Peloton vs. Regular Spin Bikes – 5 Differences + Pros and Cons


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What’s the difference between Peloton and regular spin bikes? Here’s the quick answer:

Peloton bikes are ideal for people looking for intense exercise and with a bit of a budget. On the other hand, if you are someone who wants just to build stamina and maintain overall health, regular spin bikes may be a better option for you.

Peloton spinning bikes have a lot of technology embedded into them to make your workout more intense with increased productivity.

Not only are Peloton bikes the industry-leading innovation, but they have also formed a community that is no less than a fitness cult. Several features like live classes, better-built quality and design, flexibility, and ability to track your fitness data are of the many reasons people prefer these over regular spin bikes.

I know loads of people that use Peloton, and I contacted them to get fully to grips with their opinions when writing this article. The following article provides everything you need to know about Peloton spin bikes, how they are different from traditional ones, the bright side of owning one, and finally, potential deal breakers you must know of.

Peloton versus regular spin bikes

What is a Peloton Spin Bike?

Peloton bikes are high-tech indoor spin bikes that are focused on bringing the productivity and engagement of a professional cycling/spinning class to your home.

Users have to buy a subscription along with the spin bikes that unlocks a number of different features.

The bikes are equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a touchscreen tablet that streams live classes and lets you connect to thousands of other users to compete with them.

Live classes and the integrated competitive model are the main selling points of this product.

The idea was first presented in 2012, but the product itself was released in 2014. Since then, we have had some upgrades and two versions of the bikes. Though the idea has been a success since the start, the trend picked up during the recent pandemic.

People trying to stay fit during these times led to a massive 172% increase in Peloton bikes sales. (Source)

So far, the company has managed to gather over 5.9 million members on the platform, but this number seems to be ever-growing.

5 Differences between Peloton & Regular Spin Bikes

For anyone thinking of investing in a Peloton bike, it is important to understand how they are different from traditional exercise bikes. These bikes don’t come cheap, so you need to weigh every aspect before deciding.

1. User Experience

Many people who do not know much about spinning bikes believe in the misconception that Peloton bikes are just some savvier or a bit improved version of the traditional spinning bikes and function more or less the same way.

But in reality, both are pretty different.

Peloton spinning bikes have a great deal of mechanization that makes your workout more intense. Distinct facets, like special Peloton shoes that are not present in any of the traditional bikes, make this experience more effective.

Similarly, the huge screen on the front makes the entire process more interactive and engaging.

Considering these factors, we can comfortably say that Peloton bikes offer a much more compact experience involving multiple features.

2. Function

You should opt for regular spin bikes if you are looking to build stamina and maintain overall health. These bikes are made for standard and less intense exercises, as they are targeted towards a wider and more general public.

On the other hand, Peloton bikes are for more serious users.

Though these bikes look just like any regular spin bike, they are specifically designed to give users a lot of customization and adjustability. You can easily adjust the bike settings according to the nature of your workout or the desired comfort. This is the reason that athletes and professionals generally prefer these products.

Moreover, the live class feature, where you can interact with professional trainers and compete with other riders, clearly shows that Peloton bikes are for a focused and intense workout session.

3. Resistance Levels

The resistance level in a spin bike is the amount of energy you will have to exert in order to move the pedal. When a more elevated resistance level is applied, your body burns more energy, and the amount of oxygen your lungs inhale increases.

Resistance is adjustable both in Peloton and regular spin bikes. You can adjust it using a lever or a knob usually placed somewhere accessible on the frame.

However, the variations in resistance levels are not the same in both bikes. A regular spin bike normally has a resistance level 1-20, while Peloton bikes range all the way from 0 to 100.

Those concerned about losing stubborn fats like those in the stomach, arms, or back cannot progress much with normal spin bikes.

Peloton bikes not only give more options in resistance, but the nature of the workout and required posture also varies with each level. This gives users the freedom to exercise according to their desire and comfort.

Man setting the resistance on a spin bike
A regular spin bike has a resistance from 1 to 20, whereas a Peloton goes from 1 to 100

4. Risk Level

A certain amount of risk is involved in all sorts of exercises. It is the risk of damaging or injuring your tendons or other tissues. Similarly, each piece of equipment you buy for a home gym comes with some risk potential.

The type of flywheel used in both varieties of spin bikes is different.

The flywheel stops as soon as you stop pedaling on a regular bike. It is ideal in case you injure or hurt your knees or some tissue.

In the case of Peloton bikes, flywheels are much heavier and involve a higher risk factor.

The flywheel doesn’t settle into a static position right after you stop pedaling but keeps spinning for a while as it slows down. This can further damage your already hurting tissue.

5. Muscle Involvement

No matter which bike you are riding, your lower body is always involved in the workout. Glutes, hamstrings, calves, quads, etc., all are stretched, whether you cycle seated or in a standing position.

While regular spin bikes only target the regions mentioned above of your body, Peloton bikes are more suitable for those who want to engage the rest of the joints and muscles in their body, as well.

You can bend over to the handlebar and get into a crunched posture while cycling, which will increase the number of joints and tissues involved in the exercise.

Moreover, there is a list of exercises in the Peloton library that involve dumbbells to work the upper body out.

Man training on  a spin bike
Regular spin bikes target legs and glutes, whereas Peloton can target other muscle groups also

Things I Like About Peloton Bikes

There are several reasons to prefer Peloton products while investing in a spin bike for your home gym. Let’s go through these.

Live Classes

Live classes with professional trainers are the biggest selling point for Peloton bikes. This feature sets Peloton apart from the entire industry, as they are the only company offering something like this. Even the closest competitor, MYXfitness, features pre-recorded classes only.

All the live classes are broadcasted from Peloton studios in New York City and London.

Every instructor is a highly-rated fitness trainer, and many of them are famous on their own with a huge fan following.

For example, Robin Arzon, who hosted a live class with record-breaking 23,000 live riders, has more than 950k Instagram followers. (Source)

When joining a live session, you can see the number of riders tuned into that class.

As soon as a session starts, you see the leaderboard with a list of all riders counted in. The list shows their nicknames, age, gender, and location. You can easily interact with the instructor during the class and ask anything you want to. 

Built Design and Quality

These bikes are extremely well made with a sleek design and a great built quality. It takes about 4 by 2 feet of space on the floor and has to be plugged into a power source.

The bike can easily accommodate riders of almost every size. It is ideally made for riders that are 4’11” to 6’4” and weigh up to 300 pounds.

The size can be easily adjusted according to riders’ size using knobs or tightening handles.

As far as the grip and stability go, the handlebars are perfectly grippy even when it’s wet with sweat. The pedal clips firmly hold special Peloton pedal shoes, contributing to the rich and unique cycling experience.

The flywheel and pedals move very smoothly and make almost zero sound. The bike uses electromagnetic resistance, which is so sensitive that you can change it by one percent at a time.

Wide Screen

The 23.8 inches tablet touch-operative screen (21.5 inches in the original Peloton bike), where you watch the live classes stream, is quick and responsive.

The screen is sweatproof, so you can use it carefree anytime during the workout. You have options to listen through built-in speakers, wired headphones, or wireless headphones.

However, wireless options are recommended as the audio cable can get tangled and break.

You can see all sorts of stats on the screen including current speed, distance covered, distance remaining, cadence (pedal revolutions per minute), ride time, resistance level, and calories burned.

The screen in the Peloton spin bike can be rotated 360 degrees. This feature comes in handy during off-bike workouts, which is a part of the Peloton subscription library.

Community

Peloton has over 2.33 million people subscribed to their fitness membership program. Most of this massive community is dedicated to the brand and a huge factor in their success.

Peloton’s global and highly interactive community can be the reason for your motivation and inspiration.

Things like getting high-fives when you reach a new improvement level boost your motivation and enthusiasm. Moreover, you can share your achievements on Peloton social media platforms, and the entire community supports you.

Similarly, if you face any problem or difficulty, you can get help from the same people.

What I Don’t Like About Peloton Bikes

Having gone through all the major pros of Peloton bikes, now it is time to dig into some cons and potential deal-breakers to help make an informed decision.

Expensive

Despite all the benefits and unique features, one must accept that Peloton bikes don’t come cheap.

When you sum up all the little things and expenses, the whole deal costs more than most regular spin bikes in the market. So, make sure you really do need a Peloton bike before buying one.

  • The bike itself costs about $1,450, not including sales tax
  • Peloton recently started charging $250 for the delivery and set up of the bike
  • You have to buy $125 special Peloton bike shoes which are compatible with the pedals
  • A yearly $468 payment for the Peloton membership program (or $39 monthly). You get one month free if you pay the subscription yearly and two months if you pay upfront for two years
  • Finally, $75 for the bike mat is a must-buy if you have wooden floors and $25 for a pair of dumbbells for upper body workouts.

Here’s a handy table of the overall price of Peloton:

FeaturePriceWhen Paid
Bike$1450On purchase
Delivery$250On purchase
Shoes$125On purchase
Yearly Membership$468Yearly
Bike Mat$75On purchase
Dumbbells$25On purchase

Limited without Membership Program

The next big flaw is how limited Peloton bikes are if you are not subscribed to the membership program.

You cannot attend any live training sessions, and the massive library with thousands of classes is reduced to just three 45-minute classes.

Moreover, you cannot access the leaderboard or keep track of your progress and achievements.

Privacy

You probably heard about President Joe Biden owning a Peloton bike and the concerns raised regarding privacy. (Source)

Peloton doesn’t let you set your account in a completely private setting. Although you can hide your profile from other members, the company can still collect all your data and personal information.

Tablets Can Get Outdated

Though the bike itself doesn’t need any upgrades and can function perfectly for years, there is no guarantee that the technology used in the tablets will keep up with all the software updates over time.

Much of the bike’s ecosystem is dependent on the tablet, so this problem may lead you to swap it with a newer version in the future.

The Bottom Line

Peloton bikes are ideally made for severe and dedicated trainers. With several benefits and different training modes, these bikes provide flexibility and variety, which is lacking in regular spin bikes.

However, don’t forget to weigh all the pros and cons before investing in one. 

Martin Williams

Martin has been tearing up all sorts of trails on a range of bikes ever since he was young. He once cycled across France, and once fell into a canal on a hybrid. He writes about everything to do with cycling on our site. You can find out more about him at bicycle2work.com/about-martin-williams/

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