Peloton, Echelon and more tested

Getting out and about on a bike is fantastic in theory; feeling the wind rushing through your hair as you free wheel through the picturesque countryside. But, with the UK’s unpredictable weather, a static exercise bike might be a better bet for those who want to get in shape without having to cycle through storms and downpours.

Don’t just expect a pair of pedals and a seat from the latest state-of-the-art models though. Modern exercise bikes have features including adjustable resistance, HD screens and virtual cycling trips in locations around the globe.

They also give you the ability to stream live, follow-along classes led by expert instructors — providing a challenge for beginners and expert riders alike. These classes aren’t limited to cycling either, with the likes of HIIT, yoga and strength sessions available via the bike’s rotating or flippable screens.

This interactive approach to at-home exercise is sure to help keep your fitness routine fresh and maintain your motivation levels. As an added bonus, it also means you don’t have to brave Britain’s bitter winters to get your fitness fix.

Now, the only question that remains is: which exercise bike should you buy?

What is the best exercise bike?

    What are exercise bikes good for?

    Regular training on an exercise bike has a whole host of health benefits. It can help you to manage your weight (more on this below) as well as strengthening your heart, lungs and leg muscles.

    Progression in these areas will help you carry out everyday tasks more easily – traipsing up a steep hill will feel much easier if your body is already used to tackling challenging cycling classes several times each week.

    Exercise bikes also put less pressure on your joints than many other forms of activity, like running on a treadmill, as they provide a low-impact workout. This means a cycling session carries a lower risk of injury than many of its cardio counterparts, and can be good for those with existing ankle, knee or hip pain as it will help strengthen the muscles in the lower body without putting them under too much stress.

    Finally, a session on an exercise bike is safer than cycling on busy roads, removing hazards such as driver errors or slippery surfaces so you can focus on getting a good workout.

    Is an exercise bike good for weight loss?

    While there are many variables to consider when discussing weight loss, a calorie deficit is key to the process. Put simply, this means you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming each day.

    Now, though an exercise bike can’t be your personal chef, it can help increase your daily calorie output. Peloton claims a 45 minute class on one of its bikes can burn anywhere from 400 to 700 calories.

    As a general figure, the NHS says the recommended daily calorie intake for women is around 2,000 calories a day (though this will vary greatly depending on each individual’s age, weight, height and activity levels). So, by burning an extra few hundred calories each day you hop into the saddle, it can be easier to balance your input and output and achieve a deficit to lose weight.

    Do I need a subscription to an app to use my exercise bike?

    All of the exercise bikes we tested had touch screens that could be paired with an app. Becoming a member of these apps grants you access to a world of workout options, with a huge variety of live and pre-recorded classes covering cycling, strength training, HIIT, yoga and more available on each one. This does, however, mean an extra monthly investment is needed from owners as the bikes will not work without it.

    Subscriptions vary in price from £129/year (the NordicTrack’s iFIT app) to £39.99/month (Echelon Fit). However, the Nordictrack bike does come with a year of free access to its app to get you started.

    How we test

    We put some of the top exercise bikes on the market to the test, with each one trialled by three testers of varying abilities and cycling experience.

    Close attention was paid to how stable, smooth and noisy the bikes were in use. We also checked how responsive they were when the resistance was changed, and if they were able to maintain their performance at different speeds and levels of resistance.

    Ease of use and design, including how easy it was to adjust each bike to suit our panellists and how comfortable they were during their rides, were further factors we considered during testing. Testers also looked at the instructions for each product, with points awarded for simple, easy to understand guidance.

    Each member of our panel filled out a detailed feedback form on their experiences. These were then used to calculate scores for each bike and decide which models made our list.


Best exercise bike

Peloton Bike+

Score: 88/100

The pioneer of the indoor riding revolution, it’s no surprise that Peloton’s Bike+ topped our exercise bike charts. The sleek machine offered a supremely smooth ride, with the flywheel staying almost silent no matter how hard we pedalled.

But what really set it apart was the huge range of workouts on offer via the Peloton App and the bike’s bright, responsive touchscreen. From the huge library of pre-recorded sessions to the live classes where you can compete against fellow Peloton members, there are plenty of options to keep your rides feeling fresh.

Throughout each class, enthusiastic instructors advise you which resistance your bike should be on, though they make it clear this can be scaled to suit both beginner and advanced cyclists. the bike+ also has a handy new auto-resistance feature that will alter your resistance automatically mid-ride. You can rotate the screen to take part in HIIT, weights or stretching sessions elsewhere in the room too, which we liked.

Our testers said they found the touchscreen controls easy to use from the get-go, and the live sessions kept them motivated throughout testing sessions. Some said they felt the 23.8-inch screen was a bit too big and they wouldn’t want to have this in their living room, while a few others found the unerring enthusiasm of the coaches could be a bit much.

But most loved the bike’s polished performance, the competitive element of the app and the cornucopia of classes on offer, saying this winning combination would keep them coming back for more.

Key specifications
Screen size:
23.8 inch
Accessories: The Bike+ Basics bundle just includes the bike and screen. However, the Family bundle (£2,745) includes cycling shoes, resistance bands, dumbbells at 0.5kg, 0.9kg or 1.4kg, bike mat, reversible workout mat, water bottle, yoga block, yoga strap.
Price if paying monthly: From £54/month
Peloton All-Access £39/month
Warranty: Touchscreen – 12 months, frame – 5 years, components – 12 months, pedals – 12 months


Runner-up exercise bike

Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX-5S

Score: 87/100

The Echelon went toe-to-toe with the impressive Peloton and pushed it all the way — there was just a single point between the two when the final scores were calculated. The EX5-S ran smoothly and made next to no noise when we pushed our pedals to the max. Our feet slotted easily into the pedals and the handlebars were made of premium material that didn’t get too sweaty when our rides pushed us past the point of perspiration.

There are a huge variety of workouts available on the app, displayed on a flippable 21.5-inch screen, and our testers were easily able to find sessions suited to their fitness and experience levels. Coaches provided short introductions to each class so you always knew what to expect and they were good at advising users which speed and resistance was best to use, so you’re sure to get a good workout without pushing yourself too hard.

Instructor-led post-workout stretches at the end of each session also helped keep next day aches and pains at bay (something we definitely appreciated).

Our panel found it could be tricky to select an exact resistance using the controls (a knob on the frame of the bike) and it sometimes took a while for the bike to register that it had been changed. The bike also wobbled slightly when we hit higher speeds and the screen felt slightly too far away to reach while sitting on the seat.

However, the smooth ride, extensive class offering and ease of use was more than enough to earn the Echelon a top overall score.

Key specifications
Screen size:
21.5 inch
Accessories: None
Weight: 56kg
Price if paying monthly:
From £67/month
Echelon Fit rom £24.99/month
Warranty: 12 months


NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle

NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle

Score: 85/100

If you’re looking for a more realistic riding experience, this is the bike for you. Unlike the Echelon and Technogym models, it is programmed to adjust the resistance settings automatically during some classes on the iFIT app, and is also able to mimic varying gradients.

You can even choose a route on Google Maps, enabling you to replicate your favourite local ride or try famous routes from further afield, all from your own home. If you’ve picked a particularly hilly route, the S22i’s workout fan can help you keep your cool, too — a feature that proved very popular with our panel.

The bike comes with two 1.5kg dumbbells and, as with the Peloton, the screen can be rotated for non-cycling activities like yoga and strength sessions, though we did find it slightly difficult to adjust the angle.

However, it was during cycling sessions that the S22i truly excelled, with our testers enjoying the realism of the virtual rides and the top tips provided by trainers throughout.

So, with its automatic resistance changes, the option to tackle picturesque virtual routes and the overall ease of use, this bike is a great option for those looking for an enjoyable, more realistic, ride.

Key specifications
Screen size:
22 inch
2 x 1.5kg dumbbells, included in sale price
93kg (boxed)
Price if paying monthly:
£83.30/month for 24 months
One year iFIT membership included, then from £129/year
Frame – 5 years, parts – 2 years


Best for beginners

Technogym Bike

Score: 80/100

Intense cycling sessions can be a baptism of fire for those looking to get back in the saddle. Fortunately, if you’re looking to stay in shape rather than ready yourself for the Tour De France, this Technogym bike is able to ease you in.

While it still features a bright touchscreen and has plenty of classes to choose from, instructors are more likely to suggest breaks during your session to stop you burning out, which our testers appreciated. There is also a detailed tutorial video to help you set the bike up.

This bike was top of the pile when it came to comfort, too. Testers said the seat and handlebars placed them in a strong position to cycle while still able to use the touchscreen, and they felt balanced throughout each ride.

When choosing a workout on the screen, there is a detailed section on the trainers and their individual styles. However, you can’t filter classes by difficulty level, so it can be a bit of a faff finding the appropriate one for you. And, though the bike comes with dumbbells which are incorporated into some classes, the focus is always cycling and there are no exclusively HIIT or yoga offerings.

Key specifications
Screen size:
22 inch
2×1.5kg dumbbells included in sale price
Price if paying monthly:
£53.10/month for 36 months
1Rebel + Revolution available for £29/month
24 months if bought outright, 36 months if paying monthly

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