You may have heard of it. The at-home bike that allows you to stream live or recorded cycling classes from your home. It’s called the Peloton Bike. Peloton just opened a showroom in Denver, and was offering free test rides in the showroom for opening day, so of course I had to check it out. Note: this post is not sponsored. I’m just sharing my honest experience.
The store experience
My first thought when I first walked into the store was “this is going to be awkward”. Why? Because it was a small space, and it was packed full of people. And I was going to be riding in the middle of it all. There were 4 bikes fit into a pretty small room, surrounded by racks of apparel, salespeople clinging to iPads, and a LOT of interested customers. It kind of felt like an Apple store the week of Christmas. But with bikes and sports bras.
An employee got me set up on a bike (of course the one literally in the
window of the store), a bottle of water, towel, wireless headphones, and cycle shoes (I brought my own, but I have the wrong clips for the Peloton – I have SPD, they require LOOK Delta).
I had a few minutes to warm up before the live class started so I just perused through the different offerings on the attached computer screen (more on that later). Once I put on the headphones and class started, that was it. No more awkwardness. I was fully immersed in the class and gave exactly zero shits who was walking around me both inside and outside of the store, probably staring while I rocked out to the music and dripped in sweat. This surprised me—a lot. I was not expecting such an…experience.
When I was warming up, I played around on Peloton’s interface, which shows up on the big computer screen attached to the bike. I knew nothing about it before getting on the bike, but it really didn’t need much introduction. It’s pretty intuitive. You can filter recorded classes by instructor, class length (20- to 120-minutes!), music genre, etc. The biggest surprise was the “Beyond the Bike” section. Here they have short (5- to 20-minute) non-cycling workouts like 5-minute abs, 10-minute strength, and 20-minute HIIT). This is a pretty huge draw for me. I love variety and I could totally see myself heading to the bike 10 minutes before a ride to get a little strength hit in.
The screen also shows a bunch of data during your ride. I love the data. You’ll see resistance, RPMs, output (a combination of those two), and even a ranking of the other people in the class so you can see how you stack up (and push harder if you’re the competitive type!). If you have a bluetooth heart rate strap, the bike will connect to the bike and display your heart rate on the screen. (If you don’t have one, Peloton will gladly sell you one for $49).
All the instructors are based out of the NYC studio. I had Jess King. I loved her energy, her music, her vibe. Loved it all. To be clear, I love any instructor that drops an F bomb during class (as in “you’re only here for 45 minutes, this isn’t the time to F around”). Don’t ask me why, it’s just somehow motivating and hilarious to me. And when an instructor has that style, I feel like we’re instantly friends.
This one gets a rating of decent. The video cut out twice for about 20 seconds each time. That really kills the fun, energetic vibe. I overheard an employee telling someone else that it was because they had multiple bikes all streaming from the apparently slow wifi. I guess that makes sense. But this is a company that just created the most high-tech bike around. So it seems like they could figure out wifi, doesn’t it?
The bike itself costs $1,995 (as of June 2017). Yep, you read that right. While that seems hefty, compare it to other home fitness equipment. Treadmills, bikes, ellipticals, rowers, etc. You’re unlikely to get in under $1,000 for a nicer model. And that’s with no instruction.
And then there is shipping and in-home set-up. That’s another $250.
And then there are the extras. It’s like when you buy an iPhone. Now you need a nice case. And maybe a screen protector. With the Peloton, you’ll also need cycle shoes. Regular tennis shoes don’t work. Peloton sells their shoes for about $125 (they’re just cycle shoes, but they say Peloton, and that matters when you’re working out alone in your basement, right?). Or you can find a pair of no-frills cycle shoes with LOOK Delta clips for closer to $75. If you want to take a class that includes arms, or do some of the “Beyond the Bike” workouts, you’ll also need a set of weights. Peloton sells them for $25 and they fit nicely behind the seat. (I’m pretty sure Target sells them for more like $10). And then if you don’t want to trash your floor, you’ll probably want the $59 mat for under the bike. I can attest: it’s good at catching sweat.
And finally, there is a monthly fee of $39 (at time of writing) which gives you access to the live streaming and all previous recorded classes.
So let’s say you buy the bike (with shipping and tax is $2,416), mat, and weights, and of course the mandatory monthly subscription. And say you use the bike for a year. You’re looking at about $3,000, or $250 per month. If you have a family member or roommate that will also use the bike, it’s $125 per person. At two years, you’re looking at a total of $3,436. That’s $143/month for one person and $71/month for two people. If you hang on for even longer…you get the idea. Compare this to other other boutique studios (Pure Barre, Soul Cycle, CorePower, Flywheel, Orange Theory), and the numbers actually aren’t as bad as they first seem – as long as you don’t mind committing mostly just cycling.
Bottom line: it’s not cheap. At all. But for a boutique fitness experience (assuming you actually use it!), it really isn’t a bad value.
After my test ride I was pleasantly surprised that nobody was standing there ready to give me the hard sell. I hate pushy salespeople. As I was wiping down the bike, one of the NYC instructors who came to the opening approached me and asked how long I had my bike. I told her I didn’t have one, and she seemed surprised (but super friendly), saying “oh, I thought you were one of our riders!”
Later, after chatting with some other people in the store, I learned that Peloton invited local bike owners to come ride during the opening to help amp up the excitement. Maybe this is why nobody had approached me, even to ask how the ride was, but it seemed odd that they weren’t more curious about the experience and whether I wanted to buy a bike. While I appreciate the lack of pushy salespeople, the lack of interest in selling gives off a bit of an arrogant vibe. Yes, you could just go buy it online, but it still seemed a little odd.
I was really impressed with the test ride experience. Ultimately, the decision to buy comes down to your monthly sweat budget, your desire for cycling vs. other activities, and whether you think you’ll actually use the bike. Oh, and if you have space in your home. If you have a showroom near you, I’d highly recommend checking out a bike. If not, hopefully this post gives you a little taste of the experience!
If you’ve tried the Peloton, I’m curious to hear what you think—leave a comment below!