Peloton Exercise Bike Detailed Review – Pros & Cons (2020)

Last Updated: January 10, 2020

Is Peloton worth it?

Best Exercise Bike Screen Resolution 2020
Peloton burst into the home-fitness market in 2014 when it officially released its $2,245 exercise bike with attached Android screen and $39/month subscription content. Since then, Peloton has stoked sales with an almost cult-like following of rich, sweaty subscribers. The question today is, how much of that market domination is due to a fad and how much is due to actual superiority of both the bike and its content?

We review Peloton hardware, including bike design, comfort and functionality as well as assess its software: subscription content, layout, instructors and subscriber devotion (because that too, is worth something).


Who It’s For:

The Peloton bike is marketed to naturally competitive, affluent enthusiasts with limited time but extra cash

Pros
  • Engaging content! You can ride in a Live Class to get Shout Outs from the instructor and see Leaderboard rankings. These are some of the most popular features in Peloton.
  • Solid bike feels sturdy underfoot. Front and rear stabilizers keep the bike secure on the floor and we love the 6 leveling feet (3 under each stabilizer).
  • Sleek design with a small footprint won’t take up much room. You can tuck this in a corner of any bedroom or living room and it doesn’t protrude.
  • Crisp screen resolution. This seriously is the best screen with impressive graphics and good visibility.
  • Cockpit design is comfortable. Slight padding on the handlebars makes it comfortable to lean forward while not absorbing excess sweat.
  • You can join the Peloton culture, which caters to those who are naturally competitive and like to see rankings in live classes.
  • Props to Peloton for providing Closed Captioning in their digital app!
Cons
  • This bike is expensive and the subscription costs $39/month. Unlike other companies that include the subscription free for a year, Peloton does not offer an app discount with bike purchase.
  • Without subscription content, there is little to do on the bike. The pedals work, but the screen won’t show anything except the login page. There are no pre-programmed programs you can use without the app.
  • External wiring hangs down from the back of the screen. This is a little unsightly and could pose a safety hazard.
  • Speakers are in the back of the screen rather than the front. Volume projects away from you and could bother others if your bike faces into a room.
  • Taller riders may have an issue with knees encroaching on the handlebars
  • Screen pivots up and down, but does not swivel side to side
FeaturesSpecifications
  • 22” High Definition Android Touchscreen
    • Screen Resolution is impressive. It is crisp, bright and easy to watch. This is the clearest screen of any we’ve tested.

 

  • Silent Magnetic Resistance
    • Magnetic resistance is the best. It is generated when magnets inside the bike oppose the motion of the flywheel to create resistance. There are no moving parts to wear down over time and it doesn’t produce friction, so resistance is silent and durable.

 

  • Three Adjustment Points:
    • Seat forward/aft, Seat up/down; Handlebars up/down
    • With three points of adjustment, you can find the right fit. The Peloton bike should fit most riders from 4’11” to 6’5”.

 

  • Peloton Digital app
    • Live Classes and On-Demand Classes both on and off the bike. The classes are the main selling feature on the Peloton bike. You can ride indoors, on your schedule at any time of day or night.

 

  • Cycling Pedals required!
    • The Peloton bike does not have hybrid pedals with cleats on one side and a flat surface on the other. You must buy cycling shoes with a LOOK cleat that will lock down into the pedal. These improve cycling form and protect the sole of your foot from bending over the pedal. (Shoes can be purchased in basic Peloton package)

 

  • Racing-style saddle
    • Like other spin bikes, the Peloton has a racing style saddle which is narrow and minimally padded. The shape keeps friction to a minimum and while the sweat-resistant surface isn’t super comfy, it keeps germs and moisture from seeping into the saddle.

 

  • 30lb Weighted Flywheel
    • In general, heavier flywheels are better because they gain speed as they spin which creates a smooth pedal stroke. The flywheel on the Peloton is silent and fluid.

 

  • Bike Footprint: 59” Long x 23” Wide x 53” High
    • Bike weighs 135 pounds; frame: 125 pounds; console: 10pounds.
    • Will fit riders 4’11” to 6’ 5”
    • 305lb Weight Capacity

 

  • Bluetooth will sync with personal headphones
    • Bluetooth enabled console allows you to listen to the trainer on your personal headphones while you ride. This way you can ride at any time of day or night and not disrupt those around you.

 

  • Water bottle holders
    • There are two water bottle pockets on the bike, however, they are rather flimsy and small.
  • Warranty
    • There is a 5-Year Frame warranty which isn’t bad, but limited 1-year parts and labor warranties are not super impressive.

Construction:

  • Frame: Corrosion resistant reinforced steel
  • Stabilizers: Front and rear stabilizers hold bike securely
  • Levelers: Six total, three under each stabilizer; these are all adjustable
  • Saddle: Racing style, narrow design, light padding
  • Pedals: Delta LOOK clip in pedals; no flat side
  • Flywheel: 30lb weighted 19” diameter
  • Bike weight: Total: 135lb // Frame: 125lbs // Console: 10lbs
  • Footprint: 59” long x 23” wide x 53” high
  • Riders: Sized for riders from 4’11” to 6’5” tall
  • Max Weight: 305lbs

Console:

  • Screen: 22” High Definition Touchscreen mounted on front of bike
  • Speakers: Stereo Speakers on back of screen
  • Video: 5.0 Megapixel camera on top of screen
  • Buttons: None; All navigation is embedded in touchscreen
  • Fan: None; There is no fan on the console or bike

Functionality:

  • Resistance: Magnetic Resistance; Resistance Knob
  • Levels: Digital Resistance levels 1-100
  • Adjustment: Three adjustment points: Seat up/down and forward/aft, Handlebars up/down
  • Inch markets on handlebar stem and seat stem for accurate fit
  • App: Peloton Digital, $39/month. Live and On-Demand classes with Leaderboard
  • Onboard Programs: None
  • Closed Captioning: Yes; Closed Captioning is available in Peloton classes
  • Bluetooth: Yes; App will sync with personal headphones
  • Weights: Not included; There are two wire weight cages behind the seat (weights are an additional cost)
  • WiFi: Required to operate app content

Extra Accessories for purchase from Peloton:

  • Cycling shoes
  • Cycling shoe cleats (Delta LOOK cleats)
  • Sweat mat for under the bike
  • Option of 3 to 5lb Weights
  • Wired Headphones
  • Heart rate chest strap
  • Warranty:
    • Touchscreen: 1 Year Warranty
    • Frame: 5 Year Warranty
    • Components: 1 Year Warranty
    • Pedals: 1 Year Warranty
    • Labor: 1 Year Warranty

In-depth review of Peloton Bike

Construction

Frame

  • Solid Steel Frame
    • This bike is sturdy and stable. It sits snugly on the floor and doesn’t rock, even when you stand out of the saddle. Sturdy stabilizers under the front and rear of the bike hold it securely. We are impressed with overall construction and bike geometry.
  • Points of Adjustment
    • There are three points of adjustment, which should work for most riders. You can move the seat up and down, forward and aft; you can also move the handlebars up and down.
    • However, the lack of a fore/aft adjustment on the handlebar stem means taller riders cannot move the screen back away from their knees. While you can raise the screen, it may not be enough to reduce knee encroachment with the handlebars.
  • Pedals

    • Delta Look pedals come standard on all Peloton bikes. You will need a cycling shoe with the attached Look cleats installed. These are not hybrid pedals, so there is no option for an athletic shoe.
  • Plug

    • The power cord plugs into the rear stabilizer and then into any standard wall outlet. You have to have both a wall outlet and WiFi to run the Peloton app.

FlyWheel

  • Flywheel weight & functionality
    • The 30lb Peloton flywheel is very smooth. At 19” in diameter, it gains and maintains speed nicely to keep a fluid rotation and a comfortable pedal stroke. There is no jerkiness when pulling the pedals upward and no heaviness in the backend of the rotation like we see with lighter-weight wheels. The flywheel is housed in a protective casing to protect it from rust, dust, or other debris.

Saddle

  • Comfort and Design
    • As mentioned above, the Peloton does have a narrow, racing-style saddle similar to those found on road bikes. This reduces friction on the rider’s undercarriage. While spin bike saddles are notoriously uncomfortable, the Peloton actually gets high marks for having a remarkably comfortable saddle. I sat side-by-side on the Peloton and the NordicTrack s22i and the Peloton saddle is substantially softer. Kudos to Peloton for making what is typically the most uncomfortable feature tolerable for those long rides!
  • Two Seat Adjustments
    • You can raise and lower the saddle as well as move it forward and aft. Ideal positioning keeps a gentle 25-35 degree bend in the knee with the foot flat in the pedal. Seat adjustment on the Peloton is adequate. There are measurements on both the seat tube and saddle carriage so you can find the right setting each time. This is especially helpful for those households with multiple riders.
    • I am 5’5” and finding the right fit was easy. Another reviewer is 6’4” and he had a much harder time finding enough room for proper leg extension. Tall riders may want to verify sizing before purchasing a Peloton.

Console/Controls

Screen

  • 22″ Android Touchscreen
    • This is a nice sized screen; if anything it feels too large sometimes, especially when you stand up out of the saddle and hinge over the handlebars. In this position, it feels like screen encroaches a little in the rider’s head space. However, the screen is easy to both see and reach when sitting in the saddle.
  • Screen Attachment

    • There are external wires extending from the back of the screen that are tethered to the mounting post with a velcro strap and then dangle loosely down the front of the bike before connecting under the driveshield. This external wiring is not our favorite. It’s not clean and could be dangerous.
  • Screen Movement

    • The screen is securely attached to the bike so it doesn’t rock or wobble while you ride. It also gently pivots up and down. However, it doesn’t swivel. So when doing classes off the bike, you cannot move the screen to see it better. It would be really nice if the screen could swivel from side to side.
  • Resolution
    • As we mentioned above, this is the clearest screen on any spin bike. People love Peloton for the content, so it makes sense that the screen would crisply portray leaders and classes. It is easy to see your metrics, the Leaderboard, the trainer, and other riders in the studio. This screen is impressive.

  • Touchscreen
    • Almost all navigation is built into the screen. Touchscreen capability keeps the console very simple and sleek. The screen is responsive when touched; we found it to work well even with sweaty hands. We love the touchscreen functionality here, although it wouldn’t hurt to have a few quick touch buttons for resistance and speed levels. The resistance knob is not as precise so finding the right level takes a bit of adjusting.
  • Functionality
    • Functionality is streamlined between the bike, the app, and the screen. It feels intuitive to just tap the screen while riding to change metrics or adjust resistance. Leveled resistance buttons on the console (or handlebars) would enhance functionality, however, in all, the touchscreen is impressive.

Geometry

  • Aero-Style Frame Design
    • The Peloton bike is designed like a road bike with the saddle roughly in line with the handlebars so riders hinge at the hips and lean forward. This design may feel uncomfortable at first for riders who like to sit upright, with saddle set lower than the handlebars. This body position engages glutes and hamstrings more while riding and feels like you are riding fast and hard outside. Since Peloton typically attracts competitive, athletic riders, this position fits the overall nature of the bike.
  • Bike Geometry:
    • 24” from handlebar tube to seat tube
    • 18” Handlebar width
    • 12” Handlebar depth
    • 12” From Front Horizontal Handlebar to Screen
    • 20” Pedal axle to center of flywheel
    • 13” Pedal axle to floor

Accessories

  • No Fans
  • Two Weight Cages behind saddle
    • This is preferable position for the weights. The two cages behind the saddle aren’t hard to reach and it makes sense to keep the weights back here since they won’t be used on every ride. Other bike brands store the weights on a tray on the handlebars which can be intrusive when riding in a forward position.
    • Weights are not included and must be purchased separately in the basic package (which also includes shoes). Weights come in 1lb, 2lb, or 3lb options.
  • Tablet/Phone holder
    • There is no phone or tablet holder. The only place you could really set a phone would be in the water bottle holders, but we wouldn’t recommend this. These are angled and shallow.

Functionality

Performance

  • The Peloton offers a nice ride. Saddle is comfortable and bike geometry should enable a good fit for most sized riders. Functionality is streamlined between screen and app so you can navigate through the touchscreen for almost all functionality. Resistance and braking are both quiet and the bike is stable when seated or standing.

Incline / Decline range

  • There is no incline or decline built into the Peloton bike. The NordicTrack s22i and some ProForm bikes offer incline and decline, but the Peloton bike sits firmly on the ground. It will not create any incline while riding.

Resistance Levels

  • Magnetic resistance creates frictionless resistance against the flywheel. This type of resistance is found on high-end bikes because it is quiet, there are no friction points and therefore less wear and tear of the flywheel and brake pads.
  • Resistance Knob

    There are no buttons on the console or bike. Instead, Peloton uses a resistance knob to increase and decrease tension. This is our least favorite type of resistance control for a few reasons:

    • You cannot instantly jump from one level to another. You have to turn the knob the corresponding number of times to find the right level. This is irritating.
    • There are no measurements on the knob; the only resistance readout is on the screen. When turning the knob, you kind of have to guess how much to turn it. This is not efficient.
    • There is no automated resistance that corresponds to what the trainer instructs. You have to listen and manually turn it up or down every time the trainer instructs you. If you miss a prompt, you may not know what is going on. This is a hassle.
  • Digital Resistance Levels 1-100
    • Magnetic resistance can be digitally calibrated to achieve measurable and consistent levels. This way you don’t have to guess at how hard you are working or how much resistance you have on the flywheel. This is the ideal method for measuring resistance.
    • However, 100 levels is a bit much. We find about 25 or 30 levels to be ideal when riding. At 100 levels you have to increase by 10 just to feel a difference. While this does give more incremental resistance options, most people don’t need this many small levels.
  • No Automated Resistance
    • This is one big drawback on the Peloton. Content on the app is impressive, however, there is no automated resistance or incline. With app automation, the bike will automatically adjust resistance and incline to match the trainer’s instructions (or the terrain of an outdoor ride). This way, you can ride hands-free and just focus on form and strength. Bikes from NordicTrack or ProForm do feature automation. When riding the Peloton, you must listen for trainer cues to know what to do and when. The rider then manually adjusts resistance as directed. One complaint we frequently hear is that riders miss cues or instruction and aren’t sure what/when they’re supposed to change resistance or speed. It is unfortunate Peloton does not have this integration.
  • Resistance Noise
    • Magnetic resistance is quiet and the Peloton is nearly silent when pedalling. Feel free to ride anytime day or night — you will not generate any pedalling noise while riding or braking.

Pre-programmed workouts

  • There are no pre-programmed workouts on the Peloton. When you turn on the screen you are immediately prompted to log in. Unless you have a Peloton account, the screen will not display any info nor provide ride metrics. You pretty much have to subscribe to Peloton to get any content. The pedals and resistance work, so you can still ride, but there’s no accompanying display content.
  • If you do not plan to use the Peloton app, do not buy this bike. There are other, much less expensive, well-built spin bikes for those who don’t want to pay for content.

Subscription Options

  • Peloton Digital app costs $39/month for unlimited user profiles.
    This is nice because you only need one subscription per household, and if you own a Peloton Tread you can use the same subscription.

    • There is also a cheaper non-equipment-based subscription so you can use the app without owning Peloton equipment. If you already have a good bike, this may be an option. However, community functionality is reduced in this version. You won’t show up on the Leaderboard or get Shout Outs if you are not on a Peloton bike.
  • The digital content is where Peloton really shines.
    The Peloton app has created a virtual world of spinning enthusiasts who love to ride together, scale the Leaderboard, get and give “high fives,” and be a part of a community. While it is expensive, Peloton does offer great workouts by fit, engaging trainers who make the time fly by.

  • A navigation bar on the main screen allows you to choose:
    • Home
    • Programs
      • Total Strength
      • Tabata
      • Core
      • Power Zones (Heart Rate training)
      • Cycling
    • Classes
      • Instructor
      • Length
      • Class Type
      • Music Genre
    • Schedule
      • Upcoming classes
      • Weekly schedule of classes
    • Challenges
      • Monthly total ride challenges
      • Monthly total Kj challenges
    • More
      • Scenic Rides (no sound, just outdoor landscapes)
      • Just Ride (no program, just metrics)
  • Community building features make Peloton stand out:
    The Leaderboard is one of Peloton’s most popular features.
    – In a Live Class, riders are ranked by Kj output. The harder you work, the more you can climb the Leaderboard.
    – In a recorded class, the Leaderboard displays all time leaders and a ranking of riders taking the class at the same time.

    • Shout-Outs: In Live classes, the instructor can see the Leaderboard and stats on who may be taking their 100th ride or something and give them a quick “shout-out” by recognizing their efforts.
    • High-Fives: Riders can select the profile of other riders to give them a virtual “High Five.”
    • Peloton bikes are marketed towards working professionals, who by nature tend to be highly competitive. The online feeling of both competition and community fuels the Peloton craze. It makes the rides interesting and addicting.
  • Peloton only offers classes. There are no outdoor rides led by a trainer.
    You can select a Scenic Ride, but this is just a silent landscape video with no trainer or corresponding workout program and there are only a handful of these. Again, this is an unfortunate oversight. Outdoor rides can be really fun, especially for riders who want to feel like they are somewhere other than in a cycling class. Again, NordicTrack and ProForm have an advantage here as the iFit app offers extensive outdoor rides filmed all over the world that are led by a trainer with audio and music. iFit also has the automated feature so resistance (and incline) adjust according to the natural terrain. We would love to see Peloton include some outdoor videos as well.

Noise Level

  • As mentioned above, riding the Peloton bike is silent. There is no noise while pedalling or braking.
  • Speakers project from the back of the screen! This should be a consideration when positioning your bike. You may want to consider placing your bike facing a corner or wall to get rebound sound. If you place your bike facing into the room, volume will project out, away from you, which may be an issue for others in the room.
  • Speakers project good volume which is clear and easy to hear, so that’s not an issue. Peloton also includes Closed Captioning (subtitles) in their programs which is a huge benefit. Kudos to Peloton for providing this service!

Storage / Folding

The Peloton bike does not fold up. There are wheels under the front stabilizer so you can tip the bike and gently roll it out of the way. REMOVE ANY WEIGHTS BEFORE DOING THIS! We made the mistake of rolling the bike without removing the weights first and they came tumbling down towards the screen and our toes.

Also, watch screen position when moving the bike. You really have to pivot the bike forward to connect with the wheels and this brings the screen low. Since the screen is heavy, you could accidentally dip or drop the screen if you’re not expecting the weight to shift forward.

Bottom Line:

The Peloton bike is a solid spin bike with comfortable engineering. It has a sleek design that feels airy and looks cool sitting in the corner of your room. However, it is expensive and lacks features found on more reasonably priced bikes. There are also no guided outdoor rides which is a shame! For automation, built-in incline and decline, and a wide array of outdoor rides we recommend the NordicTrack s22i or s15i. These both have a large screen and subscription content as well, but they also feature built-in incline and decline, automated resistance, and quick touch control buttons on the handlebars and/or console.

In our opinion, the Peloton bike itself, while well constructed, isn’t really the draw. It is the subscription content and online community Peloton riders love and this is what you pay for. The subscription is rather expensive and while it has merit, there are better options available. We love Peloton, but hesitate to recommend them whole-heartedly. If you are interested, do some research and look at comparable bikes first to make sure you are willing to invest in both the Peloton bike and ongoing subscription content.

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