I’ve Become One of Those People…

Yes, I’m buying a spin bike. I’m becoming more a home workout aficionado and the person talking about their workouts all the time. My background is in the before pandemic times I belonged to a gym and I loved it. I loved the classes, the energy from all the other people in the class, competing with that person who is always in the front to show of or the one who you know is in great shape.  I miss the presence of my fellow gym people where our entire relationship involved saying hi and discussing the class or the equipment. I want to go back to the gym. And maybe for those reasons and hope at the pandemic coming to an end at some point, I have held off on a large equipment purchase.  I considered buying a bike in the fall, but the cost combined with an optimism that by spring a return to the gym could be in the cards made me decide against it. Instead, I bought a fairly cheap, small elliptical. I get on it, I’m moving, but I’m not getting the greatest workout. Also it squeaks sometimes. I have no classes, I just watch in front of tv or movies. In the warm weather, I could get outside and hike/bike/walk/run. In the winter, I’m sort of a baby and don’t like exercising outside.  But recent news at the slowness of the vaccine rollout, general world craziness and planning at work where we don’t know if even by fall if things will be completely back to normal put me in a funk. A real funk!  I decided I needed to do something. I needed my workouts that leave me sweaty and breathless back, not only for fitness and weight, but for stress management, so I started researching spin bikes again.

Now, I had taken spin for a few years at the gym, as well as other classes, so I had a good idea of what it was all about and what I wanted.  But I also had almost no idea what was out there and ended up spending days watching videos and reading reviews. I came up with the below information to help me make the decision. Hope it also helps you if you are also considering a spin bike. There are many other bikes out there, but this will help you frame that research. I hope you find it helpful, but my main tip is understand what you want from the bike, how much you have to spend and don’t feel the need to be pulled into big brands if they are more than you need!

The Peloton app has a free 60 day trial, but that offer ends 1/31/21. Not sure what happens after that.

As of 1/29/21. 

ConsiderNotesPelotonBowflex C6/ Schwinn iC4MYX +Sunny SF-B901B
Is resistance level important to you?Make sure the bike has enough resistance for how you want to ride, especially if you are a larger person. If resistance doesn’t go as high as you’d like, you won’t get as good a workout and will end up frustrated.   Higher end bikes tend to allow higher resistance. Some measure resistance as 1 – 100, others through different numbers. It doesn’t mean 100 is more resistance.  Even if two bikes rank in 1 – 100, it doesn’t mean the resistance is the same. Peloton uses 1 – 100 and you can find translations between their ranking and the more popular bikes online. You’ll want this if you take Peloton classes as call out what resistance setting to use during the class.1 – 1001 – 100  
Resistance typeMagnetic or friction?  Magnetic is less noisy and has less maintenance.  The pads used in friction will one day have to be replaced.  MagneticMagneticFrictionFriction (felt pad)
Is the bike the right size for you?Check out the max weight and height range supported, especially if you are on the smaller or larger side.297 lb 4’11” – 6’4″330 lb 4’6″ – 6’6″350 lb 4’11” – 6’8”275lb
How adjustable do you need the bike?Consider your size/shape here. Are handle bars and seat adjustable up and down as well as back and forth (4 way). Are there set adjustments or micro adjustments for more control?  Do you think you’ll need that?Seat: 4 way Handle bars: up and down only.Seat: 4 way Handlebars: 4 waySeat: 4 way Handlebars: 4 waySeat: 4 way Handlebars: up and down only
How do you like your handlebars?Do you like the shape, positions allowed, width and grip?  Do you like the tablet/phone holder if you need one? Mostly personal preference, but something to consider.    
Do you want an integrated screen?Benefit is usually integrated to the bike to watch classes and view statistics, so no need to connect apps or tablet. If ability to swivel the monitor is important to you, check that, as well.   Some are concerned that if integrated electronics are another thing that can break.21.5 in monitor (Bike + can swivel)   Can not be used to view other apps or the internet for Netflix/YouTube, etc. (officially, there are sites that will tell you how to jailbait the device, which is not approved by Peloton)Small LCD for stats. Can’t be used to watch classes.  You will need a table, phone or smart tv to watch classes or other.21.5 in monitor, can swivel   Can’t be used for other apps or internet.  Reviews say it’s not HD.No screen. Bike doesn’t have connection via Bluetooth.  
What ride statistics do you want to see?If you want to track how hard your working and be able to see if your working at the same level as an instructor tells you, you’ll want to see: Cadence (RPM), Resistance level, Time, Distance, Heart rate, Calories, Power (watts) Not all bikes display all of these statistics, so if particular ones matter to you make sure the bike you chose can display them.all via integrated screenall except power via LCD screen   Some stats can be displayed via other apps  Doesn’t display cadence, distance or powe. They seem to focus on heartrate, so assume that is displayed.  None.   You could buy a cadence monitor and attach to bike to synch with some apps. This is a good option if cost is concern.
Bike Price / Value $1895 – Bike $2495 – Bike +  $949 (currently $50 off). Schwinn is $899$1499$389 – Sunny site $329 Amazon
Other costsMonthly membership. Bikes with integrated screens tend to require you to use their app, which has a cost.  If your bike doesn’t come with a mat, you will want to to prevent floor damage and protect from sweat. You can buy one cheaply from sporting goods stores. I got mine at Dicks Sporting Goods.Peloton app: $39/mo with bike   $12.99/month with non-Peloton bike. (note: there is a 60 day free trial, but offer ends 1/31! I assume after that there will still be a trial, but for less time, but who knows)None required, but other apps may have cost.MYX app: $29/moNone, but other apps may have cost.
Do you want to use clip in shoes?If yes, make sure your bike has pedals that allow clip in.  SPD is the most common type of clips. You can buy the shoes at most sporting goods stores. I got mine at REI.  Also consider if others will use the bike who may not have clips. You may want hybrid pedals that can support both clips and regular shoes. Though you can most like change out the pedals that come on any bike to what you need later.only supports clips, and are Delta, not SPD.    hybridhybridClipless only
Do you want access to workout apps and/or ability to track your workouts?There are many workout apps. Determine what you like to do and find the app(s) that work best for you (types of classes offered, live vs on demand, amount of classes available, do you want a leaderboard/shout outs during the class to motivate you, etc.) Consider the cost of the app and if it’s limited to certain bikes, etc.   Other apps with biking/spin workouts: Zwift, Explore the World, Sufferfest, Rouvy, FulGaz and more.  Also consider if you want to synch to a tracking app like MyFitnessPal or Apple Health, also can you synch with an Apple Watch if you use one.   Whatever you want to track, make sure your bike can do it.Peloton: tons of classes, with more added every day. Leaderboard/shout outs available only if using Peloton bike. Not all stats displayed in app if using a non-Peloton bike. $39/mo with Peloton bike, $12.99 without  can synch with Zwift, Explore the World, Sufferfest, Rouvy, FulGaz, MyFitnessPal, Apple Health, and more.  MYX app – newer entrant, so have less classes than Peloton, but say they add more often.  Classes on their YouTube site. I didn’t research much about them.
Do you want to use and/or synch with workout apps? If yes, make sure your bike can connect to those apps. Many people want to use the Peloton app with a less expensive bike. If that is you, make sure it’s possible. Connection ability runs the gambit.Peloton app completely integrated into the bike screen. However, you can only use the Peloton app.  Requires wifi.  Can connect and synch with multiple apps via Bluetooth. MYX: App integrated into bike screen.Couldn’t find any info on ability to use or synch with outside of having MYX bike.No synch capability. Possibility of adding your own cadence monitor and connecting to an app.
Shipping timesMany bikes have shipping delays due to demand. If you want a bike sooner, this could be a factor in deciding. But if there is a bike you love, you may want to wait it out.8 – 10 weeks4 weeks2 – 5 weeks1 – 2 weeks Sunny site.   Less than a week – Amazon
Do you want other accessories?Some may want things like weights, kettlebells, mats…  do you need to buy that with a bike or buy elsewhere?multiple packages that add on weights, shoes, mat, water bottles, heart rate monitor, headphones for additional cost.  heart monitor, 3 lb weightsheart monitor, MYX + package includes weight, mat, etc.  Buy separately
Do you need financing?Some bike manufactures offer financing. Be sure to check out the terms and understand the impact on your credit rating. Payment plan length and rates may vary.0 % for 39 months0% if pay off within 18 months. 29% after that.0 % for 36 monthsCouldn’t find any info on
Do you care about appearance?Maybe this is silly, but if you’re going to look at it every day, you should like the way it looks. Complete personal preference. For me, I don’t like a lot of flashy colors. Black, slickMostly black, slickWhite or black.Grey
Do you need to move the bike in your house? Look out how much the bike weighs, if it has wheels and the quality of the wheels.Bike: 135 lbs Bike +: 140 lbs106 lbs150 lbs101 lb
WarrantyNot the sexy part, but you should be aware12 months parts and labor 5 year bike frame   Extended warranty available for additional cost3 years parts & electronics 10 year frame Labor 1 yr   Extended warranty available for additional cost  1 yr3 year structural frame 180 days other parts and components
Will the bike fit in your space?Check out the measurements as they do vary59″ L x 53″ H x 23″ W  Bike 48.7” L x 51.8” H x 21.2” W   Bike + 59″ L x 59″ H x 22″ W55” L x 47” H x 21” W49.5L  x 49H in x 20W

Summary:

If you are interested in one fully integrated experience and have the money, Peloton is the way to go. If you don’t want to be limited to one app, look for a bike that can connect via Bluetooth or other to apps, if price is your main criteria there are many less expensive bikes with less tracking features that will allow you to get a good workout. At the end of the day, being healthy and feeling good is the goal, right?  There is a lot of information out there to help you find the right bike for you. There are no wrong answers! 

Overall tips:

  • Buy what works for you. If you don’t need a feature or accessory, don’t spend the money. But do know what works for you, don’t blindly go into the purchase. Even if you buy a cheaper bike, you could end up with a brick if it doesn’t work for you.
  • People seem to LOVE the Peloton app. LOVE IT. When you research you will find many videos with titles like: Peloton: Is it worth it?  Over 90% of the time they will be wearing Peloton gear when you watch. I have not come across anywhere near this level of love for any other app. Multiple times I’ve heard the instructor Atunde (spelling?). I haven’t tried the app, yet, but it makes me want to.
  • Understand the total cost of what you’re buying.  Make sure it works for your finances.
    • Example:
      • Peloton bike:  $1895 plus $39/mo.  First year cost: $2363, Annual after: $468.   Plus any of the accessories you chose. Will be different if you finance, based on the terms you chose.
      • Bowflex:  $949 plus $12.99 for Peloton app. First year cost: $1105. Annual after: $156.  Also plus any accessories, including other apps as this one can synch with multiple apps.
    • Google Peloton alternative and you too can spend hours watching people who have set up something similar that works for them, but again, know what works for you.

What did I decide? 

Well, my needs were these:

  • Fit in my space and be movable
  • I currently use another workout app that I really like, so I wanted the ability to use different and possibly multiple apps. If I just want to sit on the bike and watch Netflix, I wanted that option as well. I didn’t want to be locked into one app system. 
  • Related to the above, I didn’t really want a bike with a screen because those tend to be locked into a particular app. I have an iPad which I can use, so I was all set there. I also worried that a screen would make the bike look even more clunky. I am putting this in my guest room which is also a library and now, my office while working from home. I was afraid the room would feel claustrophobic with so many things in it. For this reason I also wanted a bike with a small footprint.
  • Since I have taken spin before and have spin shoes with SPD clips and enjoy using them, I wanted a bike that could support those.
  • Also because I’ve done spin before I find it important to see cadence/RPM, distance, time statistics. I didn’t have access to heart rate at the gym, but I am interested to see it. I could see it being very valuable.  I am used to seeing power/watts and spin teachers tend to emphasize it as a metric, so that was interesting, but not a top priority for me. 
  • I wanted to spend much less than a Peloton cost. I had limited myself to the guestimate of my gym membership savings during the pandemic.
  • I do still have dreams of going back to the gym someday, so didn’t a large app cost in addition to a gym membership. This translates to a concern that a Peloton would just be a giant brick without the $39/month app, on top of already being more expensive for just the bike.
  • Looks. I know some may think I’m crazy, but I wanted something I wouldn’t mind looking at everyday and splashes of bright colors, especially red or yellow would annoy me. To me, the Peloton is the best looking bike, but others look nice, too.
  • I didn’t really care about other accessories. I have weights and others already.  I did separately purchase a mat to put under the bike. It was much cheaper than the bike I could buy from my bike manufacturer, which is (ta dah):
    • Bowflex C6
      • Again this is the same bike as the Schwinn IC4.
      •  I ordered it last Monday, 1/25. At that time it had a 1 week shipping time, while the Schwin was 4 weeks.  Later on same day I ordered it, the estimate changed to 4 weeks. My status continues to say it’s estimated to ship on Mon, 2/1. I really hope so.  I’m so excited to receive it and get going.  Yes, I’ve been refreshing my order status frequently to check.
      • I liked how the Bowflex looked better, mostly black with some pops of orange.
      • I did consider whether I really need the bike to synch with an app at all. I could buy a cheaper bike if I didn’t need that. But I knew I liked seeing the stats in spin class in the past. If I decided I wanted that later would involve buying a whole new bike, so it felt worth a few hundred now, especially if it’s motivating to me to track these stats.  I may be burned a bit because I sort of wish I had ordered this months ago when I ordered the cheaper elliptical. What I learned from that is you get what you pay for.
      • I liked that the warranty was better, but that was more a confirmation that I made the right decision than a deciding factor.
      • Though I have another workout app, I am signing up for the Peloton app with the 60 day trial (again, ends 1/31) even though my bike won’t be here, yet. I’ll try the other types of classes and check out the other features available without a Peloton bike (more to come!)

Below are some of the bazillion videos I watched. Beware, once you search all you ads wherever you go will be about bikes, which will cause you to go down even more rabbit holes. 

Here are some other ideas:

https://www.bestproducts.com/fitness/g35056250/best-peloton-alternatives/

Reviews

I like this site:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1WMf0n-hEyJpg7Gr35jcrA

Other – about using the bike

Enjoy!

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