Echelon EX1 Exercise Bike Review – Pros and Cons 2020

Last Updated: April 9, 2020

Echelon EX1 Exercise Bike Review

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The Echelon EX1 Connect bike is Echelon’s most affordable Bluetooth connected bike that syncs with the Echelon app. An integrated tablet holder on the handlebars makes it easy to select and enjoy any of Echelon’s live or recorded spin classes. The EX1 Connect bike maintains a compact footprint at just 22” wide and 42” long. It only weighs 105lbs and has silent magnetic resistance, so this is a great piece of exercise equipment for your home that is quiet and compact. This bike is a great option for riders who want a comfortable, connected bike that is substantially less expensive than other brands.

Who It’s For: Riders who want a comfortable Bluetooth connected bike with subscription training app

The Echelon EX1 offers a few distinct features:

  • The Echelon Fit app can be streamed to any phone, tablet or TV screen to display workout routines anywhere, anytime
  • A tablet holder with adjustable clip on the handlebars will hold your device securely
  • Echelon places the flywheel in the back, out of the “sweat zone” where there is less possibility of rust or damage to the flywheel
  • 32 Magnetic resistance levels are quiet and provide abundant training options
  • The Echelon EX1 only weighs 105 pounds so it is lightweight and easy to move
Pros
  • Much cheaper than Peloton – save around $1,400 upfront
  • 32 Levels of magnetic resistance are precise and quiet
  • Tablet mount is easy to use and well positioned for visibility
  • Wide, ergonomic seat offers a bit of padding for comfort
  • Echelon Fit app offers a competitively priced option in a field of expensive subscriptions
  • Weight cages behind the saddle keep your weights out of the way (weights not included)
  • Fit app offers Daily classes and off-the-bike training options that can be watched from any phone, tablet, TV or device
  • The dual pedals allow riders to clip in or just use athletic shoes
  • Tension knob is intuitive and directly below the handlebars
Cons
  • Does not have a built-in screen
  • There is no console, so without the app, you don’t know what resistance level you are on
  • Bike won’t sync with other apps

Echelon EX1 Best Price


FeaturesSpecifications
  • Magnetic Resistance
    • The Echelon EX1 uses silent magnetic resistance that gives the rider ultimate control over the tension. You can ride comfortably and in silence any time of day or night.
  • 32 Resistance Levels
    • Resistance levels on the Echelon are calibrated evenly so you feel the difference at each level.
  • Tablet Mount with 180 Swivel
    • The tablet mount and adjustable clip on the handlebars should hold most devices securely. We’ve tested this with both a tablet and phone and either fits fine.
    • The Swivel design turns the Tablet Mount for off-the-bike classes. This makes it so you can stand to the side or behind your bike without having to move the bike for visibility.
  • Dual pedal options
    • Echelon pedals feature SPD cleats on one side with a flat pedal and cage option on the other side. This way you can clip in if desired or ride with any pair of athletic shoes.
  • Bike only weighs 105 pounds
    • There are also two wheels on the front stabilizer so you can tip and roll the bike when needed. This is surprisingly light (and still sturdy) for a piece of workout equipment, which makes it a great option for home use.

Construction:

  • Steel construction
  • Rear 29lb flywheel
  • Adjustable Handlebars
  • SPD Clip-in and Cage pedals
  • Magnetic Resistance
  • 300 pound weight capacity

Console:

  • Handlebar mounted tablet holder with adjustable clip will hold any personal device securely
  • Tablet mount rotates 180°
  • Tension knob controls magnetic resistance

Functionality:

  • Echelon Fit app will sync from your personal device to the bike
  • Quiet belt drive
  • 4 adjustment points for comfort
  • Magnetic Resistance
  • 32 Resistance Levels

Accessories

  • Two 3 Lb. Dumbbell cages behind saddle (weights purchased separately)

Warranty

  • Limited Parts: 1-Year Warranty
  • Labor: 1-Year Warranty

In-depth Review of Echelon Connect EX1


Construction

Frame

Echelon EX1 Frame

  • The Echelon Connect EX1 has a sturdy frame with horizontal stabilizers, leveling feet, and front wheels to roll the bike when needed. Unlike traditional bikes, the flywheel sits low and rear, which centers the weight under the rider. While this design may be unusual to some riders, it doesn’t affect bike feel or performance. In fact, this is a surprisingly comfortable bike with V-shaped geometry that provides extended reach.
  • The design of the bike, and the low paced flywheel, make it very stable to ride. You can push hard in the saddle or stand up and ride out of the saddle without the bike rocking or moving around.
  • There are two primary features on an exercise bike that affect how it feels and functions. The first is the overall design of the frame and the second is the bike fit — are you able to make the necessary adjustments for you. The Echelon EX1 bike has three areas that will adjust so you can find the right fit:
  • 3 Areas of Adjustment:
    • Seat moves up/down
    • Seat moves forward/aft
    • Handlebar height can be moved up/down

For taller riders – or those with long legs, seat height and distance from the handlebars makes a big difference. The seat on the EX1 lifts and lowers so you can adjust it for riders of various heights. The seat also moves forward and aft. The ideal fit on a bike positions the rider above and slightly behind the pedals — not directly over, so being able to lift and slide your seat back is important in finding the right distance for a full leg extension. If your saddle is too low, you’ll put too much pressure on the quads, tiring out your legs and hurting your knees. If it’s too far away, you lose some power in the pedal stroke. We like to see multiple points of adjustment on an exercise bike so riders of all sizes can find the right fit.

FlyWheel:

Echelon EX1 FlyWheel

  • Echelon lists this as a 29 pound flywheel, which is a good weight for a home exercise bike. Typically, heavier flywheels provide smoother motion through the pedal rotation so you don’t get any lag or jerkiness while riding. The EX1 uses a drive belt to connect the pedal crank to the flywheel which is much quieter than comparable chain belt drives.
  • The fact that the flywheel is in the rear keeps it out of the “sweat zone” on the front end. It also centers the weight of the bike, so it is low and underneath the rider which makes the bike feel very stable while riding.
  • Do be careful of small children who may be around while riding, you can’t see them from behind and they could accidentally get hurt if they touch a spinning flywheel.

Handlebars:

Echelon EX1 Handlebars

  • The EX1 handlebars offer multiple hand positions. A horizontal bar spans the front end with parallel bars extending forward with a bit of incline at the end. Another horizontal bar supports the tablet mount, so you have two horizontal hand positions, which is very beneficial. This provides a good span if you want to rest your forearms on the bars while holding the angled vertical grips. It also gives more position options for different sized riders. Shorter riders (or those who like to sit upright) may opt for the forward horizontal bar while taller riders (or those who prefer a more aggressive position) have the option of leaning forward and using the second bar.

Pedals:

  • The EX1 Connect bike has hybrid pedals with an SPD mount on one side and a flat side with adjustable cage on the other. This is the best of both worlds as most commercial spin bikes (and mountain bikes) use SPD mounts, so this bike will work with your regular spin shoes. The flat side also makes it so anyone can ride with any type of athletic shoe. The cage holds your foot in securely and the adjustable strap sinches down as needed. This is the ideal pedal design.

Echelon EX1 - Pedals

Saddle:

  • Saddle comfort matters because when you’re comfortable you can ride longer and get more out of your workout. The saddle is slightly wider than a road-style saddle, so it provides a bit more posterior support. However, saddle comfort is specific to the rider, so if you don’t like the saddle you can swap it out with a different one.

Console/Controls

Integrated Tablet Mount

  • One great thing about the EX1 bike is its simple design. There is no large screen on the front of the bike that you have to manipulate or work around. The handlebars contain a tablet mount that is subtle, so if you’re not using it, it’s not in your way.
  • The tablet mount has adjustable clips to hold most devices securely. We’ve tested it with both a phone and tablet and it works fine. An old, heavy tablet can make the mount bounce a little, but newer tablet models are lightweight and slide in easily.
  • The tablet mount will rotate 180 degrees so you can adjust it as needed. This makes it easy to adjust the tablet so you can see it when doing off the bike classes such as stretching or strength training.
  • You have to pay for the Fit app and then when you log in, it will sync with the bike to relay cadence, resistance, calories, etc., via the tablet screen. However, there is no LCD screen, cadence monitor, or anything else on the bike, so if you don’t use the app, you don’t know any of your metrics — at that point bike functionality is reduced to your rate of perceived exertion and estimated cadence.

Accessories

  • Large Bluetooth button on handlebars syncs your device with the bike
  • 2 Weight cages behind saddle, but weights purchased separately
  • 2 Water bottle holders; one on either side of handlebar stem
  • No fan or speakers

Functionality

32 Resistance Levels

Magnetic resistance is created by magnets which oppose the motion of the flywheel. This frictionless resistance generates no noise and does not cause wear on the flywheel like friction resistance systems. 32 magnetic resistance levels are adjusted via a tension knob on the down tube. The knob is easy to reach and spins lightly, so it’s intuitive to quickly add or drop resistance as needed.

Having preset resistance levels on your bike significantly enhances the functionality and accuracy of your metrics. Rather than having to guess or evaluate your resistance based on your rate of perceived exertion, digital levels provide the exact same amount of tension every time. This way, you know the range that is best for you whether doing heart rate training, HIIT intervals, endurance work, or sprint drills — finding the right tension at a set resistance level is easy.

Instructors in the Fit app provide cues and direction on resistance, but ultimately the control is in the hands of the rider. You have the option of following the preset guidelines or adjusting as needed based on your strength and goals that day. The app is integrated with the bike, so you get a display of your tension, speed, rpm’s, distance, calories, etc.

Our only complaint with this system is the EX1 bike (like Echelon’s other Connect bikes) does not have any display system without the app. So, if you don’t subscribe and sync with the Fit app, you don’t know your speed, wattage, distance, tension or resistance while riding. The bike will not sync with other apps. You can play any app on your device, but your metrics won’t show up on the screen.

Subscription Options

Echelon’s Fit app is designed to sync with the bike. Fit has daily classes and a leaderboard and other functions similar to Peloton or NordicTrack. You can get an Echelon bike for a reasonable price and the app comes at a discount when you buy the bike. The Fit app is a great alternative to more expensive apps and gives you roughly the same functionality. The library layout in the Fit app is not as intuitive as others we’ve used and the search function is a little limited.

  • Some of the features include:
    • Live classes which are a huge motivating and engaging feature
    • Leaderboard that connects riders and adds that element of competition
    • Full Database of Indoor class rides of varying lengths and formats (HIIT intervals, endurance rides, rolling hills, etc.)
    • Different instructors so you can find your favorites
    • Outdoor scenic routes that allow you to ride along at your own pace and enjoy the scenery. (These are not instructor-led classes)
    • Integrated functionality between the app and bike so you know and can evaluate your metrics
    • Off-bike classes for strength training and stretching — the app provides a database of programs for full body conditioning. It isn’t just spin classes

Bike/App Cost

There are several subscription packages:

  • Basic Subscription
    • $39/month
    • Bike costs $799
    • $199 shipping
    • Total first payment: $1040
  • Annual Subscription of 12 months
    • $400 (average drops to $33/month)
    • Bike costs $799
    • Shipping is just $99
    • Total first payment: $1300
  • Two-Year Subscription of 24 months
    • $600 (average of $25/month)
    • Bike costs $799
    • Shipping is free
    • Total first payment: $1400

Comparison to other apps:

There are several other fitness apps with integrated equipment on the market.

  • Peloton:
    • Bike: $2404 (includes essentials packet with required Delta LOOK cycling shoes)
    • App: $39/month (no discount or option for prepayment)
    • Shipping: Included
    • App annual cost: $480
    • Total cost for 1-Year: $2884
  • NordicTrack s22i:
    • Bike: $2000
    • App: Free for first year ($33/month afterwards)
    • Shipping: $200
    • Total First Payment: $2200 (iFit app free for first year)

The 2-year subscription package for the Echelon EX1 bike is $1400, which is half the price of the cost of a Peloton bike for one year. The cost to own a Peloton bike for two years is $3284!

Comparatively, the cost to own a NordicTrack s22i is $2200 for the first year, which is still less than Echelon’s 2-year subscription.

Echelon has positioned itself as a viable alternative to more expensive tech-enhanced spin bikes on the market. It offers similar features and functionality for literally half the price.

Noise Level

Since the EX1 uses magnetic resistance, it is virtually silent while riding and braking. You can ride this in the same room with your kids watching TV, husband watching the news and you won’t disturb those around you. Since the app is loaded from your tablet, you can also use Bluetooth headphones to limit volume as well.

Storage / Folding

The EX1 does not fold, but wheels under the front stabilizer make it easy to move.


Recommendation:

Echelon recognized and targeted a weak spot in the subscription based fitness market: the ongoing cost to the average consumer. While Peloton has a great market hold, many people cannot (or will not) pay several thousand dollars for an at-home spin bike. The Echelon EX1 provides an excellent entry-level option for those who want the benefits of a subscription-integrated bike but are budget savvy as well. We love the ergonomic design, dual pedals (SPD and flat), comfortable saddle, multiple handlebar options, various points of adjustment, and sleek design and color scheme. The Echelon EX1 is an affordable option to help you attain and maintain fitness in the comfort and convenience of your own home.

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