Peloton bike alternatives were in the news recently. Here’s what happened.
Echelon, maker of a “smart” stationary bicycle that competes with Peloton, announced that it was working with Amazon to bring the “Prime Bike” to market. People were super excited that you would be able to get a Peloton alternative for under $500.
However, Amazon replied that, no, in fact, they had not partnered with Echelon and then promptly took the bikes down from the Amazon site. The next day Echelon fired back that yes, we had discussed at CES about doing a Prime bike. So much drama over a Peloton-like bike.
Best Peloton bike alternatives
Either way, you, the consumer, looking for a Peloton bike alternative, can benefit. For starters, Echelon sells a similar bike under a different name for sale, for the same price, on Walmart.com.
Next, Echelon is hardly the only smart bike that can connect with the Peloton app. So you can get the benefit of taking Peloton cycle classes without paying the Peloton bike price tag–if that’s not in your budget.
Finally, you don’t even need a smart bike to take spin classes on the Peloton app. Really, any bike–even an outdoor bike on a trainer–is compatible enough, if you will, to let you take cycling classes without ever owning the Peloton branded bike.
This blog post focuses on the best Peloton bike alternatives so you can get the Peloton cycling experience, even if you can’t afford the Peloton bike or bike plus price tag. The idea here is using the Peloton app without the Peloton bike. Think of it like a BYOB–bring your own bike, that is–to the Peloton experience.
Or a DIY Peloton experience. Or a Peloton bike hack. Either way, these tips will help you figure out your best option for a Peloton alternative.
Common questions about Peloton bike alternatives
In researching this blog post, I came across many common questions about how to use the Peloton app for cycling classes, even if you don’t have the Peloton bike. Some of these questions included the following:
- Can you join Peloton without the bike?
- Can you use the Peloton app with your own bike?
- What bikes are compatible with Peloton?
- How do you take Peloton cycling classes without the bike?
- What is the best spin bike to use with the Peloton app?
I’ll do my best to answer all of these questions and more. In addition to my research, I also interviewed real-life Peloton users who are working out without owning a Peloton bike. They have become devout at-home spinners using their own stationary bike plus the Peloton app to follow along in the classes.
Best spin bike to use with Peloton app
It’s important to understand that when it comes to Peloton cycling classes, you can really break them down into two categories. One kind is riding to the rhythm. The other kind is a training class where you’re looking at metrics.
Rhythm classes are just as they sound. They are classes where you are riding to the rhythm of the beat of the music. Like Peloton instructor Denis Morton says, “I ride to the rhythm. It’s in my DNA.” In these rhythm classes, you can expect some bike dancing out of the saddle, maybe tap backs–two forward, two back, yes I’m looking at you Cody Rigsby.
The training classes on Peloton usually fall under the heading of Power Zone. I’ve been doing Power Zone Training since early 2019. There, you’re looking at your output (the combination resistance and speed or cadence) as your training metric.
According to Bret Geishauser, whose company APEX, Academy Performance and Exercise, provides equipment to commercial gyms and fitness center, you should get a bike that allows you to do both kinds of classes. “Why lock yourself in to one type of class style?” he asks.
Bluetooth compatibility is a must for your Peloton alternative
To give you this kind of flexibility, he offers two must-haves when shopping for a stationary bike. One, it must have Bluetooth capability or compatibility. This allows you to connect your heart rate monitor to the bike.
Sidebar: I love my Scosche heart rate monitor. If you buy directly from the Scosche website and use my code SCOSCHE25 at checkout, you can save 25%.
You’ll also need Bluetooth to connect your device–iPad, Smartphone, whatever–to the bike.
Two, the bike must have the ability to hold your device. That is, the bike must have a shelf or a place where you can put an add-on shelf like you might find on Etsy. Or, the bike must be a smart connect bike with its own screen so you can log into the Peloton app for your workouts.
Interestingly, on the Bowflex bike website FAQ, there is a section about just this–how to connect to the Peloton app. Not only does this connection allow you to stream classes but also the bike will “tell” the app your cadence and resistance, to help with metrics.
Can you join Peloton without the bike
Of course you can. As I covered in my review of the Peloton digital app, there are plenty of non-cycling classes that you can take through the app. These include:
In other words, there are so many other Peloton classes that you can do without the bike.
For the purpose of this article, I’m focusing exclusively on Peloton bike alternatives and how to join Peloton with your own bike. Or, how you can get the Peloton cycle experience without the Peloton price tag. That is, the price tag of the Peloton bike.
You still have to pay for a subscription to the Peloton app. As of this writing, the price of a Peloton app subscription is just under $13 a month. However, you can start with a 30-day free Peloton app trial.
Cost of the Peloton bike
In case you’re not aware, Peloton is now selling two kinds of at-home “smart” connected stationary bikes. Firstly, there is the original Peloton bike, which we bought in 2016. Peloton recently lowered the price on that bike to $1,895.
Secondly, now there is the Peloton+ or Peloton Plus bike. It’s a higher-tech version of the original Peloton bike, in that it offers such “upgrades” as automatic resistance. In case you don’t know resistance is what makes a bike harder or easier to pedal. It’s like shifting gears on a regular bike.
The Peloton+ bike also has a swivel screen. This allows you to take bootcamp classes on and off the bike without straining your neck to see what the instructor is doing. Anyway, the cost of the newer Bike Plus is $2,495. If that price tag sounds familiar, it’s because that’s what the original Peloton bike used to cost.
Cost of Peloton bike alternatives
Interestingly, other home cycling bikes also cost in the four figures.
Tricia Glodowski of Perkasie, Pennsylvania, paid $1,200 for a Spirit brand spin bike. She bought it at a fitness factory outlet in 2016.
Speaking of fitness factory outlets, businesses like APEX mentioned above sell used fitness equipment to the public as well as “residential” versions of the professional equipment they sell to gyms and fitness centers.
Amy Gross of Houston, Texas, purchased her Real Ryder stationary bike more than a decade ago for about $2,000. She and her husband were training for a 150-mile fundraising ride from Houston to Austin and wanted something that could supplement their outdoor rides when the weather wasn’t cooperating.
FYI, Amy runs this really cool company called Wine4Me, which helps you find wines that fit your personality and palette.
I’ve found Peloton bike alternatives for every budget. I found a bike for under $400, one for under $500 and one for under $900. Under $900 may not seem cheap but it is a lot cheaper than a Peloton bike.
Why use the Peloton app with a “regular” spin bike
Back to Tricia. The reason she bought a spin bike to use at home was to help her stay fit and get exercise while she recovered from a tendon dislocation and calf injury. She needed this alternative.
A personal trainer by profession, “I was used to running, walking or doing the elliptical at least an hour every day,” she says, “but I couldn’t do any weight-bearing cardio because of my injury. One of my friends, who is also a personal trainer, told me about his Peloton bike and recommended that I try the app.” Tricia started her free trial in June 2017.
Amy was used to riding 45 minutes on her bike but had been growing weary of trying to come up with musical playlists. Plus, sticking to a routine outside of training for her 150-mile race each year was challenging.
She subscribed to the Peloton app in April 2020. Like anyone who wants to use the Peloton app, she started with a free trial. Soon, she was hooked. Amy says that since signing up with Peloton, she is riding consistently six days a week.
How to see your workouts when riding a Peloton alternative
Amy watches her Peloton classes on an iPad. Since her Real Ryder bike doesn’t have any place to put the device, she keeps it on a music stand in front of her while riding. Tricia also uses an iPad.
As I mentioned there are plenty of device trays and shelves. I’ve found them on Etsy. I’ve included a range here that hold everything from iPads and Kindles to baby monitors.
Note: I realize the ones shown here are actually on a Peloton bike. Trust me: their makers have other models on Etsy for other type of fitness equipment.
One more note: when searching on Etsy, use the phrase “tray” not “shelf.” Because when you search using “shelf,” you’ll get results for shelves that go on a wall, not for use on a spin bike.
They are designed to hold your phone or other device in place while you ride–on a Peloton bike alternative or a Peloton cycle itself.
Another option is to bring your class up on a tablet or computer and then “cast” it to a flatscreen TV in your workout room. This option works for people with regular Peloton bikes, too.
In fact, if you invest in a Roku TV, you can bring the Peloton app right up on it for any of your workouts. The Peloton app is one of your channel options on Roku TV.
Cues for cadence and resistance
One of the challenges of using a regular spin bike as a substitute for a Peloton comes when instructors call out cadence and resistance. You can get an external cadence meter for your bike, if it doesn’t already offer one.
And, if you’re riding a more traditional spin bike, like you might use at a gym, you will have a resistance knob. However, you may not know what number resistance you’ve turned your bike to.
This is where cues come in. In fact, if you’ve ever taken Power Zone classes, you know about estimating your zones. Each instructor gives you cues and clues about how you might be feeling in a certain zone.
These cues work when riding a Peloton bike alternative, too. In fact, perceived exertion, if you will, works for any kind of spin class you might be doing–Peloton or otherwise.
Both Tricia and Amy mentioned instructor Christine D’Ercole by name as being fantastic to ride with on their non-Peloton bikes. I agree with them on Christine being fantastic; she is one of my favorite instructors. Says Tricia, “I base all of my effort on Christine‘s cues and have had a very good experience doing it that way.”
A Peloton bike alternative when you travel
Finally, even though I’ve stayed in Peloton hotels, where I could get in my Peloton workout on a legit Peloton bike, I, too, have used the Peloton app with a non-Peloton bike.
Once I was at a blogging conference in Dallas and wanted to keep my workout streak going. So, even though the hotel gym only had upright stationary bikes–not even regular spin bikes–I was able to boot up the Peloton app and do my cycling classes.
Though the upright bike didn’t have a resistance knob like I was used to, I was able to make the class “harder” by pedaling faster. In the end I still got a good workout and, like I said, kept my streak alive.
Brands of Peloton alternative bikes
I’ve already mentioned a few brands of bikes that offer you a Peloton alternative. Tricia has the Spirit brand. Amy uses the Real Ryder bike, which “sways” to mimic the feel of a regular road bike. So does the new Bowflex VeloCore bike. FYI, that bike clocks in at just under $1,700 so comparable to the Peloton.
Bowflex also offers a more traditional spin bike called the C6. Other brands you might find along the way include Schwinn (which I’ve seen at Dick’s Sporting Goods), Sunny (which seems to sell well on Amazon) and, of course, Echelon. Even Nordic Track has a smart bike now.
Right now, the Bowflex C6 bike is on sale. Sale on the best selling Bowflex C6 Bike! Get $50 off + Free Shipping. Ends 10/14.
Below are some of the alternatives in addition to other bikes I found online.
Shopping for Peloton alternative bikes
I think it’s pretty clear that it is totally doable to join Peloton with your own bike and/or take Peloton cycling classes without the bike. But what if you don’t have any bike to start with? Here are some options on where to shop.
Use a bike trainer
Do you have an outdoor bike for road riding? You could always invest in a bike trainer–the kind that “holds” the back wheel of the bike–so you can ride indoors. Then, your only purchase would be the trainer since you already have the bike.
In fact, Peloton instructor Christine D’Ercole, who races on a velodrome track, uses a bike trainer. I’ve watched Instagram stories of her setting up and using her bike trainer in her Brooklyn apartment for getting in Peloton and other bike training workouts at home.
If you’re not already following her on Instagram, you should. She’s very entertaining. Her handle is her mantra–I am I can I will I do.
Shop at fitness equipment outlets
As I mentioned above, you can call or visit a local fitness equipment outlet to ask about spin bike options. Just keep in mind that even though these places are an outlet, they’re outlets for gyms.
So don’t expect dirt-cheap prices. Even the used equipment I’ve seen cost $500 and up. So used does not mean it is the cheapest.
Try a sporting goods store
As I mentioned above Dick’s Sporting Goods offers a number of Peloton bike alternatives. I’ve rounded up a few here.
Peloton bike alternatives on Amazon
You’ll find plenty of stationary bike options on Amazon. That’s not surprisingly. These days you can find pretty much anything on Amazon.
Make sure you read the reviews. Bret Thomas of APEX suggests that when buying a spin bike, you should invest in one with these three features:
- Forward facing flywheel
- Magnetic resistance
- Carbon fiber belt
Traditional bike have a metal chain; so do some spin bikes. Bret says that a carbon fiber belt will last longer and be much quieter. This is the kind of belt that the Peloton cycles have.
Accessories to use with your Peloton bike alternative
I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer you some suggestions to make it more enjoyable when using a non-Peloton spin bike. Firstly, invest in padded shorts.
If you end up doing Power Zone training like I do, you’re going to be spending 45 minutes, sometimes an hour, sometimes 90-minutes in the saddle. Your bum is going to be sore.
Important safety tip: do not wear underwear with padded shorts. They cause friction and saddle sores.
Leah is on the Baleaf blog
Hey, check me out. I’m a guest blogger over on the Baleaf website blog. There, I’m talking about why it’s important for Peloton users to invest in workout gear, like those aforementioned padded shorts.
Also, there’s a sick discount code mentioned at the top of the blog post. You don’t want to miss that.
Padded bike seat cover
Even with padded shorts, you may find you need even more protection from the spin bike seat. The Komfy gel seat has served us well. Use the code LEAH10 to save 10% on a Komfy gel bike seat cover.
If you don’t like the idea of padded shorts when doing Peloton or other biking, you can always use the Komfy seat cover by itself as your alternative.
More resources on indoor cycling
There are two other articles on this blog you may want to check out. First, there is my most popular post on the best, must-have Peloton accessories. Many of these apply to anyone doing spinning.
Second, I have a blog post on making the Peloton seat more comfortable. Even if you’re riding a Peloton alternative, you may find that spin bike seat to be uncomfortable, too. So, check out that piece for additional suggestions on making riding any bike easier on your behind.
From Peloton substitute to the Peloton bike
I asked both Amy and Tricia if they’d ever make the transition from a Peloton bike alternative to the “real” Peloton bike. Here’s what they said.