If you haven't been living under a rock in the last few years - you've likely seen how drastic a shift interactive training has created across the entire fitness industry. People started shifting from cycling outside using normal bikes, elliptical bikes, or hybrid bikes (like the GTX 3) to cycling indoors.
And while Peloton may have kicked things off in that department, many other exercise bike brands are taking notes and coming out with some epic variants of their own. Now all of a sudden Peloton faces competition for other brands.
After all, Peloton's jaw-dropping marketing aside, the bike's price tag is also quite astonishing, and not in a good way for the financially conscious fitness fan. So once people realize that the Peloton may just be out of their range - other options start quickly popping up on the radar, many of which have a surprising bit more to offer than the self-proclaimed "king of spin bikes."
One of these "other options" just so happens to be the Echelon EX3!
It delivers an experience that stands toe to toe with the Peloton and packs a few significant benefits, making it a very solid contender for your consideration. We put Peloton against Bowflex C6 before and also put Peloton against Schwinn IC3 & IC4.
Today, I'll walk you through the ins and outs of both models, and help you contrast the two bikes in order to figure out which of the two would be the best possible option for you.
Let's get started!
A Quick Overview Of Both Bikes
First and foremost, before we dive deep into comparing how the two bikes fare against one another in some of the most important aspect-areas of a solid exercise bike - let's take a second to get familiar with them.
Below, I'll give you a brief intro to each bike, cover their biggest strengths and weaknesses, as well as highlight the most notable differences between them.
The Echelon EX3
Starting off with the EX3, the mid-range bike in Echelon's EX indoor cycle lineup - we've got quite a bit to cover.
Now, unlike the Bowflex C6 (another fantastic Peloton alternative) - the Echelon EX3 is much more closely geared towards the interactive training experience, with a larger focus on connectivity, than high-end performance features.
Rather than charging the end-user hundreds of dollars for an oversized tablet being thrown onto the bike as you'd see with the Peloton, the EX3 gives you the convenience of hooking up your own tech, overtop of Echelon's fantastic hardware platform for a smooth, enjoyable, and challenging interactive training experience.
The bike itself is built around a 32-level manual resistance setup. And with solid steel being used for both the frame and the minor components, the EX3 is definitely built to last and impress with its stellar reliability.
Top that off with lots of standard creature comforts like ergonomic caged SPD pedals, adjustable handles, adjustable seating, as well as dual bottle holders, among others - and you've got yourself one heck of a bike at a super comfortable price too.
What I Like About The EX3
There's just so much that can be said about the Echelon EX3, so rather than throwing a lengthy essay your way, I've decided to present you with a quick list of the coolest features this bike offers to help you get a feel for some of the things that you may be after.
Here's a list of the Echelon EX3's best perks:
- Smooth and silent 32-level magnetic resistance setup that provides a well-balanced and solid ride feel.
- Sturdy and durable all-steel frame providing a good deal of reliability.
- Plenty of connectivity features allowing you to hook up your own tech for some truly immersive interactive training.
- Lots of creature comforts like adjustable seating and grips, as well as ergonomic SPD pedals and more.
- 300-lb maximum weight capacity making this bike a great fit for a diverse crowd of riders.
- Easy assembly and a great fit for small spaces thanks to its lightweight build (only 105-lbs), small footprint, and nifty transport wheels.
Where Does the EX3 Fall Short?
While the Echelon EX3 is undoubtedly a fantastic bike, it does have a few shortfalls that you should keep in mind.
Here's a quick list of the potential cons to going with the EX3:
- The ride quality isn't as smooth as the Peloton.
- The EX3 offers only 32 levels of resistance, compared to other competitor options offering 100 levels or even more in some cases.
- The resistance adjustment is manual, whereas Peloton does it for you programmatically through their app.
- The bike doesn't come with a console built-in, which forces you to use one of your own devices such as a smartphone, tablet, or TV.
- While the connectivity is awesome, the bike's functionality is kind of limited outside of the Echelon's own Echelon Fit app.
- The EX3's warranty isn't on-par with what you'd expect from most bikes in this category.
In the other corner of the ring, we've got one of the most popular bikes in the interactive cycling market, the Peloton. And while this bike has definitely been making some big waves over the last year - there's definitely a good deal of reason behind it.
First off, unlike most bikes that offer a great performance platform and tack on user-driven connectivity overtop, the Peloton is all about the interactive training experience. The hardware is top-notch, and it's all built to work seamlessly through their proprietary app. This allows you to simply get the bike together, log on, and start riding from the get-go.
The Peloton is built around an impressively hefty flywheel that powers a fluid dynamic magnetic resistance setup. But here's the kicker - you'll almost never have to switch levels yourself as the app does it for you as part of the program or class you're in. Quite literally - all you've got to do is pedal, burn calories, and tack off one fitness goal after another. This makes the Peloton a great choice for someone looking for a cardio machine for weight loss.
And here's something else to consider, all of the programs you'll access are led by real instructors, 24/7 and year-round, streamed directly from Peloton's studio in NYC to your beautiful large-screen HD display that comes mounted onto the bike. That's another great benefit you get when getting an exercise bike with screen.
What Are The Biggest Differences From The EX3?
While both bikes may seem relatively closely matched build-wise, there are a few significant differences that really set them apart from one another.
The first of these differences has to do with the resistance. Obviously enough, the Peloton's 100 adjustable levels pack quite a bit more fluidity (and potentially a steeper challenge) than the EX3's 32. In addition to this, the Peloton's flywheel is better configured to provide a smooth and pleasant ride-feel that's much more akin to a real road bike in comparison to the Echelon EX3. Which makes it a great pick for people looking for exercise bikes for knee replacement rehab.
Next up, we've got the fact that Peloton will only allow you to natively use the Peloton app, along with the small handful of "integrations" that it comes with.
On the other hand, the EX3 comes pre-packaged with the Echelon Fit app-suite, which just isn't as extensive or user-friendly, though we'll have to see what time brings as they're actively expanding the pool of programs and content.
As I mentioned earlier, the Peloton ships with a built-in 21.5" HD display that you'll be using for the whole interactive bit of interactive training. The console comes with a webcam and some other convenient tech built-in to give you the most immersive experience possible while you cycle with scores of other Peloton riders through thousands of programs and live classes.
At the same time, Echelon's EX3 doesn't ship with any sort of display or console. Instead, you'll be able to make use of one of your own smart devices for the job. And while this may be a drawback to some - with the savings you'll be getting, you can easily pick up a brand new iPad and still have hundreds of dollars left over.
One of the more subtle differences between these models, and one that many people miss altogether, is the fact that the Peloton doesn't ship with universally designed pedals. The pedals are actually designed to only fit cycling shoes properly, offering the best fit for Peloton's own branded shoes, which you'll have to buy separately.
In contrast to this, the EX3 ships with caged SPD pedals, that offer a fantastic fit for just about any type of shoe you throw at it, which makes way more sense for the average person.
Comparing Interactive Workout Options
It's no secret that both bikes are geared towards the same audience - that's folks who are interested in exploring the world of interactive training from the comfort of their own home.
Below, I'll talk about some of the most popular apps that you'll be keen to check out, as well as give you some insight on how easily you'll be able to get started with these apps on either bike.
First thing's first - let's talk about Peloton's own app. Now, unlike popular misconceptions, you'll be able to use the app and dive into the myriad of programs and classes that Peloton offers, without actually owning a Peloton yourself.
This app offers a treasure trove in the form of thousands of pre-programmed interactive training modules, live broadcasted classes guided by real instructors, and entire workout programs geared at just about any fitness fanatic. And that pool of content is constantly expanding day by day!
Coming in at the same $39.99 per month that you'd pay for Peloton's app - we've got Echelon's take on the whole experience.
Just like Peloton's app, Echelon Fit offers a variety of pre-programmed workout options, many of which don't even need any sort of fitness equipment to follow along with, as well as a plethora of live instructor-led classes.
However, while they're definitely on the right footing to compete with Peloton, I just didn't find the classes or workouts as well presented, or even as engaging in all honesty.
And seeing as both apps are equally priced, I'd personally lean towards Peloton rather than Echelon Fit.
Now that we've covered the two platforms that you'll natively have access to with either bike - let's talk about the wealth of options you've got outside of that.
I'm talking about apps like Zwift, SufferFest, Ride Social, Explore the World, and others. and that's great because I really like the gamified, fun, experience Zwift provides and when looking for bikes I like exercise bikes that work with Zwift.
These apps all have something relatively unique and totally different to offer to prospective riders, and they add a much-needed bit of diversity too. Because let's face it - you won't always be in the mood for a live-streamed spin class.
Unfortunately, neither the Peloton nor the Echelon EX3 will be compatible with any of these apps out of the box. While Peloton locks you in through the console it ships with, Echelon simply doesn't support open standards that all of these apps rely on to pair your bike with your phone, and consequently the immersive experience they offer.
Peloton vs. Echelon EX3 - Which Is The Better Bike?
Now that we've gotten a tad more up close and personal with the bikes, their feature kit, and some of the interactive training options they offer - let's get into the core of this article.
Here, I'll help you get a feel for which bike is going to be the best fit for your personal fitness needs and wants by comparing the EX3 and the Peloton across some of the most important areas of interest that people have questions about before buying either bike.
Which Bike Is Built Better?
Both of the bikes are built out of solid steel. However, Peloton sort of goes a step further here by making use of carbon steel rather than your standard industrial alloy. This allows them to pack in a heftier balanced flywheel for a better ride-feel while keeping the bike light and portable.
I'd say that both bikes are pretty comparably matched here. Though my personal preference lies with the Peloton in terms of build quality due to the fact that the smaller components like the seat and handles are made with superior quality materials, and since that's the part of the bike you'll be in close quarters with on a daily basis
Which One Is Quieter?
Despite the fact that the EX3's whole setup is pretty stellar, the Peloton wins out in this category thanks to the fact that the bike ships with a heavier and better-balanced flywheel.
This makes it far quieter than the Echelon EX3. However, in reality, the difference in noise output isn't all that staggering for the average user.
Which Bike Offers A More Comfortable Ride?
In the same manner that the Peloton is quieter than the EX3, it also delivers a far more comfortable overall experience. This is again thanks to the better flywheel and seamless programmatic resistance setup. However, the general touch and feel components like the seat and grips are just that much more comfortable as well. This makes it an ideal bike for beginners.
Which Bike Has The Best Feature Kit?
While both bikes are relatively comparable in terms of feature offerings, I'm going to have to side with the Peloton yet again as it offers a much more refined resistance setup. And hardware aside, the Peloton app is also far more polished and content-rich than Echelon Fit.
What Are Current Owners Saying?
When it comes to online feedback from current owners, both bikes stack up pretty well. Among thousands of reviews aimed at either bike - the Peloton sits at a solid 5 stars, while the EX3 garners a 4-star average.
The majority of negative feedback about the Echelon EX3 actually doesn't have much to do with the bike itself. Instead, the majority of drawbacks owners faced with this bike were centered around the "poorly built" app Echelon shipped out. Some of the issues were loss of connectivity during workouts, the bike not syncing with the app, and simply refusing to launch on supported devices.
How Do Their Prices Compare?
At the time of writing, the Peloton is roughly $800 more expensive than the Echelon EX3.
Now, while this is certainly a steep difference in price, I think that it's well-justified by the combination of far more refined hardware and a better overall user experience that Peloton really polished off throughout its entire platform. They strived to get the best quality possible unlike other brands that advertise cheap equipment, cheap dumbbells, cheap bikes , etc.
Comparing Warranty Options
Both the Peloton and Echelon EX3 come with a standard 1-year warranty covering the entire bike.
But if that's a tad too short, prospective owners are able to opt into an extended warranty program that bumps the coverage up to 39 months in Peloton's case, and 3-years-flat for the EX3.
Which One Is Better For Smaller Spaces?
The EX3 would be the clear winner in this category due to the fact that it runs a few inches shorter in both the width and length department, for a total footprint of 42" in length by 22" in width.
In addition to this, the bike is a whole 30 pounds lighter than the peloton, clocking in at a manageable 105 pounds.
However, the Peloton doesn't lag far behind with a footprint of 48" by 24" and a total weight of 135 pounds.
How Hard Is Either Bike To Assemble?
Both bikes are advertised as a quick half-hour project to put together. However, I'd have to give the accolades to the Echelon EX3 here as their setup experience is pretty clear-cut and simple compared to the 22 pages of instructions you'll have to follow in a step-by-step fashion with the Peloton (which actually takes around an hour to put together).
Which One Should You Get - My Recommendation
If you've stuck it out with me this far, you're now practically an expert when it comes to the finer details on both bikes. We've covered what the EX3 and the Peloton have got to offer, what their differences are, and which bike wins out over the other across some of the most important aspects that you'll want to see in the bike you take home.
And now, it's time for my personal recommendation!
If you still haven't settled on which bike's the one for you, I personally recommend the Peloton.
While Echelon's EX3 offers a relatively closely matched experience to the Peloton - the latter packs a superior feature offering and a much more refined experience across the entire platform too.
Though, if the Peloton's price point is just far too high for comfort, the EX3 is, by all means, a fantastic alternative to the Peloton that's definitely worth your consideration. Both of these bikes may not be like other full body workout machines that I tried before (like the Concept2 or the RW 900 rowing machines) or other exercise machines like the T616 or the T618.
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