How do you better the most popular exercise bike in the world, that comes with a $2K (almost) price tag and boasts of the best in-class tech? If you are Peloton, you go back to the drawing board for 6-years and come back with a near identical clone that has a much bigger HD console and a bunch of schmancy features, and call it Bike Plus.
But, if you are like most discerning buyers, you’d want to know whether the Bike Plus offers enough value to justify its bolstered price tag.
I certainly did. So, I decided to hop on to both these bikes and spend some time biking away with Peloton’s fabulous trainers, to allow me to understand what the hullabaloo is all about.
Thankfully, the Peloton community is ginormous and believe it or not, I found four Bike Plus users within a 15-mile radius from home. Two of these guys were generous enough to allow me to hop on their precious machines and try it out first hand.
After a lot of deliberation and researching Peloton and other brands like Echelon and NordicTrack, I decided to go for neither the Peloton or the Bike Plus. Instead, I opted for the NordicTrack S22i. I will explain my reasons as we go. I have now owned the S22i for over a year. It has been godsend during the pandemic to keep me in shape.
If you always wanted to compare the Peloton Bike with its newer, meatier sibling, Bike Plus, then strap in and enjoy the read.
A Better Cheaper Alternative than either of Peloton’s Bikes - NordicTrack S22i
The NordicTrack S22i is NordicTrack’s answer to the Peloton Bike. But there are a few features that make it a better buy. There are other alternatives to Peloton made by other brands but the S22i is one that stands out.
For starters, it comes with a 22-inch Smart HD touchscreen, which is slightly bigger than the one on the Peloton Bike and a feather smaller than the one on the Bike Plus.
So, it’s a healthy middle ground. I am speaking about the console up front because these are smart bikes and the HD screens are a critical factor for most buyers.
Once you are done ogling over that large screen, you’ll love the ergonomics of the S22i. It offers a padded saddle on a beefy frame, clubbed with multi-position handlebars and caged pedals.
One of the biggest USPs though is that it comes with a 1-year iFit membership. In comparison, the Peloton Bike offers just a free trial for Peloton’s app. After you exhaust the trial run, you will have to
fork out $39/month if you wish to continue. Using the Peloton Bike without the fitness app massively reduces its appeal.
Although it’s a pretty good bike, it suddenly feels overpriced.
Why iFit alone makes it completely worth it
iFit is not a mere addition to the NordicTrack S22i. It is the primary reason why this bike is touted to be the cheaper and better alternative to the Peloton Plus.
- Choose from one of 16000 classes that include live sessions as well as recorded ones.
- Workout programs in biking, running, outdoor running, walking, Yoga, Boot camp, strength training & HIIT.
- Use the ‘Global Workouts’ module to select from one of the best trainers around the world.
- Some of the most scenic trails in HD. From Bora Bora to the Norwegian Fjords, the variety is mind-boggling.
- Draw your own route. If you have a favorite running trail around town, you can find it on Google maps and draw a trail which iFit imports into the program using terrain mapping. You get the same incline, decline as the route.
That’s just scraping the surface of what iFit offers. But it should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.
Why I liked the S22i
In addition to the above, here’s why I chose the NordicTrack S22i.
- It's pretty compact.
- Has both, incline and decline while the Peloton Bike doesn’t.
- 22 Resistance levels that use SMR™ Silent Magnetic Resistance.
- 1-year iFit membership bundled in.
Quick Summary: Which Bike is Best for Who & My Personal Recommendation
Coming back to the Peloton Bike and the Bike Plus, neither are bad choices mind you. It’s just that I found the NordicTrack S22i to offer better value.
But in case you have your mind set on one of these, then here’s some help to make the choice.
Peloton Plus Bike
Best for Peloton Fans Who seek the Bells & Whistles Upgrade
What is the Peloton Bike Plus? In summary, it is the Peloton Bike with every bit of technological upgrade that has happened in the last six years since its inception.
Peloton has literally crammed this to the brim with fancy features. If you work out at home and want to settle for nothing lesser than the best, then this is the machine for you.
It’s almost like an iPhone Upgrade. You know that the newer model may not reinvent the wheel. But you want it anyway for that one tiny feature upgrade.
Peloton bike is a great bike for beginners, seniors, and gym-goers alike. It is best for fitness buffs who love the community vibe and the motivation that comes with it.
The Peloton Bike is one of the best-selling exercise bikes in the world for the past 7 years. That’s no mean feat. It is the flagship that catapulted the brand to the top of the home fitness equipment industry in the United States.
It was launched in 2014 and since then, it had no competitors until NordicTrack released the S22i, which stole it’s thunder a little. After that the Peloton bike saw competition from the likes of the Bowflex C6, another bike that is considered a competitor to the Peloton is the Echelon EX3.
But, if you dote on Peloton’s Live Classes and absolutely love the community vibe that it brings to the table, then you probably wont find a better alternative, it's one of the best bikes that come with virtual courses. In fact, with a reduced-price tag, I feel that it offers much better value than the Peloton Bike Plus.
My Recommendation – Get the NordicTrack S22i
If you are willing to overlook the community and the hype that comes with it, the NordicTrack S22i blows both the Peloton bikes straight out of the water.
It’s a mirror replica of the Peloton Bike in shape, size and price. But, you get more features with this such as the incline and decline feature. You also get access to 1-year of iFit, which I believe is a much superior fitness program as compared to the Peloton app.
It’s a no-brainer choice in my opinion.
Peloton Bike vs Bike Plus
How Are the Design and Features?
When Peloton announced an upgrade for the Peloton Bike, there was a lot of buzz in the fitness community. The Bike had been around for a while. Peloton had been working forever on an upgrade.
So, most people (me included) expected the Bike Plus to be unlike anything we’d ever seen. Instead, what we got was the Peloton Bike with a bunch of cosmetic upgrades.
Both the bikes are made of Carbon Steel and weigh around 125 lb. when fully assembled. They feature the same powder coating, the same padded saddle and the same handlebar. In fact, we wouldn’t blame you for picking one over the other.
Both the bikes have a 4ft x 2ft footprint. So, they are pretty compact. Add to that the lightweight frame and you have a bike that can be moved around the house if need be.
The Peloton Bike features a 21.5” HD console, a standard USB port, a 2-channel rear-facing stereo system & a 5MP front facing camera. The Plus comes with a 23” HD smart touch screen that can be rotated 36-degrees, a USB-C port, 2.2 channel front-facing stereo speakers, 2.2 rear-facing woofers, an 8 MP front facing camera and a digital resistance knob. This is the biggest difference in the two. I will speak more about this in a bit.
Features of Peloton Bike
What is it about the Peloton Bike that makes it so popular among users, even in the face of fancier competition?
For starters, the Peloton Bike was launched in 2014 and back then, there was nothing that even came close to what it offered. It was sleek, prepackaged to perfection and took the world of indoor exercising by storm with the interactive classes.
Here’s a look at some of the features that make it so popular.
The Compact Footprint
While the Peloton Bike was heavy on tech, it’s not literally heavy. I mean, it’s not a clunker that sticks out like a sore thumb. Instead, it looks gorgeous with the powder coated finish and the ergonomic profile. More importantly, it’s just 4 ft x 2 ft. This makes it an apartment-friendly choice too.
21.5” HD touchscreen
In 2014, a 21.5” HD Touchscreen was a rarity. To be honest, it still is. Most budget-priced indoor bikes don’t even feature 10” consoles. This is a premium addition to the bike that increases it’s appeal by leaps and bounds.
The Live Spin Classes
In my opinion, the biggest USP of the Peloton Bike is the fitness app, which can also be availed as a standalone option now. The instructor-led classes which are 50% spin and 50% HIIT, are a rage with users. If you take away the Peloton membership, the bike suddenly looks like an overpriced vanity machine.
To their credit, Peloton boasts of some of the best instructors in the biz. They enjoy unprecedented popularity on social media.
Features of Peloton Bike Plus
Like we mentioned earlier in a direct comparison, everything that you get with Peloton Bike, you get an upgrade with Bike Plus.
Compact and Light weight
Bike Plus retains the compact form and lightweight carbon steel frame from the Peloton Bike. It also measures 4 ft x 2 ft and weighs 135 lb. There are four casters that allow you to push it around the house easily. Not to mention, this thing is extremely portable as we have used it for not only our home gym but have brought it along on road trips with us that we take every summer in our rv. And although it's not going to fit on your typical RV bike rack it is light weight enough that it is easy enough to load up and take with you on a trip such as the ones we take.
23.5” HD Rotatable Screen
While the huge screen on the Peloton Bike was fixed, Bike Plus features a 360-degree rotatable one. It also features an anti-smudge and anti-glare coating. This upgrade is because of the non-equipment specific workouts that the app now offers. So, if you are in a class and you want to hop off the bike and do some burpees, you can rotate the screen. The anti-glare coating ensures that you can see the screen from any angle.
One of the gripes that a lot of Peloton Bike users shared was stability. After a few months of use, the bike would start to wobble in the midst of a workout. I experienced this too. Trust me, it’s not fun. The Bike Plus is definitely more stable. Its also electronically calibrated for better accuracy while producing data.
Bike Plus with its front facing speaker and rear facing woofers creates a truly immersive audio experience. It’s as good as working out in a fitness studio yourself.
Bike Plus comes with an auto follow resistance system which when activated, allows the instructor to remotely control the resistance levels midway through a workout. This feature is only available on the Live Classes though. It’s a pretty cool feature if you prefer a hands-off approach to fitness. Otherwise, the manual resistance works great.
Peloton Bike vs Bike Plus
What Are the Pros and Cons?
Sometimes we get so engrossed in all the tech talk that we fail to notice the big takeaway. What are the pros and cons of each bike?
Let’s take a look.
What Are the Pros of Peloton Bike?
Tried & Tested Model
The Peloton Bike has been around for 7-years and it has consistently performed beyond expectations. True, it does seem a little outdated if you compare it with the Bike Plus or the S22I. But at least it has a very stable reputation.
The Peloton Bike is cheaper than the Bike Plus. And although its's not a small difference it's not all that much. I will speak about this in the pricing section below.
Large HD Screen
It is one of the handful of indoor bikes that a 21.5” HD screen. That’s as big as a television set. It truly takes interactivity a few notches ahead.
You can swap the stock saddle and pedals on the Peloton Bike for your favorite ones.
What Are the Cons of The Peloton Bike?
One of the things that I noticed was that the buffering was buggy and often experienced latency problems. I did some troubleshooting and spoke to the community on Reddit. They mentioned that this has been a problem with the Bike all along and its probably because of an older chip that cannot handle the fast data transfer speeds.
I personally found the Peloton Bike to be uncomfortable. More so when I was exercising for an hour or more. While the saddle and the handlebars are adjustable, I found that the position was not ergonomic. For full disclosure, I am 6’3. Is it my height? I don’t know. But there are other people who resonate my thoughts on Reddit. So it’s definitely not me.
What Are the Pros of Bike Plus?
- Updated Tech – Bike Plus features some of the best-in-class technology that you’ll find on any exercise bike. The sound quality is top notch thanks to the dual-speaker setup. There’s a USB-C slot for fast-charging your mobile or tablet. There’s the automatic resistance adjustment. All in all, it seems closer to an actual smart bike.
- Stable design – Even when I am at max resistance and top speed, there’s absolutely no wobble or groaning. It’s a very stable design.
- Better viewability - The 360-degree rotating screen with the anti-glare system is a huge step-up given that most users would want to use the app for strength training or Yoga or Boot Camp styled workouts too.
- Auto Follow – The Bike Plus is more interactive considering that you can allow the trainer to control the resistance during the live classes.
- Better quality camera – The 8 MP front facing camera comes with a privacy cover. More importantly, the quality is much better than the 5 MP one on the Peloton Bike.
What Are the Cons of Bike Plus?
- Vanity Tech – The tech sounds great on paper. But how much of a difference does it really make to your workouts? I mean, would you be able to perform a grueling workout without the rotating screen? Absolutely. Can you do without the dual-speaker setup? I am sure most people would. Apart from the Auto Follow feature, there’s not one new technological addition that improves your workout.
- Pricey – Bike Plus is currently the most expensive offering from Peloton. But does the addition of a few cosmetic features justify the significant bump in pricing? A lot of people feel that it doesn’t.
Peloton Bike vs Bike Plus
What Are the Differences? Which One Is Better?
After spending a few weeks exercising on each bike, I personally feel that the Peloton Bike offers better value.
It’s cheaper, it’s been around for a while and it’s almost the same bike minus a large rotating screen and two woofers. If you are looking for something that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, you’d prefer the Peloton Bike.
But if you already own a Peloton Bike, then you can get the Bike Plus on Rebate for a reduced price. This might make it a more appealing purchase for hardcore Peloton fans.
Which Takes More Space?
Both bikes have the exact same dimensions and take 4 ft x 2 ft. Peloton recommends an additional two feet of clearance space surrounding the bikes.
Which Is of Better Quality?
That’s a tough question. I closely examined both the bikes. They look exactly identical. The frame is made from the same carbon steel. The parts and components, everything is the same. That said, the Bike Plus is definitely more stable.
There have been a few complaints about the Peloton Bike being wobbly. In comparison, the Bike Plus is as steady as a rock.
Which Is More Comfortable?
I mentioned briefly that I found the Peloton Bike to be an uncomfortable ride for my longer workouts. The same holds true for Peloton Bike. That’s to be expected given the identical design and frame. I also found the stock saddle to be a pain in the butt.
If you are looking for a comfortable ride, go for the NordicTrack S22I. The stock saddle offers ample padding and you can swap it with any aftermarket one.
Which Is More Expensive?
At the time of writing this article, Peloton Bike is priced at $1,895. Bike Plus on the other hand costs a steep $2495. That’s a $600 difference.
If you own the Peloton Bike, you can avail a $700 rebate on the Bike Plus. This also comes bundled with a Free Yoga & Toning Kit which is valued at $149.
How Do Customers Review Each Product?
To understand the customer sentiment about these bikes, I spoke to a lot of users on Reddit who have owned both these bikes. These are ardent Peloton fans who dote the community and the bikes too. I also spoke to a few customers who were very disappointed with the bikes to understand their problems.
Here’s what I found.
How Are Peloton Bike Reviews?
Peloton Bike has thousands of reviews. It’s been around for 7+ years and most of the reviews are positive. Customers who have used this for years and then swapped it for the Bike Plus feel that the original bike was much better.
There are people who also feel the opposite. Most positive reviews are about the compact size, the silent operation and the trainer-led workout programs.
How Are Peloton Bike Plus Reviews?
Peloton Bike Plus has only been around for a while. There are a lot of positive reviews about the upgraded tech. Some customers feel that the upgraded speakers are very underrated. They deserve more attention in the marketing materials.
Others feel that the upgrade is more stable and whisper quiet. I didn’t find either of the bikes to be noisy. But the Plus is definitely quieter.
The negative reviews are about poor customer service and failing tech. The auto follow feature is a hit or a miss. I found multiple reviews that claimed that it failed after a few weeks of usage.
Peloton Bike vs Bike Plus
My Personal Opinion on Which One You Should Get
I personally feel that the Peloton Bike is a better buy. It’s around $600 cheaper. It’s a tried and tested model with thousands of users and positive reviews. While the Bike Plus does sound great on paper, it offers little to make any real difference to the quality of your workouts.
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