In today's day and age, the days of having to hit the gym and carve out a solid chunk of time for some sort of fitness regimen in order to stay in shape and chase your fitness goals are just about long gone.
With more and more people turning to indoor workouts and home gyms, it's no surprise that exercise bikes have become an integral piece of exercise equipment in just about any fitness-minded person's home.
Now when it comes to some of the best exercise bikes that you can pick up in 2020 - the Schwinn IC3, IC4, and the Peloton are some incredibly popular options. And for good reason too!
However, where does one actually get started when it comes to making a definitive pick on one of the three bikes above?
Thankfully, you've got me on your side of the court!
In today's featured review, I'll be lifting the veil on all of my research and personal experience with each of the three bikes. Down below, I'll be stacking them up side by side, and giving you an in-depth comparison to help you pick out the right bike for you.
So buckle up and keep reading to get a detailed overview of each bike - including the best features, areas the bikes fall short in, and a nice briefer on the differences between the three models. And furthermore, I'll also talk about their interactive training options while stacking them up against one another to show you which areas each model excels in over other options.
Let's get started!
A Quick Overview Of Each Bike
Before we get chest-deep into a comparison of how each model stacks up against one another - let's get nice and cozy with what each of the bikes has got to offer.
Below, I'll be giving you a brief introduction to the ins and outs of each indoor bike, covering their best features, as well as the key differences that set them apart.
First and foremost, let's get started with the IC3. When it comes to the world of entry-level exercise bikes - it's not an overstatement to say that the Schwinn IC3 is absolutely a state-of-the-art bike compared to other options in the category. We compared the IC3 to the IC2 -its predecessor- and it came on top, lets see how it will preform against the IC4
You get to play around with a bunch of resistance levels, a solid 40-lb flywheel that creates a smooth and comfortable ride feel, and a whole plethora of basic yet necessary creature comforts that come packed into this beast of a bike.
In addition to this, it features a basic LCD console to keep track of your vitals, and even allows for wireless heart telemetry.
However, one of the biggest selling points of this bike is its affordable price in contrast with the fact that it's built like a tank. Schwinn uses high-quality industrial steel for the solid frame. And while the bike, along with its 40-lb flywheel, might sound hefty - it's actually super compact and comes shipped with some transport wheels, making it a great fit for home gyms and small spaces.
The IC3's Key Features
To give you a better idea of what the Schwinn IC3 has to offer, I've condensed the wealth of features it offers into a quick and simple list for you below.
Here Are the Ic3's Top Perks:
- A well-balanced 40-lb flywheel that creates a smooth yet engaging and challenging ride.
- 100 levels of adjustable resistance, operating around a friction pad setup that requires some infrequent minimal upkeep to keep the bike going for years on end.
- A brightly lit LCD console to help you keep track of core vitals as you exercise which also features seamless heart telemetry.
- Multi-position adjustable handles allowing you to really kick the level of comfort up a notch as you work out.
- Ventilated seating along with plenty of basic creature comforts like a bottle holder, dual-link pedals, and 4-way adjustable seats that you can upgrade thanks to Schwinn's clever stem setup.
While the IC3 is certainly a fantastic starter bike, if you're more seriously-geared or want to take things to the next level, the IC4 is probably one of the best options you've got in today's day and age, period.
This bike is actually built around the same renowned system that the Bowflex C6 runs on, and offers pretty much the same set of perks. We put the IC4 vs Bowflex C6 before and they were neck to neck on most points.
In fact, both of the bikes are built by Nautilus, who manufactures the Bowflex lineup, makes some amazing exercise equipment on their own like the T616 and T618, and the owns the Schwinn brand, which makes great elliptical bikes, and even great outdoor cycling bikes like the GTX 3, not just indoor spin bikes
First and foremost, for the Schwinn IC4, you've got one of the most solid flywheels on the market, clocking in at a nice and sturdy 40-lbs. This makes for a super balanced and smooth ride feel while allowing you to really make the most of the amazing 100-level variable magnetic resistance setup that ships with this bike, this makes a great exercise machine for cardio.
Throw in one of the most impressive creature comfort kits that I've ever seen built into an exercise bike, as well as a good dose of adjustability to make the entire experience perfect - and you've got an absolute powerhouse of an exercise bike on your hands.
And here's the best bit - the Schwinn IC4 is priced super affordably!
This model comes in at only a marginally higher price than the IC3 while offering an entirely redesigned experience, with a whole treasure trove of upgrades that you'll definitely want to have on your bike.
Things I Like About The IC4
While there's just so much I could rave about when it comes to how stellar of a bike the IC4 is, let's get a quick bird's eye view of the biggest perks and features it offers to the prospective owner.
Here Are the Biggest Pros of Owning the IC4:
- Whisper-quiet 40-lb that provides a nice and smooth evenly-balanced ride while powering a solid magnetic resistance setup that offers a challenging yet pleasant workout experience.
- Ergonomically-designed dual-link adjustable footholds that are actually very comfortable compared to the typical pedals that ship with most competitor options.
- A wealth of connectivity options with smart devices, including access to a plethora of interactive training apps, such as Peloton's own app.
- A whopping 100 levels of resistance that you get to play with, allowing you to really personalize your workout to meet your fitness needs.
- Solid industrial-steel frame that will last you a lifetime (and is backed by a comprehensive 10-year warranty).
- Compact design and incredibly easy assembly, no matter how much of a hands-on person you are.
How Does The IC4 Differ From The IC3?
While there's quite a bit to talk about here - I've managed to condense the differences to a small handful of key areas.
First and foremost, the biggest difference lies in the resistance setup. The IC4 employs a silent variable magnetic resistance setup while the IC3 uses somewhat old-school friction pads that you'll need to swap out every so often.
At the same time, the IC4 offers a huge amount of connectivity options overtop of the IC3's basic telemetry setup.
It's also important to note that the consoles are worlds apart!
The IC4 brings a redesigned dynamic console with an intuitive interface and a wealth of access to apps, data, and progress stats. On the other hand, the IC3 uses a basic LCD display that tracks key stats such as your heart-rate, speed, and such - and that's about it.
If you've spent any amount of time looking into the most popular exercise bikes on the market today, more likely than not you've already heard plenty about Peloton.
After all, it's basically the talk of the entire fitness world. And being one of the best-rated exercise bikes to hit the market in recent years, it carved out a pretty cool niche of its own - honing in on interactive training and instructor-led workouts.
But here's the thing - the Peloton isn't just all connectivity, great bike with screen, and no substance. This bike is actually backed by an impressive hardware setup and an incredibly solid build that is absolutely worthy of every bit of the praise it's getting online. That's how Peloton sets itself apart from other bike brands.
Simply put, the Peloton is made to wow, and that it definitely does!
However, the biggest drawback for most people considering this bike against the IC4 or the IC3 is the incredibly steep price that it comes at, this might make the Peloton not the most ideal exercise bike for beginners. In fact, at the time of writing the Peloton is nearly 3 times more expensive than the Schwinn IC4, which definitely smacks it right out of the "affordable" category for most folks are looking for Peloton alternatives.
What Are The Biggest Differences Compared To The IC3 & IC4
The first, and possibly the most significant difference between the Peloton and the other two bikes lies in the connectivity options. The Peloton offers an incredibly simple experience when it comes to getting started with interactive training. It's just a matter of setting up the bike, subscribing to the Peloton app, and cycling away.
In the case of the IC4 (as the IC3 lacks this degree of connectivity altogether) - you'd have to pick up a smart device of some sort to pair with the bike over BlueTooth. This could be a smartphone, a tablet, or even your nifty smart TV.
But, while the Peloton might seem to offer a better edge on user experience - the IC4 actually never limits you to any particular app, and you get to enjoy a wealth of apps beyond Peloton's in-house platform and its limited range of integrations.
Outside of this, the IC4 and the Peloton are actually fairly comparable with both models offering 100 levels of resistance built around a variable magnetic resistance setup and a weighted flywheel. Both bikes are built to last with a welded industrial steel frame and come relatively small-sized making them a good fit for just about any indoor cycling enthusiast.
However, that's where we run into our second major difference. Unlike Schwinn's basic design, the Peloton really puts an accent on its stylish and sleek minimalistic aesthetics. So, if you're someone that's willing to pay top dollar just for the right look - the Peloton might just be a great fit for your pallet.
Comparing Workout Program Options
Now that we've got a better understanding of the options at hand, let's talk about one of the biggest buzzwords in today's fitness universe - interactive training.
One of the biggest selling points of each of the bikes we've covered lies in their stellar connectivity and wealth of interactive workout programs that you can enjoy from home.
Below, I'll go over three of the most popular apps among at-home cyclists. I'll introduce you to what each app has got to offer, as well as how well the IC3, IC4, and Peloton work with each of them.
While not everyone is willing to invest their hard-earned money into a Peloton bike - you don't need to go all out to enjoy the amazing interactive exercise platform that Peloton offers.
That's right! For just $12.99 per month, you can hook up just about any bike that features the right degree of connectivity to their handy app that works across a wide range of modern smart devices.
This app features a whole universe of interactive programs, fun and engaging challenges, as well as fun social live instructor-guided workout classes to help you kick off your fitness goals and stay ahead of the curve from the comfort of your home.
While there's no shortage of interactive training apps trying to compete with Peloton ever since its unveiling, Zwift takes a bit of a different approach to spicing up your indoor cycling workouts.
This app leans heavily on gamification, combining the world of gaming with a competitive cycling tinge to create the perfect immersive virtual cycling experience.
With Zwift, you'll be able to take part in awesome social challenges, dive into some serious custom training on their programmed virtual tracks, and even take part in fun virtual races - all in a totally cool game world that adds a much-needed dose of excitement to the workouts you'll be doing. Having an exercise bike that works with Zwift is a great addition to your workout routine and will provide you with a lot of fun.
If you're someone that enjoys interval training - this may just be the perfect cycling app for you.
SufferFest was built around a very simple idea. Intervals create results, train around them. And they've taken that idea to a whole new level with their stellar 4DP training system.
The app takes you through courses of intervals that'll get your heart pumping and help you seriously improve your cycling times across sprints by splicing between relaxing videos of some of the most famous races and then kicking things off with a bang to send you into the max-output zone. SufferFest differs from Zwift in that, Zwift focuses more on gamification and making the experience fun, while SufferFest focuses on metrics and improving your results from working out
You'll be able to track your scores across several key data-points and measure your progress over time. And if you want to really kick things up a notch, you can also take part in their guided training plans that extend far beyond the world of indoor cycling, delving into mental training, yoga, and even strength training for a fantastic well-rounded experience.
How Well Does Each Bike Work With These Apps?
Now that we're a bit more familiar with some of the apps you'll be able to check out on today's app stores - let's get an idea of how well each of the three bikes works with these apps.
First off, we've got the trusty Schwinn IC3. Unfortunately, due to the fact that the IC3 only packs the bare minimum when it comes to any sort of connectivity, you won't be able to connect to any of these apps using this bike.
On the other hand, the Peloton has a seamless native integration with Peloton's in-house platform, and all you'll need to do is subscribe to the app and start riding. But, you won't really be able to enjoy many of the other apps you'll find online as Peloton's range of integrations with its own app is pretty limited. You can export your data to trackers like Apple Health and Google Fit, but that's really about it.
Saving the best for last, the Schwinn IC4 is actually the bike you'll want to opt for if you want to give all of these apps a shot. First of all, it works perfectly fine with Peloton's own app. And overtop of this, you'll be able to hook your bike up with just about any other app, so long as you get a compatible smart device of some sort.
However, there's one important thing to note - while you'll be able to access the Peloton app on any bike that supports that degree of connectivity, you won't be able to see your class scores or partake in the leaderboards. This is due to the fact that Peloton reserves that feature for the "fated few" (the folks who actually own a Peloton bike).
Schwinn IC3 & IC4 vs. Peloton - Which Is The Better Exercise Bike?
Having gotten a solid grasp on the essentials behind each of your options, let's get into the meat and bones of this review - how well the bikes stack up against one another.
Here, I'll be comparing the models across a range of the most important areas that people have questions about when picking out a bike for themselves. This is meant to help you get an idea of what features are the most important for you, as well as settle on a clear winner for the areas you care about.
Which Bike Is Built Better?
All three of the bikes feature a solid welded steel frame, so it's fair to say that they're all built to last a lifetime.
However, the biggest difference that sets the Schwinn IC4 ahead of the other two here lies in the seats, grips, and pedals. These aren't just 4-way adjustable, but they're also made from some seriously high-quality materials, making them far better to the touch.
Which Bike Is Quieter?
The IC4 and Peloton are both built around a super silent magnetic resistance system that employs a sturdy flywheel to reduce friction and noise output.
In my personal experience, I'd say that they're about on par in terms of how quiet they are, and when you up the intensity of your exercise - any sort of minute difference you might think you've noticed at first won't be there at all.
On the other side of the table, the IC3 kind of falls short here as it employs friction pads for its resistance setup. In turn, friction creates noise, and while it's definitely not a screamer, it does have some relatively minimal noise output.
Which Bike Is More Comfortable?
While minimalism is definitely a big direction in today's design language - the lack of essential adjustability features or major creature comforts like a media deck to store your keys along with a place to keep your water bottle handy while you work out is definitely a big red minus.
As such, I'm going to declare the IC4 the winner in this department, as the Peloton is relatively bare-bones by comparison, at least when it comes to creature comforts. And that also makes the IC4 an amazing Bike for knee replacement rehab.
Which Bike Offers More Features?
While the Peloton has some serious marketing efforts behind it - the IC4 is definitely the clear-cut leader when it comes to offering the best and most extensive feature kit.
First of all, it's matched up evenly with the Peloton hardware-wise. However, where it really shines through is the degree of adjustability, as well as many of the creature comforts that the Peloton doesn't have due to its whole "minimalist" appeal. These bikes might not be full body workout machines like other ones I tried(such as Nordictrack RW500 or RW900), but they are amazing indoor cycling bikes
And that's not even mentioning the far more diverse range of apps that the IC4 allows you to enjoy while the Peloton locks you into their platform, at an added monthly cost too.
How Do the Bikes Compare Price-Wise?
It's no secret that the Peloton comes with an absolutely enormous price tag compared to most bikes available on the market today. Especially when you consider the fact that this bike is geared towards at-home cycling fanatics rather than industrial gyms.
That being said, the Schwinn IC4 is nearly 3 times cheaper than the Peloton, while offering pretty much the same layout of features, and far more flexible app options too. This makes these bikes the better option as I like to but the best bang for buck items and not was my money, I like buying cheap dumbbells that get the job done, and would love these bikes in that price range.
As for the IC3, it's a fair bit cheaper than the IC4. And while it doesn't boast most of the stellar features you'd find with the IC4 - it's definitely a worthwhile option if you're on a really tight budget.
The Peloton comes with a 12-month manufacturer warranty that covers the bike's parts and labor. Though, while that may not seem like much up front, you do have the option of paying to extend that warranty to just over 3 years.
On the other hand, the IC4 and IC3 both feature a 10-year policy covering the frame, as well as 3 years on parts, and a year of coverage on the bike's labor too.
Size Comparison - Which Bike Is Best For Small Spaces?
The IC4 and IC3 are relatively well-matched in the size and weight department, though the IC4 is marginally heavier due to the increased weight of its flywheel over the prior model.
On the other hand, the Peloton is a little wider than the IC4, measuring approximately 4 by 2 feet in floor space, and it packs on another 29 pounds of weight over its competitor for a total of 135 lbs.
However, while the IC4 comes out marginally ahead here - I have to say that either of the three bikes is going to be a fantastic fit for any sort of small space.
The Setup Process
The IC4 and IC3 are both an absolute breeze to put together thanks to the fact that Schwinn ships them out with some very clear instructions alongside guided setup videos available online. This will help you put the whole unit together in around 40-45 minutes tops.
On the other hand, the Peloton is a bit more of a challenge to assemble. The instructions are a bit of a quest to get through, with a whopping 22 pages to cover. And even though Peloton says the average assembly time clocks in at 30 minutes, you'll probably want to double that just to stay safe.
Which Bike Should You Get - My Personal Recommendation
So, now that we've got you caught up on the most essential details you'll need to know about each of the three bikes, let's get back to the question at hand.
Which bike should you go out and pick up for yourself?
At the end of the day, I think that all three models have something cool to offer. However, my personal choice definitely lies with the Schwinn IC4, and it was the bike that I ended up getting for a while!
The reason behind my recommendation is due to the fact that the IC4 offers everything that the Peloton does, with far more comfort features packed in, and lots of flexibility in terms of the apps you can hook up with the bike. Ultimately, this gives you that much more bang for your buck, especially when you consider that you'll be saving over 60% of the Peloton's sticker price.