Christmas is right around the corner and I predict that the Peloton bike to be this year’s No. 1 gift for at home exercise enthusiasts. Although, I don’t know how they will sneak it under the tree – it’s like those Lexus commercials with the car in the driveway with the big red bow…
Peloton is undoubtedly the leader in the spin-at-home movement 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 but it would be the best Christmas gift to ever receive…as long at they also pay the monthly fee.) That is where the genius of their Peloton App comes into play. For only $19.50 per month, I can access all of the same live and on-demand classes on my own less expensive bike. If you follow my blog, I’ve been preaching about how great the Peloton App is for a while now. It’s great.
If you are thinking of giving someone an exercise bike this Christmas but can’t go all in with the Peloton, there are many other types of bikes out there 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. 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’ve used it for over two years now and just logged my 400th 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, this one had everything I required and I haven’t been disappointed. If I had to do it all over again I may 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. It’s a higher-end bike – the type of bike you can find at many local gyms. With only an 8-pound flywheel, it’s one of the lighter exercise bikes on the market. 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). It rides like a dream, has a small footprint in your house, it is quiet as a mouse and comes with an excellent warranty. 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 compatible with the 1-100 of the Peloton, although a reference chart is available.
Like the Sunny, you do not need to plug it in and there are no built-in screens to break or upgrade in the future. You can also connect to the Keiser companion app to keep track of Watts, Cadence, Resistance, HR and Distance. Supposedly the bike never needs maintenance because its flywheel is in the back preventing sweat from dripping on it and because the parts never touch each other.
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 feels more like a “real bike” and is a bit louder; and
- At 106 pounds, it is much heavier.
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.
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 here so you do not need to toggle back and forth.
Here is my step-by-step guide for getting the Peloton experience with your own exercise 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 $19.49/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),
- Length (15, 20, 30, 45 and 60 minutes),
- Type (Beginner, Theme, Low Impact, Heart Rate Zone, Arms, etc.) and
- Instructor (so many to choose from).
I stream the classes from my iPad via Apple TV to my 65” flat screen TV on the wall. 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 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.
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).
Will Peloton be this year’s No. 1 Christmas gift? Only time will tell!
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