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Peloton vs. Echelon: Which exercise bike is best for you?

Peloton vs. Echelon
(Image credit: Peloton/Echelon)

When you think of the best exercise bikes with interactive spin classes, you probably think of Peloton. Peloton has, after all, carved out a nice little niche for itself with its high-end spin cycles that try to fully emulate the experience of taking a live, in-person studio class. 

But they're not alone—other companies, like Echelon, are moving in on the market with budget-friendly options. Echelon cut costs with its "bring your own device" concept—the first Echelon bike had no screen at all, just a tablet mount. 

Deciding between Peloton vs. Echelon when trying to figure out which company makes the perfect bike for your indefinite quarantine? Here's a look at the differences between the Echelon Connect EX5S and the original Peloton Bike. 

Peloton vs. Echelon: The bikes compared

Echelon has four bikes in its Connect line up (the EX1, EX3, EX5, and EX5S). The EX-5S is the only Echelon bike with a built-in touchscreen; the other bikes have no screens, just tablet mounts. Peloton has two bikes in its lineup: The original Peloton Bike, which has a 22-inch touchscreen, and the new "cardio + strength" Peloton Bike+, which has a 24-inch touchscreen. 

Echelon Connect EX5S Peloton Bike Peloton Bike+
Price $1640 $1895 $2495
Size (footprint) 54 x 20 inches 48 x 24 48 x 24
Weight (pounds)124135140
Max rider weight (pounds)300305305
Display size and resolution 21.5 inches, 1080p 21.5 inches, 1080p 23.8 inches, 1080p
Monthly subscription $39.99/month $39/month $39/month

The Echelon Connect EX5S and the Peloton Bike are physically similar (perhaps too physically similar; Peloton brought a lawsuit against Echelon for copyright infringement). The EX5S is 54 inches long and 20 inches wide, while the Peloton is 48 inches long and 24 inches wide. Both have steel frames and magnetic resistance systems that are controlled via a physical knob. The Peloton Bike has a fluid resistance system, however, while Echelon has a 32 levels. The Peloton Bike+ has a digitally-controlled resistance that allows you to set the bike to automatically follow along with instructors (instead of changing the resistance yourself). 

The EX5S has a 21.5-inch touchscreen that swivels 180 degrees; the Peloton Bike has a non-swiveling 22-inch touchscreen. A swiveling screen is useful if you want to do other workouts such as strength training or yoga without having to watch the screen over the bike (this is one of the key selling points of the Peloton Bike+, which has a swiveling 24-inch screen). While Echelon's other bikes don't have built-in screens at all, they do have swiveling tablet mounts. 

The Peloton Bike (and the Bike+) comes with clip-in pedals that you'll need special shoes—specifically, Look Delta cleats—to use. Echelon's bikes have dual-sided pedals with clips on one side and toe cages on the other. Echelon's pedals use the SPD clip-in system, which is the same system many commercial spin bikes use. (Coincidentally, Peloton bikes in commercial spaces tend to have SPD and not Look Delta pedals, so if you've been using the Peloton at your apartment complex's gym, you may still need to get new shoes)

The Peloton Bike starts at $1,895 and the Peloton Bike+ starts at $2,495. This price does not include the subscription to Peloton's content, which is an extra $39/month. The Echelon Connect EX5S starts at $1,640—if you want to "bring your own device," the Echelon bikes start at $840 for the EX1. This price does not include the subscription to Echelon's FitPass content, which costs an extra $40/month.

Peloton vs. Echelon: Training programs and content

When it comes to connected home fitness equipment, it's really as much about the content as it is about the machine—we don't just need instructors to be motivating while they're teaching classes, they need them to be so motivating that we want to take classes. Peloton, of course, is all about content and its instructors and classes have built up a huge following. Echelon might not have the same cult following Peloton does, but they've got a similar lineup of daily live streamed classes and on-demand content. 

Both Echelon and Peloton have more than just cycling and spin classes in their repertoire. You'll find workouts ranging from various types of cardio (running, dance, HIIT) to strength training, bootcamps, and yoga/stretching. Echelon does have specific categories for pilates and boxing workouts, while Peloton does not. But Peloton has an "outdoor" section that offers audio-guided workouts so you don't have to look at a screen. Both services have live classes in addition to on-demand content, as well as scenic rides for when you want a less-intense fitness experience. 

Peloton vs. Echelon: Subscription costs

Echelon's subscription service costs $25 - $40/month, depending on payment plan. But because it's designed around the "bring your own device" philosophy, the non-bike plan is still kind of expensive—$20/month through the app (available on iOS and Android). 

Peloton's service if you have a bike costs $39/month and has no discounts for paying up front, but you can access all of the workouts via the app (iOS and Android) for just $13/month.

Peloton vs. Echelon: Bottom line

There's no doubt that Echelon's bikes are more budget-friendly, whether you're BYOD or you want a dedicated touchscreen display. They're also a bit more versatile if you're not already on team Peloton. But Peloton's content is popular for a reason, and maybe that's just what motivates you to work out.

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