In the world of at-home exercise, you really are spoiled for choice these days. In what feels like no time at all, innovative companies have been coming out of the woodwork to bring high-quality, professional gym equipment right to your home. Whether it’s in the garage, a spare bedroom, or sandwiched into an unused section of your home – there is now no excuse not to get regular exercise thanks to these developments.
One of the biggest components of this revolution has been smart spin bikes. Typically you’d have to go and join an official spin class at a gym in order to do some stationary cycling, but that has all changed now. There are a range of internet-connected spin bikes that you can install at home and then stream into classes when it suits you – making the whole thing that much more convenient.
The big question then becomes – which one should you choose?
In this article, we are going to compare the three most popular smart spin bikes across a number of different factors so that you can identify which one is the right fit for you.
Here are the bikes:
This is the premium option that has set itself apart with an expensive bike, a passionate community, and all the bells and whistles you could imagine. When you get one of these, you have to tell everyone on Instagram, that’s the rule.
The Echelon brand has come out of nowhere to produce a really high functioning bike that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It focuses on immersion and does it really well.
This is the bike that athletes dread because of its reputation as an exercise machine. It’s for professionals and will give you a workout unlike anything you’ve done before. Trust us, if you can jump on the Wattbike consistently, you’ll see results.
We are going to compare these three options across a few important criteria, the summary of which we’ve included below. But under each category, we’ve gone into a lot more detail so be sure to check out each section so you know you’re getting the best one for you.
Quality and Performance
The Peloton bike is a work of art, truly. From a quality perspective – you won’t find a bike that is better made. They’ve gone above and beyond to create a machine that is at the top of its game. It has an adjustable seat, handlebar, and screen so you can get the bike into the optimal position for you without any fuss. The belt in the bike is nearly silent which means that you can exercise any time of the day or night and never interrupt anyone else you’re living with.
When it comes to speed and resistance, this is infinitely configurable which allows you to get the exact right level of challenge no matter where you’re at. All in all, it’s a premium bike that comes with a premium price tag as we’ll discuss a little later.
The Echelon bike takes a slightly different route towards a great experience. Their entire focus is on immersion with the virtual spin class you’re in and so they’ve made sure that the screen experience is out of this world. Don’t get us wrong though, the actual bike itself is still exceptional – delivering everything that you need and nothing that you don’t. They’ve stuck with a tried and tested design so it will feel very natural if you’ve been on a spinning bike before – you’ll be off and running in no time at all.
From a performance perspective the bike works flawlessly. The integration of hardware and software is world class and it’s easy to forget that you’re not physically in a spin class. And, I suppose, that’s exactly the point.
The Wattbike is probably the best simulation of what road cycling is actually like. There’s a reason that professional cyclists go with this one and it’s because of its authentic feel and challenge. This bike can punish you in terms of your workout and that’s because of its minimalistic setup. From a design perspective it's much simpler than the others, but what it loses there, it gains in real-world applicability. It’s a beast of a machine and if you’re a serious cyclist – then there really is no other option. It’s one of a kind, in the best possible way.
The Peloton bike places a gorgeous HD screen in front of you as you cycle which serves as the hub for all your interactions. They have a range of pre-recorded workouts of all types so that no matter when you are jumping on, you can find the perfect workout for you. The classes are augmented by advanced metric tracking that you can use to compare workouts and see progress as you get fitter and stronger. But the real power feature here is the live workouts where you can stream into the New York studio in real time and get that full immersive experience.
The technology for this is really well put together and as long as you have a good Wi-Fi connection, this is undoubtedly the best part of the product. One of the downsides of the Peloton is the fact that there are very limited integrations with other applications like Zwift and the like. It’s clear that the company is determined to build a closed ecosystem and so you have to do a lot of manual hacking to make those integrations work unfortunately.
The Echelon bike delivers a silky-smooth user experience in terms of the technology, bringing a level of immersion to your biking experience that is hard to find in the other models. The screen is flexible and capable, and when combined with Wi-Fi enhancing dual antennas, it performs exceptionally well with pre-programmed workouts and with live ones. You’ll never have to worry about technical difficulties, it just works every time. It doesn’t record as many of the metrics as you might get on the Peloton, but you get the ones that really matter and the full immersion actually diminishes the point of those numbers. The bike’s only goal is to get you back on it consistently.
Where this bike also shines is with its integration capabilities when it comes to other applications. Through the Echelon Fit app, you can send data and workouts to apps like Strava, Zwift, and others which is great news for people who already have been tracking workouts there.
The Wattbike certainly has the least in terms of technology of the three, because that’s not really its focus. It does have a tablet holder to hold your own riding computer to track various metrics and do live sessions on Zwift but it doesn’t come with all the fancy extras you see with the others. For some people though, that’s a good thing. It strips out all the fluff and focuses on the riding experience which is what pro cyclists care about. The metrics and analysis you can do is second to none thanks to their proprietary Wattbike DNA – which creates a holistic cycling experience that the others can’t match.
Peloton requires you to join their membership program in order to access any of the workouts or to use this bike in any meaningful way. It’s called the All-Access Membership and it gives you access to all the classes, tracking and community aspects that makes Peloton so special. The membership costs £39 per month ($39 USD) and it should really be considered as a necessary cost when you are considering buying the bike.
On the Echelon front, they also have a membership program that fulfills a similar purpose. There are still some basic pre-programed workouts that you can do on-demand through the bike itself. All the membership does is give you access to the live classes and a few other extra benefits. Here you’re looking at £40 per month ($40 USD) if you’re paying monthly, coming down to a minimum of £25 per month ($30 USD) if you’re signing a longer contract.
The Wattbike doesn’t have its own membership option per say, they rely on you to bring third party apps to provide any additional community or training plan capabilities. They really just focus on the bike and let you sort out everything else yourself.
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When it comes to customer reviews, the Peloton bike is quite polarizing. For those who have bought into the ecosystem and found themselves a part of the community – it’s an absolute gamechanger. The feeling that you’re part of something exclusive and intimate, even though everyone is exercising separately is what makes it special. Those who bought the bike and then couldn’t get into it complain about the price tag which is significant and is definitely the biggest negative for what is a genuinely great piece of equipment.
The reviews for the Echelon bike span the entire spectrum of people which shows just how versatile it is as a machine. It’s genuinely reviewed as being well-made, simple to use, and represents good value for money. The more critical reviews often talk about its robustness and some initial problems with the software, but those seem to have been in the beginning and a lot of progress has been made to fix those weaknesses. All the recent reviews look stellar from where we’re standing.
The Wattbike reviews are clear – this bike is a joy to ride for professionals. It provides perfect resistance management and interval responsiveness which matters a lot if you’re trying to simulate the road. It isn’t received as positively from your more casual cyclists who perhaps use this as just a part of their weekly exercise. It lacks some of the more advanced features of the others and it doesn’t have an in-built community which really matters to some people.
The prices are as follows:
It’s also worth noting that while we’ve compared these particular bikes because they’re relatively similar in functionality, there are some other alternatives that also might be looking into. On the Peloton side, you’ve got the Peloton Bike+ which is a more advanced and expensive version of the base model. And from Echelon, you’ve got two cheaper models in the Echelon Connect EX-3 and the Echelon Connect Sport.
In summary, each of these three bikes are great in their own way. If the most important thing is the community surrounding your spin classes, then you’d be best served with the Peloton Bike. The Echelon is a great balanced choice for those who want high-quality but at a more affordable price. And the Wattbike is the go-to option for professional cyclists who want something that accurately simulates traditional road bikes.
Our personal recommendation for most people is to go with the Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX-5S. It delivers exceptional quality all round and is just much better value for money than the Peloton is.
But whichever one you go with; you’ll get a lot out of it. And we look forward to meeting the fitter, stronger, and healthier you!
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