Peloton Bike Review: A Bit Expensive, but Worthwhile
Every day, I put on my workout clothes, clip my shoes into the bike, power up the display, and cycle away to some upbeat music for at least half an hour. It's one of the only activities that makes me forget the world is basically on fire.
During this Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, a lot of America has become dependent on the Peloton, or other similar at-home workout programs, to stay in shape while gyms are closed. As you may have heard that President Joe Biden packs up and prepares to start his new life and begin healing our country, there is one (less serious) thing that may have to be scratched off the avid biker's packing list: his Peloton. The 46th president is reportedly a fan of starting his day with a ride on the 2,000-dollar stationary bike, saying on his podcast how riding helped him through COVID-19 social distancing.
The workouts are tough, but the captivating experience and (practically) never ending list of exercise classes are enough to make me want to glue myself to the seat and stay in the magical Peloton universe forever.
Or, at least until COVID-19 is a just a distant memory.
That price, though
Before we dive into the bike, let's examine how much it costs. Because it's not cheap.
Regardless of which package you choose, each comes with a one-year warranty, home delivery, and financing for up to 39 months.
Starting at $1,895 the Basics Package includes only the Peloton Bike. The Essentials Package costs $2,045 and comes with the bike, a pair of shoes, and a pair of headphones, made by Urbanears, though you can pair with your own via Bluetooth. For $2,145, you'll get all the aforementioned goodies with the addition of a heart rate monitor and a bike mat.
The most expensive option is the Family Package. For $2,345, you get the bike, a set of weights, two pairs of shoes, two pairs of headphones, a bike mat, and two water bottles. It's a good option if you're going to be sharing the bike but don't want to share the accessories.
Ordering a Peloton during this pandemic comes with a few caveats. Deliveries, which normally take up to two to three weeks, might take up to four weeks now, depending on where you live.
To keep from spreading germs, the bike will be left in front of your door fully assembled. During the typical delivery process, team members usually come in and set up the bike where you want it. So keep in mind that you'll have to move this thing in yourself.
From there, all you have to do is plug it in and follow the steps on the display, such as filling out your profile information and settings.
As compact as it'll get
The bike's overall footprint measures 4 feet by 2 feet (HW). that is compact enough that you could squeeze it in your living room or maybe even your bedroom.
In terms of design, the bike is made out of carbon steel but features Peloton's signature red touches on both the resistance knob and the belt drive. The height of the handlebars, seat, and display are all easily adjustable too. For someone with short arms and legs like me, it took a while to find a comfortable sweet spot, but it just required a little patience. The 21.5-inch touchscreen display with 1080p resolution feels responsive and looks really crisp.
Using Bluetooth, you can pair a heart rate monitor to the Bike. In addition to the Peloton-branded monitor, it's also compatible with Strava, Fitbit, Apple's Health app, and the Apple Watch, so you can sync your metrics.
I highly recommend making sure that wherever you place the bike, it's as close to the Wi-Fi router as possible. I kept my bike in the garage, which is rather far from our router. There were times when the video would stop to buffer mid-class, which was super annoying after a while. Especially when you're getting intensely into your workout.
The display also comes equipped with two 10-watt speakers that get very, very loud. Especially if you're in an empty room. Since the bike itself is quiet, however, you don't really need to turn the volume up that much. If you do want to drown out any outside noise or keep from disturbing your housemates, the display does come with a 3.5mm headphone jack. Underneath the display are two cup holders, one of which I use for my water bottle and the other for my phone. There are also two racks for your hand weights behind the seat.
It's a nice-looking piece of machinery, so those of you who obsess over interior design won't feel like it's a complete eye sore that you need to hide. Also, you deserve to show it off and maybe even brag a little. Once we're all allowed to have people over again, of course.
This experience is built for your best effort.
Once you're clipped in and seated comfortably, you can choose your workout on the display. On the Home Screen is the Featured Tab, where you can search through popular classes and Peloton's own picks. Next to it is the Challenges tab, which includes a variety of different monthly challenges (like running or yoga) you can commit to. There's also your profile, where you can see your total workouts, monthly activity, and any badges that you earned.
The Classes tab is where you'll likely spend most of your time. Once you tap on Cycling, you can filter exactly what you're looking for by length, class type, instructor, music genre, and sort (like new, trending, top rated, easiest, and hardest).
When you start a class, you'll see a ton of different information on the display like milage, duration, and leaderboard (where you can see how you rank against others taking the class).
But your most important metrics are your cadence (the rate at which you're pedaling), resistance, and output (which is basically how hard you're working). Throughout the class, the instructor gives you a range of numbers by which you can increase or decrease both your resistance and cadence. They also use music to help you keep up with the pace.
During a class you might be asked to keep your resistance anywhere between 25 to 30 while pedaling at a cadence of about 60 to 70 rpm to mimic the feeling of riding on flat, even pavement while the beat of the music is nice and slow.
Then, when the speed of the music gets faster or more intense, you'll be asked to increase the resistance to about 40 to 50 while pedaling at a cadence of 80 to 90 rpm. This basically feels similar to the feeling of riding uphill.
Depending on the class, you'll likely alternate back and forth between these settings for about 30 seconds to a minute each. Some of the instructors set wide ranges of cadence and resistance, so there's enough room to modify depending on your level of comfort.
If you're not in the mood for a hyped-up class, you can also opt for a standard ride where you just ride at your own pace. Or you can choose to do a Scenic ride where the display places you virtually on trails and roads across the country and the world.
You know, basically everywhere you can't go right now.
It's worth every penny
I know the Peloton Bike has been around for a while. But if there were ever a time to invest in the machine, and you're privileged enough that money's no object, now might just be one of them.
While a starting price of $1,895 is very steep, and you still need to subscribe to the classes on top of that, you're getting a lot for the money. In addition to thousands of cycling classes (that are both fun and effective), there are tons of floor workouts to choose from that can also incorporate weights.
All of this content is also packed into a sleek, comfortable form factor that looks and feels just as expensive as it is.
Even when we're all allowed back out into the world, the Bike will still be just as useful. It offers just as effective a workout as you'd get at a gym or any other fitness class and new classes are added on a daily basis.