bike+, because these three are direct competitors, have similar features, and are similarly priced.
|NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle||Peloton Bike||Peloton Bike+|
|Size (footprint)||55 x 22 inches||48 x 24 inches||48 x 24 inches|
|Max. rider weight (pounds)||350||305||305|
|Display size and resolution||21.5 inches, 1080p||21.5 inches, 1080p||23.8 inches, 1080p|
|Subscription||$39/month or $396/year (also has individual plan for $180/year)||$39/month||$39/month|
The NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle and the Peloton bikes have fairly similar physical specs: Both bikes are relatively compact (the S22i is about 7 inches longer than the Peloton), have high-definition touchscreens and built-in speakers, and use magnetic resistance systems instead of metal flywheels. The bikes vary slightly in how this resistance system is set up, however: The S22i's magnetic resistance system is digitally controlled with buttons on the handlebars, while the Peloton's system is controlled via a physical knob that you turn.
Different setups mean slightly different experiences—the S22i's system is less precise, but digital control means that instructors can adjust your resistance remotely while you take their class (and they do). The Peloton Bike's system is very precise, but instructors do not have the ability to wrest control from you and force you to keep up with the rest of the class—all of that motivation has to come from you. That said, the new Peloton Bike+ does offer digitally-controlled resistance and has a feature that lets you "auto-follow" instructors.
The bikes do have some other minor but notable physical differences, especially if you want to use that large screen for more than just spin classes. The NordicTrack S22i's touchscreen rotates 360 degrees, which is handy if you want to watch a strength workout without a bike in the way. The Peloton Bike's touchscreen, by contrast, does not rotate—and it seems like Peloton figured out that this wasn't a great setup for non-bike workouts, because one of the Peloton Bike+'s biggest highlights is its rotating screen. The S22i also has toe cages on its pedals, while Peloton doesn't (you'll either need special spin shoes or you'll need to put toe cages on the pedals).
As for price, the NordicTrack S22i is slightly more expensive than the Peloton Bike right out of the box—$1,999 to the Peloton's new lowered price of $1,895. The S22i includes the first year off NordicTrack's subscription membership free, however, while Peloton does not include a subscription.
Peloton vs. NordicTrack: Classes
As you've probably figured out by now, content is a big deal. It's basically the entire reason you're thinking of buying a connected fitness bike in the first place. And there's no question that this is one place where Peloton is doing very well—Peloton's classes are all the rage, and their instructors have (not undeserved) cult followings. That doesn't mean NordicTrack's iFit instructors are bad—honestly, group fitness instructors are generally pretty hyped-up and inspiring all around.
Both NordicTrack's iFit and Peloton's subscription services offer more than just cycling classes. You'll find everything from running and walking workouts to yoga, strength training, and cross-training, as well as recovery "workouts" to walk you through cool down stretches and meditation. Both services offer live workouts in addition to on-demand content, and keep you in the game with things like encouraging shout-outs from instructors and live leaderboards.
Peloton might have all the hype, but NordicTrack's iFit also has a neat "global" training feature that lets you follow instructors around the world and check out the scenery (while also getting a terrain-adjusted workout). You can even make your own scenic workout using iFit's "Map Based Workout" feature, which lets you draw a custom workout on Google Maps. iFit uses terrain mapping data drawn from the Google Maps API to emulate the inclines and declines of the map you've drawn, and it also pulls scenery from Google Street View so you can see where you're biking. Maybe you don't need to go outside during quarantine after all.
Peloton vs. NordicTrack: Subscription costs
Both Peloton and NordicTrack require you to have an active subscription to use the bikes' touchscreens and interactive content. NordicTrack's iFit subscription costs $33 - $39/month for a family plan with up to five profiles, while Peloton's subscription costs $39/month (unlimited profiles). If you don't need multiple profiles, NordicTrack also offers an individual plan that costs $15/month—the same as its mobile app subscription. Peloton only offers one plan for device subscribers.
The companies also offer their content à la carte via mobile apps, which give you full access to all content but do not connect with your equipment (the mobile app subscription is included in your device subscription, though). The Peloton mobile app (iOS and Android) costs $13/month and the NordicTrack iFit mobile app (iOS and Android) costs $15/month.
Both apps offer a 30-day free trial so you can check them out before you make a commitment.
Peloton vs. NordicTrack: Bottom line
Which bike is for you? It really depends on what you're looking for. If you don't care about Peloton's content, the NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle is a better deal overall: It's more versatile, it's cheaper (after you factor in subscription cost), and you won't have to buy new shoes. But if you like Peloton's content—such as in your currently-closed gym—then only Peloton will do.
The other big difference is how the resistance works—some people exercise better when they're being externally motivated by instructors taking over their machines, and some people work better when they have full control over how much they want to push themselves.
Get more fitness gear buying advice: