Peloton Review: The Good, The Bad, and The Mistakes of the Peloton Product Team

Peloton phone holder

In April of 2020, I purchased a Peloton exercise bike in the hopes of improving my health and endurance. For those not familiar with the Peloton, it’s a connected, immersive stationary bike. Peloton and Echelon are currently the top brands making this new class exercise machines which are all the rage right now. The immersive experience transports you to a live spinning classes with inspiring instructors. Plus, you get to see your standing/rank on your screen vs others in the class—a little inspiration to push yourself harder.

After 6 months of owning my Peloton, I’ve can say the classes are high-quality, the instructors are likable, and the music they play is often tolerable (unlike my local gym which plays top-40 on rotation). But, for all of Peloton’s wow-factor, it’s too expense compared to the Echelon and there are a number of shortcomings with the product. To anyone thinking about buying one, here’s my honest review of the Peloton bike.

The Good

  • Highly engaging classes: You can choose between live and on-demand classes, both of which have excellent production value and amazing instrutors. In addition, Peloton’s training sessions include exercises both on and off the bike, such as yoga classes and strength training courses.
  • Leaderboard: I love this feature. It shows how you are performing against others who are taking (or have taken the class) as well as how you’ve performed in the past on similar classes. The leaderboard effectively ranks your performance vs everyone else and all you need to do is pedal harder to up your ranking.
  • Likeable instructors. All of the instructors I’ve encountered are great teachers who are likable, motivating, and good at what they do. You can even find instructors who play the kind of music you like during your workouts.
  • Scenic rides: Scenic rides are immersive videos that play on the screen as you pedal along trails, through country sides, and on city streets all over the world and at your own pace.
  • Quality build. The bike itself is sturdy and quiet when you ride it. Aesthetically, the metal itself is pretty and has a nice finish and feel/
  • Unbeatable convenience. Having a quality machine in your own home means that you can work out whenever you’d like. No more trekking to the gym in your mask and hoping it’s not too crowded.

The Bad

    • Quite expensive: The Peloton Bike Essentials package includes the machine, shoes, weights, and a pair of headphones, and it costs $2,045. The Peloton app (i.e. access to classes) is an additional $39 per month if you want unlimited access.
      If you want to comparison shop look at these very similar immersive execise bikes:
      MYX interactive fitness bike, priced at $1,299 for the bike, $29 per month for all access pass to classes. This is the best priced bike in the immersive class.
      Echelon Connect Bikes, priced at $1,639 for the Connect Bike EX-5S.
      Bowflex Velocore, which has a leaning mode to simulate turning and starts at $1,699.
      NordicTrack Interactive Commercial Studio bikes , which start at $1,699.

      • Required equipment: Along with the costs of the bike and Peloton app, you need special clip-in shoes to avoid possible injury if your foot slips off the pedal. A pair of shoes alone will cost you $125 or you can get them included in the Essentials package.

        Peloton Delta Clip Pedals
        Pelonton Pedals require Delta Clip shoes. Sounds strange to clip into a stationary bike, but it’s a safey thing. If you feet slip off the pedals you can get a wicked shin or calf injury.
      • Lack of innovation. Peloton’s entire ad campaign is based around it being a sleek, modern exercise machine, but it’s only modern feature is that it has a connected screen attached to it. It lacks two key pieces of innovation that I hoped it would have:
        – No leaning or turning simulation. Imagine is you could lean slightly from side to side as you “turn” the bike during rides. You’d get deeper core workout and have more fun on the simulated rides.
        – No energy production. This bike could easily be used for energy production; a single 30-minute ride could produce enough power to charge your phone! However, Peloton doesn’t provide a way to harness the energy you generate.

      Mistakes of Made by Peloton’s Product and Design Teams

      • No built-in fan: Most treadmills and bikes today have sleek fans built in, but Peloton forces users to either get out their own fan, open a window, or just sweat like crazy throughout their workout.
      • Screen glare: The screen causes significant glare, making it difficult to see at times. You can tilt the screen with a hard to reach knob behind the screen, but this often won’t reduce the glare. The screen is just too reflective.
      Peloton Screen Glare
      Peloton screen: Glare, glare, glare all day!
      • Single purpose screen: The screen (which is effectively a tablet) is non-removable, meaning that you can’t simply pop-off the tablet and take it into another room to do non-bike workouts.
      • No ports: The tablet doesn’t offer an HDMI or USB port, so you can’t watch sports or your favorite shows or movies while you work out. This would have been such an easy fix, and I’m surprised the design team hasn’t addressed this yet.
      • No phone or laptop holders. A simple ledge to hold your phone or laptop as you ride would mean that you can easily stay on top of any messages, calls, or dial into those work meetings where you are just a listener. The fact that Peloton doesn’t have a little shelf or bracket or anything to fill this need is a total fail.
      Peloton phone holder
      There’s nowhere to rest or hold a phone on your Peloton. Hello, Peloton, life, work, and kids don’t magically pause when I get on your bike. You need to add a phone holder.
      • Uncomfortable seat. This may be a matter of personal preference, but this bike starts to hurt my butt just 5 minutes into the ride. Surely the design team could have made a more ergonomic seat suitable for all users! Solution: spend another $70 on padded riding pants. Ouch.
      • Manual resistance: It’s always nice to have the option of a manual resistance adjustment knob, but wouldn’t it be nice if your resistance changed automatically while in a class? Given that this bike is “connected,” I’m not sure why Peloton left out this feature.
      Peloton resistance knob
      The risistance knob on the Peloton is manual-only
      • Scenic Rides: The scenic rides have mediocre video quality, not full HD as you might expect. Additionally, speeding up and slowing down your pedaling does not speed up or slow down your onscreen pace. This can produce a feeling of motion sickness in some people. Plus hills on the ride don’t automatically increase/decrease your bike’s pedal resistance.

      In my opinion, the Peloton is certainly engaging, and I’ve enjoyed the classes, but the cost is too expensive for a machine that doesn’t offer the same capabilities as other exercise bikes on the market. If you think you will be happy with a bike that only lets you do classes and scenic rides then the Peloton might be the right choice for you, but if you want a less expensive bike with more options like a built in fan and the choice to watch TV or sports while you ride, then you may want to look elsewhere.

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