The Peloton Exercise system has rapidly become one of the more popular options for anyone wanting to experience immersive spin classes from the comfort of their own home. Of course, the big drawback for many people is the hefty price tag that comes with investing in a Peloton bike as well as the required membership subscription.
So, is there a cheap Peloton alternative? With a little bit of creativity, there is a way to set up your own DIY Peloton and still reap the benefits of the app. We’re here to give you the low-down on the “how-to” of creating your own Smart Bicycle.
WHAT IS THE PELOTON BIKE?
At first sight, it’s essentially an impressive bit of kit. But what’s really going on under the surface to make it worth its price tag? Well, it’s essentially a jacked up version of a spin bike with a lot of tech to utilize the user experience.
Living in an online age, exercise in general is becoming more and more about the digital experience. How many of us now use fitness trackers on our wrists, or heart rate monitors on our chests to oversee our progress? It’s a wonder how people ever got fit before trackers and apps were around to show us our progression. Simpler, duller times.
Digital fitness is now taking the world by storm, and Peloton have designed an immersive spin class experience that has proven popular, fun, and effective for those using it – which is why it has skyrocketed as one of the most popular forms of remote spin class exercise. So how does it work?
You start by purchasing the branded bicycle and as much kit as you want to go with it. The basic package begins with the bike alone. The next step up, which is what most tend to go for also includes the shoes for the clip-in pedals, dumbbell weights, and headphones. You also have the option to purchase the official mat and heart rate monitor on the premium package.
This gears you up to get started the moment your bicycle has been installed in your home. The LCD touchscreen, that’s attached to the front of the bike, is how you access the app which offers quite literally hundreds of spin classes.
WHY IS THE PELOTON SYSTEM SO POPULAR?
You can take a pre-recorded on demand class or join a live class in their New York or London studio without having to trek out in the elements to join in with a studio full of sweaty people. You can be there virtually but still get the push and motivation you only get from a live class. I know; the future is officially here!
And before you dismiss these classes as being purely cardio focused, they also offer a variety of targeted sessions, so you can opt for a strength class as much as you can a cardio hit. Why do you think those dumbbells were included? They’re not for decoration! The dynamic thing about Peloton is that the classes are not all cycle-focused.
They offer floor work classes as well as motivational running sessions that track your route via GPS on your phone or smart watch though the app. You can even stretch it out after your main workout with a stretching class; a very important aspect in your first few weeks when your legs are in crisis as you get used cycling. They also offer yoga classes. The possibilities are endless.
WHAT ELSE CAN IT DO?
As well as joining classes, the app allows you to track your progress with your energy and power output during a class, your peak heart rate, and calorie burn. This is all displayed on the LCD screen as you work out and analytics are available to view after your session.
This way you can accurately track your results as you get fitter and are able to put more into each workout. You can monitor the steady progression, which in turn aids motivation and that all-important will to keep going.
With all this it’s hard to imagine that there’s much else on offer that can begin to match it. But with a bit of digging, there are a number of bikes like Peloton out there.
Peloton is unique in that it has a bike to go with its app and classes, so if you have both, everything is integrated, the settings the instructor gives you will be exact, and everything will match up nicely. If you like easy to use, organized workouts with no conversions, then this will do everything you need.
However, if you’re perfectly happy to do a bit of math and convert some results, then you can use another exercise bike with the Peloton app. The benefit of the app is that you do not have to have the official bicycle to subscribe to classes. But if spin classes aren’t your jam, there are a number of other apps out there with various options to suit your needs.
WHAT ARE MY ALTERNATIVE APP OPTIONS?
Zwift is popular with users who like to simulate the outdoor cycle and compete with other users. It has a strong network of riders with over 1 million subscribers so you’ll never be short of people to connect and ride with.
The app challenges you to the realities of outdoor cycling with hill climbs and route options. They also have a number of workout classes available that are compatible with fitness trackers such as Garmin and Strava, amongst others.
However, the app is designed to work best with Apple TV, so you might find it glitches or hangs if you don’t have one. The graphics are also more basic than some of the other apps, so if you like the immersive virtual experience, then it may not be for you.
Sufferfest doesn’t offer the option to compete with other riders, but given what it does offer, this isn’t much of a loss if you’re not motivated by competition.
Sufferfest’s technology means you can personalize your workouts based on your stats. The developers of the app created a method to measure the baseline power output of new users with what they term 4DP measure.
This translates as having the ability to measure your power in more specific intervals, from multiple angles. You’re required to take the 4DP test as you’re setting up the app. The results of which will give you the baseline you’ll be working from to improve your fitness in all your workouts.
Sufferfest benefits from much more realistic outdoor cycling graphics, so if immersion is key for your motivation, then this outranks Zwift. They are also more than just a cycling app. They have a number of other exercise classes available and even have yoga classes tailored to cyclists so you can progress evenly and minimize injury.
The app is compatible with the usual fitness trackers like Strava and Garmin and will play through any TV or device. It isn’t fully Apple TV integrated, which might be frustrating for Apple Heads who like to use their Apple Remote to control their fitness apps, but otherwise, you can bounce the app to any TV screen and as long as your WIFI connection is strong enough, you shouldn’t experience any glitches in the interface.
Compared to Peloton, Zwift and Sufferfest certainly have their own unique selling points.
If you’re an outdoor rider who enjoys some friendly competition with others, Zwift might suit you better. You can also freeze your membership in the summer months when you’re cycling outdoors again.
If you prefer variety in your workouts with an equal focus on strength, and don’t care about competition with others, you might prefer Sufferfest. Sufferfest also offers the cheapest monthly subscription offer if budget is key here.
However, Peloton will offer you all this and it’s Apple TV integrated. It also offers yoga and strength classes and has started to introduce outdoor cycling routes if you want to ‘get out of the studio’ for a while. So its versatility is impressive.
But the sticking point is the machine itself. If you don’t want to invest in the official bike, then we’re here to help you create your own cheap Peloton alternative.
MAKING YOUR OWN SMART BIKE
So you’ve decided going the whole hog (or should we say, the whole lean beef) and investing in the Peloton is a little beyond your abilities right now, but you’re keen to partake in the community, studio spirit, and motivation that the app offers. So what do you do next? Well, it’s time to get the tool belt and earn some DIY life points and create your very own Peloton alternative.
Let’s make a shopping list!
To start with, this is one area where the virtual reality aspect alone isn’t going to cut the mustard. You’ll need something to sit on and pedal. You need a bicycle and there are a number of options here.
You could go for an indoor electronic exercise bike and customize it for your needs, or, if you are more of an outdoor yet fair weather cyclist, you might prefer to use a smart trainer with your own road bike during those pesky winter months. Rather than investing in a second indoor cycle that you’ll only use a fraction of the time. The decision here is entirely yours depending on how you like to exercise and what will best suit your needs.
If you are going to pedal down the indoor bike road then there are some really quite impressive options out there a fraction of the cost of the Peloton.
1. THE BIKE
The Pooboo Indoor Cycling Bike is quite an impressive machine. As well as looking like something that could launch you into outer space, it also has the specs to match its funky aesthetic.
It also has a built-in device holder so saves you having to purchase that separately. It supports up to 330lbs of human so you can be sure it will go the distance in durability.
The Sunny Health and Fitness Premium Indoor Bike offers similar specs to the Pooboo, but it does give you an additional 5lbs in its flywheel, giving you 40lbs of stability and control of your momentum.
This Peloton alternative, however, does not come with a device holder so you would need to buy one separately. What it does have, are four-way adjustable handlebars and two types of handlebar rests making it easy to attach a device holder.
The Sunny Health and Fitness Indoor Bike is similar to its sister above but with a few more features on offer. It has the heaviest flywheel of all the bicycles we like, at a whopping 44lbs, so if you favor a smooth and silent ride that’s a real challenge on your legs, this could be the one for you.
It uses belt driven magnetic resistance and has a built-in tablet holder, always a nice added extra for partaking of those Peloton classes. This machine will also support up to 300lbs in weight so as far as Peloton alternatives go, you’re on track with this.
If posterior comfort is your friend, then the Pyhigh S2 Indoor Cycling Bike might be your favorite as it comes with a specially widened comfortable saddle.
It does only support up to 280lbs in weight, so wouldn’t be ideal for heavier users. Otherwise, on a spec level, it does pretty much everything else the others do, so if you’re of a lighter frame, you might prefer to go with this.
Of course, you may turn your nose up at all of the above in favor of turning your road bike into a spec’d out smart bicycle that will make all the other bikes in the rack jealous.
If you’re in favor of this, we love the Sportneer Bike Trainer Stand. Its heavy-duty frame and anti-slip rubber feet ensure you’re not toppling anywhere once it’s set up.
It has a noise reduction resistance wheel that offers a smooth cycle and ensures you can hear those all-important instructions from your instructor, as well as six resistance levels. If you already own a road bike this is by far the best option for budget.
Now that you have your physical machine you need to make it smart with what we like to call an education chip. Or more precisely, the Wahoo Cadence Bluetooth Sensor.
This is a small but vital piece of equipment that turns your home cycling experience into a successful Peloton alternative. It’s affordable and it attaches easily to your bike’s crank arm or your shoe.
It’s completely wireless with Bluetooth and ANT+ capabilities to send your cycling speed data straight to the app on your phone or tablet. It also supports multiple third party apps including MapMyRide, Strava, and the Peloton app.
3. DEVICE HOLDER
If you’re customizing your road bike as a DIY Peloton, you probably won’t have a device holder attached. Similarly, if your indoor bike didn’t come with one, you’ll need to make sure you add it in order to follow the classes easily.
There are a number of attachable device and smart phone holders out there, but we have a particular fondness for the Jubor Bike Tablet Holder with the ability to rotate 360 degrees so you can angle your tablet or phone just right.
If you only want to use your phone, however, you might prefer a mount that’s designed specifically for smart phones. In that case, we recommend the Mongoora Phone Bike Mount, which supports nearly any brand of smart phone.
Now, if you’re all in on the Peloton alternative with the idea you’ll be partaking of the classes via the app, then you will be requiring some dumbbells, which the instructors use in a number of classes.
This is a pretty easy find. Amazon Basics offer a number of low cost neoprene dumbbells in a variety of weights. Remember, start light or you’ll be a panting mess of regret during your session.
But progression is key, so be prepared that you may need to upgrade the weight a bit as you get stronger. Peloton offer dumbbell weight options between 1lbs and 3lbs so don’t be hero. You’re not Thor. Not yet, anyway.
5. HEART RATE MONITOR
The Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor is the next step to having a fully-fledged smart bicycle. Integrated with Bluetooth and ANT+, TICKR connects to smart phones, tablets, GPS watches and bike computers by Wahoo, Polar, Garmin, Apple and others, and works with over 50 smart phone apps, including the Peloton digital app.
It will capture your real-time heart rate as well as what zone you’re in so you can accurately monitor where your heart rate should be and where it needs to get to in your spin class. All data is stored on the Wahoo app.
6. BIKE MAT
If you want to protect your hardwood floor or carpet as you rack up those virtual miles, then the CyclingDeal Peloton compatible mat will do this for you.
And you can use it for your post workout stretch or yoga. Double win!
7. FULL LENGTH MIRROR/MIRROR TILES
Finally, it’s all about that posture, and maybe taking some super sweaty (I mean, healthy glow) Instagram photos. But mainly the posture thing.
A full-length mirror or mirror tiles like the Huimei2Y Full Length Mirror Tiles will give you the opportunity to check in with your body position while you’re exercising.
As routines get tougher and longer, we tend to compromise the quality of our movement to compensate for the challenge our bodies are going through. A mirror will assist you in keeping that ideal posture on track so you know you’re benefiting from your workout 100%.
You are now fully equipped with your own Peloton alternative so hop on, get your Peloton app up and running and join in the hundreds of thousands of other users worldwide for a fraction of the cost, but with all of the fitness benefits.