6 stationary bikes that aren't from Peloton you can get in 2020

Peloton may be the most popular stationary bike, but it's far from the only option when it comes to at-home cycling.
Image: Echelon Smart Stationary Bike
By Julie Loffredi

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Fitness trends come and go (don’t tell that to indoor cycling enthusiasts who swear spinning is here to stay): The collective criticism sparked by this year’s Peloton bike ad is fueling an ongoing debate over how long the brand can maintain its apparent market domination.

"We don’t have to do much more in order to be one of the great consumer companies of the next couple of decades," Peloton founder and CEO John Foley told NBC News at an investor conference this week (NBC News’ parent company Comcast is an investor in Peloton).

While Peloton's luxurious — and pricey, clocking in at more than $2,000 — at-home cycling system boasts over a million subscribers, competitors have been muscling their way into the market. There’s now a whole crop of high-end “studio” bikes that aim to mimic the experience you’d get from an indoor cycling class. And they each aim to deliver that experience to you from within the comfort of your own home. Several brands are even offering their own version of live-streaming classes.

An uncomfortable bike has the potential to affect your performance and form while you bike

Caleb Backe, certified personal trainer

Before you get ready to pedal your way to your goal of better health with a Peloton or an alternative, here are a few things to consider:

  • A basic indoor bike will easily run you a few hundred dollars or more.
  • Smart bikes might require monthly subscriptions.
  • Design features can make a difference when it comes to comfort and performance, and they subsequently affect the price tag.

If you’re on the hunt for your own at-home bike, we put together some of your options. If you’re on the fence, consider that several manufacturers offer 30-day return policies.

Budget-friendly stationary bikes for at-home cycling

Be sure to prioritize what your basic needs are — many of which might be met by relatively affordable options. Maybe you want to easily adjust the bike’s resistance, move its handlebars or just need something quiet for nighttime sweats. And don’t overlook basics like a padded, adjustable seat and easy-to-grip support handles.

“It might seem like these are added luxuries, but an uncomfortable bike has the potential to affect your performance and form while you bike,” Caleb Backe, a certified personal trainer, told NBC News. “In the long run, this could lead to unnecessary muscle strain and sustained injury.”

1. Sunny Health Fitness Indoor Exercise Cycle Bike

This relatively budget-friendly option offers an adjustable resistance knob — and doesn't require a membership fee. With that, it lacks some of the bells and whistles we'll see below. Whether you require those is a personal preference, of course: There's no screen. And the chain drive may make it slightly noisy.

2. Schwinn IC3 Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike

Schwinn's take on the stationary bike is equipped with pedals that allow for different types of footwear — you can wear regular sneakers or utilize higher-end clip-in shoes. It's the product of a renowned cycling brand, which might matter to some. And it comes equipped with padded handlebars. Like the more affordable option above, there's no built-in screen, although there’s a spot for your own tablet if you wanted to rely on its offerings.

Elevated stationary bikes for at-home cycling

Lindsay Goldman, the director of membership for USA Cycling, a nonprofit group focused on cycling as a sport, advises serious riders to prepare for a hefty price tag if they’re looking for quality equipment.

“Generally, the more money that you spend on cycling equipment and gear, the better it will be,” Goldman said.

As you saw in the options above, more basic stationary bikes don't have to run upwards of $500 — and allow for a similar physical experience as more expensive brands. It's when you introduce screens, monitors and trackers — as well as features allowing for social connectedness — that prices climb significantly.

3. Flywheel Home Bike with Built-In Tablet

This Flywheel cycling machine allows riders to follow real-time workouts by Flywheel instructors and the bike is compatible with Bluetooth heart monitors you can plug right into it. Notably, there's a charge for delivery and installation, as well as for optional features like a monitor. In order to utilize Flywheel's digital offerings (like those real-time workouts) a subscription is required (Best Buy offers two months of Flywheel's subscription with purchase). There’s a re-stocking fee for returns and special shoes are required to appropriately use the bike.

4. NordicTrack Commercial Studio Cycle

The NordicTrack stationary bike includes a one-year membership to its iFit service, an interactive personal training program. Its 14-inch HD touchscreen allow for 360-degree rotation and streams iFit content directly. It also shows up with two three-pound dumbbells for cross training exercises and its seat and handlebars are fully adjustable.

5. Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX5S

The latest EX5S Bike model comes with a 21.5-inch HD touchscreen that flips 180 degrees for live streaming workouts. It's equipped with adjustable handlebars and has been outfitted with a new motor for more precise resistance levels. If incline and decline cycling are important to you, note the Echelon won't let you adjust either.

6. Keiser M3i Indoor Cycle

The Keiser allows you to adjust its handlebars and the seat to accommodate your specific preference and the pre-tensioned resistance belt is designed to stay durable. It's also Bluetooth-enabled so you can stream directly from it or connect your smart devices to it. As you're setting the bike up yourself, note that it might be difficult to assemble. It doesn't offer a screen but you can use the tablet holder to follow virtual classes with your own smart device.

"When you have had enough indoor training, go outside and look around," Goldman said. "You have to have both — good quality training, but also time where your soul connects and gets fresh air. Balance is critical."

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