The holidays are right around the corner you might be considering a Peloton for Christmas. I would have predicted that the Peloton spin bike would be this year’s No. 1 gift for home exercise enthusiasts; however, with reported shipping delays of up to 4 months, it may be time to find another (and possibly more affordable) spin bike.
Peloton is undoubtedly the leader in the spin-at-home movement and they only grew in popularity during the pandemic. But as we know, not everyone can afford to buy a Peloton bike and then pay its $39 monthly fee. (I can’t, that is for sure – its just not in the budget.) As I’ve explained over the past couple of years, that is where the genius of their Peloton App comes into play. For only $12.99 per month, you can access all of the same live and on-demand classes on their own less expensive bike. If you follow my blog posts, I’ve been preaching about how great the Peloton App is for a while now. It’s truly wonderful.
If you are thinking of giving someone an exercise bike this Christmas but can’t go all in with the Peloton or don’t want to deal with shipping delays, there are many other types of bikes out there at various price points that can be paired with the Peloton App. I tried a bunch before I bought my Sunny and here is what I found.
Best at Home Exercise Bike Alternatives
Before you read on, please know that nothing beats actually testing the bike before buying. If possible during these crazy times, I suggest going to your local sporting goods store, a spin studio or your local gym and giving them a spin (pun intended). Try them all and see what is best for you. Everyone has different tastes. Some feel better for different shapes and sizes. And who knows, maybe you can score a sweet Black Friday deal!
Sunny Bike B1509: There are many models of Sunny bikes out there but this one is my baby. I used it for about three years and recently logged my 525th ride. It is a very sturdy exercise bike, versatile for both my husband and me, and has held up very well. It also “dual access” pedals meaning that you do not need to buy special clip on shoes. You can use your regular sneakers and slip them into the cages on the pedal as you would at the gym. But if you want to use clip-in-shoes, you can just use the other side of the pedal. For the budget-conscious (like me), this one had everything I required and I haven’t been disappointed. I just wanted to work out hard without spending a fortune. If I had to do it all over again I probably would have purchased the Sunny 1805 with built in tablet holder.
Here is the Sunny 1805
I’ve had my eye on this bike for a while and after my 525th ride on my Sunny, I pulled the trigger and purchased the Keiser. It’s a higher-end bike – the type of bike you can find at many local gyms. It has a very small footprint (which means it doesn’t take up much room) and unlike the Peloton, you do not need to plug it in and have wires running all over the place. While much more expensive than the Sunny, you are paying for a super quality bike and not for all the gadgetry that comes with a Peloton bike (like the built-in monitor). Unlike many bikes, the handlebars adjust not only up and down but also forward and back. Also, for those following resistance cues yelled out by Peloton instructors, it has a lever for adjusting magnetic resistance from 1-24 and onboard display to show you cadence, watts, resistance, HR, etc. I find the 1-24 slightly frustrating as it is not 100% compatible with the 1-100 of the Peloton, although a reference chart is available. You get used to it after a while and do not need to look at the chart.
You can also connect to the Keiser companion app to keep track of Watts, Cadence, Resistance, HR and Distance.
This is also an impressive bike that I think is the closest to the Keiser M3i experience but a slightly higher price point. The only differences that I could find when comparing to the Keiser was that:
- You need to buy the on-board computer separately;
- It is a bit louder; and
- At 106 pounds, it is much heavier.
Also, when I tried at the store it felt a little awkward to transition from sitting to standing and standing to sitting. I am not sure why – maybe it’s just me.
The LifeCycle IC7 is a beauty. I found it very similar to both the Keiser and the Schwinn – meaning, it is solid, has adjustable handlebars, a resistance knob with on-board computer, and overall a smooth ride. Like the Keiser, the flywheel is also placed in the back. Unlike the Keiser and much more like the Peloton, resistance is managed by a knob and the on-board computer displays a resistance range from 1-100. If I had to do it all over again, I may have saved up another few months and bought the IC7 instead of the Keiser M3i.
Ultimate Spin Bike Comparison
What I listed above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to types of at home bikes. I’ve included an even more comprehensive list with comparisons here (Its in Excel and I couldn’t paste; you need to click):
As I explained in my earlier Peloton Alternative post, if you have a bike like mine that doesn’t have an on-board computer (most inexpensive models don’t) and you want to see your cadence, heart rate, speed, calories, miles, etc., its super easy to accomplish by adding a few simple add-ons. I’ve more or less restated the information below so you do not need to toggle back and forth between posts (although I did update to gloat about my disco ball!!!).
Step-by-step guide for getting the Peloton experience with your own spin bike
Step 1. The Peloton App
You can’t really put an app under the Christmas tree but the first step is to download the Peloton App for $12.99/mo. It is wonderful and there are over 10,000 on-demand Peloton classes to choose from. Spin classes can be selected by:
- Music genre (e.g., Pop, Country, Live DJ),
- Type (Beginner, Theme, Low Impact, Heart Rate Zone, Arms, etc.)
- Length (15, 20, 30, 45 and 60 minutes), and
- Instructor (so many to choose from).
I used to stream the classes from my iPad via Apple TV to my 65” flat screen TV on the wall. Now I watch the classes from their new Peloton App on the TV (like Netflix). Alternatively, you can buy yourself a tablet holder and attach your iPad to your handlebars or simply purchase a bike that already has a built in tablet holder like this Sunny 1805.
The app also lets you access classes like strength training, yoga, HiiT and classes for the Peloton treadmill like bootcamp classes (you are both on and off the treadmill during those classes), running and walking. I enjoy abs classes (10 minutes or so) after a bike ride.
Here is what the Peloton App menus looks like
Step 2. Wahoo Cadence and Speed Sensors
To display cadence and speed, I attached both the Wahoo cadence and speed sensors to my Sunny bike. See my full post for photos. The cadence sensor is a must while the speed sensor falls into the” nice to have” category.
Step 3. Wahoo Heart Rate Monitor
I use the Wahoo Heart Rate Monitor to track calories burned during a workout. And heart rate, if course
Step 4. Wahoo Fitness App
I use the free Wahoo Fitness App to display my cadence, speed, calories, distance and HR. It wirelessly connects to, and displays, my cadence, speed, heart rate, calories burned, workout distance and workout time.
Now, if you are using just a tablet to view the classes without streaming to a TV, you can display your cadence and heart rate directly on the tablet instead of the Wahoo App. However, if you are streaming from the tablet to a TV like me the cadence and heart rate do not display on the TV.
Step 5. Max Miles Phone Holder
I use this Max Miles Phone Holder so that I can see my Wahoo app and my cadence, speed, etc. I connect it to the handlebars but as I mentioned at Step 4, you no longer need this if you view the classes on your tablet because the Wahoo cadence and heart rate numbers can now be displayed directly on the app. If you stream via AppleTV like me, you still need the phone holder.
Step 6. Dumbbells.
I recommend buying some inexpensive weights for the arm routines during the spin classes and the other Peloton exercise classes.
Step 7. Extras
I also recommend some additional items, although they are not absolutely required for you to enjoy the Peloton App on your own bike.
I didn’t find the Sunny seat too kind to my rear-end so I bought this seat cushion.
These are great if you cannot turn up your TV or iPad too loud.
Disco Ball. Trust me and get the disco ball!
If following instructions while lugging around 100 pound fly wheels is not your strong suit, consider Amazon Home Assembly.
Tip: If you are on the fence about buying a spin bike and all the accessories or want to wait until Black Friday, I suggest adding items to your cart and wait – sometimes Amazon has flash sales and price drops that you can take advantage of (but make sure your account is set to send you alerts).
If you can’t afford a DIY Peloton (and you are actually still reading this far), get them a Kindle subscription instead…
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