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Peloton Bike review: Big on the experience, bigger on the personalities

A man riding a Peloton bike.
Peloton Bike review: Big on the experience, bigger on the personalities
MSRP $1,495.00
“The Peloton Bike is just one part to the broader Peloton experience that'll help you stick to your goals.”
  • Energetic instructors
  • Multitude of classes to fit your needs
  • Awesome music selection
  • Solid piece of hardware
  • Can't do much without a subscription
  • Funky ergonomics

You’ve watched the commercials, seen a pop-up ad of some kind while surfing the web, or perhaps even noticed an actual physical store open up near you. Yes, the Peloton Bike is without a doubt the most popular piece of workout equipment around. Everywhere you look, it’s there in your face, with instructors shouting out fancy buzzwords and inspirational remarks to get you pumped. And you know what? There’s no escaping it.

Well, I finally gave in and dove into the world of Peloton to see what the hype is all about. Even though my peak fitness motivation is behind me, I still try to keep in shape as best I can — and that involves putting a serious investment into using the Peloton Bike for a period of three months. With so much time spent riding on the bike, I have plenty of thoughts on whether it’s really the must-own piece of workout equipment.

Serious cardio workout

The first area I’ll dive into with the Peloton Bike is whether or not it’ll get you into tip-top shape. Frankly, it all depends on your level of commitment because in the three months I’ve spent riding, I didn’t lose any weight. In fact, I gained a few pounds instead.

What’s obvious is that riding the bike will give you a cardio workout, especially if you choose to complete a high-intensity class that will have you peddling like mad for brief stints throughout the workout. Your quadriceps get the most attention riding the Peloton Bike, especially when you’re working with a high resistance and cadence rating. More importantly, I’ve finished classes completely drenched in sweat, including the 20-minute classes that I prefer the most. At the end of three months, I found that my stamina was much improved versus when I started.

I found that my stamina was much improved versus when I started.

For someone who has battled chronic foot problems in the past few years, biking has become my preferred activity for cardio workouts. Even when I’m forced to “get out of the saddle,” there wasn’t an instance where I thought it would be too strenuous for my foot. Although, I can’t say the same about my derriere.

Some odd ergonomics

Through the setup process, you’ll learn how to best adjust the Peloton Bike to make for a comfortable ride. Despite making all the adjustments, I found out over time that there are some quirks about the design that are tough to overlook. They’re not deal-breakers, but addressing them could make it a more ergonomic and comfortable bike.

First and foremost, let me talk about the narrow seat. It gets to be a (literal) pain when you’re biking in the saddle for longer than five minutes, which is why I like workouts that have you biking out of the saddle. It helps to prevent your butt from getting sore. However, these are some classes that have you seated throughout the entire class. Now, I’d really like to see a wider seat as an option, but it doesn’t look like one is available.

Peloton Bike against white background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Secondly, I wish that the 21.5-inch HD touchscreen were a bit closer — since I often found myself stretching out my arms as I tried to interact with it while biking. When you’re vigorously biking, it’s hard trying to press the icon to high-five someone back. If it were raised a little more and placed slightly closer to me, it would be much better, but the only articulation available is tilting it.

And lastly, there are the pedals, which allow me to have proper foot placement throughout the entire workout. Even though Peloton offers its own set of cycling shoes for $125 a pair, you can purchase some from another maker if the cost is too much. After the first week of biking, I found that maintaining cadence requires a combination of pushing and pulling with your legs. Once you master it, you’ll be better adept at handling some of the grueling classes.

However, dismounting from the Peloton Bike has always been finicky — I find that you need significant force to dislodge your feet from the pedals. Now, the tight grip is wonderful in keeping my feet on the pedals, but the process of twisting my foot to one side in order to break the connection can feel impossible to do at times. I would’ve preferred something simpler and easier.

Come on, you got this

The commercials don’t lie. What makes the Peloton ecosystem so gratifying are the enthusiastic instructors that lead the classes. Some of them, in fact, are so enthusiastic about the music they play that they stop pedaling to dance — all of which adds to the experience. You’ll quickly get a feel for the various personalities who lead the classes.

I really like how you can filter the classes Peloton offers, which gives users good variety based on musical preference, instructors, and time. The latter is especially notable because I didn’t expect to find so many 20-minute classes to choose from, but there are a bunch. There’s even a way to filter workouts by difficulty level, so you can pick whatever is comfortable for you to tackle.

Working out with the Peloton Bike.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The interface is pretty straightforward, with the majority of the display dominated by the instructor. On-screen details such as cadence, power output, and resistance are all visible throughout the workouts, as are music track details and a leaderboard with active participants. I love that there are few distractions, which allows me to focus on my cadence. However, I’ve had several instances when the stream would freeze and then needs to buffer to resume,

While I struggled to keep up the intensity during each workout, frequently finding myself just barely above the lowest difficulty level, I have to admit that I found it easier to complete the full length of each workout over time. The high-intensity riding classes surely helped to increase my stamina. And of course, I love hearing some of the stories the instructors tell during classes, which breaks up the monotony of just hearing routine instructions on proper form.

Can’t do much without a subscription

Well, it’s not just isolated to Peloton, but one major problem I have with today’s connected fitness equipment is that these devices become useless unless you keep up with the subscription. With the Peloton Bike, you really can’t go past the main login screen unless two requirements are met — you have an internet connection and an active subscription.

Touchcreen on the Peloton Bike.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You’re already spending a fortune on the hardware itself, but you still need to tack on the $39 membership fee to use the bike in a meaningful manner. Yes, there’s an option to just ride the back to track performance metrics and even stroll through some charming locations guided by Peloton instructors, but you still need to be connected and have an active membership. It’s a thorny issue for me because you really can’t do anything else without those two things.

The monthly cost is comparable to that of competitors, like the workouts and classes offered by Mirror and Tempo Studio. Beyond its usual bike workouts, you will also find classes for yoga, meditation, and boot camp. It’s an OK mixture of things, but it doesn’t quite have the same variety of classes that Mirror offers.

Our take

There’s nothing here that other bikes can’t do. You sit in it, pedal, and sweat your butt off as best you can. However, the biggest draw to the Peloton Bike is the Peloton experience, with its charismatic instructors, leadership boards, and music. Speaking of music, it features a broad range of genres.

If you like biking over running as your preferred cardio workout, the $1,495 Peloton Bike (originally $1,895) will hook you into the Peloton world while giving you exactly the workout you need. With so many customizations, classes, music, and instructors to choose from, you’ll find something just right to get you motivated to get back into the saddle.

Is there a better alternative?

That really depends on what kind of workouts you want to do at home. For those looking to get the most bang for the buck, Apple Fitness+ has a broad range of on-demand classes you can take at a fraction of the cost. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a techie piece of hardware for the home, the Mirror by Lululemon is a slick-looking connected fitness mirror that offers one of the most diverse sets of instructor-guided workouts for the home.

How long will it last?

The Peloton Bike looks and feels polished. From the sturdy metal frame to its sharp touchscreen display, it’s premium in every way possible. There’s a one-year limited warranty that covers the Peloton Bike from defects, and the frame is covered by a five-year warranty.

Should you buy it?

Absolutely. You’ll build up stamina over time just as long as you’re consistently working out, but you’ll never be bored by the classes and the energy put out by the instructors.

Editors' Recommendations

John Velasco
John is the Smart Home editor at Digital Trends covering all of the latest tech in this emerging market. From uncovering some…
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