Nowadays, immersive interactive training is everywhere, both at gyms and homes. The first name that probably came to mind when you heard the words “exercise bike with interactive training” is Peloton, rightfully so.
In the last couple of years, Peloton has led the at-home spin bike class revolution. However, more and more brands, such as NordicTrack and Echelon, have been offering similar alternative bikes with a less hefty price tag than Peloton.
At the moment, Echelon offers four indoor “Connect” exercise bikes: the EX-1, EX-3, EX-5, and EX-5s.
NordicTrack also offers a wide range of indoor cycles, with their most popular models being the S15i and S22i.
In this article, I will be going over the differences between three models of my choosing, the Peloton Bike, NordicTrack S15i, and the Echelon Connect EX-1, the three of which I’ve personally tested and used for quite some time.
Please note that whatever I say in this article is solely my opinion and doesn’t apply to anyone else. Additionally, as I’ve just mentioned, I’ve thoroughly used these three models and have learned a lot about them in the process, hence why I decided to make this comparison in the first place.
Quick Overview – Which Bike is the Best?
The Peloton Bike
The Peloton Bike managed to carve out an interesting niche in the community. It managed to combine the craze surrounding the cultish-like cycling classes such as SoulCycle with the ever-growing demand for large display screens and connectivity.
This model has one of the highest price tags on the market at the moment, which means that it targets a specific athletic consumer.
It has a rather sleek and minimalistic design, and even though it doesn’t have some of the features that some of the competition boasts, it still wins some clients for the simple reason of having 24/7 access to live training classes.
All in all, if you’re willing to pay whatever it takes to get a premium indoor cycling experience, then the Peloton Bike might be right up your alley.
It is important to mention that the community of that Peloton offers, is in itself one helluva thing to say the least. It's like a Cult to say the least.
The NordicTrack Bike
Many features make the NordicTrack S22i such a worthy competitor of the Peloton bike, one of which is its incline capabilities. The NordicTrack S22i comes with a motor that can tilt to up to +20% incline or -10% decline. Such a feature is somewhat exclusive to NordicTrack exercise bikes.
This feature in itself is one that you will not find anywhere else and was huge bonus that ultimately helped me choose this bike over the others. Other than the fact that it's just a better bang for buck buy than the others.
If you decide to follow an iFit class, the bike will automatically tilt and lift according to the terrain or route featured on the app. Additionally, the S22i comes with a large 22’’ high definition touchscreen, handlebar controls for incline and resistance, a built-in fan, and 3 lb hand weights.
Granted, this is not the absolute best indoor bike out there, but for the price, you shouldn’t bother with anything else.
In other words, if you’re looking to find the ultimate bang for your buck, do not need extra features that you will never really even use in the first place, then this is the way to go.
The Echelon Bike (EX-1 & EX-3 Models)
The Echelon EX-1 bike is Echelon’s most affordable model, which features the community’s favorite Echelon app through a reliable Bluetooth connection. You also get an integrated tablet holder on the handlebars, which allows you to easily reach and select any of Echelon’s live or recorded spin classes.
The bike’s design maintains a rather compact footprint coming at just 22” wide and 42” long, and it only weighs around 105 lb. It also comes with silent magnetic resistance, making it a great choice for your home, both compact and quiet.
It’s the perfect choice for people who want a connected, comfortable experience for way less of a price than many other brands (Looking at you, Peloton).
Workout Programs Head to Head Comparison: Peloton Vs. Echelon Vs. Nordictrack
Peloton is one of the most respected elite brands of fitness equipment on the market, so it should come as no surprise that their app turned out to be my number one choice out of the three due to a variety of reasons.
For one, you can access live sessions led by professional, certified instructors who bring their all into the training. You also get a plethora of other features, including but not limited to:
- Cycling, running, outdoor workouts, strength training, outdoor workouts, yoga, etc.
- Ability to join a live class in NYC with real instructors and fellow trainees
- Calendar layout to help you easily track classes and times
- Over 10,000 different classes to choose from
- 14-day free trial included
Note that you can try out most of their classes and the overall experience for free before even purchasing the bike itself.
- Fun, motivating, and most importantly, experienced instructors.
- Option to join live classes that take place in NYC
- Easy to navigate and track workouts
- Professionally filmed workouts
- Peloton Bikes are still rather expensive when compared to the competition
- Must pay for an upgrade to access the app’s full range of features
Nordictrack's Program - iFit Coach
The iFit Coach comes with a near-endless number of classes that’ll keep you motivated to the point where you won’t run out of new options. The app is my second favorite for several reasons, including the ability to use it almost anywhere and the variety that it offers. It also has:
- Can connect to different add-on options such as sleep monitor, heart rate monitors, and more
- Can track sleep, activity, nutrition, and exercise to give you a complete experience
- Combines Google Maps and Google Street View to offer a simulation experience
- Wide range of classes, including cycling, Bootcamp, outdoor trail rides, etc.
- Low monthly cost to unlock the more premium features
- Personalized coaching
- Live classes and clear instructions to help you learn everything about bike features such as cadence, RPMs, resistance, etc.
- Can track sleep, activity, nutrition, etc.
- Fun and motivating instructors
- Google Street View is a bit on the choppy side of things
- Need to pay to unlock the more premium features
- The music option could use a bit of improvement
The Echelon app comes with many workout options featuring a number of different fun themes, perfect for most user types. It’s super easy to navigate, making it a perfect choice for users who are new to fitness. Additionally, you get access to a calendar that allows you to plan your whole workout, a week or more ahead of time.
The only reason this app is in third spot and not higher is that I found some of the instructors not to be as experienced as Peloton’s or iFit’s. Their music choice, coupled with the camera angles and quality, could use improvement, but other than that, it’s a good all-around package.
Some of my favorite features of this app include:
- Different options for different user levels: beginner, intermediate, advanced
- Beginner-friendly: easy, simple, and straightforward interface
- Beautiful footage of places all over the world while you ride
- Inclusion of weights to work on toning your upper body
- Theme rides: Disney, Disco, 80’s, Hip-Hop, etc.
- Ability to join a live class
- Numerous different class options with various entertaining themes
- Live classes are available during most of the day
- Beginner-friendly: easy to navigate
- 14-day free trial
- Both the camera angles and the music used by the instructors during the live training sessions are outdated and could use an upgrade
- The instructors themselves aren’t as experienced as the competition’s
- Only cycling/upper body workouts are offered
So, Which Live Training App/Program is Best?
In my opinion, all three apps will provide you with various workout options that’ll serve you well, depending on which type of user you are.
Being able to join a live class using each of these apps is a great feature in itself. I personally found the Peloton cycling classes to be the best mainly because of how experienced and motivating the instructors were.
iFit’s outdoor ride feature allows you to simulate riding outside on a real road bike with a friend in a scenic setting. This is something that I thought I would ever be able to experience on my GTX 3, which is my favorite road bike. But iFit somehow has managed to replicate this experience very well.
During training, You’ll be led by an athlete who provides a bunch of useful information about resistance, cadence, rpm, and other bike-related aspects. This feature will be greatly appreciated by outdoor cyclists who are looking to get a near-real-life experience.
The app is also the perfect option for users looking to do more than just working out. It offers the option to track health and calories, monitor your sleep, hours of activity, etc. This makes the app the perfect choice for users looking to utilize more options outside of the workout to track their overall fitness and health.
The Echelon app, on the other hand, is one of the easiest apps to use, and for that alone, I highly recommend it to new users. It comes with a variety of different classes that are great except for those outdated camera angles and music. If Echelon fixes these two issues, then the app would be near perfect.
All in all, I enjoyed trying out the three different apps and would definitely recommend any of them to users who are looking who have a more thorough experience. I still loved certain elements of each app, more specifically, the instructors and classes of Peloton, the number of different rides and workouts offered by the iFit Coach, etc.
Peloton Vs. Echelon Vs. Nordictrack - Which Bike Is Better?
Specs of the Peloton Bike
- Dimensions: 59 x 53 x 23 inches
- Weight: 135 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 305 pounds
- Resistance: 0-100
- Screen: 21.5-inch FHD Touchscreen
- Programs: Peloton
PS: The NordicTrack S15i has similar specs, with the main differences being the screen size and resistance levels.
Specs of the NordicTrack S22i
- Dimensions: 55x 54.8x 21.9 inches
- Weight: 200pounds
- Weight Capacity:350 pounds
- Screen: 22-inch Smart HD Touchscreen
- Programs: iFit Coach
Specs of the Echelon Connect EX-1
- Dimensions:59 x 53 x 23 inches
- Weight: 105 pounds
- Weight Capacity:300 pounds
- Screen: No Display, but can be connected to any smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth
- Programs: Echelon
The Peloton’s carbon steel charcoal grey frame weighs around 125 pounds. Coupled with the console and the widescreen, which weigh 10 pounds, you get a total of 135 pounds.
It’s quite the sturdy machine that comfortably sits on the floor and doesn’t rock at all, even when you stand out of the saddle. It’s secured to the floor by a number of sturdy stabilizers under the front and the rear.
Additionally, the Peloton bike has a powder-coated frame, which makes it sweat-resistant, preventing overtime damage.
All in all, my experience with this bike was great, and I’m overly impressed with its construction, build quality, and geometry.
The base, posts, and stabilizers of the S22i are all made out of steel. The handlebars come coated with a soft grip material for a tight, perfect grip. Moreover, the intersecting joints and post shafts of the bike are protected by a black plastic molding.
Contrary to most bikes out there, which look like someone bought a spine bike and attached a TV on it, the S22i has been designed with thorough care. It is not just some cheaply made exercise bike with a screen attached. All of the cables and wires are internal, the drive train is incredibly quiet, and the frame itself is very solid for a bike that allows you to pivot up and down.
The bike always managed to stay very stable even when I rode in or out of the saddle.
The Echelon Connect EX-1 features a very sturdy frame and is equipped with leveling feet, horizontal stabilizers, and front wheels.
Unlike what you traditionally see in other bikes, the Connect EX-1’s flywheel sits low and rear. And even though this design might come as weird or unusual to some riders, it doesn’t affect bike feel or performance in any shape or form. On the contrary, upon trying this bike, I’ve noticed that it’s surprisingly comfortable with a V-shaped geometry that provides an extended reach.
All in all, the design of this bike, coupled with its low paced flywheel, makes it a very stable piece of machinery to ride, without a single worry about it rocking or moving around.
So, Which Bike Is Built Better?
Well, to be frank, the Peloton Bike has a solid build and a premium feel to it, but, according to my own experience, the NordicTrack S22i is more user-friendly and was the easiest to ride.
If you’re looking for an enjoyable experience riding your indoor bike, I highly recommend giving the NordicTrack bike a shot.
If you are looking for the best built exercise bike then the Peloton definitely does have the upper hand but to be honest, as this is just my opinion, the Peloton bike is overbuilt. It's made with materials and things that are just a bit overboard.
Yeah it can survive a zombie apocalypse but do you really need it to? Instead I would much rather save some bucks.
Design-wise, the bike comes with Peloton’s signature red touches on both the belt drive and the resistance knob. You can also easily adjust the height of the seat, handlebars, and display.
The magnetic flywheel is dead quiet and smooth as butter. You could be riding the bike beside someone in your room, and they would barely hear anything. Additionally, the resistance knob offers you an extremely smooth and frictionless push-stop option, which instantly brings the wheel to a complete stop.
The bike’s seat design is similar to that of a road bike in the fact that it’s kinda narrow. However, it’s properly cushioned for comfort. So, if you happen to be looking for a smaller than usual seat that is quite comfortable, then the Peloton is the one for you.
You also get access to a 21.5” Full HD touchscreen that provides a crisp image with amazing responsiveness. The monitor is compatible with Fitbit, Strava, as well as Apple’s Health App and Watch, allowing you to sync every important bit of information about your workout.
Moreover, the monitor’s Bluetooth compatibility allows you to pair it with a heart rate monitor to get more accurate numbers while cycling.
Further, the display is equipped with two 10-watt speakers that can get extremely loud, especially if you’re in a vacant room. However, given the fact that the bike itself is dead quiet, you probably won’t have to turn the volume up much. If you’re like me and you prefer using earphones or headphones, then worry not since the display also comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Underneath the display, you’ll find two cup holders that you can use to hold a water bottle and your phone, for example. You also get two racks behind the seat for your hand weights.
One thing I highly recommend is to keep your bike within close proximity to your Wi-Fi router. I personally placed mine in the garage, which was a bit far from the router, which led the videos to start buffering mid-workout. Trust me when I say this, having your rhythm suddenly interrupted by something like this can be really annoying.
All in all, the Peloton is a well-designed, well-built piece of machinery that deserves every bit of praise it gets. But is it worth the price tag? Well, it depends on the person and many other factors.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the “22i” in the bike’s name is in reference to its 22” touch screen, which can display all kinds of content in high definition.
The most prominent feature of this screen is access to iFit Coach, an app that is the fan-favorite of many. You also get a ledge that is perfectly sized for your mobile device. Additionally, if you wish to add some tunes to the mix, you can always connect a music player of yours to the Studio Cycle’s studio system, which offers a great sound during your workout.
Moreover, the S22i is somewhat unique in the way that it offers a somewhat extreme range of incline/decline. You can choose to set it anywhere between +20 % incline or -10 % decline. There is also the ability to let it be set automatically, depending on which class you’re taking. In other words, you get to choose from a huge list of workouts that rely on Google Maps, and the bike will fix its slop according to the terrain.
The S22i’s pedal design is universal, which means you’ll be able to swap out the set for any standard pedals of your choosing.
The saddle, on the other hand, is adjustable in four different directions (up, down, forward, and back), allowing you to perfectly fit it according to your height or personal preference. Its a perfect exercise bike for tall people and for shorter people.
You can also easily swap out the seat for something of your choice if you feel like it.
A set of three-pound hand weights is also bundled with the bike, which you can easily store and easily access in the middle of rides.
As for heart monitoring, the S22i comes with contact sensors out of the box, but if you wish to get more accurate numbers using wireless chest straps, then you’ll have to buy some.
You also get a self-adjusting fan and two decently sized water bottle holders in order to help you stay cool.
All in all, the NordicTrack S22i is an around complete package that will deliver to you both comfortable and unique rides.
The Echelon Connect EX-1 is a well-made, sturdy bike. It comes equipped with a 13kg magnetic flywheel, which makes for a super smooth and quiet ride. The pedals of the bike come with two sides, one for SPD clip-in shoes and the other has cages for standard running shoes.
The console mount can hold a variety of differently sized devices, which can easily be charged using the built-in USB charging port.
The bike’s handlebars and seat can easily be moved in four different directions (up, down, forward, backward). In the case of the handlebars, this multi-positional grip allows you to easily stand up and lean forward as you ride if you ever feel like it; however, they don’t really capture the feeling of an outdoor ride if that’s what you’re looking for.
The frame of the bike is super lightweight, making it really easy to move it and store it whenever necessary. Further, the inclusion of water bottle holders and weight racks is a great feature to have, especially for longer than usual rides.
Using the Echelon Fit app, you’ll get access to distance, speed, calories burned, resistance level, watts, RPM, and heart rate. You also get the option to virtually ride around the world, in places of your own choosing.
Link to Strava, Fitbit, or even Facebook to share your progress with your friend or family and challenge them. There are also plenty of additional programs such as workouts for stretching, weightlifting, and yoga, all of which work hand in hand with your cycling workout.
All in all, this bike is an excellent purchase, especially for those who are new to at-home exercise bikes or prefer an exercise bike that is good for beginners. I think that more experienced riders would probably pick another model over this one since its frame and positioning aren’t really similar to those of an actual road bike.
What Are the Customer Reviews Saying?
Each of the reviewed bikes has a mixture of reviews online.
In the case of Peloton, customers praise the bike but condemn the customer support offered by the company.
The NordicTrack S22i received plenty of rave reviews, so, in terms of customer satisfaction, this bike wins the race.
Surprisingly, the Echelon EX1 also has plenty of positive reviews praising the bike and the experience it gave them, which also makes sense, considering that it’s so cheap that customers are willing to turn a blind eye to some of the negative aspects of the bike.
Which Has Better Overall Reviews?
The NordicTrack S22i and the Peloton Bike are tied in this aspect. People love both of them, but the Peloton bike has more reviews online simply because it’s more popular (kudos to the company’s marketing manager).
But like I said above, the Peloton community is a large and fierce group who are dedicated to this bike. So that fact that the Nordictrack S22i bike is tied with it and comes in a whole lot cheaper should speak for itself.
The standard warranty for the Peloton bike is as follows:
- 5-Year Frame Warranty
- 1-Year Parts Warranty
- 1-Year Labor Warranty
You can purchase one of the two extended warranties provided by Peloton, the longest of which is 39 months for an extra $230.
NordicTrack offers the best warranty policy compared to other bike manufacturers. The standard warranty for the NordicTrack Commercial S22i is as follows:
- 10-Year Frame Warranty
- 2-Year Parts Warranty
- 1-Year Labor Warranty
You can also purchase extended warranties for the parts and labor. NordicTrack also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on most of their bikes, the S22i included.
The Echelon Connect EX-1 warranty provides:
- 1-Year Parts Warranty
- 1-Year Labor Warranty
You can always purchase an extended warranty. Additionally, Echelon offers a 30-day-money-back guarantee, but they do charge you the shipping and restocking if you do send the bike back.
- Bike: The bike was priced at $2,245, now the price starts at$1,895
- Membership: $49/month
- Bike: $1,999
- Membership: $15/month, and the first year is free of charge
- Bike: $799.99, but you have to pay for at least one month of membership, so the price actually starts at $839.98
- Membership: $39.99/month
Which Is the Better Bang For Buck Buy? The Nordictrack By Far!
Granted, at first sight, you might think that getting an Echelon EX1 or even a Peloton Bike would be cheaper than opting for the NordicTrack model. That said, take a look at the price of the interactive training membership, and you’ll see why the S22i will give you the better bang for your buck.
Size and Setup
If you decide to go with the Peloton Bike, then you probably won’t have to worry about assembly since the company offers a delivery of the bike fully assembled for an extra 250 bucks.
The bike will be delivered to your front door, fully assembled and germ-free. The only thing that’s left is for you to move it in by yourself. That’s a great measure taken by Peloton to ensure the safety of its clients during the current pandemic.
The bike only takes 4 feet x 4 feet of floor space. In other words, its compact size allows you to squeeze in your living room or even bedroom. Further, it comes with Caster wheels for easy repositioning around the house.
The NordicTrack bike arrives at your house door, ready to be assembled. You can either assemble it by yourself or have an expert do that for you for an extra 90 bucks.
I’ve personally gone with the first route and can confirm that the instructions you get are quite clear and easy to replicate. But if you don’t feel like doing yourself, you can always have a professional do it.
The bike’s frame is 56.9” H x 55” L x 21.9” W, making it small enough for apartment living or storage. You can easily move it around with the help of the small wheels attached to the frame.
The Echelon Connect EX-1 is fairly lightweight and super easy to assemble. The instructions that come in the box are super clear, including pictures of the whole process and a list of the tools needed. It should take you around 45 minutes to assemble it. And as is the case with most bikes, you can always pay for an expert to do it if you ever feel like not doing it by yourself.
The bike is highly adjustable to the point where I could fit it to two of my friends, one of whom is 5’1” and the other 6’2”. I don’t know about you, but that sounded like quite the range for me.
Furthermore, the frame measures at 59” L x 53” H x 23” W and can be hidden away in the corner of your room whenever you’re not using it.
Verdict: Which Is the Best Indoor Bike?
As you’ve seen, each of the bikes mentioned above has its own pros and cons, but if I had to choose only one, I’d go with the NordicTrack S22i.
I mean, sure, the Peloton Bike is the obvious premium option, but it’s quite expensive, and I don’t think that the features it packs, however sophisticated, are worth shelling out that kind of money for, unless you really care about the premium status.
The Echelon Connect Bike, on the other hand, is a solid, budget-friendly option, but it’s no match for the Peloton and the NordicTrack bikes in terms of features and build quality.
The NordicTrack S22i offers the best of both worlds. It has a reasonable price tag and offers all the bells and whistles of connected indoor bikes, making it the perfect option for most consumers. Besides, the iFit Coach app can really take your home workouts to the next level, making it just the cherry on top.
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